Sunday, July 31, 2005
Mike the bikestud took us on the road with him today. We rode the course he used for hill training when preparing for his recent triumph at the STP. Lord have mercy. Although this course is only ten miles, it is punishing. Long hills, short hills; steep hills, broad hills; curved hills, straight hills--did I leave anything out? I failed psychologically (I will have a lot of explaining to do to Dr. Mengele) and had to walk a half a block up the last hill but I'm ready to get at it again. It was exhilerating.
The 'Kan EWA
Friday, July 29, 2005
With the deadline for trades coming up on Sunday morning, there is alot of talk at Bellemaison about ball. The usual: who's producing, who's (ahem) dogging it, who wants to be traded.
Sylvie Ruth has been on the bench alot lately but she says it can happen to anyone--look at Manny Ramirez. Sylvie says she just needs the rest and the others need to step up and do their part. Red Dorothy says Sylie is a lard ass and slower than ever on her feet. Pete makes the point that Sylvie has got the best mouth in the game and actually, her footwork has not gotten that much worse.
In the collective American summer experience, is there anything more beloved than baseball? In Chicago, Wrigley Field is practically in the projects, a hot, dirty, sticky part of town; but you cannot get into the place and if you want to park anywhere within a mile, bring $50 or so in cash. People do this rather than go sailing or swimming on Lake Michigan. Taking the subway to either Yankee or Shea Stadium is a cultural experience in its own right, yet the trains provide the transportation for the majority of the fans who fill the stadiums in humid, muggy weather. People gladly get on those trains rather than head for the shore. In Boston, most would sooner miss Mass than miss the current offering at Fenway, no matter who is in town. Let me ask this: you'ah gonna pass on Cape Cod? Seattle has a new stadium, the awesome Safeco Field, and a matching parking garage that takes 30 minutes to exit once the game is over. What price is too great for a baseball fan?
No price, says Cleo. Ball is the one summer experience that all of America loves, North,South, East, West, Red and Blue. Especially now that they sing God Bless America and Take Me Out To the Ballgame. That Cleo knows his own mind.
The 'Kan EWA
Thursday, July 28, 2005
The Christ Child and I have agreed to walk the across the north of England from the Irish Sea to the North Sea. The Chows say that's too much darn walking and not enough napping so they will not join us but Dr. Mengele reacted to the news in his typical manner: ^
The 'Kan EWA
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
The 'Kan EWA
Sunday, July 24, 2005
Apparently, the Chows sensed something was up because they had everything in good order by Friday at 4 pm.
Even Bob, the Venerated Elder of The Chow Nation, anticipated crowds of some kind this weekend.
And all kinds and sizes came.
They ate and ate.
Some retreated--probably for private one-on-ones?
You know the networking opportunities certain get togethers can provide...
Others looked into each other's eyes and spoke the truth as they knew it.
Some napped while others searched out a good read with the newspaper.
A splendid time was had by all!
Thursday, July 21, 2005
My friend Jan is moving to Southern California. Got a better job! The Chows and I feel like calling off the rest of summer but as we're already in the thick of it, we'll just muddle through-- our hearts just aren't in it,though. There were all kinds of things that Jan and I just never got the chance to do and it will never be the same once we both can't say we're from The 'Kan.
For instance, we never got to ride our bikes together so many times that we got sick of it. We never got to give one of our other friend's daughter a shower. We never chaired a fundraiser together. We never got caught in a good rain with our good shoes on. We never once spent too much money on shoes together. We neve gave a Christmas luncheon together. We never did trade perennials. And we never, not once, built a house nor remodeled a kitchen jointly nor severally.
We never got around to arguing over the definitive choice of newspapers in the area. Never really hashed out the all time greatest American author. Did not even touch Meryl Streep's Lifetime Achievement. Never agreed on Aretha's best album.
Neither one of us went back to school during our friendship. Buried a parent nor got in a car accident.
But we had one heck of a good time--and laughed like crazy many others. Rolled our eyes behind others' backs when thank God, no one looked. Worried about our friend that drinks too much. Extolled righteously over the current state of politics. Remained staight faced in the utter lunacy of certain preposterous encounters. Went to the same public meeting place at the appointed hour and failed to connect when we were probably not more than twenty yards from each other. Had about ten or twenty dozen Lucy and Ethel experiences. Worried and sighed about our children. Bragged and preened about our children. Showed off our new shoes. Wondered, many times, what's the big deal here?
