Archive for May, 2007

Birthday wishes Mummy Dearest!

May 31, 2007

Happy Birthday Mummy Dearest-Life in Avalon !

You inspire me daily with the beautiful, graceful way that you tackle being a good wife and parent and working, and still find time to admire the beauty in every day all around you. I can�t wait until we are neighbors again!

I dedicate this poem to you on your b-day Mummy Dearest! I love you!

At Great Pond
At Great Pond the sun, rising, scrapes his orange breast on the thick pines, and down tumble a few orange feathers into the dark water. On the far shore a white bird is standing like a white candle —or a man, in the distance, in the clasp of some meditation —while all around me the lilies are breaking open again from the black cave of the night. Later, I will consider what I have seen —what it could signify —what words of adoration I might make of it, and to do thisI will go indoors to my desk —I will sit in my chair —I will look back into the lost morning in which I am moving, now, like a swimmer, so smoothly, so peacefully, I am almost the lily —almost the bird vanishing over the water on its sleeves of night.
~Mary Oliver


"Good-bye America": How the GOP Subverted American Ideals & Values

May 31, 2007

Cindy Sheehan has packed it up, giving up her valient struggle because America is no longer the country she grew up in and loved. Who can blame her? America is no longer the country I knew and grew up in. I loathe the values the GOP would ram down our throats. I am right. The GOP is dead wrong.

Good-bye America… you are not the country that I love and I finally realized no matter how much I sacrifice, I can’t make you be that country unless you want it.

– Cindy Sheehan

I hear that all the time these days. This is not America. This is not the America I knew. What ever happened to Free Speech? What the hell happened to this country? Dude, Where’s My Country?

When one begins an article like this it is most often done with a qualification that the intent of the article is not to cast blame or to point an accusatory finger. Well, that’s not the case this time around. I know who fucked up America and if I should fail to point an accusatory finger I will not have done my job.

The American right wing in cahoots with the big corporations have bent America over and screwed her silly. This pack of liars and crooks partnered with Ronald Reagan to outsource the very soul of this country.

They waged war on all working Americans and small business.

They conspired to create a corporate, fascist state.

They conspired to destroy the labor movement.

They divided the nation into haves and have nots.

They stole the American air waves and gave it to the likes of Clear Channel, FOX, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

They divided the nation along religious lines, rewarding fundamentalism with your tax dollars.

They built up an empire and called it a “war on terrorism” but, in fact, they made terrorism worse [See: Of Schadenfreude, G�tterd�mmerung and Bush’s gestalt of failure, war crimes, and treason!]. In fact, the “war on terrorism” is a bloody fraud, terrorism is worse and former friends and allies now despise us.

They outsourced your job!

They devalued the dollar.

They created an America propped up by a world which cannot afford not to prop up the US economy.

They have proven that they care nothing about global warming, and, in fact, deny science, reason and free enquiry.

They destroyed, perhaps forever, the integrity of the electoral process.

The effects are not only economic, though I have written reams about how Reagan’s policies ushered in the present era characterized by obscene disparities of income. The effects are related to the deterioration of education and the mass media. In both instances, reason and science are denigrated and under attack by the forces of superstition, mumbo jumbo and pernicious ideology.

That Ronald Reagan’s economic program was called “voodoo economics” was ominous. His was the first “voodoo” administration, characterized by meaningless, feel-good platitudes, nonsense, lies, religious ideology and perhaps real voodoo for all the good done by Reagan. Many, indeed, felt cursed.

It was all GOP code words and consultant crafted jargon. Some thirty percent of the population didn’t care if Reagan was telling the truth. Important for them was the fact that whatever he puked up made them feel good about themselves.

Ronald Reagan elevated stupidity and inarticulateness to hero worship status. He would not be equalled or surpassed until George W. Bush arrived on the national stage. It was not only Democrats who suffered in this new dark age. It was also articulate Republicans like Nelson Rockefeller and John Anderson. There was no place for them in the new GOP. There was no place for intelligence in medieval America. There was no place for enlightenment amid American Gothic. There was no place for debate when brute force and stolen elections guarantee a win.

