Saturday, July 07, 2007


The 4th of July is over. The Cling-on (aka Baxter the Wonderdog) no longer needs to be sedated due to the nightly neighborhood stupidly explosive, houseshaking, fireworks extravaganza that enhances his already neurotic and paranoid tendencies. If anyone ever needed a visit from the dog whisperer, it's him. The poor little guy gets so scared that you can feel his heart thumping inside his chest, making it seem like it's going to explode into cardiac arrest at any moment. For the past week he has been following me around so closely that he bumps into me any time I stop too suddenly. But now that things have quieted down, the absence of a shaking dog in my lap has again made room for my laptop. This means that I can share with you my crackpot theories on the fourth of July.

Really, it's not so much a theory as the admission. Since the war started, I find it increasingly difficult to enjoy fireworks. No matter how pretty they are against the night sky, somehow the explosions make me cringe. The thought of watching a spectacle that mimics the sight of bombs bursting in mid-air just makes me feel guilty. I can't enjoy it as entertainment when I know that there are women and children a half a world away cowering at our real bombs. I used to love going to fireworks displays, but the nagging guilt somehow takes the fun out of them, so fireworks and I are on a break. Maybe one day, like Ross and Rachel, we will get back together, but for now, we're seeing other people. I guess I've been shocked and awed enough at this point.

So, instead of loud fireworks, Independence Day was quietly commemorated at my house. Despite it being a day off, I was up by seven. This provided ample time to sit outside and work on a story for a while before it started getting too hot to bear. That's right! I didn't talk about writing or thing about writing, I pulled out the notes for my nano novel and just did it. Then, as a reward for my hard work, the rest of the day was divided between the various forms of lounging - lounging around reading, lounging around eating, and lounging around watching movies.

Reading took the form of Cherie Priest's Four and Twenty Blackbirds, which turned out to be the perfect "it's my day off, so I just want to be entertained" read. It had everything that I love when I'm a great escape suspense novel - mystery, ghosts, and a high suspense/low gore factor. I am so happy that I plucked it off the library shelf and took it home on a whim. It was so hard to put down that I ended up reading all but the first two chapters in one sitting and that means that I will be going back to enjoy Priest's other books. Reading this one reminded me of that lazy feeling I'd always get in college after exams were over. When I was in grad school, one of my favorite traditions after the last paper of the year was written was to buy a big carton of fresh strawberries, a bottle of spumante, and a good book (usually a Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters) and spend an afternoon just lounging around with them, knowing that I didn't have to feel guilty because I really should be researching something or reading Thomas Mann or Rilke or Hesse instead.

Priest's book gave me the same sort of feeling (minus the alcoholic buzz), especially after spending the past few days struggling through C.S. Lewis' dreadfully boring and pedantic Mere Christianity. I swear to you, if it hadn't been July's book group selection, I would have aborted reading and chucked it into the deepest, darkest abyss or slime covered bog I could find (and, trust me, I would have shopped around to make sure this was the deepest!). I'm sure the Multnomah County Library would not have appreciated a piece from their collection being handled in such a way, but it would almost be worth it...almost. Given my reverence for books and feelings about finishing the ones I start, I think we all now understand how little I am enjoying being lectured at by C.S. Lewis and how much I appreciated not being lectured at by Cherie Priest. So, in conclusion, yay witchy-ghost-suspense mysteries, boo prescriptive religio-philosophizing! (And yay making up works like religio-philosophizing! And, so as not to be a complete hater, yay C.S. Lewis' fiction and p.s. I loved Anthony Hopkins as you in Shadowlands.)

Once there was no more left to read, the day's festivities continued with a highly anticipated barbeque dinner outside. Can I tell you how good it tasted, especially after being on a diet for the past few weeks? We had shish kebabs - chicken, fresh red and green peppers, pineapple, and mushrooms marinated in marionberry barbeque sauce, pasta salad (with red grapes, walnuts and gorgonzola cheese), barbequed beans (my new favorite recipe ever from the Southern Living barbeque cookbook), grilled ears of sweet corn served, refreshingly minty Italian sodas and then NY style cheesecake for dessert. It was all so good that it could make a person want to barbeque every day! It also makes me think that we really should cook and entertain more often. Somehow I've rather fallen out of that habit.

And that was (with the exception of the evening's "two movies that don't fit together at all film festival" - Green for Danger and Seven Years in Tibet) Independence Day in Powellhurst. I had contemplated going to Living Earth's Interdependence Day Picnic in the park, but think we did just fine with our own celebration at home. Even without the fireworks, it was a pleasant, laid back day of appreciating a mid-week day of independence from work and war-related images, a day of celebrating and appreciating a lifestyle that many people in the world are not lucky (or spoiled) enough to share.

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