Monday, April 28, 2008

More Media Spin

Now a new poll says that Hillary Clinton would be more likely to beat McCain than Barack Obama would.

According to the poll, Clinton would lead McCain 50 to 41, while Obama only leads him 46 to 44.

You know what? These polls are meaningless, because right now there is no ONE candidate for the Democrats. These polls give people the choice of either Democratic candidate. Once the candidate is firmly decided, the polls would change markedly.

My husband says he would rather vote for Barack Obama and lose than win with Hillary Clinton. I'm afraid a lot of people are starting to feel that way.

Just because she may have an edge (which she may not have in reality) is not a reason to support her to be the nominee. Reagan would beat McCain too (probably even dead) but does that mean we Democrats would want him to be President?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sickly Sunday

For some reason I got up today feeling "off"--not actually sick, but a little achey and shivery. And my stomach felt a little unhappy. Not unhappy enough that I couldn't eat some bacon and pancakes for breakfast with DH and my father-in-law. But enough that I couldn't finish the third pancake, and haven't had anything else to eat all day (a rare occurrence for me, to be sure).

I forced myself to do some laundry so as not to feel completely indolent and to feel as if I have accomplished something on this wasted day.

I am only now getting around to reading the New York Times and just read the Op Ed piece by Maureen Dowd.

She notes something that I had been feeling lately but hadn't put into words - that Hillary Clinton is getting cheerier and bouncier while Obama is doing the opposite. In Maureen's words,

"Hillary grows more and more glowy as Obama grows more and more wan.

Is she draining him of his precious bodily fluids? Leeching his magic? Siphoning off his aura?

It used to be that he was incandescent and she was merely inveterate. Now she’s bristling with life force, and he looks like he wants to run away somewhere for three months by himself and smoke."

Unfortunately, she has a point. There have been reports of Obama pleading to just be able to be left alone to eat his waffles, and it seems as if this truly endless campaign is getting on his nerves.

Hillary, on the other hand, has taken a page from her husband's book, and seems to actually be reveling in the campaign.

Does it mean she wants the job more than Obama? Or is it that the endless campaign is part of the "politics as usual" that he'd like to get rid of? (I know the rest of us would, at this point). I'm not saying all the voters shouldn't have their chance to vote, but this campaign kicked off at the beginning of 2007. That is just too long to expect anyone to keep kissing babies, shaking hands, speaking, and eating regional junk food.

Maureen Dowd says, "The Nixonian Hillary has a ravenous hunger that Obama lacks."

Maybe she does, and maybe her "fire in the belly" might be necessary to win in November. It does make me think.

But then I remember what happened AFTER Nixon won. Do we really want someone who wants the office so badly they'll do anything to win?

In other news, we keep hearing how McCain is all for reform - He sponsored legislation saying that the candidates should pay to fly on corporate jets. The funny thing is, however, that when it came down to his own campaign, he used his wife's company's corporate jet - thus avoiding the cost.

Let's hope these little stories of hypocrisy continue to make the news. We don't want the Democratic campaign to obscure all the dirt that has already started to pop up on McCain.

Finishing with some haiku...

McCain's for reform
But when it comes to himself
He likes to fly free.

Now he loves tax breaks
But once he criticized them
Deficit will soar.

Mainstream media
Focuses on trivia
Issues are buried.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A New Link in the Blogroll

If you enjoy thinking about some of the deeper subjects in life, from science to philosophy to religion, check out All That Is, a new blog being written by Two Crows of Preserve, Protect and Defend, and Mary Ellen of The Divine Democrat.

I've added it to my blogroll under "Arts/Philosophy" and hope you'll go there if you haven't already, and start delving into it! There will be lots of food for thought and some great discussions.

Moving right along...

Now that the Pennsylvania primary is (blessedly) over, we can finally move on to...Indiana and North Carolina. No end is in sight, since Hillary Clinton won Pennsylvania as expected, and by a margin of just over 9%. It wasn't enough to be the blowout that would have really revitalized her candidacy, but was a comfortable enough margin that Obama is still not able to say he put her away. So on we go...

And now some haiku!

Hillary has won
Obama couldn't close it
Indiana's next.

The undecideds
Broke for Hillary Clinton
At the last minute.

