Bending Toward Justice

As I prepare to pack a small bag over the next 25 hours, probably sleeping during part of that time, I want to emphasize that I prepare. That is, I spend a few days thinking about it before the fact. It’s a thing.

The other night, though, for some reason I was musing on the death of Justice Scalia and the implications, the bomb throwing, the twisted rationale for all sorts of scenarios.

And I’ve heard them all. Not much interested in the politics; that’s the world we live in, and I completely understand anyway. Everybody wants an advantage.

Of course, we have one, and that’s in the Constitution. The President selects Supreme Court nominees. The Senate advises and consents. That’s pretty much it. There’s no timeline. The Senate can wait as long as it can manage to wait. You might not care for that, but thems the rules.

But if you’ve heard all the talk about “80-year tradition” and other fake precedents during an election year, maybe you’re like me. Maybe you wonder what is politics and what is actual history.

First, no one is saying that Pres. Obama can’t nominate someone. A lot are saying he shouldn’t, not in an election year with no incumbent running and a potential nomination that could shift the political balance on the court.

This is unfortunate but also just the truth. Our Congress for at least the past 8 years has essentially been nonfunctional, turning the bulk of government over to the judiciary and the executive branch. Thus the importance.

But back to tradition. I looked this all up, by the way. Curiosity killed a few hours.

There have been 112 Supreme Court justices. That’s roughly one new justice every other year, which seems weird and off, but that figure is heavily weighted toward the beginning of the country. Most of the justices who died in office, for example, passed away in the 19th century.

In fact, out of the 112, approximately two-thirds left their position by retiring. That is, voluntarily. There were a few exceptional cases, but for the vast majority we can assume what seems to be obvious: The President picks the justice, but the justice picks the President. That is, we assume that a justice anticipating retirement can pick when to do so, assuring that a chief executive he or she at least approves of more than another gets to choose his or her replacement.

This was Sandra Day O’Connor’s strategy, apparently, leading to her vote in Bush v. Gore in 2000. Which apparently she regrets. Whatever. Old news.

So throw out the two-thirds who retired, whether or not it occurred in an election year. Let’s focus on the ones who died in office, thus creating an unexpected opening. Occasionally in an election year, and here we are.

Stats. Gotta love them.

The last justice to die in office was William Rehnquist in 2005, during the first year of the second Bush term. Not an issue. Replace a conservative Chief Justice with a much younger conservative Chief Justice. Not unexpected at all.

Before that?

1954, associate justice Robert Jackson. Second year of Eisenhower’s term. Not an issue, either.

Before that, we dip into the 1940s and then 30s and so on. About 10 died in the 20th century. None, as it turns out, in an election year.

In fact, the last time this happened was in 1892, Joseph Bradley, passing away at approximately the same time in the election cycle, which involved sitting President Benjamin Harrison (like Bradley, a Republican). There were minor squabbles but mostly intraparty. His successor was confirmed.

Here’s what’s weird, though: In January 1893, after Harrison had been defeated by Grover Cleveland, and knowing the Senate would be dominated by Democrats, associate justice Lucius Lamar died. Harrison went ahead and nominated a solid Democrat, whom he liked, and got him approved – being a true lame duck — before Cleveland was inaugurated in March 1893. Harrison, a one-term president, got to name four Supreme Court justices. Remarkable.

Before that, Chief Justice Roger Taney died in 1864, during Lincoln’s second election year. Still, Lincoln nominated Salmon Chase and he was confirmed.

That’s it, then. In 227 years, three SCOTUS justices have died during election years, including Scalia, and it wasn’t an issue, or not until now.

There is no tradition. There is no protocol. Historically speaking, justices die in office a third of the time, and almost none during an election year.

Just politics. In case it comes up. Numbers sometimes help.

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Benjamin Harrison
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Counting The Days

I woke up way too early this morning, not quite 5 a.m. My inner milkman is apparently alive and well.

