• Tag Archives Family
  • Back In Its Own Stall

    79  bar falls 29.84 1mph ENE dew-point 61   Summer, hot, moving toward muggy

    Waxing Crescent of the Thunder Moon

    The cracks in the red car’s head were tiny.  I saw them.  They ran, in one instance, down the threads that hold the spark plug in place.  While threading in a spark plug or under pressure, these cracks could have broken loose and allowed oil and exhaust gases to invade the spark plug and generally foul things up.  Carlson was thoughtful in showing them to me.

    We’ve sunk almost $5,000 in this car this year.   That’s almost a year’s car payments.  Even so, we could put in the same amount next year and still be ahead of the game.  It runs quite well now, though there is that piece that fell off on the way home.  No kidding.  A big chunk of something fell off.  I’m going to take it back and ask them about it, but not today.  It looks like a shield or rock barrier, not metal, rather some kind of composite, tarpaper like material.

    It’s 31-32 miles per gallon on the highway alone justifies keeping it in our two vehicle collection.  The pick-up we’ll park for the most part in the not too distant future.  $90 a tank to fill it up.  Ouch.  And it sucks the gas down, too, with its v-8.  What were we thinking?  It is, though, a useful vehicle for errands and landscape chores.  Another advantage is its four-wheel drive.  (Oh, come to think of it, that’s what we were thinking.  In 1999, when we bought it, Kate still had call and  hospital duty.  She had to be able to get to where she was needed.) That makes it potentially important in a severe winter situation.  Besides, pick-ups and SUV’s have lost significant value.  We could get nowhere the value it is to us.  So, it will stay, too.

    Our neighbor went to bed apparently healthy, then woke up the next day with MS.  A striking and sudden life change.  It has occasioned a major alteration in their lives.  They went from the salary of a 58 year old career civil servant at the peak of  his career to a fixed income household.  This was six months ago.

    How it will affect their family dynamics over the long haul is an open question.  The prednisone  makes  him cranky.  He’s gone from an active guy who built his own observatory and sailed Lake Superior to a wobbly man who can no longer read.  His mental acumen seems fine, but for now he wanders, lost in the bewilderment of this rapid change, as well he might be.

    Today is an inside day.  I’m going to write on Superior Wolf, get ready for my research on Unitarian Universalism in the Twin Cities and, maybe, crack the case and clean off my cooling fan.

  • Home

    63  bar rises 29.95  0mph NNE  dew-point 54  Summer, night and cool

                               Waning Gibbous Flower Moon

    Back home.  The corn is past knee high; the garlic has finished its growth; the tomato plants that began from heritage seeds have fruit; the beans have begun to bush out and the onions have sky rocketed.  A wonderful pastel copper/brown bearded iris has bloomed and the Siberian iris have thrown up dark blue flags all over the garden.  There is, of course, the occasional weed, but that’s Monday’s task.  Perhaps Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s, too.

    Driving as I did, a bit over 3,000 miles, movement dominates.  Even in Montgomery I drove to Maxwell four times, an equal number of times out for meals.  In the car.  Out of the car.  Stop for gas.  Now the movement slows down.  A walk in the garden.  Up and down stairs.  To the refrigerator. 

    Here Kate welcomes me.  At the various motels slightly aware receptionists said how can i help you.  Here I get a hug, a meal, a smile.  An “I missed you.”  “Me, too.”  The dogs jump up and down, lean against my leg.  This is a place I know and where I am known.     

  • Their Lawlessness Got out of Hand

    57  bar steep fall 29.94  7mph  ENE dew-point 52  Beltane, cloudy and cool

                           Last Quarter of the Hare Moon

    Can this possibly mean what it says?  “While cities are hot spots for global warming, study finds people in them emit fewer gases.”  Washington Post, 5/29/2008   In this same vein I watched part of a National Geographic Program on an outlaw biker gang, the Mongols.  The narrator made this surprising statement, “Their lawlessness got out of hand.”  Hmmm.

    When I travel by car, I spend more time picking reading material, movies and audiobooks than I do clothing.  This will not surprise some of you who know my fashion sense, late sixties college student unregenerate, yet it always surprises me. 

    Each trip has a theme.  Don’t know when that started, but it helps me make decisions on the road and to deepen the experience.  This trip to Denver, in addition to the obvious theme of tribal initiation (the bris), nature writing and trees will occupy my time.  Not hard to figure out where this came from.

