A little of everything
Posted on July 13, 2010
I always feel compelled to start a blog post by reminding people that these posts are hardly profound and often reflect whatever I happen to be thinking about at the time. You can surely find other good things to do with your time, but if you find yourself mildly interested these ramblings, here you go:
1. Spain over the Netherlands. I was rooting for Spain all the way and it was fun to not be on the side of the tough, grind it out with physical play team (the thuggish Netherlands, in this case). I was a Bruins fan when the Canadians under Guy LeFleur skated beautifully, made crisp passes, and played with flair. The Bruins were scrappers and fighters and played the game in the corners. My Celtics were the ones who clotheslined Kurt Rambis in 1984 and took down Kobe in 2008, while the Lakers were faster, showy, and more entertaining in both years. No apologies for my Boston teams, but in this World Cup Final it was nice for a change to be on the side of the team that played with grace and fluidity and elegance.
2. Speaking of the Lakers and Celtics, I lost a terrible bet on the Finals. It cost me $200 and I have to wash the other person’s car andI have to wear a Lakers shirt to work one day. I paid the money, but have yet to fulfill the other two parts of the debt. The shirt will just about kill me and I will do it on a day when I can stay in my office from morning until night, sneaking home in the dark when no one will actually see me.
3. My blog post about Father’s Day and gardening elicited a lot of lovely e-mails from others remembering their dads and their gardens. Now fully into summer, we are delighting in the first offerings of our garden. Lettuces that actually have flavor, snap peas sweet as candy, and mint, basil, and rosemary that I’ve been using in my cooking these days. My modest little garden (there are some mastergardeners at SNHU) has won me over. There is something almost therapeutic about pulling weeds after work, pruning plants, and getting dirt under one’s fingernails. I worked construction every summer since I was a little kid (I think it was my parents’ cheap alternative to summer camp), started my own landscaping business in high school, and paid my way through college building decks and doing roofing. Not to romanticize hard physical work in brutal weather ( think last week’s heat), but there is something infinitely more satisfying and “connected” when one can stand back at the end of the day and see the work accomplished and the progress made. I like my garden for giving me a small reminder of that joy.
4. Speaking of growing up, Charlie Pierce had a wonderful piece in the Sunday Globemagazine about his Catholicism. He describes growing up in the Boston area (we are about the same age, I think) where everyone went to an ethnically identified church. We had the Italian church (Sacred Heart) and the French Church (St. Joseph’s) and the Irish Church (St. Mary’s) and so on. If asked, we might tell someone “I live on the South Side and go to St. Josephs’s. That simple 11-word sentence spoke volumes about one’s class, ethnicity, religion, and education. Going back to Pierce’s article, he stakes out a religious stance to which I deeply resonate and his tone (personal, funny, humane, commonsensical) is a refreshing relief from the shrill rigidity of the atheist and fundamentalist champions who seem to dominate the debate over religion these days. Read it at http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/magazine/articles/2010/07/11/what_i_believe/ if you are interested.
5. While on a religious theme (yes, this is a sort of stream of consciousness blog post), I am reading Roberto Bolano’s By Night in Chile (thank you, Andrew Martino). It’s the deathbed confession of a priest that explores the relationship of the Church to power, government, the elite, and more. More soon (it’s only 130 pages). Also reading Empire of the Summer Moon (I always have one fiction and one non-fiction book going at the same time), S, C. Gwynne’s history of the Commanches and the remarkable story of their last great leader, Quanah. In describing the Commanches early defeat of the Spanish Gwynne writes:
The fight took place entirely on the Indians’ terms. The Commanches did not defeat a Spanish army on a broad field of battle in a single, final combat, or see its imperial ranks reeling in inglorious retreat across the Rio Grande. Massed armies in ceremonial formations fighting pitched battles on open ground were not the way of the American West. Instead there were raids and counteraids and a sort of bedouin warfare people would later call guerrilla, conducted by small, mobile forces in a gigantic landscape that swallowed human beings as though they had never existed. What happened to the Spanish at the hands of the Commanches was not conventional military defeat but a century and half of brutal, grinding aggression that soaked their northern frontier in blood and left them, ultimately, with an empire emptied of meaning.
Does that sound hauntingly like Afghanistan today?