Messages From Tatooine

My candidate dropped out of the race on Monday, Super Tuesday came and went, and somehow the earth is still rotating in the usual manner.

In the past 48 hours I neither lost nor gained weight, it continues to be winter in my neighborhood, the laws of gravity remain enforced, and toes still get stubbed in the early morning hours as we make our way in the half-darkness to the coffeepots of America.

Ergo, if we can break away from the breathless ones on political broadcasts, there are some reliable elements in this world of ours.

Temporarily, our lives here on Earth are being enhanced by something we can’t see with unaided eyes, and that is our second moon. It’s only the size of a VW mini-bus, and will probably be gone in a week or two, but if you really try you can imagine that you’re young Luke Skywalker … .

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Last year Robin and I read a book about the Manhattan Project, 109 East Palace, which told an absorbing tale. It recounted the story of the humans (as well as the bomb) who lived up on the hill in the group of huts and tents and trailers that eventually came to be the town of Los Alamos.

So on one of last summer’s trips to New Mexico we visited Los Alamos and took in one of the museums there. It was fascinating and immersive and enlightening, so when I discovered a new series on Hulu entitled Manhattan, we couldn’t resist taking a look. (Actually, it’s not really new at all, but apparently originally aired on WGN America in 2014.)

The first couple of episodes were pretty good, so I guess we’re in it for the duration. If there ever was a time and a situation that was a culture medium for growing drama, it was this one.

Take a large group of the most brilliant scientists in the world along with their families, put them in a primitive town created just for them up on a lonely mountainside, isolate the group from the rest of the world and all they knew, surround them with lies and subterfuge, and give them the job of creating the most horrible weapon ever devised by mankind.

Even I could come up with a good storyline or two, I think, given these ingredients.

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I’ve added a link over there on the right to one of the better sources for song lyrics that I’ve found (lyrics.com). It’s not a rare thing for me to need help deciphering the words of some tunes.

And that would be true especially for artists like Tom Waits, who often sounds like he’s pulled his sweater and jacket over his head and is singing through several layers of material.

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I mentioned the other day that we were simplifying, didn’t I? Well, yesterday I found some things in a box within a larger box upon a shelf in the Rubbermaid shed in the backyard that set me down to reflect. Brought things to a halt, actually.

The first was a small piece of driftwood that I had picked up on an overnight backpacking trip that I took with daughters Kari and Sarah in the autumn of 1975. We had set up our tent on an isolated part of the shore of Lake Superior, and it was just the three of us in an idyllic setting if ever there was one.

Into that piece of wood I had carved our names and the year, and then set it aside. This fine example of the woodcarver’s art had found its way to the bottom of a box and followed me from the UP of Michigan to South Dakota to Colorado, and had been lost to view until it surfaced again yesterday.

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Then there were two scraps of paper from the time of my son’s funeral on July 2, 1993. One was the leaflet from the service itself and the other a poem I had written the night before the funeral on motel stationery.

On the inside cover of the leaflet was this passage from a novel by Nikos Kazantzakis that at the time I thought suited the occasion so well, and looking back I still do.

The name of this fine young man was written on the snow; the sun has risen, the snow has melted and has borne his name upon the waters.

Nikos Kazantzakis, The Greek Passion

And the poem … well, it was a time of great emotion and sadness for us all, and it imperfectly captured a part of what I was feeling that night.

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We finish today with this excellent piece of cover art that really says it all, I think.

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6 thoughts on “Messages From Tatooine

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