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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

My Amazing Granddaughter

This picture may look posed, but it is not.
Nora is not quite three months old. I was babysitting her by myself the other night. It was a cool night so I lit a little fire to take the chill off the room. Nora is so easy to sit for, that I typically get many things done in the hour or so we are alone. I can't very well go outside to work so I try to focus on helpful inside tasks.  I had already pressed the linens, emptied the dishwasher, cleaned the windows, and with Nora's help, had folded the laundry. I was considering aphabetizing the canned goods in the pantry as a special favor for my wife when the vinyl LP of Dvorak's New World Symphony began skipping in the other room. I rose to begin Side B. 

When I returned to Nora, I discovered that she had crawled across the room, gotten a book from the shelf, and crawled back to her favorite wrap-around pillow to begin reading it. "Colors" is a brilliant exposé on the problem of gangs in our prisons and inner cities. I chose not to alphabetize the canned goods, and instead began studying the random array of beads in one of Nora's rattles. Each time I shook it, the beads landed differently. Hmmmm...

Some time later, Nora closed the book,turned toward me, propped her chin in the palm of her hand, and said, "Papa, it seems there is an indisputable connection between gang-related crime and illegal immigration, particularly in our Southwest Border States. What say you?"

"Nora, Nora..." I said, "You're much too young to worry your pretty little head about such things. You should be thinking about flowers and birds and blue skies. Are you sure you grabbed the right book?"

I went to the shelf and got a different book by the same title. She began reading it just as contentedly as she had the first. I studied her rattle for two or three more shakes, still amazed at the apparent randomness of the beads at rest. "I'll never figure this out," I sighed.

I asked Nora how she liked the second book. She simply smiled, drooled, and babbled back at me in baby-talk. When her parents and my family returned home, they did not believe my account, and unfortunately I could no longer find exposé by the same title anywhere. They thought I made the whole thing up and posed the picture. 

To me the whole ordeal, strange as it was,  merely underscored the importance of age-appropriate reading materials for infants.  What say you?

As for whether or not the picture is posed. I don't know, I didn't take it that night she was at our house. None of the above is true--except for the fact that I was babysitting Nora that night while the women went shopping (and the part about the rattle. I am often fascinated by baby toys.). It's also true that Nora does indeed love to stare at things and will cry if you take a book from her while she is "reading" it.
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On a more serious note:

For those readers who know where Julie and I are right now, I had scheduled the "Nora posts" because I haven't had time to blog for a week or so, but I wanted to add this first-hand account about the oil spill in the gulf.

We have been on the beaches in Destin, Florida's Emerald Coast (Florida Panhandle between Pensicola and Panama City) with our seniors since Saturday. Heading home tomorrow. The weather's been great. The beaches are beautiful. The dolphins are as playful as ever. Blue Claw Crabs are still very sporting during night-time hunts. No sign of the oil spill here--yet!

One hundred miles to the south and west of us, however, in the most southern and eastward tips of the state of Louisiana, the oil is beginning to wash up on shore. Our taxi driver at the airport was from Louisiana, and he is heartsick about this. In our daily travels we pass BP gas stations that have no customers. I have heard nothing of an official "boycott," but it seems to be happening quite naturally, and my guess is it will continue until this mess is cleaned up.
Cities all along the coast are living on pins and needles. The sad fact is, there has been so much hype about the potential contamination of these beaches that thousands of tourists are canceling their plans every week. In other words, the financial impact of this floating river of crude has already begun even if it never makes actual contact with the coast.

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