Sunday, October 30, 2005
Falling and loving are two different things.
Falling down is good. With practice you get better.
What does a woman mean when she says no?
Gabriel Garcia Marquez has inflamed my imagination.
We are making love. I crush your bones until there is nothing left but tulip petals in a pool of urine. Then your belly begins to swell like a fat tomato. A child is born that you can call your own. You can give it a name. I have my own pet names, Lunetta, for a girl, or Bradshaw Gumption for a boy, but I no longer need the power of naming.
Two years pass. Lunetta is a toddler. We are in France. I am very successful. We begin to quarrel. You say I love my work too much. I am distant, but I still think I can control you.
Ten more years pass. You are coming into your power now. You have become a true stallion of a woman, thicker, but still graceful in movement. And then we become equals and then we finally become friends.
Or, we live on a farm in southern Ohio with horses and cows.
Or, I become gravely ill, but even so you tire of me and leave me for Leonard, an artist in stained glass.
Saturday, October 29, 2005
I am clumsy when I write vabout art. The sculptures in Marfa, Texas, make a lot of sense. They make the whole town look good. They make the gas stations look beautiful. It's a just-right balance between art and everything else -- school children, the Dairy Queen, and the ranchers coming into town for breakfast. The thing about Texas -- you see this sculpture is pretty far out for local tastes, and yet the work is so completely true, and so fully courageous, that the local people have embraced it. I love Texas -- I just wish they would stop the executions.
Friday, October 28, 2005
I can't find my grandfather's photo. But yesterday, if you scroll down, you will see his house in Bulawayo. And today you see the map where Bulawayo is located. Mataka, my grandfather was always smiling, but he is an old-fashioned man, so if you take his picture, he will stand erect and have a dignified, serious expression on his face. You will not get a photo of him laughing, but he is a very kind man. Many grandchildren lived in his house, more than ten. I slept on the kitchen floor with my sisters. My brothers slept in the living room. It's what you call cousins, but we call brother and sister -- we all lived together.
Then if grandfather was mad at us he would start to chase us, but we could climb up into a tree or on to the roof of the house, and then he would shout at us, but after a while he would just smile and walk away. He was never mean.
Then he would sit in the front of the house, under the guava tree, and tell us stories about his village in Malawi, way up in the mountains, where he grew up. He said the missionaries found him one day and because he was a clever boy, they sent him to school in Dedza town. After he finished school he came all the way to Zimbabwe to work, and since then Zimbabwe is his home, but also, like most people in Africa, he has more than one home, because he goes back to Malawi to see his family. And me, I was not born in Malawi, but it is my home too.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
This photo is not the downtown of Bulawayo where you will find tall, modern buildings with elevators, full of people working on computers and cell phones, just like any place else. This photo is from the townships, the old neighborhoods which were reserved for native people under colonial rule. This photo is my grandfather's house in Luveve. Old Mataka, my grandfather, sits on the veranda on the front porch, everyday. He reads the daily newspaper, the Bulawayo Chronicle, and drinks his tea. He sees the neighbors passing by on their way to the market or to the beer hall. He gives his greetings. Or he just watches, so that my grandfather knows everything and everybody in Luveve. He can tell you who is trouble, and who is a good man. He has seen them all. My grandfather is a happy man. Look at this quiet peaceful home, see how blue is the sky. Wouldn't you be happy if this was your home?
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
They have a good coffee shop and bookstore in Marfa, plus a wireless connection for my laptop. For a real bonus they have picture glass windows at this coffee shop, and I can see the Union Pacific freight trains roll by from where I sit typing this report. One train just rolled by, going west, five engines pulling, with double-stacked containers, probably all empty, coming back from the Wal-Mart warehouse and going back to Los Angeles, and then on to a boat, to get filled back up again in China.
I have a question: How come our gov’t. forbids trade and travel to Cuba, but somehow we can’t live without China and their trade goods? A Chinese citizen needs an exit visa to leave the country – that is the signature of a communist government, that you need permission to leave your own county. That, and a host of other freedoms, which we enjoy, but the Chinese citizen is refused, such as the freedom to criticize the gov’t.
