Sunday, January 25, 2009

I got teary every time I looked at the telly, on Inauguration Day.
I was not alone
. No matter the color of your skin, here was this real person so gracefully, so fully inhabiting the American dream, taking an oath written down while our country was still just an idea.

Now, the mood is a bit more sober. We visited Wash DC today with a dear friend and colleague of mine.
My personal feeling is, that the monuments somehow mean something again. Instead of being a history lesson, we know deeply and personally, that we are back in the struggle again.

His kid needed pictures of the monuments in DC for an English class project. So he took the kid, in person, to go see the monuments, and made him take pictures himself, with Dad and Chuck as photo/history/details coach.
First, we went to the Iwo Jima Memorial. The light was cold, dramatic and sobering.

Friend's kid asked Chuck the details on the guns and they went off (as only two 12-year-olds can) on those cold details.. while history and flesh in bronze, gleamed in stark & freezing sunshine. I walked up and put my bare hand on the freezing, immaculately gold inlaid Marine symbol on the monument. This is how I pay tribute, I have to touch things. This is how I connect. 

Next was Jefferson's Memorial. Rather an intellectual thing, like the Parthenon but newer, shinier, and seeming larger.
Jefferson clean and neat, standing gigantic amongst the columns and notes to god (he was a deist). Franklin Delano Roosevelt's monument was next. Our host and driver (AKA Dad to the incredibly smart kid) had a hard time finding a place after last week's inauguration festivities, and there were a lot of poop jokes about the huge number of porta-potties still inhabiting downtown. And then there were more poop jokes. But that's just us.

The Potomac resembled a crumbling Arctic ice floe, not an entirely inappropriate symbol of the previous administration. 
We entered FDR's monument backwards. There was no clue about the main character in the quiet benches and great granite blocks. Approaching a frozen water fountain, I said it was a fitting analogy. Smart Kid asked me why, and meant it. I said (paraphrased, not talking down to this guy just because he's 12) that help to people in trouble froze up during the Depression, and it's frozen up again now with Bushies only giving money to banks and other establishment ass-kissing oligarchs. People can't get resources, because they are frozen. 
I didn't mention the flamethrower I hope Obama is warming up, in the no longer so very fucking White House.
Can we call it something else now? I'm probably not the only one wanting Change on that front.
I said hello to Eleanor, one of my favorite feminist icons. She wasn't very noisy about it, but she got so much done. Sometimes that's the best way.

The trip through the FDR memorial was harrowing.
Sure, we did it backwards. I interpreted it as feeling FDR's touch, without ever seeing him. It's a good way to do this memorial. You see his wife first, as any poor, afflicted person might have.

It's the strong women who move out into triage positions. Then the rest of them get there.

Then you see the great spaces in which he worked to get those who had fallen into misfortune, by no fault of their own (as he had, with polio), back on their feet.
As a man with polio, would never come to his feet again, he worked to get an entire nation back up, walking and working.
There's something to be said, for projection and identification.

Once upon a time, the last thing on my mind, was patriotism. I'm too introverted to care about the fate of a nation.
Until I met and worked with the souls upon whom, the fate of the nation depends.

Now I touch every military monument with reverence, I work twice as hard when they are my clients, and my emotions are deeply entwined with their plight.

We who are here, and have opinions, we matter about as much as we make it matter. 
It's the risk I take out here.

I'm afraid people will read what I write. 
I'm afraid they won't .
I live in the horrible middle.
No news, no difference in my life, whatever the reaction. An advantage to being the Stranger in the Strange Land, no expectation of empathy or understanding.
Just trying to figure it out for myself, whatever my audience endures/ignores.

Monday, January 19, 2009

My President is an American.

Like me, he has a background he can only trace up to a point.
Unless you have lived in the same European village since your ancestors discovered underwear and stopped decorating caves to go out and indulge in agriculture and animal husbandry, it may be hard for you to trace, as well.

Finally, I'm getting the guy I voted for.
You didn't think I'd vote for "Mr Nuvo Ranch" and his inbred band?

Mr Obama is, finally, a truly American president.
We are all immigrants (thanks Steve Earl) and to have someone who is a recent result of that fact, is a relief.

We all have our hopes pinned on this one man. It's like JFK was alive again. Of course the prayers of the paranoid, that he will not be shot down even on his inauguration day by some psychopath, simmer in my mind.

