H2O Man's Journal
Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 07:49 PM
Number of posts: 50,025
Number of posts: 50,025
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"What did the President know, and when did he know it?"
I was thinking about that famous line today, on the ride home from doing some campaign work. And not in terms of President Obama; I wasn't thinking about any particular U.S. President, but more about what Michel Crozier spoke of in his 1964 book, "The Bureaucratic Phenomenon" (University of Chicago Press). It's the idea that in most large institutions, be they the French experience of Crozier's focus, or the US government, newly empowered "leaders" find it difficult -- if not impossible -- to enact the changes they believe they have been given a mandate for.
Now, obviously, I was tired: how else could my mind dance about from the five local "town" campaigns that I'm helping to run, to presidential politics? While three of the candidates are seeking re-election, two are new to running for office. One of the two is a retired university professor, the other a young business owner. Both are highly intelligent, socially conscious individuals, running for all the right reasons.
But they cannot fully appreciate -- yet -- how difficult it is to make changes, once they are in office. The other three do. They know it, from learning it in their first terms in office (the range there being 2 to 16 years).
"Local" politics is, sadly, beginning to be as raw and acrimonious as the decay in the Congress in Washington, DC. I'm currently working with a three-county bi-partisan group on a range of issues, from an epidemiological study of the most polluted town in the most polluted county in New York State, to endorsing candidates who advocate a balance between economic development and environmental responsibility. Sometimes, I feel that we are but a tiny island of sanity in a sea of madness (though Neil Young was not playing on the radio on my ride home).
Senator Howard Baker, Jr., who made the quote about the President and what he knew and when, joined other former Senate Majority Leaders Bob Dole, Tom Daschle, and George Mitchell, in forming the Bipartisan Policy Center. Odd, how much such a thing is needed today. Odder yet how unlikely it is that this type of effort is so far out of style.
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not a Howard Baker fan. But I do realize that for much of his career in the Senate, his positions would disqualify him for today's party. That may be meaningless. From time to time, we read where some person or another claims that Dick Nixon was "more liberal" than President Obama -- which is an absolute fucking lie, and kind of true, all at the same time, because there were and are tons of issues, and times change.
Still, it strikes me as worth considering five of the points Baker, as the VP of the Senate Watergate Committee, made in its final report. (Funnier yet, to remember that Nixon wanted to appoint Baker to the US Supreme Court in '71; terrible that when Baker hesitated, Nixon appointed William Rehnquist.)
He felt there should be a full-time "Public Prosecutor" to keep the Executive Branch from engaging in illegal and/or unethical practices .....after all, John Mitchell had shown that the Office of the Attorney General could be inhabited by a crook. Yet, there were questions about the constitutional balance of powers: Congress can impeach; the Courts decide legal cases. But neither prosecute criminal offenses. Baker supported Senator Ervin's suggestion that presidents appoint an independent "Public Prosecutor" to serve six year terms, and that any president would need Congress to okay the appointment (or firing thereof, to avoid another Saturday Night Massacre).
Oversight of intelligence agencies: a novel concept then, which may seem impossible today, but which really deserves attention.
Protection of witnesses' constitutional rights, when testifying before congressional committees. I think that we can have interesting discussions, when we look at how we feel about Nixon's men versus those serving a president we like: what rules create a just balance?
Campaign and election reform: "Only individuals can vote, and I believe only individuals should be able to contribute," Baker noted, when discussing how corporate contributions to Nixon had financed the huge array of crimes known collectively as "Watergate." That attempted theft of our constitutional democracy almost succeeded. Curiously, Baker believed the fallout from Watergate would prevent any president in the near future from attempting such things again. (This relates to #5 and then his gig with Reagan. Older DUers will recall when Baker took over for Donald Regan, towards the end of the Gipper's 2nd term; Regan believed he was the "prime minister" of Ronald Reagan's very Imperial Presidency.)
