Wednesday, October 29, 2008
As always, please send this video to five friends and insist they do the same and that they do the same and on and on and on. If you can, drive people to the polls. Call your local election commission and ask how you can help them on election day. Do anything and everything within your power to vote and to ensure others do the same.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Much of my exposure to sports this past year has come through my walks with Duncan as we navigate the various teams which swarm over the fields in the park across the street. While I detest the surprising majority of parents who seem completely inattentive, talking on their phones while standing on the sidelines with their backs turned, or sitting in their cars reading a book or the paper while their children run and kick and jump and cavort for them, I genuinely admire the kids who give their all. I remember what it was like to stand there, awkward and fearful, praying the ball stayed as far away from me as possible 'less I blow my one chance. To this day when I see a ball I careening toward me across an athletic field I see a lifetime of childhood and adolescent anxiety. Duncan merely sees a ball bouncing across the grass and wants to join in the fun. On more than one occasion we've accidentally interrupted a kiddie soccer practice when he's charged into the fray to wrest control of the ball in a mad attempt to slather it with drool.
The football teams finally returned today. They appear to have lost some of their status along with the privilege to play on the main fields and have been relegated to practicing on the now abandoned baseball diamonds. While Duncan paused and sniffed the trunk of a bare Aspen tree, I watched the kids slam into each other, their pads colliding and groaning under the strain of their impacts, but one kid, rather thin and gangly, was a little more forceful than the others, running a little harder, catching a little more air just before crushing into the others, grunting louder but catching his balance and pushing on before his teammates did. It was only when he turned away and moved back into formation that I saw the long ponytail hanging halfway down his back, noticed the grace of his movements and realized that number twenty two was not a he but a she. And a damn feisty one at that. When it came time to rush her coach, squatting behind the small kiddie-sized tackle sled, she nearly knocked him over and moved right on past as he struggled to keep his balance and prepare for the next kid.
I could've stood there all night, watching this small, bird-like girl throw better than some of the boys, run faster, dance on her feet with much more agility and repeatedly push her coach back, gaining ground on him each time. I was never a fan of team sports, but she was the kind of person I'd definitely want on my team. I was always one of the last kids picked when it came time to choose teams (except at dodge ball!) but that's something number twenty-two will never have to worry about. I guarantee it.
Monday, October 27, 2008
This video is for them. They know who they are. If you know of people who are afraid to come out and turn their back on the old way of doing things, please forward the video to them as well. Share it in any way you can. Post it on your own blog, Facebook or Myspace page. Get the message out to those people who are simply afraid to break with family tradition. Their votes could make all the difference. We only have 8 days left. There is not a moment to lose!
Sunday, October 26, 2008
It was an exhilarating experience, one I hope never to forget. I cannot tell you how amazing it felt to be a part of something so big with so many other people who recognize that this country is in dire need of change in a positive direction. They were people of all types and colors, economic brackets and classes.
The volunteers, who numbered in the thousands, handed out fliers, sold buttons and shirts, bumper stickers, recruited even more volunteers and shared their message of hope. I have never been in such a large crowd with so many considerate people; everyone wished us a good morning, thanked us for coming out, wished us well as we left. It was electric and there were times when I listened to Barack speak that tears actually came to my eyes. I felt I was part of history, that this day and this election was a one I could look back on and be proud of. I felt part of a community which wants nothing more than to help this country and her citizenry realize its full potential.
I can not urge you enough to vote early, to tell your friends and family to do the same, to speak with everyone you know about why Barack Obama is the best candidate for the future of this country. This afternoon I signed up to go canvassing door to door, which makes me proud and helps me feel like I've earned the right to see this man made president of the United States. Do all you can do. Don't just sit there, get involved!
Friday, October 24, 2008
When I was young, perhaps seven or eight, I remember my sister and I Sunday-driving through the wide neighborhood streets near the high school in Blackfoot, Idaho in my father's car. It was some time in late Autumn when the sun is still able to choose warmth even though the sky is as sharp as a razor and as far away as the moon. The trees, yellowed nicely, had finally kissed their leaves farewell and set them free on the wind. They'd spent all summer shading and sheltering the swallows and sparrows and countless other little gray and dirt-colored Idaho birds, listening to their talk, imagining they understood enough that when the time came they'd learned enough to fly off on their own, far away from the bleak little town on the edge of the reservation in a forgotten corner of the state. But when the time came, when the fingers of the trees relaxed and set them loose, they could only spin once or twice in the air before alighting on the grass, against the tall curbs or down into the street where they curled up on themselves and waited and waited.
