Sunday, November 30, 2008


Watching Tess and Colm and their cousins play basketball in my folks' driveway was a cross between watching the Night of the Living Dead and one of those educational films in Biology where an amoeba morphs elastically and occasionally subdivides. Except that everyone in these pics in having a great time.

update: check out the comment on this post. i never cease to be amazed at the electronic dragnets that are at work online.

what stirs the heart moves the hand

pear watercolor
no-knead bread
from Beth

Friday, November 28, 2008


At a vision screening in school a while back Tess displayed some tracking problems so we took her to Baker City the day before Thanksgiving for an eye exam. She came home with these.

The optometrist said that Tess has a condition called esophoria which is a tendency for the eyes to turn inwards. Esophoria results in objects appeaing smaller than they should. This results in the child having to hold objects close up in order to increase their size. It's the sort of thing that causes some kids to literally bury their heads in a book as they try to read it.

The doctor was very happy that we had brought her in and caught this at so early an age. Tess is actually farsighted and only needs her glasses for close up work. Translation: school work.

Tess picked out her own frames while Beth was sorting out the insurance information at the desk. By the time she got back to Tess, she had made her pick. She is currently very happy with her new clothing accessory, not to mention the spiffy case and the cleaning kit the doctor gave her. She was already growing up so fast, these specs just make her look even older....a bit of a Harry Potter look as well, I think.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Obama photos

The Boston Globe has a very cool album of portraits of Obama collected over the last few months. Take a look here.
hat tip: Josh Marshall

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Then there were two (readers)

Colm has officially joined the ranks of family members who read. He and I have been leisurely working our way through the book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. I recommend to anyone looking for something to lend a little structure to their efforts to help a youngster learning to decode and sound out words. We are at or near lesson 40.

After some initial ups and downs with the process, owing as much to my own learning curve concerning pace and energy as to Colm's capacities, Colm displays real enthusiasm for reading the little stories which conclude each lesson. Often, when we get to the end of a lesson, he wants to peek ahead and see what new sounds are going to be introduced.

Tess has picked up on this new development, and lately she is keenly interested in this book that Colm and I are reading. She sometimes hangs around and watches Colm's lesson from behind my shoulder. She whispers words into my ear that Colm is slowly sounding out. She smiles at me conspiratorially. She's very good about not giving away information and letting Colm work things out at his own pace, but she's also very eager to show off her own prowess. I've noticed her picking up the book on her own and looking through it's pages. She turns to the final lessons where the stories are longest and she reads them quickly and then goes back to her chapter books.

Then, yesterday I overheard her helping Colm read a story in the book. She wasn't reading to him, she was tutoring him. I looked in on them and saw Colm upside down on the couch and Tess holding the book so that he could read it. They were both thoroughly amused by the project of learning to read while sitting upside down. I think Tess maybe has the teacher gene.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

a heart that beats

Colm and I got out of the shower at the public pool this evening. I draped a towel over his skinny shoulders, and I dried myself off. He stood shivering. When I removed his towel and started to rub him down, he said, "Daddy, I can feel my heart beating."
"That's a good thing." I chuckled. "You know why?"
"Cause it means you're alive." I tousled his hair. "You know what it means if you're heart's not beating don't you?"
"It means you're dead."
"If you're heart stops, you're dead?"
"That's right, Colmie. If it ain't tickin', you dead."
Colm considered for a moment then, "My heart won't stop until I'm big."
"Your heart is gonna beat a long, long time. It's never gonna stop."
"Yes it will. Everybody's heart stops."
Colm loves to be the exacting contrarian. In this case I had to concede his point. "You're right."
We went about the business of putting on our clothes in silence. I was passing Colm dry clothes, stepping over puddles on the cement floor, mulling over our mortality. It turns out I wasn't the only one. Colm broke the silence, "Daddy?"
"Yeah, Colm?"
"Who is the littlest person you know who died?"
I looked at him. I thought back. A couple of news articles flashed into my head, but those were tabloid, not worthy of Colm's query. What finally came to me, came out of my mouth without hardly any screening.
"You know our friends Tan and Jer?" I said.
Colm nodded.
"Well, they had a baby right after Piper and before Gage. He died."
"When did he die?"
"Right at the start Colm. He didn't have very long."
It was as if Colm had received the answer he'd been waiting for. He sighed. "Well, at least he had one day."
Both of us sort of paused there in empty locker room, half dressed, me standing there in my bare feet, Colm sitting on the bench, trying to pull socks over his damp soles.
"Yeah." I said feeling a lump form in my throat. All I could think to do was take my towel and rub his hair vigorously, trying to forestall the chill that I knew was waiting for him outside in the cold, dark November air.

Monday, November 17, 2008

colliding whorls

seen while walking this weekend near Cricket Flats

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The price of being right

is ridicule and disdain if you're Peter Schiff, president of Euro Pacific Capital.
Watch him in this video compilation of appearances on Fox News over the past two years try again and again to warn people of the coming financial meltdown and consequent recession. The first excerpt is August, 2006.
Observe how he is practically laughed off the camera by fellow panelists and smirking anchors. Listen to his analysis. Did he get anything wrong? Unbelievable.

hat tip Andrew Sullivan

Friday, November 07, 2008


Alright American history buffs. Can you name all these guys?
(hint: when you get there click on the button to expand the image. It makes it easier to recognize them, unless of course you have the list memorized.)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

time to exhale

On January 4 of this year I made my initial post in support of Barack Obama. Ten months and god knows how many posts later, he has won the presidency by a clear and decisive margin. I campaigned, I wrote, I knocked on doors, I made phone calls, and I wrote checks to help see this day come. It's a good, good feeling. I loved both speeches delivered by the candidates on election night. McCain was generous and graceful and eloquent. Obama made me proud.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Know Hope

For quite some time now I've been a regular reader of Andrew Sullivan's blog the Daily Dish. His perspectives are always bracing and thought provoking. What also attracts me to Sullivan is his unabashed embrace of contradiction. He, like many of us, began by admiring McCain, but the fundamentally unserious nature of the McCain campaign has tarnished his image and his legacy perhaps forever.
Obama's disciplined campaign has allowed him to become known to Americans in a way that few politicians get the chance to do. Obama has worn well. The more people have gotten to see him and to know him, the more he has impressed them. The same cannot be said of either of his opponents, Hillary Clinton or John McCain, both of whom managed to estrange voters as their campaigns seemed to spin out of control.
Endorsing Obama is not some genre of hero worship or messianic politics. It is, rather, an ardent embrace of a deeply serious attempt to rescue American political discourse from the cynical slice and dice tactics of Karl Rove; it is a call to national reconciliation. It's a call for Americans of every political stripe to come to the table with coherent contributions for solving national problems.

But let me put my feelings in very concrete terms: I try to imagine each candidate getting up every morning and putting his every waking moment to the challenge of leading this country through the many challenges it now faces. When I try to imagine each man pouring himself into this effort, discerning both problems and opportunities, leading and listening, giving his maximum effort to achieve the maximum effect, honoring our trust with smart, disciplined,hard work and resolve, I am always far more comforted by the thought that this man is Obama than that it is McCain.
On the eve of this election I'm genuinely excited about the possiblities that lay ahead. I hope that I'm justified in feeling that way.

In closing, let me refer you to Andrew's post today which sums up the crisis of leadership faced by this country and how an Obama presidency offers us a way back to a government we can both trust and be proud of.