Thursday, November 30, 2006

I first knew something was up when he came to me in my dreams.

It was late spring when he showed up in a beautiful vignette, low lit in ambers and cherry reds and browns, in slightly slow motion with the sound muted. We were sitting across from each other in a social setting of sorts. It was not clear to me if we were in someone’s home or in an upscale lounge, but it was Ralph Lauren all the way, as my one-time confidant sat in a velvet wingback chair in a jacket, but with no tie. I was similarly dressed for an evening out as were those around us. We laughed and chatted as you would at a social encounter and we engaged with the people around us, similarly involved. At a point then, I got up. It was not clear to me if I was leaving or if I was only excusing myself momentarily to say hello to someone. But I did get up and move away and as I passed the right side of his chair, I leaned down and kissed him on the forehead, bordering his hairline.

Instantly I was filled with a sublime overwhelming jolt that rattled me from the most fundamental to the most sophisticated of my senses. I woke up abruptly to the pitch black of the soft night air and found myself sitting straight up in bed, thoroughly startled but not cold. The details of the dream played back in my mind with crystal clarity. I blinked in the darkness about me, trying to grasp what had just happened but I could not understand. I had never experienced this feeling, which I can only describe as peaceful electrocution. I had not seen or talked to this man for over a year. How could this man and this experience, the jolt be related? But there was no mistaking the sensual and cosmic moment of the dream.

We had known each other through confidences shared, this warrior of the heart’s truest wants and needs. He was a rock star and a warrior and as much as one who was thoroughly experienced with sex, drugs and rock and roll could be, a priest. He was a port in the storm when I was dangerously adrift. But we hadn’t seen each other for a long time and it was a surprise to run into him in my dream.

I lay back down and instantly went to sleep, unusual for me. I wanted so much to get this dream back but it wouldn’t come. I woke up puzzled, disturbed, agitated. That extraordinary physical experience of peace had long passed and I was at a complete loss to understand. All I could get back was the memory of the electric moment of the kiss. I searched my heart and my senses and couldn’t find myself responding to this man in a sexual or romantic manner. By the time I went to work, I was positive this dream wasn’t about him. As I stood in line at Starbucks, I remembered the kiss and I wondered if it was about foreheads. I watched a very sexy guy make my coffee and studied his forehead with great scrutiny, thanks to my ever- present Oakleys. I got nothing. Was feeling no love from this guy’s forehead. Then later after I signed for UPS, I watched that guy’s broad, tanned forehead and his great blond hairline and drew another blank. Where the hell had I been last night?

Now emboldened by utter failure, I watched all the foreheads that came my way, in complete abandon and rebellion. Of course, my hapless victims could never be certain I was starring mercilessly at them because of the Oakleys. It’s all about the Oakleys. But I was and I did. Stare. For a whole week. Nothing. Absolutely nothing surfaced. Then I started having the dream again. Only this time it was someone else in the chair. And although there was the same kiss, it did not have the same effect. And then there were women in the chair. All told, I had the dream about six more times. Everything exactly the same, except for the person who was sitting across from me and for the absent thrill of the sublime peace that came with the kiss.

It was at the end of the summer that I heard that the rock and roll warrior whom I dreamed about had been seriously ill with a dire infection and had been in the hospital. Apparently, he went hallucinatory in the throes of bacterial devastation. I was quite concerned to hear of his trauma only until I heard when it all came down.

Exactly when I had my dream.

He was fighting for his life in a hospital bed but appeared to me in my sleep well dressed, happy, relaxed. He was telling me something and whatever it was, I received an exquisite gift of The Kiss of Peace. So the dream was about him and it was about something very real. It’s interesting to me that I literally retreated to my sunglasses in an effort to obscure the light, to keep from seeing what really happened. I even dreamed the same dream over and over to tell myself that it was about him and that there was something real going on. But I wasn’t buying it and I wouldn’t take my own clues.

The rock and roll warrior made a full recovery and now is in good health. I still wonder whether he was leaving this life and if or why he changed his course. And until just today I did not know what he was really saying to me. As well, only now do I re-remember, over and over, that the sound was muted. Only now do I finally understand the dream of The Kiss of Peace.

