Saturday, September 29, 2018

Tweaking the View

There is a massive amount of cleanup to do after the professionals felled a number of trees.

Yes, the professionals could have done it -- but it would have tripled the price (or more) so John and Justin are beginning to tackle it.

I see a tangle of giant pickup sticks; John and Justin see firewood and black walnut for woodworking projects.

So, after a full day of working on the felled trees, J & J decided to do something about a few last trees (above: over to the left) that were marring the symmetry of the view.

It had begun to rain but they were already wet and they were determined to take down those last offenders, all fairly small but capable of getting very tall. 

There's Justin, working away in the rain.

And there he is, coming to the porch to enjoy a gloat-drink while admiring the new improved new view.

Which was all but obscured by fog, but we could see that symmetry had been restored.

Friday, September 28, 2018

He Said/She Said

I watched almost all of the Ford/Kavanaugh hearing yesterday. How could I not? High political drama, right there on my laptop.

My politics are no secret. I was opposed to Kavanaugh before Dr. Ford and the other accusers came forward. I don't believe he would be an impartial judge. I fear that he would abet an undoing of Roe v. Wade, and I cringe at the possibility that he would allow the President* to pardon himself in the event of conviction for wrong-doing. Judge Kavanaugh has been groomed by the Right for years and he is completely their creature.

 Yes, the whole show was politicized by both sides. I believe Dr. Ford's statement to the effect that she just wanted her senator to know this about Kavanaugh's past before  he was nominated. I believe that she wanted to stay anonymous -- this process can't have been fun for her. If Feinstein employed delaying tactics due to Ford's desire for anonymity, they pale in comparison to the delaying tactics employed by Mitch McConnell et al re Merrick Garland.

I was impressed with Dr. Ford's demeanor and seeming candor. She sounded completely believable to me, including her admission of the things she didn't remember. I felt that she answered the questions put to her without straying from the subject. Her polygraph test and her willingness to participate in an FBI investigation would seem to indicate that she is telling the truth. 

But the Republicans fear a shift in power after the midterms and are desperate for this confirmation. They will surely resist an FBI investigation that would only delay things -- and possibly not make anything clearer. 

Judge Kavanaugh, unlike Dr. Ford, was evasive. More than that, he was arrogant, combative, and rude. He was most at home reciting his exemplary achievements but seemed annoyed at being put through this questioning (especially from the 'female assistant' employed by the committee.) He was also visibly nervous. And quite political himself, jabbing a finger at the Democrats on the committee, haranguing them and suggesting a conspiracy to get even with him for his part in the investigation of the Clintons. If I'd known nothing about him, I would have decided that his temperament showed him unfit for the judiciary. And some say women are too emotional for high office.

None of which 'proves' anything. 

There were two lines of questioning I thought particularly irrelevant. One was the matter of his yearbook page. Having served as advisor to the yearbook staff at a prep school, I know that things get put under people's pictures, whether maliciously or as an inside joke, and that this is a flimsy guide to character.

The other was the famous hand-annotated calendar from 1982. I have no problem believing that this calendar is real. I do have a problem seeing it as proof that Judge Kavanaugh didn't attend the gathering Dr. Ford describes. Who in his right mind would detail a gathering at which he had behaved as badly as Dr. Ford alleges? On the contrary, who, if he had been there and done that, might not jot down some other event, just in case there were repercussions, in case the girl told someone the next day?

I think I'm approaching this as a reader and writer of mysteries. As I said, nothing is proven -- but I can see the various possibilities. . . either Dr. Ford is an accomplished actress and bald-faced liar, or she is 'mixed up' and the event happened but it wasn't Kavanaugh. Or she is telling the truth.

And either Kavanaugh is the person he says he is, fighting to defend his reputation and the chance for the promotion of a lifetime -- or he's willing to lie about these incidents so far in the past that they seem almost to have been someone else. Surely, he may tell himself, all those years of good conduct, all those accolades and awards and endorsements and years of church-going outweigh one drunken moment when nothing really happened . . . he didn't even manage to get her clothes off. . . surely, he may tell himself, some things are worth lying about, need to be lied about. The end justifies the means . . .

Possibilities . . .

My husband suggested that in the absence of concrete evidence, it might be as well to look at cui bono -- who benefits? Who benefits from lying? Dr. Ford, whose life has been upturned and who has received death threats? Or Judge Kavanaugh who sees a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court nearly in the palm of his hand?

He said. She said.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Recent Reading

A friend came to visit and passed on some books for our perusal. I know I read A Passage to India back in my days as an English major but it's been a while . . . over fifty years. And I never saw the movie.  

Set in India in the Twenties toward the end of the British Colonial Raj, it's a story of the ill-fated attempts of some of the occupiers and one of the natives to get to know and understand one another.

 I'm not surprised it made several 100 Best Novels lists. It's got it all -- beautiful, luminous prose, exotic setting, clashing philosophies/religions, timeless observations of human nature, and a compelling story. 