George W. Bush took up where Reagan left off – elevating the cult of the stupid, blazing new trails for inarticulateness, making a half-baked omelet of scrambled thought processes. On numerous occassions, he has asked the media:

“… who ought to make that decision? The Congress or the commanders? And as you know, my position is clear — I’m a commander guy.” –George W. Bush, who apparently is no longer “The Decider,” Washington, DC, May 2, 2007 (Watch video clip)

Evelyn Pringle, writing for Buzzflash, counters:

This country is now paying a heavy price for Bush’s lack of military experience, and his taunting invitation of “bring it on,” that has resulted in a never ending stream of challengers traveling to Iraq to teach our loudmouth president a lesson.

– Evelyn Pringle, What Military Service Qualifies Bush To Lead Iraq War? Buzzflash

I believe Cindy Sheehan’s plaintive adieu to be symptomatic of a new American malaise, the palpable sense of despair and helplessness felt by all Americans as their beloved America, an ideal of Democracy, slips inexorably into a black hole of right wing lies and malevolence.

Fears of another, deliberate middle east war are very real and justified, given the rogue nature of an illegitimate regime in America. The implications of a protracted and ever widening Middle East war, spreading from Afghanistan and Iraq to include Iran are just too terrible and disastrous to contemplate.

It may be too late to halt the inexorable march to war. Bush has most probably taken the US past the event horizon. A descent into oblivion may be unstoppable.

Generally, the term “Dark Ages” is used to denote a period of time beginning in 476 AD, the date on which the barbarian Odoacer deposed the last Roman emperor, Romulus Augustulus. The “Dark Ages” were a period of religious struggle. Protestants are more inclined to use the term “Dark Ages”, while Catholic writers tend to characterize the era as harmonious and productive. It is fair to say that Bush’s last redoubt of popular support will be found among radical fundamentalists who share Bush’s extremist visions of the apocalypse. An apocalypse of his devising!

The Dark Ages were times of great religious struggle and extensive Muslim conquests. It is easy to imagine the West’s current antipathy toward Islam having its origins in a dark age in which Muslim and nomadic warriors rode through the ruins of fallen empire, perhaps laying waste to farms and villages. It must be remembered, however, that by the time of the crusades, many Muslims and Christians lived peaceably side by side from Constantinople to the Red Sea.

One has nightmares about America’s descent into darkness and self-created hell. It is a dark vortex threatening to suck up ala Stephen King’s Langoliers the world we knew. Like all big media productions, it has a soundtrack: H. Ross Perot’s giant suckiing sound down south and a goofy little ditty performed by George W. Bush -an absurd buck and wing with a bit of his own stupid doggerel thrown in for the surrealistic effect.

Make the Pie Higher

I think we all agree, the past is over.
This is still a dangerous world.
It’s a world of madmen
And uncertainty>
And potential mental losses.

Rarely is the question asked
Is our children learning?
Will the highways of the internet
Become more few?
How many hands have I shaked?

They misunderestimate me.
I am a pitbull on the pantleg of opportunity.
I know that the human being and the fish Can coexist.

Families is where our nation finds hope
Where our wings take dream.
Put food on your family!
Knock down the tollbooth!
Vulcanize society!
Make the pie higher!
Make the pie higher!

A video update and another reason not to believe Bush’s official “theory” about how the towers of the WTC fell:

Monster Nephew’s 1st Birthday and the Full Moon Phenomenon

May 30, 2007
Today has been such a bizarre day at the library and I attribute that to the fact that there will be a full moon tomorrow night.