I woke after a dream in which I was arguing with my father, although it really wasn’t an argument. It was just one of those discussions we’d have, each trying to use our own style of logic to make our points. A casual discussion, really. Once I was past 18 or so, I can count my serious arguments with Dad on one hand and have some fingers left over.

I forget him sometimes, all the little things I knew so well, the gestures and tics and habits and manner of speaking. I have to stop to remember on purpose. This is probably natural and right, a survival mechanism, but it unnerves me. I’m used to remembering important things, at least, and this would be important.

And then I dream, maybe, and I refresh my screen. I can see you now.

————

As my dad’s mother became older, she used to wrest guarantees out of her sons that they would look after her husband when she was gone. Check in, make sure he was OK. He was her third (or whatever; truly, I don’t know if there were more than three) spouse, someone who treated her nicely and was younger, someone to keep her company after the boys moved on and started families of their own.

And they did, checking in from time to time, stopping by when they were in California. Maybe they could have done it more, but he was kind of an odd guy. Although he did leave both boys everything in his will, which made a big difference. Turned out he had a few bucks; nothing major, but enough to change some lives.

————

I imagine (and it’s imagining) my father would be happy that I’m driving my mom to Texas to see Bix and Beth, although I do wonder if he thought we might behave differently. My mother is strong and knows how to survive, and we’ve never been negligent, wandering, inattentive children anyway (and if anything, I’m the worst, relying more on text messages than actual conversations).

And the point is, I enjoy spending time with Mom, enjoy asking questions and pestering her to dig into her memories and tell me stories. We’ve got some hours, then, in a car to engage in this and whatever else we want to discuss. We may just talk about how flat west Texas is. You could do this for a few hours, if I remember correctly.

I also want her to see Bix, and to reconnect with Beth, and to just take a road trip, good grief. How can you argue with a road trip?

————

So far, my travel anxiety seems at bay, although it’s sneaking up on me. Road trips are easier, although I always pack light. In this case, three changes of clothes ought to do it. Do laundry on Sunday in Austin, head back on Monday, no sweat. That’s a backpack.

I’m looking forward to heading east from El Paso in particular, waiting until we hit hill country, an area of Texas (a state where my mom spent some of her childhood) that she’s never seen before, and should. Also, there’s a famous roadblock/drug check on I-10 just east of El Paso, skirting close to the Mexican border, where Willie Nelson and a few other celebrities have been busted for cannabis. They get a ticket, usually, and another outlaw story, but it feels like a landmark. I’ve got to take a picture. I just hope Mom doesn’t bring any pot.

And I’m looking forward to seeing a few old friends, as I can, on my two short stays in Phoenix, really only a few hours each way, an airport hotel for each leg. These fall into the oldest-and-dearest category, most of them, and I always enjoy catching up that’s not done on Facebook.

This all caught up with me, in fact, last night, after reading a post from someone I respect, making a good (if political) point, and then of course I had to read the comments from his group of followers…why do I do this?

And last night I thought about this a lot. It will take more thinking, but slowly backing out of the social media world is starting to sound like a good idea.

As did a road trip, which is why I’m taking one. So maybe I should trust my instincts.

And my instincts are telling me to head out of town, recharge the batteries, hit the open road, and maybe – and I swear this is happening – grab a Whataburger or two. They’re the best, you know.

Whataburger

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Spring Forward

A week from today, assuming my mom is able (she’s healing from a bruised wrist and strained neck after slipping in some snow around New Year’s), I’ll be hitting the road, heading south and then east, from Phoenix to Las Cruces to Austin, and then back. With a few days in Austin, of course, so Mom can meet her third great-grandchild. And about time.

We’re hoping for the best, which means less discomfort and then lots of heat and pillows and reclining passenger seat, and splitting those 1000 miles into reasonable days. It’s the kind of thing one would be tempted to put off – no one wants to be uncomfortable – except we’re at a point when we’re thinking sooner than later is best. My mom lives in a small town in northern Arizona, and my daughter and family live in Texas, and the odds of the twain meeting up require imagination to overwrite reality. It’s not a likely scenario, in other words.

