Founding Brothers

I complain loudly and often about the United States’ two-party system. I think it’s ludicrous to pretend like there are only two sides to every political issue, and I think that the sides the parties choose are often arbitrary at best.

It’s my disdain for out two-party system that has prompted me to institute a personal voting rule: I always vote for the strongest third-party candidate unless I feel strongly about the Republican or Democrat. As a result, my Presidential votes have been cast for Ross Perot, John Hagelin, and Ralph Nader. (This fall, however, I’ll make an exception and vote for the anti-Bush, which now seems like it’ll be John Kerry.)

I’ve always wondered why we have such a rigid two-party system in this country. I’ve asked around, but nobody’s ever been able to provide a satisfactory answer.

The other day I checked out a bunch of audiobooks to rip into iTunes. One of these was Founding Brothers by the controversial Joseph J. Ellis. The Pulitzer Prize-winning Founding Brothers (originally recommended by Duane Krings, and then by Kris) explores how those larger-than-life characters of American mythology, the Founding Fathers, wrestled with the incipient idea of American nationhood. (Though, considering, Ellis’ track-record with truth, one has to wonder how reliable his stories are.)

I’ve been listening to the book’s preface this week on my drives to and from work. It’s been interesting, if a bit tedious. Then, yesterday on the trip home, I came to the following passage. Though this is long, it is well worth reading. And comprehending.

It is truly humbling, perhaps even dispiriting, to realize that the [modern] historical debate over the revolutionary era and the early republic merely recapitulates the ideological debate conducted at the time, that historians have essentially been fighting the same battles, over and over again, that the members of the revolutionary generation fought originally among themselves. Though many historians have taken a compromise or split-the-difference position over the ensuing years, the basic choice has remained constant, as historians have declared themselves Jeffersonians or Hamiltonians, committed individualists or dedicated nationalists, liberals or conservatives, then written accounts that favor one camp over the other, or that stigmatize one side by viewing it through the eyes of the other, much as the contestants did back then. While we might be able to forestall intellectual embarrassment by claiming that the underlying values at stake are timeless, and the salient questions classical in character, the awkward truth is that we have been chasing our own tails in an apparently endless cycle of partisan pleading. Perhaps because we are still living their legacy, we have yet to reach a genuinely historical perspective on the revolutionary generation.

But, again, in a way that Paine would tell us was commonsensical and Jefferson would tell us was self-evident, both sides in the debate have legitimate claims on historical truth and both sides speak for the deepest impulses of the American Revolution. With the American Revolution, as with all revolutions, different factions came together in common cause to overthrow the reigning regime, then discovered in the aftermath of their triumph that they had fundamentally different and politically incompatible notions of what they intended. In the dizzying sequence of events that comprises the political history of the 1790s, the full range of their disagreement was exposed and their different agenda for the United States collided head-on. Taking sides in this debate is like choosing between the words and the music of the American Revolution.

What distinguishes the American Revolution from most, if not all, subsequent revolutions worth of the name is that in the battle for supremacy, for the “true meaning” of the Revolution, neither side completely triumphed. Here I do not just mean that the American Revolution did not “devour its own children” and lead to blood-soaked scenes a the guillotine or the firing-squad wall, though that is true enough. Instead, I mean that the revolutionary generation found a way to contain the explosive energies of the debate in the form of an ongoing argument or dialogue that was eventually institutionalized and rendered safe by the creation of political parties. And the subsequent political history of the United States then became an oscillation between new versions of the old tension, which broke out in violence only on the occasion of the Civil War. In its most familiar form, dominant in the nineteenth century, the tension assumes a constitutional appearance as a conflict between state and federal sovereignty. The source of the disagreement goes much deeper, however, involving conflicting attitudes toward government itself, competing versions of citizenship, differing postures toward the twin goals of freedom and equality.

But the key point is that the debate was not resolved so much as built into the fabric of our national identity. If that means the United States is founded on a contradiction, then so be it. With that one bloody exception, we have been living with it successfully for over two hundred years. Lincoln once said that America was founded on a proposition that was written by Jefferson in 1776. We are really founded on an argument about what that proposition means.When shown in this light, it all makes sense to me. The friction between Republicans and Democrats, and the structure of our two party system, is not something to chafe against; it’s inherent in our political system, it’s an integral part of our Constitution. It’s as if there wasn’t one country founded as the United States, but two, and they’ve been living together, hopelessly tangles, for two hundred years. It’s like yin and yang. It’s like a schizophrenic child. We cannot have one without the other. Democrats need Republicans, both for balance and to provide a source against which they can contrast their own ideas. Conversely, Republicans need Democrats for the same reasons.

Where, then, does that leave me, a dyed-in-the-wool independent? I’m just happy to see that there’s a reason for the to-and-fro.

Stop! I Will Tell You What to Do

I’m at the sink, cleaning the dishes, when the following conversation occurs:

Kris: Since the Gingeriches aren’t doing their banquet on Valentine’s Day, do you wanna do something together?

J.D.: Sure. What do you have in mind? (Thinking: Dinner at Higgins or at Tong King Garden, or maybe even a quick trip the coast.)

Kris: Let’s go bowling!Sometimes I feel like I’m living with a stranger.


I’m grogging awake. Kris is folding and putting away the laundry. (We have an ongoing deal. I keep her car fueled, and she does my laundry, except for ironing. I hate to do laundry. Or, more precisely, I just never get around to it.)

Kris is trying to put away my “I agree with Tyler and Pete” t-shirt (and other recently purchased thrift store clothing), but there’s no room for it. Plus I’m giving her lip.

Kris: Alright, you’ve just earned a major chore for this weekend, boy-o. You’ve got to rearrange your clothes. Until you do, you’re not allowed to buy another piece of clothing. No pants. No shirts. No belts. No socks. Nothing. If you do, I’ll just start throwing things away. You’ve got t-shirts you never wear because they’re so far in the back of your drawers that you never see them. You only grab the top thing. [ed: It’s true.] You have friggin’ t-shirts coming out of your butt!

At this point, she notices that I’m transcribing the conversation.

Kris: Stop it! or I’m going to knock you down!Husband abuse! Husband abuse!


So, repeating to myself that mantra I developed oh-so-long ago (“Kris Gates is always right. Kris Gates is always right.”), I pull out my t-shirt drawers (of which there are three) and put them on the bed. We sort t-shirts.

We can agree that some t-shirts stay and that others must be purged, but on other t-shirts we have disagreements. For example, on our trip to Crater Lake last fall, I bought a bright red USA t-shirt for $4. I want to keep it, if only just for yardwork.

Kris: J.D., that shirt is very ugly. It is in your best interest not to wear it. It doesn’t matter what you wear it for.

