Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Big Day in a Little City

Many thousands of peaceful people gathered on the east end of the National Mall today for an unusual event.
More often than not, rallies are held in D.C. to complain about something or other. This one, hosted by TV political comics Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, was instead lighthearted and inclusive. There were a few semi-serious moments, that gently tweaked political polemics.
Despite an unfortunate accident on a Metro escalator, the rally went smoothly although traffic heading out of town was clogged for quite a while. At least the drivers and their passengers had something beautiful to look at.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It's been quite a day!

Today is my niece Nan's birthday. She lives in southeastern Wisconsin. When she didn't answer her cellphone or home phone I freaked. I was just sure she'd been swept away by the storms out there. Thankfully, she wrote this evening that she was taken out for a birthday lunch and everything was fine.
I have family living in northern and southern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. Hearing about the devastating storms out there -- perhaps the worst in 70 years -- I couldn't help worrying. So far I've been assured that everyone is OK and no one's house was damaged. I can breathe easy again.
Happy Birthday, Nan! I think we both could have done without all the excitement.
The picture is of a solid, 3 foot circumference acrylic sphere I saw at Ann Marie Gardens in Solomons, Maryland a couple of years ago. It was spellbinding! Wish I'd made a note of the artist's name.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

"I've got tears in m'ears from cryin' over you."

That was a line in a song frequently played on the jukebox of a favorite little diner during my college days in Iowa. Another favorite was "who's gonna mow your lawn when I'm gone?". They don't write 'em like that any more. But that's beside the point of this post. When I slid into bed last night Spouse was already asleep. I started recounting a disturbing dream I'd had just before waking that morning. It was the same theme of other dreams I've been having lately. They all involve me making a bad decision and ending up lost somewhere I didn't want to be. Then it hit me: My Dad isn't here to offer his guidance anymore. As tears welled up, I squeezed my eyes closed trying to stop them. Of course that didn't work and they rolled down into my ears. I had to get up. Even though I'm passed the midpoint of my life I still need my Dad. It's hard to admit that. He could be and often was the harshest critic I ever knew. He felt it was his duty as a responsible father. On the other hand, he could make me feel so special and worthy. I could depend on him. He was always there to quietly take care of things like checking my tire pressure. If one was low he'd crank up his 1930s era air compressor to top it off. He was also a skilled, gentle splinter-remover. He seemed to know everything and was willing to share his knowledge but not his tools. Dad had an enormous collection of tools all of which he used with great skill. He kept a mental inventory of all of them and if anything was misplaced or damaged, he knew it. He had a table saw, sabre saw, cross-cut saw (whatever that is) and every screwdriver, hammer, wrench and gadget known to man. He loved peanut butter and collected the empty jars. Having made a frame, he nailed the lids to it. The jars held miscellaneous (sorted, of course) washers, screws, nails and other bits and pieces that he often found usefull. Being a practical man, he couldn't stand waste. He recycled long before America got serious about it. He fashioned our first barbeque from the wash tub of an old wringer washing machine. He made an elegant hanging lamp out of the lid with some sheet brass, plastic and a big cork from a bottle of something or other. It illuminated our dining room for years. He got a kick out of the curious and admiring looks guests gave it. My subconscious is working on me again. It was about this time three years ago that we learned Dad had cancer. In less than a month, he was gone. Some of us kids had suspected serious illness, but he had already decided to play the dying game his way. It had to have taken considerable strength and courage to keep going as if nothing was wrong. Sometimes I think I'm finished mourning. Times like this confirm that I'm not. Even though the hurt has less of an edge to it now, memories keep me from completely letting go. I think that's a good thing. In many ways I still need the anchor my Dad provided.

Monday, October 18, 2010

I am red neck.

I also have red ears, a red triangle on my chest that my shirt didn't cover. The tip of my nose, not covered by my hat is also red -- not at all lovely but less painful today than yesterday. Spouse and I spent no more than an hour at Gravelly Point yesterday afternoon and that's what I came home with. It was a stupendously beautiful day and going down there just seemed like the right thing to do. Lots of young families also felt that way. Some even had beach umbrellas and one had one of those canopy things, a table and chairs. The attraction of Gravelly Point is not only the fact that it's right on the Potomac River where a channel cuts through for boats coming in and out of the Columbia Island Marina. The Point is also at the end of the north/south runway at National Airport. I'm guessing the distance from the runway to the water's edge at the Point is about the length of a football field. In other words, you're feet under the flight path of a busy airport! Planes were landing from the north yesterday, so the noise was somewhat tolerable. However, when they take off to the north, watch out!! Some fly so low it feels like you could touch them. I can even feel the pressure from their powerful jets in my chest. Then, within about 10 seconds or so, you feel the whoosh of wind that blows after them. I'm thinking this is the turbulence that takes out little planes flying to closely behind big jets -- it's strong! I'm probably a wimp when it comes to noise -- I cover me ears against it. There were lots of little kids and several babies down at the Point, including one adorable 12 week old I stopped to admire. I didn't see anyone else covering their ears -- even the little kids!! Between eardrum shattering music through ear buds and everyday noise like leaf blowers, snow blowers, motor cycles, sirens, etc. I suspect they'll have little hearing left by the time they reach 50. Wimpdom has it's positive side! I'll be able to hear the crack when I fall and break my hip after stumbling over a curb while flying my kite at the ripe old age of 93! Whoopee.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chilean Miners

Since seeing the narrow capsule that will soon bring the miners back to the surface, I've been feeling for them and subconsciously breathing more deeply. First, I cannot imagine how they have survived the trauma of being deep inside the earth for so long. Before they were discovered alive, thinking about their predicament had to have been overwhelming. Thinking about being buried alive would have been enough to kill me. Second, having been entombed in an MRI machine twice for one hour nearly drove me mad. If I hadn't believed the promises made by my Mom and sisters that they would be praying for me that morning, the test would have been impossible. As it was, they had to pull me out right after they first put me in because I felt like I was suffocating. This is going to be one helluva journey for these guys and I hope and pray they survive it. Think about how marvelous their first breath of fresh air will be and when they again see rivers trees sky stars moon rise sunset . . . . . . and touch the faces of their loved ones. Amen.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

It's not so much a matter of free speech . . .

. . . as it is a matter of respect, humanity and conscience. Those who demonstrate their hatred and disrespect for others, particularly during tragedies prove how little connection they have with real life and with the God they profess to follow. I'm no Bible-totin'-quotin' type. I had to dust off my fifty year old Revised Standard Version before opening it for the first time in years. Just wanted to refresh my memory on the ten commandments and came across this in Exodus 22:21-24.
"You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall not afflict any widow or orphan. If you do afflict them, and they cry out to me, I will hear their cry; and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless."
Seems to me this promises pretty dire punishment for what some of these self-described Christians are doing. If they take the Bible as the literal word of God, they might want to reexamine their actions. For those who have been subjected to this sort of disgraceful behavior [which really is all of us who deplore it], take heart in knowing that ultimate justice is not in our hands, no matter what the U.S. Supreme Court decides. What goes around comes around. Evil will always be overpowered by Good.