IMMIGRATION

TODAY’S WORRY

This morning when I got up at 7:15 I looked out the window. There were four fellows working on the landscaping across the pond from me. They were probably Mexicans but since I don’t really know, let’s say they were Latinos. They were working yesterday when I got up and the day before and really, every day. From 7 AM til 5 PM or so, they are out there in this developing community taking care of the landscape and doing construction work.

Sometimes we go to the Mongolian Barbecue here in St. George. We like it because you can see that the ingredients are fresh and the food is cooked right in front of you. Dining out is a very iffy business here so being able to see the ingredients and watch them be cooked, is a big step towards quality control. Anyway, as we walked in we were greeted by the hostess. She is Vietnamese. She has been there every time over the last 2 1/2 years that we’ve gone. No matter what day of the week, lunch or dinner, she is there.

I go to a nail salon here in St. George. I think the proprietors are also Vietnamese. It’s a mom and dad kind of place. Their daughter, Helen, who is four runs about. Grandmother takes care of the 15 month old baby, Brian. Helen and her older brother speak perfect English. They work together as a family unit to prosper. They work long hours six days a week. They have an appreciative clientele.

The thing that really bothers me is that there are all these people, new to the United States, who work really, really hard and pay taxes. What they want is for their families to have a good life. They want their children to have more opportunities than they did. They have sacrificed a lot to try to make this so. But almost every day in the newspaper here are letters to the editor denouncing these people. The letters say that they are taking American jobs although I am sure most of these jobs would go wanting if there were not these immigrants to fill them. It would be so much more honest if people would say that they don’t want these people here because they are not pure white and they are scary to us.

What should we really be afraid of, hardworking immigrants or rampant racism?

CONTACT SPORT

TODAY’S WORRY

Bloody nose, muscle tear, broken collar bone, impinged nerve, frozen shoulder, bruises and blood. What sport could this be, football? No, just our version of tennis. Yesterday I got hit in the forearm, thigh and finally in the nose with the ball. Either I am a tennis ball magnet or I’m just too slow to get out of the way. (No doubt the latter.) But no black eyes. Yay! My sister suggests that we design protective padding for tennis players. It’s a thought.

FEELING THE EARTH MOVE

TODAY’S WORRY

Sometimes people ask me, “Aren’t you afraid living in California with the possibility of an earthquake?” I always say no. The thing about an earthquake is that you don’t know when it’s coming or how bad it’s going to be. There’s no Dr. Seismic from the Earthquake Channel giving you 24 hour information about the upcoming earthquake. There are no reporters standing on the corner saying, “Yes, I can feel the tremor coming.” So it’s like an out of sight, out of mind kind of thing.

Yesterday, though, I read a CBS article titled, “California Fault Locked and Loaded for Quake.” The article goes on to talk about how the Hayward fault tripped the Great Quake of 1868 with a magnitude 6.9 rumbler that killed five people. Severe quakes have happened on the Hayward Fault every 151 years, give or take 23 years, meaning it is now into the danger zone. The area of the fault which was sparsely populated in 1868, is now home to about 2 million people. Including us.

What to do? For one thing, we should have an earthquake preparedness kit. The idea is that you should be able to survive for several days outside your house waiting for some sort of help to arrive. Remember the response to Hurricane Katrina. So water, a first aid kit, tools, bedding, sanitation supplies and important documents should be included. Beyond that, your house should be bolted to its foundation, tippy pieces of furniture should be secured, your water heater should be strapped in and you should have an emergency shutoff on your gas.

I think I’ll take this a little more seriously when we get home. Sticking one’s head in the sand is probably not the best course of action. An ounce of prevention is worth of pound of cure.

BIG LOVE

TODAY’S WORRY

The new HBO show, Big Love, has gotten quite a play in the St. George, UT newspaper, The Spectrum. Big Love is about a polygamist family. I haven’t seen it because I don’t get HBO. But it is interesting to see that the newspaper here has already had an editorial and poll about it. The editorial has suggested that people should treat it for what it is – fiction. The poll has about 36% of respondents saying that it doesn’t accurately represent polygamy in Utah culture. Another 16% say that it does. 31% say that they won’t watch it. And 17% just don’t know. So it seems that at least 52% of the people around here know enough about polygamy to answer the question and another 31% just object to the fact that there is a show on about polygamy.

So why the brouhaha? That’s because here in St. George we are about 25 miles from the polygamist towns of Hildale, UT and Colorado City, AZ. I’ll bet there are a lot of you reading this that didn’t realize that polygamy is well and thriving in southern Utah because you thought it was against the law. It is legally unlawful to marry more than one woman. But as long as the marriage is only sanctioned within their church, it really doesn’t matter what the family unit consists of. The problem really arises when underage girls are coerced into becoming the wives and having relations with the men from this sect of fundamental Mormonism. And there really isn’t much of a route for the girls to appeal because in these towns, which are geographically very isolated, there are polygamist policemen and even a polygamist judge.

As I said, I haven’t seen the show, though I do wonder whether commercializing polygamy is a good or a bad thing. On the plus side it brings the fact that polygamy exists to the attention of the rest of the nation. On the minus, if it trivializes the plight of girls with no options, it does them a disservice.

