Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What do you remember? When?

I wasn’t wearing a skirt and my hair wasn’t in a bun, but my butt was high in the air and my elbows were planted firmly on my knees as I gleaned the dried bean pods and individual beans from our garden plot today. We had given up on the green beans when the weather got dry in late July, but they kept growing for a while. As I toiled on this relatively inefficient harvesting job, I saw myself as part of a Van Gogh painting from his "dark" period, and I was reminded of my friend, Claudio Naba Reyes, from Guererro, Mexico, back in 1972, when we spent the winter there camping in a homemade camper van, part of a 20,000 mile Odyssey through North and Central America.

Claudio lived in a tar paper shack with his wife Cruz and two toddler daughters, three hundred feet from the surf on a half mile wide beach between two rocky prominences, and his job was to watch over a partially finished house being built for a rich Mexico City lawyer. It was to be the lawyer’s summer home, part of a new, sort of , "time share" development on the coast of the Pacific Ocean about 50 miles west of Acapulco. Claudio was an Indio, he looked just like the Azteca profiles you see on artifacts from that area. He fished for his protein with a length of line wrapped around a beer can with a lead weighted hook and chicken feather lure, and he grew two crops, well up on the side of the mountain north of the shore. He grew honholee and maize, sesame and corn, slash and burn. He would hack down the native vegetation with a machete, and burn it during the dry period, then he would plant before the next rainy season.

Chris and I walked with him to his plot of ground (not his legally, assuredly) and we brought back some of his crop. We sat and chatted (in our bad Spanish, he had no English) with him and his wife, as they showed us how to harvest the dried corn kernels from off the cobs. These would be soaked in lime and water, and then ground into a paste that would be baked into traditional tortillas on the top of a hand thrown ceramic platter build into an adobe stand with a wood fire heat source (think frying pan/wok). Our fingers ached and were bloodied with the effort of popping the kernels from the cobs.

I didn’t bloody any fingers today, but the dried bean pods are sharp, and I picked up many an individual bean that tried to get away. My back got sore, and I remembered how hard it is to get some food out of the ground and into a place where it will keep so that you might eat it later. I remember you, Claudio.  And you, reading this, stop in at Food Lion and buy yourself a pound of dried beans; tell them Claudio sent you.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

So, You're against The Dream Act?

Now for the Dream Act.

I would like to propose a hypothetical; a thought experiment where I lay out some possible actions and you get to decide on a just, fair, and legal result.

Suppose that when you were 13 years old, your beloved dad picked you up from school and told you it was your lucky day for your first driving lesson. Wow, you really want to be able to drive a car! So, he gets you started behind the wheel and you do pretty well; this is easy. He tells you to pull into the bank parking lot and tells you to wait for him. Five minutes later he comes out holding a canvas bag and tells you to drive home (he kind of scoots down in the seat beside you). Nothing comes of it right away; he gets away with the bank robbery for six years. Then he gets busted. Now, you are 19 years old and as an accessory to the felony, do you get charged and sent to jail? That’s the absence of The Dream Act; children directed by their parents to immigrate illegally, who are now being punished for it. Don’t tell me this couldn’t happen. The details might be a little different, but how many children have the courage and determination to disobey their parent under similar circumstances?

Now, imagine you're a little kid just holding your dad’s hand as you walk across a border....

Two Simple Questions

President Obama, or Governor Romney?

I'd like to cut through the rhetoric and partisan debate and ask two simple questions: In the last four years what have these two men been doing? President Obama has had the hardest job on the planet and has certainly learned more about the world and the American government and the condition of our economy than anyone else in the world. He has had access to advisers and information gathered by researchers and agencies second to none in the world. Governor Romney has been running for the Republican nomination and has learned what Republicans want him to say and be, and he’s learned how to get lots of their money.

Question number two:   Which guy is better prepared to be our president for the next four years?