Baker thought the description "Imperial President" was cliche, and that the "Strong President" -- with increased power and authority -- was a natural development in our maturing democracy. He was, of course, very wrong about that. However, he did express concern that US Presidents were becoming isolated by their growing personal staffs; more, Congress had less ability to exercise the checks and balances defined in the Constitution, because the president's staff, unlike the cabinet, was largely beyond their reach. Again, for both "good" and "bad" administrations, there might be a benefit for placing more power in a cabinet than staff -- from the public's point of view.
What do you think?
Bonus Question: Who was the far too often overlooked "6th buglar" at the Watergate? Hint: he wasn't caught inside, or ever charged. Next Hint: He worked for McCord for quite a while. And he was paid from Dean's "hush money" that was never accounted for.
Posted by H2O Man | Thu Oct 31, 2013, 10:42 PM (5 replies)
Two days ago, an unidentified person left a bag with ten old The Ring magazines outside of my door. The magazines date from 1035 to 1963. Most are from the 1950s.
I enjoyed (re-)reading predictions by "experts" about the then-upcoming fight between heavyweight champion Charles "Sonny" Liston and a young challenger named Cassius Clay. Only two -- Jersey Joe Walcott and Marty Marshall -- gave Clay any chance. Most were sure "The Bear" would flatten Clay in one round!
Walcott, of course, was the former champion who was the referee in the Ali vs Liston rematch; Marshall was the first man to defeat Liston, in the first of their three fights.
I'm having fun going backwards in time.The quality of writing was overall far superior to today's.
Posted by H2O Man | Fri Oct 18, 2013, 04:56 PM (11 replies)
At Las Vegas (HBO PPV): Timothy Bradley Jr. vs. Juan Manuel Marquez, 12 rounds, for Bradley's WBO welterweight title.
This is an interesting bout; while it shouldn't be PPV (or should be at a low price), I'm looking forward to it.
Bradley is younger, and naturally bigger. While not a big power-puncher, he is able to set a pace few can keep up with. However, he can be hurt .....and was actually almost knocked out in his last fight.
Marquez is 40, and has been through many tough fights. He is coming off his career high -- flattening Manny Pacquiao -- and is looking to win a title in yet another weight class.
I think it is likely that at some point, perhaps in the 5th or 6th round, Marquez will catch Bradley coming forward, attempting to bang on the inside. If Marquez hurts him, he will take him out. If not, Bradley wins by decision in a bloody fight.
Is anyone else watching the card? Who do you pick to win?
Posted by H2O Man | Sat Oct 12, 2013, 08:04 PM (2 replies)
"He felt at the moment like a tight-rope artist might feel if suddenly, in the middle of the performance, the manager of the Music Hall were to rush out of the proper managerial seclusion and begin to shake the rope."
-- Joseph Conrad; The Secret Agent
The splintering of the republican party is interesting to watch. It is, of course, causing damage to very real human beings, which comes as no surprise: for the essence of the republican party is corporate inhumanity to mankind. The cog-in-the-machine unconscious nature is found not only in the shutting down of federal government operations, or even the willingness of congressional republicans to sacrifice their aides' insurance -- it's highlighted by the willingness of those aides to continue to work for masters who have so little regard for their well-being.
The malignancy known as the "tea party" is taking a course that many of us "old-timers" on DU predicted. It's not a great mystery. There have been examples of similar dynamics in and at the edges of the Democratic Party in the past. This is definitely not to say that the groups involved are "just alike" -- in fact, they tend to be polar opposites. Rather, it has to do with two sub-groups that, for any of a variety of reasons, become aligned.
The two groups in the Democratic Party are the progressives on the left, and the combination of liberal-to-moderate folks. The example that might best illustrate the group dynamics would be the Civil Rights Movement. Until 1960, a significant number of the southern black registered voters were republicans. Martin Luther King, Sr., is but one example. This was largely because of the Dixiecrats, or southern democrats who strongly opposed integration.
