Sunday, December 31, 2006

Joy and Beauty for year end post

I recently came across some files of paintings I had saved while browsing the internet. For my last post for this year, I thought I would share some of them here. I don't have all the names and references about them, I just saved them because I liked them.

This painting is fun to me. It's done in a traditional style, it's pleasant to look at, and I find the subjects amusing; two teenagers, slumping in their chairs, just like real teenagers do. Dress them in tee-shirts and bluejeans, and they could be swapping mp3 files on their iPods. Technology and fashion change more than people do.

These others I don't know much about, other than I saved them for their beauty and joyful vibes:

Joy and Beauty refreshes and inspires us. May we all have more of it in this approaching New Year.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Farm Report 12/30/06

13 Giant Brides...

... for 12 Dwarf Brothers

I couldn't resist the title, the situation reminded me of that play "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers". But this story didn't end in matrimonial bliss.

We have twelve Bantam rooster brothers who have had the run of the yard for a while now. Last week, we decided to let the 13 big hens out to share the yard too. The combination of giant females to small males was funny. Talk about a mis-match!

The roosters started out doing mating dances around the large ladies, but the gals were not impressed. One was so annoyed, she smacked one of the roosters with such force that she flipped him into a tub of water. The two groups now mostly ignore each other.

Here is a subject I was too busy this summer to post about:

"Mother of the Year" turns into Psycho Mom

You may remember our Coachen-Bantam Hen, Turendot. She became an Uber Mom, playing mommy to 40 + chicks, and I joked for a while that she was "Mother of the Year" for comforting so many, stuffing them under her wings and body, and even letting them sit on her back:

Well, she can turn those maternal feelings on and off like a light switch. When she decided enough was enough, she went ballistic, and through consistantly applied vicious pecking, managed to establish an "no cuddle zone" around her for about three or four weeks, before she finally started to chill out.

There's nothing wrong with that of course; it's just nature's balancing act. But it was funny to watch the sudden change.

I like doing the Farm Report posts, but they take time to pull together, and the busier I get with the farm, the less time I have to post about it. So this past year I did a lot of posts about politics, because they are mostly cutting and pasting excerpts that I've read of other people's articles, which is less time consuming than creating posts from scratch. But I am hoping that in the comming new year I will be able to do more of a mixture of things in my posts, more diverse topics and a better balance of the serious and the fun.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Troops in Iraq snub John Kerry

I guess the troops didn't appreciate his little "joke" about their intelligence.

More details from Michelle Malkin: Lonely, I'm Mr. Lonely.

A portion of her excerpt from Ben of Mesopotamia's blog:

[...] Finally, the next morning, Senator Kerry ate chow at the Dining Facility. Normally when a Senator/Representative visits, he is joined by a contingent of soldiers/Marines/airmen from his home state. Despite the fact that the MP unit responsible for Green Zone security is an Army Reserve unit from Massachusetts, not a single soldier went to sit with him. (By contrast, Bill O'Reilly, host of that terrible shoutfest on Fox, had over 400 soldiers waiting in line to meet him on Saturday).

The day before, Kerry held a press conference there, and none of the MSM showed up. Even they are shunning him.

Can the Democrats seriously be thinking of running Kerry again as a presidental candidate? It would seem to me that they ought be afraid of getting trapped in John Kerry's mouth.

12/06/07 CORRECTION: There has been some verification that Kerry sought out an empty table intentionally, so that he could talk to reporters privately. So that may be true of this photo. Yet there are also reports that many soldiers declined to sit with or meet with him; that he's not been too popular. Both could be true, you decide.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Trees and their ornaments

The above picture is a picture of my parent's Christmas tree. I wasn't there for that Christmas, but I recognize the tree ornaments so well, which make it my family's Christmas tree. Many of the ornaments came from my grandparents. Old ornaments are so unique, you can't buy ones like them anymore. This tree has an angel on top, with a cloth dress and a porcelain head, and hair like a doll. I think it was made in the 1930's or 40's. My sister has it now.

We have our first Christmas tree this year since moving to Oregon. It's small and not very fancy, but it is a cheery presence:

The star is meant for a bigger tree. Perhaps next year?