    My first nights stay is at the Arbor Day Foundation in Nebraska City, Nebraska.  I’m taking along a book I bought awhile back called Arboretum America.  It tells the story of trees in the history of the US.  Also a book of nature writing.

  • It Will End as a Novel Ends

    55  bar steep rise 0mph E dew-point 39  Beltane

               Waxing Gibbous Hare Moon

    Kate cleared a bunch of dogwood canes, pulled up weeds, pruned out a juniper (yesterday), deadheaded the daffodils and generally worked herself into a stupor. (In Norwegian, this is a good thing.)  She’s been on vacation this week and has enjoyed herself immensely planting, pruning, carrying.  (Again, in Norwegian, this constitutes a vacation.)  I admire and appreciate her doggedness, but it doesn’t count as a vacation attitude in my Celtic/Germanic perspective.   Whatever turns your crank.

    Battlestar Galactica is the most nuanced and unpredictable show on television, bar none.  It is a good science fiction novel brought to the screen and that is so rare as to be a marvel, a marvel that continues week after week.  There no good guys and bad guys, no bad robots and good robots.  No, there are humans and robots who, in some situations, act for the common good and, in other situations, act out of selfish or malicious motives. 

    The Science Fiction channel will finish the Battlestar Galactica series this season, but it will not tail off into the land of unfinished television shows. It will end as a novel ends, with an ending that ties together various plotlines and provides a final surprise and aha.  How do I know?  Because that’s how good writing works, and this is good writing.  I would like to see this as a precedent for TV shows where the story has a trajectory, a climax and a denouement, not the eternal extension of the storyline in a cynical attempt to exploit viewer interest for every last drop of advertiser revenue.  Viewers will return if the fiction has characters with complex lives, difficult hurdles to overcome and a convincing fate.

    More work outside tomorrow.  This may be the last big push for a while since Kate goes back to work on Tuesday and I have MIA and a docent class luncheon on Monday with Woolly’s in the evening.

  • Air Conditioning

    33 bar steep fall 29.69  7 mph NE dewpoint 32  Spring

                    Waxing Crescent Moon of Growing

    Just got a call from the Sierra Club inviting me to my own party.  I said, “OK.”

    The rain turned to part snow around 4:50PM and looks like it’s mostly snow now.  As soon as the temps drop, it will transition to full snow and if it comes up this rate, it will accumulate.

    Checked out airfare to Dallas/Ft. Worth in July.  Only for family would I go to Dallas/Ft. Worth and only for a family reunion would I go in July.  Once, long ago, I took the train from Indiana to Ft. Worth where my Dad’s brother, Charles, lived.  On the way I got molested while taking pictures with my Brownie camera, but I said, “Don’t do that.” to the guy who put his hand between my legs and he went away.  It was not a big deal then or now.

    I hit Ft. Worth just as the temperature racked up 107.  I didn’t know the temperatures in the world really got that hot.  I knew it theoretically, but empirically?  No way.   This would have 1956/7 and I’d only experienced air conditioning on rare occasions.  I remember repeating after I got back:  I went from an air-conditioned train, to an air-conditioned car, to an air-conditioned house.  This was remarkable.

    What the temps will be like this time I have no idea, but air-conditioning has gone from a comment-worthy rarity to a personal necessity.  I have no doubt we’ll be well cooled. 

    That weather seems a long way from the winds today, which hit 34 at 2:10pm, and the driving snow that builds up on our lawn as I write this.

  • Masters of the Universe

    42  bar falls 30.14 6mph NNE dewpoint 31 Spring

                   Waxing Crescent Moon of Growing

    Some of this, some of that.  Reorganized a few books in the study.  Called the folks at NOW fitness to get a repair for the treadmill.  Surprise! It has a lifetime warranty.  Can you beat that?  I bought it 12 years ago and have used it 5-6 times a week since then.  Finished Spiderman III.  It got better at the end, but it was too adolsecent for my tastes in the middle, felt long.  Read about Cristina Sanchez, a late 1990’s matadora.  Looked her up on the Web.  She quit because of the sexism.  Can you imagine sexism in a bull-fighting culture?

    Talked to Kate.  Talked to Vanguard folks who won’t accept my lawyers letter with a medallion signature.  They need yet more paper.  Geez.  Sorted through several tour related snafus.  A nap.  Now a workout.