Ultimately, it stays. “You’ve been very good,” Kris tells me. “I guess you can keep that for now.”


We’ve got a gallery of quotes taped to the inside of our front door. Many of you have seen them, but for those who haven’t, here are some of Kris’ gems:

I’m not bossy; I just like to tell you what to do.

I know you’re in here to be sweet, but I really don’t want to listen to Johnny Cash right now.

You complicate my life by thinking for yourself. Just do what I tell you.

Your happiness is dependent on my happiness.

Stop! I will tell you what to do.I love my wife. Sometimes our distinct individual goofinesses makes for amusing conversations, though.

Comments


On 07 February 2004 (10:01 AM),
J.D. Roth said:

Just to be clear: this entry is meant to be funny, not to be mean. I love Kris, and I find our interactions amusing. The reason she has to boss me around so much is that, in many ways, I act like a five-year-old…



On 07 February 2004 (10:35 AM),
dowingba said:

Wow, you two use hyperlinks when you talk to each other? Quite impressive.



On 07 February 2004 (11:01 AM),
Johnny Doe said:

It is of significant comfort to me to know that I’m not the only one with a She Who Must Be Obeyed.

Do you think it’s genetic? Maybe it’s on that odd chromosome that they have?



On 07 February 2004 (03:32 PM),
Tiffany said:

It is not genetic. I am very good at taking orders. All day I have been helping Rich, in the garage, put one of the cars back together. I stand there, very quietly, until Rich says, “Hold this” or “Hand me the hammer” etc.

However, when he is in my kitchen, I make all of the rules.



On 07 February 2004 (08:46 PM),
Tammy said:

Now this is an entry I can relate too. Greg has tons of shirts. Half of them he doesn’t even know exist. I was married for years before his mom and I decided enough is enough. He had this old orange courderoy (SP?) suit, mind you, from high school. It was ORANGE! He had only worn it a couple times. I said something about getting rid of it and he looked at me like I was nuts. So one day I grabbed his mom and showed her that suit. She was shocked that Greg still had it since it had been purchased in the early 70’s! She grabbed that thing and carted it to good will before Greg knew what was happening. Several years later he asked for it and I informed him that years ago his mom had gotten rid of it. What could he say? His mom had done it! There was nothing to say.

He just keeps things forever!

Ebony and Ivory

On our drive home from Yakima, we were each trying to remember the first rock concert we attended. That, coupled with yesterday’s entry, has me thinking about the first record albums I ever owned.

I think my first record album was a Christmas present from my parents: Paul McCartney’s Tug of War, which featured “Ebony and Ivory” and “Take it Away”. (My favorite song from the album was “Wanderlust” — oh, how I loved that song. I should download it.) That same Christmas, Jeff got Men at Work’s first album, Business as Usual (with “Who Can it Be Now?” and “Down Under”). The very first album Jeff and I bought (I think it was actually with his money) was Asia’s eponymous debut. From there the floodgates opened. I joined a record club, and soon we had all the latest from Journey, Styx, Stevie Nicks, Saga, Loverboy, and Duran Duran. Semi-regular trips to the Fred Meyer in Oregon City yielded a bountiful harvest of 45s, all of which I still own.

I can also remember my first CDs. In the fall of 1988, I joined a CD club before I even owned a CD player. My first four CDs were U2’s The Unforgettable Fire, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, a Kinks greatest hits collection (which appears to be no longer available), and a fourth CD I’ve forgotten (possibly a compilation of Big Band music).

Can you remember your first album(s)?


Tammy entitled one of her recent entries “flotch”, which I found rather amusing. Flotch is a word that Paul and I invented early in high school. (Perhaps he can remember the exact genesis of the word; I cannot.) I seem to recall that we were just dinking around, making up words, and one of us came up with flotch. It came to be a catch-all word, and we’d use it in various parts of speech: “Get the flotch out of here!” “That movie was flotchy.” “I flotched up my test.” “I had a bit of flotch for lunch.” With time, I’ve come to use the word in the same way that others might use the word “stuff”. To me, flotch is just a random collection of things. Belly-button lint is a great example of flotch. I bring this up because a google search reveals a bastardization of the word flotch that is completely inappropriate. And gross.

Comments


On 05 February 2004 (09:14 AM),
Amanda said:

The first cassette I ever bought was “Faith” by George Michael (shut up!).

The first CDs I bought (a dual purchase) were U2’s “Achtung Baby” and “Chronicles” by Rush.

Good times.



On 05 February 2004 (09:46 AM),
Tammy said:

Too funny. I must have gotten the word from you somewhere along the line.Hmmm. Wouldn’t it be something if your little homespun word caught on in the blogging world? You could become famous! (Not that it will happen from my piddly little weblog) 🙂



On 05 February 2004 (10:56 AM),
J.D. said:

Nick says that his first albums were: Queen’s “A Night at the Opera”, an album by the Boston Pops, and an album by that piano sensation, Ferrante and Teicher. He says that after those three albums, it was a long time before he bought any others.

Nick never posts comments. He just walks over to my office to tell me them in person.



On 05 February 2004 (12:05 PM),
Aimee said:

Just a stumbled on a thought that Tammy’s comment inspired: Has the invention of a word ever made anyone famous? I’m not talking about proper nouns here; just regular ol’ verbs, adverbs, adjectives, and the like … What say you?



On 05 February 2004 (12:29 PM),
Paul said:

I don’t recall the day that “flotch” became a part of our high school lexicon. It was so appropriate , considering our environment, that the word was used often. In my world, the word just appeared one day to explain the amalgamation of culture around us.

The first record that I bought, with my parent’s money, was Michael Jackson’s Thriller. However, it was for my sister, I kinder act that I probably haven’t duplicated since, so I don’t count that as MY first record.

My first purchase was Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Welcome To The Pleasuredome. That was a work of art! FGtH were produced to such a level that I was hooked by everything about them. This was a folded album cover, with a painting of strange animal figures engagaged in numerous sexual positions. My mother found the whole album to be nearly pornographic, especially after she listened to the song Ballad of 32. Having more discipline than JD with my money, I didn’t buy anything from the catalog of FGtH products that was inserted in the sleeves of the album. Boy howdy did I ever want the whole lot of goods! This was all topped off by going to their concert. That was my first concert personally and my first of many with JD. Didn’t we camp out for tickets and end up in row 20 or something? We could see them lip-syncing from our seats!! I loved every Frankie moment of it. Who opened? OMD? If that were true, I may be reliving one of the greatest days of my teenage years.



