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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Up Bear Creek / 28jun25012

Remembering World War II

PAUL HOMER … I still haven’t seen The War, the seven-part documentary that premiered as a TV series about the American experience of World War II which has just been released on Blu_Ray. But I want to. For those of us 66 and 67-year-olds, conceived in that war but born in peace, we feel pulled in both directions. I find myself working for peace at home and abroad but consumed with curiosity for the inconceivable profligacy and abandon of the war experience … Accomplished Chicago barrister and consummate storyteller Paul Homer (One of the “Great Generation”) has written another collection of war-time stories sprinkled with poetry and funny tales. Memoirs and Lies & Collected Short Stories 2011 he calls it. The war stories take us into the action and the craziness (and even the humor) of things that happened in the European theater. A poem about hearing a rabbi chaplain speak about Hiroshima and the war’s end, embedded in a platoon of prose, is quite moving … The collection includes a number of short stories and classic Jewish tales. I loved the “Moscow Cat Circus” and “Twins” – a most amazing legal tangle that sounds, at least in part, autobiographical. But as Paul hints in the title – this is a mixture of memoir and lies in varying proportions. “Ants” seemed almost the ravings of a borderline psychopath. “Alfred at Rest” purports to be the diary of a very cruel man who gets his comeuppance … Homer is not afraid to explore the dark side. But he makes us laugh a lot. Highly recommended.

PLACERVILLE SCHOOLHOUSE … It was nice posing for a photo at the old Placerville one-room schoolhouse last week as the County closed on Downvalley’s historic icon. Kudos to Linda Luther for the County and Banks Brown for the Telluride School Board (the district owned the building, although the deed has long been lost) for making it happen. Downvalley’s Jerry Albin – the closest thing to a mayor that unincorporated Placerville has -- was there. He’d actually attended grade school in the building as a boy, before going to work for the mines ... County plans are to refurbish this historic landmark and make it usable for community groups again … I remember the commissioners meeting there in the Nineties and lovely Thanksgiving community dinners catalyzed by Pviller Jeannie Stewart. Not that things didn’t get heated there as well. Like the time the County Planning Commission denied the Gray Brothers of Olathe a logging permit or the public meeting I was chairing where two local citizens came close to fisticuffs and had to be separated)  … I think this is exactly the kind of project that citizens hoped to make possible with the County Open Space and Recreation fund. And important for Placer Valley to have it as a valuable community space.

ENERGY PIG … If you’ve not been following Confessions of an Energy Pig, you’ve missed the saga of my attempting to reduce my power usage by more than half. As a part-time bachelor & part-time single dad, the amount of energy I was using three years ago was way out of line for a household of one and a half persons … I know there’s a great program that Eco-Action (aka The New Community Coalition) has been promoting of energy audits, retrofits, etc. I’m just not the type that likes government coming into my house and monitoring my life. Besides, I knew I had some bad practices, reduplicative systems. I worked for a year or so to change those obvious energy drains, and for another year I’ve been publicly tracking the results in my energy bill -- the lag time between the promise of better energy practices and the actual savings payoff. It’s not THE answer, but it’s a simple thing we can all do to begin our personal carbon reduction amidst climate change … According to our cooperative power association (SMPA), in August of 25009 (ANAC) my total kilowatt hour (kWh) usage for the past 12 months had been 16,118 kWh. My May bill for this year shows a total annual kWh usage of 6,766 – a savings of 9,352 kWh or a reduction of 6.4 metric tons of carbon released into the atmosphere (SMPA’s electricity is mostly coal-based). My average monthly usage dropped from 1,343 kWh to 563 kWh … It still means I’m releasing 4.6 metric tons of carbon into the air each year just by utilizing cheap electricity, so it’s no time for complacency. There’s much more to be done. But maybe I’m not too bad of an energy pig, after all, just a wee porker – at least by U.S. standards.

PICKING CHERRIES… Folks call them pie cherries or sour cherries, and indeed they make the mouth pucker up, but I love their sour-sweet-juicy fruit. And this year it’s late June and I’m already harvesting ripe cherries at Cloud Acre. Even the birds weren’t ready for that bounty this early … The apple trees (Macintosh) are heavy with fruit, and (thanks to my irrigation runoff water) I even have a few plums on the tree my dad planted before he passed in 2008. Only the apricots are still playing understudy this season. But I can’t wait until their golden globes also appear in my harvest baskets.


Soul on Fire

Venus just clears the
gray mountain edge,
barely ahead of the sun.

The morning star
blazes for a time
as the sky turns.

She rises along her arc,
growing ever dimmer
in the hidden sun’s surge.

A soul on fire.

-John Nizalowski
Grand Junction

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