Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Our Latest American Hero #104

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Army Spc. Hugo V. Mendoza, 29, of Glendale, Ariz., assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Airborne Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Vicenza, Italy; died Oct. 25 in Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when he came in contact with enemy forces using rocket-propelled grenade, machine-gun and small-arms fire during combat operations.

“Army Medic From Glendale Dies In Ambush In Afghanistan”

An Army medic who graduated from Trevor Browne High School in Phoenix was killed Thursday in combat in Afghanistan

Family members said Saturday that Specialist Hugo V. Mendoza, 29,of Glendale, was an avid churchgoer who dreamed of becoming a firefighter.

Mendoza, 29, died Thursday in Korengal Valley after his unit was ambushed by enemy forces, according to the Department of Defense Web site. .

Mendoza's brother, Carlos Mendoza, Jr. of Glendale said his brother was deployed in June to Vicenza, Italy, where his unit is based, The two brothers lived together with Carlos' wife and three children.
"He liked to bowl and liked to play with my kids," Carlos said. "The older he got, the more loving he got."

In a tearful but steady voice, Carlos, 37, said Hugo joined the service last year to get medical training.

"Once he got money for being in service, he was going to use it to go to school and follow his dream of being a firefighter," Carlos said.

He worked in sheet metal construction after he graduated from high school, his brother said.

Since joining the army, Mendoza remained close with family, calling his mother Sara Mendoza in Detroit every time he had the chance. The Mendozas last heard from him Oct. 17, when he left a cheerful message on the family's answering machine.

"He sounded in good spirits and was in a good mood . . . calling to tell us how he was," Carlos Mendoza said.

While mourning their loss, family and friends said they are trying to remember all the positive things about Hugo.

"He had an infectious smile," his brother said. "He treated you the way you wanted to be treated. He was very giving of himself and his time......."

Monday, October 29, 2007

Deforestation Warning

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Tarzan, watch out!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

This Old House #11

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
As I mentioned in a recent post, the rains which we so desperately needed (and which fell soundly from Wednesday through Saturday morning at about 10 am) have postponed the completion of C's work on my sunroom.

And still, the work is 99%+ done. I called C. last evening and told him that I planned to move his tools to the garage; and he agreed that he could finish the job from there. This allowed me to begin the first phase of MY work on the interior: The Floor.

So after moving lots of stuff into the garage, I spent the lionshare of the day on my knees applying an industrial strength solvent to the tile floor and then scrubbing and scrubbing to remove the caked on waxes and grime. The work best revealed the blue in the corner square tiles. Now the floor needs to rest for at least 72 hours before I can begin applying coats of a semi-gloss sealer. And then the painting, the furnishing, the window treatments (already priced at $1016!)......

Maybe I'll have it all done by the New Year!

What I'm Listening To #30

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
You know I'm a "Diva Whore". And it really runs the gamut. Be it Annie Lennox or Kathleen Battle, I'm lost equally in the audio presence of "Little Bird" or "L'Amero Saro Costante". Members of my Diva Club include: Mary Chapin Carpenter, Patty Griffith, Rosie Thomas, Cher, Ella Fitzgerald, Gloria Lane, Rosanne Cash, Ani Di Franco, Maria Calais, Billie Holiday, Iris DeMente, and on and on and on...never met a diva that I didn't love!

Enter into this world Suzy Bogguss. No stranger to the music scene and a truly talented vocalist. "Sweet Danger" is her newest CD. And as much as I love her voice, it's really uneven in its offerings. My favorite is "Even If That Were True". It capitalizes on her acoustic strengths and bucks the "country" label by dabbling in smooth jazz, even beguine sensibilities.

Suzy is a talented singer who has yet to find the right combination of songs, arrangements, production values to create the blockbuster CD that I feel is still lurking within her creative heart.

What I'm Watching #113

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
"Friends Forever" (Vennes For Altid) is a Danish film shot back in 1986. It tells the story of 16 year old Kristian who finds himself in a new school and desperate to fit in. Most of his classmates remain stand-offish; except for an odd, self-confident (metro-sexual) loner named Henrik who makes overtures of friendship. At first Kristian is enamored with Henrik's sincere free-spirit, but once he learns that friendship with him is poison to his chances of fitting in with the in crowd, he chooses the in crowd. It's leader is Patrick who quickly makes Kristian his favorite.