In the years 1960 to '64, more black people placed their hopes on the national Democratic Party. The Kennedy family had appealed to them, when during the 1960 contest between JFK and Nixon, the Kennedy brothers attempted to help Martin Luther King, Jr., when he was in a southern jail. President Kennedy didn't follow through with his infamous "with a stroke of a pen" campaign pledge, but he and Attorney General Robert Kennedy did make some attempts to support the movement.
By '64, the Civil Rights Movement had grown to include numerous people who were not entirely invested with King's non-violent program. The college students in organizations such as SNCC were expecting more immediate change in the system. When the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party attempted to seat their delegates at the 1964 convention, they were following the law and party rules. More, they pledged to support LBJ and the party's plank. However, more than 80% of the regular state delegates had said they planned to vote for Goldwater, the republican candidate.
LBJ wanted a "perfect" convention. Along with other party bosses, he had a host of liberals attempt to convince the MFDP to settle for seats, but no votes; then, eventually, two voting delegates, with the promise of full recognition in 1968's convention. The MFDP refused.
Thus, in that era, the LBJ folks were known as the liberals who attempted to manage the party, and the MFDP and SNCC as the radicals. The managerial liberals offered future gains for current compromise; the radicals were less compromising, and wanted results "now." And, by 1968, the divide between the managerial liberals and the radicals -- which included a strong student anti-war movement -- had begun to separate, often fully, from the Democratic Party.
After the 2008 presidential election, a small grass roots movement, almost entirely white, had begun. It was known in some areas as the "tea party." At first, it included people who were unhappy with both major political parties. But some of the managerial conservatives in the republican party sought to buy it, so that they could control it. And indeed, they did just that. With the new-found funding, the tea party was being managed in a way that it became an entirely anti-Obama phenomenon. It was programmed to disrupt town hall meetings, and a commercial image was created to increase the paranoia and hatred of the white, largely middle class public.And it definitely helped republicans in the 2010 congressional elections.
By 2012, however, the tea party was able to win primary contests, and placing bat-shit crazy obstructionists in numerous congressional races. Some won, and some suffered humiliating defeats. That combination of victories and defeats, along with the failure of the managerial conservatives to put a true, radical tea party clown on the presidential ticket, was the lightening that struck life into the republican party's Frankenstein monster.(All Ted Cruz needs is a couple bolts on his forehead.)
Today, of course, we see that monster is out-of-control. The republican managerial squad is unable to control it. And we hear them on the news shows expressing concerns that the radicals are doing long-term -- meaning 2016 -- harm to their party. The only real question is if the managerial conservative bosses, especially those who operate behind the scenes, will allow Cruz the opportunity to self-destruct, or if they will feel the need to cut his legs out from under him.
Posted by H2O Man | Wed Oct 2, 2013, 11:48 AM (2 replies)
See dig, mama, uh, do ya understand that?
Well uh, like, I can understand how you can’t, because I’ve been uh,
You know, Paris, Beirut, you know, I mean Iraq, Iran, Eurasia, you know
I speak very very um, fluent Spanish
Ah, todo ‘sta bien, chévere, you understand that?
Chevere, bien chevere, is that right mama?
'Cause I’ve got my shaky .....
-- Stevie Wonder; intro to "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing"
Last night, I was looking through some "threads" on DU:GD, and noticed some interesting comments regarding the media coverage of the new Iranian president. Not coincidentally, I was reminded of some recent discussions of the new pope. Some folks find each of their public messages encouraging, and others do not. Now, maybe that is the way it should be -- because especially on this forum, there is never total agreement on any important issue. Those differences of opinion -- which often reflect differing values -- have the potential to lead to meaningful discussions.
On the down side, those same differences of opinions and values can lead to meaningless arguing, with anger and insults saturating a thread. In recent years, that has become all too common on this forum. Of course, it has happened since DU began attracting a wider audience, and intensified during the 2008 president primary season.