On 05 February 2004 (01:37 PM),
Amy Jo said:

This is embarrassing to admit, but my first albums were disco collections put out by RONCO (70s), the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever (1977), and the soundtrack to Grease (1978). I had a pre-pubescent desire to be Olivia Newton John. She was soooo beautiful . . .I spent the seventies, my under-10 years, listening to 8-tracks that ran from disco to Zepplin and the Who to the Carpenters and my beloved Olivia (Have you never mellow?).

The first album of taste that I can recall buying was Synchronicity by the Police (1983). I feel like I was much younger than 13 when I bought this. I recall listening to it over and over again at slumber party my friend Heather Caldwell had. My first CD was Dream of the Blue Turtles in 1985. I had a thing for Sting (still do–he’s yummy!) I matured a lot between 83 and 85.



On 05 February 2004 (01:44 PM),
Denise said:

My first album (REAL music – not Disney stuff) was Van Halen, Van Halen. It was very good – I got it from my Aunt Terry who was a rocker for sure. She has now changed her name to Terin, though.



On 05 February 2004 (02:27 PM),
Lynn said:

I think Shakespeare’s rather famous for inventing a few words and/or phrases. 🙂

I hate to say that I think Thriller was my first album purchase as well. But my brother – 11 years older than I – gave me a large box of his 45’s to which I listened with great enthusiasm. Black Betty by Ram Jam, We Are the Champions by Queen, Life is Good by Joe Walsh, and American Pie by Don McLean were among my favorites! As was a song called Mr. Jaws in which a reporter told some story about jaws and sampled many different famous songs to give the answer to his question. For example, “Mr Jaws, what are you going to do now?” Answer, “Do the hustle!” It was good fun.



On 05 February 2004 (02:40 PM),
mac said:

vinyl: Depeche Mode “Some Great Reward”
CD: Guns n’ Roses “Appetite for Destruction”

Same day as G n’ R– Skid Row’s self titled album.

All three are still near and dear to my heart



On 05 February 2004 (06:42 PM),
mart said:

JD: tug of war is an exceptionally fine album. my parents got divorced in germany to that album so for me it encapsulates everything about my strange early teens in a foreign land, driving back and forth between strange towns while they “sorted” things out, fielding emotional gut punches all the time. i still listen to it sometimes and it still gives me chills. i’d burn ebony and ivory off it though, what a crap song… “you can dress me up a a robber” is my fave.



On 05 February 2004 (06:45 PM),
mart said:

btw:

first album? queen “the game”

first cd? i bought 5 that day… john coltrane “ballads”, sgt peppers, philip glass “solo piano”, steely dan “gaucho” and janes addiction “nothing’s shocking”.



On 05 February 2004 (08:21 PM),
Denise said:

Don’t ask Lynn the words to Black Betty, though, she never gets them right!



On 06 February 2004 (08:55 AM),
Lynn said:

Bam-a-lam, baby!



On 06 February 2004 (09:03 AM),
Dana said:

This is sort of embarrasing…

Vinyl: Switched On Bach 2 (Bach on a synthesizer)
Tape: Flood, They Might Be Giants
CD: Doctorin’ the Tardis (by ‘The Timelords’, aka KLF).

Hm. Speaking of Doctorin’ the Tardis, take a look at this! =)



On 06 February 2004 (10:50 AM),
Craig said:

First Vinyl (with my own money): Bruuuuuuuuce Springstein, “Born in the USA”

First Vinyl (not my own money, but which I caused to be purchased for me): Johnny Horton, “North to Alaska” (I experience not one bit of shame for this. Number two was Elvis, “Golden Records.”)

First CD: U2, “Achtung Baby” (Just had this on the other day.)

First Concert: Brian Adams, from a nosebleed seat, Sullivan Sports Arena. This was the concert event of the season in Anchorage that year (1987?). The Anchorage concert season was not impressive.



On 06 February 2004 (12:13 PM),
Kris said:

Okay, since Tiffany doesn’t seem inclined to share her story, I’ll tell it and she can correct me.

When I was 13 and she was 10, Thriller was at the Top O’ the Charts. Tiffany had saved up enough to go buy the album at the BX (Base Exchange on the Air Force Base). She arrived home very pleased with her independence, eager for a listen, but was soon crushed by the realization that she had purchased by mistake the all-instrumental extended version of the song “Thriller” instead of the complete album. Sobbing ensued. In my memory, my Mom took it back for an exchange and Tiffany was all smiles again. Is that right, Tiff?

Later, when my family lived in Hawaii, my Dad took regular business trips to South Korea. He brought back with him bootleg versions of the latest popular cassettes. I had bootleg Billy Joel, The Go-Go’s, Men at Work, Pat Benatar, Cyndi Lauper, Lionel Richie, etc. So, I guess you can blame my Dad for setting me on the twisted path of music pirating.

By the way, the first album I owned (gift from a friend– 5th grade slumber birthday party): Leif Garrett (ugh!!)
First album I ever bought myself: Hall & Oates (greatest hits, I think)– It had a purple & yellow cover.
I think I had met Jd by the time CD’s really became the thing, so I haven’t really had to buy my own music after that! Imagine! But I did get the Queen greatest hits double album a few years ago. Freddie Mercury was a friggin’ genius, right, Nick?



On 06 February 2004 (12:20 PM),
Nick said:

Absolutley!



On 06 February 2004 (01:21 PM),
Tiffany said:

Yes, Kris you are right. I think I shared that story on the blog at some time before.

First tape was Air Supply, Greatest Hits.

First CD, I think was a REM, but I may be wrong.

First concert Bon Jovi (I was given the ticket when a friend got sick)

First concert that I paid for, Depeche Mode.



On 06 February 2004 (04:20 PM),
Paul said:

First album (birthday present) “Ghost in the Machine” Police. Funny that both my album and my wife’s were by the Police.



On 07 February 2004 (11:16 AM),
Dave said:

First Album (vinyl): Star Wars Soundtrack
First CD: Yaz- Upstairs at Eric’s
First (Pop/Rock) Concert: Bonnie Raitt’s Nick of Time tour or The Crazy 8’s (I can’t remember which was first)



On 29 January 2005 (05:33 PM),
Larry said:

The word Flotch has a long history in my family. I first remember it in a song being sung to one of my smaller cousins. He was toilet training. The funny story that my uncle tells of his first encounter with the word is posted in my blog: http://flotchmaker.blogspot.com



On 29 January 2005 (05:33 PM),
Larry said:

The word Flotch has a long history in my family. I first remember it in a song being sung to one of my smaller cousins. He was toilet training. The funny story that my uncle tells of his first encounter with the word is posted in my blog: http://flotchmaker.blogspot.com

Child Development

Kris and I are atheists. We’re not shy about the fact, yet we don’t advertise it, either. As I’ve mentioned before, my atheism is informed by healthy doses of Mormonism and Mennonitism.