So we wait, hoping the ibuprofen and acetaminophen stay on board and do some good, hoping the splint helps, hoping hoping hoping.

Because it looks like we’ll be driving into heaven.

Or what passes for it, at the moment, for me. That is, sunny and warm weather looking ahead as far as prudent. I fly into Phoenix in the late afternoon on a day that looks to be in the mid-80s, about the same as Las Cruces the next day, and then Austin appears to be high 60s and sun. I mean. You heard me say heaven, right?

Not that it’s miserable here, not at all. Mild, in fact, except for a little wetter than expected for an El Nino winter. But mild. I woke up to 51 degrees and that’s not a bad number to wake up to. I can’t complain.

But due to my experiment in better living through better eating, which turned out to be mostly less eating for a chunk of time, as far as I can tell (it’s all guesswork, really) I’ve dropped about half of my body fat in the past year, from a percentage in the flabby low 20s to a perfectly acceptable and even pretty decent low teens. I have less insulation, then, and less tolerance too, when it comes to temperatures.

So I’m forcing the spring by driving into it. I’m pointing the car in the direction of March and I intend to get there, even if I have to traverse West Texas (i.e., Mars). And I do.

I’m not crazy about city driving, mostly because I don’t normally do a lot of it. Lately, though, I’ve become a commuter by necessity, here and there. Yesterday I chauffeured my wife to the bus, took my son to a doctor’s appointment a good 40 minutes away, took him and his cat to the vet and back, took him to work, picked him up from work, drove to the store to get dinner for my wife, then retrieved said wife from bus stop. There needs to be an app for me, an Uber-Chuck one that signals me to head for the park-and-ride or reminds me to get cheese.

But an empty highway, stretching through desert and hills and heading toward a little boy and his busy mom?

It’s in my blood, man. Give me the wheel, and some sun and warmth, and let me go. That’s my plan, anyway. Letting go.

W11Y1VS4CT

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Berning

I am very interested in America. Right off the bat, want to make that clear. Very interested.

Geography, government, history, population, culture…I’m a civics nerd. Just very interested.

That includes politics, although I don’t talk about that publicly (although I did have a fun conversation at dinner with a bunch of church people, Millennials on one end and older folks on the other, all pretty much with the same goals but maybe wondering about the best way to get there, in terms of candidates).

But at my age, I decided I really wanted to just be partisan. These are my guys, my team, and the other team is not. I want to root for what I think is the right path, and that irritates people who disagree, and we’ve all see that. So I refrain from politics in a public forum; why make people mad when I can’t possibly change minds.

Bernie Sanders is interesting, though, because young people. I know a lot of them, and they seem to be overwhelmingly in support of a 75-year-old white guy, who doesn’t seem to waiver in his honesty and with whom I generally agree on an idealist view of what America could look like. But you know. He’s supposed to be a protest candidate, getting his ideas out in the sphere before Clinton takes the nomination.

But over 80% of the electorate (eligible to vote) consists of women, people of color, and voters under the age of 30. A lot of them lean right, of course, and millions will vote for Trump or Cruz or Bush or however this works out.

That’s a Democratic base, though. And given the lock the Dems have on the large population centers and the fact that we’re polarized, and given the current GOP field, and the Democratic lock in normal elections on 247 electoral votes (270 to win), it’s always going to be an uphill battle.

From a historical perspective, this should either be a Republican year or a transition year, like 1988, when Bush eventually served as sort of a caretaker president (consequential, though) before Clinton swept into office. I could see that happening, a one-term president.

It’s the young folks that make me curious. They LOVE Bernie Sanders. Having been someone who’s had Sanders on his radar for over 30 years, there’s nothing new (he’s very consistent). And his outrage that the bankers who brought down our economy and almost caused another Depression are still functioning and out of jail is shared by me, absolutely.

