Here’s a passage from a book I was reading that I found eerily familiar, especially considering the current climate, and especially when I removed certain words. What do you think of the following (which war):
But _____________ success during the next nine months, again mainly in the East, discouraged so many ______ voters with the prospect of ever winning the war that the Democrats made great gains in congressional elections and potentially threatened the _____ administration’s ability to continue the war.
____ was an avid reader of _______ newspapers smuggled across the lines. From them he gleaned not only bits of military intelligence but also — and more important in this case — information about ________ politics and the growing disillusionment with the war among Democrats and despair among Republicans. One of _____ purposes in the _________ invasion was to intensify this ________ demoralization in advance of the congressional elections in the fall of ____. He hoped that ________ military success would encourage antiwar candidates. If Democrats could gain control of the House, it might cripple the ______ administration’s ability to carry on the war.
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Bet you didn’t think that the author was talking about the Civil War, right? Here’s the full quote:
But Confederate success during the next nine months, again mainly in the East, discouraged so many Northern voters with the prospect of ever winning the war that the Democrats made great gains in congressional elections and potentially threatened the Lincoln administration’s ability to continue the war.
Lee was an avid reader of Northern newspapers smuggled across the lines. From them he gleaned not only bits of military intelligence but also — and more important in this case — information about Northern politics and the growing disillusionment with the war among Democrats and despair among Republicans. One of Lee’s purposes in the Maryland invasion was to intensify this Northern demoralization in advance of the congressional elections in the fall of 1862. He hoped that Confederate military success would encourage antiwar candidates. If Democrats could gain control of the House, it might cripple the Lincoln administration’s ability to carry on the war.
From McPherson’s new book, This Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil War.
What follows, now that we are on the cusp of summer, now that we have spent some time this past weekend thinking about our men and women who have made the final sacrifice so that we could enjoy our liberty, now that we look forward to the long, sunlit days and warm and humid nights, now it seems appropriate to consider some truths (summer edition):
*Kosher hot dogs taste better than other hot dogs;
*I believe that while the world may be renewed every day by the breath of school children, the world takes joy from every whoop pulled from a child's mouth upon jumping off into the first cannonball of the year;
*Anti-bug candles are a scam;
*The sound that a well struck tennis ball makes is very satisfying (especially after laying off the sport for 15 years);
*Teenage girls in bikinis do not look like the teenage girls in bikinis I remember. If the girls back then looked like the girls today, I would never have had the courage to speak to a single one of them;
*The smells of summer are grand -- suntan lotion coming off the hair of a child cuddling on your lap; warm flowers; cold beer; freshly cut lawn; charcoal coming up to temperature; even chlorine smells nice;
*Roasted peanuts and beer at minor league baseball. Enough said;
*The feeling like the sun is never going to set and your summer day is going to stretch out into infinity with endless possibilities and always enough time for just one more jump into the water;
*Watching sailboats in the distance makes me think of the best of modern dance and poetry combined as the boats dance and weave around each other and as the sails dip and fill with the capricious whims of the wind;
*Warm tomatoes fresh from the vine. My grandafather used to eat them like apples. I used to think that was odd. I don't any longer;
*All the glorious summer fruits make me realize that even as wonderous as they are, they are but a pale shadow of the fruits of Mexico and Guatemala;
*Summer makes me want to play hooky in ways winter never, ever does.
Feel free to add your own, should you feel inspired.
We spent Memorial Day at a beach club, playing in the pools and basking in the sun. We adjourned for lunch at the outdoor snack bar area by the water. The snack bar is under new management and the Girl Child did not care for it even one little bit. She did not like the kid menu. As she explained:
There are only two choices for drinks and that is totally unacceptable. They did have pink lemonade; however, it was yucky.
A very tough customer.
I have not been inspired to write of late. I look at the blank screen and I got a whole lot of nothing. I have been considering whether I should close it up, wondering whether I have written everything I have to write, contemplated whether I am done. I have decided not to make any decisions. Just to let it ride for a bit longer and see what happens. Maybe I continue; maybe I don't. I'm really not certain at all.
In the meantime, I am going to do a series of mini-posts, all contained within this larger post. A bit of catch up, if you will.
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This has been a stressful week at home. We received very unwelcome and expensive news concerning the condition of the house. We have rot issues that will take many thousands of dollars (and I mean, many) to rectify and the rectification process must begin immediately. So, let's see. The Viking Bride has removed (with my blessings) her salary from our income statement and our budget just got shot out of the water with a huge cap. ex. problem. Yeah, life continues to get interesting.
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Attended a squash clinic on Wednesday night with a young kid late of the Trinity College Squash team -- they are basically professionals, all of them. It was the best time I had all week. And I was even able to move the next day. But I learned a lot.
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Mother's Day was outstanding. My mother felt well enough to attend brunch with us. The Girl Child (aged 6) spent part of a school day writing a card for both her grandfather and grandmother. It read:
Thank you for making my life so much nicer. I love you lots.
The Girl Child
Not a dry eye in the house after having read that.
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The Boy Child is still sucking his thumb. We are not that happy about it.