Honestly I could not give less of a damn about the man's skin color. And yet, it is important..
I am intrigued by this handsome intellectual. He reminds me of another man of color I respect and have great affection for. Mr PA wore his family kilt to our wedding (exposing lovely legs indeed!) and recited TS Eliot, my favorite poet, at our wedding. He's Canadian, so his nationality is a non sequitur in this subject, but he is someone I know, enjoy, respect, and just plain enjoy.
He is from "lots of different places".

That is the very POINT of America. We are a great cultural, genetic, intellectual, cultural, meeting and melting pot for all the world.

One of my favorite meals is scratch buttermilk cornbread with blackeye peas, collards and ham hocks.
It's always our first meal of the New Year.

My father was raised a poor black child in East Texas, until he realized that he was being raised by the household help and wasn't actually black. I spent more time with my grandmother's maid "Jessie Mae" than I did with my grandmother, sitting in the kitchen listening to her and watching her cook. Her fried chicken is still some kind of icon in my mind- ambrosia even straight out of the fridge after hours of fruitless dove hunting with Dad. She was treated well and with respect by my grandmother and the whole family, and obviously made a good living for her family.

My President is an American.
Here, we are interested in what is between in your ears, and what is under your sternum.

My skin, your skin, his skin, this is just decoration. I am interested in this man who welcomes conflict. I learned in the office of the late great Dr Robert Blake, founder of Grid business theory, that conflict is the very sustenance of leadership.

I just hope we play better with the rest of the world (the world suffering from our top down economy) and we can get out of this world nanny position when everyone can play nice and stop supporting idiots and their territorial ambitions..

I'm ready for an institutional end, to that kind of idiocy.
I'm ready for an end to imposition of minority religious beliefs on population better served by scientifically based activities .

My President is an American, and we are not one colour.
We are a living continuum of race, culture, thought and opinion.
We are Americans.
I've just gotten a mini-tour of the UK via a network of blogs:

That one is quite anecdotal and amusing, but many of the connected ones are much like reading the comments of our SE Bavarian National Socialist neighbors, translated into UK English.

I don't get a lot of the commentary, but I get that "Gorgon" Brown isn't Mr Popular.

Heck of Job, Brownie..

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Kinky Friedman writes about a friend of his catching him walking down Congress Avenue on a fine day in Austin, TX. "Kinky!" his friend said "Don't walk, it's bad for your image!" and drove his friend away in a 1970s Caddy.

Well, I think it has to change. Americans have traded in their legs for driver's licenses since cars got easy to obtain.
It's a rite of passage and a status symbol.
Think about how you feel about people on foot in your neighborhood (when not attached to a dog) or people at the bus stop. Do you think they are model citizens, or something else?

Lots of buses, especially in CenTex, run on compressed natural gas and scarcely leave a mark in the air. They are timely, comfortable and air conditioned. Techies can goof off on Facebook or read Michael Pollan. Money for gas, repairs, insurance, car payments, can go to travel, education, housing, better food.. Whatever you like. Let your taxes do the walking.

I walk to work these days. Maryland is experiencing single digit cold, and our little Frederick is inadequately prepared or educated for the pedestrian. I'm still walking. Not too smart, you see. Not a little bit stubborn.
I must say that Frederick is way better than Indianapolis, where walking was exceeded only by biking as social suicide (and sometimes actual, if you tried it on Pendleton Pike!). Maryland is a bit more socialist in its approach to transportation, but Frederick in particular is kind of spotty in its support of walkers.

As I leave our slightly depressed little neighborhood, including an old folk's home and an elementary school, there are no Walk signs at 7th and Bentz/Motter, or at Dill/Rosemont further into town.

A crosswalk sign in neon yellow sticking up out of the crosswalk itself, adorns the Church/Bentz crossing.
Most of the time,drivers are civil and honor the crosswalk. I don't take long on my two little tootsies. I always wave thanks.

Whose time is so important, that they can threaten a human life?
Something all those drivers with their dog in their lap, texting or talking while piloting a ton or so of homicidal metal, might consider.

A driver who doesn't care for the law or courtesy is a psychopath. They belong in jail. Seriously. The petrochemical industry wants us to drive, to use the overabundance of corn ethanol and Middle Eastern oil. Happy to serve these masters?
Then keep driving every step of every day. Let them own you.

I decided to get free and use my own feet and legs, which belong to me, to earn my keep. We have a car, but we don't use it that often. I organized my life around trying to get a little distance from car addiction. Fortunately we can do that in this city.

Sometimes I wonder whatever happened, to Noblesse Oblige.
Most people are good and decent and slightly amused by the persistence of pedestrians.
Fortunately, I blow more kisses than other things, every day.
That's why I enjoy Frederick, and have hopes for the future.
Look carefully at the picture on the head of this blog, and you will see icicles on the gleefully splashy fountain. The fun part is that they leave this thing running in winter!