Got word that The High Priest and Warrior of Rock and Roll will retire and leave town this fall. Of course, now I know exactly where I am. Another good bye. A very real good bye. Again. But it's not the goodbye the peril of his tryst in the hospital would indicate. It's a much deeper and broader goodbye and he's completely ready. This is his time. And he has great and abiding peace.

As for me, when it's time to say goodbye to this one, I will leave the Oakleys in my handbag, only wanting to know just this: will the last person to leave my heart Please turn out the lights and leave the key?

The 'Kan EWA

Sunday, November 26, 2006

So we find ourselves in a pretty weird place.

Instead of making our list and checking it twice, gonna find out who's naughty and who's nice, The Chows and I are reconfirming hotel reservations and theatre ticket purchases as we are not going to spend Christmas here at Bellemaison. Told you it was a weird thing that's going on. We'll fly from here to London, shake off the jet lag and see Billy Elliott and Mary Poppins in the West End and then hop down to The Eternal City, where we have tickets for midnight mass at Vaticano. The Home Office. San Pietro himself. We're pretty excited but at the same time confused. Good thing we have the new kids next door.

Last year, Mac, Ella, Sunny and Bobby moved in. We love those guys! Ella can talk about 350 words a minute. Mac is a real action man: jumping, hopping, swinging, moving. Sunny is my friend who waves and waves, leans out of her car seat in the mini van and waves--I'm 300 yards away and this merry Sunshine still waves at me every chance she gets. The Incredible Hulk could be driving my car and you wouldn't know because the windows are tinted very dark and this little blond confection waves like crazy, because she knows it's me. Her twin brother, Bobby, just grins and stays close to Ella; never takes his eyes or his smile off you. Just grins. Widely. We*love*these*kids.

So. We changed out our 'Tara' Christmas decorations outside. Totally went against the grain with the new concept, too. Wholly committed to the New Way and the New Age here at Bellemaison as we gave all the former outside lights, bows, wreaths, candles, trees and miscellany away. We have a whole new deal going here. With those other neighbors, we went with stated elegance appropriate to the architecture of the house. It was Williamsburg meets Philadelphia meets Greenville and did I mention we have salmon real close as we are NORTH of the Mason-Dixon Line? look. People would stop me in the store and tell me how much they loved my Christmas decorations. So much, I stopped going to the store. Now they have something new to adjudicate because starting here and starting now, we are CandyLand at Bellemaison.

Yup. We took the pink fright lights from Halloween and held them back this year and put them up on all the front eaves this weekend. We purchased 8 foot lighted Nutcrackers from Costco in September (wince) (mea culpa). They flank the drive-in garage doors. We have candy canes and peppermints lining the entire driveway. We have gumdrops across the entire face of the porch. The windows are framed in peppermints with blue outlines. We have glisteny icicles hanging off all the windows sills. We have the same pepermints and candy canes ringing the front door. Colored twinkle lights blanket the lavendar hedge. We have a big wreath with lit peppermints hung on the street chimney at the bottom of the driveway with a big fluffy red and white striped bow.

The one thing that perplexes us still is the lollipops we need across the flower bed lining the front porch. We need 5 foot tall lollipops that we can plant in a merry inspection line. Is there some other way besides 24 inch styrofoam circles wrapped in clear cellophane? I am having trouble locating the styrofoam; it either needs to surface or I need to come up with a new idea.

So Advent is upon us. The anticipation has arrived. We wait in hope and faith.

It IS the most wonderful time of the year, isn't it?

The 'Kan EWA

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

People have been calling and writing in for these recipes; to tell the truth, I'm happy to sit at the keyboard because the damned papparazzi really are driving me crazy. I do not have a fur coat big enough to hide from them.

Wolfgang Puck's Honey/Maple Brine

1 gallon water
1/2 ounce ground cloves
1/2 ounce ground ginger
4 ounces crackd black peppercorns
12 bay leaves
1 pound kosher salt
24 ounces honey
24 ounces maple syrup

In a large stockpot, bring the water, cloves, ginger, black peppercorns, bay leaves and salt to a boil. Lower to a simmer and stir in the honey and maple syrup until well blended. Turn off heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Rinse the turkey inside and out with cold tap water. Reserve the neck and specialty meats for pan gravy. Set the turkey in the brine, making sure that the turkey is fully immersed in the brine. Place a weight on top of the turkey to make sure it is always covered with brine. Marinate for at least 4 hours to overnight, depending on the weight of the turkey, in the refrigerator.

