Monday, July 30, 2007

Children of the lightning bugs

I have returned from four days of annual sessions of Illinois Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. We meet in an un-air-conditioned historic meetinghouse in the middle of cornfields. That makes it hot and green. The corn was very high this year. I drove back roads between the meetinghouse and my air-conditioned hotel, seeing few vehicles. I did see a bright red-headed pheasant in the middle of the road who certainly took his time yielding to my moving vehicle. Perhaps he had the right of way. I timed my daily departure as the twilight faded and the lightning bugs started their light show. Hundreds of little buggers gave their phosphorescent winks as I traveled their turf. Quakers are historically called Children of the Light. Illinois Yearly Meeting ought to be known as Children of the Lightning Bugs.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Definitely Christian

I came back from fictive England after a 12-hour stay, which is how long it took me to finish Harry Potter VII. Three of us have finished 700-plus pages since 12:50 am Saturday morning. (I was the slow reader.) I had to sleep on it because I felt a little disoriented after closing the book. Today I really like it, although it sure does seem like a book for grown-ups with this volume, which has so many sad things in it that my son doesn't like it. He rightly called some of the character deaths overkill. To me they make literary sense and moral sense. JK Rowling is deservedly enriched by the fruit of her literary and moral sensibility. Hard to see what Christians can complain about after all this is said and done. But some of them do love complaining. Myself, I love having a book the four of us will be talking about at tonight's dinner table, and with lots of others in the weeks to come. I also love that it is good and accessible. Those two qualities don't necessarily go together in contemporary literature. It's positively operatic.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Taking umbrage

My kids and I will be at the bookstore at midnight tonight for Harry VII. Meg is making radish earrings and a necklace of bottle caps for her costume as Luna Lovegood. I am not crafty but do own a good deal of pink, so I am practicing vocalizations for Dolores Umbridge. Ahem ahem.

Friday, July 13, 2007


I'm on #6 on the Rereading Express, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. This time through I particularly like numbers 3 (Prisoner of Azkaban) and 5 (Order of the Phoenix). Azkaban is wonderfully layered, with lots of character development and interest. Phoenix is one heck of a complex book, with all kinds of stories and details eddying around. I find myself looking for clues: why is this character here and is he or she coming back? Kreacher, for example. Fleur de la Cour from 4 (Goblet of Fire) is back in 6 (Prince). How tightly will Rowling finally weave it all together?

We have a betting pool in the family. I have bet that Harry lives, which I wasn't as sure of until I re-read. If he dies, Voldemort lives, right? Whose will be the sacrifice, since Rowling has hinted there is/will be one? Is it Dumbledore's?

Harry will live
Snape will save Harry and die
Voldemort will die

That makes the two dead major characters we have been told to expect.

So why isn't the Bible as interesting as this? Same theme: good and evil.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Cashing in

This morning I went to the bank to cash in savings bonds from my dad's estate to pay for our trip to Poland in August. Naturally the transaction took some time. (I was glad I wasn't behind myself in line.) Purchased by my dad in the early 1980s, the bonds earned 7.5 percent interest. They were worth not quite twice their face value; my dad had paid half the face value. He bought them for his retirement. I think he was 65; he died at age 69. So they now send his granddaughter, whom he missed meeting by three weeks, and me to Poland to see where he grew up and to meet my ciocia Helen, his only remaining sister.

He went back once to visit, in 1966. I remember the cheeses he brought back, which were confiscated at customs. I remember them, however, because they made his suitcase smell horrible. Dad's stinky cheeses passed into family lore. The following year he had another of his episodic breakdowns. That, too, I remember. I fantasize that I will understand his illness better when I go to Poland.

The return on the bonds makes me, for the purpose of this trip anyway, a rich American. I won't have to worry about money. I thought that time and interest had done the work of giving the bonds value. But it was my dad who did the work. I have received a gift from him, long after he died.

Monday, July 02, 2007

My brother-in-law's wife's 92-year-old uncle

had an "Obama 2008" bumper sticker on his car, which I noticed at a family wedding this weekend. There was a "US out of Iraq" sticker, and a few others too. At 92, he's seen a lot of elections, as well as a lot of wars. Late in life, vote early.