Thursday, July 27, 2006

Coleoptera encounters

While the small, round black beetles that have a magical tendancy to find their way to sheets to take disturbing nips at the skin have faded from our apartment's windowsills (and stopped chomping up the potted avocado trees), the smaller tan ones with black spots still travel occasionally around the bathroom window ledge, wondering, I guess, how they were able to squeeze through in one direction and not the other.

This ground beetle, for example, is one such creature that didn't find its way back to the outdoors until I swept it there (note hair and dust-bunny fluff).

I found it at the back door, between the big wooden part and the flimsy screen part that surely any enterprising insect could pass through.

It's the same beetle I had encountered one night in the bathroom weeks ago. We bonded, you see, and well, I am not versed in insect and had no idea what this thing was, so I feel responsible for its death.

Women have the unique position to be able to contemplate the floor and all its shadows at 4 a.m. from the toilet. . . .bare feet on tile, eerie glow of streetlight in window, sound of snoring nearby. . .

Usual dialog with self: "There might be something crawling around in the dark." You have to be prepared for anything. It's stupid, I know, but some of us only hunt because we don't like getting bitten or crawled on. Most of this "instinct" is reserved for campgrounds and latrines and such, where bugs are expected and thus allowed (by me at least) to remain unadulterated.

Usually, of course, there is nothing in a city apartment water closet.

So I was fairly suprised, being mostly asleep, to see the one corner, one foot from my feet, that always kind of looks like something black and creepy is sitting in it actually come alive with this swift-footed thing.

I assumed it was the once-a-year roach and got ready to smush it with a hairspray bottle (no shoes! insect traveling fast!), but it ran and ran and seemed to be unaffected by my very inaccurate blows. If I had only known . . . .

When ground beetles enter homes, it is an accidental invasion. They cannot survive and reproduce there.

I made so much ruckus about finding this imposing-looking bug that all of us were up now, me, birds and husband, who comes in in time to see me kneeling on the floor, with the lights all on now, peering under the clawfoot tub trying to locate the mega-beetle.

Location of beetle is essential to peace of mind.

No sign of beetle anywhere.

I go back to bed all full of fight and fear. I don't like to leave a job half-done. I don't like to leave a member of the world's largest specied order (350,000 kinds of beetles, or 40 of the insects humans know about) tramping about.

I was sad to discover it last week when I was putting out some plants. We hardly use the back door, barricaded against human invasion as it is. I guess the ground beetle sustained more damage than I thought.

In any kind of war, it's always more disturbing to see corpses when you're not expecting them, after the thrill of "kill, kill, kill" has worn off.

This dying beetle, which I think is a green June beetle, was struggling for life in the Walgreen's parking lot next to my car this morning.

I did not try to save him.

For more photos (not mine, someone named Poul Beckman) of other beetles I'm glad not to encounter, see Living Jewels.


Back from maneuvers, the twin roamers enjoy a brief flat-cat respite together before high temperatures return to Kansas City.

There is nothing I can do about it but complain that 106 ºF is what one expects from Las Vegas or the California valley, for example, but not of the Midwest.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006



This is the kind of weirdness you get when morality meets fascism meets poverty, a woman who seems to walk the walk (she adopted four other-race-than-her kids, who came from the same drug-addicted mom), but also walks the streets promoting paying people for going on birth control or getting sterilized.

I've never seen her, though apparently she's been in my neighborhoods recently. I don't know her real feelings, and disagree with the reporter's lead that she's asking drug addicts to "give up" their right to procreation.

The human body seems to be able to procreate even when it's suffering from toxicity, depression, hunger, illness - amazing. Equally amazing is that since creating reliable birth control methods, humans are so shy about using them. I'd take $300 to supplement my $600 annual contraception bill. Does what I do qualify me as an addict? Personally, I believe my lifestyle as-is would be detrimental to a baby, though I wouldn't ask the state to help me deal with it.