The story is universal in its portrayal of high school social politics. It's complicated when Patrick suddenly moves into a room in a communal apartment building and falls in love with the older captian of a local soccer team! Kristian is left in a cloud of confusion and betrayal....but like the title suggests, all is resolved in the end.

Which is really what I want to comment on: The Ending. I've never been one to come to any party on time, so perhaps this is yesterday's news, but what the frick is it about movies (perfectly fine movies that tell absolutely adequate stories) that end by suddenly bursting into a half-assed, high school quality, ensemble musical number!!! Is this a genre that I was never taught about in school!?

The first time I encountered it was in the Scott Campbell AIDS film, "Longtime Companion". After sitting through a wrenching story of love, loyalty, disease and death; the entire cast suddenly shows up at a Fire Island tea dance to frolick again in blissful friendship. More recently it was the French film "Cote d'Azur" (WIW #93 15 JUL 07). And in "Venner For Altid" the entire cast suddenly appears on a stage in a palacial park dressed in everything from Elizabethan Costume to a tutu with roller blades! It's frankly humiliating, disconcerting in reference to the previous 93 minutes of the movie, and I'm sure that my expression in encountering this was once again priceless.

Filmmakers, listen to me! This just doesn't WORK. Don't ever do it again! (I'm using my TEACHER'S voice...)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Tarot Time: The Universe

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Haven't played with my Tarot cards in months. Pulled them out tonight and plucked this one out of the deck. It's "The Universe".

It asks one to reflect on the power of possibility. All elements of life wait on the fringe for their possible roles. Infinity hovers above the head and a hollow center awaits fulfillment even as the eye of the soul gazes out from the inner universe. And open hands tenderly await the arrival of gifts from a higher source.

The card is a powerful catalyst to the potential for growth in a humble, seeking, open spirit exposed to a benevolent and omnipowerful universe.

Much I have to consider now....

A Gift To Christen

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
I had hoped to have the work done on my sunroom by this past Wednesday, but this spell of rain has set the completion back until next Wednesday. But at 99% complete I'm shopping for a gift to christen the room, and I think I've found it.

The New Yorker, my beloved weekly, has a massive marketing department for it's prints and cartoons and covers. And this one by artist Harry Bliss from the January 27, 2003 issue fits the bill!

Oh my, my, my.........

Pray To Them

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
This from the most recent issue of "The Sun".

"Years ago I heard a story of a Native American spiritual leader who was in a circle with several environmentalists who were drumming and singing. One of the environmentalists prayed, "Please save the spotted owl, the river otter, the peregrine falcon." The Native American got up and whispered, "What are you doing, friend?"

"I'm praying for the animals," the environmentalist replied.

"Don't pray for the animals. Pray to the animals." The Native American paused, then continued, "You're so arrogant. You think you're bigger than they are, right? Don't pray for the redwood. Pray that you can become as courageous as a redwood. Ask the redwood what it wants."

As it says in the Bible, "Ask, and ye shall receive."

Ask the pandas what they want. They will tell you. The question is: Are you willing to do it?"

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

What I'm Watching #112

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Derek Jarman's version of Christopher Marlowe's play "Edward II" is essentially Jarman. It's a combination of classical dialogue with contemporary costumes and props. Set in minimal sets, the story is well done, sexy, and disturbing. Again, typical Jarman.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

My Quilting Ways #03

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
This is my third quilt, and it was inspired by the Chinese Checkers gameboard that my grandmother always had for me and my sister to play during our summer visits. We'd play for hours on those warm July afternoons sitting on her front porch, munching her homemade chocolate chip cookies, and stopping to chat with neighbors who would happen by.

The quilt features a game in progress with purple and green "marbles"--circular appliqués with extra batting to make them puff up off of the surface of the quilt. Quilted onto each of the corners are Chinese floral design motifs representing the four seasons. It's handquilted, also by yours truly. Someday, I hope my neice acquires it...but who's to say?