But I digress. The sky is clear beautiful and fine here in Marfa. It is good to be back in Texas. I drove straight through from Los Angeles, with just a couple of roadside naps, so I will just sit and rest here today. I have already met several people in just a few hours.
CJ runs the coffee shop. He used to live in Manhattan, “But I’m a Marfan now,” he adds quickly.
I walked two blocks to the thrift story and bought a red XL t-shirt for $1.50 – a good deal. I asked the clerk – her name is Kitty – about why the newspaper office was closed and she said, “They don’t come to the office on Wednesday.” That means I will visit the Editor, a man named Halpern, on Thursday.
However I did read last week’s issue of his paper, the Big Bend Sentinel. It looks like a good paper, but it had what seemed to me like an over-blown crime story on the front page.
A Marfa man named Upshaw may or may not have wiretapped the telephone of his ex-wife and several other people. That was 3.5 years ago. Upshaw was indicted on that charge. This is only from what the paper says. This is the third time Upshaw has been indicted by the DA Frank Brown. What that says to me is that either Upshaw is up to no good and hasn’t got caught yet, OR Frank Brown has it in for Upshaw.
Now, it just so happened, that Upshaw’s defense attorney is none other than Dick DeGuerin, who is also defending a certain T. DeLay of Sugarland in an unrelated matter. Small World.
But the editor managed to insert himself in the story by being on the receiving end of some documents from the courthouse that cast the DA in an unfavorable light. The publication of those papers caused the DA to subpoena the newspaper editor to find out who passed on these papers from the courthouse. This gave Editor Halpern a golden opportunity to be a hero and refuse to name his source, all detailed, of course, by Halpern himself on the front page of his paper.
As I said, it seems overblown to me. The underlying offense is unusual, wiretapping by a private citizen against another private citizen. That seems to barely qualify as a felony.
However, I’m sure that DeGuerin is not a low-profile defense attorney either. I don’t know what he has to gain in this neck of the woods – maybe he owns some ranch property around here. The Marfa area has seen a heavy inflow of outside investors and is now quite a center for art and theater.
It is a regular left-ling liberal Hollywood town in fact, and somewhat surprising to find this in the middle of West Texas. But I saw ladies in leotards on their way to yoga class, and across the street it says Wine Bar. I saw several galleries and artist studios and I would say that the art work here is very good, and there is a distinct feel to it. It’s the air and the light – artists will always tell you that. The air is especially clear, and a little bit different in quality that what you see in New Mexico or Arizona – that certain quality of the light. Marfa, as a small town with an artist’s renaissance, has done a pretty good job over all.
This evening they are having a vigil for the 2,000 American soldiers now dead in Iraq. I am going. Whether as an observer or participant matters little to me. And whether it’s for the war or against matters little either. I can bow my head and say a small prayer. As far as the direction and purpose of the war – I’ll say what I’ve said before. I’m stumped. I’m not Cindy Sheehan, and I’m not Donald Rumsfeld. I AM one of the rest of us, and so I will be there on the Presidio Courthouse (built in 1886) lawn at 6:30 p.m.
AND, while being respectful, I will have my portable transistor radio tuned in at low volume to the Fourth Game of the World Series. This is America. I’m not sure about the war, but I AM sure about baseball.
Monday, October 24, 2005
We say if you sit on the ground then your seat is everywhere. Men need to have a stool or a chair. We only need a mat for being clean, otherwise the ground is fine. And we sit together. You see that. Ladies together. We can keep our hair this way. We can do our business or talk about our children.
African women get too jealous. One has a man. Then she looks left and right. She knows that her sister will steal her man, just with a look. Then they are both jealous. Angry words. Bitter glances. There is nothing you can do about this. It has always been that way.
But we are sisters too, all sisters. Even if you meet someone from far away -- you ask them who they know. If she is from Zaire, and I am from Zimbabwe, then maybe we both know somebody from Tanzania. I myself have never been to Zaire, but I have been to Tanzania, only one time, but I know it. So if we can find that someone who we both know -- then we are related.
In Africa we are all related. It is one village.
Sunday, October 23, 2005
We call him Tuku. He is Oliver Mtukudzi. He is famous even in America. Tuku is a Shona man from Harare. So, if you know Zimbabwe, then you will know that I am an Ndebele woman. I don't hate Shona people because I don't hate anybody -- but we are not the same, Shona and Ndebele. Shona are the majority people of 10 million. The rest of us, two million, we are Ndebele, living in our southern portion of Zimbabwe, and our capitol city is Bulawayo.
