We beat feet from cable for our nightly television viewing about ten years ago – my, how the time flies when you are having fun. We went to various subscription services at a quarter the cost of the monthly cable bill. This came about when we realized that there were only a couple of channels or services provided by cable that we watched regularly; this last weekend, we racked our memories, trying to recall the last American broadcast TV program that we looked forward to and made a point of watching. (Castle, BTW, mostly because of Nathan Fillion … which had its last season in 2016.) We have lavished our screen-watching time ever since then on old, or foreign movies and series, of which there is a rich and entertaining selection – everything from Blackadder, to the original Upstairs, Downstairs (Great Britain), to things like A Place to Call Home, 800 Words and Brokenwood Mysteries (Australia/New Zealand). Currently, the evening watching for us is The Durrells (BBC, and only minimal traces of wokery), while Wee Jamie seems to be fascinated by Alien TV (Australian), Grimmy and the Lemings (Canadian/French) and Masha and the Bear (Russian.)
Always have, no doubt always will. The wretched simulacrum of a fashionable woman was launched, or inflicted on the world about the same time that I started kindergarten, so you would have thought that I would have been one of the first generation of girls to have played with the grotesque thing – but I never felt the appeal, and it probably just wasn’t because Dad was a grad student living on a GI Bill stipend and supporting a wife and two small children at the time. But I had indulgent grandparents – and if I had truly wanted a Barbie doll, I am certain that one would have appeared at Christmas, or among birthday presents. But I never really wanted one, even though many of my friends had Barbies, their endless accoutrements and accessories, the Ken doll and all of Barbie’s friends. The one doll that I envied helplessly and wished that I did have was possessed by the girl my age who lived next door.
Wherever I sat, there I might live, and the landscape radiated from me accordingly. What is a house but a sedes, a seat?—better if a country seat. I discovered many a site for a house not likely to be soon improved, which some might have thought too far from the village, but to my eyes the village was too far from it. Well, there I might live, I said; and there I did live
Henry David Thoreau – Walden
Alton died last week. At 85, the last of John Jerry and Lydia Machann’s family: six boys and two girls surviving to adulthood. He had remained on the family farm, making it yield enough (cattle, cotton, oil) to buy another plot and support him and his brother, AC, for their long lives. When a third brother, Robert, took early retirement from his factory job and returned to the farm, he, too, bought another plot, left to Alton. A child when his family moved in, Alton died in the house they built to anchor that land.
The Machans were stubbornly individualistic: half Machans; the other half Machanns. However, with all those sons, the name died out quickly. Half the sons were not the marrying kind, another was childless, another had a son and daughter but that son died far too young, and the third was my husband’s father – an only child, whose children are all girls. The three brothers led quiet if demanding lives. In his last bedridden years, farm life went by his window – he worried about whether a cow ambling by needed deworming, he’d consult the weather reports to see what was coming and his bird books as he watched his feeder.
Before we married, my husband returned to Austin one Sunday, having signed away all but oil royalty rights to the land left by his grandparents. All the siblings (or siblings’ representatives) had. There were many rational reasons – for one, broken up it would not even support a lonely farmer. Then, Alton wanted to farm. He told his oldest friend about going to Waco, working in the factory for a week. He returned ready to beg to stay on the farm; I can’t imagine his parents didn’t need another set of hands – farms generally do. This signing was after his parents’ deaths.
Some days ago, Buck T. at Ace of Spades HQ linked to this essay regarding the great Satanic Day Care Abuse Panic, and how elements of that exercise in public/law enforcement/media insanity duplicates many of the features of the current Trans-Kids! Eleventy!!! panic. Which it does, in some respects, especially in how the establishment news media elevated the panic …because that’s what the media do: Scare the ever-living-snot out of the reading/viewing public because that is what sells issues and page views. Once the panic-train gets going, every cynical exploiter of the panic wants to leap aboard the current trend.
I had reason to visit Fort Sam Houston today – to pick up a set of prescriptions, at the new and vastly expanded BX mall, going through that one back gate where Harry Wurzbach dead-ends, after wandering past the military cemetery, the golf course and the Towers at Park Lane. It’s been a familiar haunt to me for years, even if I was never assigned there, or had reason to go to any offices when I was active duty. It was an open post back then – so wide-open that it was only embarrassment that kept the Fort Sam EM/NCO club from being listed as off-limits to Air Force personnel. (There was, according to scuttlebutt, a dissolute and faintly dangerous element which used to hang out at that club.) I used to take a short-cut through the post on North New Braunfels to circumvent traffic jams on the Pan-Am Highway, when I had to drive through to Lackland AFB from where I lived on the north-east side of town. I was basically familiar with the older part; the stately red-brick Victorian senior officer-housing mansions along the northern and western side of the monumental, L-shaped parade ground, and the series of enormous three-story neo-Spanish Colonial style tile-roofed administration buildings and barracks which lined the opposite side. The mansions along “colonel’s row” always looked well kept, but in the few years after I retired, some of the older buildings began looking pretty ragged, decrepit even. I sometimes wondered if the Army had given up on painting them altogether, trimming shrubbery and pulling up weeds in the lawns around. Part of the peace dividend, I guessed.