Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I called it!

Yesterday morning, I had to get up early to go to the dentist one last time. If you scroll down a bit, you can see the view of Pike's Peak from my dentist's parking lot. But yesterday, there were many dark clouds hunched around the peak, and anyone could see that it was threatening to storm.
When I got home, Pete told me that the forecasters were calling for rain. I responded that the air was too dry, and that it was going to snow.
Now, when I lived in Oregon, there wasn't any trick to calling the weather. Odds were good that it was going to rain. However, when I moved to Pennsylvania it seemed like the weather had freaked out on me. I could never tell when there would be precipitation, and I was confounded by the atmosphere's insistence on staying cold all the freaking time. I preferred the heat of Texas to freezing, but I could still never tell when the sky would open up and pour buckets down on me. I remember several instances of being trapped in the union or my office, trying to kill enough time that the cloudburst would have passed. Some days, I carried a battered umbrella around with me, only to see the day through without a drop of rain. Other days, I would forget the umbrella at home, and lo and behold here comes a front. Somehow, I just never got the hang of Texas weather.
So here I am in Colorado, back in the southern part of the Rockies, near to where I grew up. High desert, as it is known. And I know what the feel of the air means: low, dark blue clouds, dry air, and it's cold, but not too cold. I knew that that adds up to snow, after which the air temperature would plummet. Time to go home and put on a pot of beans.
So it snowed, and I called it. It means more to me than just being merely right; it means that I am back in a part of the world where nature makes sense to me, and where I can feel myself fitting in in the one, small way.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Snow, and a Sunflower's Progress

Today we had our first big snow of the year, a little early we understand. This is what our block looked like when it was coming down. There has been a surprising accumulation, and everything is absolutely covered.
The trees and power lines are loaded down with snow, and we called the fire department after seeing sparks in the alley. They arrived quickly, but the sparks had already stopped.

On the right is Mike-n-Ronda's prize sunflower,
the way it looked when we arrived here in August. It was in full bloom then and bent over with the weight of its developing seedhead. The birds didn't give it a chance, though. In September, they pecked it clean, not even waiting for the seeds to mature. The result is below.
Now the whole thing, like the rest of our backyard, is covered with snow. The pansies and some of the wildflowers survived the first frost and the first dusting of snow we got. We're hoping they'll last a little longer.

As some of the wildflowers and weeds have thinned out in the backyard garden, we have found some treats that the previous tenants left us, including some healthy looking garlic plants and a chile plant that yielded four chiles!! Not much in them for the capcasin addict, but they've got a nice flavor and a lovely crunch. We brought them in tonight, anticipating a hard freeze. Luckily, neither one of us is teaching this block, so I expect tomorrow will be a day of writing and course planning in a warm house. We're certainly lucky to have that.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

...And Speaking of Mourning

San Benito, Texas lost one of its most famous sons and one of its sweetest voices yesterday. Freddy Fender, born Baldemar Huerta, is dead at 69 of lung cancer. That makes two members of the Texas Tornados who have gone to the big concert hall in the sky. Maybe he's re-united with Boni Maroni there. She wasn't looking too healthy last I heard. When I started the project that became my dissertation back in 1990, the Tornados "Hey Baby Que Paso?" was an enormous local hit in San Antonio. I remember laughing with the other summer interns at the Institute of Texan Cultures as we walked to the museum, hearing the song blaring from car stereo after car stereo. Freddy didn't write that one, but his music has gotten this "hijo de Sue" through many wasted days and wasted nights. If I were in Texas today, I expect I'd be going to a memorial concert somewhere with Laura and some of the readers of this blog.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Mourning, Organizing, Organized Mourning

Yesterday marked the debut of the American Friends Service Committee’s “Eyes Wide Open” exhibit in Colorado Springs. Intended to commemorate Iraq war deaths, the exhibit features 2700 pairs of boots, one for each fallen U.S. soldier, lined up in Arlington-style rows. Nearby there are photographs of the civilian devastation and winding paths made from pairs of non-military shoes, each representing a known Iraqi death. Every pair of shoes or boots has a name tag, and the number of “name unknown” tags on the Iraqi side is disturbing. The stories of U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians are posted next to some of the pairs of shoes and at information tables. Some survivors of soldiers seem to be using this exhibit the way people have used the Vietnam Memorial, and some of the pairs of boots bear small mementos that have accumulated as the exhibit has traveled. There are also photographs, journals, and ephemera of the dead on display.