Even so, with these differences. I love Tuku and his soulful gentle music. Everybody can hear it, the unviversal sound of love. You may know about the troubles in Zimbabwe now, but you won't hear them from my lips, because I only believe in the good things. Tuku is like that. He doesn't have politics
My sister Amina is working everyday in the field. She is my half sister. Her mother is Tonga, from the Zambezi Valley. The Tonga people are more traditional. Their villages are far from the city. The elevation is low, where the baobab trees grow. The rainfall is very little. The women go to the fields in October and November, plowing everyday with their hoes, and planting seeds for maize. If the rains come there will be plenty of sadza -- the corn meal porridge we eat every day. If the rains don't come the Tonga people will be hungry.
If there is no rain, they beg from their relatives in town. Most of the men are gone all the time, working in town. They come home at month end when they are paid and bring money and food.
That's my sister on the left with the red scarf on her head. You will see the ladies all wear a wrap skirt. These are a pretty color and only cost a few American dollars. In Zimbabwe women always wear a dress or a skirt. We don't want to look like men. Men are lazy. They don't work in the fields.
Saturday, October 22, 2005
My name is Zodwa. It means "too many girls" in the Ndebele language. It's what my grandfather, Mr. Mataka, named me. He had ten children, The first-born was Lovemore Peter. And I was the first-born child of Lovemore Peter. But "too many girls" can mean both things in Africa -- for Mr. Mataka it means he wanted a boy instead, but it also means he is happy that I was born because I am his favorite grandchild.
He raised me. Often we are raised by our grandfather and grandmother in Africa. All my brothers and sisters we lived at Mataka's house in Luveve.
Luveve means butterfly in our language. So you think our town was named after a butterfly, but it was not. It was named after a white man who came to administer our area. The white man would sometimes get up and leave quickly, so we called him Butterfly -- see, we always give somebody a name. Butterfly was our white chief long back, so we named our town after him -- Luveve
My grandmother's name was Grace, She was a Kalanga woman from Plumtree. I loved her very much but she died. When she died her relatives came from Plumtree and had the burial in her home village. That was because Mataka, her husband, had never finished paying his "Lobola" after all those years. You have to pay for your wife in our culture, with so many cows or so many dollars. It gets very complicated. Mataka didn't pay all the lobola to Grace's family, so when she died, they came and took her body back to Plumtree.
Friday, October 21, 2005
In Hwange Park and near Victoria Falls and going towards the Limpopo River -- that is where you will find the Mkomo growing because the land is low and hot and there is not too much rain. "izulu" is the rain. All of Zimbabwe is like the shell of a tortoise, with the highland plateau in the middle, with more rain and good soil, where all the people live, where the white people have the best farms, in the middle. The poorest people live on the edges.
But the edges, of Kariba, and up and down the Zambezi Valley, the home of the Tonga people -- my stepmother is Tonga, and my sister Amina is pure Tonga -- black as coal. All this low, hot country is for Mkomo, and the Limpopo River, low and hot.
My name is Zodwa Mataka. I will be telling you stories about Africa.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
I grew a baobab from seed, when I lived in Zimbabwe. It was a foot tall by the time we left. Who knows? It is barely possible, but it might still be there where I planted it. In the back yard of our rented house at 23 Shottery Crescent, in the suburb of Southwold, in the city of Bulawayo, in the province of Matebeleland.
I was a bold gardener to plant this tree. A baobab will not grow naturally in Bulawayo, because of its elevation, over 3,000 feet. It gets too cold there.
So maybe a frost has killed my baobab. Maybe the new tenants at 23 Shottery Crescent didn't like it. Maybe they cut it down. But I don't know for sure. It still might be there, and that was eight years ago. It might be 15 feet tall, and it might be in a sheltered spot where the frost won't touch it -- because we humans can often grow trees outside of their natural range, with a little care.
