So Much to Tell

Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home
the origin of the Weatherman name
I sat with my daughter Alice the other night and watched the documentary “The Weather Underground” about the late 60s early 70s ultra-radical group the Weathermen.   It was a fascinating look at the radical political movements of that time.  The Weatherman were an offshoot of the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) and literally took over the organization in 1969.

“Outraged by the Vietnam War and racism in America, the organization waged a low-level war against the U.S. government through much of the 1970s, bombing the Capitol building, breaking Timothy Leary out of prison, and evading one of the largest FBI manhunts in history.”

At various points I punctuated the movie with my own commentary in an attempt to help her get a better perspective and understanding for what was going in in this country and the world at that time.  Where to begin?  There is so much to tell.  Riots and fires in the streets.  The nightly body count from Vietnam on the evening news.  Bobby Kennedy and King shot dead. Neal Armstrong walking on the moon.  Amazing stuff!  Some of the of the big issues of that time: civil rights, Vietnam, the Cold War, the Space Race, to name a few.  The cast of characters is volumous: Dylan, Kesey, King, JFK, RFK, Manson, The Beatles, Nixon, Malcom X, and on and on. Seeing Timothy Leary briefly in the movie, in reference to Weathermen breaking him out of prison, lead me to try to describe the psychdelic movement.  Now that is an interesting one to try to explain! While a big component of the movement was simply having a good time, there was much more to it that can’t be easily described.  The book “Storming Heaven” by Jay Stevens (free online version) does a great job explaining the bigger picture.  It would be easy to simply dismiss iconic characters like Leary as wackos and criminals but in reality they were profoundly influential on my generation and even me personally. 

She and I watched “The Fog of War” (a must see!) about six months ago and had a similar experience.  I think it important to share something about that time with young people in order to give them a broader understanding of the events of today and perhaps better see what helped shape their parent’s generation.  Of course this is no easy task.  Now that my kids are older I hope they can begin to understand and appreciate just a little of what made me (and their mother) who I am today. And perhaps more importantly, that many folks of my generation struggled and fought (literally and figuratively) to bring about changes in this country and the world that are a lasting legacy. 

An excellent chronology and background on the Weatherman

PBS website devoted to the movie.  See what the Weathermen are up to now

The Fog of War website

A few McNamara quote excerpts from Fog of War movie

People of note in the Sixties

Fast Forward 17 Years

imageSeventeen years ago today we were greeted with an amazing surprise…“its a boy!”. After having two girls I have to honestly say that I wasn’t thinking boy, in fact since I didn’t know any better I was hoping for a girl as our third child.  Girls seemed so easy.  Looking back now I wouldn’t want it any other way.  Sue and are a blessed with such fabulous children and what a wonderful young man we have!

The day he was born was such a whirlwind.  Sue had just gotten home from work (she’s a lawyer for those who don’t know) after a day in court enduring many contractions.  We had just sat down to dinner when she exclaimed “I think we better get to the hospital!”.  Since we live on an island with only ferry service to the mainland and the hospital we had to get to the ferry right away.  My mother was expected to arrive the next day from NY to help with the two girls but now we had no other choice but to pack the girls in the car and head out.  We made the ferry fortunately (it is only a mile away) and when we got off I spotted a friend heading home from work waiting in line on the other side.  I jumped out of the car with the girls and asked him to take them, thankfully he did without question.  Off we raced to the hospital.  Sue was now having stronger and stronger contractions, I was doing my best to keep her calm and focused will driving as fast as I could.  It was like a scene from the movies! 

When we arrived at the hospital things slowed down but once we got situated and the midwife arrived we discovered that the baby’s heart rate was irregular dropping dangerously during contractions, not a good thing.  Because of this complication when it can time to push him out a few hours later it was off to the OR instead of staying in the room. Turns out that the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck thus accounting for the heart rate problem, everything else was just fine.  My mother was of course pleasantly surprised when she arrived the next day to find the baby had already arrived!