We don’t have any children of our own. We do spend a lot of time with our friends’ children, especially with Harrison and Emma, the Gingerich kids. Most of these children are raised in devoutly Christian families. How, then, do we handle this? Do we see it as our responsibility to sway these kids to the one true path of atheism?

Absolutely not.

Mostly, we avoid the subject. I believe that children, especially those under six, are not prepared to handle Big Topics like comparative religion and sexual orientation and gender identity and racial prejudice. Perhaps the basics can be shared — “other people believe in different gods” — but it’s not my place to educate these children. It’s my place to support their parents without compromising my own value system.

How do I do this?

I never proselytize. If a child asks me a question, I either answer it honestly or, if appropriate, I’m evasive. For example, when Harrison asks me to read to him from a book of Bible stories, I tell him, “I don’t want to read that book right now.” He’s completely satisfied with that answer. And when he tells me Bible stories, I just listen and nod my head.

It’s fascinating to watch these kids develop. I love to watch the evolution of the childhood egotism. Children are, by nature, complete egotists, purely selfish. It’s only with time and experience that they learn to consider other people. The oldest kid I know is nearly six. At what age will he be ready to learn about comparative religion? About gender identity? About slavery? About the Holocaust? When did I learn about these things? Is the curriculum of our educational institutions already properly constructed so that, in general, kids are exposed to material appropriate for their stage of development?

How do parents cope with friends who have different beliefs? Tammy’s unwilling to read certain weblogs because they’re written by lesbians; how much more strongly must she feel about the people with which her children have contact? Does it make a difference if the unsavory types are family rather than friends?

At what age are kids ready to see gunplay and fisticuffs on television and in films? (When did you first see this stuff — I can remember watching westerns at the age of four or five.) At what age are they ready to the stories of the Greek and Roman gods?


I’ve been re-reading Greek and Roman mythology lately. It’s great stuff. Suddenly, I’m excited to see Troy instead of dreading it.

My favorite so far is the story of Pallas Athene (a.k.a. Athena) and her weaving contest with the young woman, Arachne. Here’s an abbreviated version of the tale (the details of which are slightly different than others I’ve read):

Arachne was renowned throughout the region of Lydia (in ancient Greece), for her skill in spinning and weaving. Her teacher was Athene, the goddess of wisdom. As Arachne spun and weaved the finest tapestries and fabrics, a great rivalry grew between them. Athene became jealous of her pupil. So Athene disguised herself as a withered old woman and visited the country girl at her loom. Expressing admiration, the old woman asked who was her teacher.

When the boastful Arachne denied that it had been Athene, the goddess removed her disguise and revealed her true identity. Flushed with anger, she said, “Those who defy the gods must make good their words. We will have a spinning contest to see who weaves the finer tapestry!”

News of the contest spread quickly, and from all over Lydia people came to watch. Athene wove a tapestry featuring an Olympic scene in which Nemesis, the goddess of vengeance, carried away those who dared challenge the immortals. The tapestry was very fine. But Arachne’s tapestry was even more beautiful and elaborate. She depicted scenes of the misbehavior of the gods and goddesses, of seduction, and of the unworthy tricks they played when they wanted their way. The work was perfect. Even Athene could not find a flaw in it.

Angered by Arachne’s skill and impertinence, Athene became enraged. Her hands tore at the tapestry, and she hit Arachne on the head with her weaving tools. In distress, Arachne turned away from the horrified gaze of the onlookers. She ran to the woods, put a rope around her neck, and tried to end her life.

Then Athene took pity on her mortal rival, and being a powerful goddess, she granted her a new life as a spider, the weaver with the ultimate skill in spinning. “Live on, wicked one,” the angry Athene said, “but always hanging, and let your children share your punishment.” And because of the goddess’s wrath, Athene’s body changed into that of a spider and she was thus doomed to spin and weave forever.My reading is so tangential. I started the Rosenbaum book on Hitler, was sidetracked by Proust, but now I’ve been even further sidetracked by mythology�


Tammy’s trying to send a trackback to this entry, but it’s not working, so I’ll do it in reverse. Here entry is The Lines I Draw, and discusses how she, as a parent, determines what her children should be exposed to.

Comments


On 04 February 2004 (08:23 AM),
Tiffany said:

I remember Mom letting me spend the night at a friend�s and go to their church as early as 1st grade. Mom was far more concerned that I would act up in their church then that I would be influenced by anything that was said there. I do remember one friend was not allowed to go to our church, I think that was 4th grade. We had to take her home Sunday morning on the way to church. I have realized that some religions are more easy going then others.

As for violence on TV, I was watching MASH when I was 5 years old (with Dad) and reading �The Body� by Stephen King by 3rd grade. I do not ever remember being told that I could not watch something because it was too violent. I cannot say if that was because there was less violence on TV or Mom just did not see it as a problem. I did watch a movie (when I was 5 or 6) about spiders taking over a small, mountain town that gave me nightmares.



On 04 February 2004 (09:34 AM),
Kris said:

I concur with Tiffany’s memories. Our parents didn’t limit what we saw or heard, but maybe they should have. My mom actually took me to see the movie “Audrey Rose” when I was 6; in this film, a young girl graphically burns to death in a car accident and then is reincarnated. Many scary psychoanalysis/hypnotism scenes as well as the lingering shots of the girls palms pounding on the car window as the flames engulf her. I also read a whole series of VC Andrews “novels” in 4th grade, filled with incest, child abuse & murder, teenage sexuality, suicide, and, of course, surviving in the attic by drinking your brother’s blood because your grandmother is starving you. What fun! I was in a depressed funk for WEEKS. Naturally, I read the entire series several times over.



On 04 February 2004 (09:35 AM),
jenefer said:

We introduced our children to other religions as soon as we could. This usually took the form of fun things, carnivals, Buddha’s birthday, a Seder feast, bar mitzvah, etc. We have friends of many different religions. I always felt that the more our children, and we, knew about other religions, the more we could see the similarities and feel certain that the one we chose was the best for us. I believe it is all the same GOD, so the trappings and celebrations are just man-made. Liz was ready to assimilate the religion much earlier than Adam. She was confirmed at 8 or 9 after a year long class at church.

Adam is still not confirmed. No pressure from us or anyone else will make him ready. Adam enjoyed his comparative religion class at Mater Dei HS his senior year. They explored all the major and many minor religions. I realized that he wasn’t ready any sooner when he came home and chatised me for never exposing him to other religions. He had never seen the religious aspects of the celebrations we attended at the Mormon, Buddhist, Muslim, Unitarian, Lutheran, etc. churches. All he saw was the surface fun. Each child is different. Parents have to be sensitive to that. That’s why parenting is so hard.