Related links:

Two Cats Trash a Christmas tree
Two very naughty cats have their way with someone's tree. (This is one of many reasons why OUR cats live outdoors!)

The Chronological History of the Christmas Tree
I thought I already knew this, but their are more details than I imagined.

The Antique Christmas Lights Museum
Even I remember some of this stuff. They don't make'm like this anymore.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Christmas Poem for Our Soldiers

Here is a Christmas poem that has been circulating via email:

A Soldier's Christmas

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
my daughter beside me, angelic in rest.

Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree, I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.

My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep
in perfect contentment, or so it would seem.
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eye when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.

My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
and I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

"What are you doing?" I asked without fear
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts,
to the window that danced with a warm fire's light
then he sighed and he said "It's really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night"

"Its my duty to stand at the front of the line,
that separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.

My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December,"
then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.

I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red white and blue... an American flag.

"I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home,
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat,
I can carry the weight of killing another
or lay down my life with my sisters and brothers
who stand at the front against any and all,
to insure for all time that this flag will not fall."

"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone.
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.

For when we come home, either standing or dead,
to know you remember we fought and we bled
is payment enough, and with that we will trust.
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

Amen. I was curious as to the origins of the poem. It's been circulating via email with the title "A Different Christmas Poem", attributed to a Lt. Giles. I discovered from that a Lt. Giles had forwarded the poem in email, and his name at the end became mistaken for the author. The actual author is Michael Marks, and you can read about him and more of his poetry at his page at the International War Veteran's Poetry Archives.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Childhood, Past and Present

I got this email from my dad, about how kids from prior decades managed to survive so many of the things lawyers and government agencies interfere with in more recent decades. I think being a kid in these more modern times has changed drastically in many ways, as this email shows us.

I am reprinting it here, with photos of places where I used to play as a kid.

the 1930's, 40's, 50's, 60's and 70's !!

First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they were pregnant.

They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn't get tested for diabetes.

Then after that trauma, we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cribs covered with bright colored lead-based paints.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention, the risks we took hitch- hiking .

As infants & children, we would ride in cars with no car seats, booster seats, seat belts or air bags.

Riding in the back of a pick up on a warm day was always a special treat.

We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle. We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this.

We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank koolade made with sugar, but we weren't overweight because ... WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING !

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.

No one was able to reach us all day. And we were O.K.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

We did not have Playstations, Nintendo's, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 150 channels on cable, no video movies or DVD's, no surround-sound, CD's or Ipods, no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet or chat rooms... WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.

We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.

We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls and, although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes.

We rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them!

Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!!

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!

These generations have produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever!

The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.

We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned HOW TO DEAL WITH IT ALL!

If YOU are one of them ... CONGRATULATIONS!

You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before the lawyers and the government regulated so much of our lives for our own good .

And while you are at it, forward it to your kids so they will know
how brave (and lucky) their parents were.

Kind of makes you want to run through the house with scissors, doesn't it?!

- Author Unknown -

About the photos:

Photos 1 and 2 are the backyard of my childhood home, summer and winter. We kids spent many happy hours there year round.

Photo 3 is a grand old Maple tree near our home, that was always very dramatic each fall.

Photo 4 is the last family dog my parents had. She was a Labrador mix named Kizzy, who was rescued from certain death at the dog pound. She was very sweet natured. Here she is at the front door of the house I grew up in.

Kizzy is long gone, as is the house; it was torn down to widen a road. A drive-through ATM stands where our house used to be. The backyard is now a parking lot for the bank. The old Maple tree was declared a safety hazard and cut down; the spot is now the front lawn of the bank.

Change is the one thing in life you can always count on. Sometimes it's for the better, sometimes not. I just wish it was easier for kids now to enjoy some of the simpler things we all took for granted.

Related Link:

10 Days without Windows... The Machine Stops
This is a post of mine from December 2005, that looks at the generation that has grown up with computers.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Europe: Dreaming of a Halal Christmas?

Cordoba Cathedral, Spain. A future Mosque?

