Animal Eyes

On the home stretch of this morning’s walk, as I moved along a section of Route 62 where there are woods on both sides of the road, two deer stood on the pavement while a car approached.  Fortunately, they crossed over without incident, and the car slid by.

Normally the deer would promptly vanish into the trees.  This time, though, the female stood, framed in the glow of a street light, and stared at me, her primal black eyes glittering in the lamplight.  It was unnerving — and suddenly I felt all of my senses on high alert, providing the kind of acute awareness of my surroundings not felt since I was in a movie theater with a high school date, conscious of every movement she made and trying to figure out whether they meant that she was receptive to holding hands.

The deer wasn’t watching to admire my walking form.  The only logical conclusion was a fawn was still on my side of the road, and the mother deer was waiting and watching to make sure they were reunited.  If so, that meant I needed to get out of the area without confronting Bambi, or the two deer might come down on me in an unpleasant New Albany version of When Animals Attack.  So I listened carefully, sniffed the air and smelled the lingering musky odor of the two deer that had passed, kept one eye out for the mother and the other for the child, and kept moving ahead at a steady pace.  The mother watched me the whole way.

My primitive senses aren’t very sharp, because I never saw the fawn, but after I passed I turned back to see what was happening.  Sure enough, the mother crossed the road again, and a small deer emerged from hiding right where I had passed.  The mother sensed my presence and turned and stared at me again with those intense, wild eyes.  I decided it was wise to move along.

Book Reviewers Needed!

If you’re interested in reading and interested in writing, and you’d like to get a chance to exercise those two passions and see the fruits of your efforts in print, I’ve got an opportunity for you!

The Ohioana Library Association is looking for new book reviewers for the Ohioana Quarterly, our flagship publication.  Since 1958 the Quarterly has been publishing articles, interviews, books reviews, and other useful information about Ohio writers and poets.  The Quarterly is distributed to Ohioana members — which include a number of Ohio public libraries — and the book reviews are at the core of the Quarterly‘s appeal for readers who want to keep track of the work of favorite Ohio authors, and well as up-and-coming writers from the Buckeye State.

As any faithful reader of our blog knows, I think Ohioana a wonderful organization, and a chance to write reviews for the Quarterly is a great opportunity for book lovers.  If you’re interested, call Stephanie Michaels, Ohioana’s librarian, at 614-466-3831.

The Green, Green Grass Of Home

IMG_6279Normally, by July 20 we would be well into the brown-out season.  After the wet spring months, a Midwestern summer would bring broiling temperatures and lots of sunshine, and only the constant waterers might avoid the telltale browning of their lawns.

This year, though, there isn’t a sign of grassy distress anywhere you look.  We’ve had such cool, damp, New England-like weather — this morning, for example, we’ve got temperatures in the 60s and some fog — that everybody’s yard looks like Ireland.  Even the most inattentive lawn-minder (and I would definitely put myself in that category) can feel proud of their lush, bright green yards.

The Penny Chronicles

My name is Penny.

IMG_6268Every once in a while I see one of these things on the counter.  When that happens, I get very excited!  I jump up, put my paws on the counter, and knock it off and take it to where I can give it a good chew.

These are great things to chew!  They are brittle and small, and with my jaws and teeth I break them easily.  They snap and crackle and crunch, and it makes me realize I am a powerful dog.  That feels good!  I bite and chew and munch, and soon the basket is a splintered, slobbery mess.  I look at it, and I realize my work is done.

But then the real fun begins.  The old boring guy finds it, and boy does he get mad!  He says bad words and gets down on his hands and knees and picks up every little stick and piece of slobbery wood.  Ha, ha!  Time for the old boring guy to get some exercise!

One Million Excuses

That’s the title of the new blog by the Biking Brewer’s better half.  You can find it here.

She’s off to a good start, because the imaginative title of her new WordPress blog already blows ours out of the water.   I figure that anyone who somehow has managed to put up with the Biking Brewer’s antics for such an extraordinarily long time is bound to have some compelling observations about life, marriage, family matters, the world, and — presumably — patience.