    Kate comes home tonight.  She went to the Asia Museum in San Francisco and on the way back (today) she encountered the heavily guarded Olympic torch and had to walk a whole block square to get back to her hotel.

    Oh, I also took the treadmill controls apart myself and cleaned them, looked for jammed parts.  The rest of the assembly is electronics and didn’t look accessible to my limited knowledge.  That’s when I called the shop.

    Tom Crane has the Woolly meeting in May.  He has asked us to think about mastery.  In particular he wondered if there was any special meaning behind references to Jesus as master.  I looked that up today and found, to my surprise, that each time you read master in the new testament, the word translated is the Greek word for teacher.  There’s a reason for this, but the dogs want to go out now.  Maybe I’ll get back to it later.

  • A Dull Gray Day

    29 bar steep rise 29.87 0mph W windchill 29

          First Quarter Moon of Winds

    Got to thinking about dull gray days.  Aunt Roberta days, as we used to call them.  Aunt Roberta would always begin her correspondence with, “It’s a dull gray day.”  Aunt Roberta, like my Aunt Barbara and my Aunt Marjorie suffered from bi-polar disorder.  It hit me yesterday or the day before, the day it was dull and gray, that dull, gray days are March days.  They signal a change in the weather.  The upper atmosphere gets filled with water, clouds form.  Later in the month it will rain and not long after, with the snow gone and the ground beginning to thaw, the first green shoots will head toward daylight.  The dull, gray days of March are a sign of a change in the weather, a change for the better.

    Granted, the dull gray days of November presage the upcoming winter, but even in that instance the harvest has come in, the plants have died back and we’re ready for the white, fallow season.

    Each one of them Aunt Roberta in Arlington, Aunt Marjorie in Muncie and my Aunt Barbara, often confined to the State Hospital in Richmond, Indiana were important to me as I grew up.  Aunt Roberta raised 5 wonderful girls, all my first cousins and I visited them often when I was young.  Aunt Marjorie was a great cook and a long suffering wife, married to my Uncle Ike who was a gambler and a hustler, and a hell of a good guy.  Aunt Barbara gave my Bullfinch’s Mythology when I was young.  She was my Mom’s favorite, I think.

    These three women sisters, mothers and aunts affected in a positive way many lives.  Daughters and sons, nephews and nieces, sisters and husbands all benefitted from their love and direction.  No person is their diagnosis.  They are a person first and last. 

    Each one of them, in their own way, succumbed to bipolar disorder.  Aunt Barbara lived the end of her life in a world of illusion.  Aunt Marjorie starved herself to death and Aunt Roberta was in and out of Richmond, too, and finally faded away.

    I miss each one of them, as I miss my mom.   Yes, they are with me in spirit, but that isn’t the same as in person.  It just isn’t the same, yet it’s no less important.

    When the weather turns dull and gray I’ll think of Aunt Roberta and her sisters, but now with the knowledge that after the dull and the gray comes the green or the white.  Glory and peace.

  • Orientalists All Three

    Back from a workout.  Slower today.  As I went out on the lanai before I headed for my aerobics, I noticed a disturbance in the calm.  A rustle of waves preceded a fluke, it fanned in the air glistening with water, then followed the great body down.  A birthday wish from an ocean mammal to a land mammal.  Mahalo.

    As I walked along the ocean, I reflected a bit on the peculiar fate of my nuclear family.  Mom died early.  Dad lived several unhappy years in a marriage ill-fitted to both him and Rosemary.  Mary ended up first in Malyasia, then in Singapore, following her interest in linguistics.  Mark traveled the world from Vladivostok to Moscow, Moscow to Turkey, Turkey to Israel, then, by some route to Bangkok which he found just right.  They’ve both in Asia almost longer than I lived in Alexandria.  Though I’ve remained stateside, I have developed, quite independently of them, an interest in Asian art, cinema, literature and, of late, philosophy. 

    Then, too, there is love affair with the Islands.  What is it about our lives, childhoods in the most common of Midwestern smalltowns, parents with no interest as far as I know in anything Asian, that lead us, all three, by quite different routes to turn our faces east?  It would be easy to cite the ascendance of Asia in the last two decades as a magnetic influence, but in fact all three of us have had our interests prior to those decades.