This one is just killer:
Pacific Northwest Cranberry Chutney

24 ounces apricot preserves
3/4 cup raspberry vinegar
3/4 cup white distilled vinegar plus 1 1/2 tsp raspberry preserves
a pinch of salt
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 cup Grand Marnier
2 bags fresh cranberries, nasties discarded
1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 1/4 cups dried tart cherries

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the apricot preserves, raspberry vinegar or vinegar and preserves, salt, cloves, and Grand Marnier. Stir to mix, and place over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, and continue to cook. It will bubble aggressively, and you should stir regularly to keep it from scorching--about 10-15 minutes, or until thickened slightly. Reduce the heat to medium, add the cranberries, and cook until they are soft but not popped. (They are ready when you can hear one or two of them pop; that's a good indicator that most of them must be getting pretty soft.) Add the ginger and cherries, stir well and remove from heat. Cool completely before serving. The chutney will thicken considerably as it cools.

The 'Kan EWA

Monday, November 20, 2006

Got a lovely Thanksgiving card from Biz. Handmade, too. Bizzie says Thanksgiving is her very favorite of holidays; come to think of it, this is the one national holiday that most Americans observe, despite their ethnicity or faith tradition.

I like Thanksgiving, too. It's a stubborn holiday--Wall Street nor Madison Avenue has never been able to wrest control of it as they have Christmas. After 400 years, it remains about food, family and friends. Football, too. As a point of reference please note that the Detroit Lions hosted the first Thanksgiving football game; in 1934, the Chicago Bears accepted the invitation to play in the Motor City and gave thanks by beating the Lions 19-16.

We will have our traditional small, quiet Thanksgiving here at Bellemaison. We'll get in some nice walks with the Chows and see as many movies as we possibly can. In the meantime, the menu has firmed up, although absent one green vegetable.

Thanksgiving 2006

Joanna's Hot Rolls with butter
Maple Syrup/Honey Brined Oven Roasted Turkey
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Sage and Celery Dressing
Sweet Potato Stuffed Apples
Cranberry Chutney

Salted Caramel Ice Cream
Apple Pie
Pumpkin Something OrOther

Angie Marani will be here and she tells me we are having 3 Cheese Pumpkin Enchiladas on Wednesday night with an apple and gouda tart laced with tawney caramel sauce. I say bring on the food, family, friends and fun. I've got some thanks to be giving.

The 'Kan EWA

Friday, November 17, 2006

From time to time, we issue special endorsements here at Bellemaison. And all our endorsements are special because we just don't do them too often.

Not that we aren't willing to let the facts speak for themselves; we are. But we want you to know what we are especially thinking, because from time to time, something makes a deep-down-there, wow-I-didn't-know-I still-had-THAT-there kind of connection.

And so it is with a.ho.

First knew him and his phenomenal hair at that Athens of early childhood ed, Cataldo Catholic School. It's hard to say where exactly that hair of his comes from because his gene pool is rich with swimming curly hair, much of it having fallen from the tree, so to speak. So we don't really know. All we know is that a.ho comes by this all time great blond, curly hair of his honestly. Quite honestly.

And as a matter of fact, he got his hair same place he got his intellectual stamina and bandwidth. But a.ho is still remarkable because he literally has dozens of cousins with a similar gene pool. Heck, he's got brothers and sisters that are near clones.

And even though they are wonderful, and wonderful they are these delicious sibs of his--make no mistake, they aren't the same. They aren't a.ho. Only a.ho is a.ho and that's what makes him so special. The exactly unique stuff that's only him. Who can say what is it? I sure can't. I do know courage, honesty and faith are a piece of it.

So it happens that Our Boy is having his viva next week, in conjunction with wrapping up his studies at University of Oxford where he's just completed his stint as a Rhodes Scholar. He is appropriately nervous and anticipatory at the same time. This is a defining moment in his life and in the life of any person who wonders about the world and the patterns and paths of the people here.

So as a.ho rounds third base with the ball rocketing in from right field, give a cheer for Anthony. You don't have to know him to applaud his tenacity, his skill, his ambition. Say a prayer, make a thought, sing a tiny song for our hometown guy who goes toe to toe with the best minds in the world and from this seat in the stadium is safe by a mile, with a grand slam.

