Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A New Civility

This weekend, for reasons totally irrelevant here, my daughter Shannon and her two dogs Happiness and Ozzie Bearcame to live with us.

This has entailed sacrifices, of course. I no longer have my own bathroom, but since there are several in the house, that’s minor. I can’t lie around anymore in my underwear, and body sounds are now taboo. But these are also pretty minor. And the sacrifices on Shannon's part are certainly much greater.

What she has given us by her presence is far more important than any sacrifices we have to make: She is civilizing us.

No longer are we watching television as we eat dinner on flimsy TV trays in the family room (how embarrassing to admit it!). Rather, we are sitting at the Thomas Moser boat top table under the chandelier we bought in Venice, and eating with proper manners. I have long chided one of my grandchildren that he should make friends with his silverware and napkin, and he has. And we, who have long-standing intimacy and affection for our flatware and linen, have found new civility, grace, and courtesy as we dine each evening.

We sit and have actual conversation while we eat. We discuss the day’s events. We bemoan the economy, we explore the notion of decent public transportation, we ruminate on the meaning of life as well as on the entree.

As we dine, we let the dogs lie under the table and parse the difference between to lay and to lie. Even the dogs are practicing grace and grammar.

(I must interject here that Ann and I have lunch practically every day in the dining room and have conversation over left-overs from the night before. We have breakfast on the sun porch and read the newspaper each morning. In the winter we glory at the snow swirling around us on three sides while we sit, safe and warm, inside.)

After dinner, the dishes go directly into the magic machine rather than cluttering up the counter. Shannon does dishes. (I have a pre-nuptial agreement that I don’t have to do dishes, something Ann has honored for over 41 years, so far. A friend used to go bonkers every time I mentioned it until Ann said it was the friend’s problem, not ours.) She scrubs pots and pans in the evening, even after getting a manicure on the way home from work.

We were glad that she was able to move in with us. We are even happier that she’s going to be staying a while.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Any Color but Green

Illinois deserves to be represented by two viable senators. Dick Durbin isn’t going anywhere in the near future apparently, but Roland Burris is turning into yet one more ginormous embarrassment for the state.

I’m sick of it. All the issues that need to be taken care of are ignored because Roland Burris is turning into the same kind of publicity hound as Rod Blagojevich did. His personality has taken over the nightly news with endless news conferences and new revelations about his appointment. In the mean time our failing infrastructure, our failing mass transit systems, our failing economy, and our failing employment opportunities are not on the back burner, but totally off the stove, to mix a metaphor.

At Burris’ nomination Bobby Rush got on the horn and announced that if Roland Burris weren’t ratified as Illinois’ new junior senator, the racists had won. He said that because Barack Obama, a person of color, had stepped down to become president (which still makes me giggle with delight), Obama’s replacement should also be a person of color.

It seems to me that even though the requirements for senator do NOT have a race qualification, there are plenty of people of color who could be good senators. Good senators who have integrity. Let me think for a moment and see if I can come up with a few:

Chuck Jefferson of Rockford
James Clayborne, Jr., of Belville
Or Al Riley of Matteson, my representative, who has kept his nose clean

None of these people has been endorsed by Rod Blagojevich. That alone makes them free of taint.

Illinois can do a lot better than Roland Burris, who should resign lest he join the other R.B. in his new occupation of making license plates. And Pat Quinn should appoint a new junior senator from Illinois in accordance with the Illinois Constitution.

That person should be a person of color: black, brown, tan, beige, or even pink. Any color but the one Burris and Blagojevich seem to be most concerned about: green.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Love is not a victory march

I can't help it. I love this video. And she has a beautiful, clear voice.


I have been sucked into facebook.

I still have a myspace account, but it seems to be no longer fashionable, and facebook is somehow more user friendly and immediate. Twitter is the new thing, but so far I have resisted.

I’m just having too much fun on facebook - even though I don’t fit the demographic. It’s aimed at 20 somethings, but I’m finding that it pulls in a lot of people older and even as old as I am.

[It’s kind of like my Honda Element, which was designed for young surfer dudes, but which I find easy to get in and out of if I throw my right leg into the cabin and then hop up. And it’s totally washable, not that I keep a clean car. The dogs jump into the back where the surfboard was intended to go, and we zoom over to the Indiana Dunes and they run. There’s still sand left in the car from last fall. If you park it on a hill you can hose it out because the floor mats are all rubber - or vinyl or whatever. Digression finished.]

The great thing about facebook is I can find people through people. I can check out my friends’ friends and now I have about a gazillion friends of my own. I know I’m goofy about it. One of the things I did was ask every Bill Moser listed to be my friend. Since late yesterday, there are four of us in the Bill Moser Rocks Club. As I said, I’m goofy as hell.

On the other hand, I do have serious moments. I keep in touch with a lot of people who were in the MFA-Creative Writing program at Goddard College, Plainfield, VT, with me or whom I have met at writers’conferences. And I have been able to catch up with a lot of former students and a lot of Daniel’s friends. Daniel’s friends are particularly important to me because they scattered all over the country - and abroad - but they help keep him alive.

And my former students are a real treat. As a teacher I saw results in the classroom, but they were frequently minor. Now, eight years after leaving the chalkboard, I can see that a lot of those people (the oldest are pushing 60!) are leading productive, fulfilled lives. I don’t take credit for the “results,” but I’d like to feel I had a tiny part in making their lives a little better, for helping them learn, if nothing else, how to think a little. Or introducing them to authors they can read all their lives like Steinbeck. Right, Karl? Karl and I are considering a joint writing project. That’s amazing because we hadn’t been in contact for probably 20 years. Cool, huh?

I also love the question that hits me every time I open my page: What are you doing now? I enjoy reading my friends’ comments, like Barbara’s - the poet laureate of a Baltimore Radio station who says she is “the bread and the knife, but not the sound of rain on the roof.” Or Vic, who freely admits he is “part of the problem not part of the solution.”

Even Ann, who could usually pass for a luddite, has joined facebook and seems to enjoy the contacts she has with her friends.

Facebook has sucked me in, but there are worse things I could be addicted to.

By the way, one of Daniel’s friends, my facebook friend, has several videos posted on youtube. I recommend them highly as stylish and thoughtful. Check them out at this link. They are in a series and this is number one.

As always I invite you to comment.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Free Mammograms

I just received an interesting email from a friend of mine exhorting me to click for a free mammogram for a woman who couldn't afford one.

The Breast Cancer Site requires 45,000 clicks for each free mammogram, I suppose the underlying supposition being that you might also go to one of their sponsors, which pays to advertise on the site.

I checked it out on snopes.com and discovered it is true. You can help needy women get a free mammograms. The site receives just under 60,000 clicks each day and provides 1.3 free mammograms daily, which doesn't sound like many. That comes out to about 475 a year, which is still a drop in the bucket. BUT, by clicking on the site each day (you're allowed only one click per day), you can help raise that to 1.5 or 2 or . . . With my many readers, the mind boggles.

In any event, please join me in clicking daily. And in spreading the word.

click on any of the highlighted words to get to the site. Thanks.