Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Fire and Ice

The Harbor at 6:30 a.m. last Sunday.
Even though it's been a couple of days ago and the fires have receded for now, I'm still struck by how we left LA Sunday in deep smoke and arrived at Flint to ice on the car at the long-term lot at Bishop Airport. We had to scrape the windshields for the first time this year. It shocks the body. What happened to that beautiful autumn? Gone in the space of two days and a hard frost. So of course, it's time to repeat that Robert Frost poem:

Some say the world will end in fire;
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Nov. 15 in LA: Fires and Stained Glass

Smoke from the Yorba Linda fires, facing southeast from Pedro

The sun has set now in a blanket of orange smoke. Here's how it looked from our balcony at about 3:30 p.m. And on a lighter note, here is Ted's birthday gift to me: a custom-made stained glass window showing some of our favorite things in San Pedro: the Korean Bell, cliffs, ocean, marine layer, a pelican, and three special palm trees -- the ones we see from our bedroom we've named Fred, Ethel and Einstein.

The "Jan and Ted" Window by San Pedro artisan Mark Schoem

Sunday, November 09, 2008

A Contented Sunday in the Real America

I love the winter vegetables. After I took the photo above, I put that butternut squash in the oven, baked it with the Farmer's Market Chicken for an hour, and took it out and started nibbling on it while sitting at the kitchen table working on a writing project. It's an overcast autumn day here, the back yard burnished with gold leaves from the little maple that has almost doubled in size since Ted and I bought this place. Gus/Joey has decided to take a nap on the table next to the laptop, and I can hear him purring loudly as I type. He idly lifts his head up only when the gusty wind scares up a stick or two, but he never stops purring. Knowing that Obama and his crew will be running the country, this weekend feels mellow -- a break from anxieties which will surely return. But for now, it still feels good, as Frank Rich wrote in his New York Times column today. Here's how he concluded the essay:

The actual real America is everywhere. It is the America that has been in shell shock since the aftermath of 9/11, when our government wielded a brutal attack by terrorists as a club to ratchet up our fears, betray our deepest constitutional values and turn Americans against one another in the name of “patriotism.” What we started to remember the morning after Election Day was what we had forgotten over the past eight years, as our abusive relationship with the Bush administration and its press enablers dragged on: That’s not who we are.

So even as we celebrated our first black president, we looked around and rediscovered the nation that had elected him. “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” Obama said in February, and indeed millions of such Americans were here all along, waiting for a leader. This was the week that they reclaimed their country.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Thoughts on Day Two

Ted continues to reflect on the Obama win. I especially appreciate his comment about process over ideology.

"This is day two of the new Obama era. I continue to celebrate this historic event and ponder upon its meaning and implications. At this point, it seems to me a victory of process over ideology, pragmatism over dogmatism, humanism over primalism, problem solving over partisan warfare, and coming together rather than wedging apart. I don’t fear that Obama will move us left, as many Republicans do. That was not the point of his campaign or his rhetoric. He is not an ideologue--he is a problem solver. He is a community organizer par excellence. Left and right, conservative and liberal--these are lose/lose concepts that he rejects. He leads by setting the tone, not dictating the outcome. He is a process guide, not a knight of the holy grail. He articulates the dream and coaches us in working together to realize it. He is a breath of fresh air in a badly polluted environment. He is precisely the right person at precisely the right time. I am fully over my initial preference for Hillary--she would have been a great President, I’m sure, but the past few months have convinced me that Obama is exactly what this country needs at the moment. I voted for him with no reservations, and I look forward to his presidency with both hope and trepidation. These are very dangerous times, and very exciting and hopeful times."

Good morning!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Wow. A New Era Begins

Like many others, I cried a lot last night. And now it's a beautiful sunny morning and I'm so hopeful for our country. Here's what Ted wrote as he considered what happened:

"I’m still in shock. Obama’s victory speech blew me away. When he adapted MLK’s “Mountaintop” speech and talked about the promised land, it ripped through my spirit like a hot wind, and forty years of history was wrapped up and made whole in a tornado of emotion. A promise made by one man was fulfilled by another--a dream was made real. For several minutes I wept without control or restraint. On so many levels, and in so many ways, today’s election was a transformational event--a completion of one episode in our history and the start of another. This was an excellent and exquisite day for the USA. We had a long and hard fought election campaign and democracy put on its best and most honorable face. We lived up to the best of what the world expected of us, in one dramatic moment recapturing our tarnished reputation and bringing new hope to all people of good will. The opportunity and power in this moment are awesome, as are the perils. I believe that McCain played his part admirably this evening, and Obama was magnificent in setting the tone for this new journey. The only shadow in this moment is my fear for his safety and survival during this trip. May the Secret Service protect him well."

For some reason it particularly touches me that Obama will be the president as I move into my sixties -- it's an immense comfort to think that a president I can be proud of will be at the helm as I make my transition into old ladyhood -- like a good son who will try his best to take care of me, and of our country.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

An Emotional and Historic Day

I just got back from standing in line to vote for 2 1/2 hours, and I didn't mind. I got there at 6:55 a.m., and already there was a huge line snaking all around the Sarvis Center. But people were in a great mood and I thought hell, I'm going to be crying all day -- this is the way it's supposed to be in my country. It's a beautiful warm day, a blessing for everybody waiting in line. I saw a lot of people I knew, of course, and at one point, somebody got the crowd singing "We Shall Overcome." It was awesome. I was in line with two middle-aged African American men -- Bernie and Melvin -- and a young kid who's an anthropology grad student at UMF -- sweet, sweet. Steve and Cary were there, along with Jake and Helen (VERY pregnant) with their twin boys Micah and Jonas in arm. My old friend and colleague Diane from Family Service Agency. And many, many more. The line just kept coming and growing and was still all around the outside of Sarvis Center when I left. Is it possible then, that the times and the country can change?? I proudly cast my vote for Barack Obama, feeling that my vote has never mattered more.

When I got home, I had this message from my husband, who went back to LA in time to vote at one of the most beautiful polling places in the world at Pt. Fermin Park overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Here's what he wrote:

Good morning, my beloved wife and voter. This is truly a great and historic day. I confess to some very powerful emotions about this event, this agonizingly important election. Forty years ago, 1968, was a year of tear gas, assassination, protest, Richard Nixon, the Poor People’s Campaign, and I was in the thick of it. It was the year that my own political and social soul was forged. It was one of the most intense years of my life. What I worked and struggled for then manifests itself today in this election. Today is the opportunity I thought might never happen in my lifetime--to vote in a presidential election of awesome significance where the forces of humanism and rationality have an excellent chance of prevailing. I know that when I stand in line to vote this morning, with the Korean Bell, Point Fermin, and the Pacific in the background (and maybe some pelicans), my feelings will be running high. I will be particularly touched if I end up standing in a long line. This is the way it should be. And if Obama wins, as it seems he will, this will be a defining day in our history, and not just because he will be our first Black president. You would think that 67 years of kicking around would have turned me into a cynic, but I really believe that this could be the beginning of something sweet. Forty years is a long time to wait. I will take pleasure in sharing this experience with Jesse. This is a good day for the United States of America and my heart is glad.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

A walk in Flint

This town never looked better than yesterday, when Ted and I took an hour long walk through the College/Cultural neighborhood, Burroughs and Woodlawn Parks with our camera. Here are some of the results.
Late afternoon sun through the trees of Burroughs Park
Looking east at Burroughs Park

Path along Gilkey Creek
Entrance to Woodlawn Park Drive
Red tree on Lynwood