Thursday, June 26, 2008

Missing Sunset

I was swimming when the sun went down — up the lane and down, one stroke after another. I saw only the stripe on the bottom of the pool and the splash at my shoulders each time I gasped for air.

The almost-evening air felt cold against my wet arms, and I thought there must be some mistake, for it was mighty hot today. But then the sun went down... and I didn't even notice. I missed the setting of the sun.

It must have lit the western sky aglow. It must have splashed some pink into that last blue of day. But now it is gone, and the sky is that silver-white that comes after dusk when the shadows have deepened and night is about to arrive.

An evening breeze is blowing. The trees are only silhouettes. The dog and I watch in silence and wait.

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 Monday, June 9, 2008

What Are You Doing?

What are you doing? she asked me, holding her hand over her eyes.

I looked over at her and said I couldn't sleep. She turned and went back to the bedroom.

I too was sleeping soundly, but all of the sudden, BOING, eyes wide open, mind racing thru all the things he has to do in the coming days, weeks and months — all the things he hasn't even started to think about much less do.

He leaves for Michoacan in less than two weeks, but he hasn't finished the training materials, he hasn't even talked about packing, and he hasn't even bothered to open the light-weight travel cot we got him that sits in the shipping box on the floor of his room.

He leaves for college in about a year, but he hasn't started putting any real thought into where or why or how. We've talked about it with him. We've gone to presentations with him. We've tried to get him to start thinking about narrowing down the list that he hasn't bothered to begin writing. The college books from the library sit unopened on the living room floor while the stack of fun books he's been reading grows ever higher.

And he leaves for good in just a few years, yet there's no indication that he's given any thought to what he'd like to do. That in itself would not be so bad if he had a general vector on his target. At least then, he could think about how to make little things happen that push him in the right direction. But no — there's no direction. It's like pushing on a rope.

Ok, ok. All this is more about me than about him, you say? Sit down and relax, dad. Don't push. Let him live his life.

Ok fair enough. Then what happens when he shows up to leave for Mexico and he's never finished the training materials? Or what happens when he finally realizes too late that he needed to put some thought into this college thing before fall was upon him? And what happens when he graduates from college with good grades even and a nourishing liberal arts degree but with no plan for what comes next? All I know is that the plan can't include coming back here.

THAT is what's keeping me awake. ... Oh look, the birds are beginning to sing.

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 Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Winds of Change

For years I have been ashamed. My head has hung low as I've watched what has become of my country.

For decades, I have grumbled my way to the voting booth, hoping against hope that this time it might count for something.

I am afraid to hope even now — afraid that hope might jinx it all. But my head is raised. My shame has diminished a bit.

Imagine what the world is thinking.

The winds of change are blowing.

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The Wind

What is going on? Trudy said. What is with this wind?

For days now, it has been blowing out of the east. A hot, dry wind that shakes the leaves, kicks up dust, and pushes whitecaps up the river.

The grass is withering. The tomatoes are leaning. The salvia are drooping. The Elfin Thyme is suffering. And still the wind blows.

West of here, a day's drive away, there are great windmills standing on flat-topped mesas. They tower over the land and turn their white blades into the wind. Oh, how they must be spinning now.

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 Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Tipping Point

So $4.00/gal is the tipping point:

  • the point where people notice the cost of driving to the north side of town and back.
  • the point where people contemplate buying a used compact car and leaving their big diesel trucks at home.
  • the point where General Motors finally realizes that its business model had a critical flaw.
  • the point where Honda Fits and Nissan Versas and Toyota Yarises are flying off the lots and the street price of a used Chevy Geo is several thousand dollars.

The SUV is doomed. People are driving less.

And just in the nick of time, the State of Texas finishes the Katy Freeway expansion -- putting the final touches on the Interstate west of Houston, widening it to 18 lanes of aggregate goodness.

Years from now, we will shake our heads. The question is: what do we do in the meantime?

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 Monday, June 2, 2008

Good Luck Charms

We knew each other in high school, although we were from different towns [hers, mine]. In college, she served me pitchers and asked me to teach her some math. She liked my rocket science. I liked the way she used her words.

We ran into each other years later on a hot Foggy Bottom day. She was selling fresh-squeezed lemonade with long slices of watermelon wedged on the cup. We went to see the ponies with Gaucho playing in our ears.

She moved to Louisiana. I moved to Texas. Many years passed. But you see, she finds things, and she managed to find me online several years ago.

And now recently, I got a package in the mail from her — things for good luck just as Trudy and I were about to leave for Baltimore to talk to the doctors there. She sent a green cloverleaf cutout that I bet her daughter made. And there was a guardian angel and a tiny horseshoe welded to an old penny. And there was a glow-in-the-dark Jesus and a chubby, laughing Buddha and some colorful Feng Shui things that she said she couldn't explain. And she sent me a little box of Lucky Charms.

I ate the cereal. I put Jesus and Buddha on the shelf next to the angry mullah, all of them surveying a dusty parade of elephants.

photo of jesus and buddha on the shelf

We went to see the doctors. And things didn't go so bad.

So you know, no offense to the mullah or Buddha or Jesus (not to mention the elephants), but I wonder if the leprechauns were watching after all.

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