Love you. Take it to 'em.

The 'Kan EWA

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Damn Papparazzi!
The 'Kan EWA

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

JBelle the Enigma This crap again. Not only do I have to dodge the papparazzi now I got cyber stalkers! This was all over the internet after our vacation in Cape Cod last Easter. What's the fascination that everybody needs a piece?

The 'Kan EWA

Friday, November 10, 2006

I'm sad. I'm sad, sad, sad. I've got friends with a marriage in trouble and I have to come to grips with how it is when you can't fix what somehow has jumped the tracks. I can't fix it; I'd give just about anything to do just that. I've cried, I' ve paced, I've remembered, recalled; connected the dots on so many things that were innocently random before.

My friends may not make it back from their tryst deep in the jungle of marital confusion and temptation; or they may. No one knows yet. No one knows. I do know this , over and over: you have got to want it and once you get it, you have got to have the grace to accept it. As it is.

I myself have gone through the pain of betrayal and separation in a marriage. I have gone through children in ICU and last rites; I have gone through parents who slowly lose their mind and whose diapers need changing. I've had it. Days where everywhere you looked, even the garden of blooming roses, everything was black. BLACK. black.

It was during these times that I learned the value of taking care of myself. It's a keen irony that when someone or something in your life needs and demands you the most, you must take the most vigilant of measures to save a part of yourself from it all, to regenerate that renewal for the next day, the next time trial, the next winner take all, death by fire. It's during these times that you must take the best care with yourself.

I personally believe in God, with a capital G. But I don't think you have to be a practicing protestant, Christian or Buddhist to acknowledge a greater being, an elevated universal consciousness. Of course, you can be spiritual without being religious and it's there that you can go in solace when the day's frames are filled in solid black. When I am doing my best work and taking the kindest of care with all, even myself, here's what I do:

I slip off by myself and quiet myself in the surroundings. I then remember that I am in the presence of God, of god, and I become grateful. I am so grateful today for the cold, gray of this morning. It means the flowers and trees that I love so much are slipping into rest, getting the deep stores of precious water they need for a new spring, a new summer of sunshine and proliferation. It's this time that I can watch the owners of my garden, the birds, squirrels, mice, and others, furiously prepare for the snow ahead. Their industrious labor gives me great affection for them and their life in their universe, my garden. I am grateful for the golden yellow warmth of the fire and the smell of buttered toast in the kitchen. The cold noses of the dogs and the brightly colored knit caps and jackets of the kids passing by on their way to play down the street. Their faint cries of glee and laughter rise, then evaporate. It's a beautiful, beautiful cold gray morning. And I am grateful to sit at my window and watch.

I ask my Holy Spirit to help me, mentor me, coach me. To slip off the silken cords that tie my mind and my heart so as to discover what waits for me there. And then I listen. Where did I experience the divine? in whose face did I see God today? I had an email from my friend Wendy this morning with information that will be quite helpful to another person I know who struggles with basic worth issues. The information is technical in a certain aspect and I was so grateful for the wording and context, the presentation, the professional expertise. Wendy is generous and deeply flowing. I see God in her always, a luminous work in progress. I saw God in Peet the Chow this morning. He came in for a bull body hug, as he does quite often. He needs more, wants more, gets more than the other dogs and feels no shame at his capacity to love and be loved. In that funny little faces shines the light of God. Saw God in the work product of my youngest child this morning; he is traveling solo a bold path and he is brave. God is in him; closely. And so my God, the divine, is all around me, everywhere in my life. Mysteriously showing his face in non-mysterious places.

As I think about the day just past and the beautiful faces, sights, things, smells and thoughts, I cannot help but see the other things too: the missed opportunities, sawed off possitibilites, blocked intersections. I see places where I failed to see, accept or show love. Because love, LOVE, is all there is. And as Wendy, Peet, Jon and God reach out to me in love, I want to turn to the next and love, be part of this rounddance of heart.

I didn't reach out to certain of my friends yesterday; I am afraid. I am not strong enough to hear more of their pain. I am not worthy of them, for they each are mighty in my eyes. I have nothing of value to offer even though they suffer keenly. At another turn, I rebuffed yet another compliment yesterday, too shy to openly acknowledge a moment between two adults. And that's a pattern with me. I've seen this before. I tourniquet my own growth and fullness. I need to go back, find a way to redo that moment and be on the lookout for the moment again, and work to get it right. I need to find courage, to find value in my life to give to my friends who could use it. As lowly as I am, I have got to have something for them. I need to change these turns, detours, into thru-ways, thru-ways to fullness, ridden through corridors of the divine.