Obama's comments
About "bitter" and "clinging"
Didn't go down well.

Indiana's next
Obama has to win it
Or it won't look good.

He is still ahead
But needs to gain momentum
As we go onward.

Clinton has a point
She wins with the good ol' boys
But at what high cost?

Now she loves hunters
And guns, shots, and lots of beer
Who is she really?

Maybe she could win
But who are we voting for?
It is hard to say.

Barack has issues
He had to go negative
So where is the change?

The Dems are worried
McCain is getting stronger
While this fight drags on.

Not much we can do
But wait and see what happens
Pray it ends by June.

Monday, April 21, 2008

"The Long Goodbye"

Alzheimer's Disease is often referred to as "the long goodbye," and with good reason. Unlike most other terminal diseases, which kill the body while leaving the mind and personality relatively intact, Alzheimer's gradually wears away the personality of the patient long before the body itself succumbs to the devastation of the disease. By the time the disease takes its toll on the physical body, the person they once were is long gone.

It is particularly difficult for aging couples, such as my husband's parents, who have been married so long they don't even remember what it is like to be apart. My father-in-law has known for a number of years that my mother-in-law was heading down the same road her own mother had traveled; both of them had cared for her mother as she fell victim to Alzheimer's Disease, and had seen its devastating effects. It was probably five or more years ago that my father-in-law said to us one day, after my mother-in-law had left the room, "Her mind is going." But he always hoped he could keep caring for her at home for the rest of her life.

Sadly, that isn't always possible when it comes to Alzheimer's patients. Some families are able to do it, especially if the well spouse is younger, or there are adult children who can come help with caregiving. But if, as in my husband's case, there is only one adult child (he has no siblings), and the spouse is older, rather than younger, it becomes a bigger problem.

My father-in-law was coping with it for a very long time. He made sure my mother-in-law was well cared for, and continued to take her places they both enjoyed. They came to our house for visits and he took her with him everywhere. But in the past six months or so, she had started to deteriorate. She was having difficulty walking, partly from her bad knee, but also from the disease itself; people somehow start to forget how to walk. Then came the incontinence; a sign of the next, more advanced, stage of Alzheimer's Disease. But still she was at home.

It all changed on Superbowl Sunday. My father-in-law was stricken ill and taken to the hospital; my mother-in-law was suddenly without her lifelong partner and caregiver. We tried to take care of her for two nights but our house has two flights of stairs so was not an appropriate place for her; plus we both have full-time jobs. We had no choice but to put her into respite care at a nursing home not far from the hospital where my father-in-law was being cared for.

My father-in-law, thankfully, recovered completely after his emergency operation. But my mother-in-law never came out of the nursing home. After she was hospitalized for an infection and returned to the nursing home on Medicare, she underwent rehabilitation -- but she has not been able to walk on her own again, and has now been catheterized in addition to her problem with walking, due to deterioration in bladder function.

It has become obvious that my father-in-law is no longer able to care for her at home. Their home is not wheelchair accessible; it has stairs, there are too many dangers for her there. My father-in-law has not completely regained his strength from his own illness, and even before this happened, the constant stress had been taking its toll.

So now we enter the next phase of the situation: getting my mother-in-law on Medicaid...Medicare is running out at the end of this month and the only way to cover my mother-in-law's care is to qualify her for Medicaid.

Here is where it gets tricky. If you're super-rich, you can just pay a nursing home out of pocket for the duration of the patient's life. If you're completely poor, your family member can qualify for Medicaid immediately.

If you are a middle-class person who has worked hard all your life and saved a decent nest egg, but not a fortune, you are screwed.

My father-in-law worked hard all his life and saved his money so that he and my mother-in-law could enjoy their retirement together. Luckily, he did retire early, at 62, so they did get to travel and enjoy their lives together before her health declined.

But now that nest egg is a detriment to their situation: my father-in-law has to spend down HALF of it before my mother-in-law will qualify for Medicaid.

Now, the easy thing to do is to just pay the nursing home till that money runs down. But of course, no one wants to give money to the nursing home, especially because the money is needed for other purposes. So instead, people who want to qualify their loved one for Medicaid pay for home improvements, pay their taxes ahead of time, pay for their funerals ahead of time, buy a new car...anything to spend down that money. Oh, and one of the things you can use to spend it on is the large fee you need to pay an eldercare attorney just to help you navigate through the Medicaid maze and make sure you don't do something wrong.