Bob, my husband, was confirmed just a year after Liz. That’s when he was ready.

Each different religion is a teaching opportunity for those committed to their own belief. We cannot help our children on the “right path” if we don’t understand or at least know another religion enough to answer questions and discuss it with our children.



On 04 February 2004 (10:13 AM),
J.D. said:

I apologize if this gets long, but y’all have me thinking about when certain “firsts” happened for me. Based on what I can remember, I had early exposure to violence, but was relatively sheltered from sex. (And I regret his now — I would have liked a period of sexual experimentation, and think it would have been quite healthy.) Here’s the best I can reconstruct:

Before school (I was never in preschool or kindergarten): I had pneumonia at some point. First stitches. I can remember seeing Papillon (released in late 1973, so I would have been four, almost five) and being aghast at a man losing his head to a guillotine. Worse still was Westworld (also late 1973), my first exposure to Michael Crichton’s single plot (which he recycles endlessly), with its rampaging murderous robots. When I was five, dad took me to Where the Red Fern Grows, which was also traumatic. (Mom, why did you guys take me to these films? Couldn’t you find babysitters?) Also, I saw War of the Worlds, which scared the hell out of me. Also, I can remember the day I learned to tie my shoes when I was five. We didn’t have a television, but I remember watching at friends’ houses: Lone Ranger (and other westerns), war movies, and lots and lots of cartoons. Mom, can you contribute what you remember about my early childhood development?

1st grade (6yo, 75-76): phonics, rudimentary American history (Bicentennial year), watch Six Million Dollar Man at friends’ houses

2nd grade (7yo, 76-77): comic books in full force, first Hardy Boys, see Star Wars five times, watch Star Trek every chance I get, dad takes me to see my first James Bond film, join Cub Scouts

3rd grade (8yo, 77-78): learn about molecules, water cycle, fractions and basic algebra (“solve for x” — I was given a fifth grade math book), read The Lord of the Rings (though it was above my head), first knowledge of sex

4th grade (9yo, 78-79): back to grade-level math, but it’s tedious, first computer (Apple II), wrote first stories, first correction of teacher, first Oregon history, first geology, first exposure to Native American issues, first soccer team, first interest in astronomy (thanks partly to Andrew Parker’s father), first Piers Anthony and Stephen R. Donaldson, first self-conscious anxiety, first hand-held computer game (LED football)

5th grade (10yo, 79-80): first computer programming in BASIC, all my spare change into comic books, joined Science Fiction Book Club, first masturbation, first Dungeons & Dragons, first slumber party and Saturday Night Live, discover Tintin

6th grade (11yo, 80-81): began to take writing seriously (writing in my spare time), first girlfriend (Gina Hafner), begin to check out library books just for the sex scenes, self-conscious anxiety increases

7th grade (12yo, 81-82): an entire unit on Greek and Roman mythology, taught about Holocaust, beginning of self-guided music discovery (i.e. I begin to listen to rock)

8th grade (13yo, 82-83): computer programming in assembly language, first Shakespeare, wrote first poetry, Jeff and I buy our first record album (Asia’s self-titled debut)

9th grade (14yo, 83-84): reject my old self with intent of becoming a new person, cast off old friends (sorry, Dave!), first kiss, first questioning of Mormonism, first and last shoplifting, first job, obsessed with Hemingway, first (and only) fistfight (though it wasn’t much of a fight since I refused to throw a punch), first rock concert (if Chicago is rock)

10th grade (15yo, 84-85): first understanding of abortion, watch first porn flick, first opportunity for sex, first skip a night’s sleep

11th grade (16yo, 85-86): first alcohol, first Greek philosophy, first real sensitivity to racial issues, feel called to missionary work, first out all night gallivanting around

12th grade (17yo, 86-87): introduction to existentialism, first Ayn Rand, first Dostoevsky, spend some limited time with “popular” kids, first knee injury

Fresh (18yo, 87-88): first IBM-PC, first education classes (want to teach grade school), first questioning of religion in general, first marijuana, first real sensitivity to gender issues, first problems with weight gain, first Mexican food (seriously)

Soph (19yo, 88-89): first Macintosh, first sex, agnostic, last marijuana, first real sensitivity to sexual orientation issues, first Chinese food (seriously), leave home permanently over Christmas break after fight with Dad

Jun (20yo, 89-90): continue path to become grade school teacher

Sen (21yo, 90-91): atheist, foolishly cast aside plans for teaching grade school

More as I think of it…



On 04 February 2004 (11:04 AM),
Lynn said:

I can’t believe you remember all of that! Holy Cow! I can barely remember the names of my teachers, let alone what level of math I was learning! But it was quite an impressive list, despite the occasional overshare. 😉



On 04 February 2004 (11:43 AM),
Tiffany said:

I remember learning a little about the Holocaust when I was 4. We were living in Germany then, I am sure that is why I heard about it so young. �Here is where a really bad man killed a man because he thought they prayed to the wrong God.� �Did they pray to the wrong God?� �No� �OK�.



On 04 February 2004 (11:51 AM),
Joel said:

Regarding the myth of Arachne as a student of Athene, I’m suddenly amused by the idea of the gods as weary high-school teachers. “Dude, who’d you get for Shop? Ah, man, Vulcan’s friggin’ brutal!”



On 04 February 2004 (12:40 PM),
Paul said:

I don’t understand your unwillingness to read the bible with the kid who asked. Can I assume that you weren’t going to be as entertained reading those stories as you would have been reading Dr. Seuss and therefore you didn’t follow through with the request? I would be suprised to find out that the subject matter of the story affected your decision to read the story or not.

I would be interested in a blog or link to a past blog in which you discussed how you relate to spirituality. The human spirit is a complex function and it has different connotations for me when compared to your atheism.



On 04 February 2004 (12:50 PM),
Dana said:

Well, with a lead-in like that…

(I’m going by ‘school years’ here. My birthday is in July, so in any given year, 197x, I am (x-1) during the first half, and x during the second half of it. Many of these memories are +/-1 year, as I can’t always place when two events happened in relation to one another, but I know *where* they happened, and we conveniently moved every few years).

2 yo/1972: We move from a rented house in the country with no kids around to our first house in a neighborhood filled with kids.

3 yo/1973: My brother is born.

4 yo/1974: Overdose on penicillin (mislabeled to give me two teaspoons an hour instead of one teaspoon every two hours), have an allergic reaction. Spend a couple days in the hospital having my tonsils out. Play ‘army’, ‘cops & robbers’, and ‘cowboys & indians’ in the neighborhood, all basically the same game. Around here, and over the next couple of years, SWAT, CHiPS, Barney Miller, Mash, and the like are on TV and I watch them.