And we never changed jobs, jointly nor severally, until now. So we'll do that, too.
It's another full moon and The Chows just don't feel comfortable sleeping. They say full moons are times when really special things come down and they must be ON ALERT to monitor potential sightings and happenings. So tonight, I'll probably sit outside with them again after they wake me up for the second or third time and we'll remember that tomorrow holds no guarantee. And that change can come suddenly or gradually--but come it will. And somehow The Man In The Moon will flicker brighter and smile.
I just know it.
The 'Kan EWA
Sunday, July 17, 2005
The perennials have stepped up and offer their fresh faces to the birds, bees, dragonflies, chipmunks,hummingbirds and of course, The Chow Nation. I have some sort of a religious relationship with my perennials. Most of them have been with me in every house that I have lived. I have the blue forget-me-nots that my best friend brought to me after the birth of my first child. I have the yellow day lillies she brought me in the next house, after the birth of my second child. She died then, so as her memory fades, I forget-her-not in her gifts of the outdoors and the rich soil.
I have the Bee Balm and the Bishops' Cross that my mother gave me that her friend Jean gave her. I also have my mother's lemon mint that I have allowed to reseed everywhere. Someday I fully expect to see it coming up through the grout in my shower. I have the Blizzards of Daisies (Shasta) that my friend Tisa had in her old house, The Barn. I have the orange day lillies that my old cleaning lady, now immobile with rhematoid arthritis gave me from her garden. I have the Japanese Iris that Lorene Harrison gave me--a reminder of earlier days, innocent times. As Bob Seger said, "Wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then." I have one Chinese Peony from my neighbor Marty's garden. He has died now and his garden has gone back to its vacant lot wild state.
All these people who have meant so much to me as I made my own way into adulthood are still with me. These hot summer days are extra vivid in their solitude and quiet; as the birds break the stillness with their songs, I can hear the old memories clearly, as I savor and wonder at the continued legacy of their flowers. They are admonishing me about this, warning me about the perils of that. I wonder if theses people were here, if I would measure up yet. I hope I have become someone of whom they all could be proud, for they all were mighty. I hope my life's work would be worthy of them for they each left this world in such a better place.
As I give it all once last look before heading in to make lunch, I think
I am rich, rich, rich.
The 'Kan EWA
Saturday, July 16, 2005
Got a call yesterday that my Uncle Fred was in the hospital and wasn't going to make it. I made my way to his bedside, where he lay, eyes in a dead stare at the ceiling, his chest heaving to catch a breath. Oh how soon these things come.
Uncle Fred was the one with the quick laugh, razor sharp wit and the eternal upbeat point of view. At my father's wake, he told the story of as a child growing up how he wanted to emulate a certain popular cowboy of the time. He talked my father into stealing a boat moored on the banks of the St. Joe River and taking it downriver to the Harrison flats, where he heard there were wild horses. They could get a horse each, turn the boat around and be back before anyone knew they were gone.
He was 6 and my father was 4 and the year was 1923.
So they head downriver on this tugboat and the motion of the boat puts them both to sleep. They were awakened when the boat didn't take a turn in the river and went into the bank with a loud thump. Uncle Fred said his first vision upon realizing the futility of their situation was that of my Grandfather, waiting for him upstream with a stick. He continued with a wonderful story of how they got towed back up the river, their dread of the anticipated punishment and the innocent, illogical, highly creative musings of two little boys on one of the first of their many lifetime adventures. He wrapped up with noting that the first thing they saw when they got back to the dock was my grandfather, with a stick. And my grandmother by his side , saying, "Now Fred....."
We laughed until we cried. And it felt so good to momentarily put the grief and anguish of our father's death behind us. What an exquisite gift that Uncle Fred gave that night.
Uncle Fred, my dad, and Uncle Ed all went to the university in Moscow, where they lived in the Sigma Chi house. I can just imagine that dynasty. I have a picture of my dad's first car, which he went in on with this two brothers when they were in college. It was during the depression and times were very tough, but these three boys had no knowledge of anything different than if you want something, you make it happen. There was no financial aid, no anxious parents visiting on Parents' Weekend, no homesickness. They were at school to get an education and it was up to them to make the most of it. And besides, they were very lucky to be there. The value of education and educated thinking was passed on to their children and surely is the greatest of their legacies.
