Books Read in 2007
My Favorite Video Blogs
(for others, see Links page)
Dick Cheney was Right!
(this is an amazing video from 1994)
Ordination of Women Priests
Sideshow Bob sings HMS Pinafore
Family Stories Vlog
New on My
RIGHT IN OUR OWN BACK YARD
20 August 2007
The Today Show is running a series on "America the Beautiful," designed to give people an appreciation for all the beauties that make up this country. "Beauty" is in the eye of the beholder.
The series started with Niagara Falls, and who could argue with that choice? [Interesting that in order to get the best view of the falls, you have to be in Canada, but let it pass.]
Next came Charleston, So. Carolina. I've never been there, but I've heard it's a lovely, gracious old city. It's one of those "I might like to visit there one day" cities for me.
I question the "beauty" of the next choice, which was "legendary major league stadiums." If baseball is your pastime, I suppose that visiting places like Fenway Park and Shea Stadium qualifies as something beautiful, in its own weird way.
This was followed by "amber waves of grain," highlighting America's heartland, in particular, the family farms of North Dakota, Kansas, Nebraska and the Great Plains states. As the report noted, most people will never visit there, and I'm sure that most of us would take a moment to remark about how beautiful the wheat looks waving in the breeze at sunset--and then get the hell out of there. But it is a beautiful sight. Briefly.
Next came the heritage of Arlington cemetery. Beauty in its own slightly creepy way.
Recently, however, they traveled the Pacific Coast Highway. It's interesting seeing a place that is in your backyard through the eyes of strangers who look on it in awe. Reporter Michael Okwu drove along Highway 1 from Malibu to Monterey, stopping to get the stunned comments from awed tourists at Big Sur, to question the "pastor" (strange hear a priest called "Pastor" instead of "Father") at the Carmel Mission about the meaning and history of the California missions, to explore Hearst's Castle at San Simeon, to check out the sea life--sea lions lying on the beach, dolphins leaping out of the ocean, terns covering a rock on the famous "29 mile drive" through Pebble Beach. Beauty at every turn and superlatives in every observation.
It's my home. I live here. I watch stuff like this and I think of Judy Garland at the end of Meet Me In St. Louis, where, eyes shining with youthful excitement, she marvels that some folks have to come from a long distance but they don't have to come on a train or stay in a hotel, it's right in their own home town. Right where they live.
I've always been a bigger tourist than any tourist I ever took to explore San Francisco or any place along the coast. I honestly love the city of my birth and I come alive when I am near the coast. When I take a tourist to see the sights, I'm the one with the camera and I come home with more photos than my guests. I photograph all of the things that I know like the back of my hand...but I've never seen that particular sight on this particular day and it might look a little different from the last time I saw it.
Sometimes my guests are not appreciative. I don't mean appreciative of me. It's a treat for me to be able to show off this state that I love so much, so giving tours is never "work" for me. But it always kind of hurts when the people I'm sharing the views with don't really care.
I remember taking some people on the long drive up the length of the California coast once. The thing is that you drive 30 minutes to get from the main road to the coast highway and there are only a few places where you can drive back to the main road. In between is mile after mile after mile of breathtaking views.
But these people weren't into breathtaking views, after the first few minutes. One was busy sending text messages home on the cell phone and didn't even know we were driving along the Pacific ocean. The other one complained that the trip was taking "so long" and just wanted to be off the winding road. But there was nowhere to go. We had to continue forward for many miles before we had the opportunity to turn inland again.
In the meantime, I was trying to drive and take in these incredible vistas, offering my guests the chance to stop and take pictures ("No, I don't think so..." tapping feet impatiently if I did stop to take pictures) and I was feeling hurt, for California, that the beautiful face it was presenting on this crystal clear day (not always the case) for visitors was so unappreciated.
It's nice when you appreciate the place where you live. Peggy is fond of telling me that Western Australia is "paradise," and I certainly came to appreciate the beauty of that part of the world while I was there, but Dorothy was right...there's no place like home, and the beauty you can find in California ranks right up there with some of the most beautiful places in the world.
So, thank you, Today Show, for appreciating the beauty of the place I love so much.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
This is entry #2701