Thursday, October 30, 2008

On Coriolanus and peace . . .

It's a red dawn. We're in Ashland. Last night we saw Shakespeare's tragedy Coriolanus and were both depressed by this intense production of arrogance and war. We both want to read it now to see past the spectacle. But this morning, a friend sent me a link that made me laugh and think of the future with hope.

Thank you, Linda Smith.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Guys and Dolls into Fall . . . October

Last night we saw the best production of Guys and Dolls at the Portland Center Stage with Dan and Myrna. Imagine Prohibition era street guys with crazy names (Nicely Nicely Johnson) and Italian accents pursuing a floating crap game and wooing pretty young strippers from Brooklyn. Our hero, Skye Masterson, loses his heart to a misisonary, Sister Sarah Brown, and entices her to dine at a hot night club in Havana.

Drawn from a story by Damon Runyon, the dancing and the singing ("Luck be a Lady," "Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat," and "Sue Me") made us laugh and cry. What an era of innocence and love in a gritty city setting.

Afterward, we walked out into the Pearl District in Portland, the warm October night around us, after theater drinks at Palomino's, though a happy hour that began at 9 pm was new to me.

Every distraction seems good to me as we move to November 4, Election Day. It's not just the economy, though the extreme slides of the market make grown men and women cry. I'm seeing profound uncertainty about the outcome of this election -- and the credibility of our electoral process. Both Democrats and Republicans are crying "Foul!" for reported irregularities in robo-counting the vote. Will we once again question the election process itself?

On the left, Rolling Stone's article, "Block the Vote" summarizes liberal fears. Even Fox News reports results of a poll that 60% of voters believe some level of fraud will occur. And last spring, the New York Times ran a story highlighting state laws that require voters to prove they are citizens before they vote.

This article from the British Guardian seems to counter accusations with facts.

So is the issue of voter fraud a real one? I can still remember trying to vote in Philadelphia about 20 years ago. The levers on my voting machine would only work if I pressed Republican. When I protested, a big 6-footer offered to come into the booth to "help me" vote. I said, "No," and at my complaint, my voting machine was taken out of service, making the lines longer. Does voter fraud matter? Until this election is over, I think we will be watching, waiting, hoping, and doubting.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

So don't vote . . .

If ever I believed now was the time, then yes, now is the time. Watch the video. Pass it on. Talk to your family and friends.

We have 15 days before the election to make sure people are registered to vote. Are you registered?

Wall Street. Main Street.

I woke up this morning, thinking about money. I know a few people now who've taken money out of their bank and hidden it in their house. If the economy tanks to some pre-Depression era level, money won't help. We'll be back to barter.

I went to Target yesterday to buy garbage bags because they looked pretty expensive at my regular grocery store, as did the olive oil, for heaven's sake. I found just the right roll of garbage bags for $1.35 and cruised the clearance racks while I was there. I saw lots of people there checking the mark-downs. I apologized to the gray-haired cashier for my small purchase. She said, "Don't worry, honey. Every dollar helps."

I know from government reports that more older women (that is, over 60) are "wage insecure", but I don't know how many. I just know that at some point, I need to stop fearing that I will become that gray-haired cashier at a Target-like store and make sure there's enough food to go around.

Everyone has a sense of uncertainty about the future; these seem to be unprecedented times. This is not the "October surprise" I anticipated before the election. Every day makes it more important we study the economic policies of Obama and McCain.

Check out Obama's policies affecting the elderly. McCain has no information about the elderly under issues on his campaign website.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A visit to a a garden . . .

Whenever we come to Portland, I'm somewhat dismayed by the traffic. City traffic. Lots of people. Bumper stickers that say "Keep Portland weird." Sidewalk cafes. Panhandlers. One of the most beautiful libraries I've ever visited. Lots of monumental sculptures, including a massive bronze, the spirit of Portland. Sides of buildings decorated with murals. The park splitting through cityscapes.

And then we come to the Portland Classical Chinese Garden, enter its rounded gate and find ourselves in a floating world of stone boats, a tea house, and winding paths. The garden takes up an entire city block, some 40,000 square feet. The trees are much taller than we remembered, yet the sense of absolute peace remains.

Chinese gardens are meant for reflection. Every few steps, the visitor stops to admire a new perspective. Plants are arranged to juxtapose shapes, colors, and textures, all to invite a slower pace. And so we stroll and stop in the tea house for cups of a piquant white tea, once a favorite of the imperial family. We admire the red, white and pink lotus blooming in the small lake and finally can name the mystery flower, Rose of Sharon, flowering next to the Zig Zag Bridge.

You can enjoy and download pictures of this wonderful classical Chinese garden by going to my Webshots.