I want to back away from this. I love the idea that young people are excited about participating in the political process (i.e., voting) as opposed to just marching in the streets and camping in parks. In which case, I get Bernie.

I’m not sure he’s the guy to be President, though. It’s a different job from being a loud Senate voice for change. Obama entered the white house at age 47 and is leaving at 55; Bush (#43) and Obama both were aggressive fitness advocates, and healthy, and then look at the before-and-after photos. It’s a hard job, and wearing.

Bernie Sanders would take the oath of office at the age of 75, unheard of in history (Reagan was 75 as he entered his sixth year of his administration, when he was less than on top of the game). That’s a concern.

Mostly I’m curious, though, about these young people and their passion. What happens if he fades and Clinton takes the rest and wraps it up by May? Do they sit on their hands, or hold their noses? Probably won’t vote for Trump.

And if it’s Trump, even Bernie would clean his clock, I suspect, in the general. And Trump has a much better chance than we thought to score the nomination now, as long as four candidates remain in the race for a while (he needs only about 30% of the vote from here on out, with four candidates, to take the required delegates).

Anyway. Mostly interested in Millennials and passion.

But I’m looking forward to what happens. Kids. Whatcha gonna do?

bernie

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Older White Male Seeks Delilah For Snipping

Yesterday was on my son’s 26th birthday, which tends to glum him out. Not because he’s not loved and cared for; he’s inpatient with getting on with his life, and has professional help. It’s just a different economy and he needs to find his own skills, which are actually pretty impressive so far.

So I fought the glum battle, and took him on our hour-long drive down south to spend the evening at a sports bar with church people, the regular Theology on Tap monthly social group. Just great people, who embarrassed him tremendously by singing “Happy Birthday” the moment he walked in the place.

And way too much food, and a long drive, but we both agreed that the alternatives lacked people. We need people. We are those kind of people. The luckiest people in the world, they say.

————

Last week was a blur with family in town. We rented a car (we only have one) to help with the constant trips downtown to the condo they were staying at, with lots of Bix time and a fabulous concert in Portland and a different kind of one with the Seattle Symphony, but exhilarating. Another post.

Bixie was fun, happy, and absolutely in love with Disney’s “Robin Hood” from the early 1970s. Which holds up. Not quite on “The Jungle Book” level but close, great voices (Andy Devine, Pat Buttram, Phil Harris, Peter Ustinov, the late Brian Bedford). It was fun to see again, and he truly loves it. “Hippos and rhinos!” he says, which comes out as a single word but we figured it out (there’s a parade of hippos and rhinos, along with elephants. He loves his animal world).

Happy is good. Today is the anniversary of the rush to the hospital and the ketoacidosis, almost always the first sign in a 16-month-old Type I diabetes patient. He retains the trauma and stress, holding him down constantly to insert a line and then a port, and of course the rest.

And now he’s doing great, and a cure or at least technology will make this disease so much livable. Scary a year ago, still exhausting for his parents, but routine by now.

He says “Grandpapa” very clearly, too.

————–

I feel like mentioning this, although I’ve done it before ad nauseum. Last June I made some adjustments, with Bix at the forefront of my thinking, just trying to cut down on sugar. I figured it’d be a struggle and not absolute; just trying to minimize the damage. I was running about 10 pounds over a good weight for me, and hadn’t worked up the energy to get rid of those, so I hoped I could knock off a few of those a well as clean up my act.

And then it worked a little too well, and I went through a bad period of not being hungry and really unable to eat much, a scary couple of weeks, and I dropped 10 pounds very quickly (less than a month). Suddenly I was only a couple of pounds away from 175, which I always thought of as a perfect weight for a guy my size and age. I was there a few years ago and it seemed ideal; all my clothes fit, etc. Lighter on my feet. More energy. All good.