Of course, throughout all this, my father-in-law is depressed at the prospect of never being together with my mother-in-law in their own home again. He says they always promised each other they wouldn't put the other in a nursing home.

They have been together for 59 years and never even spent more than a night or two apart from each other until the beginning of February, 2008. Even when my father-in-law was hospitalized once before a decade or so ago, my mother-in-law spent the night with him in the hospital room.

The thing is, if the health care system made any sense, she would be able to stay at home. But Medicaid does not cover in-home full-time care. It ONLY covers nursing home care. And home care, 24/7, is almost as expensive as care in a nursing home - with the difference being it isn't covered. So the only choice is for the patient to be institutionalized. And no matter how hard the nursing home caregivers try, care in a nursing home just isn't going to be as good as care in the home. As it is my father-in-law is over there every day for about five hours a day. But he can't be there all the time, and when he's not there, things don't get done as well.

I don't blame the nursing home for this; the one we found for her is really very nice and the people there obviously care about their patients. It's just impossible to watch people with dementia every minute of the day or to be prepared for everything they may do. One day my mother-in-law suddenly tried to grab a railing and get out of her wheelchair as she was being wheeled back to her room, and fell. Luckily she was all right. But another time she may not be.

Before making the final decision to keep my mother-in-law in the nursing home, my father-in-law asked us, "Am I doing the right thing?"

I don't know if he is or not. But he's doing the only thing he can do under these circumstances.

Let's hope that when when our generation reaches this stage of our lives that the options for end-of-life care are more flexible and that more of us can stay in the homes we love with our families instead of being confined to nursing homes and institutions.

Friday, April 18, 2008

A Cat's Eye View

Baxter here. I've been Waiting All Week to get a chance to Blog. "I'm too busy," my Female Human kept saying. "I don't have time to help you!"

It's not My fault that my Toes don't work well on the Keyboard and she has to help me Type. If they just invented Telepathic Computers my Problem would be solved. Maybe in the 23rd Century they will have them. But it will be Too Late for Me by then.

Now I'm really Peeved, because, on top of having to wait to Blog, They took me to the Vet's today. The Nerve!

I had to go for my checkup along with That Dog that I am forced to live with. And, worse yet, I had to hang out in the Vet's Examining Room in that stupid Carrying Box for a half hour until the Vet and her Assistant got done Oohing and Aahing over how Cute and how Friendly That Dog is and how much they Love her.

Finally it was My Turn. I tried to resist when they told me to get out of That Box. They finally had to tip it on end until I fell out onto the Examining Table. It was very Humiliating. So I hunched down and pretended I wasn't There while they poked and prodded at me. The Girl who helps The Vet was patting Me and kissing Me, so I became somewhat Mollified and allowed The Vet to do whatever She needed to. I didn't even flinch when they stuck me with a Needle but I did get Annoyed when they made me snort some vile-tasting Stuff up my Nose. But I was kind and didn't bite or scratch anyone.

My Day got better once That was all over with. I relaxed the rest of the Day and enjoyed Myself. Now I'm finally ready to Blog.

So, let's see...this has been a Busy Week. The Obama and Clinton Humans had another of those Things they call "Debates" but of course it is really more like a Catfight with other Cats watching and egging on the Fighters. There was pretty universal Agreement that the moderators of the Debate wasted the Viewers' and the Candidates' time with trivial and irrelevant questions designed to stir up controversies that had already been Dragged Out more than long enough, such as the Obama Human's fire-breathing Preacher or the Clinton Human's Exaggeration about her trip to Bosnia. And would you believe, they even brought up the Flag Lapel Pin bit again??? Puh-leeze. Even we Cats know that you don't have to wear a Pin to be Patriotic! The Real Issues were basically ignored for most of the "Debate."

In the Meantime, the Clinton Human got three more Superdelegates and the Obama Human got three endorsements; but they aren't Superdelegates so it doesn't add to his Delegate Count.

