Sunday, September 27, 2015

Things People Say

Sometimes it is not easy to maintain a non-judgmental attitude. Sometimes one must keep the jaw from dropping after hearing utter nonsense from an adult a human being. No civilized response is available. Back in olden days one could snort or fiercely  flutter one's fan, or otherwise indicate displeasure. Alas, those days have passed. There is much uncivil behavior now, of course, masses of it, but I am trying to avoid that sort of thing. It is hard. One must stifle oneself.
The first dumb comment came from a very nice woman in my exercise class. This came in the dressing room. I was in one of the booths, trying to peel my wet suit off.  She was discussing her prayer group from her church. They meet once week and pray like bastards for all sorts of worthy causes and people and all. Sometimes they invite others to attend, individuals or social groups. Then she said, "We invited  the Girl Scout troop, but then we thought about that new law, and had to uninvited them." The new law? Not exactly a law, but the recent Supreme Court decision concerning gay marriage. And perhaps the fact that the  scouting organizations now accept gay leaders and scouts. No one said anything to her. This nice woman is the type who wishes everyone a blessed day. Last year she asked if we minded if she  would say prayer for someone's sick relative. Well, who's going to refuse? Almost everyone bowed her head. So she did that thing that evangelicals on TV do so well, an ad lib ramble that went on quite a while. That was one thing. But refusing to have a bunch of little girls at her prayer meeting was, I am sure, not pleasing to God, if one exists.
Then a couple of weeks ago, when I went to get my hair cut, I had to wait. When I sat down a woman  couple of seats over smiled and said, " Oh, I'm so glad you're here, so I'll have someone to talk with while I wait." That was fine with me. Then she pointed to her book on the seat between us. "You've got to read this book!" I looked down and it was a book by Dr. Ben Carson, the favorite of the Tea Party intelligentsia. I smiled and said that he was not my kind of candidate, very politely. She told me what a brilliant man he was and that his wife had played violin in a symphony orchestra and also had
a beautiful singing voice. Well, we went on to chat. She had worked at the university and was pleased that her children had their education there tuition free. They had all done well and had good jobs. Her oldest son had had his own printing business. That is, she stated further, until Obama ruined it and caused him to lose it. "oh," I said, "How did that happen?" "well," she replied, " you know, all that new technology, so people could do their own printing."
Now in either of these situations I could have just said, "What the HELL are you talking  about."
But I didn't. To the salon lady, I did say that I wasn't sure that president Obama had  anything to do with computer technology, but decided that whatever convoluted reasoning had led her to that belief
would not yield to rationality.
And them I was told by another person that when that time comes, that time when only true believers will be swept up into heaven, exactly 144,000 Jews will get to join them, and that information is in the bible. I was given chapter and verse, but I just don't want to look it up. We Catholics  were
discouraged from reading the bible, lest we fall victim to misinterpretation. For once, the Church was
right. 144',000?  Isn't that, like, 12 gross or something? And who's counting them?
As for the Girl Scout disinviter, I still like her, but not so much anymore. I am, of course, judgmental as all get-out, but I do stifle.
And if anyone reading this is offended, you're on the wrong page here.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Blue and Gold