And so I know that I have to get back in the game now. I have got to get back out there with love, being love. This day is going to be a good day, no matter what happens and this day is a time for me to explore and experience more fully, confident that my God the divine is all around and that love can prevail.

~much, much love and thanks to a.ho

The 'Kan EWA

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Ministry. Kind of a chic thing among latter day Catholics. I do not know, being a Convert Come Lately, exactly how it rose from the galleries, this fashionable topic of ministry but I wonder if it started to come into vogue after so many deeply spiritual people walked away from their religious vows and looked to find life among us plebians. maybe?

At any rate, it's quite a topic. Minstry to the homeless, ministry to the poor, ministry to the disenfranchised. You have your ministry, you is set! Your ministry is the ecclesiastical equivalent of that 3 bedroom cabin with new dock on Lake Coeur d'Alene. Everybody wants one. Or at least wants to talk about where they'd get one and how they'd go there.

That's not to say I haven't noticed real, true ministry in my life; I am blessed by people who quietly exercise a particular devotion of sorts that might not ever be featured at the parish on a lenten program, but hold a ministry nevertheless. These people touch my heart and humble me; they do no marketing, they solicit no funds, they do not trumpet the plight of their attentions. But they tend to their attentions nevertheless, with quiet devotion and care. They lift spirits and spark hope, one heart at a time, and quietly keep moving, always on the look out for wallflowers and stragglers.

My friend Robbie, she of the Halloween card, comes first to my mind. Robbie has sent me a birthday card every year since I have known her--about 15 of them now. This may not seem like a significant thing, but it is. I know that Robbie will always be a loving presence in my life and will be an unconditional, non-judgmental wellspring of friendship. She ministers to me with love and cards. She sends my daughter birthday cards; the Pup loves it. She sends my homesick son handmade Halloween cards; it's the thing in his week that boosts him to the weekend, into the arms of his friends. Robbie sends hundreds and hundreds of cards a year. She sends anniversary cards, Mother's Day cards, cards here and there. Nothing too fancy or gratuitous; tight, simple, one or two lines of encouragement and light. That's Robbie. So many people have said to me "I got a card from Robbie; it was so nice!" This girl lives her life, walks her talk and does what she can. And doesn't verbalize it to death. She ministers to all that she knows on ordinary yet tricky days that can be laden with emotional sandtraps.

When I think about people walking their talk, I think of my friends Tim and Sam. Recently, I was advocating for a two-time convicted felon that I have come to know in the last year. He is having trouble finding a job, critical for his on-going reentry into the community and for his successful rehabilitation. Tim and Sam own and operate a famous restaurant here in The 'Kan and so I turned to them with my guy's plight: nobody wants to hire a convicted felon. Tim offered to interview him for a dishwashing position, saying that he would give him the same chance as anybody. He quickly followed up with the assertion that he would not grant special status; that any employee must follow the mandates of all employees: be reliable, work hard and bring your best. He says that he has hired many convicted felons over the years and that some have worked out, some have not. But says he, you gotta give 'em a chance. What an incredibly touching ministry this man and his wife have, a deeply beautiful faith and spirit with which they wraps themselves and their life. You won't find them on a list of area's Top 10 Philanthropists but how could you count their contribution as anything less than all conference? All American?

My friend Sherrie hires felons, too. Her business silk screens t-shirts and her niche among felons is the work-release program. If they can find a job, they can live in a work release facility, a far cry from a prison, and thus are jumpstarted into community reentry. Sherrie works closely with the prison and with parole officers, spending many extra hours, but not receiving any additional compensation. She provides employment for people for whom employment might be the critical redeeming factor in their sad lives. Sherrie's employees are regulars at AA and rehab. She runs a tight ship; noone gets a free pass there, either. But she gives those who need it a chance, a real chance--without judgment, without discount. The irony is you will never see Sherrie's company on a list of the area's top employers. The chamber of commerce has yet to honor her as an outstanding employer for her contributions to the people of the area. And that's just fine with Sherrie. She doesn't need that; she does need to know that she tried and that her efforts mattered in at least one life. This is a ministry.