This Old House #10

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Spent much of the weekend painting. Keep admiring the attention to detail that C. puts on his work. And I learned that you cannot use porch/concrete paint when the humidity is 87%! It refuses to dry, it runs, and eventually it leaves an effect on the surface not unlike that of expensive Chinese porcelans fired with that dark green runny glaze! If on the other hand, you apply it on a day with 48% humidity, it'll dry in a matter of minutes.

C. tells me that he plans to be done by the 27th. And for my money, it's been a project well worth the wait.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Our Latest American Hero #103

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Army Spc. Frank L. Cady III, 20, of Sacramento, Calif.; assigned to the 4th Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.; died Oct. 10 in Baghdad of injuries sustained during a vehicle rollover

"Fort Riley Soldier Killed In Iraq Vehicle Rollover"

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Frank L. Cady III was a veritable “kid genius” who could have been a formidable attorney, his mother said.

But Cady’s dreams took him in another direction after seeing the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, she said. He decided to join the Army after graduating from the Visions in Education charter high school in 2005, and deployed to Iraq in January.

Spc. Cady, 20, died Oct. 10 of injuries from a vehicle rollover in Baghdad, where he served as a chemical operations specialist, the Department of Defense announced Oct. 15. He was assigned to the 4th Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, based at Fort Riley, Kan.

The cause of the rollover was under investigation, military officials said.

“My son died living his dream,” said his mother, Billie-Jo Hull, 35. “How many people could say that, if they died today, they would be living their dream?”

Friends and family members also described Cady as a talkative young man who’d do anything for a laugh.

“He was an amazing kid. There was something about him. He had a sparkle in his eyes — I call it a hint of mischief,” said his friend, former Army Pfc. Tasha Feenan. “He was always there for you no matter what, even if you didn’t want him to be. We lost one of the few genuine people left in this world the day he died.”

What To My Wondering Eyes.....

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
We had that cold front pass though last night. The one that spawned tornados from Oklahoma to Michigan and killed people earlier in the week. We were given to understand it would pass rather quietly through the DC area, and I guess for the most part it did.

However, it also managed to twist a pair of rather large branches out of the crown of my monumental sugar maple! And the weirdest part was that it landed both of them in my driveway without hitting my car or ripping loose any of the wires (electricity, cable, phone, DSL) that all ride into my home right up the middle of my driveway.

Top is from driveway to the street; bottom is visa versa.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Originally uploaded by Randuwa
....the RAINBOW!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ticklebox Repair

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
How many Republicans does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

None, Republicans don't screw in lightbulbs, they screw in airport men's rooms!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Senate

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Are we fairly representated? This is the question that I recently heard asked in which the answer was proprosed that only 11% of the U.S. population voted for Senators who are holding the other 89% of us in political and progressive stasis.

It seemed a reasonable idea at first glance; but I did the math for myself. And here are the results. 43% of Americans are represented by Republican Senators; and 57% by Democratic Senators. While not as meager as 11%, it's still a margine any politician in his or her right mind would die for! So why lie about it?

Let the Republicans continue to lie about everything from WMD to their grandmother's age, but let us just tell the truth. The truth is sufficient, and it's light is growing brighter every day!

Friday, October 12, 2007

What I'm Watching #111

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
It is simply an amazing film. "Before Night Falls" is the story of Cuban dissident poet/writer Reinaldo Arenas. It is the story of a boy born an outcaste, and cast out by his family, his culture, and eventually his own body. It is the story of a man who discovers the deepest levels of his own integrity, the deepest joys of his true friends, and a resilience born of those who betrayed him. With cameos by Johnny Depp and Sean Penn, the show is still the sole vehicle of Javier Bardem. An awesome performance.

It left me crying my eyes out, which is certainly a step up from coughing my head off!


Silver Lining

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Been home sick for three days. Not on the edge of death sort of sick, but can't stop coughing and hocking up phlem until my head aches, my chest aches and my throat burns with the force of all the coughing...

While not well enough to go to work, or run a marathon; I find wonder and delight in odd things. This image is an early morning reflection on the ceiling of my bedroom from light passing through the wind blown leaves of the trumpeter vine outside of my room.

Be well!

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Now. there's a pine tree with, cones!


