September 24, 2012

This & That

So the big event of last Thursday was the annual long bike ride. We've decided to permanently start from Spring Valley, Ohio, population 1250 (give or take 250) and travel south towards Oregonia, some 14 miles away.

On the way down I listened to an interview with biographer Robert Caro, who described the remarkably duplicitous LBJ. Johnson would, in the words of Robert F. Kennedy, lie "even when he didn't have to." After the sedentary car ride of an hour and ten minutes, I was ready to roll.

We started out on a surprisingly chipper and sunny day with a temp in the low-ish 70s. It wasn't long before that would change, but there's never a bad day for a bike ride unless it's too cold or too rainy and this would prove to be neither.

We went 12.5 miles and then turned around, planning to possibly do more mileage in Spring Valley but by the time we'd done 25 miles our fannies were sore.

We traveled by hill and dale, tree and farm. We traveled past picturesque houses sitting in resplendent isolation. We fed a shiny brown horse, getting her attention by waving plucked grass. We went on a bathroom tour: once at the ice cream shop in Spring Valley, once in Corwin seven miles later, another when back at Spring Valley. We soaked in the lush greenery, rode over plump acorns, and complained about the m.i.a. sun which appeared briefly only to flame out after about five minutes of riding. We appreciated the utter silence of deep country. We admired dams and diehards. We gazed longingly at white houses on forested hilltops and country porches that wrapped around. We fixed the sound coming from Mom's bike, a chain guard problem. We ate dinner in the same booth at the same place as last year.


Trying to hurry through the stages of the Kübler-Ross list in order to get to a calm acceptance of another four years of Obama. (Of course I should already be through it since didn't we always have an impending sense of doom with the Republican field when first constituted?)

The Columbus Dispatch poll, which is usually impressively accurate, says Obama wins OH 51-47. There's certainly a symmetry to it: eight years of Bush for the Left and now eight years of Obama for the right to swallow. Bush arguably represented the worst of the Right's values (i.e. war fever) and Obama the worst of the Left (spend till you're broke, abort like crazy). So we've gotten the worst of both worlds, not to be unduly negative or anything. But the die was cast when Obama won his healthcare vote.

Sadly, Bill Clinton's biggest lie of all was "the era of big government is over." The Europeans were likely right all along when they scoffed at how America has a huge government though its people were in denial about it. It's just incredulous to me that Ohioans don't see, for example, the huge difference between former governor Ted Strickland and current governor John Kasich. It's just night and day. But Strickland has hopes of regenerating his political career. He may be delusional or he may be reading correctly how poorly informed the republic is.

I just wish Romney or somebody find words persuasive enough to change the minds of some of the Obama leaners. Find some way to reach them. But then one can't, overnight, undo a lacking educational system, one that leans left and is light on economics and ethics.

There's definitely a sense that we're living off the Christian capital and it's getting spent down rapidly and the only (selfish) question is: "Will I get off this earth before things turn to hell?" As the Catholic cardinal of Chicago, Cardinal George famously said: "I expect to die in bed, my successor to die in prison and his successor die as a martyr in the public square."


Read about artist Marc Chagall over the weekend, including this said about him by critic Maurice Raynal: "Chagall interrogates life in the light of a refined, anxious, childlike sensibility, a slightly romantic temperament...a blend of sadness and gaiety characteristic of a grave view of life. His imagination, his temperament, no doubt forbid a Latin severity of composition."

Chagall writes poetically of his travels:
"There, in the south [of France], for the first time in my life, I saw that the rich greenness - the like of which I had never seen in my own country. In Holland I thought I discovered that familiar and throbbing light, light the light between the late afternoon and dusk. In Italy I found that peace of the museums which the sunlight brought to life. In Spain I was happy to find the inspiration of a mystical, if sometimes cruel, past, to find the song of its sky and of its people. And in Palestine I found unexpectedly the Bible and a part of my very being."
In the Holy Land he immersed himself in "the history of the Jews, their trials, prophecies, and disasters." I feel simpatico with that seeing how I grow more fascinated with the OT, especially in and after the time of the Babylonian exile.


This week was also affected by increasingly odd behavior from our dog Buddy. I headed downstairs after a shower one morning and shockingly found him atop the kitchen table standing taller than me. I helped him down but it bespeaks a sort of quiet desperation that he would go to such lengths seeking something as unpromising as paper. He eats church bulletins, advertisements and occasionally books. The day before yesterday I found he'd demolished Dean Koontz's memoir about his golden retriever titled "A Big Little Life". Likely jealous. Buddy'd eaten through the first ten or twenty pages. He also found an unopened tube of toothpaste and managed to eat some of that. Fortunately it wasn't the kind that has an ingredient dangerous to dogs. I tend to think it's boredom but that may be me projecting. I'd be bored if all I did was sleep all day and have only two small meals to look forward to. He's got the cat, but has no use for him.


To what shall I compare a fall day? In Cloudumbus I compare it to grimness crossed with exhilaration, a leaden sky crossed with a crisp cool wind. God says we're fresh out of the high holidays of summer, out of those mellow days graced with tropical temps and meadow'd expanse. We say goodbye to a sense of entitlement, the sense that we should be able to enter and leave our house or workplace without adding additional clothing. We say goodbye to the ribaldly lighted days on the patio, to the tomato plants growing like weeds. Now, from now on, all is gift. We head into the head wind of history.


A fascinating thing about Christ is how despite knowing human psychology better than anyone, he still represented himself as paradoxical. At times he is harsh and other times gentle. At times admonishing the sinner, other times saying, as he does in a recent gospel that God desires mercy, not sacrifice, despite the parable of the ten virgins and how five ran out of oil and were told at the door, "sorry, bad luck, the door is closed and you should've saved your oil."

The knee-jerk human reaction to hearing conflicting data is to listen to only what you WANT to hear. Thus many Republicans I know spout only polls showing Romney in the lead in the presidential race while with Dems they spout only polls showing Obama in the lead. Our human tendency is to gravitate towards that which makes us feel better. So it's interesting that Jesus knew that tendency and yet still offer a mixed message.


Nothing could be finer than to be in my recliner in the morning! (Or at dusk. Or anytime.) Yes giddy up and read your partner round & round!  It's time for the rich, invigoratin' prose of "The Bartender's Tale" or any and all of my books.  They feel like money to me and if the rich person's dream is to float in bed of money with fifties falling from the sky I feel similarly towards books, greedy for words, wanting to drown in a sea of them, to drink them in, to toss them in the air and let them fall on me.


William Luse said...

Tell Buddy to knock it off. He needs to live long and prosper. Cedar once chewed into a tube of sunblock, but somehow survived. He has a delicate little system.

Boredom, btw, is a reasonable surmise. If he's a smart fellow, he really does need to be kept occupied. Hard to do, though, I know.

TS said...

Alas Buddy's remarkable insensate to things I tell him.