With its overwhelming approval of a red meat values plank in the party’s platform last night, the Massachusetts Republican State Committee moved us closer to one party rule here in the Bay State. Our civil life requires robust, honest and thoughtful discourse. Having two legitimate political parties allows us to have a conversation across ideologies. Without that tension, it becomes harder for thoughtful Democrats to test our assumptions. Instead of dialog, this platform leads us deeper into the echo chamber.
Let’s say that the bill passed by the Arizona legislature that allows businesses to refuse serve based on the owner’s religious is signed into law; how, exactly would it work? A guy walks onto a bar – is he gay? straight? somewhere in between? Two women sit down in a coffee shop – are they lovers? friends? Who decides? What if they’re wrong?
Foundering in the empty white. The life altering choice of pens. Looking for a plot line to plumb. A character waits. Does the hero find a parking place, or does he have to circle the block, while the heroine leaves the coffee shop, and thus missing her and his fate entirely?
Body count, elementary school.
This morning I drove a friend to her doctor’s appointment at McLean Hospital, the nation’s first and finest mental hospital. Robert Lowell spent time here. So did Sexton and Plath, Ray Charles and James Taylor. Some of the original buildings – big red brick Victorian heaps, still stand. With landscaping by Olmstead, madness seems elegant and refined. Once home, I looked up the poem by Dickinson -
Much Madness is divinest Sense -
To a discerning Eye -
Much Sense – the starkest Madness -
- Tis the Majority
In this, as all, prevail -
Assent – and you are sane -
Demur – you’re straightaway dangerous -
And handled with a Chain
Just before Thanksgiving, I nearly ran over a flock of wild turkeys in Belmont, a suburb just west of Boston. I joked to my passenger that if I hadn’t already bought our turkey I would haven’t have stopped the car.
This afternoon I came home to a young Cooper’s hawk in the backyard with a fresh kill. The hawk and I watched each other. Then he flew off with his prey, low just clearing the neighbor’s stockade fence.
Parked in a driveway not far from the elementary school that my kids attend is a car with this bumper sticker. While the folks who drive it seem nice enough (he’s a Korean vet; I run into her occasionally at the grocery store; the son works at a nearby university.) the sentiment behind the bumper sticker nags at me. It’s not that dogs aren’t great (friendly, loyal, fun-loving, social), and there are times when the company of a dog may be preferable to the company of people, and sure, I get the riff on all those “My child is an honor student at …” bumper stickers. But still, comparing kids and dogs and having the dogs come out ahead? What’s wrong with this picture?
While dogs have many sterling qualities, who is more likely to discover the next wonder drug, a dog or someone who was once a kid? If you’re 50 or younger, the physician who attends you in your final days may have just started kindergarten. The guy who manages your pension fund through your golden years could be one of those tweenies who hang out the the corner store. The driver who gets you to and from the senior center may not have been born yet. Who offers more hope for the future? Your dog, or my honor student?
First, there is the all the stuff. Clothes for eight days, and toys (from iPad to Kindle to books and Barbies) and the ski gear. Times 4. Then there are the expectations we take with us and the ones we leave behind. We’re going to a new place, where we don’t speak the language and fumble with foreign coins. And then, there is how we carry ourselves, through the car rides, checkpoints and airports, as we fall asleep in strange rooms, and eventually, as we take a lift to stand on the side of a new mountain.
We packed light. One checked bag and one carry-on each. We took our ski boots, and left the sticks and poles behind. You can rent skis just about anywhere and the fit is easy. Boots are harder. Having a pair that fit is worth carrying their weight.
We were going to Europe, to ski in the Alps. As fancy as that sounds, we were going to Slovenia – there would be no movie stars in the lift lines, G6s parked on the tarmac or stores selling cashmere socks. St. Moritz? How hard is that? But Kranjska Gora? Whoa! Now you’re talking adventure – skiing with the locals. So we carried ourselves, two moms and their two kids, like explorers.
Posted in Skiiing
First, there is the deciding to go – the where, the when, the how long. With kids in school, the when and how long are preordained, leaving only the where. I tried talking my ex-pat brother into coming to New England, holding out Sunday River as our destination. He didn’t bite. I shifted gears. What if we were to come him and ski in Europe? Our only perimeters - it had to cheap, and it had to be kid friendly. Kranjska Gora became our where.
Then there is the getting there. The booking of flights, the packing of bags, the selection of reading materials just before the final boarding call, followed by the long night flight to Berlin. Passport control, short hop to Munich, collecting the bags, and finally, the brother waiting to take us to his flat, pour us glasses of wine and shots of the local walnut brandy and tuck us into bed. The next day, he drives us into the mountains, through mile long tunnels and hairpin turns on steep mountain roads, and then we’re there – in a place that feels like skiing was invented.
Posted in Skiiing