My purpose in writing this is not to stir the pot of negativity. I understand that people can, and do, have strong feelings about Iran, the Middle East, US policy there, and the Catholic Church as well. A person could have a connection to one or more of these, or they might view them in very negative ways. Yet, for sake of discussion, I think it is important to remember that both are collections of human beings -- some good, some not good -- and each has a long history.
Both new leaders have recently made public statements that, if nothing else, tend to suggest that they are a bit more open-minded than the person they replaced. That does not translate into either the church or nation suddenly becoming ideal. But it sure as heck is better than some of the narrow-minded to hateful things that have come from both groups before.
Recognizing this does not mean one subscribes to Catholicism or Islam. However, no matter how one feels about them, they do exist. And human history has far too much proof that when any such group -- be it a nation-state, religion, etc -- has a spokesperson who publicly stirs the passions of anger, fear, and hatred, it can result in violence.
Equally true is that when a leader speaks of peace and reconciliation, it can calm people, and possibly open their minds. And an open mind just might catch onto an idea .....and there is Power in Ideas. For example, with very few exceptions, most people suffer when there are constant threats of violence, and violence and warfare.(Not to mention that a closed mind, like a closed room, always becomes stuffy.)
The world has more than enough "leaders" who advocate violence and warfare for reasons ranging from land to oil to how someone interprets a sentence in a religious book. There are enough corporate vultures that prey on death and destruction. And I'm not talking about self-defense against attack -- I mean the Dick Cheneyites of the world.
So, I understand why many of us find it at least potentially hopeful that the new Iranian president and new pope are saying rational things, which suggest more open minds. Likewise, I understand why others among us insist upon seeing real actions, solid proof of good intentions, before getting their hopes up.
Hopefully, to some extent, we can do some of both, as individuals and as a community.
Posted by H2O Man | Thu Sep 26, 2013, 04:39 PM (6 replies)
Have you seen the little piggies
Crawling in the dirt
And for all those little piggies
Life is getting worse
Always having dirt to play around in.
Have you seen the bigger piggies
In their starched white shirts
You will find the bigger piggies
Stirring up the dirt
And they always have clean shirts to play around in.
And in their styes with all their backing
They don't care what goes on around
And in their eyes there's something lacking
What they needs a damm good whacking.
Yeah, everywhere there's lots of piggies
Playing piggy pranks
And you can see them on their trotters
Down at the piggy banks
Paying piggy thanks
To thee pig brother
Everywhere there's lots of piggies
Living piggy lives
You can see them out for dinner
With their piggy wives
Clutching forks and knives to eat their bacon.
-- George Harrison
My father's extended family included numerous activists in the railroad unions. His dad came to the US in 1879, when some absentee landlord from another land evicted the family from the land in Ireland where they had lived on since the beginning of time. Dad told me many of the stories he had heard as a child, about the often violent conflicts between the working class and the non-working wealthy.
My grandfather and his family came here during what Mark Twain called the Gilded Age. He told my father about two federal acts that had been started in the years before he immigrated: in 1862, the Homestead Act promised private citizens title to 160-acre lots out west, for a small registration fee; the second "act" was the government's giving a quarter-million square miles of land to the railroad robber barons. Between 1865 and 1900, this was a gift larger than the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin combined.
It was, my father noted, the American way of institutionalizing class warfare in a legal way.
In the early 1900s, many in the working class again began to think in terms of class warfare. Some, he said, were the "liberals," who felt the political-economic system needed fine-tuning in order to be fair to everyone; others were "progressives," who believed in a more complete change, to what people called "democratic socialism" or "communism." Unions were viewed as the vehicle that would lead to social justice. During the Great Depression, many liberals and progressives began to identify FDR's New Deal coalition. They began to see government, even more so than unions, as being able to protect individual and families' rights.
