Wednesday, July 31, 2013

We Met in Nursery School

In the fall of 1949 fifteen little girls walked cautiously into the large stone house that had been converted into Miss Zara's School.  We were the new nursery class.  We would be the graduates of 1957 as Miss Zara only taught through 6th grade. Our class room was over the garage.  We took our naps there on rugs laid out in a row. In the years to come we learned many wonderful things.  Games that are now banned as too dangerous especially dodge ball and monkey bars.  French.  Not just the language, but how to set a table properly (in French) and how to hem-stitch a table cloth.  We had music and art.  And at the end of our fourth grade year, Miss Zara retired.  We band of dodge-ballers entered Springside School, K - 12 with larger classes, still all girls.  Our nursery school gang integrated and went on to graduate in a class of 37.  Six women from the class of' '63 are headed to Alaska for a celebration of  the 50th anniversary of our graduation.  We will kayak, and talk, and beach comb and talk, and sit by a fire and talk.  We will see glaciers, whales, bears, eagles and glimpses of each other when we were young.  At the end of a week we will go our separate ways again - enriched.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Good Read

There has been much written about the trial of George Zimmerman.  Perhaps you did not see an essay by the distinguished scholar, Shelby Steele.  Mr. Steele is a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institute. He has written and spoken widely about race in America.  Among his many associations, he serves on the Board of the American Academy for Liberal Education.  You can go here to read his biography.  His essay, "The Decline of the Civil-Rights Establishment" appeared first in the Wall Street Journal on July 22.  I cannot link from the Journal, so I found it on another site.  Do not be dissuaded by the publication - read the essay.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

She Served The Marines With Highest Honor

Today is the 60th anniversary of the end to the Korean War.  33,000 American service men and women lost their lives in this war.  In recognition of one of the decorated war heroes a statue was dedicated yesterday at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia.  The memorial is of Reckless, a small Mongolian  mare who was attached to the 75 mm Recoilless Rifle Platoon of the 5th Marines.  Her job was to carry ammunition for the rifles.  She served most heroically during the Battle of Outpost Vegas, one of the bloodiest of the war. In a single day she made 51 trips, alone, under heavy enemy fire, across no-man's-land and up the 45 degree slope of a mountain to the rifle firing posts.  She carried 9000 pounds up the mountain, and wounded soldiers back down to safety.  She was wounded twice, but keep walking, 35 miles before the day was over.  She was promoted to Staff Sergeant and retired to Camp Pendleton where she sired several foals.  Her numerous Military decorations  include two Purple Hearts.  Here is a short video about Reckless.  Think of her today.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Sheep Camp

Actually, sheep, cattle and duck camp.  Perhaps more accurately, stock herding camp.  There are 35 campers.  I am one.  All adults. We all have at least one dog.  Some have 5 or 6.  One woman brought along six four week old puppies with their mother since they could not be left at home alone.  There are about 140 dogs at the sheep farm where camp is underway.  They are the herding breeds: Heelers, Australian Shepherds, Corgis, Kelpies, Bearded Collies, Shelties, and, in large majority, Border Collies.  The dogs work stock with passion and intensity.  Work is their reward.  Toys and treats play no part in their training.  When it is not their turn, the dogs watch others work.  During the lunch break the dogs sleep in crates and small portable pens.  The humans wear name tags. I am glad that camping is no longer exclusively for the young.  As with children away at summer camp, we are the essence of indulgence.    We may not be cannon-balling off a dock, but when our dog goes out wide around the sheep and fetches them back to us, we are getting the same thrill.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

And One Got Away

Picture the scene.  The edge of a forest opening onto a lush plain.  Grasses blowing in a light breeze.  A large duck-billed creature grazing slowing along a stream. And then the attack.  A fierce predator bears down on the gentle giant.  Out of the forest bursts the mighty Tyrannosauarus rex, 40 feet of muscle and jaw pounding forward.  This powerful predator could tear 500 pounds of flesh in a single bite.  The  Hadrosaurus takes flight.  The chase is on.  The smaller Hadrosaurus has neither armor nor weapon for defense.  T. Rex dives for the kill.  Hadrosaurus cuts to the side just as T. Rex's jaw snaps shut.  On this day, Hadrosaurus is lucky.  Only a flesh wound , and a T. Rex tooth lodged deep in the tail.  70 Million years later the tooth is still there, fossilized within a bony growth showing that Hadrosaurus survived.  All of this is revealed in an excavation from the sandstones of South Dakota.  This new evidence is compelling. It is the first demonstration of T. Rex as prey-slayer.  The research team can easily imagine the failed kill.   T. Rex had been thought to be a carrion scavenger.  Not any more.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Dog Days of Summer Part 2

After lunch today I take our puppy to the dog park.  The park is a feature of our retirement community.  There is no one there when we arrive.  I sit on the grass in the shade and try out toys from the park stash.   Our puppy is five months old - all legs.  He prefers the old fire hose, flattened and sewn into a rough triangle. Second choice is a tennis ball.  He fetches some, and then lies down to chew.  I lie next to him and look up through the trees.  I am a child again.  I am very lucky.  My childhood memories embrace me.  I think about my own children who are raising their families now.  I hope it is the same for them when they grow old.  No one comes to the park while we are there.  An hour passes.  The puppy is tired.  We walk home.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Do You Know An 11 Year Old Girl?

I do.  Think of the one you know while you read this.  In Chile, an 11 year old girl was repeatedly raped by her stepfather.  She is now pregnant - 14 weeks.  Abortion is illegal in Chile regardless of the circumstances. She is now in the national limelight.  Think of this young girl.  Abused in her own home.  Forsaken by her mother who did not protect her.  And now the object of nationwide debate.   Pressured for a comment she has said that having the baby will "be like having a doll in my arms".  The Chilean President Sebastian Pinera praises her for "depth and maturity. A member of Parliament- a man - opines that from the moment of a woman's first period she is ready to procreate.  There is apparently no political will to change the law. No political courage to protect the child. The child's doctors impotently declare the pregnancy high-risk.  The days pass.  What value is protected by this travesty?   Do you remember the song "Send in the Clowns"?  Don't bother, they're here.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Heading East

I am heading out in the morning to visit my brother and sister-in-law at their summer camp in the Pocono Mountains.  These are lovely, lush hills and valleys in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  They have been a summer retreat from Philadelphia, New York and other east coast cities since the 19th Century.  The Poconos and the Catskills just to the north are part of the Allegheny formation.  They are not mountains by our western standards but gentle sloped hills.  The highest Pocono summit is North Knob rising 2,700 feet above sea level.  Three rivers drain the Poconos, the Lehigh, Lackawaxen, and the mighty Delaware - all together almost 200 miles of waterway.  We will sit and talk.  We may swim or hike or paddle a canoe, but for sure, we will sit and talk.