Casey and I were in the backseat, standing, as you could in those days, looking out the back window, watching as the thrust of the car pushed the leaves aside and then pulled them in behind us where they rattled as they took chase, bouncing and crunching, leaving sad, broken bits of themselves––slivers in the road––behind. Casey and I cheered them on and when our father asked what we were watching I exclaimed, "They're chasing us, daddy! They're chasing us! Go faster." He glanced back in the rear view mirror and confirmed the army of leaves advancing and then falling behind as we sped ever forward, and bless him, he played along, slowing the car and letting them clatter forward, almost reaching us and then gunning it just as they reached for the tires beneath us.
It was an image I have never forgotten, and I have spent many a Fall afternoon walk with Duncan remembering it as I've watched the leaves rain gold and fire from the trees, roll across the sidewalk, heave through the grass or shatter against the curbs in the parking lots. There is nothing quiet or serene about Autumn and her colorful dancing minions are louder than even the wind, never content but always clambering for direction and movement, for the ghost-dreams of flight which haunt them through their final hours. On those days when the weight of the season has not taken my heart I like to run with Dunc across the grass, dodging the dried little hand-print shapes caught in the slowly yellowing blades, leaping over them as we cross the sidewalks. His joy at the chase is matched only by the surrender when we stand beneath the locust trees as the leaves swarm down on us, catching me around the shoulders, hanging from Roo's ears and clinging to his tail. Eventually we find ourselves on our backs staring upward, blinking leaves away when they waft down into our eyes, listening to their final mad frolic and the broken glass notes of their song.
There are not many days left of this part of Autumn, this Clambering Autumn when Orion rules the night and the naked trees, can only point, mute, at his path across the dark.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
One night last Summer, sitting on his patio sipping a beer and listening to the crickets hum in the rose bushes in his backyard, we engaged in one of our few, brief political discussions. He told me the reason he could not vote for Barack Obama was that he lacked experience. It was an argument I'd heard many times before and the only response I had was to say that George W. Bush didn't have any experience either and that he'd been so cavalier about his time with the Texas Air National Guard that to this day we're not sure whether he ever fulfilled his duties there. But, I pointed out, Obama is a man who will surround himself with other educated and experienced people, that he would not be brash and arrogant in his decision making.
This morning on the way to work I mentioned that Colin Powell had finally endorsed Obama on Meet the Press. The news caught him by surprise and for a moment I think he believed I was mistaken. He made me repeat the name. Yes, I told him. That Colin Powell. The General. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Secretary of State.
He was shocked but asked questions, wanted to know more about what Powell had said. I explained that he disagreed with the GOP's direction, did not have faith in McCain's economic strategy and doubted his choice in running mates. I also mentioned that several weeks ago General Patraeus had discussed the strategy in Afghanistan and without endorsing him, clearly stated an opinion that more closely resembled that of Barack Obama's than it did Senator McCain's. My friend realized that in one fell swoop, Powell's endorsement and Patraeus' strategy had effectively destroyed the "no experience" argument.
I have no idea whether my friend will vote for Obama; that's not the point. The point is that because I was informed and had not given up on the election in these last crucial weeks, I was able to make him pause and think. I did not expect to have the conversation and I certainly didn't think there was anything I could say that would change his mind, but he admitted he had some studying to do, and that's all I could hope for. And I hope that each of you, no matter where you are or how many political commercials are bombarding you (I live in Colorado, and believe me, all I see are political commercials!), you will take these words to heart. We are too close to think we have it in the bag. Now, more than ever, we have to fight, harder than we have over the course of the past several months. We have to fight for the uninsured, for the veterans and the soldiers still serving, for the poor and disenfranchised. We can not make the same mistake we made four years ago. We owe it to them. Research, read all you can, take the videos off this blog and send them to everyone you know. Urge them to forward them along. If you have a blog you must use your voice, no matter how small or how off-topic you think it is, to speak up for what you know is right. I challenge you to get involved in whatever way you can. With two weeks remaining, every moment counts!
LATE BREAKING NEWS (10/21/08 6 AM): Word has just come out that in addition to Michigan, the McCain campaign may be giving up on Colorado, big news for a state that twice went red. See, the little people can make a difference! Get out there and do something in your state!