The title does not refer to my alma mater's colors, the ones worn by the sports teams and the logo of Kent State University.  It refers to the kind of glorious weather that September is having. We'll probably pay for it in January, but one must live in the present and just enjoy these beautiful days on sunshine and blue skies.
We do need rain. We went up to Gordon Square a couple of weeks ago to see "Nashville," Robert Altman's grim tribute to the Bicentennial of the U.S of A., a cheery, music filled film that ends in bloodshed, featuring cameos by Jeff Goldblum, Julie Chistie and a few others who apparently wandered onto the set. Fine movie, viewed in a great Art Deco theater on the near west side of Cleveland which is being restored. We met DCB, our NPR  friend who knows Cleveland well.
Thanks to him, we ended up at a very fine restaurant housed in a former bank. It was packed with the Bright young Things who are inhabiting the city and making things happen.  I had a braised  Romaine salad. Interesting. Anyway, I bring this up because it rained buckets, cascades, drenches. The drive back to Kent was downright scary, even though I was not the one who was driving. The heavy rain was welcomed by all of us with tan lawns.
Unfortunately, this week I have not been enjoying this lovely weather. A year ago, my dentist recommended having a molar removed, since it had a deep decay spot on one root. At the time I just was not in the mood to go through that sort of thing, especially since I would need a permanent bridge, which costs more than my 1968 VW square back cost brand new. So I put it off. Nothing hurt, so wothehell, as Archie the cockroach used to I had to go back to my dentist a month or so ago on account of having taken advantage of the Monday five bucks admissions and free popcorn deal at our local theater. Old gums, even when a person flosses and brushes diligently cannot always avoid being  infiltrated by the odd hull. So I was again told to take care of that bad tooth. So I did, on
Monday last.
I would rather have gone to the five buck Monday flick, sans popcorn. However, the tooth needed to be removed. It was quite an ordeal. The endodontist is very good, highly qualified and all. It took over an hour and both he and I were exhausted by the time he dug it out. It didn't help that he kept saying it would have been a LOT  easier if I had come in last year.  I finally I said, "I am an old person and I just didn't want to do this." That seemed to work and he didn't say I should have come in last year again.
I'd rather have hip replacement surgery again than go through dental surgery. I wasn't "a little
uncomfortable." I was and still am in pain, but healing. I have been living on yogurt, applesauce and cottage cheese. No hot coffee either. I'll live. However, whenever I have to spend thousands on dentistry, I always think of the waste of money if I should be hit by a truck soon afterwards.
And I am enjoying the beautiful late September days, at least looking at it through the window, while cuddling an ice pack against my face.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Go Set This

I listened on BBC Radio to a reading of the best selling "Go Set A Watchman," supposedly written by Harper Lee. She is now in a nursing home, prohibited from speaking publicly about herself or her work. This "new" book was written before "To Kill a Mockingbird," everyone's favorite book, made into everyone's favorite movie.
I love both. The book is so reminiscent of my own childhood in Georgia, l lived at the same time as the period in the book, the thirties. When they made the movie, the houses and the street looked like the neighborhood I'd lived in. I knew what everything felt like, smelled like and sounded like. When my own children were young and saw the movie, they identified Atticus Finch with their own father, who had died so young, and they were right. John Burnell was tall and slender and wore dark-rimmed glasses. He was a gentle, kind and honest person. He also was a staunch civil rights oriented person, a sociology professor who was denied tenure at a small liberal arts college for leading a student protest against discrimination at a local skating rink, a protest which made the front page of the twin paper, thus angering the college president, a Southerner who was not happy about the burgeoning civil rights activities going on at that time. ( The college was in the North.) john continued his actions for justice here at Kent State, which also caused  some administrators to chastise him and other young professors over housing discrimination. He was far from a rabble rouser, but a quiet man who used logic and persuasive techniques. For this reason, his children, a couple of whom did not get to know him, found Atticus the  personification, or the essence of their father.  I suspect that there are many others even those who grew up with their fathers, who see Atticus Finch as a significant figure.
This leads me to "Watchman."  The first word out was the somewhat hysterical news that in this book, Atticus is a racist!  Good grief! The man who bravely defended Tom Robinson?
Well, let me tell you how I see this book. My friend Annie called it preachy, and it is. What it preaches, as Atticus and Jean Louise's uncle are preaching is the tiresome whine in the 50s by the entitled, genteel whites of the South is this: " our way of life, the rules we have lived by for generations, are not ready for the changes being forced upon us. The Negro is  not ready for what they are demanding. Surely you can see that, Jean Louise? Changes will come, but we must move slowly."
Now that's the kind of thing one heard over and over from that class of white Southern men. Lee ( or whoever wrote this thing)' does throw in a non-elite lawyer who grew up a Cracker, but he has also bought into white supremacy, and cautions Jean Louise, who has been white hot with anger after finding out that Atticus had attended a White Citizen's Council meeting, which he explains he did to know what people's concerns were. Atticus also claims that the Klan started out as some kind of civic organization. Really?!!  Where'd that come from?  These three men all carefully explain to the former Scout that they are just going to make sure that everyone is "ready."
It doesn't seem to occur to them there are Southerners who have been waiting for over a hundred years or more for full citizenship of a country they've helped to build, have worked in servitude, have helped to shape the culture of the South. No, the white folks are just not ready. At the time this attitude infuriated many of us, and now here comes this book which the publishers wisely rejected, with the advice to Lee that she focus on the earlier story of Atticus and the children and his heroic action in a small Alabama town in the 30s. It's a good thing they did, or Harper Lee would have been blasted as an apologist for segregation and racial inequality and we would not have the magic of "To Kil a Mockingbird."
So was Atticus a racist? You bet, but not the kind you identify with lynching and burning Black churches. Even worse, he and his kind were the very ones who could have changed things much earlier, but didn't, and then decried the efforts that rose from the Black activists.
Sorry, Harper Lee.