So as Uncle Fred worked his way to his new life, I urged him on. I reminded him that my dad and Hap Murphy and all his good friends were waiting for him. I told him that I would stay and take care of things here but that I'd be there soon, too. I told him what a good, good job he had done, for us all, and begged him softly to go. And then I sang, much as I did when I was trying to coax my babies to sleep. He relaxed and listened and when finally I began, "Here we have Idaho...", he died. And as I closed his eyes for the final time, a tear slid down his cheek.
The challenge for people of faith is to be fully present in the moment and not despair.
Thursday, July 14, 2005
When recently asked what her nick name was, Isabella Rossellini replied, "It's always Isabella--the habit of giving nicknames is more American than European."
The Chow Nation had a community snort over that one. And Pete pointed out that Lance Armstrong is definitely an American from Texas, because he give real kisses on the winner's platform. None of those European air kisses for Lance: he leans right into those girls and kisses each one of them twice, once on each cheek.
AKC Kane Piccolo says he is an American dog from The 'Kan whose nick name is PETE. But you can call him Sir.
And Pete says he doesn't give air kisses either--he's the real thing.
The 'Kan EWA
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Well, we're pretty excited here in The 'Kan this morning. Our old gardening buddy, Ken, is moving here from the East Coast. We LOVE Ken and his wife, Andrea. They've traveled extensively, garden profusely, and are two people who take time to savor and cherish life. We don't know alot of folks like them. And now they will be here. They are going to move here. People do this; we don't know why.
Five or six years ago, I got a call from my good friend, Robbie. Hello, says she, I'm here in The 'Kan, househunting. Took a job a the university, now staying with a colleague, waiting for school to start. Turns out the colleague lives a short walk down the corner and around a bit. Robbie buys herself a house, settles into her new job, and becomes a full-fledged member of the community, living life in The 'Kan.
Rob, says I every now and again, you've lived in a garden spot of the WORLD, Santa Barbara, California, for thirty years. Ya got the quintessential fabulous California bungalow; yer spoiled by sunny days and starry nights; ya've got the beach, the hills, the flora, the restaurants, why would ya leave any of this?
Simple, says she. The 'Kan calls. I love The 'Kan.
We're still trying to figure that out.
A BIG shout out to Ken and Andrea, who have uncommon courage in pursuing their dreams and savoring and cherishing life to its fullest. Welcome. You will bless us here.
The 'Kan EWA
Sunday, July 10, 2005
I'm wondering if those cowards to who chose to attack unarmed civilians in The Tube of London this week have ever been to Westminster Abbey. You go down to a lower level, we'd call it the basement here in The 'Kan, and it's filled with the tombs of poets, playrights, kings, artists, and war heroes. As you walk through these extraordinary marble carvings (did he die at home?), magnificent tributes by any standard, you're aware that the English value, greatly, those who have defended the Kingdom. Of course, the tribute increases incrementally if you happen to have any royal lineage. But it's clear the English hold the people that battled for whatever time on behalf of The Crown on equal footing with those who created literary masterpieces that all English-speaking school children of the world still study each year. Work product that will remain for one more millenium equals one good battle in one of the many skirmishes England has waged through its existence. And from the looks of the basement there at Westminster Abbey, the Crown has been sideways with pretty much most of the world, at one time or another.
The people of the UK are proud and fiesty. Their response to the dastardly events of the week is mentioned again and again as 'resolute'. As inspiring as all of this is, I rue their entrance onto the front lines of the battle that Osama bin Laden himself has drawn and directed: creating a gulf between the Muslim world and the globalizing West. This is the battle that we, the other English-speaking people now fight, want it or not.
The Muslims battle a civil war themselves--with the extremists operating as a death cult, Al Qaeda having metastasized itself and operating now as franchises, and the moderates moving with King Abdullah II of Jordan in trying to reclaim their faith from the death cult franchisees--even though not one significant Muslim cleric has issued a condemnation of Osama bin Laden.
Margaret Thatcher spoke of the proud tradition of the English-speaking people in standing up to tyranny and oppression. And this is true: we will clean their clocks. But in the process, we will turn our backs on some of our most fundamental beliefs and take them all, extremists moderates alike, on a ride that will change them forever. This is what we English-speaking people do.