Obviously, there were still large groups being mistreated as "less equal" than others. In the post-WW2 industrial boom, more and more people (especially white folks) became suburbanites: dad worked, mom cooked and cleaned, happy children went to school, and the whole family enjoyed the miracle of television, and a summer vacation. This was the liberal version of the American Dream.
The pesky progressives shrank in number and influence. Any alliance with liberals disappeared with the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, which progressives called the "slave labor act." Congress overrode President Truman's veto to inact what Harry called "a dangerous intrusion on free speech." Seven years later, Senator Hubert Humphrey devised and sponsored the "Communist Control Act," which would have criminalized political thought.
Adlai Stevenson, liberal, was more popular -- thus influential -- than Henery Wallace, progressive. Thus, my father said, the liberals either bought into the system, or were bought by it. People who were living in comfortable houses were unlikely to protest too much, especially if they were making mortgage payments. Only two US Presidents would really work to institute significant changes in "the system" after Ike eight years: JFK would run as a semi-liberal cold warrior, then attempt to make progressive change; and LBJ would try to update the New Deal with his Great Society programs, but folded under the pressure from the war machine in Vietnam.
I think that many of these same dynamics are in play today. Even on this forum, for example, we see liberals who are pro-President Obama, often without any question (bomb Syria? Sure!), and progressives, who want more significant change than this President would ever consider. Some of us were comfortable when the "Occupy" movement brought the idea of class warfare to the public's consciousness; others were uncomfortable. I thought it was a good attempt to bring about an updated version of the "Poor Peoples' Campaign" that Martin Luther King was planning, at the time of his death.
Posted by H2O Man | Sat Sep 21, 2013, 04:07 PM (34 replies)
At Las Vegas (Showtime PPV): Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Canelo Alvarez, 12 rounds, WBA/WBC junior middleweight unification; Danny Garcia vs. Lucas Matthysse, 12 rounds, for Garcia's WBA/WBC junior welterweight title.
Two outstanding fights tomorrow night. First, let's look at the co-feature. Garcia, who was a top amateur and is now an undefeated pro, defends his titles against the man that many consider the hardest puncher in the sport. For much of his career, Garcia was a "boxer-puncher." In the past two years, he has relied upon his ability to maul opponents. And while it has worked thus far, two of the big names he beat were faded ex-champions. He did flatten Amir Khan, but had been badly hurt a round before he did -- so much so, that his corner was considering stopping the fight between rounds.
If he boxes Mattysse, landing power shots in spots, but not becoming a target, he can win. But that is a mighty big "if." Garcia has not shown defensive skills recently. And no one that size can take Mattysse's punches. Lucas has good boxing skills, and has learned from both of his loses (and both were close, disputed decisions). I favor Mattysse, because of his body-punching ability. He won his last bout with a devastating left hook to the liver.With everything else being fairly even going in, I believe that the body attack makes the difference.
Mayweather faces a bigger, younger foe in Alvarez. There's an old saying in boxing, that even a great champion can become old overnight in the ring. Bernard Hopkins has pointed out that this is an error: a fighter gets old in the gym. And, for the first time, Floyd has shown signs of the aging process in the gym. You can see it in his face -- which looks more and more like his Dad's -- and there are changes in his body.
Yet, he does not have the bad habits outside of the ring that accelerate the aging process. And only his hands have taken a great deal of punishment, relatively speaking, in the ring. He did damage his right hand in his last fight in May, and the hand injuries have been a serious issue since he turned professional. It is not a coincidence that, in training, we've seen Floyd concentrate far more than usual on body punches; there is far less risk of injuring either hand with a body punch, compared to a head shot. Also, Alvarez takes a good shot to the head -- he has been hurt before, but not by a man Floyd's size -- but body punches hurt everyone.
Alvarez has good hand-speed, a very good delivery (especially his left hook), and enough upper-body movement that he could present some problems in a jabbing dual with Floyd. I disagree with the "experts" that say he is stronger than Floyd, but because of his bigger size, he will be able to physically push Mayweather off-balance. This is especially true for when Floyd throws a lead right cross: he almost always steps in, and dips to his right, then steps out to the right. It may be the only pattern that I've ever picked up on with him. Be sure that Alvarez's trainers have, too.