SIGNS OF THE TIMES

TODAY’S OBSERVATIONS

One thing that John and I like to do while traveling around is find signs that carry an intent unintended by the business owners. St. George is particularily rife with these. Our favorite was at a store named “All Caskets.” This was a real store here in town and they also have their main store in Las Vegas. When they first opened, they had a sign out front reading “All Caskets Now Open.” Unfortunately, the casket store didn’t make it and we were really hoping for the following signs “All Caskets Final Days” or “All Caskets Now Closed.”

Another thing that’s big around here is buying packets of tokens for the car wash. These are inveritably characterized by the sign, “Token Sale.”

Another of our favorites is at a pet store. It has in bold letters, “Dog Grooming Exotic Birds.” So the next time you need your bird groomed by a dog come to St. George.

Once in Fresno, we passed a restaurant named Gentile’s. Out back there was a sign that said “Gentiles Parking Only.” John and I figured we’d have to pass up the lot.

It’s been rainy every day here in St. George since Friday. We are going a little stir crazy. Hopefully, the weather is clearing tomorrow and we can get out to have some new adventure.

BREATHING EASIER

TODAY’S WORRY

One of the legacies from growing up in a household where my mother and father both smoked is the asthma I have. I am suffering through a bout of it right now. A few weeks ago I had a cold and although the sniffles are long gone the coughing continues unabated. It really doesn’t take much to trigger a spasm – a passerby wearing perfume, cigarette smoke, a change in the temperature, and, god forbid, accidently swallowing the wrong way.

So hurrah on two accounts in the news these past few days. First, a federal appeals court on Friday overturned a clean-air regulation issued by the Bush administration that would have let many power plants, refineries and factories avoid installing costly new pollution controls to help offset any increased emissions caused by repairs and replacements of equipment. How out of touch are they? Although there has often been derision at “greens” and “tree huggers,” most Americans really are environmentalists wanting clean air and clean water. Really, how could you be against these things.

Second, kudos to the city of Calabasas in California which has banned smoking in all public places. While California has some of the strictest anti-smoking laws, it is still possible to get the unexpected lungful. It is a shock when visiting other states to be concerned about where to sit in a restaurant or remembering to take a deep breath and holding it before walking out of an airport terminal. Many places still allow people to smoke right outside the doors. Let’s hope that the trend towards making breathing easier continues.

EXPLODING MYTHS

TODAY’S WORRY

First I’d like to thank everyone who has stuck by and read this blog while I was going on and on about Nathan and how great and cute he is and all that. (And just so you know he’s still great and even cuter.) “Where’s the acute social commentary, where’s the modern fable, where’s the blog we came to know and love (and also hate?)” you asked. Well, it’s back.

Yesterday I was perusing the news and, bang!, or should I say big bang!, there was an article reporting that scientists have found evidence of the expanding universe. By analyzing variations in the microwave background over small patches of sky — only billions of light-years across- scientists are able to see back to the very beginnings of the universe. They can tell that the universe went from the size of a marble to a volume larger than all of observable space in less than a trillion-trillionth of a second!

But what will this new information do to the arguments of creationists who assert that everything was created over 6 days and that the earth is only 6000 to 10000 years old? Absolutely nothing. They will still claim that they are correct because they believe that they are. Seriously, if I were picking a god (which I’m not), I’d choose the one who was so powerful that he could create the universe in less than one trillion-trillionth of a second over one that took 6 days and then needed a rest.

UTAH BOUND

TODAY’S TRAVELS

Today we are Utah bound. It is so hard to leave little Nathan and the kids. Ryan’s mom, dad, grandmother and uncle are due in tomorrow and they will have some solo Nathan time. We are so lucky that most of our family lives nearby. When we are in California, we can always visit within an hour. That makes me happy.

So bye for a couple of weeks Nathan, Ryan, Jon and Sarah. We will miss you so much.

FEAR FACTOR

TODAY’S WORRY

Truth be told, I haven’t really been paying much attention to what’s happening in the world lately. Really, what’s better, getting riled up over the world spinning out of control or having your grandson fall asleep on your lap? But seriously, somebody better start paying attention to what’s going on because Ryan and Jon’s sweet Nathan will inherit the mess we are in.

So on the political scene, why was the Bush administration surprised when everyone got up in arms over the Dubai port deal? Haven’t we been told over and over to be afraid? Well, we are. You can’t just sneak through a sale like this when you’ve taught us to be super-vigilant. I think we better continue to keep our eyes open on this one. While we are not paying attention a shell corporation could be set up that’s wholly American owned but really just a front for the UAE. I hate to be so xenophobic but I’ve been carefully trained over the past 3+ years to react this way.

MOTHERHOOD

WEDNESDAY’S CELEBRATION CONTINUED

Early Wednesday morning, Ryan gave birth to Nathan. It was a long and difficult labor that ended with a C-section. Both she and the baby are doing fine. You can tell how much she and Jon love their new baby. John and I have had a chance to hold and rock him and marvel over the perfect little person he is.

