When we in Adams County take a shower, when we slather margarine on a piece of toast, or spray non-fat grease on a frying pan, we may be adding another family to the next caravan of Central American refugees heading north.
Mother often said if you really want to compliment the cook, clean your plate. Don’t just say it was good, then eat only one helping. I am clear proof that I took my filial duties seriously, and complimented her sincerely at every opportunity. Especially at Thanksgiving.
Give us a disaster and we’re there with help. Name it Harvey or Sandy or Marie and we break out the chainsaws to clean the fallen forests from our neighbors’ roofs. The call goes out to replenish the Red Cross and we hit our phones to text $5 or $10 to aid people we have never met.
Tuesday morning a young woman walked onto the YouTube campus in San Bruno, Calif., and shot three people before turning her 9mm pistol on herself. If one has been paying any attention to the news the past few weeks, two points should have stuck out.
The weapon was a pistol.
The shooter was a woman.
A deputy sheriff straps on a gun, pins his badge over his shirt pocket, and goes on patrol. Probably, he will return home to his family. Millions of law enforcement officers do the same thing every day.
It appears a bunch of rich kids from the nation’s safest county may be able to get the nation’s politicians to act. Having 17 of the classmates and teachers murdered in a school where such things were not supposed to happen had got ‘em pretty riled up.
Come spring, She Who Must Be Loved will have been making it easy staying away from tobacco for 17 years. Add the year we were dating, and I haven’t had a nicotine fix in nearly 18 years. Way less than that, though, since I’ve thought about it. Not seriously, but still …
The past few weeks of television coverage of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual proclivities likely will not do much to ameliorate the situation. It’s not like we have not been discussing how poorly some men treat women.
We love to see rich folks get their come-uppance. Weinstein has paid out millions of dollars to ensure his victims’ silence. We have watched with interest every time Bill Cosby’s name has crossed our electronic screen; he, too has “settled,” paying an accuser to forget anything happened. Bill O’Reilly has several times “settled” with accusers — the latest settlement was for $32 million — and then denied that anything happened. And multiple times each week — sometimes it seems almost daily — our local newspaper carries the story of someone who has abused women or children, or both. Mostly those passing through Adams County courts on their way the front page are men. Mostly, they don’t have the money of a Bill Cosby, or a Bill O’Reilly, or a Harvey Weinstein with which to pay off an accuser.
Our annual school tax check – about 75 percent of it goes to public schools – is on the dining room table. Yes, it’s mostly a school tax and, truth be told, a reasonable investment in our communities’ offspring. Still, it’s taxes, and it’s a large enough check to pay for a trip I’d like to take later this year.
Wednesday morning’s newspaper had a front page story about Darlene Brown earning more than $168,000 plus nearly $34,000 benefits for her role in providing housing to poor people. Clearly, those numbers were what the writer wanted readers to take away – he mentioned them several times – and in a county that considers $30,000 to be a pretty OK salary, those numbers are certainly worthy of note.
“In early spring 2008, two young bison bulls jumped a sagging three-string barbed wire fence separating Chihuahua, Mexico, from New Mexico in the United States. On both sides of the international line lay an unbroken grassland valley scoured almost bare by a prolonged drought, which announced itself meanly on the dusty hides stretched taught [sic] over bison bones. … Here is a landscape that has seen the birth of jaguars, the death of Spanish missionaries, the budding of Saguaro cactus, the persecution and dogged endurance of native peoples, and the footsteps of a million migrants recorded in the smoldering sands of the Devil’s Road.”
One of the principles I have offered my children and grandchildren has been that books have the power to take us places we might otherwise never visit. One such book is Krista Schlyer’s “Continental Divide.” In words and pictures gathered over several years, Schlyer, a Washington, D.C.-based environmental photographer and writer, takes us to this nation’s border with Mexico, and “The Wall.”
We like, for instance, the story of Romeo and Juliet, two young (some say about 15-year-old) lovers who got together in spite of their parents feud. Or maybe at least partially because of it; youth often does things just because the elders forbid it.
My favorite movie popcorn went up a buck. I didn’t mind that. Really! I normally attend the $5 show, and often I’m one of the few in the theater. Paying staff and electricity can’t be cheap, I figure, and I think the township gets a cut off every ticket, so why complain.
Then I started noticing the giant tubs that once were served rounded were about two or three handfuls from topped up. Of course, when you buy a giant tub of popcorn, the movie house offers a free refill (provided you don’t attend the late show, when the concession stand closes before the movie gets out and there is no one there to dispense the refill). But I don’t usually go to the late show, so I get two buckets of popcorn – one when I enter to eat with the movie, one on the way out to eat later, while watching Game of Thrones.
But I was taken aback the other day when my favorite dining-out partner and I went to our once-favorite sit-down, not quite fast food chain. The atmosphere is nice, the service friendly, and the prices not terrible. At least that was the case. Times, and servings have changed.
I was a substitute high school teacher in the late 1980s, occasionally in charge of a high school Social Studies class.
“How many of you think women’s lib started in your lifetime,” I asked one day. Except for a couple of students clever enough to suspect a trick question, all raised their hands. So I told them about Abigail.
Rep. Steve Scalise, third in the chain of command in the House of Representatives, two House staffers and two Capitol Police officers were wounded Wednesday morning, apparently by a guy from Illinois who didn’t like Republicans. The operative phrase is “didn’t like,” because police killed the shooter.
It’s OK to not like Republicans – or Democrats – but when we claim this isn’t the way we do things in this country, shooting people we don’t like, or people ostensibly on their side, should top the list. Unfortunately, it does not.
We were chatting over breakfast about that bridge in Atlanta that collapsed, closing a part of Interstate 85. One of the guys wondered whether that affected I-75, so we Googled the news reports, and were treated to detailed instructions such as:
From Peachtree, take the Cheshire Bridge Road, under Lindbergh Drive – or was it over Lindbergh Drive, under the Cheshire Bridge and across Peachtree … there were a bunch of other streets and roads mentioned. All of them, probably, of significance to the locals. If I were headed to Atlanta in the next week or so, I believe I would head somewhere else.