As anyone who has had weight issues (and that would be all of us, right? I need some support here) know the feeling of stepping on the scale and seeing a new, lower number. It can mess with you. Got down to 170, figured that was rock bottom.

Currently 157. Trying to get it back up over 160 and stay there, maybe up a little more, which is a situation that I never dreamed of and seems sort of a lottery win: I know can eat whatever I want, because putting on a few pounds would be good. I mean, good Lord. Who does that?

Anyway. Slender, not gaunt, not skinny. Slender, lean. Just different, and given that the lady who always cuts my hair is away from work on maternity leave, my hair has gotten shaggy because I just procrastinate about sitting in a chair in temporary intimacy, trying not to overshare and also to point out that I have a giant hole toward the back of my head where there is now very little hair, although the front part and sides are fine and now long and scraggly.

The wild hair and lean frame, as we went over to sit with Bix while Beth and some high school friends went to hear Cameron sing with the symphony, and apparently several of these friends, whom I’ve known since they were in high school, later texted her to see if I was OK. Just different looking, really, but she said I looked fragile and I take that seriously. Body image is a scary thing, even for a dude. You can lose perspective.

But I think it’s mostly the hair. Needs to get very short and neat, I’m told, and I can do that. At least 20% of my hair is missing, so I guess it’ll be an easy cut. Maybe this afternoon, before the Ash Wednesday service.

(And I have some things to say about Lent, but maybe later.)

—————

As I’ve said to others, I know what happened. I kept track. I eliminated some foods and didn’t think I would keep it up, but I did. A pound or so a week. For many weeks. I can explain it, then. Simple metabolic process, conservation of energy, thermodynamics, etc.

But, as I admitted to my daughter, the big picture needs to be noted. The book came out. I lost a big client, boring work but steady and good money. Just disappeared, and I had a hard time replacing it, and even though I made the bulk of my income this year from just writing the kind of thing I write better than other things (i.e., no technical writing or press releases or ad copy). Just. Not. Very. Much. Income.

So lots of time on my hands, lots of musing about reaching this age without much to show for it, needing to be busier and more social and not quite getting there. And over the course of the past year I’ve lost 50 pounds.

You could suspect some depression. I know I do.

But better today. Lent is always better, people are always better, having things to inspire me are always better.

And I have the Golden Ticket, a surprising turn of events in which I can eat a lot of questionable foods that are loaded with calories, because calories I need.

Hopefully a haircut today. And hopefully my daughter’s friends, sensing mortality now in their early 30s, and having known me 100 pounds heavier when they were younger, will be reassured. I don’t think I’m dying anytime soon. A haircut will make a big difference.

Photo Feb 06, 10 27 34 PM
Rich and Sharon Parker, some of our oldest friends, at the Symphony Saturday night. That’s the way to do it.
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I’ll Be There For You

There were eight of them on Thursday night, although 15 years ago there would have been more. In her high school years, my daughter’s sanctuary from the chaos at home was found among her friends.

A former high school teacher of mine told me many times over the years that when I became a parent, I should make sure my kids get involved in music; they meet and make better friends, he said, and I see no reason that doesn’t hold up.

It did with Beth, at any rate. I could probably name a dozen of them still, mostly orchestra friends who were constantly around, throwing themselves grownup-style parties on New Year’s Eve and just generally engaging with life as a team.

They moved on, as we do, scattered around various universities in different parts of the country and world, although quite a few re-settled back in Seattle after exploring. And they never lost contact, because they grew up in a world where that was hard to do.

A lot of them traveled to Santa Fe for her wedding in 2009, and while her trips back home have been less frequent in recent years, when she comes there always seems to be at least a night when whoever is around and available will meet up, share adult beverages and company.

