Friday, March 19, 2010

Short Census Forms

If your wondering why your Census Form didn't ask the really interesting questions that mine did it's because I got to be the "every seventh person" who had to fill out the American Community Survey which is VERY LONG. That's why they sent a person with the form.

Goodbye February!!

February is gone!! It has taken me a couple of weeks for it to sink in but it is surely done with and I am glad..glad..glad..

A North Missouri February is not to be taken lightly.

The year 2000 when I wrote this was typical.

Three days into the month the ground is spongy..smelling of thaw and oozing with the excitement of spring.

Surprise!! That night the temperature drops to zero! With berserk winds!!

February 15th is glorious and sunny..We walk the yard, smugly marking each green daffodil shoot...each purplish spade-shaped tulip leaf. We are so confident.. We have sown in the fall...soon we will enjoy the blooms of spring..

Surprise!!! That night the temperature drops to nine below zero. With berserk winds.

February 21st is a day passed in mourning..nothing exraordinary..just gray and gloomy and drizzly cold. Hopes of spring are gone...half-heartedly we sow a little grass seed...toss a little hay onto a bare spot..the day is cold and lifeless.

The drizzle, met by a night of 10 degree temperatures, turns to murderous ice. Trees snap with the sound of rifle shots. Cows, heavily burdened with calf, slip and struggle through ice fields.

All weak creatures that survived a hard January sink to their knees in these last days of winter. For those who listen, the night is filled with the sound of predators closing in on prey delivered up to them on plates of ice.

But somewhere within those days of despair and false hope a secret majesty erupts and the land is released.

I have never been able to exactly pinpoint the day or time this happens..but in North Missouri it happens in February. Slowly and wistfully spring comes. It does not come easily. Winter is jealous and for every day that is sweet and sunny there are nights that reach out with killing fingers and shake and destroy with their freezing.

But spring begins in cannot not begin...and it begins in February.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Poncho's Audition & the Violin

I’ve decided to learn to play the violin.

Today, a lovely spring day, I chanced by a moving/yard sale that was only about ten miles down a half mud, half gravel road past the sign that first caught my eye. There I found a really nice violin with four strings and a rock-like hunk of resin in a battered old case. It only cost ten bucks and I just happened to have it! Oh happy me!

My daughter, who happens to live close by, has not been very supportive. I first became interested in the violin when she was an infant. I can’t remember now what ever made me want to play…it was so long ago. I do remember her brother and sister huddling under the sewing machine cabinet with their little hands over their ears when I practiced. Not a one of those kids had a lick of musical appreciation and never played an instrument. I blame it on my first husband’s genes because my two sons from my second husband are very musical. (Of course I had given up the violin by the time they arrived.)

Come to think of it, I’m sorry to say, my life has been riddled with failure. .just one debacle after another. Those violin lessons were just an example of a long string of incomplete and unproductive events in my life. The best I can say for myself is that on several occasions I have provided my neighbors and acquaintances with something to smile about.

But success, or victory or whatever you want to call it seems to elude me.

Take the time I took Kenny’s Beagle Hound pup, Poncho, to the Lyric Opera’s audition in Kansas City. They were looking for hound dogs for a production that had an English hunt scene and the lucky hound owner was to receive free seasons tickets. I love the theater.

I drove all the way to Kansas City from Henry County. The dog threw up in the backseat and wallowed in it. I had to stop at a car wash to hose him down.

When we got to Barney Allis Plaza in Kansas City the grassy little park area was full of well-dressed media folk parading their own mostly overweight but well-behaved dogs around on leashes. None of them looked like they had been through the car wash. I recognized several of the PBS-TV people that I had met through my Public Relations classes at CMSU but they didn’t seem to recognize me. It was just as well.

Poncho was pretty excited and let out that wailing, howling thing Beagle hounds do non-stop. He fought the leash and drug me all over the park, tangling us up with two fat, double-leashed Bassets and a skinny Greyhound who looked like he hadn’t eaten in three weeks.. The Public Relations Director who had seemed so very friendly on her visit to CMSU the last semester seemed rather cool.

I gave up and had to drag Poncho back to the car and we went home. But if you did happen to watch the news that night, KCMO-TV had a segment on the audition and the hound sound you heard was definitely Poncho.

I could go on and on about such failures but I am getting depressed.

However, I am more mature now and I believe the violin is just the ticket for a redeeming success!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Census Lady's Visit

The Census Lady came the other day. We are now officially counted for posterity. I answered all her questions openly and freely. Why not? I love to talk about myself. I have no fear of all my personal info being plastered across the world. Most of my neighbors and acquaintances know my name anyway. They know I live here. They know who else lives here. I don’t much care about the rest of the population in that regard.

My neighbors and acquaintances know I don’t always keep the grass mowed and trimmed although the lady didn’t ask about it. They know I am a Democrat because of the bumper sticker on the back of my old Buick but she didn’t ask about that either. They probably know when and how much I am overdrawn at the bank, small towns not being big on personal privacy except that everyone wants it, but nothing about my bank habits was on the questionnaire. I’m glad about that. I always sweat when I lie.

She did ask if I could dress myself and such or had trouble with stairs and I asked her if she meant going up or coming down. There is definitely a difference. She asked me how many times I’ve been married and when the last happy divorce occurred. (my words.. not hers) About half way through the thing she asked me if I was deaf. That was kind of funny as we had been having quite an informative little conversation up ‘til then.

She asked if I had a telephone, a TV, bathroom plumbing, a sink with a faucet. I thought that was kind of cute except I can remember living in houses that did not have a faucet in the sink. Heck, I can remember living in houses without bathroom plumbing!

Anyway, I hope all this top-secret info guides those in high positions to make the weighty decisions they are charged with in the matters of indoor plumbing and how long it takes me to climb a flight of stairs and the date of my last divorce.

I’ve done my part!

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Merits of Torture

I am absolutely and totally amazed that we ever came to the point where the merits of torture were, and still are, seriously and openly open for debate.

Besides being only minimally effective, torture is wrong..wrong..wrong. To institutionalize it by integrating it into the national defense character is wrong…wrong…wrong.

As a nation our slow, cumbersome often violent marching towards perfecting a union that embraces the rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” for all people while protecting us from those who want us dead never ceases. Great moral questions are never easy to resolve. The longer they remain unchallenged the more firmly entrenched they become.

I can think of only one other time when a subject was so shattering to our national character, so detrimental to our reputation worldwide or so divisive of the national body. That was, of course, the question of slavery.

A very great man had something to say on that subject and I am struck by how appropriate his words are to the question of organized torture.

“I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of it. I hate it because it deprives our republic of its just influence in the world and enables our enemies to taunt us as hypocrites, causes the real friends of freedom to doubt our sincerity, forces so many good men among ourselves into an open war with the very fundamental principles of civil liberty.”
Abraham Lincoln

I hear a bell ringing here.