Sunday, September 07, 2014

we fight the ever-encroaching, terminal obsession with screens by having no screens on sunday morning, which is actually pitiful, if it means constant screens every free minute of the rest of the week. we also have no screens if homework isn't done, though, and no screens if for some reason someone is touchy or violent or things are out of kilter. we sometimes say that screens can cause meanness, so if they are mean to each other (and there are three little ones, so this is likely), we hold that over them, as if we'd take them away if they got too mean to each other, which we might.

but, the ironic thing is, they actually enjoy their sunday mornings, in the sense that they actually get on their scooters and go down the block, screeching and yelling and doing all the stuff little kids should do. or they start horsing around in the living room and then go down in the basement where they're free to run and throw the ball and do gymnastics. or they go tearing through the house with some imaginary game, dressed up or yelling at each other or hiding in the rooms. the reason i call it ironic is that, since it's sunday morning, you'd think it would be reserved for quiet contemplation of religious things, and in fact, that is why we have a general prohibition against calling our neighbors on sunday mornings, or making too much noise too early. for me, i'm religious, but can't just take them to church, where they could make as much racket as they wanted, as there isn't really the right church that would suit all of us. for our neighbors, however, sunday morning is the only time they even know for sure that we have kids, because they're making such a racket out there that you can't not hear it, and it's actually pretty easy for me to keep track of them, because their voices bounce off each other and they stay aware of where their brother and sister are, so nobody even wants to get too far away. to me it's kind of the joy of old-time childhood, with lots of kids around, having fun, and the neighbors all kind of watching out for their flower gardens but still generally familiar with them and watchful. they know these kids, they live down in the corner house.

when fresh air is involved, you know they'll sleep better at night, but the main point really is that they get a lot of muscle development in different directions. hopefully each kid will fall off the scooter several times, but not land too hard on the sidewalk, but rather someone's grass and preferably someone who doesn't put nerve gas on theirs, or vole poison, or whatever they use. some lawns here are actually astroturf, but more common is the person who just puts rocks all over their yard so they can save on the massive watering that's required to have anything green. another value i've picked up is that it's really the city's job to provide real grass, and water the parks, so that any citizen can go walk on real grass for a few minutes, even if, as in my case, one is likely to hit stickers and dog poop or do a little caveat emptor or whatever that was that meant buyer beware...though we recognize that anything can happen, we also know that we can get some real grass if we just go to the local park and walk around a little.

football so thoroughly permeates the culture that one can hardly not be aware of when the local football games are happening, even when, as in this last weekend, the raider game was at ten at night. thousands of fans tuned in to watch it; it ruled the televisions and the social life, the raiders and the cowboys, anyway, the cowboys going today. it's ironic, given the intensity of their passion, that the teams are as weak as they are; our university just gave the coach a whopping $3 million/year long-term contract making him easily the richest man in west texas, more even than the oil barons, yet the team floundered around on the field and barely beat el paso. ah, but this isn't about the fumbles, the penalties, the missed opportunities. it's more about how, even at the local grocery store, everyone is wearing red and black, even people who aren't going to the game. the place loves its raiders, or, if you're a little more on the city side, the silver-star on blues.

the sky here is an infinite, ever-changing light show; it's so clear that you can see all the way up through these clouds, so the clouds become multi-dimensional moving bodies that would, well, remind you of tripping, if that were possible. it reminds me of pilots, because those are the guys who get to go up through them regularly, and really experience the different dimensions that we can only get hints of down here, and besides, we're in the city, and one can guess that probably it gets lots more interesting once you really get out over the open plain. and we know, from the few times we fly, that it does. but imagine doing that for a living, going up and through all those intense clouds, diagonally or through these transient storms or turbulent winds that rake the plains. it would be really fun, i think, and i'm really jealous. the best i can do is drive on the roads, and look up occasionally...

and in fact, even the storms are quite geographical in nature, the hail can be damaging out past the loop, but almost nothing in town where we are, or, it can destroy our house and do almost nothing to most of the rest of town. you can note the perimeter of the damage or document the path of the rain, where they got over an inch on a swatch of the city running diagonal through this way, whereas over on the edge, or on the south side, they may have got squat. each little square foot has its own rainfall total, and that's why if you are inclined to go out and stand in it, like a lot of people are, you shouldn't always stand in the same place. you'll rob the ground beneath you of its annual supply.

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