Saturday, October 20, 2018

These Are Not Normal Times

These Are Not Normal Times

     I have written this blog for over ten years.  I have written about dogs, about seasons, about books and always with an eye towards lifting up, towards celebration and beauty, towards Love.  If these were normal times, I would happily be writing about those things once a week at least, just as I have in the past, for they are just as important as ever.  These are not, however, normal times.

     Jamal Khashoggi was a journalist for the Washington Post, a permanent resident of the United States who fled Saudi Arabia in 2015.  He criticized the Saudi government for many things, particularly the bombs they are dropping on the people of Yemen.  On October 2nd he was seen on CCTV entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents related to his planned marriage.  He was soon followed by a fifteen member Saudi hit squad who dismembered him with a bone saw while he was still alive.  His Apple watch recorded the whole thing.  This was his punishment for criticizing the government.

    The night after this report came out our “president” held another one of his “rallies”, this time in the state of Montana.  Before his cheering, red-hatted crowd he praised the Montana congressman who is running for re-election, for assaulting a reporter, calling the congressman “my kind of guy”.  He now calls the Saudi government’s explanation of Mr. Khashoggi’s murder “credible”.  That explanation?  That the reporter died in a “fist fight” during an interrogation.  (Who brings a bone saw to a fist fight?)

     Evangelical leader, Pat Robertson, tells his followers (please note I say “his” followers, not followers of Christ) that he agrees with the president.  “We can’t risk a 100 billion dollar arms deal”, he tells us.  Because really, there’s nothing more Christian than selling billions of dollars worth of arms to a fundamentalist Islamic government, is there?

     This is not the America I grew up in.  When the president of the United States refuses to stand against totalitarian regimes, when he “loves” the North Korean dictator, and practically worships the Russian one, while all the while he denigrates and insults our allies,  calls the press the "enemy of the people" and any news that does not flatter him "fake", we  no longer have a leadership that respects American values or even knows what they are.  When so-called Christian leaders stand shoulder to shoulder with this despicable man, we have lost any semblance of moral leadership.  This man and his actions should be repudiated and condemned from every pulpit in the country tomorrow morning.

    We have a chance, a chance, to stop the bleeding of our once respected country and that is on November 6th.  I will be voting a straight Democratic ticket this year.  I cannot respect any Republican candidate, or any Republican, who stands for what that party represents today.  I refuse to relegate a great America to a memory.  I refuse to lay my values at the feet of greed, mendacity and evil.  If you feel the same, I ask you to please vote on November 6th.  Please.   

     If this is not the sort of post you would normally expect to find here, so be it. As I said at the outset:  These are not normal times.

Monday, October 1, 2018

London Books

London Books

My impressions of London were formed by turning the pages of books.  So much so that when I traveled there for the first time, years ago, I expected all the streets to be as leafy as Cherry Tree Lane, the fog as thick as outside the sash windows of 221B Baker Street and each morning as "fresh as if issued to children on a beach".  I wanted to look for the shadow of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens and inspect every wardrobe in every hotel room in the hopes of finding an entrance to Narnia.  And you know what?  I have never once been disappointed.  As Helene Hanff put it in her book 84 Charing Cross Road, "I remember years ago a guy I knew told me that people going to England find exactly what they go looking for.  I said I'd go looking for the England of English literature, and he nodded and said: 'It's there'."

I just returned from another trip to London, a personal reward for finishing an important task I'd set for myself and one that has kept me away from this blog for awhile.  I traveled solo, which is something I'd recommend for every person to do every now and then.  The solo traveler gets to do precisely what he or she wishes every minute of the day, whether it be skipping lunch, walking too far and too long, or spending inordinate amounts of time in book shops, all of which I regularly did.

London in the month of September is just about as good as it gets.  The air was suitably crisp in the mornings ( I could wear a sweater which is increasingly, sadly, becoming a rare September occurence in the changing climate of my home town ), and the afternoon sky was the colour of flow blue china.  I wandered through Kew Gardens in the early morning hours.  I went to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre.  I attended evensong at Westminster Abbey and roamed the state rooms of Buckingham Palace.  And I spent long, totally blissful, hours at John Sandoe Books.

I thought some of you just might like to see the books I brought home.  And yes, it took a special sort of creativity to pack all these in my one carry-on bag for the return trip and, yes, that bag was heavy.  Extremely so.  But boy, was it worth it.  I hope you enjoy browsing through my choices.

1.  Edith Sitwell
by Richard Greene

2.  The Diary of a Nobody
by Weedon Grossmith and George Grossmith

3.  Manderley Forever
A Biography of Daphne du Maurier
by Tatiana de Rosnay

4.  A Talent to Annoy
Essays, Journalism & Reviews
by Nancy Mitford

5.  The Pursuit of Love
by Nancy Mitford

6.  Love in a Cold Climate
by Nancy Mitford

7.  Wigs on the Green
by Nancy Mitford

8.  The House in Little Chelsea
by Clare Hastings

10.  Transcription
by Kate Atkinson

11. Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret
by Craig Brown

12.  Lethal White
by Robert Galbraith

13.  Nina Campbell 
Interior Decoration/Elegance and Ease
by Giles Kime


Also, for all of you who might be wondering about Andrew, he's now ten months old and seventy-something pounds.  Here's a little video of him reveling in his favourite activity, flying.
You can see more of London of Andrew, and many various and sundry things on my Instagram page.