We need more ice

​I’m sitting beside a stream a short distance from my home, lower, some people say, than is normal even for a normally hot August, which this August has not been. It’s been hot. July was the hottest month in the hottest year since records have been kept, and August is on track to eclipse July. In some places, it was hot enough to fry eggs on the sidewalk.

Some politicians say the world is not getting hotter, and if it is, it’s not the fault of humans, and if it is, well, we need the jobs. On the other hand, keeping those heat-making jobs means we can save buying frying pans and kitchen stoves.Read more

Olympic-grade cheering is tiring

Disk showing Olympics runnersI’ve been watching the Olympics with great dedication, and I’m very glad it’s almost over. I am tired, and I don’t know how much more I could take. I need about four years to recuperate.

My favorite sports are beach volleyball – the kind with only two players on each team; gymnastics – in particular the floor and parallel bars; and long distance running – except shorter distances are fun when Usain Bolt is leading, and smiling at the space his closest competitor would occupy if he was close enough.Read more

A fine kind of sorcery

Gettysburg ER entranceI was about to leave the house one afternoon this week, when I decided to mention to the Resident Nurse:

“I don’t feel right,” I said, “and I’ve been out of bed long enough I should have woke up by now.”

“My heart is sending Morse code like back in the days of black-and-white TV – a couple of quick beats, skip a few, another one, skip a couple more …”Read more

We are Ameri-cans

There is no hyphen on the American flagAs I listened to a news anchor this week talk about the hullabaloo surrounding a speech delivered by a Muslim whose son was killed in Iraq, I was struck by the way in which the parents of the lost soldier were identified: Muslim-American.

Much has been made of late about how divided is our country, and it occurred to me attaching a prefix to “American” sharpens the wedges. The now departed son was an American. He served in the American Army. He was quite possibly a hero, for reasons beyond merely his signing up to go fight, and die, for the rest of us. He happened to subscribe to the Muslim faith, as do a few million people around the world.

We humans are a tribal lot. We love to identify with a group. We include, within the boundaries of the U.S.A., Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Sikhs, and Atheists. We wear jeans to work, or ban them. We drive Fords and Chevys and Harleys and Hondas.

When I came to Gettysburg, I took up residence in Bonneauville, a town I soon discovered to be nonexistent – at least to the post office and  the Department of Motor Vehicles. When I went to get my Pennsylvania driver license, I put my address as Bonneauville 17325. The nice lady at the window, in a not quite so nice manner, questioned which was correct — Bonneauville, of which neither she nor her computer possessed knowledge, or 17325, which her computer said was Gettysburg.

A label can give us roots. In Maine, it was said to be a True Mainer one had to be at least seventh generation. I wrote about a farmer whose Maine origin went back to two brothers who had been paid for their Revolutionary War service with a deed to land near where I lived. In fact, the original land encompassed much of what had become, by the time I was writing, at least three towns.Read more