In the midst of all this madness, I had to pause and reflect on a year ago today when my nephew, Monster A, was born. On my lunch break I called my sister, who put me on speaker phone so that I could sing �Happy Birthday,� to Monster A, who promptly hung up on me when I was finished-I kid you not. I think the full moon has gotten a hold of him too.

Back at the desk I began to notice signs of edginess (all full moon related as far as I am concerned): People complaining to me about cell phones, irritable patrons, and snappish students. Now don�t get me wrong, these are normal signs from day to day, but today it seemed that there were more cases than normal. Did you know that crime rates for certain violent offensives rise around the time of the full moon? And it has been noted that dog bites sometimes increase as well around this lunar cycle.

I really believe that there is something animalistic that is within us, and is called to come out on this most crazy of nights. Didn�t anyone else wonder about how the words �lunar� and �lunacy� come from the same roots? There is a madness beyond our control that comes alive when the moon is full. I believe that things like werewolves are based in old cultures realizing this time when people become strange and act differently for whatever reasons. The term has been misconstrued, �were,� means man, and �wolf,� we know as the animal, but another definition that can be found for the word �wolf� via is, �a cruelly rapacious person.� The moon calls out our instinctive greedy, self serving nature; our hungry other. That is the true meaning�there is a werewolf in all of us.

I have recently fallen in love with the show �Northern Exposure,� which ran from 1990-1995. I love how Chris, the disc jockey in town, opens many shows with, �this is Chris in the morning,� and he shares his deep philosophical mind wanderings, reads from great books, and plays awesome music. My favorite episode, entitled: “Aurora Borealis (A Fairy Tale for Grown-Ups),� from the 1st season chronicles the going-ons in Cicely, Alaska as the full moon approaches and everyone in town starts to get a little crazy. This is what Chris had to say about the full moon:

“There’s a dark side to each and every human soul. We wish we were Obi-Wan Kenobi, and for the most part we are, but there’s a little Darth Vader in all of us. Thing is, this ain’t no either-or proposition. We’re talking about dialectics, the good and the bad merging into us. You can run but you can’t hide. My experience? Face the darkness. Stare it down. Own it. As brother Nietzsche said, being human is a complicated gig. So give that ol’ dark night of the soul a hug. Howl the eternal yes!”

Memorial Day

May 30, 2007
Memorial Day was a lovely day. The library was closed so I found myself with a whole day to be dedicated to homework, which in reality means a day that was wasted on having coffee with a friend; doing just enough homework to not feel too guilty; and then going home, at which point my brother A3 and friend Chris stopped by. The three of us along with my roomie M played two games of Euchre while we sat outside on the deck and enjoyed the perfect weather. It felt nice to sip cold beers and play cards and laugh. For a little while I forgot the homework and all the reading that was waiting in my backpack for me. Sometimes I feel like school is so engrossing that I forget to just relax sometimes. Yes, it was a lovely day, and I am always thankful for the days that end lazily and in the company of friends.

When the GOP Changes the Subject, "…the implications are deadly for the people of the United States"

May 29, 2007

The GOP never wins a debate. It just changes the subject. Right wing consultants call this “re-framing”.

Specifically, Democrats who had been in a position to take the offensive found themselves defending “funding cuts” when the GOP should have been defending an immoral war of aggression. The GOP had merely to characterize Democratic efforts as a Democratic failure to “support the troop” and the Democrats go from offense to defense.

As Glenn Greenwald argued in Salon, “cutting off funding” never meant US soldiers would suddenly find themselves without guns, ammo or food. Congress would have done what it usually does. The leadership would have worked to determine a date for a safe withdrawal and fund the war through that date. The GOP changed the subject, misrepresented the Democratic position and went on offense.

Democrats have no excuse. They should have caught on by now. Once again, they allowed the GOP to re-position them and change the parameters of debate. It was no longer about ending the war, opposed by some 70 percent of the US voting public. It became about “withdrawing support for the troops”, opposed by almost as many.