As you know, both my Humans and I have been supporting the Obama Human for the Nomination. I don't know about Them, but I for one am having Concerns now, given that the Clinton Human just isn't going away, and her constant hammering on the Obama Human has managed to pull him down into the Political Dirt with Her and he doesn't look as much like a Change anymore. David Brooks, writing in the New York Times, paints a rather Depressing Picture of the current State of the Campaign. Yes, he's right, Everyone is Miserable. Of course, That Dog is probably Happy. She's been supporting the Clinton Human all along.

In other News, there was an Earthquake in, of all places, the Midwest. It was 5.2 on the Richter scale. You don't usually think of Earthquakes happening There, but actually this particular Fault, which isn't far from St. Louis, has produced some pretty Nasty ones in the past. Back in the early 1800's there were two Earthquakes there that were 7.0 or more on the Richter scale! Right up there near the strength of the Great Quake of 1906 in San Francisco! If they happened today it would be Big Trouble.

Moving on....

One of the Things no one realizes is that not only are there Soldiers in Iraq, but also Dogs. Being a Cat who doesn't generally Appreciate the Canine Species, I'm not usually one to praise Dogs, but the ones in the Military are an Exception. This story brought a tear even to My eye. According to the story on CNN, "Staff Sgt. Donald Tabb, 29, serving his fourth deployment with the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force, died February 5, 2007, when his vehicle was hit by the roadside bomb." His partner, Bo (a 2-year-old black Laborador Retriever), who was trained to clear roadways, find explosives and bomb-making materials, was injured, but survived and has been adopted by Tabb's family.

Bo and Sgt. Tabb went through extensive training together, and had graduated in March of 2007 from the Defense Department's Dog Training Center at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, according to the article.

"Tabb served with the Military Working Dog section, 6th Military Police Detachment, 1st Battalion, 13th Aviation Regiment at Fort Rucker, Alabama.

Traditionally, a military working dog outranks the handler by one grade. Bo was officially retired as master sergeant. Tabb, an Atlanta native, was posthumously promoted to sergeant first class at Friday's ceremony at the Gwinnett County Fallen Heroes Memorial."

Sending My Sympathies to the family of Sergeant First Class Tabb and my Congratulations to Bo for his heroism, and best wishes for a Long and Happy Life in his new home.

On a lighter note, I was Surfing About the Internets and decided to check out Scott Adams' Dilbert Blog, which actually has quite a few fairly Serious Posts and poses some Interesting Questions. One post pointed me to an interesting Link about the idea of free will. Apparently Humans don't really have it. (I'm not so sure about Cats. We may be Different). According to this Article, scientists have discovered that Humans' choices can be predicted seven seconds before they actually make them, by using Brain Scanners. Of course, it was done on a very Simple Level; more Complex Decisions may be another Story. And after all, perhaps the Brain Activity IS the beginning of making a Choice. So I am not at all Sure about the Conclusion that is drawn.

Using my own Free Will, which I am quite Certain that I have, I am going to end this Post. I have Blogged enough for This Evening and I am now ready to take a Nap. I may even partake in some Catnip before I Pass Out. And I hope you will enjoy some of your own as well.

(But of course at 4 a.m. I will be Awake, wide-eyed and Bushy-Tailed, and be playing with my favorite Toy, which makes a fascinating rattling sound and I just can't resist it. The other night I was playing with my Toy and somehow a Lamp and some other things ended up on the Floor. I have No Idea how it Happened but my Female Human was sure it was My Fault.)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Jon Stewart on the Obama "Gaffe"

The opening segment of last night's "Daily Show" was a brilliantly hilarious summary of the furor created by Barack Obama's comments about the "bitter" Pennsylvanians who turn to guns and religion in their angst.

Stewart covers the media's response to Obama's comments, and Hillary's sudden love of firearms, as well as showing some cute clips of her drinking at a bar somewhere in the depths of Pennsylvania. (She actually seemed to be having a genuinely good time with the bar's patrons, I must admit).

Whether or not you thought Obama's words were "ill-chosen" or condescending, Jon Stewart did a great job of showing the media deluge of commentary about Obama seeming "elitist" by saying what he said.

I particularly liked Stewart's comments toward the end of this clip:

"Doesn't elite mean 'good'? Is that not something we're looking for in a President anymore?"

and, to the candidates:

"If you don't actually think you're better than us, then what the f**ck are you doing???"

