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Archive for July, 2009

Early this morning, it was cool outside, overcast, with a little heaviness in the air. According to the weather forecast, the humidity was about 93% with a slight chance of a thunderstorm. A slight breeze whispered through the leaves of the elm tree sheltering the front porch. Because of some painful blisters on my heels, caused by taking a long walk in bad shoes over the weekend, wearing shoes would have been torture. So, no bike ride or walk today. Instead, I pulled out a folding chair and a book, and settled down to watch and hear the neighborhood wake up.

Crickets provided a steady background rhythm to various bird songs and whistles, as did the noise of drivers heading to work in their cars and trucks on the nearby main street. Hammering sounds somewhere down the street, along with the constant screech of a powerful saw. The hoo—whee—hoo—hoo—hoo of an owl in another yard that continued for more than ten minutes at regular intervals.

I watched a squirrel race up to the perfect spot where a large branch joined the trunk of another tree. It perched there a minute, crunching its way into some kind of nut, then, startled in some way, raced down the trunk onto the grass and scampered quickly across the street to another more welcoming tree in another yard. Small black birds scratched and dug their way along the grass, searching for morning vittles, then all flew away as one.

Across the alleyway, a neighbor’s old Cadillac, black on the bottom and white on top, like an old saddle shoe, rested on its laurels—and a couple of soft tires, perhaps remembering better days and long, luxurious travels.

It looked like it was trying to remove itself from the sight next door—metal springs from a teenage daughter’s old daybed propped against the garage, along with lidless plastic trashcans sprawled awaiting a new fill-up. Considering how quickly the ivy grows here, they’ll probably disappear soon.

In my yard, orange trumpet flowers overflowed the fence. A young boy and his almost-teenage sister pedaled their red bikes down the street. They turned the corner and dogs began barking: “Hey, take us with you! We’re bored in this yard.”

The breeze picked up, rustling the leaves a little more. I felt a few tiny drops of rain, remembered the book I hadn’t yet opened, and decided it was time to go back into the house.

The cool morning turned into a hot day with no thunderstorm. I should take more time to appreciate these breaks from heat and humidity.

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I’ve been reading a rather chilling yet darkly comic novel by British writer Ben Elton, entitled “Blind Faith.” Taking place about 100 years in the future, after the Great Flood caused by global warming, the story concerns a world “where everyone knows everything about everybody. Where ‘sharing’ is valued above all, and privacy is considered a dangerous perversion. . .it imagines a post-apocalyptic society where religious intolerance combines with a sex-obsessed, utterly egocentric culture. In this world, nakedness is modesty, independent thought subversive, and ignorance is wisdom.”

It feels a bit strange to be reading this book while at the same time writing for Facebook and blogging, two of the things most prized, in fact, necessary and ordered by law in this new society. For example, here’s a short passage I just read, a conversation between Trafford and Cassius, two rebels against the system, regarding books:

“‘Almost anything that we might wish to read could be located on the net instantly and traced straight back to us. The internet was supposed to liberate knowledge but in fact it buried it, first under a vast sewer of ignorance, laziness, bigotry, superstition and filth and then beneath the cloak of police surveillance. Now, as you know, cyberspace exists exclusively to promote commerce, gossip and pornography. And, of course, to hunt down sedition. Only paper is safe. Books are the key. A book cannot be accessed from afar, you have to hold it, you have to read it.”

Is this beginning to sound just a little too close to home for comfort?


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