    There is one thing common to all three of us, the wanderlust.  Mom was overseas during WW II and Dad found traveling significant for its own sake.  I suppose this gave us all a sense of rootlessness, or, at least, made it easy to detach ourselves from the familiar, and so opened us to the wide world.  What strange motion in the quantum sphere torqued our attention toward China, Singapore, Thailand, Japan I do not know.  But, it is a fact.

  • RIP Aunt Dorothy

    Aunt Dorothy was a bright, vital, strong presence in our family and remained so until her death.  A loss for us all. 

    The last of my aunts and uncles (with the exception of a divorced uncle by marriage).   My cousins and I are now the older generation, that body of relatives standing between the young ones and death.  A sobering, bracing position.  I like it.

    Dorothy Louise McGregor Brown, 100, passed away January 16, 2008.  She was born October 26, 1907, in “Wheatland Territory,” Indian Territory, to Charles and Jenny Ellis.  She was the oldest of two brothers and three sisters.  Growing up, she worked hard on her grandparent’s farm, milking, harvesting wheat, corn, hay, and apples, and canning vegetables and fruits.  She loved music and played the piano for her church and funerals, played basketball, and was on the debate team.  She was the high school class president at Union City.  Dorothy watched her mother teach and chose teaching as her career too.  She attended both Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma to receive her teaching certificate.  She began teaching in a one-room school house in Lone Star, OK, then taught in Mustang.  She received her lifetime teaching certificate from Edmond’s State Teacher’s College, before taking a teaching position in Bartlesville.  In Bartlesville, she met and married James Wilson McGregor and they had four children, three sons and a daughter.  She was active in the church, teaching Sunday School and attending Women’s Guild, in the lives of her children, serving as scout leader and helping at school, and in the community, volunteering for the Mutual Girls Club board.  In the 1964, she received her bachelor’s degree from Tulsa University in History.  She resumed her teaching career in Bartlesville and taught a total of 14 year there.  After 37 years of marriage, she was widowed in 1972.  Always adventurous, she began attending church camps, traveling abroad extensively, and participating in Elderhostels, with her sisters and friends.  In 1980, she moved to Norman to help with her grandchildren.  She joined the First Presbyterian Church where she soon was recognized as an Outstanding Presbyterian Woman.  She continued her travels and learning adventures.  She audited carefully selected (choosing only the best professors, she shared) University of Oklahoma college classes.  She wrote a book about her life and dedicated it to her children.  She met Dr. Harley Proctor Brown at First Presbyterian Church and they were married on October 26, 1997, her ninetieth birthday.  They continued to travel, learn, and enjoy plays and concerts together, then moved to Rivermont Retirement Community in 2005, and to the Gardens at Rivermont in 2007.  She celebrated her centennial birthday and tenth wedding anniversary in October, 2007. 

  • A Truthful Christmas Letter

    A note before bed.  The nights are long now.  The sun set at 4:32 PM today and won’t rise again until 7:48AM.  This is good news for those who like dark, cool nights for sleeping.  I do.

    We’ve received a few of those letters in the mail; you know the ones, dense paragraphs filled with people you don’t know, pets and projects.  One of them stood out.  It was from a former partner of Kate’s.  She wrote of a year filled with her husband’s boss, “and former friend,” indicted for several felonies.  She went on to detail a year with the usual kind of vaguely horrific stuff that happens in all our lives, but usually goes unrecorded, suffered, yes, but not written down.  It was wonderful and made me hopeful for this folk art form.

    We also get a few Christmas cards each year, fewer and fewer since I haven’t sent cards for decades and Kate hasn’t either.  My favorite one so far this year came from cousin Melinda and her husband, Bill, aka, the Hoosier Cowboy.  It had two guys on horses greeting each other in the snow.  The line below them read, From our Outfit to Yours.

    The bookcase consolidation and purging, moving the exercise equipment and downstairs TV project moved closer to completion today.  It would look better with built-ins.

    Brother Mark is back in Bangkok and Woolly brother Mark is back in Minnesota.  Brother Mark had an accident in Phnom Penh. He was hit by a motorcycle, but not injured too badly.  This just before he left for Bangkok.

    Sister Mary, in Singapore, has used all of her vacation days this year to complete her dissertation.  She handed it in and now awaits a verdict as to its acceptability so she can move onto the next stage of the process.  No fun, that waiting.