"Not only do I want an elite President, I want one who is embarassingly superior to me!"

He has an excellent point. Since when is it a good thing for our presidents to be "someone I'd want to have a beer with"? Why is it a good thing for the President of the United States, the most powerful country on earth, with the ability to wipe out the rest of humanity, to be someone who is no better than the average Joe on the street?

Shouldn't we at least have some kind of job requirements for President? A certain IQ level, perhaps, or a test they should be able to pass? Maybe at least some good references?

Heck, people who adopt pets have to pass more requirements than the President of the United States!

I'm sure you will agree that there has to be a better way to elect a President than the way it's being done today. I just don't know what it is.

Hope you enjoy the "Daily Show" video!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A New Look

I was visiting over at Suzi Riot's place and her blog's new look inspired me to do something new with mine. It's still pink - couldn't change it TOO much - but thought I'd go for a little cleaner, easier-to-read look. Hope you like it! I can always change it back if I decide I like the old format better. I figured since it's spring, this would be a good symbolic time for a change.

Haiku for the occasion:

At long last it's spring
The crocuses are blooming
The mockingbird sings.

The grass is greener
And the air is getting warm
I wear my flip flops.

Time for capri pants
'Tis the season for blogging
Sitting on the deck.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Spring is Finally Here and the Campaign Drags On

I can't take it anymore. This is way too long between primaries. The days drag on and on, the accusations go back and forth, and still the Pennsylvania primaries haven't happened yet.

I also find that my vow to keep out of the Democratic fray and just post about John McCain is weakening. I find I just can't muster the hatred for John McCain that I can for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, so I don't have the urge to post about him. Yes, I know he was involved in the Keating Five, I know he called his wife an unmentionable word and is prone to erratic rages, I've learned his positions are not what we might have thought and are as right-wing as any other neocon, at least during this campaign (who knows what he'll do when elected). But I'm just not getting that same strong urge to post about these things that I always felt about Bush.

What I am feeling is an urge to post about the Democrats. And I think I'll have to go back to doing so. Things keep happening that I want to comment about here!

First of all, I was over at Sue J's place, Nailing Jello to the Wall, and her recent post about Obama caught my eye. Apparently he has been using the civil rights struggle as part of his own personal story, and playing fast and loose with the timing -- much as Hillary has been accused of exaggerating her experience landing in Bosnia under sniper fire, or the story of a health care nightmare that turned out to be more complicated than she made it out to be.

As I said over at Sue's place, Obama likes to speak in metaphor and symbolism, and if something doesn't fit, to him it doesn't matter because it should fit - it makes a much better story. And in all fairness to Hillary, it's the same thing as her story about the sniper fire.

Let's face it: Politicians stretch the truth; they have stump speeches with specific examples of situations that may or may not be 100% true because they are metaphorical and symbolic. They say things because people will respond to them. I'm not saying it's good or bad, it just is. And both candidates are doing it. And so is John McCain, if anyone were paying more attention to what he's saying.

What is concerning is that since Obama is the Candidate of Change, I would feel better if he were not fudging the truth this way. We expect it of Hillary, but those of us who support Obama were hoping he wouldn't be doing it.

But I guess when it comes down to it, all politicians are still...politicians.

The other recent event that has annoyed me is McCain and Clinton are jumping all over Obama for having said working-class people are "bitter," saying it was derogatory and elitist. According to the NY Times, this is how it went down:

"At the fund-raiser in San Francisco last Sunday, Mr. Obama outlined challenges facing his presidential candidacy in the coming primaries in Pennsylvania and Indiana, particularly persuading white working-class voters who, he said, fell through the cracks during the Bush and Clinton administrations.

'So it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations,' Mr. Obama said, according to a transcript on the Huffington Post Web site, which on Friday published the comments.

The remarks touched off a torrent of criticism from Mrs. Clinton, Mr. McCain and Republican activists and party officials, all accusing Mr. Obama of elitism and belittling the working class. Mr. Obama forcefully rejected those charges when he arrived at a rally here on Friday evening, drawing a standing ovation in a crowded gymnasium when he painted both of his rivals as entrenched Washington insiders.