Pete, the buff member of the Chow Nation, and Cleo, the black member of the Chow Nation, often conduct fierce exchanges over who is the main dog. Pete says he's the biggest and that everyone needs to call him Sir. Cleo says he's the blackest, was there first and besides, everyone knows that black kisses count double. One or the other will prevail on any given day, but always after prevailing, the triumphant aggressor will turn around to Sylvie Ruth and Red Dorothy and say, "What's next?"
Red Dorothy always replies, "What's next indeed."
The 'Kan EWA
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
The Chow Nation and I are a little vexed this morning; read a comment by Martha Stewart, who should know better, about her new reality show. Seems that they are working on a counterpart of "You're fired"--nothing set in stone yet, but they want to make it specific to the contestant. For instance, says Martha, if the contestant is from Idaho, she'll say, "You're back in Boise for apple-picking time."
First, if you're from Idaho, you are probably not from Boise. Boise and Idaho are separate and distinct. People from Boise are from Boise, not from Idaho. They tell you this. Also, with a nod and a wink, they tell you that the streets of Boise are paved with gold. Next, apple-picking time in Boise? Martha, Martha, Martha. Ain't no apples that grow in Boise. The apples grow in the apple capital of the world, Wenatchee, so it is there that you go to pick apples. Pete, the buff member of The Chow Nation, is more than a little irritated that Martha's staff stumbled on this one. He says he can see that whole thing with the stock sale, as he gets screwed on the dinner dish every night, but every little Chow dog that does his fourth grade social studies knows that Idaho grows potatoes, lentils and silicon chips and Washington grows apples, wheat, and operating systems. Pete says that if Martha was on The Donald's show, she'd get canned in a yuuuge way.
The 'Kan EWA
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Here in The 'Kan, we like our notes to be new notes, but every once in awhile, we come across an old note that's worth looking over again. From this morning's column, the syndicated columnist Norman Chad reviews Noo York Citty's chances of getting the Olympic bid to host the 2012 summer Olympics:
Pluses: Even at jacked-up Olympic prices, the $6 potato knish is a street bargain and a culinary delight....Only city bidding for Summer Games with an ESPN Zone....All urine testing can be done is a dark corner of a subway platform....Spike Lee gets to sit courtside and heckle European basketball players....Hookers to offer 2-for-1 specials to synchronized swimmers....Official torch bearer: P. Diddy!
Minuses: Some Manhattan parking garages will requires first-born as a deposit....Best chance for Olympic stadium is divisive plan to build 80,000-seat dome under water in East River....Marathon route through Central Park might conflict with Hare Krishna bake-off....Homeless guys already using official "NYC 2012" panhandling cups...."Fuhgedaboutit" means "Your mother's a goat" in Greek....I have three words for you: Trump Olympic Village.
Brings tears to your eyes, doesn't it?
Monday, July 04, 2005
My SoCal cuzzy specifically wants to ride bikes while she is here. There is a trail, the Hiawatha Trail, that I took her on when she was here last and despite being the finest of Freeway Girls, she loved the ride, the outdoors, and the fresh air. Go figure. The trail is an abandoned railroad track and runs high through a mountain pass down to the banks of the meandering St. Joe River. It is terrifying, breathtaking, awesome and wonderful all at once and if you have a few issues with heights and or dark, damp, enclosed spaces (one tunnel is over one mile long), just breathing regularly will occupy you for the entire ride. Before he moved to Noo York Citty last year to go to school, the Christ Child made the ride with us and he looked like this:
Now he probably looks likes a guy who rides the subway around and knows every free activity Central Park has to offer. We don't really know what he looks like now. Anyway, a BIG shout out to my friend Mike who has been training since the first of the year for a 225+ mile bike ride coming up this weekend. Mike is a BikeStud. The Chow Nation and I really don't know what else to say except We Are Not Worthy and get back safe, okay?
If Mike the BikeStud runs into a moose on his ride, she will probably look like this as her calf plays in the alpine meadow nearby:
We do not make this stuff up here in The 'Kan EWA.
The 'Kan EWA
I've settled into a riotous celebration of Independence here in The 'Kan. First, I skipped the usual tripe in the morning paper and instead read only Jefferson's 'Declaration'. Now I'm drinking coffee out of a Starbuck's United States of Coffee mug and in a minute, will take in a tivoed American Chopper, 'Liberty Bike I'. Ahhh, the good life.
Happy 4th of July from Bellemaison, where we think Lady Liberty has the first and last word.