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

This Old House #9

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
When is there an up-side to being sick? When you can lend a hand between kleenex and cough drops (and naps!) to assist your carpenters in the renovation of your sun porch into a sunroom. The focus was the interior. Wood panel wainscoating up, and drywall 95% in place! Woo Woo! (as my ex- used to say on such occasions!)

At the end of the day, I stepped across the street to get the whole effect and was pleased. There's still a good deal of exterior detailing to be done--it's a cake without icing; although, it is getting a primer and then first coat of paint to better seal the base-wood from Mother Nature. The closer to completion, the more real it seems.

Thanks, again, J.!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Our Latest American Hero #102

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Army Spc. Rachael L. Hugo, 24, of Madison, Wis.; assigned to the 303rd Military Police Company, 97th Military Police Battalion, 89th Military Police Brigade, U.S. Army Reserve, Jackson, Mich.; died Oct. 5 in Bayji, Iraq, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked her unit using an improvised explosive device and small-arms fire.

“Combat Medic Dies In Insurgent Attack Weeks Before Planned Return Home”

A 24-year-old Madison woman who was temporarily assigned to a Michigan U.S. Army Reserve unit has been killed in action in Iraq.

Spc. Rachael L. Hugo died Friday of wounds suffered in an attack by insurgents using an improvised explosive device and small arms in Bayji, Iraq, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

Hugo, who was single, is the daughter of Kermit and Ruth Hugo, who live on the east side of Madison. A neighbor said the family also has a younger son.

The Hugos could not be reached but are planning to hold a news conference at their home at 11 a.m. Monday, said Maj. Annmarie Daneker, a public affairs officer with the Army Reserve.

"Right now they are just trying to gather their thoughts," Daneker said.

Hugo was assigned to the Army Reserve's 303rd Military Police Company, 97th Military Police Battalion, 89th Military Police Brigade in Jackson, Mich.

Hugo was a so-called "cross level," meaning she was assigned to the Michigan unit from her unit in Madison, Daneker said.

"She was a combat medic," she said. "She just filled in."

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Gorgeous, Simply

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
The human body is such a beautiful thing. And this man is like a sculpture from the likes of Michaelangelo. The mix of symmetry and assymetry in the composition; the anonymity of the model, and the geometry of the pose...well, it's simply gorgeous. It lifts the subject out of the lurid and into the nearly abstract world of the beautiful.

What I'm Watching #110

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
"20 Centimeters" is a Spanish film by filmmaker Ramón Salazar. It tells the story of Marietta, a transexual desperately trying to save enough money to have "it" removed. She lives with a hapless dwarf, Tomás, who's petty schemes never get him much farther than the local jail and aspires to play the cello. Her building is inhabited by mostly desperate women who do what they have to to make ends meet. At times her best friend Berta requires Mari and Tomás to watch her little son, Paulito. Into this mix enter the drop dead gorgeous reponedor (Fruit packer...don't miss the symbolism!) who loves Mari just for who she is and specifically for what she still has between her legs.....what's a girl to do?

Well, if you're narcoleptic like Mari, you simply pass out and turn any moment into an extravagant movie musical number~!

Mónica Cervera plays the lead with gusto and pathos. And El reponedor is well played by Spanish Pop Music star, Pablo Puyol. You have a sense that everyone enjoyed making this movie, and it's an enjoyable watch for a lazy afternoon in mid-autumn.

What I'm Reading, Periodically Speaking

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
"The Sun" is a lovely little magazine of ideas and images. Lucious black and white photography abounds in its pages with contain short fiction, essays, an interview (this month with Coleman Barks the most successful translator of the Persian Sufi poet, Rumi); and reader contributions of mini-memoirs. Just the sort of companion for a Indian Summer day on one's deck.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

This Old House #8

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
The work continues.... The siding is up on the exterior now. There remains some ornamental detailing to better blend the design with the rest of the house, and then I get to paint~

The inside penalling has yet to go up, but there's a greater sense of completion now. Yippy!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Phoung's Door

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
This is the door that Phoung wants to bless his home in Vietnam. No one deserves a beautiful door more than him.

I e-mailed a photo like this to his contractor for him and now this door is the buzz of the town! Everyone in his neighborhood wants a door like Phoung's.

A door.... The American dream redux to the Veit Namese dream.