If you're a good gardener, you give your new plant tender care, but after a certain point, you need to have faith, you need to turn your back and walk away, you need to believe in what you planted. I left my small, might tree behind that way..... The photo shows how big they can get, in a 1,000 years.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
My daughter mocks me for being an old hippie because I chat with Tarot card dealers on the Internet, all woman, nice people, from around the world – Chile, Sweden, the UK, Australia, Israel -- talking about their aches, pains, jobs, families, their elaborate alchemical fantasies, and their cosmic uncertitudes. Go to Aeclectic Tarot Forum It’s all very polite, like having tea with ladies.
I grew up in
Forty Lives Continued.
Ron Firman was cooking a single cocktail-sized Smokie Link in a cast-iron frying pan in his
I’m gone from there now, but Gretchen hasn’t taken down the sign.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
I saw two black-headed seals off the breakwater. The seals in
“Forty Lives” continues with four E’s
Elaine Kolodziej is my editor at the Wilson County News, located in Floresville, a one-hour drive southeast of
Elaine is 59. She is a conservative Republican who admires Condoleeza Rice, and was inspired by the career of Phyllis Schlafly. She has built the Wilson County News almost from scratch – she took over a little, local shopper and, over 20 years, built it into a solid, paid subscription newspaper, with a circulation of 8,000 and a staff of 20.
This is what she has achieved. Now I wonder what Elaine is going to do next? Turn the paper over to her daughter and go see the world? Or, buy another newspaper and build up a media empire, or run for public office? Or...we’ll see.
Everton. Wayne Everton, age 77, is the mayor of LaConner.
Wayne retired in his late fifties, having made a bundle, and he moved up to LaConner and bought a very nice home in 1981 – on Maple Street, just two doors down from Chris McCarthy, the one with the killer bees. I also lived on
Everyday I got to look at what I couldn’t afford – their house. And everyday Wayne and Beverly got to look at my double-wide trailer, which was holding down their property values. It was a challenge for both of us.
But soon enough I sailed across the street and said hello.
I am also pleased to say that, over the past years, Wayne has improved and mellowed, and he no longer has to get in the last word – pretty good for an old dog.
Two years he decided to run for Mayor. I was the ghost writer for his campaign platform and
Eugene Owens is my son. He has a round face and a small beard that gets better with age. He’s 28 now. If I call him, he’s usually busy and I get the recording. Then he might call back a few days later and we can have a long chat. Now I’m beginning to realize how smart he is – he’s been gaining on me, doing all that reading of books, and observing the life of streets and cafes.
He goes to graduate school in
Eva Anderson has been a major friend in my life since 1973, when I first saw here, wading across the shallow Rio Grande River in Big Bend National Park. Her long skirt was trailing in the muddy water, and she was carrying a steaming pot of beans in a cast iron kettle. That’s because her hippie bus family was setting up camp in a fallen-down adobe across the river into
That place was called Solis, although it wasn’t really a place at all – just that fallen-down adobe hut built into a low hillside, almost like a dugout. But it was cool inside and nobody else wanted to live there.
I had been walking up the river from a bigger, formal campsite near Boquillas. I had just gotten to Solis that same day, when Eva and her hippie bus arrived. So we joined up and made camp. Eva was always cooking, and usually it was beans.
We took the bus into
Fred Owens, at Venice Beach in Los Angeles. Photo taken by his sister, Carolyn Rios. Ohio State sweatshirt is a souveneir from last year when he was in Ohio work at the John Kerry campaign. Kerry lost the election, but Owens was named an honorary Buckeye for his good service.
Monday, October 17, 2005
Forty Lives is Interrupted by this Dramatic Insertion
The Astonishing Debbie Rosenblatt. I forgot the promise I made to myself. After I met Debbie Rosenblatt from a personals ad in the Boston Globe I said I would never, ever do that again – because she was such a winner.
I’ve been flirting with women, being charming – but a little of that goes a long way. Life is better with purpose, which is the middle path between two extremes.
One extreme is flirting and flitting and shopping and cruising and changing channels. The other extreme is righteousness, obsession and in general, being too tightly focused.
One hopes for a balance, a decent purpose. As for women, I think to have a partner is the best. When I was married I was just nicely focused on her – sometimes being charming, of course, and sometimes being righteous, which is awful, but mainly working it all out with just one woman. It’s better that way.
Forty Lives Continued -- Dana, David, and Dean.
