jumpingfish
 Sunday, September 30, 2007

Front and Back

front yard photo

In the front, the setting sun casts a golden glow thru the branches of a tree across the street and lights up the Blackfoot Daisies and the Orange Bulbine that wind their stems together. The shadows of evening begin to settle on the Cedar stump sitting on the ground.

In the back, the shadows of long since grown long and the sunlight gone. My attention neglects this place, favoring instead the front, where a breeze usually blows and the setting sun shines. Here is where the Indigo Spires and Turks Cap grow, and in spite of the neglect, they seem to do just fine.

front yard photo


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 Saturday, September 29, 2007

Once Was Not Enough

I've never been much of a sports fan. Baseball, basketball, football -- it's all the same to me: I'm just not interested. But when you have a kid in the high school marching band, and when the school has a long tradition of Thursday and Friday games with parents and alumni and students filling the stadium week after week, and when you live in Texas, high school football isn't just a sport. It's life itself.

And then there's the Austin/Westlake game. It's not exactly a rivalry, or at least Westlake might not see it that way, since they've won year after year without exception -- until last year. And oh, after that game, the cheering and screaming and looks of utter joy were everywhere. The Austin kids spilled out onto the field when the clock ran down to zero. Afterwards, cars and buses honked. Kids hung out the windows screaming and waving their hands and pumping their fists. And the Westlake crowd went home in stunned silence.

That was last year. Yesterday, the two teams met again, and a general feeling of dread seemed to hang over the Maroon side of the field. Perhaps last year was an anomaly. Certainly it was too much to ask for a repeat, especially with a defensive line that has not exactly held strong. Westlake clearly saw things that way, for when their team came streaming into the end zone, they burst thru a plain banner with block letters that simply said, "Once Is Enough."

Now, I am afraid I cannot do the game justice here, as I am not much of a sports fan and wouldn't have the faintest idea how to report such a thing. Let's just say that last night, as the announcers sometimes put it, we had a football game.

In the first minutes of the game, Austin blocked a Westlake field goal attempt and scored the first touchdown of the game. But a mere 12 seconds later Westlake ran down the field and scored. Austin scored again. Westlake's offense consistently drove down the field with ease, and they scored. At half-time, the game was tied. There were more touchdowns. There were field goals. And there was screaming from the stands, first in the east and then in the west, back and forth as the momentum of the game changed.

And then as the fourth quarter was ticking down with Austin ahead by three, Westlake's offense marched down the field with ease and was poised to score, but somehow Austin's defense held. Then Austin got possession with two minutes on the clock.

That was the longest two minutes most of us have been thru. Dread then euphoria. Euphoria then dread. Cheering then silence. Silence then cheering. The seconds clicked off the clock in agonizing slow motion, and Austin line of scrimmage actually moved backwards as Westlake's defensive line broke play after play to the roaring approval of the Westlake fans. It was Austin's ball, fourth down and more than thirty yards to go with less than a minute left.

Dread was at hand, but somehow the defensive line came thru. Although the Westlake offense had pretty much run past Austin consistently all night and clearly intended to do so now, the defense held, and the seconds ran off the clock, and finally the game was over: Austin-27, Westlake-24.

Although the Austin kids did not rush onto the field this time (it was an away game), cars and buses on the Austin side of the stadium honked. Kids hung out the windows screaming and waving their hands and pumping their fists. And for the second year in a row, the Westlake crowd went home in stunned silence.

Once was evidently not enough.


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 Thursday, September 27, 2007

Orange-Faced Moon

I push the poison from my brain...

The big, round, orange face of the moon rose out of the east yesterday just after sunset. It smiled as it looked down on us. And the white Blackfoot daisies glowed in the half-light of dusk, seemingly brighter than during the day. And the Cow Pen daisies are blooming yellow, bringing butterflies finally to the yard. And the Crab Spider webs stretch between the branches and eaves and the glossy green leaves of the holly bush, making you duck when you walk by or bringing regret if you don't.