Sunday, October 19, 2008
There is a wall at the end of the grassy lane where Duncan and I walk in the morning and again at night. On both sides of that wall the trees have turned the most brilliant shades of Autumn and beneath them the light glows a buttery cinnamon color and the air is sweet and heavy and flavorful on the tongue. For the last few weeks we have watched the progress of the leaves erupting from the tree and the slow but steady growth of the empty space around them as more and more find their way to ground below. The light has changed slowly as the canopy above has frayed, but the ground, a pleasant but single shade of green, has tattooed itself in celebration with the red and golden bodies it espied enviously all Summer.
The most marvelous thing about the wall and the corner where it sits is the delight the wind takes in traipsing through it. This morning, the street calm and quiet, the light still low but bright, Duncan and I followed the grassy lane down to the wall and gasped at the festival awaiting our arrival. As the leaves were finally letting go of their roost, the only place they have ever known, the wind fluttered and swirled around the base of the trees, pulling the bodies which had already settled there into the air and flung them in wide, playful eddies around the trunks where they mingled and danced with those who were only just making the journey to the ground. Families of leaves rose up to meet the stalwart who had held out for so long, tickled their crimson skins and coaxed them free of the branches where they swept far and wide and low. Duncan and I watched the leaves rise up even as others fell. He wagged his tail as his feet danced before him, then cocked his head and looked at me, curious for an explanation but content with the magic of not being given one.
In this time of transition, from vibrant life to stark hibernation, I wonder if The Universe will rejoice at our own passing in a similar manner, stirring the spirits who have gone before us into joyful revelry as they escort us from the only place we have known into rapture and oblivion.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
This afternoon the northwest side of the park and the lower field were blessedly clear of the usual brightly clad darting soccer-kids and their milling, indifferent parents. Duncan and I had crossed Bowles, tromping over the fallen leaf bodies in the curb to weave through the gathered crowds. Once on the far side of the queen willow, holding court over the tall reeds and cattails bowing and bending low at her feet, the field opened up before us like an unexpected sanctuary. The elms on its western edge have long since given up their Autumn struggle and looked bony and sickly, almost obscene against the faraway hollow blue of the mountained sky. But the field spread before us long and green and the maples and cottonwoods ringing her other boundaries were full and bloated with color. We spent much of last winter there playing in refuge from the wind at the base of its low hill, but there has been little reason to visit it since. There are places in the world which are meant almost strictly for specific times and seasons and it seems I have found another. Duncan was lucky enough to find a good, solid throwing stick which he preferred to gnaw upon rather than chase, and so I unrolled myself out on the ground, rested my head among the tall blades of grass which, at this time of year, feel cold and damp, even if they are not, slipped my hands behind my head and watched the sky move as only Autumn skies do, swiftly and with unknown purpose, clouds spread haphazardously about, mingling as indifferent as strangers among each other. Defying their nature they did not blend or merge and grow indistinguishable, like people in a crowd, but moved cautiously, revolving around one another, like drops of oil in water. From where I watched, my glorious red dog chipping away on the fractured femur of a maple branch with his diligent and purposeful teeth, the fuzzy, almost transparent clouds made impressions in the sky like the fleshy undersides of alabaster baby feet dipped in heavy cream. My fingers, restless worms, tubed through the grass on the hill above my head, blind eyes seeking contact, catching and crunching the few stray leaves which had fallen in the hours since the park's grounds crew had mulched them en masse earlier in the day. My hand fell upon an elm twig, pliable and green at the place where it had broken free of the rest of the tree, its skin still tender and warm with ridges heavy and knuckled like the bony finger of an old woman, the kind of thing I imagine Gretel offered to the witch who wanted only to fatten up her and Hansel before making a dinner of them. My fingers rejoiced in its texture and weight and because I did not use my eyes, did not commit its color and speckled skin to memory, I knew it as intimately and as fully as a lover's body, traced and caressed under the silken sheets of midnight.
And this, I suppose, is what I love most about this bittersweet season, that even though The Universe placates our fear and apprehension with explosions of color, so much more is offered through its scents and sounds, the feel of it on the skin of our faces and hands, the whispering of the leaves dancing down the street, the sweet, pungent flavor of the wind on our tongues. This is the time to close our eyes and feel our most alive, to remember and burn our brightest, rejoice in the beating of our hearts.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Be sure to watch the third and final presidential debate on Wednesday, October 15th! Host a party, attend one, talk about with everyone you know.