Dana Rust lives in Edison, Washington, a small, unincorporated town at the mouth of the Samish River. Edison is famous for being the hometown of Edward R. Murrow. Dana and his wife Tony Ann live in the old hardware store, a huge place made of wonderful warm, old wood. She teaches school. She was my childrens’ Head Start teacher years ago on the Swinomish Reservation across the channel from LaConner.
Dana was a commercial fisherman. He ran a hippie crew on his purse seiner, the Pacific Breeze. I went out with him on the boat one time – the time he hung the net on a rock near Apple Tree Point off the Kitsap Peninsula. That was in 1983. Dana didn’t bother looking at the chart and he was just being careless – so we lost most of the day getting that huge net off the rocks and only caught a few fish.
Maybe ten years ago Dana gave up fishing and started an art gallery in the front half of the hardware store. It’s called the Edison Eye. It is the best art gallery in the Skagit Valley. I enjoy going to the openings there – to meet old friends and new people.
A few years ago Dana had major surgery for a brain tumor and he came very close to dying. I think the tumor and the surgery altered his basic chemistry and he has not been like his old self, often getting depressed.
David Schlitt never answers my email anymore. I guess he thinks I’m a pest, but I only wanted to be friends. He is from Brookline, Massachusetts, from a semi-observant Jewish family. He graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Yiddish. Then he came to Ohio to work on the John Kerry campaign. That’s where I met him. Of all the smart-aleck Ivy League brats who provided the campaign leadership, he was the one I liked the best.
They were nice kids, but they should not have been running the campaign – being all brains and no experience. Now David works in Washington DC for some Reform Jewish advocacy group, making small money and hoping to get a date. David is a good-looking guy with a nice sense of humor, but he is hopeless with women. He should listen to me – I had better luck when I was his age.
Dean Flood has been in a wheel chair for more than 25 years. Drunk, driving too fast on the Fir Island Road, he drifted off the road and crashed into a utility pole. That crippled him. He had been an active outdoorsman and the Superintendent of Public Works in LaConner. Friends rallied around him after the accident and re-fit his house on South First Street for wheelchair access, but his wife left him after a few years.
Since then he has lived by himself. His speech is slurred. He can walk with braces, but mostly he stays home and watches TV. The best thing about Dean is his cheerful attitude. You gotta play the cards you were dealt, he says, and never complains. Although if you press him, he will admit that life in a wheel chair really sucks.
Sunday, October 16, 2005
Fear of Winter. What a cold shock in the puss. We had to turn the heat on this morning. When I went outside to pick up the paper it was cold. Cold! I can’t stand it. I wish summer would go on forever. Reality is supposed to be a blessing, so I will get this sludge-bucket carcass moving – because it is time to MAKE PLANS. Making plans does not come to me naturally. Yet I will do it – make two lists. The first list, the easy one, is all the things that I can do at my sister Carolyn’s house – like painting the shed, and repairing the masonry wall – enough work to keep me busy for two months – and a really good value for her, because the work suits my talent. I will show her the list this evening and let her decide.
I like reading Aurielle's blog
Romance. Things ended with Eileen. There was a candle-lit dinner and a walk in the neighborhood. Then we sat on the couch and listened to music. We kissed. I didn’t really feel anything, and she neither, because she said, “This is awkward.”
Three more lives -- Carolyn, Chris and Claudia
Carolyn Rios – she’s my older sister by two years ago. She married Frank Rios, the beatnik poet. Carolyn and Frank bought this bungalow house in
Saturday, October 15, 2005
Forty Lives will be followed by Forty Jobs and Forty Places --- so the Frog Hospital blog has a plan and a direction. I have had at least forty jobs and lived in at least forty places, so it will be no trouble to compose this.
Like the time I worked as a bouncer at a disco -- honest. It was in the late 1970's. I wore black clothes and tried to stand impassively by the door. The job was short-lived however, because the security firm that hired me lost the contract.
Forty Lives, continued. We're moving into the B's now -- Barb, Ben, and Bob.
