Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Introducing Oscar

Finally, some one I know gets an Oscar.

A huge round of applause for our good friends Missy and Adam and their beautiful new son, Oscar. Can't wait to get to know ya, kid. Photos courtesy of Beth who drove 5 hours to be there for the delivery.

Missy went far beyond the bonds of friendship in waiting for Beth to arrive before giving birth. All kidding aside, these photos make Beth tear up each time she looks at them.
Way to go you guys. Oscar may not realize it quite yet, but he is the big winner here. You two will be lovely parents.

Sammy the Schnabrador...a breed apart

Puppy blogging. Be patient with me.

Miniature Schnauzer?

Labrador Retriever? The more I look at Sammy the more he becomes a kind of canine rorschack test. He's a Schnabrador.
Took Sammy to the vet today. Based upon Sammy's bone structure the vet thinks that Sammy is perhaps more lab than Schnauzer.

I'm guessing Sammy's mother probably agrees.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Getting rid of Mr. Wright

Obama tries once again to explain a fairly simple premise: if you want to know what I believe just ask me. Don't ask my pastor, don't ask my neighbor, don't ask my spouse, don't ask Fox News or the New York Times...ask me.
Listen to Obama today, and ask yourself, what more can one man do?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Change is coming

I'm not talking about Obama either....this guy's name is Sam. I am not responsible for this. Beth is. Beth left me at home with the kids this morning after pointing out a bit in the local paper advertising new pups at the animanl shelter. I read the ad, then read the look on Beth's face as she left the house, and, well I did what I always do I connected the dots. Tess went to theater class, right after that I took Colm to the animal shelter. There were three yellow lab miniatue Schnauser pups, six weeks old. Sam was the only yellow one. We brought him home.
Colm is in heaven. He told me, "I like Sam better than all my toys."

Beth came home and was, to put it mildly, stunned. I just hope the dog house is big enough for two because I may be spending some time with Sam in there. That last sentence is all in fun; Beth has fallen for the little guy too.
We're back in the dog world.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Cecile comes back

My Fulbright exchange partner of last year, Cecile, is back in America for a visit. She came to the high school where we improvised a pizza get together during lunch today. Staff and students came by to see her and to reminisce a little.

Cecile made a great impression on everyone she met last year, and it was in evidence as folks filed in to say hi. She looked as if she'd been teaching here for her whole life, completely at ease. They don't come much more poised and engaging than Cecile.

Monday, April 21, 2008

White knuckles....winter won't let go

Woke up this morning, April 21, 2008 and found the ground covered with snow. Wierd. If just so happens that my exchange partner from France last year, Cecile, is arriving today. I hope she packed some warm clothes. This is the craziest spring weather I can remember.

Spring chickens

We've added four baby chickens to our menagerie. Their names are Feather, Moonshine, Tululah, and Robin. In a few weeks they'll be roosting in the coop we haven't built yet in the back yard.

Everybody is full of anticipation, including Sugar.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

blog interruption

My internet and phone service has been down since Friday....I'll be back up and posting in a couple of days hopefully. See you then.
In the interim, check this out. It is unforgettable and amazing.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

TV till you're tired

We used to have a TV but it was only hooked up to a DVD/VCR player. It had never been possible to turn it on just to see what was on...the only thing that was ever on was whatever we put in it. Since we retired the TV to the basement (and most recently sold it in our yard sale) all we have is a laptop computer.
Saturday Tess went to birthday party. That night Tess wanted me to know that a friend of hers gets to watch television every night "until she gets tired". She said it as if she were informing me of an activity I might not have imagined. Until that day, she had never imagined such a thing herself. Now her mind was teeming with new possibilities.
"I want to watch TV until I'm tired," she said.
It's interesting, the attraction TV holds. Our kids have lived without it practically their whole lives, excepting visits to grandparents, friends, and motels. They've accepted the absence of a TV as natural. They've grown accustomed to reading on the sofa together, drawing at a table, playing make believe indoors and outdoors, riding bikes, sittting together in the leather chair in front of the speakers, listening to talking books on CD, and once a week watching a DVD on the laptop.
They give every indication of being perfectly content in these activities, but whenever there is a TV present and it is on, especially when a commercial comes on, they become mesmerized. Once at their grandparents we adults were watching a basketball game while the kids played around us, during a commercial for some new police show the voice over announced the shocking plot line for the upcoming series. Colm looked at me and said, "The mother killed the father?"
What had actually sifted into Colm's brain and what the question he uttered actually meant, what feelings might be jostling his brain and his world view, and how long such thoughts might take up residence in his psyche, it was all more than I could imagine. Worst of all, it was a question that rendered me absolutely tongue tied. All I could think to do, too late actually, was to hit the mute button on the TV.
And that was an event of only a few seconds... it makes me think about what gets into the psyche of a kid who watches TV until she's tired.
TV is a massive psychic dumping ground, marked by nothing so much as its remorselessly inchoate sense of urgency, its atomizing incoherence, its unremitting trivialization of all things human, its corporatization of the personal, it's annihilation of intimacy and truth, it's servile worship of mere novelty. I'd sooner let my daughter play unsupervised along the banks of a polluted stream as let her be lulled to sleep by a television.
Beth and I are engaged in an effort to cast a spell over our kids. We are doing all we can to maintain a kind of fiction, and we are engaged full time in the effort to convince our kids that this fiction tells truth about the world. It is a fiction that might be titled "the world is magic". Within the boundaries of this narrative, we, the kids and us, have encountered myriad complexities involving life and death, power and powerlessness, kindness and cruelty. It is a narrative richly textured and layered with the issues of life, but it is most assuredly not the whole truth. The whole truth is not for our children. Our parental role is a bit like that of Prospero in The Tempest when he says,
We are such stuff as
are made on,
and our little life

