"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Firewood: Day 5

Self photo; camera in a flower pot.
I’m pretty angry with my state legislators right now.  It served me well in the wood pile today.  Nothing like a little burr under the saddle to liven things up.

While I cut logs down to size, I groused internally about what those politicians down in Juneau were doing, or rather, what they weren’t doing.  What they weren’t doing is what they were elected to do.

Instead, they appear to be playing games, political games, the kind of games that make voters really, really angry, especially in these days of widespread antipathy towards politicians as a whole.  While I sawed logs and thought about those yahoos in Juneau, I was reminded of some lessons I learned when I was in high school.

Start today.  That big freaking log is still on top at left, threatening to roll on me.

One day Mr. Madden, the sophomore English teacher, called four of us girls to the back of the classroom and kicked us out of class.  Not because of any misbehavior, but because he felt we would waste our time and his if we were to sit through the last semester of his class.

Therefore, he continued, in exchange for a hall pass (which gave us permission to be out of class) and  freedom from his class, we had three responsibilities:

1.  Show up every day for roll call.
2.  Stay on school grounds.
3.  At the end of the school year, submit a term paper worthy of a semester’s work.

Four goats.

He pulled the hall pass forms from his pocket and handed one to each of us.  I think we probably spent the first few days of freedom in the library.  Then we discovered it was much more fun to sit in one girl’s car in the parking lot and chatter for the allotted hour. 

While Mr. Madden may not have known the specifics of how we spent his class time, I’m sure English teachers talked with librarians, and he would learn we weren’t always in the library doing research.

I thought this was snow until two goats got up and walked away.

I spent four evenings in my bedroom doing my term paper before the deadline.  I can still picture myself sitting on my bed with my “portable” manual typewriter on my bedspread, the typewriter bouncing as I banged away at the keys.   The subject was “characterization in fiction writing,” and the title, a quote,  “…the lady was alive…” a reference to bringing characters alive.

At the appointed hour, I turned in my “term” paper—thirty pages typed on erasable bond (I’d taught myself to type and erasable bond was obligatory) with a cover page and table of contents, and fully annotated with footmarks and bibliography.   A couple days later, Mr. Madden returned my paper, graded as to form, organization, research, original contribution, and mechanics:  All “A,” or  “One,” as our school graded.

I was surprised a few years ago when I found I still had this paper, and I’ve thought a lot about that experience, what it meant then, and what it means to me today.

I was quite pleased then with those top grades, even though I thought I’d pulled a fast one.  Today, I suspect Mr. Madden knew also.

I learned that self-satisfaction fades rapidly when there is no honor behind it; that an agreement is an agreement.

And finally, I learned that when I really put my mind to something, I can get a lot done in the time allotted.

Finish today.  That big log is down on the ground in pieces.

Which brings me back to my state legislators. 

With a voter-mandated 90-day session in play, our legislators failed to pass a state budget, their primary assignment.   The governor has threatened to veto portions of the capital budget—construction items—unless the senate acts on his request to lower taxes on the oil companies, something he feels is vital in encouraging oil companies to further exploration and development.

The senate inserted language into the proposed budget that would deny funding for all energy projects if the governor vetoes any of them, effectively denying the governor veto power.

Yesterday the governor called a special session—overtime, if you will, with all its attendant expenses—for the legislature to pass “must” items.  Some expect this to last a week; others think it could go on for a month.

But, fourteen of our sixty legislator are going on a junket to Norway April 30.   As far as I’m concerned, there should be no recess if they don’t get their homework done.

Hard work.
Hard work.

So, why am I angry?

1.  An agreement is an agreement.

 2.  Self-satisfaction fades rapidly when there is no honor behind it, especially when pulling a fast one.
3.  When you really put your mind to it, you can accomplish much in a short period of time.


I don’t have that old typewriter any more.  Now I have a computer and a printer.  I’m thinking about printing a list of those legislators' names and keeping it right next to my voter registration card.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I don't think I've written before, but I do want you to know how much I enjoy your writing. And your home! It's just beautiful and I'm jealous because it looks so much like the house I've always wanted and will never have. Oh well.... Our governor and legislators (Florida) are the pits, just like yours. Maybe all states have that in common? :-)

  3. I'm applauding you...can you hear?