A critic of Project Prevention is quoted as saying that it "ignores the real problem."


Yes, people on drugs need much more than reproductive choice. But what's wrong with helping combat a real symptom? People on drugs tend to be unmotivated, you know. . .is this an appropriate nudge?

I don't mean to be flippant by suggesting children are mere side-effects of sex, though on a biological level, the situation is a straight-forward cause and effect. Who can argue that it's better for drug addicts to give birth to children than not? It's not like anyone is forcing them one way or the other.

And there's no abortion involved, so no one's dying.

It sucks, though, that Barbara Harris is teaching her kids that it's o.k. to post signs on public utility poles.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Inmate foeti

Court ruling today makes Missouri's unique policy of denying women prisoners the option to have an abortion obsolete for now:

At issue was a policy against helping prisoners obtain abortions. In the summer of 2005, the state abandoned a long-standing policy of providing transportation and guards for inmates wanting abortions, except in cases where the inmate's life or health was endangered. The state cited costs and security concerns.

Getting the Jane Doe in this instance to a clinic in St. Louis cost about $350 for the van and guards. Nationally, the average price for a first-trimester abortion (medical or surgical) is $350 to $700, so this was about a thousand-dollar event.

Apparently between 35 and 50 women inmates in Missouri are pregnant on any given day.

Would providing more abortions be too expensive?

The recent explosion of "meth mouth" in our prisons already is requiring a surge in inmate dental care, especially for dentures to replace speed-rotted teeth, though this hasn't resulted overall in a significant cost increase:

In Missouri, such major dental work at state facilities is subcontracted by the company that handles inmates' medical care. The state currently pays $7.50 per day per prisoner for health care, regardless of what's needed, so no major cost increase has been incurred.

However, letting incarcerated women do what non-incarcerated women can legally do, is against our "traditional Missouri values," according to the governor.

What is the sanctity of life?

Admittedly, it's gross to picture the racists and righteous creeps chuckling to themselves about "who's gonna want to take care of a prisoner AND her baby, go ahead, let them abort. . .they were probably sired by some loser anyway - they're probably on drugs," I still think that if a woman who finds herself both in a family way and in "the system," she should be able to get out of the 18-year term part, at least, if she wants to.

On the second day

Noticable difference in bloomage.

Was only comparing it to the sunflowers towering in a friend's yard, anyway;
by those standards,
it's small and tardy.

Root room means a lot.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


For this sunflower the summer so far has been arduous. The soil in which its roots tap water is shallow and concrete-bound.

Happy birthday to Allie. And to all the (half the) people I know who are also July-ites like me: Tracy, Mike, David, Diane, Tricia, Melissa, Damien, Wendy, Grandma, Malcolm, John, James, Kelli.

Crabs of a feather? Am I forgetting anyone? Seems like Gabe was of July also.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Let's sing a song about J.

Can pure charm float a sucessful political career?

Annie Fischer, gush-crush reporter at the Pitch, seems to think so in this week's "This week we love" column.

Exccept when Tony Ortega wrote about dead Confederates unearthed during Sprint Arena excavation, I can never figure out the sarcasm in the too-hip-4-me Village Voice baby that is the Pitch, so I can't be too flippant about Fischer's evaluation of Missouri Representative contender John Joseph Rizzo.

But. . .

I guess Annie Fischer (or Nadia Pflaum, who was the only Pitcher I spotted at the candidate forum) went to college with J.J.? That was his name the last time he ran for office against now-incumbent John Burnett, back when he was indeed a student at Rockhurst.

I've heard the elder Rizzo refer to his son as "Johnny Joe," though, so that supports Fischer's "he's so sweet" take, too:

But we're impressed that Rizzo — still a little shy, by all appearances, but not lacking self-confidence — wasn't fazed by his opponent's jab. Yeah, OK, so he's young. With that beautiful youth comes optimism, tenacity and longish hair shinier than the coat on a black lab in a dog food commercial. Things could certainly be worse, right?