That punch is going to land, no matter what anyone does. Floyd is that fast and accurate. Thus, the only question becomes, how do you respond? Most people simply take it in the face, while trying to cover up. Alvarez will roll the dice: he will be willing to take a hard shot, in order to bring his weight behind a left hook that lifts. Two results are possible: he will knock Floyd off-balance, where he is vulnerable; or he will be stunned by moving into a hard right cross.
The most likely outcome of this fight is Floyd by decision (even the first six rounds, with Floyd dominating the second half). But Floyd does want the knockout. Alvarez is determined to win by decision or knockout, and he has the tools necessary to win. It should be an outstanding fight.
(I'm heading to the gym with Marvis Frazier this afternoon, to train my son. And Marvis is watching the fights with us tomorrow night. It doesn't get any better than that!)
Posted by H2O Man | Fri Sep 13, 2013, 02:56 PM (4 replies)
"Oh say can you see it's really such a mess
every inch of Earth is a fighting nest
giant pencil and lip stick-tube shaped things
continue to rain and cause screaming pain
and the arctic stains from silver blue to bloody red ...."
-- Jimi Hendrix, American scald; 1983 ....(A Mermaid I Should Turn to Be)
I decided to not watch the news today. The same recycled commentaries about US intervention in Syria -- we must, we mustn't -- tend to present a limited range of opinions on what "options" the nation faces. It's not that I do not appreciate the insight of some commentators, be they journalists, politicians, or other guests. But today, I venture out to the quiet of my pond, armed only with two books and some food for both the fish and the birds.
I am accompanied by one of my dogs, Kelly. He is a white boxer-mix, with beautiful blue spots -- one could easily imagine one of his ancestors riding a fire truck. Kelly is one of my best friends; usually semi-hyper, he too relaxes at the pond. There is one spot on the stone retaining wall that he sits on, staring in amazement as the fish splash about, consuming their food. A couple of times, Kelly has ventured in to sample fish food ..... the koi are rather used to him, and compete with him for what is floating nearby. But today, he simply sits quietly, watches the fish for about ten minutes, and then lays down for a nap. I wonder: why does he lay on the rock, rather than the ground? While I like to sit on rocks, I find the ground a more comfortable place to lay down.
One of the books is Reza Aslan's "Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth." Since buying it last month, I've had two friends ask me with great discomfort: "Why are you reading this?" (Perhaps for the exact reason Kelly sleeps on the rock. I have read it three times now, and I sense that I'm okay.) I've told them that the book takes Jesus off the stained glass window, and views him in the context of human history -- where I suspect he not only belongs, but can do the world the most good.
The book tells of numerous wars, in and around that region known as the Middle East. Of an empire that expanded, over-reached, and fell. Of human beings killing and dying for reasons political and religious on the surface, but all saturated by hatred. "Jesus, your eyes," another North American scald sang, "they shine like the sun. I wonder why?"
It's written that he healed a leper. Halldor Laxness, the Nobel Prize-winning writer from Iceland, called war "the leprosy of the human soul." That was in the early 1970s, when my generation questioned the nation's war in Vietnam. The second book I have is: "The Eloquence of Protest: Voices of the 70's," edited by Harrison Salsbury (Houghton Mifflin; 1972). It contains powerful speeches, including the April 22, 1971 testimony of John Kerry, before the US Senate's Foreign Relations Committee. Likely a majority of folks my age have thought of that testimony recently, as they watch film clips of Secretary of State John Kerry speak with absolute certainty about the moral necessity of the US bombing Syria.
