Living statues everywhere
mime the mighty act.
Pilgrims, smiling for posterity,
uphold the old tree of stone.
We almost didn’t come here
on this shiny day in Pisa.
Too cool for clichés,
we’ve seen zombie kitsch before.
Three cheers for live TV. And that includes reality shows, contests, sitcoms, celebrity roasts, sports news, late night talk shows, and reruns of Slings and Arrows – for that was my surfing menu the other night.
Three cheers for laughter, for in it is life! For its power over death (as evidenced by a naked Ashton Kutcher replacing Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men) and excess (as shown in Comedy Central’s Celebrity Roast where Sheen endured the worst from friends only to emerge unscathed, humble, thankful, and full of love). How cleansing to see folks using wit to say the worst about each other and have it end in life-giving energy and love (if that’s what you can call Stevie B launching himself into Mike Tyson’s fist and breaking his nose at the finale). I’m not kidding. As credits roll, blood drips, William Shatner yelps “WTF?” and emcee Seth McFarlane hollars for a medic.
September 29 – 30
“Bonjour. Parlez vous Englais?”
Well, damn. How could we have forgotten to bring a French-English dictionary?
The information officer at the Gare de L’Est train station shrugs and says “I speak African.”
I blurt “good!” Africa is the mother continent of humanity. Surely he’s the right person to help a fatigued family find our way to rest in Paris. And he does, although my response of “good” could mean many things or nothing to a stranger who doesn’t know me from Adam.
Recorded sounds of rural alpine life were broadcast over the audio of the airport tram that goes between the arrival concourse in Zurich and baggage claim. Pleasant folk greeting, traditional singing, the evocative sounds bovine mooing and cowbells.
We pick up our four backpacks and re-arrange belongings that will keep us as snug as turtles for five weeks. The folks in customs barely take note of us as we walk out into our first European day.
It’s no small task to leave a farm, bookshop, and midwifery practice to go on a 5 week trip to Europe with a family of four. Sitting in the Boston airport, waiting to depart, I’m hoping we planned well and didn’t forget too much.
We left our Nehalem, Oregon home in the stewardship of poet Travis Champ. He’s got his manual typewriter set up at a desk that looks out a window toward our garden. Overhead are drying bunches of Jennifer’s lavender. Hope it’s a good place for him to work.
What about the poor? I’m talking about the people (which include me) that either don’t make an income, or whose income is so small that they would be considered poor, or at least not “middle class”. Those who get no or little benefits. Those who are chained to their paying or non-paying job, even though it doesn’t make them enough to support their family, or themselves. I work with and know so many of these people. I’m guessing that we make up a significant part of the U.S. population.
I wish Krugman would talk about us.
This libertarian outlook is a bit dangerous, I think. The problem is that, while the small businesses mentioned in the article (cosmetology, moving) are unlikely to destroy the environment, kill people, or generally mess things up, there are plenty of businesses, some even “small” by some people’s definition, that either could potentially, or already have, mess(ed) things up. The general call I hear lately for less government regulation is not, I think, about getting nibbled by fish, as the example in the article details. It’s a thinly veiled attempt to remove the protections we enjoy against messing things up.
I know I’m not the only bloke who’s fond of the harvest season. Four years ago, writer Matt Winters penned a robust tribal toast to these “prized weeks of plenty” (“We all have dirt under our fingernails,” Daily Astorian, 9/21/07). His ode to the bond of harvest is worth rereading at this time every year.
“After painfully scraping past the starvation gap, the warm but barren months between the depletion of winter stores and arrival of a new summer’s crops, at last this was the time of frenetic gathering, of reaping whatever rewards could be had from strong-hearted prayer and soul-bending labor.”
Way back when, this season marked a time of relative abundance in which our agrarian ancestors could kick up their heels. “At our core, we all are peasants,” writes Winters, and it’s true that humanity is rooted to an earthy cycle of subsistence.
While our federal or state government may want to take a protectionist stance on this issue, I don’t think it meshes with the global nature of the market. The reality is that natural gas is a commodity that will be shuttled around the world to the best (highest-paying) markets, in the current system.
This same scenario is being played out with other fossil fuels (i.e. coal and tar sands oil) as we strive to extract the last bits all over the earth. Unfortunately, the U.S. and Canada are blessed with lots of these essential commodities, and we will inevitably suffer from exploiting them.
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