Monday, August 31, 2015


I have written before about how much I love August. This summer has gone so fast that it sneaked up on me. We've had such variable weather, mostly cool, and in the first two months, enough rain to make you think of building an ark. The garden has delivered about three anorexic tomatoes and no green peppers. The herbs are looking puny, and the only things bursting with blooms are the marigolds, which have never looked so good.
Attendance at the county fair was down, as was the number of exhibitors. One of our aerobics ladies, a wizaed of the baked goods competition, said that even the number of entries was way down in both that category and the vegetable display. One reason for the low attendance may have been that the schools started a week before the fair. I didn't go this year or last, for that matter. There was a time when Polly had goats, that we all entered something and felt like genuine country folk. Polly won a blue ribbon for her Apple  (I have typed the a word four times and Spellcheck insists on capitalizing it, no doubt under orders from the ghost of Steve Jobs; I thought of changing it to pecan, but that would be wrong.)  pie, and her goat Finney always won at least one hideous trophy. I entered a macrame piece ( macrame was big then) but I don't remember if I got a ribbon for it.
Before this month ends,  I have to mention and illustrate the incredible sunsets. Surrounded by trees, we don't get the full effect, but people have been posting  some pretty spectacular photos. We've had the gorgeous blue with puffy white clouds skies,  and until recently lots of greenery. Right now it's dry and the lawns are tan and a bit crunchy underfoot. not unusual for the end of summer and early September. Well, that's the weather report for today.
And how's the weather in your neck of the woods? (Shades of my father!)

Monday, August 24, 2015

Out of the Loop

I think it started somewhere around the fourth or fifth season of "Dancing With the Stars," maybe a little later. Or maybe the last five or six years of SNL. With  "Saturday Night Live" it was with the guest musicians.  There is always the excited preface, hyping what is to come. For DWTS,  in the weeks preceding the first show, there is the sense of suspense over which stars we shall see. Who are the famous stars we will watch sweating and straining for the next few weeks, wearing sequins and tulle and diaphanous bits of colored cloth as they twirl about? Actually I haven't watched it for a long time, for reasons to follow' but I still remember this giddy hype.
In the first years, it was a guilty pleasure, fun to watch, and impressive to see non-dancers achieve what my friend  Tom called fancy maneuvers, and wondrous feats with their feet. The judges were experts, actually judging and seemed to know and explain the art of ballroom dancing. I have never been a good dancer, even in doing the simple box step, so I am in awe of anyone who can manage this skill at all, to say nothing of the intricate routines these people were able to develop over a few months, people like actors, singers  and athletes, people whose names and occupations you knew. Even then the term "star" was a bit of a stretch, but they were famous enough that I didn't have to Google them, if Google was around then.
It started happening little by little. When the announcement of a certain season was made, I had no idea who half the people were. If they were stars it was on some planet out of my my own universe. Apparently those people who open their lives to  "reality" TV are now stars, and everyone knows them except for me. I am completely out of the loop. I quit watching DWTS, which is probably all right with them.
About SNL. That started, as I wrote about above, with the musical guests. In the good old days they had Paul Simon, James Taylor, Mick Jagger, sting and all those great singer-songwriters  who sang music with tunes and words. Then they started with the grunge groups, the boy groups, the rap
groups, and the music is back to three chords and repepetative words. I do not know who these people are.
The only contemporary pop stars whose names I know are Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga, and that's only because you can't get away from them, rather like Madonna thirty some years ago. They're rather like the Donald Trumps of pop music. Half the time I don't know who the guest hosts of SNL are either. They may be from some cable TV show I don't watch. They still bring in recognizable people, though and the new cast is pretty good. I don't know their names, though. By the time I learn their names, they'll be off to Hollywood like the rest of the old crowd.
I don't mind being out of the loop. I have  one of my own.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Politics as Farce

