The Trouble with Lemmings

curmudgeon logo2About a year ago, after deciding that social media wasn’t a fad that was going to disappear any time soon, I joined Facebook.  I did it primarily as a way to reconnect with old students, keep up on what my own children were up to, perhaps find old acquaintances, and trade interesting tidbits with current friends.  As you might imagine, my “friends” list is a mish-mash of the extreme left, the extreme right, middle-of-the-roaders, and people whose only joy in life seems to be sharing a picture of another cat. Continue reading

Knowing How We Know

Pleasant Progressive1There’s something about the experience of being in my own body that does not translate into being able to figure out what I look like. It’s an odd thing to say, but it’s my lived experience. I suppose that most of the time, I have a pretty good sense of how others see me. I hear feedback about how a dress looks or what friends think of certain jeans. I look at photos or I ask questions. Sometimes, though, I’m completely out of whack despite these inputs. Continue reading

At The Garden

To forget how to dig the earth; to tend to the soil is to forget ourselves.
–Gandhi

Pleasant Progressive1I tend to a plot in a community garden nearby my house. It’s about twenty feet long and ten wide—big enough to grow lots of tomatoes, lettuce and kale, and squashes that take over toward the end of summer. This past gardening season, I decided the compost pile in the corner of my plot was less useful than the larger community compost piles scattered on the outskirts of the garden. To make better use of the space in my own plot and put that rich soil to use, I built another raised bed in its place. I’ve got some pretty awesome greens growing there now, and I’m really happy with the added gardening space. Continue reading

You Can’t Fix Stupid

curmudgeon logo2We have a new neighbor.  In our little section of the world this serves as excitement.  The new guy is single, apparently pretty liberal, and except for the fact that he’s a lawyer, seems a good fit to the neighborhood. We can’t all be perfect.  Every Friday night the men in the neighborhood get together for a fire and an adult beverage or several.  Now and then the women’s auxiliary joins us.  A core group of us has been doing this for nearly 20 years now, rain or shine, summer and winter.  We talk about all sorts of things, listen to the same old stories with feigned attention, share our lives and keep each other up on what’s going on in the neighborhood and the world.  We have, of course, solved all of mankind’s problems many times over, although mankind doesn’t seem to notice.  We are convinced that if every neighborhood did this we could solve most problems in short order, but, alas, people are too busy apparently. Continue reading

Shake the Sleeping Baby

Pleasant Progressive1The last few weeks have been busy in Washington, D.C. The Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill, the Supreme Court issued some really fantastic and some not so great decisions, and I spent my spare time making table decorations for my best friend’s wedding. All of this wall-to-wall action got me thinking about the question of calling the question: how does one know when it’s the right time to make the big ask, intervene, or give a situation a gentle push. Continue reading

Beyond Here, There Be Dragons

curmudgeon logo2Most likely, the two of you who read these pieces regularly will have noted that I have absented myself from the inter-webs of late.  Think of it as a high colonic for the soul.  Not only have I refrained from writing, but also from reading the several blogs and columns that I normally seek out to keep me abreast of the world’s inexorable march to whatever fate awaits it.  Meanwhile, of course, the world did in fact march on, but it seems I didn’t miss much. Continue reading

Some More Dualities

Pleasant Progressive1Someone sent a ranty email around at work last week that closed with the line, “stay angry, keep punching, and never let the bastards see you cry.” If there is better advice for making it in the wild world that is politics in Washington D.C., I have not seen it. Yet this advice totally contradicts the vision I have of an open-hearted life—one led with a focus on honesty, kindness, and patience. Perhaps foolishly, this is the kind of life I envision on the west coast, where there’s always time to meditate and eat kale salad. The thing is, I love the idea of anger and fisticuffs and bastardos just as much as I despise the sentiment that success in politics is impossible without them. Continue reading