"Beauty confronts us with the requirement that we place ourselves among...the redeemers, the leaders in the protection of life. Once you have seen the bush on fire, you are not going to get out of the assignment unless you close your eyes to the beauty.... [You] either have to close your eyes or go back to Egypt and set the people free." - Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, "Rising to the Challenge of Our Times"

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Putting the Pro back in Procrastination

This is going to be short 'cause I have to dash off to work--BRIEFLY, I pray--to finish up the paperwork backlog I allowed to accumulate over the past, well, year.

Yesterday the office was officially closed which made the 10 hrs I put in extremely productive. I'm trying to leave on vacation, you see, but everything is supposed to be done before the ball drops over the weekend. And when the office is open I find it incredibly difficult to get anything done, people keep calling me, dropping in with new problems, and there's the email OCD thing where I feel compelled to check it about every 5 minutes, etc. I'm not sure what grand message it is that I think I might be receiving any minute that makes me want to check so often but it must be something good. (That's framing the problem optimistically at least.)

There is now some space on my desk that hasn't seen the light of day for months, so deep in my heart, I do believe that we shall be leaving for the coast this morning. Maybe not early this morning, but prior to 12:00 pm. Okay, gotta go.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

graduated from Nerf

I pried Ce away during halftime on Sunday and we took our Nerf out in the parking lot. I guess for purposes of throwing a ball amidst parked cars it was a good idea but it was clear that this wouldn't do for real practice, plus we were probably bringing shame to our ancestors by tossing this bit of pointed prolate spheroid-shaped styrofoam around.

Today at lunchtime I went to Play it Again Sports and acquired a nice sticky Wilson Supreme official NCAA-size composite ball for $14.99. I tucked it under my arm and discretely ran back to the car. I think it's bigger than the one the women's league plays with but it has a good feel and Ce noted that no pigs or other animals donated their hides for it.

So now our household is more properly equipped. It's almost, but not quite, as exciting as the hanging cookware rack we bought from Collier's last weekend with our housewarming gift certificate. (Thanks again, you know who you are!!)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

"was it destiny? I don't know yet"

The next Papale?

We stopped in for lunch at the Burger Hut off of Forest Ave. yesterday, needing to refuel for continued shopping, and also dining there was a whole table full of sturdy looking ladies in maroon football jerseys. I studied them for a bit, then noticed one of the women had a T-shirt that said "Rage On!" This was clearly the "Redding Rage" professional women's football team (or part of it, at least). So then I had to talk to them. We sat down at the adjoining table and I turned to the nearest player and said "Are YOU the Redding Rage?" which seemed to please the woman enormously. She said "Yes! Do you guys want to play?"

How to answer that question. Heck yes I want to play. Ce is very clear about her desire to remain a spectator, not a participant, but I am not clear at all and I can't figure out why. Normally I am quite averse to physical risks. They play full contact in this league. Maybe I don't really want to play, I just want to try on the costume. No, I want to try on the persona too. I could be meaner than a junkyard dog on the football field (within the rules of play) and my behavior would be completely appropriate.

On the other hand, I looked at their roster and it looks like they need another kicker. Not exactly the junkyard dog position but probably would make a lot more sense for someone who's a bit scrawny and risk averse. I think I was probably about 8 or 9 years old when I last attempted to kick a football but I'm sure it would come back with a little practice.

Anyway, it's only $25 to try out and you get a t-shirt (compared to the $75 fee to try out for the Sacramento Sirens team) so maybe...just for fun...just to say I tried...I'll head to Redding on January 6.

P.S. Someone I went to school with who is a staff attorney for legal services in Sacramento plays for the Sirens. She's smaller than I am but she's a lot meaner.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

lean your ear this way

I spent the morning at a senior center in their storage room (officially called "the library" because among the stored items are some bookshelves full of very old paperbacks and ReadersDigestCondensed volumes). I have appointments here once a month. Today a client asked me, "Are you an attorney, or are you from Legal Aid?" I explained, why, as it happens, I am an attorney AND I am from Legal Aid! To cut the old lady a little slack, though, a lot of free legal aid happens through the efforts of non-attorneys and attorneys who volunteer their time. I don't really wear the uniform that people associate with attorneys either so I can't blame her for not being sure.

Since I had a couple no-shows today there was more opportunity to reflect on the senior center environs. A gentleman started playing Christmas songs on the piano in the main room. He played a bit hesitantly, as if sight reading and a little rusty, though less rusty than I would have been. He played "Jolly Old St. Nicholas" in a halting, reverent way that made it sound exactly like like a hymn, which was pretty much how he played all the songs, but for some reason that one stuck. I'm a sucker for paradox, I guess. But the main thing was that the music warmed the air a bit, sent out some good vibrations, and that he was both able and willing to play for us. Bless him.

Friday, December 08, 2006


"If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace."

I don't know if a mass rejection of additional TVs would be sufficient to halt the war industry or repair the damage it has done, but I will challenge myself, and you, to think of something else you can do today or the coming week or month to bring forth your own vision of the world you would like you, your kids, and / or your friends to live in, on however small a scale.