This is the Germans, though, they build things to deal with the vise-grip cold and penetrating damp of Bavarian winter.
Not like us Americans, who slap things together without so much forethought.

We had to install a pipe-heater wire and multiple insulation backups after the temps here in MD got down to 5F, and the water in the master bath stopped flowing. Chuck got the right pipe with the hair dryer, and it thawed right out, but it was scary and we were up most of last night. With the heat pump, the highest attainable temp inside is 65F.

This is OK, but the system struggles to achieve it.

We went ahead and got some mica space heaters for the basement and master bath (the heat pump blows more than it heats) now maybe we can get some frakkin REST.

Cg's cold is fading, now I am starting to feel it. Ugh.

I just got a note of support from a colleague and dear friend.. it's amazing, when you meet people who extend a real, firm hand in a general environment of flakiness.

I do have to say, that my colleagues in this area are some of the most elegantly generous, warm and supportive people I could have ever hoped for.

It's just now that I feel like my swim across the Atlantic is coming to an end. I am feeling like this spring, I can start to grow some roots, and trust I won't have to tear them out again, before I see fruit.

Friday, January 16, 2009

As a kid, I saw all the shows on TV where steam is rolling out from manhole covers and vents. I thought, that's got to just be an effect, I've never seen that.

Having grown up in Texas, and not spent much time in downtown Dallas in winter, of course I hadn't seen such a thing!

Frederick is a pretty old town, for the US, and I walk over 18th century paths to get from my home to my office. I love walking to work and back, even in single digit cold. I gave us both a break tonight, and shopped for supper in the car with an "erkaeltet" cg in tow (that means he has a bad cold and I dragged him out of the house just for the change of pace).

Walking back from my 19th century office building (complete with baroque semi-functional radiators and rattly rope sash windows which let in freezing breezes) over wavy brick paths, watching steam boil from grates on houses and dryer vents, I thought back to those TV shows, my first days in Indianapolis, and my experience down in the Southernmost southwestern state.

I never really had a sense of perspective about where I was. Like early Europeans, and every uneducated people, I assumed that the world orbited around Texas. I was puzzled by Christmas cards with pictures of snow on them. I realized that it must snow somewhere where lots of people lived, to make that the cultural assumption. Meanwhile, I might get to wear jeans on Christmas, or one of my three nice sweaters, if it was below 40F, which was rare.

Little did I know, that Winter really kicks into gear AFTER Solstice. My senses are tuned to the cycles of day and night (I can't listen to atmospheric music with daytime birds at night, it's too disturbing!) and to the seasons.

In Bavaria, we settled in for the "long winter's night" sometime around Thanksgiving, and didn't stir until Easter. Given that so many pagan traditions originated in this area of Europe and further North, the dates on our modern calendars of spring (Oestre) summer (Midsummer's Eve), fall (Halloween/All Hallow's) and winter Solstice (now Christ's Mass in the West) begin to make sense to me. They never did, before. Spring began after March 15, and Fall showed up around Sept 30. Spring meant days in the mid to high 80F, and Fall meant days below 90F. Days above 100F could happen in February. And did.

Lest you think that I assumed that Middle Age peoples thought everything orbited around (yet undiscovered) Texas, I mean to say that every un-evolved being assumes that the world orbits around themselves. We are all subject to a portion of this narcissism, for instance, I assume that people read my blog.

In this new place, every day is something to be puzzled at. I had no idea, it could get this cold, this close to the ocean! Goes to show you what I know about the Eastern Seaboard.

I'm enjoying learning. I've always read about this area, and I'm enjoying being here. Just a little chilly..
At least I own more sweaters, and my down jacket still fits and is wonderful warm.

I'm having big fun with my Mad Bomber hat..

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I knew, when I started this blog, that it would work as a kind of scrapbook for our travels.
I find myself just reading it as a trip back through time.

Here in Maryland, there is a light dusting of snow, and the temperatures are taking a serious dive into the negatives over the next couple of days.

My mind is wandering towards spring and garden plans!

But first, I'd like some REAL snow!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Google Wants to Trademark Googling, no Other Trademarks Important

Google is failing miserably at its "Don't Be Evil" pledge. 
I practice a copyrighted form of bodywork (for humans, not for cars) for which I am obliged to use a Registered Trademark. 
Google came through with an exception for a substitution I came up with (R) but seems unable to come up with an exception for ®. 