Barb Cram doesn’t wear her false teeth at home. She retired this spring on her 70th birthday. I have known her for a long time, since my kids were small, when I first moved to LaConner. She used to run Friendship House, the homeless shelter in
Barbtook up with Pat Simpson, who was formerly the Methodist minister in LaConner. Barb and Pat being an item and also being fairly prominent, it was too much of a scandal for a small town, so they moved to
Friday, October 14, 2005
Recommending Aurielle's blog. She had a cat named Ceasar but she can't seem to find him now. Go to
Three lives posted yesterday, three today, and 34 more to go in this exciting biographical extravaganza, but first the news from Malibu. The women here are not as beautiful as the women in Venice -- I think it's more about money in Malibu, this quiet luxury. I'm certainly enjoying it.
Malibu is just a short drive up the coast from Venice. I got here yesterday and made camp at Leo Carillo State Beach under the sycamore trees in the little canyon in back of the beach. It was awesome quiet last night sleeping under the moonlight without a tent -- so warm and gentle the breeze. Except for this almost vicious squirrel that was stealing my Top Ramen and Ritz crackers -- I had to put the food in the car.
This morning I walked the mile-long Zuma Beach in Malibu. Zuma is such a fine name, sand so fine, waves so clear and sparkling, rolling on glassy seas with no wind. I saw a black seal poke his head up just past the waves, and the seal saw me.
Then a school of porpoises, frolicking and feeding, almost twenty of them. Toasting in the sun, reading Mahfouz from Egypt -- his novella, Miramar, set in Alexandria.
Three More Lives
Aisha Barbeau is my niece, my brother Tom’s oldest daughter. She lives in San Francisco. She’s going to law school now. I think she’s 32 or 33. She’s marrying Matt in December in
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Victoria Pavlik was really something – probably still is – a piece of work, a force of nature. I stayed at her house in
Eva Owens is my daughter. She was born on
Monday, October 10, 2005
Discovery Day, or Columbus Day – a holiday for Italian-Americans who take pride in the voyage of Christopher Columbus in 1492 – setting sail from
But then I had this idea. Here I am in sunny
Friday, October 07, 2005
The Santa Anna. The usual breeze comes off the water and brings morning fog and cool evenings. But the Santa Anna is the east wind that comes out of the
It's a Matter of Good Judgment
By Fred Owens
The new Chief Justice, John Roberts, impressed friend and foe alike
during the confirmation process. The Democrats, who were spoiling for
fight, could only muster routine objections to Roberts' nomination to
the Supreme Court.
President George Bush made an inspired choice. I don't suspect him of
trying to please everybody, but he did just that. Besides Roberts'
impressive education and judicial accomplishment, which were examined
and discussed by the media and the politicians, we also saw photos of
his attractive family.
Chief Justice Roberts has a wife and she calls him John. A wife knows
things about a man – what he's like when's feeling down and
discouraged – things we will never see. A marital partner has a way of
bringing you up short when you're drifting off course – you all know
what I'm talking about. And there's no escape, it's 24/7.
Roberts has small children to look after. They don't call him "Your
Honor," they call him Daddy. He may go to work and make decisions of
national importance, but his little children don't care about that.
They just want for him to read a bedtime story.
Marriage and a family constitutes a complete course in character
development. It helps a man or a woman to develop good judgment.
Conservatives rail against judges who legislate from the bench, but
they skip over the larger question – What is good judgment? And does
this particular candidate have good judgment?
That's not easy to define, but I will give you an example. I have two
grown children, well educated, strong in spirit, and making a good
living. They're smart kids. They may even be smarter than me, and good
for them if they are. But the only thing I have that they don't have
yet is better judgment. My better judgment comes from being thirty
years older and comes from all the work I did raising those two
children and comes from all the mistakes I made along the way.
You just get a sense of it after a while. When my kids were teenagers
– those were tough years for me – I encouraged them to think
independently. I encouraged them to ask challenging questions. I was
willing to discuss and debate any issue for as long as they wanted.
But I always made two things perfectly clear. One is that they didn't
have a vote. And two, they must talk with me in a respectful way.
Oh, we had lots of arguments, but I believed I had earned their
respect and I was determined to enforce that respect. This is where I
honed and improved my sense of judgment. What is the difference
between a challenging question, which is a good thing, and a
fifteen-year-old girl with a smart mouth? A parent had better learn
the difference because children will eat you alive if you let them.
