Saturday, December 31, 2011

One Person's Checkroom From the Year 2011: Things Lost and Things Found

The found photo of my father.

As the years go by, I've begun to think of each year as a large Lost and Found checkroom, where things turn up that have been missing and from which other things go missing, perhaps to turn up in another year, perhaps to vanish forever.

Above is something I found this year: a photograph of my father I had never seen before--a picture of him lost for at least four decades.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

To Whom We Owe so Much: Even Our Pursuit of Happiness

That's Lady Mary there on the sled with me as the sun comes out after the snowstorm in Denver. Hard to spot her in her snuggle bunny suit.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Just wanted my friends to see at least some of the Col's family on Christmas morning in snowy Colorado. Fire on the hearth. Blessings galore. Sled in the snow.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Once Upon a Christmas Birthday ...

 One memorable Christmas Evethe silly knit cap was from me and Sis bought Dad a toy helicopter--which I believe he has just launched (with a blow pipe) into the rafters.

December 22, 2011 (Earth time)

Dearest Dad;

Today is your birthday and though I realize time is no longer a concern for you, we still have to slog along down here by the calendar and the clock. So, when December 22 rolls around, I always think of you--well, I always think of you anyway, but on 12/22 I think of you more often.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Maybe I Should Not Have Read That Book ...

Part of the apricot orchard the covers the ground between our City Hall and our Police Station. You and I see this and say, wow that's pretty. Someone else sees it and exclaims (as they do in a recent city brochure) "Eighteen Acres of Opportunity!"

It is curious how one book can resonate so differently with the same reader at different times in her life. I first read How the Irish Saved Civilization on a long business trip across the Atlantic, and I found it so witty and diverting I didn't even scowl back at the surly flight attendants.

Cahill's premise, that Irish monks laboring away in scriptoria saved the Great Books of the Greco-Roman world while Europe was awash in manuscript-burning barbarians, may be debatable. But he makes such a delightful case for it, it sounds like it ought to be true.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Serfs Don't Coming Hanging 'round My Door!

Drawing by John Tenniel from the 1868 edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll, from my own collection. 

"The Queen had only one way of settling all difficulties, great or small.  'Off with his head!' she said, without even looking round." Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Rob Long (who didn't write Alice in Wonderland, by the way, we'll get to that in a minute) is a very funny writer whose credits include "Cheers." He is also a conservative who produces biting, laugh-out-loud satire for the political magazine National Review.

That's why I was surprised to read a serious Rob Long piece [National Review November 14, 2011] in which he focused--almost to his chagrin--on what he called "the kernel of truth" in Occupy Wall Street.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Invasion of the Body Snatchers in my Old Home Town

What a pretty orchard it is. Tell it adios. The suits want it plowed under.

In my hometown we have an ill-mannered, fat lady mayor who always reminds everyone at each city council meeting that she got her MBA in Marketing at Stanford.

I used to have a high opinion of Stanford until I found out they gave out MBAs in Marketing.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Those New City Sidewalks? Gosh--They Sure Don't Look Like a Million Dollars

Our new, seven-figure sidewalks after just a few months of use.

We had new sidewalks installed in downtown Los Altos this past summer--which surprised a lot of people since we had new sidewalks installed just ten years ago and the ones we had looked really nice.

Some of the stone benches even had wonderful tromp l'oeil paintings on them by acclaimed local artist Jan Meyer.  Looking at these new one--I sure miss the old.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

"To Secure The Blessings of Liberty For Themselves and Their Posterity ..."

Pearl Harbor survivors Ted Ivey of Cupertino, California at left, and Warren Upton at the Moffett Field Museum's reception honoring the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day. The photo is by artist Anna Jacke.

A crowd of more than seventy five people stopped by the Moffett Field Historical Museum, Wednesday, December 7, 2011, for a reception and art exhibit in remembrance of the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day. Among those present, were five special guests who on that day were young men in uniform serving on ships and at bases around that famous anchorage.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Art and Free Expression on The Seventieth Anniversary of the Attack on Pearl Harbor

The Roy Chapmans on Christmas morning, 1941. The winter darkness seems to mirror the mood of my grandmother Mary, my grandfather Roy, and my father's sister, Helen. Only family friend David, whom the Chapmans were caring for because his father had been called up, seems to be excited about Christmas. My father, along with most soldiers that year, did not get Christmas leave.

America awoke to terrible news on this day seventy years ago. The Japanese had bombed our Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. Thousands of sailors and soldiers were dead.

My father was already in uniform on that day.  His reserve unit had been called up in July, 1941 because President Roosevelt knew this day might come.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Of The People, By the People, For the People?

Downtown Los Altos, California, summer 2011.

In my little hometown, we've been living a construction nightmare for a year. Based on the letters to our local paper, the Los Altos Town Crier, the majority of our citizens have been mystified, then angry, to see every downtown intersection torn up during the past twelve months.

This is partly because our city installed new sidewalks and benches downtown just ten years ago. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

An Amazing Tale For Our Time--Two Centuries Old and As Modern as Today

I picked this book up in a Dublin shop and I couldn't put it down. Read Wedlock, by Wendy Moore and your jaw will drop and stay there as you read this true tale in which the victim finally--with the help of a small cadre of servants--prevails over her abuser.

Even today, one of the worst things that victims in abusive relationships must face--whether it is a child with an abusive parent, or a person with an abusive spouse--is how little credence the rest of the world places in that person's suffering. We just don't want to believe that the nice man down the street has a layer beneath the one we daily see--and that in this underside of his life he is very frightening.