The new premise was simply not true. The GOP had done it again – and again gotten away with it. Another GOP myth goes mainstream. Why is this allowed to happen repeatedly? Are Democrats not aware that the GOP hires highly paid consultants whose job it is to lie and make it sound like truth? The tactics were spelled out long ago by Joseph Goebbels and more recently by Saul Alinsky‘s “Rules for Radicals“, an activists handbook written originally for a left leaning audience.

Democrats should be on offense. They should attack GOP lies and crimes. Democrats have probably never had a better opportunity to seize the initiative. Typically, they appear to have blown it again — the result is that the US is stuck in Iraq where troops are NOT supported. They are targeted.

The Democrats should hammer home the point that Bush’s position in Iraq is immoral and un-American even as the war bankrupts the nation. Democrats should ridicule Bush’s ludicrous defense of the war. For example, at a White House Rose Garden news conference of May 24, 2007, Bush got away with making contradictory statements. First, he said if we leave Iraq before al Qaeda is defeated the “terrorists will follow us home”. Then, he followed up with a promise already broken. He said that if the Iraqi government asks us to leave, we will. Haven’t they done precisely that?

GOP propagandists depend on the gullibility of the American people and the numbing drone of a mindless MSM to get across contradictory and ludicrous statements. For example, Bin Laden is still “on the loose” because “we haven’t got ’em yet”.

Bush’s statements are nonsensical and contradictory because they are lies. Representative Dennis Kucinich takes Bush apart on this issue. But, at the same time, he points out that ‘this is a moment of truth’ for the Democratic party. Kucinich claims that Bush is laying down the ground work for continuing the Iraq war throughout his term. It will take that time, presumably, to guarantee the “privatization” of Iraqi oil –an act Kucinich says is nothing less than “theft”!

A pattern of recklessness, indifference, callousness – the implications are deadly for the people of the United States.

– Representative Dennis Kucinich

Climbing Over the Wall (or the end of Nathan’s visit)

May 28, 2007

Sunday morning flew by because I didn�t want it to. Nathan was leaving for the farm and I wanted desperately to cram myself into his luggage, and I was dreading going back to work and the start of summer classes which were to begin the next day.

It is always hard to part with good friends, no? Whenever I get sad I try and find a poem that makes me feel better, so without further ado, some lines from one of my favorite poets:

�And on a day we meet to walk the line And set the wall between us once again. We keep the wall between us as we go. To each the boulders that have fallen to each. And some are loaves and some so nearly balls We have to use a spell to make them balance: ‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’ We wear our fingers rough with handling them. Oh, just another kind of out-door game, One on a side. It comes to little more: There where it is we do not need the wall��
~Mending Wall, Robert Frost

Thanks for coming to visit Nathan-see you in June!

A Whirlwind Day of Activity (or Day 5 of Nathan’s visit)

May 28, 2007

Saturday I was scheduled to work, so we woke up early and headed over to Rochester Hills to check out their farmers market. I will spare the details of that visit, as I already wrote about it in another blog called �A Visit to the Rochester Hills Farmers Market.�

From there we were headed to D-town. After a brief �go this way, go that way,� Nathan was off, headed for an afternoon skirting through the museum section of Detroit, while I got settled at the library. While I was answering reference questions, Nathan was visiting the Ansel Adams exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Arts and the “Our Body” exhibit at the Detroit Science Center. I would like to say that I was glad to be back at work-I do love my job, really-but, I would have rather been at the museums with Nathan. I am bummed, the Ansel Adams exhibit closed yesterday and I didn�t get over to see it�I guess I will just have to go to the museum in Boston that is letting it out.

