Thursday, February 16, 2012

The "No Snow" Winter

So it's almost done, this climate changed version of what may pass for a typical winter in the future. Folks around here are still convinced that we'll have another big snow. I've been convinced since our very green Christmas that we weren't going to see snow again until next year. I hate that I might be right about this, because I was so incredibly prepared for this one. I bought everything related to rough winters that one could buy. A brand new snowblower, new XC skis and boots and poles, a heavy duty winter parka. I had salt in heavy supply. Had my snow shoes ready and waiting. Parked my snow shovel at the front door for the first chance to clean off the sidewalk.

And then I waited with nervous anticipation. Man against the elements. I live for this stuff!!

Truth is we did have two snows, one being about 6 inches. My luck? I was out of town for it and it was virtually gone by the end of a long weekend away. The other snow was just enough for me fire up the snowblower and discover how hard it is to run a straight line when you can't see the driveway lines! I spent the next 40 minutes making it all look like I knew what I was doing. I looked forward to the next snow where I could show my power machine prowess. But alas, it was not to be.

None of us knows, of course, if this is a sign of things to come. I suspect it is. I fear we will all be blindsided by climate events we never anticipated because everyone has been telling us that this change is years away. When they tell you the ocean waters are rising an inch every 5-10 years, you don't exactly lose sleep, ya know? But I don't think anyone anticipated tornadoes in New Hampshire or frigid cold in Europe or floods and droughts in the same year. The lake levels are falling in the Northwoods. Animals aren't migrating anymore. For years we feared that we would kill our planet with nuclear bombs. One big terrible apocalyptic rage that would leave the earth scourged and dead.

It could still happen, no doubt. But it might also be that man will not lose the battle against man, but against Nature. Perhaps she will have the last laugh. Nature always reclaims what is hers. And someday she will tell us it's time to pay.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Old Dog, New Tricks

I am now into the middle of my first series of art classes--4 classes down, 4 to go on drawing. Then I move on to oil painting. And I continue that as long as I want, and as long as I can afford it. At the risk of jinxing myself, I think I'm actually starting to get this creative stuff! Here is a charcoal of a bust I started today, followed by the Venus that I started in the last class and completed today:

I know they are a long way from being "real art", but they tell me that I have an ability to transform something I see into something pleasing on paper. But mostly, I am learning to see things differently, to identify values, shading, composition, and proportion. How cool is that? Woof!!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Very Poor

When Mitt Romney uttered his now infamous line "I'm not concerned about the very poor," he revealed something about the way he sees America and Americans. Recently, the Republican party has accused President Obama of "class warfare" and attempting to divide the country along socioeconomic lines. What exactly did Romney do in his clear proclamation of how he sees the country? He said first that he was concerned about Americans and then he proceeded to divide them into 3 categories. If this is not classism, or identification of a caste system, then what is it? What's more striking (and disturbing) about it for me is that he also seems to be describing people as if they are fixed entities in these different classes. It is as if he is describing the "very poor" as a class of people who should be satisfied with their position in life and secure with their trusty government safety net. It is as if he is suggesting that these people do not deserve concern because, after all, this is their lot in life. He is referring to poor people as if they are not deserving of the same attention and concern simply by virtue of having LESS. As if they are undeserving of concern because they should not want for MORE, or do not want for MORE! He is implying that this is a class of Americans who do not seek the American dream, who do not strive to be a part of the middle class.

Yes, we can all argue that we know what Mitt really meant--he really meant that he wants to return the American middle class to its place of prominance in our society, the bedrock on which American productivity and manufacturing are built, the quintessential American dream. But that's not what he said. He said--he emphasized--I am not concerned about the very poor.

If he isn't concerned about them now, when are they deserving of his concern? What does a poor person have to do to garner attention from the would-be President? Does one have to fight and claw and become a part of the shrinking middle class in order to be a blip on his radar?

A government of the people, by the people, for the people. Do we really need to add "ALL of the people"?