'No, I’m in touch,' Mr. Obama said. 'I know exactly what’s going on. I know what’s going on in Pennsylvania, I know what’s going on in Indiana, I know what’s going on in Illinois. People are fed up, they’re angry, they’re frustrated, they’re bitter and they want to see a change in Washington. That’s why I’m running for president of the United States of America.'"

It seems to me that this election season has dragged on far too long, when a remark such as this, made at a campaign fundraiser, is immediately pounced upon by pundits and politicians alike and blown all out of proportion.

Hillary too has suffered from this problem -- every little thing either of them say is recorded, posted on YouTube, publicized across all the news channels that have to fill their many hours with as many tidbits as possible.

It just results in more tit for tat, more back and forth, more sniping, more divisiveness.

I'm not happy. I wish the campaign had ended months ago. This system is broken; the primary season started in 2006 and has been going on forever. The U.S. needs to have a new system, one more like Canada or the UK: Have a vote of no-confidence in the current government and then declare it time for an election, give people about 6 weeks to campaign and then - boom - have an election.

We'd have had a Democratic administration for the past two years if we had their system, instead of suffering through the endless distraction of these campaigns while other issues get pushed aside.

By the time anyone is elected they'll be so exhausted that whoever is elected won't be able to govern. Especially if it's McCain, who's already old!

On the bright side, at least it's finally spring here in the New Jersey suburbs. We finally got a few warm spring days and suddenly the magnolias are blooming, the cherry blossoms sprouting and the leaves are budding. There are crocuses and daffodils, and bright yellow forsythia.

But throughout it all is the endless drumbeat of politics and I'm getting cynical about the whole thing...I hope we progressives will be able to keep up our enthusiasm and be able to get the votes out in November, if we can ever get there.

I'll end by posting a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay, one of my favorite poets. Although known for her love poems and sonnets, she also had a number of political poems. This one may or may not be one of them, but I find it strangely appropriate, especially the part about the maggots...


To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only under ground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.
Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

-Edna St. Vincent Millay

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Catching Up - And an Award!

Sorry I have been missing in action this week. Between going away last weekend and being deluged with work-related stuff, my brain didn't even have the energy to do anything after my day but passively watch The Daily Show and fall asleep during Colbert.

First of all, I would like to thank Let's Talk for bestowing upon me the E for Excellence award! I really appreciate it!

And I must also belatedly thank Sue J. of Nailing Jello to the Wall and Dr. Zaius of Zaius Nation for honoring me with this award back before I went on vacation last month. And Tomcat from Politics Plus gave me the award as well although with his many posts I can't locate the exact date!

So to all of you, thank you so much, you are all Bloggers of Excellence and I am humbled by being honored by you.

I think by now so many of the blogs I read have received the award that let me just say I award it to all of the blogs on my sidebar, which are all excellent and I hope you will browse through and enjoy them.

Moving on...

I'll give you a quick update on our trip to the Adirondacks. First of all, we were really lucky with the weather: It was a beautiful sunshiney weekend and the temperatures were springlike. There was indeed snow in the higher elevations where we were looking for our weekend getaway. The snow was piled high everywhere, but it was old snow; you know, that kind of crusty, ice crystally snow that has a coating of black road dirt on it, not the pretty white fluffy stuff. Plus it was in the process of melting with much vigor, especially after the big rainstorm they had had up there on Friday. This resulted in mud - lots of mud, everywhere. And of course it hadn't occurred to us to bring boots, so we had to give up any thought of keeping our feet clean while walking around.

The realtor who took us around to the places we were investigating was new at the job, and not that familiar with the area. In fact, she hadn't seen the houses she took us to herself, so it was a learning experience for us all.

The first one we were looking for was down the end of an unpaved road. We kept driving and driving, following the realtor's car, and finally came to a barricade that said "Road Closed." She was sure that the house was supposed to be on the left side of the road so we assumed we hadn't reached it yet as we hadn't seen anything on the left that matched the house's description. So we decided to walk a ways down the road and see if we could find it after the barricade. Diva was with us so she joined us and we marched on down the increasingly muddy road full of ice and potholes.

After about 3/4 of a mile we realized there was no way this house was this far down the road, and turned back. Going back was mostly uphill, so by the time we got back to the car we had had a better workout than we'd had in months! Diva was satisfied for the day and slept in the back of the car for the rest of the afternoon.