5 yo/1975/kindergarden: Bret gets bronchitis, is in an oxygen tent for a week. My friend Danny gets called the ‘n-word’ in kindergarden. Danny lives kitty-corner across the street from me, and had been adopted by a white family. I stick by him and try to cheer him up after the incident. Begin phonetics. First and only bee-sting. Get involuntarily kissed at school. Catch chicken pox as a result. I remember Roots being on TV, but I don’t remember if it was ’75 or ’76. I didn’t completely understand it, but I did watch bits of it. Bret has to sleep with weird shoes on because of pigeon toes. Dress as Superman for Halloween. Mom makes the costume, and borrows an old pair of red tights from the girl next door (which, because of the snow, I have to wear over my courderoys — this didn’t work very well). I get weirdly nervous about wearing ‘girls clothes’.

6 yo/1976/first grade: I realize I want to be a girl. Interracial couple (wife from Botswana) move in next door. During the summer the high-school-aged moron on the other side of us tries to go after Grace with a baseball bat while me and a few friends watch from my porch. Interracial couple move. Get plowed into at school by kid running for his bus. Get a slight concussion, spend a couple days in the hospital, out of school about a week. Learn to ride a bike. Swimming lessons.

7 yo/1977/second grade: Big year — Get glasses, see Tutankhamen exhibit and Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. See Flash Gordon serials on TV. See Star Wars. More swimming lessons. Win 2nd place in the district in the pinewood derby. I read my very first ‘real’ book on my own (a scholastic book, “The Disappearance of Mr. Allen”). In my first fight. I’m winning when we’re split up by an adult on the playground. Nobody is hurt. I think this is also the year I first remember a true depressive episode — I know it happened in Michigan, and I know I had my Micronauts when it happened.

8 yo/1978/third grade: Begin reading in earnest. Bret in kindergarden. Teacher ruins me for life by teaching us to not trust my memory, and always write out my math longhand.
We move from the UP of Michigan to Moorhead, MN. First memories of seeing Star Trek (the episode with ‘Lurch’ sticks in my head for some reason).

9 yo/1979/fourth grade: Picked on and teased as the new kid and for being a ‘brain’. Reading at a nearly adult level (about a book a day for ‘young adult books’, two or three for an older audience – these books include Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll, even), including the Hobbit. Start LotR, but don’t finish it. First exposure to computers. Get to be in the STEP program midyear, once they realize I’m qualified. First exposure to Native American issues (although I know about them, as the Lake Place is fairly close to a Reservation). Learn about the Tassaday people in the Phillipines. Learn about optics and refraction. Start Drawing. Get in trouble when someone dares me to explain where babies come from and I explain about sperm, eggs, and fertilization. The Martian Chronicles miniseries is on TV, and I see parts of it. Read the book to fill in the bits I missed. Learn how to read maps, compasses, and how Orienteering works. Read most of H.G. Wells stories, including War of the Worlds. Learn about the existence of Sex Change operations. I’m in my second fight, which I do not win, and in fact run away from in tears, while my tormenter laughs at me.

10 yo/1980/fifth grade: Read the LotR. Take an Applesoft Basic programming class in summer school. Read Huckleberry Finn. Logic Problems in STEP. First exposure to Dr. Who (in novelized form). Play Dromio of Ephasus in a version of The Comedy of Errors in STEP. Know a guy who gets into trouble for bringing one of his Dad’s Playboys to school. Played intramural soccer terribly, but had fun anyway. First ‘m-word’ experience.

11 yo/1981/sixth grade: D&D. Frequent access to an apple II at school, begin programming in earnest, trying to write our own game. Realize that I read to avoid difficult emotional situations and depression. This doesn’t do me much good from a practical point of view. Join the School Crossing Guards, use the powers thereto appertaining to break up fights by intimidating them with my semi-official status. Several refugee families from Southeast Asia settle in Moorhead, we have several in my class. See the Blues Brothers on HBO at a friends. We get our dog, Betsy. Read Watership Down.

12/1982/7th grade (jr. hs) Lots more computer use, including Ultima II and the like. More getting picked on. Start learning to play the Oboe. Play Humpty Dumpty in a school play of Alice in Wonderland. See First Blood and Bladerunner at a sleepover. Grandma passes away from colon cancer. Learn to sew and cook. Also take shop. By this point I really hate gym. I’m usually second to last or last picked.

13/1983/8th grade: Move to Nevada mid-year. Get our first computer, Apple IIe. Read Black Like Me. Have friends with more diverse hardware (Commodores, IBM compatibles, and so forth). First actual conscious cross dressing, mostly a few skirts mom is storing in my closet because of a lack of closet space in our NV house. No lock on the door to my room, so I prop up my chair under the doorknob to keep anybody from discovering me. I remember lots of WW II in school in Nevada. Also, took an ‘acting’ class (as ‘acting’ as you can get in Jr. High, I suppose).

14/1984/9th grade: Algebra. See the video about the liberation of Auschwitz that I keep yapping about. Also get introduced to (effectively) comparitive religion covering Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. First exposure to gay people (although most are closeted and I’m a bit thick about it). Attend exactly one Debate tournament, and really enjoy it. Biology class, with frog dissection. See the ‘risque’ version of Romeo & Juliet. Get picked on a lot less, as I’ve mostly learned how to handle bullies so that I’m not a target. We get a 300 baud modem for the Apple. Have jewish friends that I’m aware of (that is, I was aware that judaism existed previously, but I didn’t know anybody who had identified themselves as jewish). Confirmed as a Lutheran (delayed ’cause we moved around a whole bunch).

15/1985/10th grade: More debate. Make ‘Senior’ in both individual events and debate. More algebra. Chemistry class. Take typing, too. Debate group contains a wide mix of religious attitudes (ranging from carrying a bible around to class to the athiests). Effectively agnostic at this point, although it’s been moving in that direction for years. First friends who smoke (cigarettes). Shuttle explodes when I’m home alone, sick.

16/1986/11th grade: More debate. Trig and precalc. Physics class. More computer programming classes, Pascal this time. I win a scientific pocket calculator for having the highest score on a standardized physics test in our school, and get to sit in on a lecture about Supernova 1987A, which is pretty cool. We move to Idaho. Learn to drive. First exposure to formalized logic. Existentialism and other philosophical things hit around here, too. Get to learn some SCUBA in a pool, as well as learn a bunch about electron microscopes and whatnot at a special “brainiac summer class” at UNR.

17/1987/12th grade: New kid again. Make friends, but don’t have much fun. Programming class uses IBM computers. First real experience using one on a nearly daily basis. First real exposure to Mormonism (I knew some Mormons in Nevada, but Idaho is different). Calculus, more chemistry. Read Crime and Punishment. Work at Shop-Ko during the summer. Get a National Merit Scholarship.