Saturday, July 02, 2005
Sylvie Ruth, the Cinnamon member of the Chow Nation, told me today that good fences make good neighbors. Sometimes Sylvie makes no sense to me but I nodded appreciatively anyway because she likes to dance to the Dixie Chicks, too. Anyway, Sylvie was a lot of help to me today and it was a wonderful day in the garden. I gathered lavendar, aromatic roses, and mint for potpourri. Or tea. One; we like to switch 'em up around here.
This morning, I had occasion to go to the rip off nursery that's up the street, around the corner and down the block as I bought a beautiful gazing ball in Oregon but somehow didn't remember that it would need a stand to sit in, nestled among the roses and blue thistles. So I found the perfect stand at 140% of standard retail at Less for More Nursery and found some nice catnip, too. We like to get everybody drunk at Bellemaison.
But the real highlight of the trip to was the discovery that Rosa 'Eden' has a sport! It's red! The remaining one is now mine! I dutifully schlepped it home and am now furiously rearranging perennials that have already bloomed to give it maximum exposure. I love 'Eden'.
And when I came home, it turns out that the Chows had been working on a major acquistion themselves; Cliffie had their new beds made and now they are perfectly positioned to nap the weekend away. I caught Cleo talking to Sylvia Ruth just as she circled three times on her new bed, sank into a deep heap and said, "There's no place like home, there's no place like home, there's no place like home."
Friday, July 01, 2005
The Chow Nation, in residence at Bellemaison for some 6 years now, is getting ready for a big 4th of July weekend. The Festival that commences weekly when their Best Friend comes, will be expanded and enhanced to celebrate Freedom and Independence, two things The Chows value deeply.
Their Best Friend, Cliffie, comes on Fridays and Saturdays to help them with different things around Club Chow. He airs out their beds, makes sure there's ample feed, plays Ball, supervises Chase, and arbitrates any on-going disputes that might plague the Chows during the week. He's their Best Friend.
Anyway, the Chows have texted Cliffie to stop by Super 1 and pick up hot dogs for Festival this week, as they say they are All-American dogs and what is more All-American than hot dogs on the grill? Bob Barker, Venerated Elder of The Chow Nation, says strawberries are really All-American and he's a little cheesed that the strawberry pots have been moved beyond his reach this year. He loves to eat the ripe strawberries right out of the pots and me, his observant mother, took only the better part of 10 years to figure out why I could never get a decent crop of strawberries to watch Wimbledon with--. Bob has complained bitterly to Cliffie who has told him sadly that some things are beyond even his powers. :)
Cleo (the black member of the Chow Nation) says Bob is a little pissy about Wimbledon anyway because the black American won the women's singles instead of the blond American. Bob does play favorites.
And so, tennis rackets in hand and rumps firmly in our Adirondack chairs by the pool, the Chow Nation and I salute our forefathers, The Hamiltons, who believed so deeply in their dream, this democracy, and wish beyond wish that somehow we Americans don't employ our ongoing democratic visions about freedom and independence in other areas of the world to the destruction of our moral fabric.
Because good moral fabric is damned hard to get.
The 'Kan EWA
Your parents die and your kids grow up and move away and you get a life. Sorta. No plans for the big weekend, the Lake-a-Rama here in EWA, and no kids at home on the 4th for the first time in 30 years. Hard to tell where this will lead.
Being the sedentary sort, always the best-read in any circle, the plans that filter up the elevators, around the coffee shop and through in the offices in the buildings around town sound perfectly marvelous: Sandpoint and riding bikes, camping at Priest Lake, the parade in Coeur d'Alene, fireworks on the boat. This, my friends, is the life we lead in EWA. My cousin flies in from SoCal to grab a piece of it. Seems a little frantic to me as there has always been enough here for anybody who wanted some. But nevertheless, she is from SoCal, bless her heart, and I like her so I am willing to get her up on The Hiawatha Trail late next week so she will have much to relate this fall on the highways and byways of Southern California. If only you could do an IPO on North Idaho summer days on the banks of the lazy St. Joe....
But you can't; we wouldn't let you anyway and this is how it is. The quiet folds in and around the garden and the blue of the sky becomes piercingly blue. Piercingly blue?
I think so.
The Chows nap on, the roses bloom, and the tomatoes prepare to produce fruit. People are living and dying. But not here in The 'Kan EWA.
The 'Kan EWA