Is rounded with a sleep.
We spend so much of our wakeful time, spinning tales for our kids, and we use these same enchantments to put them to sleep at the end of the day. Soon enough they will "awaken" to another consciousness, another experience of life.
We will develop and embrace new narratives as time and circumstances dictate. A couple come to mind, "the world is good" and "the world is just". The complexities that arise from weaving these narratives will surely disclose new truths and in the process some of the magic will likely give way to the more nuanced and uncertain consolations of knowledge.
As our influence over our children diminishes, so too will our ability to shape the narratives learned by them. Soon enough, they will adopt story lines from from other people, other sources, and eventually begin crafting their own. That is as it should be.
But the time we have in these early years is our time as parents. It's our chance to imprint a sense of wonder lurking inside an intuition of what William Stafford once famously called A Story That Could Be True.

If you were exchanged in the cradle and
your real mother died
without ever telling the story
then no on knows your name,
and somewhere in the world
your father is lost and needs you
but you are far away.

He can never find
how true you are, how ready.
When the great wind comes
and the robberies of the rain
you stand in the corner shivering.
The people who go by-
you wonder at their calm.

They miss the whisper that runs
any day in your mind,
"Who are you really, wanderer?"-
and the answer you have to give
no matter how dark and cold
the world around you is:
"Maybe I'm a king."

For now, Tess and Colm will have listen to such things until they're too sleepy to keep their eyes open.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Who's in touch with America?

I'm starting to believe in thhis phenomenon called "Obama alchemy". Basically it refers to his knack for turning apparently negative developments into positives. He did it with his speech on Reverend Wright; he's doing it again. Bottom line: the man knows how to defend himself. Enjoy this.

Boy emerges from oven, gets mauled by bear

Strange but true. It happened in our very own kitchen. His name is Gage.

Getting back the basement

Saturday marked the high water mark in our long standing struggle to reclaim our basement space. Back in March we began piling up stuff, earmarking it either for the dump or for the yard sale (and then the dump).

Friday night I schlepped the boxes upstairs onto the porch. Saturday morning at o'dark thirty, Beth began the daunting task of arranging and pricing everything. Beth's folks brought a pickup load of precious antiques which lent our sale a little cachet. After that we simply sat back and took people's money. Watching all that stuff trickle away, imagining it cluttering other people's yards and was a satisfying feeling. At the end of the day, I filled the pickup with the remaining stuff and took it to the dump. When I came home, I went downstairs and beheld the floor of our basement for what seemed like the first time since we bought the house five years ago. At the risk of exaggerating, it was almost as if we had completed a remodeling job, like we had added a room to the house.

Obama and small town America

Since last week, there's been some almost comical buzz from McCain and Clinton about Obama's remarks concerning Americans in small towns who are bitter about government and how find solace in religion and hunting. The critique being floated now is that Obama is both condescending and elitist. Campaign politics being what it is, I suppose this sort of thing is inevitable, but just to supply a more nuanced perspective on what Obama thinks about all this I thought I'd share a clip o an interview he did with Charlie Rose four years ago just before he was sworn into office. Notice the consistency in his position, but also notice the empathy....a far cry from condescension and elitism.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mankind in a minute

Here's a pretty succint summary of human history by distinguished professor of history, Alan Charles Kors.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

new blog...K sees stuff

Those of you who drop in regularly on this blog probably know that I had a photo selected by the Oregonian newspaper as its grand prize winner for the Travel Photo Contest. You also know that I've been dabbling with my camera for awhile now, posting quite a few photos on this blog. I've been mulling over ways to make some of my photos available or at least visible to those who might like to look at them, and so I thought of starting a new blog for the expressed purpose of putting photos on display.
K sees stuff is the name of the new blog. I started it a couple of weeks ago but haven't really told anybody about it yet. I wanted to see how it felt. My idea is to post one photo each day until I run out of material and/or inspiration. So far so good on those two fronts. Anyway, hop over for a look if you're interested. Hope you enjoy it.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Comes wisdom

Here's Obama's speech given today in Fort Wayne, Indiana on the anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King in Memphis, Tennessee.

Obama alludes to Bobby Kennedy's speech in Indianapolis in which he broke the news of King's murder to a shocked and disbelieving crowd. Kennedy ability to face that moment bravely and with eloquence is I think emblematic of the hope that Obama represents to some of us who support him. RFK quotes from memory the Greek poet Aeschylus in his speech. Here's the passage he cites and then the video clip of his speech.
"Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God."