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Day 449, June 9, 2021

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 Memory Like an Old Car Tonight's soundtrack: Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, 1976 When I was growing up my father had a great big Ford Galaxie 500. It was a pale jade green with a black vinyl roof. It was a two door, but the doors were long and the front seats tilted forward so kids could climb in back where we had little triangles of window that rolled down for a small face to gasp for fresh air. The broad bench seats were covered in vinyl that got so hot in the summer that you could almost smell the flesh searing when you hopped in with your short shorts. I don't remember seatbelts, and on camping trips, or when we moved out to the Berkshires for the summer, the back seat was filled with suitcases, camping gear, and kitchenware until it was even with the rear window deck, and my brother and I would lie on top of that, comfy and nested among the bedding, the 1970s version of safety. At some point, while my father was away on tour, someone stole the car out of the Logan Ai

Day 448, June 8, 2021

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 Progress Tonight's soundtrack: The Charles Mingus Sextet, Sweden, 1964 My daughter is coming home later this week. In preparation for her arrival I have been working on the big gaping hole over the bathtub where the upstairs toilet leaked through. Each day after work, I've done a little light sanding and spread another thin layer of plaster, and then I've walked around the house repairing the other various dents that have accumulated over the years. At this scale, working with plaster is pleasing. There is a gentle perfection one seeks while trying to smooth the surface and lay down an even smoothness. Of course, at a much larger scale, say a whole bedroom or house, it is a dusty and wearying task, but fixing a medium size hole, mending a dent here and there, that is a different more pleasurable thing. There is a nearly immediate reward where you can step back and see how much of a difference just a little bit of work can do. It would be nice to have more things in life as

Day 447, June 7, 2021

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Archival Lessons Tonight's soundtrack: Joni Mitchell, London, 1983 My father has been digitizing an entire era of slide carousels from the late 1970s. It is marvelous to see these images again, like unearthing one's own archives. I am lucky that he has such determination and perseverance. I can only imagine how many boxes of slides he has stacked up in the back of a closet.  Family trip to Prince Edward Island, I think? Back then, whenever he returned from a symphony tour every guest to the household would get treated to a slide show in the darkened living room. I particularly remember the images from the trip to China. My father and his friends posing in Mao jackets and standing atop the Great Wall. I got to retrace some of those steps years later on a conference to help foster the development of community colleges in China.  I particularly remember a boat ride on the Li River where I spent time talking with one of the guides, whose name in Chinese was Cloudy. I played her the

Day 435, May 26, 2021

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Dancing in the Rain Tonight's soundtrack: Les Claypool's Fearless Flying Frog Brigade, 2003 We had a big storm blow through this afternoon. At one point, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the patio umbrella blow by the window. I ran out and retrieved it from where it had impaled itself on the string bean trellis. The chickens were making a commotion and I rounded up the hens into the coop. The rain drops were large and heavy. It was our first good summer rain. There was a time when I was in high school that I loved getting caught in the rain, being so wet that my clothes stuck to my skin. There was something marvelous and thrilling to dance in the rain. It was as if it was the ultimate statement of not giving a care. It was like allowing one's self to let go of any sense of consequence, social constraint, or expectation. And as a kid a summer rain is never cold.  I didn't stay out too long and retreated inside once the rain started to really fall and I could hear Frank

Day 434, May 25, 2021

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A Better Species  Tonight's soundtrack: Colonel Claypool's Bucket of Bernie Brains, 2002  (the video is weird, but it sounds quite good) It has been a busy few weeks and I have fallen off of my usual routine of writing so I feel like there is so much to share, and yet it seems almost too overwhelming to start. Over the weekend, I was reading about ethical responses to markets. The main focus was on being an educated consumer that understands where the goods one purchases are from, and being aware of all the intermediary steps and people that are affected by that purchase. There are choices we have as consumers to choose brands or products that are produced with sensitivity to human livelihood and the environment, there are formal structures like Fair Trade products, and more local solutions like buying shares in CSAs, participating in alternative currencies, and gift economies. Like all things, we make compromises. We have a diversity of choices and factors that come into play

Day 429, May 20, 2021

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Like a Rodeo  Tonight's soundtrack: Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3, Khatia Buniatishvili, Neeme Järvi, and the Verbier Festival Orchestra, 2011 I've been in a workshop on transformative racial justice these last two days. One of the reoccurring themes has been the power of narrative. I think this comes across on multiple levels. On the most personal level, it is the way the smaller breakout groups have fostered a sense of community. By sharing stories about ourselves, we are negotiating social spaces with different ground rules and expectations than one typically finds in a Zoom room. We are challenging each other with how brave or honest we want to be, and in so doing set the tone and expectation for others. It has been a really wonderful experience and the strongest sense of community I've found in a workshop since arriving at the University. This particular workshop has the benefit of time, we are meeting in large day-long and half-day chunks, nevertheless, the other

Day 426, May 17, 2021

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Just Around the Corner Tonight's soundtrack: Herbie Hancock, Maiden Voyage, Munich, 1989 Just a short snippet tonight. I received shot #2 this morning, and in two weeks I will have state of the art immunity and maybe masks will be less obligatory and I might be able to consider indoor dining again.  Today was a full day. I don't seem to have any side effects yet except tiredness and a slight sore throat, but that might be from the salsa I had with lunch. Sometimes that happens to me, a slight swelling in the throat.  This weekend we met up with some friends for a gathering around a fire pit. It was the first time we've hung out with anyone since last year and the last warm days of late fall. I think we were nervous, but also excited, and it was wonderful. Our host brought out a guitar and we spent the last bit of the evening taking turns sharing songs. One could almost imagine that it hadn't been a year since we last sat around together.  We also picked up four new chic