18/1988/frosh: Start at WU. New kid again. Get a 286 with a 20 MB HD for HS graduation. Room with a friend from HS in Nevada the first year, which is…ahem, interesting. First girlfriend, technically, although we never actually kiss. She broke up with me in a note. Calculus, ‘real’ programming on the PR1ME, again in pascal. Briefly consider trying a triple major (physics/math/computers), but rapidly realize that this is insane. Meet Dagny. Work on an assembly line at HP during the summer. First real exposure to people drinking around me. Not particularly fun. Vonnegut speaks at WU, which is pretty darn keen. See the theater departments production of Cloud 9, where several female characters are played by men, and vice versa.

19/1989/soph: Meet Andrew Cronk. Kris Gates is in my philosophy class taught by Moss. Linear Algebra. More physics. Actually kiss a girl this year. Took Japanese for no apparent reason for a semester. More roommate issues. My roommate from freshman year comes out as gay, to nobody’s surprise. Matt Long, also from our HS in NV is a freshman this year. I discover he’s also gay (I told you I was thick).

20/1990/junior: Get my first car. Move into a single, meet JD. Abstract Algebra. Get elected floor representative in the dorm, probably because nobody else actually bothers. JD takes up smoking a pipe because he’s dumb, and he with his pipe and Andrew with his clove cigarettes wander around pompously smoking and acting cool.

21/1991/senior: Move into off campus apartments, still in a single. Do not take Arnika and Tara up on their innocent offer to cross-dress me because there’s some CD party going on at the elk’s next door — I’m freaked out by it, in fact, because I’m afraid someone knows I want to be a girl. Coincidentally, first time wearing pantyhose…

I dunno if this is actually interesting to anybody. I was exposed to racial discrimination and hatred at about five or six. I was reading adult fiction with killing, sex, and aliens with weird sexuality and biology in fourth grade at the age of 9. I read Huckleberry Finn, which deals with slavery and whatnot when I was 10. I knew people who were gay (and despite my obtuseness, I did know *some* of them were gay) and who were of widely different religious faiths by the time I was in high school.

I know I was a conscious, thinking, empathetic person by the time I was five, because I had empathy (ie, non-egotism-driven) feelings for Danny in kindergarden. And I remember always trying to take care of my brother right from the moment he was born (I was three). That was My Job as an older sibling.



On 04 February 2004 (12:54 PM),
Dana said:

Dang, two additions.

In 2nd grade, my teacher’s son was killed in a motorcycle accident, and we had a sub for the last third of a year or so.

In 3rd grade, there was a solar eclipse, and I remember showing everybody in class how to make a simple pinhole viewer with a couple of index cards.



On 04 February 2004 (01:12 PM),
J.D. said:

Paul said: I don’t understand your unwillingness to read the bible with the kid who asked. Can I assume that you weren’t going to be as entertained reading those stories as you would have been reading Dr. Seuss and therefore you didn’t follow through with the request? I would be suprised to find out that the subject matter of the story affected your decision to read the story or not.

No, I chose not to read the Bible stories (not the Bible itself) out of principle. Harrison is exposed to Bible stories constantly, believes them to be true, and he doesn’t need me to read them to him in order to further his Christian education. Too, doing so might convey to him that I believe them. While I’m certainly not trying to make him understand that I don’t believe them, I don’t want to give him a false impression, either. Totally avoiding the issue seems like a solution that ought to be acceptable to all parties. I do condone cats, so I’m happy to read The Cat Club to him. 🙂



On 04 February 2004 (01:36 PM),
dowingba said:

I don’t believe in cats, personally.



On 04 February 2004 (02:40 PM),
Paul said:

I am suprised, as I said I would be. Harrison is too young to understand the complexities of your belief system, but he is old enough to understand that he can assume you condone the principles embedded in the bible to be your principles because you read the words to him? You appear to be subvertly proselytizing to Harrison by not enjoying the words on a printed page with him. Isn’t the power of the truth best identified when bright to the light of day or at least verbalized in a story between JD and Harrison? For god’s sake JD, read the kid the story he enjoys and don’t foist the false idol of a cat upon him!

I love the cult of JD.



On 04 February 2004 (02:56 PM),
Kris said:

Paul, in my mind the difference is this: Harrison (5) and Emma (3) can clearly understand the concept of “pretend”. They know Spiderman is pretend and they are amused by the idea that the cats are having their cat-friends over for a spaghetti party because they know that that, too, is just pretend. They know real cats don’t cook spaghetti. However, in Sunday school, the Bible stories are not presented as part of a myth or even as allegory; they are presented as truth. That’s fine with me; it’s up to their parents to decide when to expose H&E to alternative truths. But it is my choice to read or not read those stories as I see fit. I choose not to read the Berenstein Bears (or however you spell it), too (because I’ve always thought them dumb). The kids deal with my preferences just as I deal with theirs. There are plenty of books we all enjoy to quibble over a few.



On 04 February 2004 (02:59 PM),
J.D. said:

Harrison is not old enough to understand whether or not I condone his belief system by reading Bible stories to him. He is old enough to remember whether or not I’ve read them to him, though, and one day will be old enough to examine these memories with respect to a more complex examination of religious belief. Trust me: my decision is not capricious. Besides, isn’t it better to lead him to the Cult of J.D. through felinity?

Facts about The Cult of J.D.

Deity: Me.
Sacred food: Kalamata olive.
Sacred music: “Bad” by U2.
Sacred book: Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier.
Sacred film: Amelie.
Sacred day: March 25th.
Sacred rituals: daily writing, daily reading (but not Bible stories!), breaking bread with friends, yo-yo dieting, standing in line for films, discussing geeky topics ad nauseum, sitting on a log in the middle of the forest.
Sacred motto: “why do today what can be put off until tomorrow”.
Sacred scriptures: Timecube!
Sacred commandments: thou shalt not shop at big chain stores that invade your town; thou shalt not read Bible stories to children; thou shalt love your cat; thou shalt relax; thou shalt spend $50 for a bottle of whiskey but refuse to spend more than $20 for any one piece of clothing; thou shalt forgive all transgressions; thou shalt maintain contact, yada yada yada.

The cult of J.D. welcomes all members.

(And what will be really amusing is if this weblog is still operational four years from now (or six or eight), and Harrison rummages through it to stumble upon this post.)



On 04 February 2004 (03:53 PM),
Lynn said:

I’m with you on this, JD. Reading Bible stories with someone when you don’t agree with that belief system is hypocritical. He may not understand it now, but someday when Harrison is old enough to understand your beliefs, he will look back and realize why you chose not to read those books. I actually don’t see why this is such a difficult concept to understand? Just because it involves the sensitive subject of the Bible? What if it had to do with hunting, or war, and you didn’t believe in those activities? I’m sure others would think it fine to choose not to read those books.