I presume it's because of too many spammers substituting the ® for letters in Viagra, but any human who reads my ad will realize that I will never make as much money as that product. 

Google is participating in knee-jerk censorship of ads I am paying them to show!
Why not just charge 10 times as much for spam-related ads, and pay actual humans to read them?
One of them might actually read the organizational verbiage I sent to justify my use of ®... 

I did save the charts showing that I am paying about $1 a day for ads that are showing less than once per day.. 

Therefore, I ask you, dear businessperson:
Why should you pay Google for ads, when you can get the keywords right with your text, and register with search engines instead FOR FREE?

Oh, by the way.. AdWords is listed as a service with a ™... that seems to be acceptable. 

Change the motto to "Be Evil, it's Fun!" and get it over with, Google. 
Just don't expect me to let you pick my pocket on the way. 

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I'm getting the message not to hide my light under the bushel basket. It's sort of embarrassing and amusing and I guess it's been coming for a while. 

I come from modest people. I come from a place where we've never been better than anyone else, and, when we were, we promptly screwed it up. 

I got an immense compliment from a trauma nurse, a great silver bear of a woman who could break me (yes, she makes me look dainty) in half in a moment. 

She pointed to me, she called me brave, humble and.. probably some other nice things. It was about a client I brought to the class, who needed the greater focus of the art upon him. He was paralyzed by pain, and now he is playing soccer with his kids. 

Nothing matters more to me about him, than that. I'm not working with him, but I did work to get him here. 

This woman is my client in the class, and I am striving to meet her. I've had some worthy opponents, and I am just glad to be working WITH this one.  

My inferiority complex, in the class, is gone. 

This is what J gave me, when she called me out. 

I'm good at what I do, and I try to be good about it. 
That's enough. 

Thursday, January 08, 2009

I'd love to say that the routine was that I walked to work and back, gardening in between. In fact, the weather has been disgustingly cold and icky, alternating between freezing rain and snow. I'll walk the 10-15 minutes to my office in this, but I won't ask my cg to do that, so I usually have him drive the car the 1.25 miles to his work.

The turbo on his artificial hip has kicked in (he is outpacing me on hikes again because I have gotten so GD fluffy!) and he can do it in half an hour. But cold is bad for those crunchy joints of his, so I actually encourage him to drive. 

Meanwhile, I just can't burn enough calories, walking to work. I have resorted to driving Chuck to work, hitting the machines, and then driving back home so I can walk to work! How insane is that? (insane like someone wanting to lose 6 kilos..)

This weekend I am attending the Advanced Training at the Claymont, so I had to load my stuff into the car anyway. Parking in downtown Fredneck is a total PITA, it's actually easier to walk. I parked way at the end of Baker Park by my office, and walked out there with lighter things before bringing the car around and over one-way streets to get the table, bench and other things in. 

It feels great to work out. I'm at my best when I'm in the gym every day. 
Good time to remember it, after a year of surgeries, injuries, and general crappiness. 

Sunday, January 04, 2009

 I am homesick for the places we have been.
We are still having fun. 

Doesn't mean we don't miss each and every place we've been, want to be, or haven't been yet.

It's a big kitchen, welcome!

I'm sitting in a brand new kitchen with paperwhites and a budding amaryllis in the window. During the day, light streams in on the oak floor and illuminates every bit of dreck on the white composite counters. German lace drapes the window over the sink, where my DAR legacy crystal bits catch the sun in sparks and glimmers.  It's dark now, only passing cars and streetlights in our almost downtown neighborhood streamer by the windows. 
The light little Ikea drawer table is cluttered with assorted votive holders and unpacked crummage.  Dinner simmers on the ceramic-top island stove. 
Neither one of us has ever had a refrigerator with an ice maker. We do now. 

People keep asking "Aren't you glad to be back in the US?" as if criminally negligent, incompetent driving, fast food and unwalkable suburbs are some pinnacle of culture. 

They also ask if I miss Germany.. 
Na ja, kann die Leute nichts hoeren, weil mein Herz gerissen ist..

Meanwhile, here we are, and we have both made do with far, far less. 

And we've both had our own kinds of homesickness, for most of our lives. 

I think I'm back on my blog! The multiple moves played havoc with my password. 
I sneaked in through my old friend David's account. Thanks David!! You never stop being a good friend. :-)
Yes, I have been pretty ambivalent about it, but some friends (Hi Peter) said they missed it.. and it is nice to be able to update people and ramble on about whatever, practice writing and editing, and just generally get the bugs out. 

Coming up next.. An update!