vendredi, septembre 07, 2007

Like Them

We are in the neighborhood I sometimes proudly term "the working-class area of Glenmoore." Caveat-that's more of a term of convenience than a term of art.

Most of the people I know on the two blocks of our neighborhood are middle class-but we are surrounded by unseemly affluence-to which my daughter Sian aspires. Every time we go to one of those boxy million dollar homes, and I say acidly that they all look alike, my lovely child says she'd love to live in one.

But here we are in our three bedroom ranch house-tiny enough to fit into the downstairs living room of one of Sian's classmates.

When I first looked at this house, the wife of the couple who owned it was mowing the front lawn with a push mower (an old push mower). Dressed in a t-shirt and shorts, sweaty in the hot sun, she gave the refreshing sense of someone who didn't have the luxury of dressing up for potential buyers, or paying someone else to do the household chores.

When I bought the house, I realized fast that my two graduate degrees wouldn't mow the lawn for me. I also found that I actually enjoyed carving lines or circles (as it were) on my lawn-it's great for getting me out of that heady space I spend some much time in... but I could still maintain my aura of academic distance.

My neighbor on one side liked it when there were just a few houses-she'd like to move to Wyoming. My neighbors on the other side are sweet folks with two dogs who rarely seem to socialize but have a camper parked in their driveway-I wonder where they go. I only just met the elderly lady down the block-a retired teacher, I discovered. We are awash with interesting characters.

A few days ago one of the area kids came by looking for my son. I stopped the mower long enough to tell him that his buddy wouldn't be back for a day or so. As he cycled away I had a thought-dressed in running shorts and a top, dripping in the dusky humidity, hair pushed back with earphones, I had them.

Still, I can't see myself with an RV, a tractor or a rifle. After all, you can't get a man with a gun. No unless you go farther West.

mercredi, septembre 05, 2007

Ain't that the truth!

"I think there is no suffering greater than what is caused by the doubts of those who want to believe,” wrote Flannery O’Connor, the Roman Catholic author whose stories traverse the landscape of 20th-century unbelief. “What people don’t realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross. It is much harder to believe than not to believe.”

mardi, septembre 04, 2007


Acraphobia? Whatever the word for folks who fear heights, I've got it. I don't like driving much above 65-and rock-climbing just doesn't appeal to me.

In other words, when it comes to physical bravery, I'm not going to be the person you want to follow.

Although I'm a wuss when it comes to risking life and limb, I am an admirer of those who are willing to bend boundaries in the spirit of adventure.

That's why I felt sad when I heard that Steve Fossett, the wealthy aviator, had disappeared. In the old days, it was people like him who sailed to countries unknown, traded with their peoples, brought back knowledge, foods, science.

Happy was the adventurer who found wealthy benefactors.

Now the folks who used to send explorers out to find other peoples enjoy going out themselves. It's nice that Fossett is wealthy enough to do what he likes to do. It would be nice if others had the chances Fossett has-but then, do you want 100's of guys trying to break the sound barrier on land?

He has, at the least, been a fascinating man to observe-his adventures entertain those of us who love to read about those who have the money and time to do things we can't fit into our less thrilling lives. But I think he is more-a man who, along the way, reveals that we are often capable of doing more than we humans think we can. In the process, he teaches us a lot about how to be brave about using our imaginations, even if they take us to whiteboards in classrooms, or to planners at our offices, or to dinner with our kids.

lundi, septembre 03, 2007

So what makes them different?

"As lawmakers return to Washington with Democrats set to hold a marathon series of hearings on the Iraq war, Mr. Mahoney and other moderates are trying to find a balance between criticizing the Bush administration and supporting the troops, between helping the Democratic leadership keep pressure on the White House over the war, and addressing constituents’ demands on issues closer to home.
Only one Democrat, Representative Brian Baird of Washington, has publicly reversed his position during the current recess to support the president’s strategy. The switch, made after a trip to Iraq last month, infuriated many of his constituents; several hundred spent four hours castigating him at a public forum. His switch also prompted attack advertisements against him by, a group that opposes the war. " NYT Sept 3, 2007

Down, boys!
Are former insurgent groups like going to turn on dissenting voices and try to SwiftBoat them?
I have been an opponent of this terrible war from before Day One. It's no credit to me or to anyone else who saw though Bush's phony reasons for going in-it just magnifies the sadness at the toll of innocent slaughter. President Bush has run our country like a dictatorship, as have many Congressional Republicans.
That being said, I believe in the ideal of a democratic America, in which answers come out of debate, not out of attacks on conflicting vies.
Democrats have found themselves at a disadvantage, again and again, for not having one ideology or a party discipline. But having capos, or enforcers, use the tools of the opposition brings them down to the same level as their opponents.
If his constituents really think Baird switched for crass political reasons, OK. We know those who still assert we ought to be in Iraq will try to find a way to make them into advertisements. But if Rep. Baird saw possible progress in Iraq that made him think we ought to stay, then, darn it, he's entitled to an opinion...and a voice.