I haven't gone north (it's a long way!) to the Charlevoix. Michigan, fiber festival for the past two years -- I see most of the vendors at other festivals anyway, and gas has been VERY expensive (in case you haven't noticed! Last time I filled my wee little VW, it was almost fifty bucks!!!!!!!!). But I need a road trip. Really need one. So I have rented a sedan (to save wear and tear on the aforementioned Bug, which is aging: One of my students asked, somewhat incredulously, whether I really DID have duct tape on the front of my car holding a chunk of facia in place.....answer was Yes). (The poor thing also lost a big chunk of something plastic underneath in the front, some kind of mud shield, and I haven't had the time to drive it to the very distant dealership).
It feels like an uncommonly difficult time. I've been contemplating the many things that have conspired to produce that feeling. First, I am trying to sell the big, expensive house to clear the deck for retirement, and of course there is some worry about whether ANYTHING will sell in this dreadful market, much less an idiosyncratic big ol' thing built in stages (1896, 1911, 1967, 2004). It looks a lot like a beached ship, complete with a pointy prow. But someone will LIKE that kind of house, you'd think. I did. It doesn't look like other homes in this area. It's asymmetrical. It's not safe or predictable. It has a California carport instead of the ubiquitous (and boring) garage. It has acres of parking. It has no real yard, only beautiful patios and gardens. We'll see. It's a quirky urban home stuck incongruously in a conservative suburb.
Second, and more important, I am experiencing real desperation about the state of the world, helplessness as I think about what individuals can do to change American politics, to make the "my way or the highway" Tea Party either fade away or blow up (I'd prefer the former, but at this point, I wouldn't mind a little well-placed rough-housing -- I'm thinking of the way they used to throw unpopular speakers off the stage bodily in the mid-19th century). The United States seems to me to be fracturing, atomizing, ceasing to resemble its better self. I am deeply worried about my country and its people, who seem to me to be affirming the wisdom of Thomas Jefferson's many pleas for solid, ongoing education (Only an "educated citizenry" could ensure the future of republics, he insisted, and look how right he was!).
On one side of the political aisle, we have a huge number of people pitted against laboratory science (no global warming?????) as well as fact (if a liberal says it's true, you can disregard it -- 'facts' are liberal constructs -- etc. -- so you can make up your own 'facts'). There is an unprecedentedly purist defense of cowboy capitalism afoot as well. On the other side, we have a bunch of Democrats who apparently had group surgery recently to eliminate their spines. If you hold majorities in the Senate and hold the White House, why on earth do you need to be the only party continually giving ground? Bad enough that insurance companies still hold the nation in thrall. Now we are going to whittle away at social security programs to make sure the wealthiest Americans can have huge tax deductions for private jets?
Taken together, nothing could be more distressing. If we don't have the ability to reason together based upon agreed-on facts, we are lost. We are a diverse people, incapable of being entirely homogenous no matter how hard we try (and the right wing wants to continue trying, it seems). The only way to pull off a mutt republic is to embrace science and informed conversations and compromise. We also need to figure out that sharing excess wealth is a good thing -- when people die for lack of health care, that's both immoral and unethical for a people who can afford to build multi-million dollar fighter jets and 24-million-dollar mansions, not to mention Hoover Dam. So here we are. Congress is hamstrung over one of the stupidest disputes imaginable. It defies logic, doesn't it, to insist that you can just keep cutting programs and never, ever gather in more revenue? NEVER MIND that we are the least seriously taxed of ALL developed nations, or that we are now taxed at levels lower than we were fifty years ago. I know. I'm raving. Somebody has to do it. The Democrats aren't. And that's part of the problem. Republicans have always been much better at political maneuvering than Democrats have been. It's as if it's beneath us. So we lose.
The greed, the self-regarding infatuation with wealth and its unregulated pursuit, make me stay awake at night. And then there is the overt racism that has bubbled up like some kind of nasty tarpit in the wake of Obama's election. He's a constitutional law professor, for god's sake, the fruit of the nation's finest universities, the smartest person in the room at any given moment. Yet complete fools feel qualified, not just to call him wrong -- we all have the ability to do that, if we can make our point -- but to call him stupid. I have never seen such presumption, such insult to accomplishment, such rhetorical and intellectual vulgarity, in all of my 66 years. I've wished, more than once, that he'd turn to some of these people and say, in a rude voice, "Don't you have work to do?"
The odds are against the USA at the moment, and what's different is that I am not entirely sure we will be the same optimistic, insanely up-beat people on the other side of the crisis. I really hate that kind of uncertainty about what the nation will be in a decade or two. It's foreign to me, and I hope to hell it's a false alarm.
Third, and important to me, if not to everyone: We are headed now toward a new school year; I am not done with the book ms. that lurks in my upstairs computer. I should be; yet I am continually diverted from it, and probably more than a little depressed by all of the aforementioned situations, which work against a clear focus and the necessary stretches of uninterrupted time in the study. I need to finish a review essay for the Women's Review of Books by August 1 (the book is not as good as it should have been), and I confess that I find the prospect exhausting -- I'm at a low ebb.
So tomorrow in the afternoon I'll drive north, up Interstate 75, blissfully free of ringing telephones, words on the page, student essays on the screen, and so on. I will take only knitting (well, I'll also take a chapter that an ex-student sent to me from Indiana -- a book chapter I've promised to read for awhile now).
Kim Leach (Happy Hands Yarn) will be there -- I'll pick up two skeins of yarn she has custom-dyed for one of my customers, and she wants to show me something wonderful that she just got from a new mill in New Zealand. We badly need sock-weight yarn, so I'll be looking especially for fingering weight lovelies, semi-solid and variegated. Also wonderful buttons.
Then there is a small show at Sandhill Crane Winery near Jackson, MI, on the last day of the month; there, I'll find Color Bug Yarns, who promised me a long time ago they'd do a trunk show (I'll have to remind them) and our good friend Rita Petteys, who has to be talked into another trunk show (the last one was a roaring success).
And, right now, there's a trunk show in the studio courtesy of FloraFil Cotton, a really lovely plump and juicy (!) American-made cotton. It's really NICE stuff.
This entry didn't start out to be about trunk shows. You never know what'll develop, do you? Love to all of you. Over and Out.