Nathan and I rendezvoused as the library was closing. We made our way to Greektown, the section of Detroit that is known for its tasty Greek restaurants and�um, casinos�because we know how those Greeks love to gamble�? We went to Hella�s where not only did we eat, but we got to watch many trays of saginaki (flaming cheese) get set ablaze while we tried to decide if a place like this with all its flaming cheese has higher insurance rates. Hmmm�one of life�s great mysteries.
Because I am cheap and refuse to pay for parking if I can help it, we left my car in Greektown and walked what must have been two miles back to the Majestic Theater on Woodward for the Ben Gibbard concert. Ben Gibbard is the lead singer for Death Cab for Cutie, The Postal Service, and All-Time Quarterback. For more details about Ben�s concert, read the blog that I wrote about the show, �Ben Gibbard’s Candy

Majestic Theater Death Cab for Cutie Legos
The show was great but we were both so tired from standing for 4 hours in a smokey club that was packed with people that we were both glad to get back outside in the fresh air. Although at this point we had to walk all the way back down to Greektown in nighttime Detroit. The area around Woodward between the Majestic and the Fox is a little sketchy so I was trying to walk quickly but Nathan thought it was a good idea to take pictures, possibly being inspired by Ansel Adams landscapes�? However, I pointed out that drug dealers and crack whores don�t like having their pictures taken and I would rather not get shot that night, to which Nathan replied, �sometimes you have to suffer for your art.�

We made it back to the car, and the car was still there, so that paired with the awesome concert�I would call it a good night in Detroit.

The Government of the United States is Illegitimate

May 28, 2007

The implications of a recent Democratic capitulation are not yet known and may not be felt immediately. Many are too stunned to write clearly about it. Many have tossed it off – politics as usual.

There is a new malady: Bush fatigue, characterized by the following symptoms: 1) fed up; 2) pessimism about the future of America, the free world, the world; 3) anger and frustration with a government completely uncaring (remember Katrina), out-of-control, unaccountable, unresponsive to anything or anyone but an increasingly tiny elite of corporate robber barons, militarists, and a hand-full of media moguls. In any case, John Edwards was correct. Democrats should have manned the barricades and left the consequences of veto to fall on Bush’s stupid head.

In the meantime, Democrats have promised to come up with a new strategy with regard to Iraq. It is hoped, however that Democrats understand that this is not politics as usual. Bush has become a rogue President, a reckless practioner of brinkmanship over leadership, of platitudes over policy. I cannot pretend to know what was said behind closed doors. I cannot begin to fathom what Faustian pacts had been made leading up to the Democratic compromise. I cannot begin to understand the nature of Bush’s strangle hold on what we thought had been a Democratically controlled Congress. I am tempted to ask: was Congress threatened? And, if so, with what? And how?

I am at a loss to explain what is most surely the weirdest, the oddest, the strangest exercise of power known to history. By rights in a normal world, a drooling idiot would be challenged to find his way out his front door. He would not be expected to rule. But to compare Bush to drooling idiots is not politically correct. It is unfair to idiots.

All theories fail to satisfy save one: the US government is no longer legitimate. For some time now, the rest of the world has known what Americans have denied to themselves. The Bush administration has betrayed the people and subverted the rule of law. It has no claim to legitimacy. The illegitimate Bush regime is the sheer exercise of raw, arrogant power hell-bent on illegitimate wars of conquest and oil. The government of the US has become Mass Murder, Inc.

This administration is guilty of the ruthless prosecution of unjust and ongoing war crimes and atrocities resulting in the horrible deaths of innocent civilians often with the unspeakable horrific use of white phosperous. The rest of the world saw clearly what Americans simply would not. It saw in the the Bush regime an arrogant, brutal, unjust and criminal junta, a militant gang of usurpers, thugs in suits.

Let the Bush apologists and fellow-travelers protest and howl. Screw ’em! They are but his complicit enablers. The truth will be told: the Bush cabal are Nazis or worse! Hitler had the good sense when all was lost to shoot himself. Who will provide Bush a new rope with instructions on its use?

A short recent history. Bush thugs stole both the election and “re-election”. Goppers themselves called it a coup d’etat and so it was -characterized by felonious, violent assaults on ballot re-counters in Florida. I am not the only one still outraged by this treasonous attack.

