Saturday, October 18, 2008

October notes

Andy and I went up to the lake for an overnight, and driving back, saw this in Western Berkshire County! A Democratic farmer!

October 18

Lovely reading at the Ardsley (New York) United Methodist Church (“My Boy Elroy.”) It was a real church supper with pot luck deliciousness, an apple theme (“Apples for Appalachia”), and today they’re having a sale of crafts from Eastern Kentucky with sisters from the Mt. Tabor Monastery.

The event felt at once like an Ethical Culture supper and also for me like the First Baptist Church of Shinnston, West Virginia when I was growing up. Sister Kathleen talked about Mountaintop Removal and knows Silas House. I had been vaguely expecting an affluent upscale bunch, and I’m sure some of the Methodists there are plenty affluent, but at least for this meeting in this church basement, there was a terrific homey-ness, a diversity of race and ethnic group, and a wonderfully genuine interest in sharing Appalachia, learning about Appalachia, helping the Appalachians who need help.

And it was fun to have Andy with me, too. I usually do these writer events alone, but he was a good sport in all ways, had fun appreciated the food.

And those Methodists know how to eat! Incredibly succulent pork roast and roast potatoes, several kinds of Waldorf salad, lasagne, beans carrots– apple crisp with ice cream for dessert.

October 13

Bill Higginson, poet and haiku guru died on October 11, 2008. See obituary and one of his websites. There are several obituaries on various blogs if you Google his name. I didn't know him well, but he was an important member of the New Jersey literary community for many years, and a teacher with the New Jersey Writers project. Lovely man, contributed to my newsletter a few months ago, just because I asked.

October 12, 2008

Well, I got off my newsletter and finished reading Obama’s Dreams from My Father , which gave me a very strange sensation–is it possible that we might have a president who can write a graceful sentence, and more to the point, has an inner life? An interest in his own personal past, a desire to explore other people, other cultures? Was once a community organizer? Has a father who was African and a mother who was from Kansas?

It seems too heady a possibility, just the phrase, "a president with an inner life"– now, I believe all human beings have inner lives, but recent presidents, even someone intelligent like Bill Clinton, have run from that part of themselves full speed. At least for the time it took him to write his first book, Barack Obama did the opposite. The book ends, by the way, with his wedding, which he uses as a symbol of coming together--many nationalities, many religions, his Kenyan sister and brother as well as his white mother and half-Indonesian sister, Michelle's South Side Chicago family. Touching and inspiring, and a neat closing to his book.

And now-- Obama's lead is narrowing, and I had a brief conversation with my recently deceased cousin’s widow in which she listened in dead silence as I said the usual things about William Ayers having done some despicable things, but having also paid his debt to society (although he never did jail time), working as a college teacher, education reformer, etc., and mainly that Obama was eight years old at the time of the Weatherman implosion. She watches television and goes to church. Education by Fox News.

But my mother voted by absentee ballot! And she's an 89 year old Obamagirl, bless her heart.

And yet, part of me says, we don't deserve thoughtful presidents. Presidents don’t agonize over the meaning of life.

My most realistic assessment is that the Democrats CAN win, but that it is going to be much closer than it has been in the last few days, that the attack via William Ayers is doing damage, racism is still alive out there. Karl Rove's slimy nastiness thrives in these last weeks before the election.

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