It’s made me think a lot about when I had our kids. Last night we got out the old pictures and oohed and aahed over how cute they were. But what a lot of work it is bringing them into the world! I’ve talked to many of my friends about their experiences having their first child and, wow, it is amazing that the world is populated. And that people have more than one child. It’s a good thing there is no compendium of first labor and delivery experiences as required reading for people contemplating the leap into parenthood. Most women will only go so far as telling an expectant mom that it is really hard work having your first baby. The classes you take warn you against “discomfort.” But until you do it, even if everyone told you the unvarnished truth, you wouldn’t believe it.

But I saw it in Ryan’s eyes yesterday as she held Nathan and I remember it well myself, the boundless love you feel for this little baby who has just emerged from you. Is all the pain and mess worth it? Look around. Look at all the people out here in the world. It definitely is.

BABY!

TODAY’S CELEBRATION

With much happiness we welcome Nathan Clark into our family. Mom and Dad are really tired from a long labor but they are doing well. John and I have seen, held and rocked our new grandson. He is awesome. I’ll write some more tomorrow since it is late.

BLUG BLOG

TODAY’S WORRY

Today I had to go over to Kaiser Permanente early to have some blood drawn. Nothing dire, just some routine cholesterol checking thing. So I thought I’d comment on the whole being stuck with a needle. First of all, phlebotomists? When I was looking for a job and I’d see “help wanted – phlebotomists,” I always wondered what a phlebotomist did. It sounds sort of metaphysical or perhaps the job name for someone who takes out part of your brain. Anyway, I sit down and roll up my sleeve and the nice young woman asks me, “I’m a student, is it okay if I take your blood?” Hmmm, snap decision. Do I want someone to practice sticking needles in me? Honestly, the last time I had this done and the earnest young person asked, I said no, I’d like the experienced phlebotomist. But I like living on the edge so this time I said, sure, if you’re a very good student. I figured a little lightheartedness would be good. But this was serious business and no smiles were cracked. I grabbed a hold of the squeezy thing and sqoze it with all my might. She tied the rubber band thingy on my arm. She prodded my vein. I looked away. She undid the rubber band thingy. I looked back. No needle yet. Another go at cutting off my circulation. She mentions that I might feel a little pinch. I look away. Some more prodding of my inner elbow. And then, voila, she sticks the needle in and it’s over. Not even a little pinch. No big bruise. No gushing blood. Usually it hurts. I think I’ll ask for a student next time.

And speaking of blood, Jonathan called it blug when he was little. He’d run up to me after falling down yelling, “Mommy, mommy, blug!!” I wonder what cute things Nathan will say. He was due 10 days ago. Doesn’t he know that Nanie likes people to be on time?

UNDER THE WEATHER

TODAY’S WORRY

I just sat down at the computer to spread my germs all over the keyboard and make some sort of entry. I was thinking I’d just write a short post since I am feeling pretty crummy with a bad cold. But then I typed the title, “Under the Weather,” and it made me wonder why being sick is called “under the weather.” Well, of course, I had to look it up. (Isn’t the internet wonderful!) It seems that “Under the weather” is a nautical term that was originated in the British navy. When a sailor was ill, he was kept below decks, and thus, under the weather. I’m no sailor and I’m not a very good sickie either. I have got to get better soon because Little Bruno aka Nathan is already a week late and sure to make an appearance soon. I don’t want to traumatize him by wearing a mask and protective gloves the first time we meet.

A FABLE: THE COUPLE AND THE UNFORTUNATE CHOICE

A MODERN FABLE

This fable is inspired by Sarah’s choice for dinner at Left Bank last week.

THE COUPLE AND THE UNFORTUNATE CHOICE

Once upon a time, long, long ago (actually 1971), in a country far, far away (actually Canada) two people named Mary and John took a trip to Montreal.

“I will wine and dine you and we shall have a fine time,” said John gallantly. “I shall practice speaking French and you will be greatly impressed.”

“I will be greatly impressed with you regardless of your French speaking,” admitted Mary, because she was mightily smitten.

So off they went to a superior restaurant to eat French food and gaze into each other’s eyes.

“Let us try this dish,” John suggested. “From my vast knowledge of French I know that ris de veau means some sort of veal.”

“Ooh, I love veal and I love it when you speak French,” Mary exclaimed with great admiration.

When the dinner arrived, the veal was covered in white sauce. They each tasted a morsel.

“What type of veal do you think this is?” asked Mary. She was sure John would know due to his vast knowledge of French. “It doesn’t quite have the texture of meat.”

“Uh oh,” thought John. “Could it be something other than veal meat? I shall use my great memory to try to remember what ris means.”

So he thought and thought and thought some more while they nibbled at the dinner. Finally he dredged an old word out of his memory.

“Alas,” he ventured, “I think that perhaps ris means brains.”

Whereupon, using his vast knowledge of French, John asked for l’addition (the bill) and they left.

The moral of this story is 1) don’t trust your high school French, 2) things sound better in French than they taste, 3) love may be blind but its other senses are working.

Note: As it turns out the veal was sweetbreads and not brains.

For more modern fables click on the Modern Fables in the sidebar.