Later, when Bush had Iraq in his cross hairs, he began a truly Hitlerian campaign of lies, smears and transparent bullshit. Many were fooled. Beyond forgiveness, however, were members of Congress – Democrat and Republican alike -who knew better yet climbed on board the gravy train. Not all were mere accessories after the fact. It is exceedingly impolite, however, to salivate publicly at the mere mention of lucrative defense contracts.

By now, Bush’s case for war is known to have been a deliberately concocted fraud perpetrated upon the American people. Nothing said by Bush about 911 or about the war in Iraq has been, in any way, true. That debate is won. That case is closed. The verdict is in and Bush has been found a callous, deliberate liar. For me, the issue is: why is Bush not yet rotting in a dank cell when thousands of innocent Texans still languish in the Bush gulags down in Texas? Why have not formal charges been lodged at the International Tribunal to bring this mass murderer to trial for his crimes? Why are the rich, the powerful, the NEOCON connected still free to walk about and endanger the whole of humankind?

It has been said that never before had an act of war been so adamantly and powerfully opposed. Bush did not merely “not listen”, he presided over a deliberate and well-orchestrated campaign to demonize his opposition. His targets included Cindy Sheehan, whose own sacrifice for Bush’s vainglorious ambitions, were derided. Lives, careers, reputations were ruined by this sorry ass gang of crooks who daily flout the values of our founding.

It was not only the people of the US who were targeted by these Neo-nazis. It was any voice anywhere in the world which dared speak against the tyranny, which dared oppose the Bush campaign to wage aggressive war in pursuit of world domination. A warning to Bush enablers who still indulge delusions of Bush’s “divinity”, his supposed relationship with “the Lord”. Save it for your trial on capital crimes charges. See US Codes; Section 2441. It is not God that Bush talks to. In any case, spare me an idiot’s ideology. I want justice.

At last, when all is known to have been black-hearted, malicious lies, Bush is reduced to repeating a failed strategy because abandoning his crime in the commission of it will prove the case against him. The appropriation bill, it is said, was signed in blood. Therefore, more American lives are required to pull Bush’s sorry fat out of the fire. The future is now and it was forged with Bush’s order to attack Iraq. There was an urgency to stop the war before it began. There is greater urgency now to remove Bush from office.

To whom do we now turn to achieve this? Not the Democrats. They have made their GOP-like pact with Ol’ Scratch.

There is left but one solution. Revolution! It also fitting that the inspiration as well as the philosophical basis may be found in the history of this nation’s creation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. � That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, � That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

– Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence

No mere string of platitudes, the “Declaration” is a “revolutionary” document. It is the irrefutable case that when governments of any type become “illegitimate” it is the right of the people to abolish and replace them by any means. Moreover, the case is made that the “Crown” had become illegitimate in terms of its own precepts, primarily English law, common law, and principles espoused by the crown itself. After having established the principles compelling the American revolution, Jefferson went on to enumerate numerous, egregious violations of those laws and principles by the Crown.

There had been hope that Democratic opposition might work within the present framework to reign in a rogue and illegitimate regime. But continued democratic sellouts will change the paradigm, perhaps forever. Until Democrats put Bush’s feet to the fire, they will remain a part of the problem. Until they redeem themselves, they have become Bush’s complicit enablers.

During his campaign for the White House, Bush had said that he was a “uniter, not a divider”. But, as he demonized Iraq in the run up to aggressive war, he said “you are either with me, or against me”. I have bad news for Bush. Either he is for the Constitution or he is against it. Time and again he has proven himself to be against it. He has proven true the charge that he considers the Constitution a “goddamned piece of paper”. Having flouted the very bases of legitimacy, it is time for Bush to go.