There is so much of it about -- poison and bitterness, so many reasons to hang down my head and cry. So instead I think of that orange-faced moon and other such things. It might be tiresome to hear, but it works for me.


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 Wednesday, September 26, 2007

With One Look

We talked about The Wizard of Oz—read some from the story, which of course, they all knew. We started just as the tornado was coming and as it swept the house away.

With one look out the door, Dorothy knew something had happened.

I closed the book for a second and looked up at the kids sitting on the floor in front of me. I leaned forward in my chair. They looked back, all of them silent, even the two boys in the back.

With one look out the door? What does that mean? How could she know with one look out the door? What did she see?

They still sat there.

Have you seen the movie? I asked.

Yeees, they all answered.

And you know that part when she opens the door?

Some of them nodded.

What's the movie like at the beginning? Is it in color?

Nooo, they all answered.

And what happens when she opens the door and looks out?

They all answered. Color. They all knew.

That's right. She opened the door, and the whole world out there exploded into dazzling color. Inside it was black and white. Back in Kansas it was black and white. But out there, out in Oz, everything was in color.

With one look out the door, Dorothy knew something had happened!!

I stopped for a second and realized that I was standing and my arms were spread out wide. Maybe they'll remember that sentence.

---
RIF Day
Pleasant Hill Elementary
Austin, Texas


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 Friday, September 7, 2007

Creative License or The Meaning of Truth

Believe what you will about our little adventure in Iraq, the latest spin and distortions coming from the White House and their good servants, General Potemkin and Ambassador Crock, will some day be seen for what they are.

The ends now fully justify the means, and a president who walks with the voice of God in his head knows his ends are good and therefore judges any means acceptable, omissions, distortions and lies included. After all, what's a little creative license when your heart's in the right place?

Sometime ages hence, this will be what historians mark as what changed on that morning in September six years ago. Our president donned a cloak of ermine and purple, our congress acquiesced at every turn, the press contemplated their precious credentials, and the meaning of truth became irrelevant.


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 Thursday, September 6, 2007

Day's End

Wisps of high clouds hung against a blue sky, still in the full light of day even as it began to fade on the ground. In the west the clouds were turning red, but overhead those wisps were as white as white and the sky was as blue as blue. I drove back from the river and marveled at it. We haven't had such a sky for a long time, it seems.

Back home, beneath the green canopy of the Oak and Ash, the white of the clouds and the blue of the sky were dimmer. Shadows were gathering about the trunks of the trees and the base of the bushes. The grass had that dark green hue that it gets as daylight fades. Somewhere, I knew, the spiders were finishing their webs, for I had seen them beginning a few hours before when brighter light illuminated them.

I nodded at the sunflower that has hung on thru the summer, one yellow blossom following another as rainy day has followed rainy day. An odd spot it chose (not) to grow, in the middle of a path where we walk on our way to the sitting place. But we get along well, and it's been a welcome companion even though the grandfather of all sunflowers in the backyard is taller and has larger blooms, standing in the full sun as it is (albeit leaning almost horizontally over from the force of our various rains).

So with the white wisps fading and dusk growing beneath the trees and the little yellow blooms to welcome me home, I got out my key, unlocked the door, and called it a day.


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 Tuesday, September 4, 2007

On Being Stuck

We talked about transforming functions for a while this evening, that is until he noticed a pause in my speaking and summarized it all by saying, Ok, well that's that. And he walked off.

And he told me a few days ago when I told him that we need to talk math and physics regularly this year, that he'd like to have me teach him the way to remember sine and cosine so that he'll never forget which is which.

So when he walked into the study a few minutes ago and stood there looking at me, I figured maybe he thought now was the time.

What? I asked.

I'm stuck, he said.

And I took my hands off the keyboard, pushed back from the desk and started to stand up.

Math? I asked.

No, he said. I'm just stuck, and he showed me how his pajamas were snagged on his desk chair.

Oh well.


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