As evening approaches, Kelly lifts his ears, well before opening his eyes and raising his head. It's only then that I hear a couple "clucks" coming from a distance ..... behind some tall grass, and inside a cluster of gnarled shrubs and dead trees. It is a small group of wild turkey; I can't see them at this point, but recognize their voices. They know that there is food here, but they also know there are two beings they do not want to encounter. Wild turkeys are in ways smart, in ways dumb. Thank goodness that the same can't be said about dogs or people.
The image of the turkeys reminds me of the great philosophical question regarding chickens: which came first -- the hen or the egg? If I could answer that, I could likely understand why "war" has been a constant human reality, not only in my lifetime, but since the beginning of this country, even back to the days of that rabbi from the other book.And what,exactly, did we humans not learn from the last war? Or the one before that? Or WW1? What am I missing here?
Posted by H2O Man | Sat Sep 7, 2013, 05:47 PM (12 replies)
The National Geographic channel will feature a new documentary, "America vs Iraq," tonight at 9 pm/est. The two hour program replays at 11 pm.
Those who were concerned with today's news about Syria, and possible/likely an increase in US involvement, might find it worth watching.
Posted by H2O Man | Mon Aug 26, 2013, 07:40 PM (7 replies)
"Is that the falls?" my cousin asked, after bringing in the last of the rocks.
I had gathered 58 cobbles of white flint, and he had brought a load of white oak, for the day's ceremony. Usually, I build the platform for the rocks, and start the fire; my cousin is the door-keeper, and carries the rocks into the lodge. But today is an unusual day: he did the fire, while I showed an "under 30" apprentice some new things.
There are many people in the communities surrounding us who are suffering. A 15-year old girl had an argument with her mother, about the girl's new boyfriend. The girl decided to run away that night. Around 1 am, she was driving the boyfriend's car, and hit a family on their way home from an area Drive In. Both drivers were killed; four passengers are hospitalized. The boyfriend was thrown, and uninjured, from his car seconds before it exploded into flames.
People are hurt and angry. Many are blaming the mother of the girl. I think it is 15-year olds' jobs to do really stupid things; it is tragic when it costs lives. I have known the mother casually for over 30 years, and she does the best she is able. She works three part-time jobs, and has no type of insurance. She told me that she can't afford a funeral, then adds that there is only part of her daughter's skull left from the exploding car.
I have a casual connection to the family that lost a husband and father. They were a close-knit family, returning home after a fun night. Everything has changed for the rest of their lives, for those who survive.
These families live in two different towns; I live outside a third, that lies between them.
We entered the lodge to do the first round in the early evening. Other than the glow from the red-hot rocks, it is completely dark inside. The rocks make a crackling noise. We can smell the sage that the apprentice sprinkles on them. Then the sound of the water being poured on the rocks, and turning instantly to a very hot steam.
Outside, as the sun goes down, the song birds enjoy their last meal of the day. They have the prettiest songs. We can also hear the trout in the pond. I'm glad that my sons built this lodge near the pond, and that my daughters have created a system of bird-feeders here.
By the end of the third round, it is getting dark outside. My cousin brings in the stones for the last round. He comments on how quiet and still it is outside, as he brings some in. Finally, he is done, and closes the door flaps before finding his place to sit. It is then that he asks if that is the falls he hears? It is. But they are a quarter-mile away? They are, but sounds carry at night.
Chief Waterman used to tell me to listen closely to the voice of the creek. When Euro-Americans came here, the area was known by an Onondaga phrase that translates to: "the voice of the water sings."
Early the next morning, I go back out to the pond. Five weeks earlier, I had brought a painted turtle that I "rescued" from the highway out to the pond. She has remained there. When I bring out food for the fish, she comes over to the pond's edge, to eat her fill, too.
Turtles tend to look awkward and uncoordinated on land. She looks awkward and uncoordinated in the water, as well. I can relate to that.
After filling the bird-feeders, I sit quietly beside the pond for a few hours. Then it's time to leave the real world, and head back into civilization.
Posted by H2O Man | Mon Aug 26, 2013, 03:12 PM (30 replies)