Thursday, September 28, 2006

A Walk in Webster Township

Today was my first hike with the International Neighbors Hiking Group. We started at the church on Webster Church Road, walked to Zeeb Road, up to a llama farm, and back to the church. On the way, we saw huge puff balls, and passed by a farm whose inhabitants love to draw murals on the sides of their buildings.

After the walk, the church's gardner -- a friend of the hike leader -- invited us to eat our sack lunches in the garden. From the picnic tables we enjoyed the view of her colorful flowers and vegetables. Her sweet potato plants spread down from their raised bed: the church has a relationship with people from Ghana, who love to cook and eat sweet potato leaves as well as the tubers. Unfortunately the weather has turned very cool, so it was not entirely comfortable to eat outdoors.

The boy scouts have a meeting place nearby. The gardner discovered that the scouts are happy to supply her with labor for building the garden. They have cleared some ground and made wooden raised beds that are thus accessible to visitors in wheel chairs and walkers.

The gardener said that few of the usual visitors are coming now that it's fall, so she offered herbs and flowers to take home. She gave me some marvelously scented basil. Several young women were also delighted with the flowers she gave them.

Here's one more picture by another member of the group:

Friday, September 22, 2006

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Kitchen and Bath Redo

New countertops, tile backsplashes, kitchen sink, stove, dishwasher, and bathroom faucets are virtually complete after almost two weeks of work and no cooking. The new dishwasher is running right this minute, as I have saved up the few dishes we have used during the down time (thoroughly rinsed, I assure you). It's very quiet. I know how to load it because it's just like Evelyn and Tom's dishwasher.

The new smooth-top stove, countertops, and tile backsplash:
The old stove (which wasn't working right) with old countertops etc:The new sink with space age faucet -- the tile color is actually blue with glass tile accents:

The old sink:The new faucets and new tile backsplash in the downstairs bathroom:
The old bathroom setup:

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Charles Lindbergh, Failed Hero

My bookclub recently discussed The Plot Against America by Philip Roth, which turns on imagined alternate history of the early 1940s. In the novel, instead of Roosevelt, Charles A.Lindbergh wins the presidential election of 1940. Like the author, the fictitious narrator of The Plot Against America is named Philip Roth, he was born in 1933, and he lived in Newark, New Jersey. The personal events of the book seem very much to mirror Roth's early life -- except, of course, those events that were caused by the book's fictitious revision of history. At the end of the book, the world snaps back into the historic flow of events: Roosevelt's presidency, America's role in World War II, and the Holocaust.

One subject of our discussion was the contrast between the future, when it was unknown, and our view of a known history that has happened already. Throughout the book, the narrator, "Philip," makes clear that his telling of the story occurs years later, probably as late as around 2000 when the non-fictitious author Roth wrote the book. This retrospective stand, of course, lines up with the reader's point of view. Explicitly and indirectly, we are made aware that the as events in the book take place, no one had to be aware of the fate of 6,000,000 Jews because, in fact, perhaps their extermination was not inevitable. By presenting an alternate reality that's worse than history, he also brings up the possiblity that there was a better possible future that also did not happen.

Evidently, the bookclub spent some time discussing the fictitious and the historical Charles Lindbergh. This is particularly interesting to me, because my mother was a senior in high school in May, 1927, when Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic and became a national hero. (Perhaps a hero like no other in our history.) And when his betrayal of America was also still an unknown possibility.

In going over my mother's high school scrapbook I found the above photo of Lindbergh in 1927: before he became a supporter and defender of Nazi Germany. It's pasted into her scrapbook opposite a name tag with a little model of his airplane and her photo. Her class motto, "Ad Astra: To the Stars," was quickly associated with Lindbergh's flight. What disappointments lay ahead of them!

My mother sometimes mentioned the excitement of hearing of Lindbergh's flight, and the hero worship of her classmates -- and also his later politics. So Roth's book especially speaks to me of the failure of that heroic Lindbergh who inspired my mother and her peers. Roth forces us to deal with this failure. When Lindbergh accepted Nazi honors, defended Hitler's policies, and tried to prevent us from entering the war in Europe, he failed America.

I have posted more pictures from my mother's album:
The Girl Graduate's Record Book

Friday, September 08, 2006

Puck of Pook's Hill

I just bought an old edition of this Kipling classic with a few illustrations by Arthur Rackham. The print quality is not high, but I like having a 100 year old copy of the book. I will read it soon. I last read it while in Cambridge, where it connected to my surroundings in an appealing way. I will add to this post as I rethink my reaction at that time.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Seasonal Changes

We've had a lot of rain this week, and just a few leaves are beginning to turn red. With the poet people say that April is the cruelest month, and somehow go all-over weepy because spring is so poignant.

Me? I think September is the cruelest. Intense summer beauty begins to turn dark and dismal. Leaves fall into ponds which then start to stagnate. I feel the threat of frost in the morning air. Before September ends we might have all the impatiens turning black, and no more fresh, local tomatoes and peaches. If we have a commitment to eating local, we will soon be back to apples, cabbages, carrots, and potatoes. I haven't been a schoolchild in years, but September still whispers: no freedom...

Also, it's allergy month. People say goldenrod isn't the culprit for most snifflers and sneezers. It blooms at the stuffiest moment of the year, as far as I'm concerned.

I wouldn't mind if the geese would fly away, though. I heard that there's negotiation to reduce the international protection of these flying pests. They stay here all year, dirtying up the grass in our nice park.