At that time I was staying home taking care of the kids full time (which I did for 13 years) so I got to spend a lot of time with Michael from day one.  He was such a quiet contented baby.  Always with his two middle fingers in his mouth, he would be content no matter where we were.  When he got older he would happily sit in the stroller, sucking his fingers watching me while I worked in the garden.  Of course, he enjoyed typical boy stuff too and was much more active than the girls, often making weird “grunting sounds” I’d never heard from the girls.  From an early age he displayed incredible hand-eye coordination and was naturally very athletic.  Over the years it seems that any sport he tried he easily mastered.  On our recent trip to NY we golfed a number of times.  He played very well and even beat me!  He could easily be a very good golfer if he had the chance to play more.

I remember vividly watching him play soccer when he was about 9 or 10.  As he dribbled the ball down the field running at full speed, he was so graceful and economical in his movements, not like the typical kid.  I immediately saw in him my brother David who had been a dancer and thought how with such talent Michael would make a great dancer just like his uncle.  image
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Unfortunately, in spite of my encouragement over the years I could never get him interested.  I even resorted to telling him that dancing was where the girls are.  I discovered this little known fact while watching my brother rehearse a show in NYC before heading out on a European tour many years ago.  Here were all these gay male dancers (most now dead including my brother) with their hands all over their beautiful female dance partners.  What was I thinking going out for sports in high school?  Dance and theatre are where the girls are!  Anyway, perhaps someday Michael will understand what I meant and think “why didn’t I listen to my father?”.

Now at age 17 he is very much the typical teenager: cell phone, video games, laying around watching TV, etc.  yet, he still retains that quiet disposition.  He really is a thoughtful, gentle, kind soul. One sees it most clearly when we have occasion to be around young children.  He is so attentive and gentle with them.  I was never that way.  It is a wonderful thing to see because it reveals so much about his true nature.  As a parent it is so easy to focus on the negative, on things that your kids don’t do, or things you think they should be doing but aren’t,  that one overlooks or forgets about real basic “inside” stuff like this.  God grant us all the patience and wisdom to see these things and acknowledge them in our children!

The First Pie of the Season

imageA pie never seems to last very long in our house especially if it is the first pie of the year! Even though its early August I have several apple trees that mature around now.  If all goes well the 16 varieties (18 trees) I grow will produce fresh apples well into October.  It is always a pleasant surprise to suddenly find apples falling to the ground at this time of year heralding the beginning of the apple season.  Once they start to fall one must shift gears from the growing mode to harvesting and processing. 

Early apples generally don’t keep very well and under the high summer temperatures they ripen and spoil quickly.  After eating last year’s apples and over-priced one’s from New Zealand most of the year the chance to eat a fresh apple right off the tree is such a joy.  After watering this morning I gathered up some of the fallen apples and picked a bunch off the “Pristine” (that is the variety name) apple tree along with a few apples from the “William’s Pride” tree.  The Pristine apples are light yellow with a blush of red on the sunny side when ripe (see the photo above).  Their early nature comes from its Yellow Transparent heritage along with it’s poor keeping qualities (who cares at this time of year).  While not my favorite eating apple, they make wonderful pies and apple sauce and… they are early!

The Turbo Cooler In Action
Is that an uneven edge I see?
As mentioned elsewhere, I’m not much of a pie maker but with Sue gone and Alice (my daughter is a fabulous baker) at work I needed to step up to the plate and take things all the way on my own.  Late this afternoon I peeled, assembled and baked a pie that turned out quite well.  It is not pretty, but mine never are.  Coming out of the oven at about 6:00 pm with the assistance of our turbo cooling system, we had our first piece at 7:15.  As I’m writing this I’m nibbling on it.  We like to refer to it as “evening out the edge”, there’s nothing worse than an uneven pie edge… only problem is that after everyone does their edge evening as they pass through the kitchen the pie rarely sees the light of the next day!  No problem…lots of apples yet to come!