As long as the contagion was confined to Bush’s illegitimate party and his illegitimate White House, impeachment, the only remedy short of revolution, might have been a viable solution. Now the contagion is no longer confined. The Democrats are equally complicit in the commission of Bush’s capital crimes. What other recourse is there when Congress proves itself complicit in the crimes of the executive?

Bush has left in his wake a broken and illegitimate government. The people are left no choice but a substantive redress of serious and fundamental grievances having to do with the very legitimacy of every government institution. Is there nothing left America but revolution?

An update from an American serviceman at an American military cemetary in Europe:

Well, I was a generationally removed GI in Europe, and it was Memorial Day. I wonder what these poor bastards would think if they were here today and could check out this little video from Take Back The Media: what do you suppose would cross their minds if they were to discover that a descendant of Nazi sympathizers and war profiteers is now the de facto dictator of the nation that they served in the titanic struggle to destroy the Nazis? Would that be seen as cruelly ironic, maybe, or as a sick joke, or what?

About the only conclusion I can draw, on this Memorial Day, is that the Nazis actually won the war after all.

Barstool Chronicles

Additionnal resources:

Return to the city (or Day 4 of Nathan’s visit)

May 27, 2007

I was sad to have to go Friday morning. Time away never seems long enough does it? After the car was packed, and everything lost was found, we headed down to the dock to say goodbye to the Manistee River. I went to the cabin a few times as a kid and my ritual was to always run down and offer something to the water. It never seemed silly to me, but when there is someone else there it�s a lot harder to beieve as much in the philosophies we held as kids. I threw my pinecomb in the water and watched as it tried to make its way around the bend in the river that would take it out of sight. There is something sacred about that place Up North, so many good memories tie us to a place, don�t they?

The car ride back was good, Nathan, cat-napped as I drove and enjoyed familiar music. I always loved driving, so many thoughts and ideas and stories come into my head. It felt funny to be driving South on a Friday when many people with cabins or cottages are would be heading North to spend the weekend in their cabins.

Nathan and I stopped by the Southfield Public Library on our way back to my house; it was a nice detour to get us out of rush-hour traffic on I-696. Another thing I was able to introduce Nathan to, rush-hour traffic and our horrendous highways. Living out East for the past few years before settling back in the Detroit area I became accustomed to the smooth highways like the I-90 into Boston. Returning to this area I realized just how terrible our highways are. It was these very highways that took us to the Southfield Library, which too me is an impressive example of a library.

Entering into the library made me feel like a kid in a candy shop. Every room provided an age appropriate and interesting design that highlights the collection and provides a sense of comfort. The Young Adult section is a room full of funky lighting and design with lots of room for kids to gather and talk or use the computers. The Kids area was my favorite. There are huge trees that can be leaned against or sat under, which simulate sitting outside under a tree (awesome in the winter!), a miniature castle that can be crawled into, a snoring dragon, a kings chair big enough for two adults to sit in, and a reading room that is designed to look like a spaceship! I was getting so excited in these areas that I think Nathan was wondering if he was going to have to give me a sedative. J The adult rooms are less exciting, just lots of areas with dozens and dozens of computers and a beautiful reading area in front of a beautiful fireplace.

The rest of the day was spent lazing around. We strolled through my favorite nearby park, the Rochester Municipal Park, where spring had finally sprung-all the plant life showing off its green. Later we met up with my roommate and her friend for drinks, but otherwise things were very low-key. Probably a good reintroduction into the city after being in the lovely, quiet of the country; waking up that morning to the sights and sounds of the country already seemed a distant dream.

The Sleeping Bear Dunes (or Day 3 of Nathan’s visit)

May 27, 2007

Thursday began as every Thursday begins, with a sunrise, in this case one that had already begun creeping in through the bedroom curtains. I love the spring and summer when the sun is out so much earlier in the morning. It was lovely to wake up and be able to look out of the window at woods and know that if I opened the window and let in the cool morning air I would hear the sound of a peacefully moving river not far away.