Yup, the kid of 25 does have self-confidence. He is confident enough to stop mid-sentence and say, "no, wait," then back up and continue, almost as if he's memorized a statement and can't catch up with the facts when off-structure.

He was confident enough to gloss over the fact that he really hadn't graduated yet from college during his campaign two years ago. ie: He lied to my face (and my tape recorder).

I'm over that, though, and was hoping that this time around, the young man who, finally, we appreciate, moved out of his parents' home, had learned a thing or two about government.

So far, I see a smoother coat, yes, Annie, and increasing alacrity with "the issues" that people he meets and greets door-to-door are telling him are important, but he's still really, really bad with facts.

Could it be worse?

Indeed, as demonstrated by the last campaign. This year's is charmingly free of antics, though, and if charm can build alliances with rural Missouri House Republicans who don't care about substance, maybe cute and optimistic is the way to go.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Post-Script Basil

It's my day-of-birth anniversary.

I'm older than this plant (which is from the kcsoil garden of Joe Miller and tastes quite lovely), but much younger than the Ocimum basilicum line stemming from Asia and flavoring all things Mediterranean, Thai and Vietnamese.

As far as I know.

1320-22 Admiral

The boulevard seemingly named after a ship's supercaptain could use some steering.

I spent some time watching an apartment fire on Admiral at Lydia early this afternoon.

While the fire department's investigation won't be official for three days, the story on the street is that crack heads were trying to force out the two people charged with "securing" the empty building these past three months while the property owner, who's "out of money" in midst of renovatons of some kind, found some kind of buyer.

Apparently, when some people want a vacant place to do their drugs and lay their hoes, they get it. No matter how many times the buildings were boarded up and locked down, the squatters came back.

Threats, assaults, the usual baloney, and today a fire-starter lobbed through the window, an apartment unit burned out, and the whole place shut down.

"Anyone who goes in them now will be arrested." - KCFD

The two people who lost all their stuff were slightly pleased at the hint at extra vigilance, given the fact that the police so far hadn't been too interested in helping maintain order around there. The couple had been hearing that one response you sometimes get when asking for help in the grittier sections of the urban core. . . containment. . . . if you don't like it, you should move. . . .

"I don't know how I'm going to get out of this place except in a box." - authorized tenant #1

Monday, July 10, 2006

Six years under

Absence on blogs is reprehensible. If tenacity were a credit rating, mine would be falling. Like a credit rating, though, blog stewardship impressions do not reflect the cause of apparent poor management. For example, most people come back to their blogs with confessions of having "been busy," but I am not one of those who has "just so many other better things to do."

You can trash your credit rating in three inquiries, you know, which has nothing to do with solvency. Likewise, remember that while blog entries may grow stale, there are current writings all over the place; I perfer the ebb and flow of voice to land where it matches best.

In other words, the things I've had to say can't come ashore here.

I have been summ-bering, which is a kind of slumber that comes over the brain as summer takes over the temperatures. I haven't been compelled by much I've seen or heard or read, at least not enough to detour back to a computer and get it down to you on this public beach.

A fancy dramatization would involve tropical cocktails, tequila drinks and mojitos as barriers. In real life, the colors are not so simple.

The title of this post is clearly a death metaphor, messy, since so far all I'm doing is casting subliminal lines out towards imagined oceans. Death and ocean meet frequently, but my only intention was to say Happy Anniversary to me, for having stayed at a single job for six years and produced 312 consecutive issues of a many-1,000s-worded publication.

And that was just treading water.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Former homes

Here's another blogger helping us all remember what architecture used to be part of our "old" city:

click for photo of what was at 3600 Broadway, a Bird home I didn't know before.

Pretty mansion. I wonder how it fared with fireplaces and radiators. . .today, it would be as inefficient to heat as Union Station, which manages the Kansas City Museum collection, which is where this photo's credit line says it's from.