There is now proof positive that Fox News is all about entertainment, not honest information. I did not watch the "debate," since I do not have cable. ( Who needs 250 channels when you only watch 6 or 8 at the most?) However, I have watched replays of what was apparently the crucial content: the constant focus on  the least likely and least likeable contender, whose name I shall not use, since he or his minions probably Google it every ten minutes.
First of all, he was,by some happenstance - hah! - placed front and center on the stage. Couldn't miss him if you tried which nobody  tried to do. If the strategy was to amuse, or irritate, they sucmnceeded. If they were going for their usual yahoo audience, they succeeded. Qualifying his crude, rude comments about women and immigrants from Mexico ( Aren't all Spanish speaking immigrants Mexicans?)' as a protest against "political correctness" he then felt free use the language of the terminally ignorant.
Of course,the result of his being encouraged by the moderators to spew his venom is that he's been constantly in the news ever since. His bloated face looms out from print, the Internet and TV like  a wayward comet. (I couldn't resist doing a caricature myself. It's just too easy.)
If I were one of those other candidates, I'd sue Fox News for malfeasance, or something. It was disgraceful.
I am not a Republican, and far from conservative, but I wonder how the GOP is going to overcome the damage he is doing to their cause. Perhaps if the media could restrain themselves from ratings or selling papers, and focus on some sane presentation of serious presidential possibilities, say,  people who don't  believe the earths is 5000 years old, and that  the hand  of  man may have something to  do with climate change, and that just because she's a female a woman like  Sarah Palin is not presidential timber, then perhaps they might put up someone fairly decent for me to vote against next year.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Sixto Loves Me, I Think

I've mentioned before that Sixto the cat is a lap cat, a situation I've used to avoid things like making tea or starting dinner when he is in place. John is still his main person. However, last weekend, John took off for a folk festival in Canada. For almost four days, I could hardly get Sixto off my lap.
In the morning, I'd be reading the paper, and he'd crash through it to curl up on my lap. He'd occasionally  start by making a few head bumps, gazing soulfully into my eyes.
When I'd get up, dumping him off, he'd start grooming himself nonchalantly. As soon as I sat down, the process started over. He doesn't just curl up and snooze. He likes the flop down, roll onto his back, curl his front paws over his nose and peer up at me for a while before he drops off to sleep. He's not a large cat, but he requires a lot of space because of  having to arrange the proper draping of his very long tail. In hot weather, having even a small furry cat on one's lap can be an uncomfortable addition to one's person.
He knew John was back before I did. From a sound sleep, on Monday evening, he suddenly woke up, jumped off my lap and got to the front door just as John opened it to come in. It was a bit uncanny. I guess I'm an adequate substitute when his main person is gone. Even now, though, he is favoring me with his presence, perhaps thinking John may abandon him again. So I think I have risen to a substitute main person.