We were in the car again for another adventure that morning, headed for the Sleeping Bear Dunes. Some history of the area: �The Sleeping Bear Dune is estimated to be about two thousand years old and has a fascinating history. It is classified as a perched dune because it is perched on top of a plateau, high above the lake. When the dune was forming, it was not at the edge of the bluff, but somewhat inland. Wind carried sand from the upper portion of the Lake Michigan bluff inland and deposited it to form the Sleeping Bear Dune.� ~Sleeping Bear Dune Official Website

We drove through Traverse City again to get to Empire, MI., where the National Park is, though this time as we drove into the city we came in from another direction which allowed us to see the Bison herd that lives in Traverse City.

After paying $10 to get a pass into the park (a pass that apparently we did not even need since there were no rangers to check) we began the scenic car tour of the park, stopping along the way to admire overlooks of Lake Michigan and the North and South Manitou Islands, which I learned: �North and South Manitou Islands were settled while Michigan was still young, with European immigrants and the US Lighthouse Service establishing permanent settlements on the islands in the 1840s. The Islands were an important stopping point for ships on Lake Michigan, providing wood for the early steamers, food, and ice among other things. South Manitou Island also was the only natural harbor for 220 miles along the Michigan shore, and many ships weathered fierce storms there.� ~Leelanau/Manitou Islands Info. We were told by a park ranger that some of the original families still have houses on the islands and are allowed to stay on until there is no longer anyone in the family to live there, at which point the property will be purchased by the park.

I was glad that I read part of The Legend of Sleeping Bear to Nathan at the bookstore the day before because I thought it was nice that he knew the Native American folklore surrounding the Dunes. I had to put this quote in from the book, �Long ago, along the Wisconsin shoreline, a mother bear and her two cubs were driven into Lake Michigan by a raging forest fire. The bears swam for many hours, but eventually the cubs tried and lagged behind. Mother bear reached the shore and climbed to the top of a high bluff to watch and wait for her cubs. Too tired to continue, the cubs drowned within sight of the shore. The Great Spirit Manitou created two islands to mark the spot where the cubs disappeared and then created a solitary dune to represent the faithful mother bear.�
~Kathy-Jo Wargin,
The Legend of the Sleeping Bear. This book is awesome!

After our drive through the park, Nathan and I decided to take on the 3 mile Dune walk, which was a great way to really have an appreciation for the Dunes. My favorite area was what is called a �bowl,� where the winds blow in hard from the water and sweep the sands around in a circular motion, which leaves the area smoothed out and shaped like a bowl, hence its name. It felt like a desert when we walked through, very lonely and with barren trees, dead stumps that stand pointy and grey and make up what is called a �ghost town.� That name felt fitting especially when we came across a little skull from probably a snake that had been there so long it too was bleached white.

We were going to take on the big Dune climb which is an uphill wall of sand, Michigan�s own pyramid, but I wanted to take Nathan to Benzonia to see my favorite little shop, Gwen Frostic Prints, so we missed that hike in my pursuit to get to Benzonia. Gwen Frostic was a Michigander, a native of the Benzonia area, where she worked as an artist, both drawing and writing until she died in her mid 90�s when I was in my undergrad. Her prints suggest a simplistic love of nature and animals and the peaceful harmony we can obtain with them just by careful observance. My favorite is her little raccoon, which I pasted on the page.

We arrived only to find Gwen Frostic�s shop closed; we arrived 20 minutes after closing time. So, we headed back to the cabin and after getting lost and turned around about one hundred times because I insisted that we could find our way without a map, though I eventually bought one-I swallowed my pride when I came to the conclusion that at the rate we were going, Nathan would spend his whole vacation in my car!

By the end of that day I was ready to pack my bags and move Up North so I could be near closer to nature. Being there made me regret our return trip back to the city which was slated for the next morning. I tried not to think of it, instead I focused on the low hum of the cabin heater and the good memories I would take away from that place.