Three of them showed up at the condo Beth and family have been staying at this week downtown, a few blocks from Benaroya Hall, where Cameron is performing with Roomful of Teeth and the Seattle Symphony. They brought food and wine, prepping for opening night while grandparents gratefully played grandparents, all four having graduated from the same high school on the same night in 2003, three now married and the fourth in a long-term relationship. Which makes eight, which is what I meant, but I’m thinking of the picture, really.

I saw it on Facebook, posted by one of the group, as they walked uphill after the performance, side by side. With half-closed eyes, they could be arm in arm, looking exactly as they were, old friends and newer ones, all grown up, still throwing parties after all these years, and eventually I figured it out.

friends

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Wallow Week

A new column is up, pivoting off some thoughts I posted earlier on this blog, maybe a little more confessional:

And I don’t like to sing in choirs all that much anyway. It’s not a skill set I feel comfortable with, trying to follow a bass line that is counterpoint to the tenor part while the sopranos sing the melody and the altos have something with like 13 flats (the key of P, I think). I’m lost a lot, and embarrassed and sometimes humiliated, always humbled. I’m just not very good.

I so very much wanted to add something about David Bowie.

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I’ve had a lot of reviews over the years following performances. I can’t remember a bad one, although lots of disappointing ones, meaning that I was mentioned in passing despite having a major role. Which is sort of bad, but stage reviews have never been that serious. It’s one person’s opinion (and believe it or not, opinions can vary), while an actor spends a couple of hours in front of a few hundred people. They will give you a review in real time.

But feedback matters, or it should. If I wasn’t interested in how someone who sees or hears or reads something I’ve created feels about it, then it’s all about self expression and personal catharsis and it’s bad. Probably. At least I’d rather avoid that. Although I can’t and don’t expect to hear back from thousands of readers, not me, not in my situation. They read it, but few feel compelled to comment, and I don’t blame them. It’s not a big deal; as I said, at worst a mild disappointment. You try your best and move on.

This piece here, though, from a Minneapolis paper/site/mag/something, is really a remarkable analysis of Winning Dad. How does one best deal with a family member or friend who is homophobic? Or, for that matter, holds opinions you feel are despicable and vile, even if you love and generally admire this person? It’s at the heart of the film, in case you were unaware.

But it also holds a nice personal review for me. Very nice. By far the nicest thing anyone has ever said about something I’ve done, and probably by far the nicest anyone ever will. How do you link to something like that without it being a giant brag?

Like this, I guess. The point is, as nice as it was to read, it doesn’t change my mind on myself or the film. I don’t see what someone else sees; I catch mostly the bad things, the mistakes, the choices that were off. I accept that I can’t be objective, but I have no illusion that anyone else is either. So it was just nice. I’m not framing it or anything.

Because that sort of thing needs to be done by professionals. Framing is sort of an art form. I’ll just hire someone.

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This is Wallow Week, I guess, as we spend as much time with Bix as possible. We picked them up at the airport, way past his bedtime by their Texas clocks, and he was happy and hasn’t really stopped that. Beth spoke at Seattle Pacific University yesterday to a class of music students, lecturing from an arts management perspective, so we kept an eye on the little guy until I snuck out and caught a bit of Beth’s talk. It was excellent, no surprise, even though public speaking is not something she necessarily does on a regular basis. She knows of what she spoke. I just felt weirdly out of time, catching glimpses of the 7-year-old for a few seconds before she reverted to a 31-year-old woman who easily belongs where she is.

And tonight we watch Bix again, while Beth and some local friends all attend the opening of Roomful of Teeth’s performance with the Seattle Symphony (we go on Saturday night). I imagine we’ll see The Jungle Book a couple of times, and I’ll take lots of pictures.

Did I say pictures?

JK reading to Bix

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The Visit

My son-in-law is now apparently safe and sound in his swanky (my daughter’s word) downtown Seattle condo, awaiting the rest of his family, who arrive tonight. In the meantime, I’m looking all over the place for my grandparent instruction manual. I found the one for the dishwasher, so it’s not been a waste of time, but I’m feeling a little at loose ends.