Colorado College is hosting the event, because the Colorado Springs City Council voted not to allow it in a public park, a fact which today’s Gazette article fails to mention. The general consensus on the City Council seems to have been that this display seeks to undermine the “War on Terror.” So public mourning now happens in privatized space. A thousand points of light, eh? Although I’m proud to be associated with the institution that agreed to host the exhibit, I’m also disappointed. I haven’t lived here long, but I already get the sense that too many things that fall under the rubric of “peace and justice” are centered on this boutique-ish little college, at a time when outreach in communities like Colorado Springs is desperately needed.

Last night I went to a candlelight vigil at the exhibit. Although volunteers said they were happy with the number of visitors they had received, the vigil itself was sparsely attended. After a brief reading and a speech by a CC freshman who is serving in the Air Force and who recently lost a friend who was serving in Iraq, we were called to walk through the boots and meditate. As we did so, I noticed security guards chasing away a fox who, I later learned, had tried to make off with a pair of shoes. CC’s security guards, many of whom are Mexican American veterans, appear to have responded enthusiastically to the call to protect the boots from vandalism and animals. The exhibit left me with mixed emotions. On the one hand, it’s a powerful statement. On the other hand, I find myself thinking, “Is this all that’s left of the peace movement?” I worry that it was too easy to walk through the exhibit without talking to anybody, too easy to walk away without committing to anything. On the other hand, it's clear that some kind of public mourning is needed. Any thoughts?

By the way, Laura is at the American Studies Association’s annual meeting in Oakland, California this weekend, so I am blogging alone for today. Her parents came up for a lovely weekend last Friday, and this weekend is looking pretty quiet by comparison. Laura also has the digital camera, so no photographs of the night’s frost on our flowers until she gets back. The year’s first freeze was Tuesday, and we woke up to a dusting of snow. Amazingly, our paintbrush and pansies still survived. There was another frost last night, and I am wondering how long the flowers will hold out.

One final note: Congratulations to my Dad who turned 72 this week!!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Maybe This Guy Broke our Windshield

Things are getting wierder here in C/S (yes, non-Chicanas/os really use that abbreviation here--probably not knowing what it means!). This afternoon, while Laura was away at her first meeting of the CC Women's Faculty Caucus, I got a call from the voice of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

I picked up the phone, and a voice sounding very much like the Gropinator said, "Hello, this is Arnold Schwarzenegger." When I said, "Who?" it repeated with identical intonation, "This is Arnold Schwarzenegger," and then asked "What do you want me to do?" I asked, "Who is this?" again, and the voice answered, again with identical intonation, "This is Arnold Schwarzenegger." When the "What do you want me to do?" question came again, I said, "Resign." The voice asked, "What do you want me to do?" and when I repeated, "Resign," it said, "Don't bullsh*t me." At this point, thought of telling the voice some things I would like for it to do with Jesse Ventura in Kinky Friedman's bed, but thought better of it and hung up.

I could chalk this up to a prank easily enough, but it had a wierd, automated sort of feel to it. So I traced the number ($1.00 more on my phone bill) and then thought of looking this sort of prank up on the Interweb. Turns out that there are quite a few people out there using their computers to do joke calls with recordings of Schwarzenegger's voice. Here is only one of many sites that offers sample calls to download. This site offers calls involving other celebrity voices. I've listened to a few of the Arnold ones, and the "don't bullsh*t me" line does occur.

I would think this was funny if it weren't for the windshield. Could this be a coincidence? We'll see if this wierdness continues.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Learning a new place

Well, I have to say that I'm a little disappointed in our new neighborhood today. I've lived in a some dodgy places, where your neighbors changed from one week to the next. I've once had someone try to break into my apartment while I was sleeping in the next room. I've had radios, and laundry, and even a gas grill stolen from my property. But this incident from Saturday night really takes the cake:

Some joker took a flag from the golf course down the street, and used the heavy, weighted end to bash three divots into the windshield of our truck.

Pete and I heard the noise on Saturday night, but we didn't investigate at the time. On Sunday morning, this was waiting for us. Now, to me, this has all the markers of random teenage mayhem. It's going to take a couple of hundred dollars to fix. Still, if I'm going to be on the experience end of crime, I think that I would rather be robbed. Robbery, to me, is motivated by things that make sense to me. But this is just a stupid waste.

It's too bad, because I was busy last week taking pretty pictures. I'll share them anyway, even if I am in a totally pissy mood.
Here's a picture of Pikes Peak. I took it a couple of weeks ago from the parking lot of King Sooper's.

Here's something in my neighborhood that always makes me laugh. The people who put it up must know how awesome it is, because they have locked it down-- preventing a crime that I could totally understand.