i've been reading a book, the worst hard times, about life in the depression, when it dried out completely, and soil left turned by fanatic farming blew up into the air for four straight years, at least, i'm only up to 1935. it was a rural country, and the story deals with parts north of here, dalhart, boise city, baca county, places like that. but it tells how people struggled with the intense dryness, the constant dust storms, dust pneumonia, sand dunes up over their model t's, roads blown in by sand and dust. how the texas dust was orangish, the oklahoma dust reddish, the kansas dust black, and the combinations, depending on whether the wind came from the north, or the east, or the west or southwest. people had settled out here hoping to own a little square of prairie, then they clung to it hard, when the wind seemed to blow everything else away.
there is little resemblance to the place i experience today, because we actually have an economy here, one in which a person can go to a fast-food restaurant and get a job, or get one of many other kinds of jobs that often go untaken in places with better stuff to do. we do have dust, and it clouds the view, and it makes driving uncomfortable, but it doesn't pile up on the cars or houses, and, although we value well-sealed windows, we don't need gummy tape to keep that dust out of our houses. some people might; my grad students often talk about the dust just coming in the windows, but, we don't; we got new windows after the hailstorm last year, and those windows are pretty secure.
i mention the economy because that's one way in which i feel pretty much helpless, or vulnerable to forces that are way out of my control. what happens if there is no money, or no work, or no way to get what we need? in my life, it's a general luxury to go to the store, present my little card, have it work, bring home whatever food i need. i think, yes, maybe i should stay in, when the dusters come, when the fine grains of sand get in your teeth and therefore, probably, in your lungs. but what can i do about the bigger picture? very little, i'm afraid.
i restarted my obama campaign, which is, in essence, to get obama to consider putting his library in southern illinois. i believe it's a good idea, and it will sell itself, if only i can get him to see the page, and consider it. i reached the point where i had to either let it go, and forget about it, or try again, so i chose to try again. of course the process brings up feelings about obama & his administration, and my ranch friend spoke right out and said, he's the worst ever anyway, and he'll never buy it. i myself have all kinds of mixed emotions about his presidency, but i'd decided to shelve them; to me by far the greatest importance of it is that the presidency itself gives hope to millions of disenfranchised non-white folks, who really need a sense of belonging to this country, which they could not get in a war-torn, economically depressed place like we've been experiencing. in fact i find that the texas that i know is more or less an island, in the sense that you can still get work, that people aren't just giving up and relying on the government, or going out and stealing stuff. i don't think mccain or romney would have changed that, we were trillions in debt before they even could have started, and do you think giving more money to the rich would have solved the problem? i doubt it. but nevertheless i have qualms about obama himself, i think everyone does, but i think, when it's all over, we'll all say, well, that was interesting, and we lived through it. and, for those who pursue history, and his papers and all, southern illinois would be the best place.
to the kids it's about the games, the ones they can play, using the computer with the up and down keys, from dragging things to dress an online barbie to setting up a wizard world that has elements of made-up community where they discuss their "families" with each other and engage in some kinds of social negotiations about where their online character should go, and what they should do. we are aware that they need to do some reading during the summer, though at first, we didn't want to bother them too much, because school had just let out. now we are in the position of imposing ruthless torture on them in order to force them to read something unpleasant rather than do what they earned, through hard physical activity and nine months of school. parents who make them read??? this is like parents who make you eat dirt, or who lock you in a closet.
to the littlest, it's all about being able to do what your older siblings are able to do, in this case watch phineas and ferb, a slightly sophisticated cartoon that has cultural references, but, as far as i can tell, nothing more truly inappropriate than violence, which seems to be part of every cartoon. she is overjoyed to be able to watch something that she doesn't fully understand, and though i know she'd do better with "magic pony" or "barbie," sometimes i just give her what she wants. it's all inappropriate, but mostly all in the same way, but just taking it away from her would have to be done with a more comprehensive plan that would give her better stuff to do. it has to be planned carefully; it's my job here, but one i haven't quite got a handle on it yet. instead, i'm here writing about it. don't know, quite, what to do about it. like millions of parents, i let them watch, and try to get a few minutes to myself, and then feel guilty, there goes the summer, no reading for this kid.
life goes on, outside the window. it's my month off, almost over, not much to show for it. writing has slowed to a crawl (this), but the music is going well, it complements the other stuff i do better; promoting my writing has also slowed down; my various projects, novel, autobiography, language books, all more or less on hold, a true vacation. i'll start up again, i promise. in the meantime, i'm here, with phineas and ferb, and one very dazzled little girl.