So I bought Bix a snake, a stuffed, long, fun snake* to add to his menagerie and easy to pack for home. It should arrive tomorrow, and tonight will be goofy and exhausting enough. The snake can wait.

But that’s all I could think of. I’m used to dropping into his life, showing up every few months and reintroducing myself, understanding all this time that I’m operating under the assumption my occasional presence, pictures, and FaceTime chats will form some sort of lasting bond, some autonomic response in his brain chemistry, some dumping of serotonin or dopamine or endorphins in his developing mind. I want him to know what I mean before he reaches the point that he knows who I am.

Although he’s pretty much there by now, and here’s hoping this week closes the deal. I’m ready for this relationship.

Except I’m not because, as I say, I lost the instructions.

There are actually parenting instructions, of course. You can read books and listen to pediatricians, and if you’re prepared to keep grains of salt on hand you can heed the advice of other parents, including yours. Just be aware that a lot of time has passed, and in the first few years of life the days blur well past the possibilities of retention. Your mother may have good information to share, but you’re better off if she’s already been a grandmother. Closer in time to actual baby wrangling is better, I think.

But grandparenting? That’s supposed to be easy. You just enjoy. You read books over and over, you watch “Babe” a million times until you don’t even like bacon anymore, you spend a lot of time remembering what it’s like to crawl on the floor and learning what that feels like at a different age than the last time. But easy.

And it is, or as easy as 2-year-olds can be, which I understand does not really align with “easy.” But I’m a grandparent, that’s the whole point; I did the hard stuff with his mother. Now it’s time for just fun.

I waited for his mother, though, waited impatiently for her to get old enough to have real conversations with me, and Bixie is getting close, so I search for my instructions. Surely someone has a few nuggets of advice out there for long-distance grandparents who wish to maintain solid and loving relationships with their descendants.

And I swear: If I don’t find one, I’m writing it. Because it’s important. Stuffed snakes are only a start.

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*Bix does not read this blog. I think.

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The Universe Is Listening

 

golden record

 

 

I was thinking of the Golden Record, the selection of earth sounds sent out on Voyager in the 1970s, now spinning in interstellar space, 40,000 years away from the nearest star system. It’s gonna be a while before someone listens.

It occurred to me, although it’s a little late, that they could have just used some “Roomful of Teeth” recordings. Right there is our humanity, powered by our diaphragms and imaginations.

Our trip down to Portland was wet, chilly, and stunning. I sat behind a group of community college and Marylhurst University choir members, and after RFOT’s first piece I watched these young people try to manually close their jaws and shake their heads. They will never be this good.

Except for a few, as my wife pointed out. So it was an evening of incredulousness and possibilities, all rolled into a symphony of human voices. I’ve listened to everything they’ve produced, as soon as the first singles start showing up, but this was my first chance to see them live, and with all eight original members (they have the occasional sub; these are professional singers who sometimes have conflicts).

We stayed at the Lakeshore Inn on Lake Oswego, a curious hotel that is part low-rentish and part stunning, with every room having a balcony and view of the lake. It’s also a short walk to any number of shops and restaurants. We were pleased.

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And we’re fans, puhleese. My son-in-law is a member, a dominant force in this octet, the anchor to amazing voices who produce music unheard before, and I say that with a straight face. Unheard.

They perform this week with the Seattle Symphony, singing Berio’s Sinfonia, a rarely performed piece that seems a nice fit for RFOT, although they usually perform specific material written for them. Ergo our trip to Lake Oswego, to hear some classic teeth. We were not disappointed.

And my son-in-law arrives in Seattle tonight, and my daughter and grandson on Tuesday night, housed in a condo downtown in which I plan on spending a lot of time, along with seeing the concert Saturday night.

But it would have been nice to know that these amazing musicians were floating out in space, waiting for the universe to hear us, to know us, to understand that we are humans not because we make smart phones and wage war, but because we sing.

rfot

 

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