On the Death of Fred Phelps

May he come to know the peace that passes all understanding. 

Mass GOP Tack to the Right Hurts Us All

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.


A Guy Walks into a Bar…

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?

Blank Page Blues

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?

Words That Don’t Belong in the Same Sentence….

Body count, elementary school.

Much Madness

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


Wild Kingdom Moments

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.


Kids vs. Dogs

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?

Ski Bums Never Die

Suzanne Bremer:

Once you turn 80, lift tickets at Loon Mountain are $5…a good reason to just say NO to the rocking chair!

Originally posted on Kim Kircher:

I recently watched this video, inspired all over again by these Canadian ski bums. Produced by Salomon Freeski TV last year, this video recaptures the love of the sport of skiing. These guys don’t allow grumpiness. And when they get to ski fresh lines all day long, I can see why. Oh, and I want to be Mary Woodward when I grow up.

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Skiing SLO : The Things We Carried

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.