Sure enough, her blog is well worth reading.  And, given her close proximity to the BB, I’m anticipating that there will be lots for her to talk about in the future, too.

Jackie, welcome to the blogging community!

The Costs Of A Porous Border

We’re learning more about the costs — direct and indirect — of the mass influx of unaccompanied minors and other illegal immigrants across our southwestern border, and the news is becoming more and more concerning.

At a closed-door briefing with members of Congress earlier this week, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson disclosed some of the direct costs.   According to members of Congress who attended, Johnson said the federal government is spending between $250 and $1,000 per day, per child, to house and feed the minors.  When you are talking about more than 57,000 unaccompanied minors already in the country and needing assistance — and U.S. officials predicting that another 30,000 will cross the border by September — you don’t need a calculator to see that the ongoing and future costs are enormous.

As everyone knows, our federal government is cash-strapped.  Some people may say we’ve been racking up huge budget deficits for years, and these costs will add just a little bit more to those deficits.  That reaction ignores the reality of our financial situation.  Every dollar of our deficit is financed through the issuance of U.S. government bonds and notes.  Do we really want to have to issue more bonds and notes to pay for these services, and pledge the full faith and credit of our country for them?  With our current budget situation, the inescapable reality is that we will be borrowing more in the future to pay the interest on these bonds and notes — which means that we’ll be paying directly out of pocket for our border problems for years to come.

There are indirect costs as well.  The U.S. government can’t house all of these minors on military bases, and already we’re seeing governors and mayors raising questions about whether these minors are coming to their states and communities — where they will need more housing, and food, and medical care, and attention.  Who will pay for it?  The NIMBY (not in my back yard) phenomenon is in full swing.  Pennsylvania’s governor has expressed concern about whether the illegal immigrants have infectious diseases, says there should be enough room on military bases in Texas and Arizona to house them, and wonders how he will pay for the needed services if they are sent to Pennsylvania.  Officials in other states are saying that the federal government has resettled some of the immigrants in their states without providing adequate notice to local authorities.  And officials in cities as far away from the border as New Bedford, Massachusetts are concerned that an influx of impoverished, non-English-speaking immigrants will further strain governmental and school budgets that are already stretched to the breaking point.

Massachusetts sheriff recently said, “we are all border states now.”  There’s some truth to that.  It’s becoming increasingly clear that our porous border is creating huge problems for communities and states across the country.  As we figure out how to deal with these unaccompanied minors, we also need to pay attention to the root cause of the problem — a border that sometimes seems to be little more than a line on a map.  We can’t afford to pay $250 or $1,000 a day to care for every child that crosses illegally into our country, and we also can’t afford the security risks of a border that permits them (and adults, too) to do so.  The Obama Administration and Congress need to figure out how to close that border and do it before the costs and consequences become overwhelming.

Things Have Changed, And Not For The Better

Peggy Noonan has a nice — and thought-provoking — piece in today’s on-line Wall Street Journal about Harry Truman after his presidency ended entitled “Politics in the Modest Age.”  I urge you to read it, but the basic thrust is this:  Truman didn’t cash in.

He had been president for almost eight years, had brought World War II to a close, and had presided over the Marshall Plan; he had issued executive orders, launched into the Korean War, and guided the federal government during the first crises of the Cold War.  He was an ordinary man who had been a fine President, and after his term ended he tried to go back to an ordinary life.  He returned to Missouri and lived with his beloved wife, Bess, highly conscious of not being perceived as trading on his office or his service to the nation.

Contrast Truman’s humble approach 60 years ago to the prevailing approach today, where ex-President and ex-Senators and ex-Cabinet members make millions by giving hour-long speeches, serving on boards, and writing biographies that receive huge advances.  The culture of cash goes deep: just yesterday Politico reported that Jay Carney, President Obama’s former press secretary, received a “signing bonus” to join a speakers bureau where he could earn up to $100,000 per speech; he’s entertaining job offers and has hired a Washington, D.C. “super lawyer” to negotiate any deals.  What does it tell you when even the President’s flack can leave office and be showered with money?

We could use more Harry Trumans and less money-grubbers in Washington, D.C.