Weekly Writing Challenge: Dialogue – Country Tale

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“You’re from the city,” said the guy in the overalls. He was crouched under the sink in the bathroom, quite a feat for such a big guy. At the moment, he was paused … meaningfully. I knew I was going to feel like a fool the moment he started talking.

“Never had a well before?” One eyebrow was raised. Always a bad sign.

“We’re from Boston,” I said, vaguely embarrassed by the admission.

“Yup. Condensation. Well water’s cold, air’s wet so everything else is wet too. Perfectly normal, ayup. That’s the way it is, out here. In the country.”

“Oh.” I am rendered speechless. Some version of embarrassment. Around here, I hesitate admitting that I’m “from the city.” It’s the pitying looks that follow. They slay me.

Turns out, it’s raining. Indoors. Anyplace in the house not air-conditioned is sodden.

The dogs refused to go out this morning, preferring the back porch. It’s a lot dryer than the ground everywhere else. I can’t believe this ugly weather. I was miserable when it was cold and wet, but now it’s hot and wet. Which turns out to be worse. Who’d have thunk it?

“So, is there anything I can do? I mean to prevent having pools of water all over the house? Can’t be good for the floors.”

“Hrmph. Try towels. Absorb the water.”

“Right. What was I thinking?”

Welcome to the country, city gal.

Daily Prompt: Super Sensitive — See like a hawk

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To see so far the hawks will envy me.

To have eyes to reach beyond the trees, through the woods,  see the farms and orchards.

Would my camera follow my eyes?

Could I capture images?

Pixels are tiny, the sky so huge.

It would be as if I flew to see so far and so clear.

Would I see through the here and now to beyond?

I would be a creature of eyes only, hearing and feeling all else soft, subtle, hushed and dim.

Muted and far off.

My eyes reflecting like a bobcat at night, as if I had headlamps in my face.

For a little while.

Not forever.

How fine it would be … for a little while.

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Summer’s Ending

This afternoon, I saw the first sign of leaf change. The alders are showing bright yellow. They are always the first — the heralds. The maples down by the river will be next. For some reason, trees along the water change before other trees and are always brighter than anywhere else.

This is the season for which I wait all year. I’m charging all the batteries. It’s photographer’s heaven for the next few weeks!

We are the FBI. You will obey.

Publicity photo of Robert Stack as Eliot Ness ...

Garry has an undying devotion to old television series, amongst them “The Untouchables.” Robert Stack as Elliott Ness. Dum-de-dum-dum. The FBI enforcing … (ta-da) The Volstead Act. Prohibition! Holy Moly!

What a great show. When the cops are annoyed with you, they can beat the living crap out of you and if that doesn’t get you to spill your guts, they’ll toss you off the moving train. You have a problem with that? You too are disposable. They don’t pretend you have rights. You know you are dirt under their feet and they treat you accordingly. Like dirt under their feet.

This is a show that never made the slightest apology for being racist or pretended to have any interest in fairness, truth or justice. Violent and single-minded, they pursued people who broke a stupid law: a constitutional amendment to tell people they shouldn’t drink. We needed that.

Compassionate and restraint were for sissies. Nor were they overly worried much about legalities. They said “We are G-men. You will obey!” And everyone did. This is the FBI at its purest. They are not merely above the law. They are the law.

My favorite moment in tonight’s show was when the boys, ignoring even a nod to international law, take the FBI bus into Mexico to track down the guys who kidnapped their witness. “The bus broke down three times and the trip took 10 hours,” said the stentorian voice of the narrator.

“So what?” I said to Garry. “We live in the country. That could describe my last trip to the grocery store.”

Simple solutions to complicated problems. I love television. Especially 1950s television.

A different history — Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945, Tony Judt

Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945
by Tony Judt
Edition: Paperback
Price: $16.29

Reading PostWar was a project, an immersion experience during which I first unlearned, then relearned everything I knew of modern European history. It was worth the effort. This is a long book — 960 pages — crammed with so much information I had to read it twice before I felt I had a grip on the material.

Tony Judt was an historian with controversial opinions. He made no pretence of being a neutral observer. Not that any historian is really neutral. Every historian has an agenda. Whether or not he or she puts it out there for all to see is a matter of style, but there is no such thing as historical neutrality. If an historian is writing about an era, he or she has an opinion about it. All history is slanted, changed by the historians who write it.

Mussolini (left) and Hitler sent their armies ...

Dr. Tony Judt believed the role of an historian is to set the record straight. He undertakes the debunking and de-mythologizing of post World War II European history. He lays bare lies that comprise the myth of French resistance, the “neutral” Swiss, the open-minded anti-Nazi Dutch — exposing an ugly legacy of entrenched anti-Semitism, xenophobia and ethnocentricity.

Although Judt follows a more or less chronological path from World War II to the present, he doesn’t do it as a strict “timeline.” Instead of a linear progression, he follows threads of ideas and philosophy. Tracing cultural and social development, he takes you from news events through their political ramifications. You follow parallel developments in cinema, literature, theater, television and arts, not just the typical political and economic occurrences on which most history focuses.

After two consecutive readings, I finally felt I’d gotten it. Postwar changed my view of  the world, not just what happened, but what is happening.

Tony Judt and I were born in 1947. We grew up during same years, but his Old World roots gave him an entirely different perspective. He forced me to question fundamental beliefs. What really happened? Was any of the stuff I believed true? Maybe not. It was hard to swallow, but he convinced me. I believe it.

If you are Jewish (I am and so was Judt), and lost family during the Holocaust, this will stir up painful issues. The depth and breadth of European anti-Semitism and collusion in the destruction of European Jewry is stomach churning. Pretty lies are easier to deal with than ugly reality. It’s easy to understand why so much of what we know is wrong.

Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 cover

Even though I knew history, I didn’t grasp the impact of these years until Postwar made it real. I assumed, having lived these decades and followed the news, I knew what happened. I was wrong. What is reported by American media barely scratches the surface. The transformation of Europe from the wreckage of war to a modern European union is more extensive, complex and far-reaching than I knew. These changes affect all of us directly and personally. My understanding of current events is far better because of this book.

I read Postwar on paper, then listened to the audio version. Available from Audible.com, I recommend it to anyone with easily tired eyes. It has excellent narration and is a fine showcase for the author’s conversational writing style.

Postwar is analysis and criticism, not just “what happened.” The book is an eye-opener, totally worth your time and effort, an investment in understanding and historical perspective. It’s never dull. After reading it, you will never see Europe the same way.

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The Eyes Have It

One of the things I enjoy the most about Bizarro‘s cartoons are all the weird little details you find when you look. These aren’t just cartoons. They are “find the hidden object” games 🙂

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Dan Piraro is an amazing cartoonist. I am not sure I would want to live in his head, however. It seems to contains much that is strange and wonderful, or merely strange — but wonderful. Visit him directly by clicking right here!