Paul Belien of the Brussels Journal blog has a post about current Muslim/Christian issues in Europe:

Dispatch from the Eurabian Front: I’m Dreaming of a Halal Christmas

In the Netherlands, citizens are told they may only bring Halal food to a traditional neighborhood Christmas pot-luck dinner organized by the Red Cross. Christmas has become a sensitive issue there, as Muslims are protesting against the government. Also worth noting is that Dutch Television has recently accused the Turkish government of influencing Dutch elections.

Spain has their own Muslim controversies:

[...] In Spain, Muslim radicals demand the right to worship in Cordoba cathedral. They claim the building is theirs because it was in use as a mosque during the Arab occupation of Spain from the 8th to the 15th century. Cordoba was the capital of “al-Andalus,” Arab-occupied Spain. The Catholic Church refuses to set part of the cathedral aside for Muslim prayer (after all, Spain isn’t Belgium). Prior to the Arab occupation, Cordoba cathedral had always been a Christian church.

Cordoba currently has a Muslim population of approximately 1,000 people – all of them recent immigrants, mostly from Morocco. Saudi millionaires, however, plan to build the second largest mosque of the world in Cordoba. They want the town to become the “European Mecca.” Around 100 mosques already exist in Andalusia. The city of Seville recently granted permission to build a new mosque on council land. The plan has run into opposition from local residents, who have managed to get a court order to halt construction of the mosque. [...]

(bold emphasis mine) The Hagia Sofia in Turkey had been built as a Christian Church, then converted to a Mosque. It's now a museum; the Muslims there will not allow it to become a church again. The Muslim arguments on these issues seem to be very one-sided. Their side.

Interior of Cordoba Cathedral/Mosque

In Britain, there are plans to build a mosque large enough for 70,000 worshipers. It would be the largest in Europe, unless the Cordoba Mosque project beats them to it. But the British Mosque is being opposed by moderate Muslims there, who say it is being financed by an Islamic extremist group.

Meanwhile France is on high alert, having thwarted three terrorist plots in the past 18 months. A bit of Irony here:

[...] Though France opposed the war in Iraq, Islamist terrorists consider it as bad an enemy as America, Britain and Spain. Last September, Al Qaeda posted a video on the Internet in which its deputy leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, vowed to hit “American and French crusaders.”

Even Ségolène Royal, the French Socialist’s presidential candidate, seems to be a possible target. She has been under police protection since August. Last week, Royal visited a leader of the Islamist Hizbollah in Lebanon, whom she told that she agreed with his assessment of America and Israel. Nevertheless, it is the Islamists the French police feel they have to protect Royal against, not American or Israeli hit squads.

(bold emphasis mine) Isn't that rich? Once again, leftist idiots rush to align themselves with people who would destroy them. It's worth noting that Ségolène Royal wanted to have a meeting with Hillary Clinton, to show solidarity with the American Democrat party. Clinton refused, as she knows it would not help her own efforts to run for president. She'll have plenty of time to make nice with the French Socialists after she becomes president.

Read the full article to find out more details of Europe's Halal Christmas.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Neville Chamberlain of our time


David Zucker (creator of the hilarious Albright/North Korea video) made this comical comparison of Chamberlain and Baker. It's funny in one way, but sad in another, because it's all too true. It amazes me that anyone can take the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group seriously, and it's disturbing to me that the MSM keeps pushing it as a solution.

Have we learned nothing?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Scary Roads

More thrills from Dark Roasted Blend: The Most Dangerous Roads in the World. Here are just a few samples:

These first three pics are of Bolivia's "Road of Death". Not exactly ideal for two-way traffic.

Then we have this Russian Siberian Road to Yakutsk. Not exactly a well-maintained road, considering it's an official federal government highway.

And this "tourist path" in China is the stuff nightmares are made of. I think it's at the site of an old Buddhist Monastery or somthing, there are some buildings above. You should see where they put the outhouses.

These are just some samples, visit Dark Roasted Blend for more photos and commentary.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Tiny Critters

Here are a few samples from a collection of photos hosted on some pages, devoted to Tiny Animals On Fingers:

Visit the link to see lots more. Hat tip to Dark Roasted Blend for the link.

Dark Roasted also has some other interesting bits of... er... Trivia?