Attitude. That's a good part of what judgment is and that is not
written down. Parents learn to recognize attitude, good and bad, and
in doing so, they improve their own attitude – they develop good
So a judge needs to have balance, a sense of fairness, a human heart
that cares about people coupled with strong detachment and
objectivity. A judge needs to be honest with himself about his own
weaknesses, because he surely has them. A good judge will make three
kinds of mistakes. One mistake is a simple miss-weighing of the
evidence, and this is more of a mental error. The second mistake is
prejudice, which is emotional in nature, where a judge gives in to his
own affection or animosity and rules accordingly. The third mistake is
pride and ego – this is when a judge legislates from the bench,
because he thinks he knows better than anybody else.
I said a good judge makes all three of these mistakes because he's
human, but he will try his darndest not to and struggle every day at
Let's consider President Bush's current nominee to the Supreme Court.
Harriet Miers is a close personal adviser to the President and a
corporate attorney. But has she married a man? Has she raised
children? Has she served as a judge? Has she written a book? Has she
fought in a war? Has she lived in a foreign land? Has she climbed a
mountain? Has she raised crops on a farm? Her resume comes up light in
my mind. I'm willing to listen, but so far I'm not impressed. Those
life experiences, which develop good judgment in a man or a woman,
don't seem to be there in her case.
LAST WEEK'S COLUMN
Prose and Cons,
Is it better in
By Fred Owens
Comparing Texas and
trouble, but I like to live dangerously. I'm out here in
visiting my sister. She lives near the beach so she gets lots of
company. It's an expensive neighborhood. They sold a two-bedroom
bungalow down the block for $1.2 million. Isn't that amazing? My
sister is a school teacher. She couldn't afford to live here except
she bought her house 28 years ago when prices were affordable.
It's a good life – the weather is always sunny, but never too hot. I
suppose that's why so many millions of people want to live here. If
you can get past the traffic and pollution and the high prices, then
you're welcome to it.
But that's not my topic. My topic is agriculture.
number one farm producer in the nation, equal to the combined value of
grapefruit. A Ruby Red is the summit of excellence and juicy good
oranges. It's true that a
cattle. That's what gave them their tough hides. In fact a
orange is like the character of the
outside and sweet on the inside. A
at, but the flavor is not as good.
states don't appreciate the
get a little selfish about watermelon. They eat the best and sell the
remainder out of state. The
an industrialized product and a volume business.
they invented the seedless watermelon. The seedless watermelon is an
abomination and threatens to bring ruin to our nation's heritage.
Watermelons are supposed to have seeds. And the rules of dining
etiquette are relaxed a bit when watermelon is served – you get
involved when you taste a good melon. There's the indoor style, which
is a bit neater, and the picnic style with no rules at all. Everybody
has their own method and debates often ensue.
A seedless watermelon? That's the kind of thing that gives
a reputation for being goofy. It's an improvement we can live without.
But it's their state. How about
sushi? I won't even touch that.
But California pulls out ahead in farm products when you consider
olives, avocadoes, artichokes, walnuts, pistachios, almonds, kiwis,
strawberries, figs, prunes, nectarines, raisins and a lot more.
can only answer, "but we have the best pecans." Yes,
They also make movies here. Most movies aren't very good, but one in a
hundred movies is something that will take your breath away and teach
you something about life. You can talk about the trash that comes out
you were a kid that you can never forget.
And what is a movie? It's nothing more than the ancient art of
storytelling set to modern technology. Tales of romance and adventure,
true stories and the imagination of dreams. A good story is a human
need almost as necessary as food. Think of Homer's poem, the Iliad,
written 3,000 years ago, about Achilles and the Trojan War – a story
so exciting that it has been told over and over again for many
starring Brad Pitt.
Or the story of Exodus when the Hebrew people left
the Promised Land. Exodus is a matter of belief for most Americans,
but the reason we love it is because the drama is so compelling –
Moses parting the
a good story.
That's what they do here in
Brad Pitt and Jennifer Lopez, but you don't know about tens of
thousands of people who work in the film and television industry –
building scenery, processing film, makeup, marketing and a hundred
other specialties -- people who aren't glamorous are famous or unusual
in any way. They just make a good living and they're a lot like
One more thing –
earthquakes and mudslides – take your pick.