While at brunch, I had to take him to the bathroom. Upon our return, his plate with his cookie on it was gone. He was not pleased.
BC: Pappa! My cookie's gone!
Me: So, go back to the dessert table and get another one.
BC: I don't want to go by myself.
Me: Well, I just took you to the bathroom and I am not taking you to the dessert table. Ask your sister if she will take you.
BC: Girl Child, will you take me to the dessert table.
GC: Yes. [gets up, holds out her hand to him, he puts his hand in hers and they set off]
Then I hear her say
GC: But Boy Child, if I see you put that thumb in your mouth, we are coming right back. Do you understand?
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Celebrated 17 Mai yesterday. Norwegian Constitution Day. I had to give a dinner for a committee I serve on so I created a 4 course meal that the chef made for us. It was a stunning success. Much aquavit and beer. So much that when I was in the gym this morning, my sweat smelled like caraway, of all things.
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I have been immersed, in my own head, thinking about issues concerning pricing and value. I started a post on it but didn't finish it. Maybe I will.
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I hope you all have a great weekend (anyone still reading, that is)!
A college diploma is the tangible evidence of having been adjudged to have received an education. An education, a college education, is what all parents in the United States want for their children. I say "all parents" but it probably isn't all, just the majority. You probably heard it all the time from your parents so much -- "if you don't buckle down, you'll never get into college and then see what your life will become!" -- that it became a joke to you -- "if you can't shotgun that beer, dude, you'll never succeed in college".
So, college, the ultimate American escape (from high school, from parents, from the life you led prior to college, etc.), looms large in your mind. It shimmers on the horizon like a vision of, what, fear (thanks to your parents), escape, and, for the lucky few, the chance to expand their minds. But, I wonder, do you ever really get away from the fear?
Every so often, when you see a homeless person, do you clutch your education to your chest and rub it like a talisman, saying to yourself, I have my education, I will never be like that?
Wow, no time sucks at all for months and then two, one right after the other. Today's time suck is the interactive British History Timeline put up by the BBC (an organization I normally hold in the higest disdain). They did a good job here and it is really pretty cool. You scroll through the historical periods and see what the BBC considered relevant or important in British history. My only problem with it is that it is way too light on the pre-Roman stuff. Still, more fun than not.
When the neurosurgeon walked into the waiting room last night at just past 7:00, still wearing his scrubs and clogs, my father and I were the only ones sitting there. We had been at the hospital since a little after 11:00 that morning to visit with my mother and to help her pass the time until they came to take her away for her surgery.
She had been in the hospital since Sunday. My father had her taken over when she was suddenly unable to sit up or stand. They ran a cat scan and discovered that, in two areas, she had been bleeding in her brain and that blood clots had formed and were compressing her brain inwards. The neurosurgeon thought that it was important to relieve the pressure and to remove the clots and recommended surgical intervention. She was admitted Sunday afternoon.
When we spoke, she and I, on Sunday evening after I called to say good night to her and to tell her that I loved her, she told me that she wanted to kill herself. I have never heard her express despair like this. I was shredded by this. I was consoled only by the call my father made to me later that evening to tell me that she was totally disoriented, asking him why he was still in the office (at 9 on a Sunday) and asking further about why she was in the hospital. I have decided to attribute her statement, her unbelievably out of character statement, to the confusion caused by her condition. Just the same, I slept only about 3.5 hours Sunday night into Monday and those hours I did sleep were not restorative.
I left work early on Monday to commute back to Westport to get the car and the Viking Bride and drive down to the hospital in Greenwich. We visited with my mom for an hour or so and took off. The Girl Child had to be taken to observe a violin lesson. My father drove up and joined us for dinner.
Yesterday, I again left work early and met my father at the hospital. My mother slept from about 12 to 2 but we were with her until they took her away at 5:00 or so. The surgery was supposed to be at around 3, but was delayed due to an emergency.
Waiting is difficult. I shan't elaborate.
After they took her off, my father and I walked to a local restaurant to sit and decompress while they performed the surgery. We ate too much and drank a little wine. We discussed the future. He is quite a realist, my father.
And then, all too soon, we were in the waiting room, again, alone but for another woman waiting for news, too.
The doctor looked so grave when he approached us. I don't know if he was tired or whether that was simply his normal manner. But the news, he said, was very good and she came through the procedure with flying colors.
My father made a peculiar strangled gulping noise and I realized, looking at him, that he bit back a sob.
He looked at the doctor and said, clearly teared up:
Doctor, we have been married 42 years. You look at this woman and you see this withered thing. But I don't see that. When I look at her, this is what I see. [And he pulled his wallet out and showed the doctor that picture of my mother when she was maybe 22 years old]. This is how she looks to me. Thank you for helping her.
I am a bit tearful now as I re-tell this here. It was a beautiful statement and a wonderful sentiment.
The doctor thinks that having had the pressure relieved on her brain, he expects her brain to "come up again" and re-expand to occupy the full space in her skull. This really was excellent news.
I must say, I cannot believe it is only Wednesday. I feel as if I have had a life time packed into the last three days.