From the Diary of Samuel Pepys, (which is pronounced "peeps," by the way.) 25 December, 1665
Christmas Day. To church in the morning, and there saw a wedding in the church, which I have not seen many a day, and the young people so merry one with another; and strange, what delight we married people have to see these poor fools decoyed into our condition, every man and wife
gazing and smiling at them . . .
In times gone by it was the custom for former American Presidents to keep a low profile. The ex-Presidents were often men of great prestige and moral stature, and they knew that their words carried a lot of weight. Very rightly they did not undercut the incumbant President. Imagine Eisenhower issuing criticisms during the Cuban Missle Crisis. Unthinkable.
Recently, however, certain ex-Presidents have been voicing their dissents rather freely. Has this put President Bush on the spot? Perhaps just the opposite.
I imagine the Bush team sitting around the Situation Room as some risky military operation is about to begin. The plan is a good one, but even the best plans can go horribly wrong. The tension is hard to endure. Then a phone call comes in. "Clinton has just given a speech. He says we should fight terrorism by sharing our wealth with the Third World !" Everyone laughs and relaxes a bit. Maybe things are going to work out OK.
Now H-Hour nears. The waiting is unendurable. Paul snaps at Colin; Condi is biting her knuckles. Even W himself is getting twitchy around the eyes. Suddenly the Red Phone rings. With trembling hand Donald picks it up. Then, as he listens, he begins to smile. "Good news folks," he says, "It looks like the wind is really at our backs today. Jimmy Carter has just announced that our anti-terrorism strategy is totally wrong, and he would do it all differently!"
Thursday, December 27, 2001
7:52 PM Being a cabinetmaker is not the career I'd recommend as you search for wealth and applause. But it does have its special compensations. I get some treats that other folks never even dream of. There are pleasures for the nose, for instance. The smell of Sugar Pine being machined by power tools is out-of-this-world. Words are not enough: sweet, spicey, resinous. . . it's what incense should smell like but never quite does.
The grain and patterns in wood can be like visiting another world. Woodgrain is orderly, in a deep and mysterious way,with complex repeating patterns that are never exactly alike. Each step of the woodworking process brings the grain into better focus and reveals new subtleties.
I've been working with some Cherry plywood, making an entertainment center. One sheet looked bland, so I used it for the back surface of the insides of the cabinets. But as I've sprayed on dye, then a sealer coat of shellac, then lacquer, the most exciting patters have emerged. Ripply and silk-like and deep. My snapshot doesn't do it justice, but I wanted to share it with you. Click on the thumbnail to see it (48k).
My web gazette brings out the Ancient Mariner in me--I grab your arm and say, "You must look at this; you must listen !" And do you really listen, gentle reader? Or do you click away in haste? I have no way of knowing...
A noted wit remarked recently that she had all "the tickboxes on the Great Christmas List of Guilt and Stress" checked off. Fine, fine. Just Rub it in,Miz Solent. We haven't even mailed our Christmas cards yet.
Actually, I'm feeling no guilt at all. We never get this stuff done on time. Used to it. And I'm feeling good because I just popped the goose into the oven. The rest of the gang is off seeing Lord of the Rings, and the house will smell most appetizing when they return. Or maybe be full of smoke.
...But just as we started to move out seriously, with fusillades of stories about Vietnam analogies, and the futility of just chasing down terrorists without addressing why the world hates us, the Taliban and Al Qaeda started to collapse without warning. We came under fire ourselves. Huge shellbursts of cruel reality and vicious satire were exploding all around us, and dangerous facts were whizzing just past our ears, sometimes right in one and out the other..."
...The carnage might not have been so horrendous had these been fresh reporters, but many of them were already suffering battle fatigue from two previous disastrous campaigns: the eight-year war to convince the American people that Bill Clinton was a great president, and the more recent year-and-a-half futile struggle, lost decisively three months ago, to portray George W. Bush as an ineffective idiot...
There isn't much color in our garden just now. Just green and brown. (That's good of course, we could be looking out at a field of snow !) But there is always some oddball who won't march with the group. Right now it's a tropical Rhododendron, whose name escapes me. Click on the thumbnail to see it (117k).
Dawson has requested a better noun than Blogger. He has a point, the oggie word and its many cognates are beginning to be tiresome.
I might suggest scribbler, or perhaps scrivener or scribe. Or how about gazetteer? I like it. Perhaps it is too antique. But we could bring it back, pretend that it is a new cyber-locution. "Blogs are passé, they're just so boring, so 2001. The really cool cutting-edge people are writing gazettes."
So think about it Dawson. As for your plan to adopt the nom de plume of Frodo Bloggins, well, I'm just not sure.
My comrade Dawson referred to this as a "warblog," and has quagmired me into the crab wars, so I thought I'd put in something bellicose and unpacific. Harken to the words of Queen Elizabeth, who has ridden out alone among her soldiers at Tillbury, who are awaiting the coming of the Spanish Armada:
"My loving people, we have been persuaded by some that are careful of our safety, to take heed how we commit ourselves to armed multitudes, for fear of treachery. But I assure you, I do not desire to live to distrust my loving and faithful people. Let tyrants fear. I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safety in the loyal hearts and good will of my subjects; and therefore I am come amongst you, as you see, at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live and die amongst you all, to lay down for my God, and for my Kingdom, and for my people, my honor and my blood, even in the dust.
I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a King, of a King of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any Prince of Europe should dare to invade the borders of my realm; to which, rather than any dishonor shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your General, Judge and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field . . .
The men gave a mighty shout. At noon that day, as Elizabeth was at dinner with Leicester, word was brought that Parma intended to come out on the spring tide. She therefore grew a conceit that she could not in honor return to London while there was a likelihood of the enemy arriving,
(Perhaps, for those who are educated under the modern scheme of things, this will all be Greek. The Armada was a large war fleet sent from Spain (the superpower of that time) in 1588 to gain control of the English Channel, so that a Spanish army, commanded by the Duke of Parma, could cross over and conquer England. It was a time like ours, when religious fanatics often made suicidal attacks, so her courage was real enough. I won't tell you what happens next--if you don't know it's time you did a little studying.)