On 04 February 2004 (04:29 PM),
Tammy said:

I don’t see what the big deal is about JD not reading Bible stories to the kids. Actually he should be applauded for this. If he believes the Bible stories to be fables of no value then why should he read them? I wouldn’t read Jehovahs Witness literature or the Book of Mormon to my kids because I think they’re wrong. I stand on the same principle as JD. The only difference between us is that my beliefs are right and his are wrong! 🙂 (love ya JD)



On 04 February 2004 (05:47 PM),
Aimee said:

[Further Dana-Aimee coincidence: I played Maud in the Luther College production of Cloud 9 (nearly ten years after you saw it); Joel played Harry Bagley in the same show … You’re one of the few people I know who has mentioned that show in casual conversation (in this case, auto-bio opportunity). Nonetheless, incredibly significant piece of theatre – I highly recommend it to anyone who’d enjoy upsetting their teacups.]



On 04 February 2004 (06:36 PM),
Jennifer (Harrison’s Mom) said:

I feel compelled to respond. If you must know the Truth. Jd never actually reads stories to our kids. Yes, he opens up a book and begins with the first few written words. Then he adds a few of his own ideas, substitutes names and places for those of his own choosing, and sometimes reaches the end of the story (or not) with the same general plot line or theme. You can see why it would be nearly impossible for him to read a Bible story using this technique. The kids usually get frustrated with Jd’s rendition of their favorite story gone askew and respond by jumping on him… but they love him anyway.



On 04 February 2004 (07:34 PM),
Dana said:

I think it sounds like someone needs to write some children’s books…



On 04 February 2004 (08:09 PM),
Drew said:

As I go dottering off into middle age, I find myself still occasionally pompous and smoking – usually in J.D’s vicinity. Guilty as charged, madam! J.D. is probably a bad influence on me, but I like him anyway. I’d say more, but I’m busy writing Wizardry I in J#.



On 08 February 2004 (04:45 PM),
J.D. Roth said:

This weblog entry, at the always great Fussy, seems relevant to this disucssion.

Yakima 2004

Kris and I joined the Gingerich family for an extended weekend vacation, visiting Jenn’s parents in Yakima.

Yakima bills itself as “The Palm Springs of Washington”. I’m not sure that’s apt — how often does Palm Springs get snow? Yakima is located in central Washington, and is surrounded by low mountains; its climate is ideal for growing fruit. Apple orchards and pear orchards and cherry orchards abound. There’s even a small wine industry.

The last time we visited Yakima with the Gingeriches was three years ago in April. It was a shorter visit, and there was no snow on the ground. This time we stayed for three-and-a-half days, and there was plenty of snow.

Click a thumbnail to open a larger image in a new window.
[photo of Kris and Emma playing UNO]  [photo of Kris sledding in the backyard]  [photo of Harrison making snowballs]  [photo of Hank and Jenn on the swing]

On Saturday, I joined the women for a quick trip to Value Village. I picked up three t-shirts (including a real prize: an orange t-shirt with the puzzling slogan: “I agree with Tyler and Pete”) and, at the prompting of Kris and Jenn, two sweaters.

Jeremy wanted to go wine-tasting in the afternoon. I was reluctant at first, but had a lot more fun than I’d expected. We only visited three vineyards, but the wine was good, and, because of my reduced calorie intake, it didn’t take much tasting for me to get a little tipsy. I bought several bottles, including two of a black Muscat from Hyatt Vineyards. It’s a pleasant strawberry-tinted summer dessert wine — not too sweet. (I also picked up some cheese-stuffed kalamata olives soaked in garlic!) At Bonair Winery, the owners’ son waited upon us. He poured wine and chatted until we found ourselves late for our dinner reservations. Jeremy bought a case of wine from him, and I bought a couple of bottles of mead, a drink made from honey instead of grapes. “The beverage of Chaucer and Beowulf” — it’s great stuff!. We tried a fantastic chili mead ‐ mead with a single chili pepper soaking in the bottle — but Bonair had none to sell us. Jeremy and I hope to send Jenn’s parents up for a case of the stuff when it’s bottled again next summer.

(Also: Bonair Winery featured a display of small, over-priced quilts. Some of them were quite beautiful, it’s true, but the prices seemed outlandish (several hundred dollars each). My favorite part of the display were the signs next to the quilts: “Please do not touch art”. HA! “Please do not touch art” sounds like an admonition you’d give a child: “Art is to be viewed, not touched.”)

We eventually made it to dinner at Birchfield Manor only a few minutes late. We had a fine meal and pleasant conversation before retiring to the house for cigars and a dip in the hot tub.

On Sunday we drove north to see the elk-feeding. We were more excited by the birds. There were several eagles soaring around a nearby hill, and one which seemed to be feeding on a dead elk. Jenn’s parents are avid birders (they just returned from a birding trip in the Caribbean), and had brought their birding binoculars with them. After we watched the elk (and the eagles), we stopped at another location to look at big-horned sheep. There, we also saw several deer and some larger elk.

There was a bit of snowfall Sunday morning, but we woke to several inches on Monday. After the kids finished watching The Pink Panther (which they love), we spent some time sledding down the backyard slope. Because of my knee, I was reluctant to join, but once I did, I had a blast.

Other highlights from the weekend include: crab and roast for dinner, playing UNO with the kids, ripping CDs from Bruce and Janet’s collection, watching the second and third chapters of Undersea Kingdom with Hank, helping Bruce learn to edit home movies on his computer, making monochromatic photographs, and driving back over a snowy pass last night.

It was a relaxing weekend for everyone I think, even Jeremy (though his idea of relaxation involves things like clearing all the snow from the driveway). Kris and I are thankful to Jeremy and Jennifer for inviting us to join them, and to Bruce and Janet for their wonderful hospitality.

Comments


On 03 February 2004 (09:34 AM),
Tiffany said:

You are right; Palm Springs does not get snow. The mountains just south of PS have snow for amount 6 months every year, but not on the valley floor.



On 03 February 2004 (01:50 PM),
J.D. said:

Hm.

As it turns out, I strongly disagree with Tyler and Pete.



On 03 February 2004 (02:01 PM),
Joel said:

Buying t-shirts at random is SUCH a crapshoot.



On 03 February 2004 (02:38 PM),
J.D. said:

Er, it’s a little strange to be trackbacked by myself…



On 03 February 2004 (03:52 PM),
Tiffany said:

You should change the shirt with a Sharpie and wear it anyway.