And so I look to my friends with love and adoration for all that they are and have been to so many. They live each day as an opportunity; love all, serve all. It's real. They do it. There is beauty, there is love all around me. I live deep in the grace and light of my friends.

The 'Kan EWA
"Almighty God; We make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy holy protection; that Thou wilt incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government; and entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another and for their fellow citizens of the United States at large. And finally that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without a humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation. Grant our supplication, we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen." --George Washington

The 'Kan EWA

Thursday, November 02, 2006

One more long weekend and Election 2006 will be one for the books. It's been interesting, if annoying, and I don't understand why it's been interesting. The Chows and I don't pay too much attention to political issues except for the light rail, of which we are four-square in favor. But we've talked about this election much and from everything we read, we don't believe that very much change is afoot, either on the federal level or on the state level. Whatever each party hopes to gain, there is likely to be corresponding loss. So what is the hysterical chaos that's in the air in an off-year election?

Locally, is it because the housing market is in the tank? All the developers, builders, designers, financial institutions smarting about their numbers and uneasy about their future? They should be. They have not made just a hog in the last several years but a razorback and the technical correction their market is now experiencing can't make for a cheery Christmas and Happy New Year. Happens with each market that experiences dizzying gains--except of course, petroleum and health care. Those two industries are allowed to reap outrageous profits at the hands of the consumer and skip merrily on their way with no accountability. But their day is coming. Has to.

Is it the sharp contrasts in candidates? Here in the county, we have a seasoned pol running for reelection who is the sort of man who sees no conflict of interest as his three sons hold jobs with the municipality he seeks to represent. again. Everyone here is disgusted with this man yet he likely will be reelected; his opponent is a political and intellectual lightweight but a really nice person. Is the kinetic energy around this race born in the details of the incumbent being ethically vacant and the challenger being functionally vacant?

My personal outrage might lay in the efforts of the local utility, publically held, quietly campaigning in key places against an initiative that would mandate energy conservation. Unbelieveable. This is a no-brainer yet I have been lobbied on several occasions to vote no for conservation because it will have a bad impact on the company, one of the area's largest employers.

And of course, it's a known fact that I never have forgiven the voters of Eastern Washington for letting loose of Representative Tom Foley, the 57th Speaker of the House of Representatives. After they voted him out, many folks thought that the 5th district would retain the Speaker position just the same and that George Nethercutt, a Ginrich republican, would be the new speaker. I still hold that grudge and it's been 12 years. Newt Ginrich of course, that beacon of virtuous principle, succeeded Foley as speaker but later fled in disgrace as an ethical and moral train wreck. So Tom Foley became the first sitting speaker since the Civil War to taste reelection defeat, fed by the hands of my neighbors and friends here in Eastern Washington. Mr. Nethercutt challenged Foley primarily on the basis of term limits, righteously proclaiming he would self-limit his service to three terms. He, of course, broke that promise, rerunning not once but twice after those three terms and the voters here were SHOCKED, shocked! I tell you. Fortunately, after five terms his greedy ambition led him to a Senate race against Maria Cantwell, who soundly beat him.

So we sit here now with a Congresswoman who is perky and cute, newly married, holding some pretty stiff religious values. She herself committed a minor ethical violation, using the membership data base of a local group to which I belong to send follow up emails after she spoke at lunch this fall. And this is politics in the New Age, when the off year election can be genuinely frantic for no real reason, where the people running ought to secure a copy of the rulebook and give it a good read, where self-preservation and self-aggrandizement are the order of the day. It's now dark on election day and I am not referring to the November gloom.

The Chows and I have exercised our rights and privileges as citizens and mailed our absentee ballots. We will observe Election Day this Tuesday by remembering the many good and honorable who have served by the vote of the people, starting with Washington and Jefferson, through Lincoln and TR and with a shoutout to our personal non-American favorites Sadat, Ghandi, Churchill and Blair. We will give each other a good bump in the name of freedom and take our carefully preserved Tom Foley yard sign to our front yard, where we will plant it as we solemnly recall the words of Alexis de Toqueville : The surface of American society is covered with a layer of democratic paint, but from time to time one can see the old aristocratic colours breaking through.

Especially on the second Tuesday in November. Power to the people.

The 'Kan EWA