Thanks. Visions may vary a bit, but I think it's probably safe to assume that nobody dreams of raising their kids in a cardboard box by the river or in bombed-out ruins, and probably everyone would like to be able to get medical care without destroying their credit, and probably nobody really enjoys being stuck in traffic twice a day, so I trust you.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

my own private Kansas

I applied for and was appointed to a Citizens Advisory Committee to help with our county's General Plan update process. I missed the first meeting due to a conflict but attended one tonight in which the group showed photos of things they liked or disliked about our county, and we reviewed a set of "guiding principles" that will be used to chart the rest of the GP update.

There were many, many photos of the open spaces, ag land, forest, recreation opportunities etc. (Like), and some photos of illegal dumping and aesthetically displeasing industrial uses (Dislike). Unfortunately since I missed the first meeting I didn't find out about the photo homework in time. We were put into groups as part of this discussion. One of the people in my group had a profound concern that the commercial developments along our highways were being painted in colors that did not encourage people to shop / eat there. She expressed this at some length. Another person explained that we need to develop more recreation options because now everybody wants to live where they play since they can do all their work remotely with the internet (uh, except for the people who mow the golf course lawn, run the concession stand, teach math to the children of the liberated recreating home-office workers, and respond to 911 calls; but sure, everybody else is just here to play).

OK, trying to respect the inherent worth & dignity of the people in my group. Maybe they are really deep in ways that were not apparent. I would love to wallow in progressive-minded self-righteousness here but listening to everyone in the room made me realize that going to work every day, where I work, has given me a very distorted view of what public priorities are. It's not just that the concerns of the poor are overlooked, it's more like there's an active hatred or aversion.

All the group introductions happened in the first meeting so I haven't been outed as a legal aid lawyer yet, though people probably became suspicious when I tried to suggest that we establish a guiding principle that the General Plan will address the needs of housing for all income levels. It is kind of scary to realize that somewhere between 15 - 30% of the population of the county may have no voice at all in this process if I don't pipe up now and then with my wildly popular ideas.

On the other hand, my background and affiliations were fully disclosed in my application to serve on this committee, so it seems likely that somebody in the planning department really wants to hear from me. Time to step up.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


Specifically, cured (at least for now) of my curiosity about ultramarathon running. Just the garden-variety 26.2 distance is fine. I was about to refer to this as the distance that killed Phidippides but apparently that story may be a total myth, and/or before he ran 21-something miles from Marathon to Athens, he had spent the two days before running 150 miles to Sparta and back. Nor was he on paved roads and rolling hills. So I don't fault him for dropping dead at some point. The only reason Dean Karnazes can get away with it is that he stops at 7-11 for donuts and microwave pizza while he's running, and his family brings him peanut butter sandwiches.

Technically I guess I did an 'ultra' since we walked about 4 blocks back to C's mom's place after I finished, and after I had spent a few minutes trying to decide if I was going to have to ingloriously decorate the lawn of our State Capitol. (Note: hot tomato soup is a bad chaser for marathon finish--took only three sips to figure that out.) On the drive back to Chico I was thinking about how much I will enjoy riding my bike, especially once the all-weather Surly is ready to roll, and it's getting close.

Nothing like actually running a marathon to take all the romance out of the idea of marathon running. But since I seem to keep doing it (this is where Dr. Phil yells "What's your payoff??") I must have a reason. I just keep forgetting how hard it is. It's good for me because even with the progress I've made with my running, this event never goes just as I expect and I always have a huge struggle with it. I can feel good about the fact that I got a significant PR (about 4:03, down from the previous 4:20), but humbled by how hard it was to do that, and I was really hoping to crack the 4-hour barrier. Then again, I feel like I gave it everything I could. Yet again, whether I run a marathon in 4:03 or 3:59 is probably one of the least significant details in the universe.

We'll see, maybe with some time I'll be up for another try. I know I'm faster but I can see that my distance training wasn't quite where it needed to be.

C has been very sweet and helpful this afternoon as I pretty much wiped myself out. I'm starting to perk up a little though. I took a shower at C's mom's place and was very grateful for the grab bars.

One highlight from the road this morning--a small group of somewhat portly unshaven fellows staged what appeared to be a protest of the marathon along Fair Oaks Blvd. They had handwritten cardboard signs reading "STOP THE RUN! DON'T BLOCK FAIR OAKS BLVD!" They also had built a fire in a little barbecue container, but nothing was cooking on it and they weren't gathered around it for warmth so I thought maybe they were just trying to replace the air pollution that would have been generated had the road been open for those few hours on a Sunday morning. Other than that it was very heartwarming to be cheered almost continuously for the length of the course. In some places the crowd was dense and noisy, ringing bells and yelling and clapping. Music played in various locations along the course, of course with the obligatory Queen "We Will Rock You" near the finish. I have to admit that the guitar solo in that song probably quickened my finish time by at least a minute. I wish they could have played Queen the whole way, I might have run a 3:40 and qualified for Boston.