Once back in the cars, we drove back up the road and realized we had gone right past the house without realizing it; it was on the opposite side of the road from what the realtor expected. So we finally got to see this house, which turned out to be quite nice inside; lots of knotty pine, a fireplace, nice flow to the rooms.

The other two places we looked at were not as tempting; the first was still unfinished inside and had no fireplace, nor any hope of putting one in from the way it was arranged. The other one needed a great deal of work and was being occupied by a 36-year-old bachelor whose housekeeping habits, to say the least, left something to be desired. I have a good imagination and can picture what a place would look like if it were cleaned out, but this was a bit beyond what I'd want to deal with. It's too bad, too, because it had a great view.

So, we continue our search for a weekend getaway. There are many more places for sale up in that region and we will want to see more of them before making a decision to buy something.

While we were up there, we had dinner in a nice old restaurant in Johnstown, where we were staying. The restaurant is in a Greek Revival house that was built in 1798 and serves relatively gourmet food. We were seated in the bar area as the restaurant side was full.

We ordered our meals (salmon for me, pork tenderloin for DH), and the waitress explained they included several courses. After we finished our soup, she came back and said "Are you ready for your corn fritters?" We had noticed on the menu that we had a choice of corn fritters or sorbet, but the way she said "corn fritters" made us feel that to order anything else would just not be the thing to do. So we said "sure," and a few minutes later, she brought out these dishes with what looked like large round pieces of fried dough, covered in - maple syrup. We dug in, and while they were extremely tasty, corn fritters with maple syrup seemed a very unusual palate cleanser between courses!

Naturally once our main meals came we weren't quite as hungry as we would have been, but we enjoyed them anyway.

In the meantime, a group of men came in and sat at another table in the bar. There were two older men with white hair, and three younger men in their 30's - all dressed casually, flannel shirts and jeans. They started talking about guns and which guns are the best guns, and one of the younger men went off on a long paean of praise about one particular type of gun, and what a great gun it is, and how you can use for anything, and how he once shot a moose at 400 feet right in the forehead with it, and he uses it to get white tails all the time, and so on.

I was sitting there listening to this and I said to my husband, "This sure isn't a conversation you would hear in suburban New Jersey."

I also couldn't quite imagine either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton sitting around with those guys talking about guns. McCain would probably have been able to fit right in.

Driving through the towns in upstate New York I could see the way prosperity has kind of passed them by; the houses are all older, many need paint. There are a lot of makeshift repairs on houses and on cars. The people aren't poor, but they aren't rich, and haven't been rich recently. I felt as if this is the "middle America" that is suffering the most from the Bush administration's policies, and that these are the people that the Democrats need to address in a lot of states that have similar issues to this region of New York.

But unless the Democratic candidates can make them believe they understand them at a very basic level, what they say about economic policies may not matter. I hope they'll be able to make that connection.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Haiku When You Don't Know What to Do

It rhymes, right? I thought it was catchy. And it pretty much sums up my blogging abilities for this week.

After a rough week at work, I do not have any mental energy to write something scathing about New Jersey Governor Corzine's plan to cut funding to our state's parks while still leaving plenty of pork in the budget elsewhere. I'll get into that over the weekend when I have time to write!

We're heading up to the Adirondacks on Saturday and are spending a night up there so we'll have time to go around with a realtor and look at property. We're seriously thinking of buying a small cabin (preferably with a lot of land) in the southern Adirondacks, so we can use it as a weekend getaway; and in the long run perhaps we could retire up there for part of the year.

This adventure isn't for the faint of heart - I hear they still have a large quantity of snow on the ground up there!

So here we go with the haiku:

Time to get away
To a land still white with snow
Better there than here.

To wide open fields
Stretching to the horizon
Mountains high above.

I'll skip the laundry
And forget about my job
Time to just relax.

Diva is coming
She'll romp around in the woods
And sniff lots of stuff.

She's tired of indoors
And sick of the same old park
She'll love something new.

Baxter will stay home
For a night all on his own
He'll be Master of the House!

No gourmet dinners
But lots of peace and quiet
What more could we want?

I'll try to catch up on the Blog World this weekend!