It makes me want to read more about India -- how it became a part of the British Empire and how it gained independence. (All stuff I vaguely know but need a refresher on.) 

And there are some really great lines: "Ronny approved of religion as long as it endorsed the National Anthem, but he objected when it attempted to influence his life." (Boy, if that didn't make me think of some people today. . .)

The  Captain's Wife is a novel based on the true story of Mary Patten, the young wife of the captain of a clipper ship making the run from New York to San Francisco in 1856. 

The voyage is plagued by a mutinous first mate who has to be imprisoned and then by a sudden debilitating illness that renders the captain incapable of commending the ship. The wiling but inexperienced second mate is left in charge but he doesn't know how to navigate. Fortunately Mary does, having learned how on a previous voyage and they form an unlikely partnership. But will the crew obey them and will they weather the perilous passage around Cape Horn?

It's a good story, full of interesting details about shipboard life. in those times. 

Ex Libris called to me from our library's ongoing book sale and what a delightful find it was!  Anne Fadiman is a book lover after my own heart.

This collection of essays begins with The Odd Shelf -- the shelf in one's personal library that contains an group of books whose subject matter is quite different from the rest of the library. Whether it's pornography (Philip Larkin) or polar expeditions (Anne Fadiman or Arthurian matter (me),  it's revelatory of the library owner's deepest interests. 

She relates the logistics of combining libraries -- hers and her husband's -- an issue John and I have more or less dealt with. His particular books are in his study and mine are more or less everywhere else.

I especially appreciated the essay titled 'Never Do That To A Book' and Fadiman's confession: "The Fadiman family believed in carnal love. To us, a book's words were holy, but the paper, cloth, cardboard, glue, thread, and ink that contained them were a mere vessel, and it was no sacrilege to treat them as wantonly as desire and pragmatism dictated. Hard use was a sign of not of disrespect but of intimacy."

My best-loved, often read books bear the signs of that intimacy. (N.B.: My own books that is -- I treat borrowed books with great respect.)

Ex Libris is a charming read for book nerds like me. I enjoyed it so much I'm leaving it out rather than shelving it as I want to read it again. Highly recommended.

"Books wrote our life story, and as they accumulated on our shelves (and on our windowsills, and underneath our sofa, and on top of the refrigerator), they became chapters in it themselves. How could it be otherwise?" 

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

A Noiseless Patient Spider

A noiseless patient spider,
I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.

Monday, September 24, 2018

And It Was All Downhill the Rest of the Day . . .

The morning began well but then the cold I've been fighting off blossomed into full, streaming glory.  As I write this Sunday evening, I'm sipping rum and lemon and considering whether I can make it through supper and an episode of VERA (which we are really enjoying) or if I should just go to bed.

I'll be fine -- this, too, shall pass.

I like to believe that there's some good reason for colds -- that they make us stronger in some weird way. Some people say an occasional cold is nature's way of ridding the body of toxins. If that's so, the handkerchiefs I've been using should probably be exorcized, as well as washed.

But it's annoying, just when I was feeling that equinoctial energy flowing, to have it be my nose instead.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Equinox -- The Great Wheel Turns

And what a pleasure to see a sunrise, unblocked by trees! We face due east and I've always enjoyed following the sun's course during the year. It's at mid-point now, as it moves from north to south (where it'll be behind  a ridge by winter solstice.)

Though Fall is officially here, the weather is still rather warm. But the air is drier and something in the quality of the light is turning my thoughts toward getting ready for cooler days. 

I find myself reorganizing the pantry and freezer, taking stock of what's on hand and making notes of what's needed. (Getting ready for winter is not unlike getting ready for a hurricane as winter can bring impassable roads and/or power outages. Not always, not often, but it never hurts to be prepared.)

The season's turn brings new energy and I'm making mental lists . . . they need to stay in my mind because if I write them down, it will be too daunting. But perhaps I'll begin with getting rid of the mildew and mold caused by a damper than usual summer.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Mexican Cane

Josie picked this old cane from the crockery churn in the mud room where we keep umbrellas and walking sticks and, as she practiced walking with it, I was overcome with a sense of nostalgia and the feeling of somehow coming full circle.

I 'won' the cane at the Florida State Fair over sixty years ago. It was one of those Guess Your Weight concessions and the guy -- who'd been quite accurate with all his other customers -- missed the mark with me.  The cane was my prize for being tall and thin and wearing bulky winter clothes.

It was a gaudy thing, before the paint faded. Made in Mexico,  it has the Mexican eagle holding a snake, along with other figures roughly carved and painted on it.

I was thrilled with my prize. I took it home and gave it to my beloved grandfather who always carried a walking stick.

Twenty some years later, he was still using it -- here on a walk with my older son -- who is also sporting a cane.

I inherited the Mexican cane and used it when I had back surgery, again when I had a knee replacement, and, most recently, after the catastrophe two years ago. 

It's not needed at this time but I keep it handy, just in case. For now I'm pleased to see the youngest generation playing with it.