Friday, October 10, 2008
There were shelves and shelves of them, mostly old peanut butter jars, the glass kind, family-sized and heavy, thick so that when you peered into them their contents blurred and warped and refused to reveal themselves except by the red or green punch labels Grandpa had made and attached to the places where Grandma had washed away the paper Skippy or Jif labels. Elk, grouse, pheasant, skunk, they read; beaver, mule deer, roadkill, on and on, every manner of creature. And in those jars were bits of hide, colorful feathered wings, tails he'd collected. I spent many hours leaning over the arms of the rough-textured couch behind his work station, watching him open them and withdraw bits which he always let me stroke or caress with the back of my hand, fascinated not only by what they'd once been but also by what they were about to become. I don't know how he did it, but he spent hours extracting pieces of fur or strands of feather which he wrapped around a hook and mounted on a vice and spun and spun until after long hours he'd produced a bright and beautiful lure for his fly-fishing trips. My eyes lit up at the transformation and I wanted to throw my arms around him and congratulate him on his magic. Nothing was more wondrous than his ability to change one thing--something so alien, disconnected as it was from the thing it had been--into something luminous and more alive than all those heads and skins hanging from the walls around us. My grandfather could spin gold! And there is nothing I wouldn't give to sit in that basement and see him do it again.
This morning at the park Duncan followed close, almost behind me, near to my body, watching me as though waiting for something, his eyes wide and head slightly cocked, ears up. His ball was at home where he'd dropped it in all his excitement and bum-shimmying in front of the door while waiting for me to leash him up. I had nothing to throw his way. and held out my empty hands for him to see. He did a little prancing hop at me as though I was hiding something which he'd discovered and wanted. But I had nothing. Scanning the ground I spotted a large branch which had broken free of the naked and sickly elm above us. Moving quickly I snapped off the last brittle four feet of the thing. Duncan plopped down hard, his tail wagging beneath him, his tongue lolling out of his mouth. Hardly able to contain themselves, his front paws danced in place as I worked, peeling the smaller leafy twigs off the main branch, shucking them and dropping them at my feet, until I'd finally fashioned the perfect throwing stick, smooth and nearly nub-free. As I tossed it across the park, watching it spin and arc in the air while Duncan chased after it, his head craned back and his tail sticking straight out, I thought of Grandpa and his flies, his taking and making, the way he taught me, without knowing it, how to write poetry and how to move through this life, looking at things exactly as they are but also seeing them for what they could be, should be. In my mind those flies, those scraps of long-dead animals and birds, are still humming and darting over the speckled lakes and rivers of southeast Idaho, more alive in their tethered flight than I could have imagined peering into their peanut butter jar-kennels.
I do not know how to tie flies, and despite Grandpa's best efforts, I never managed to catch anything fly-fishing next to him on the south fork of the Snake River. There are many things my grandfather knows which I will never be able to do but his whistle is not the only thing I've inherited. I can turn branches in flying toys and fulfill the dreams of my own "son."
Monday, October 6, 2008
John McCain was accused of improperly aiding his political patron, Charles Keating, chairman of the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association. The bipartisan Senate Ethics Committee launched investigations and formally reprimanded Senator McCain for his role in the scandal -- the first such Senator to receive a major party nomination for president.
At the heart of the scandal was Keating's Lincoln Savings and Loan Association, which took advantage of deregulation in the 1980s to make risky investments with its depositors' money. McCain intervened on behalf of Charles Keating with federal regulators tasked with preventing banking fraud, and championed legislation to delay regulation of the savings and loan industry––actions that allowed Keating to continue his fraud at an incredible cost to taxpayers.
When the savings and loan industry collapsed, Keating's failed company put taxpayers on the hook for $3.4 billion and more than 20,000 Americans lost their savings. John McCain was reprimanded by the bipartisan Senate Ethics Committee, but the ultimate cost of the crisis to American taxpayers reached more than $120 billion.
The Keating scandal is eerily similar to today's credit crisis, where a lack of regulation and cozy relationships between the financial industry and Congress has allowed banks to make risky loans and profit by bending the rules. And in both cases, John McCain's judgment and values have placed him on the wrong side of history." (as quoted from www.KeatingEconomics.com)
It may be a bit long and technical but it's crucial that we understand exactly where John McCain's allegiances lie: with the rich and with the corrupt institutions which continually profit off the hard work of American citizens. He does not support the middle class and does not have your best interests at heart. History has proven that. Twice. Please take the time to watch the video, read on your own and pass this information along to everyone you know. You owe it to your country. Be a patriot and stand up for what you know is right. Vote Barack Obama on November 4th.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
(from "Wild Geese", by Mary Oliver)
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
And don't forget to watch the VP debate Thursday night! Not only is it important but I have a feeling it will be entertaining and infuriating all at once!