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September 12th, 2003

Central High School Redux

"My religion is truth." Mohandas Gandhi
"Tears are often the telescope by which men see far into heaven"
Henry Ward Beecher

Before I was born, my mother taught in Little Rock, at Central High School. During the school year I have in mind, soldiers came to keep children from attending, and soldiers came to usher children in. These children were African-American. They called them "the Little Rock Nine".

Faubus fablesCollapse )

pinky of doom

Last night the work spilled over until quite a late hour, but when I arrived home, my seven year old niece, newly visiting from Kansas City, greeted me warmly. I love kids--always have. I'm one of those people well-suited to giving piggy-back rides, dinosaur rides and similar "uncle as someone upon whose back to repose" type of critter rides.

My repertoire of games is simple but tested. I will insist in satiric tones that the kid in question cannot pry open the fingers of my fist. The kid then succeeds in doing just that. When all the fingers but the smallest have been "un-fisted", I histrionically intone "You'll never succeed with the PINKY of DOOM!".

I do not get to see my Kansas City niece nearly as often as I would like, but then, now that I think about it, I would like to see her as often as possible. I have three nieces and four nephews, which is not a bad number overall. I probably am a better "Uncle Bob" than I am in filling most other roles in my life, although I have found that I am in that category of "eccentric, often amusing, sometimes weirdly exasperating" uncles rather than "my uncle is as cool as James Bond" kind of uncles. My niece tells me she wishes to fly a kite this weekend. We speak the same language.

It'll be good to spend time with my wife's sisters, each of whom I think are fabulous. I have work to do this weekend, but I will also try to take a decentish part of the weekend off.

The rains yesterday caused flooding in that part of the metroplex which is Trinity River bottoms. What intrigues me is that although this flood basin territory always floods in deep rains, the local news acts as though this is novel, new territory. As the Trinity River is in some places less a river than a great alluvial delta, this makes for lots of "car underwater" great footage in a heavy rain. The headline is never "why do people build in a flood plain?" but always sheepish locals saying "I was sure I could punch it through that six foot water if I just hit the gas!".

Let's hope for dry weather--and strong kite winds.
"Uncle Bob!", she said, pointing out the sad ruins of civilization I charitably call my "art room", "you need to clean this!". But a seven year old's instructions do not always sink in, and tonight we were making music.

Faithful readers of this weblog will know that in my "art room", no actual art takes place, except when string maven scottm graces it. It's an assortment of things bought at dollar stores, home-made musical instruments, chess magazines scattered in a sort of artistic presentation around the floor, and, sadly, scattered dried beans and bulgurs, remnants of musical abandon gone to seed. Rather than "art room", its true appellation should be "Romper Room". But sometimes "romper room" is just what's needed.

We liberated the 1 dollar modeling clay from Dollar General and the top of the box in which Office Depot placed my last fix of poetry book copies, to create a sort of artist's space for the earnest modeller. First we made a man I called "Goatee Man". Then my niece, left to her own devices, created sea shells and a sea turtle surrounding a sort of alien palm tree with eyes. The snake, by the way, also had snake eyes.

After dinner, we headed up to make music. We were, shall we say, percussive. I was beating the 20 oz. diet coke can full of ball bearings against the 20 oz. Diet Coke can full of rice. She was shaking the Pringle's can dried bean in a syncopation. We were jazz incarnate, and all we needed was a big glittering ball to become a one-shot noise/disco dance amalgam. I hummed into my didjeridoo made of PVC pipe, to add that world music beat, but it sounded more like that Swiss cough drop commercial. Not that we dance,anyway. We didn't need to dance. We had become the notes--loud, insistent, tuneless. Well, not really. We were both 5 or so, and loud and fun.

We ate brownies to belatedly celebrate her birthday. My dogs thought they'd died and gone to little girl Heaven. One dog did take a break, though, to devote unwanted attention to a "groovy girl" birthday gift. A little canine affection adds character to a doll, I say.

Maybe an aquarium visit tomorrow. Maybe a hike. Maybe just counting clouds, as they float in mid-air.