It's still cold and rainy on top of the mountain, and the news is full of opinions on the latest intervention by the government into the family matter of Terri Schiavo. I tend to agree with Dan Gillmor that this is happening for purely political reasons. I also read Bob Hebert's column, "The Age of Exploitation" in the NY Times this morning. Then I read E.J. Dionne's column, "A Thin View of 'Life,'" in the Washington Post. It's hard to know the right decision, but when Glenda and I discussed the Terri Schiavo issue yesterday, we both agreed that neither of us wanted to "live" like Terri. Even so I'm glad I'm not making the decision, but clearly the Federal government should stay out of what is already a difficult enough situation. There are plenty of things that need serious attention but our "any issues but the real issues" politicians seem to prefer political circus to serious governing. Having just seen and written an article about the "Sea Inside," I was happy to think about other things this morning such as the benefits of living in our neighborhood and the WVU victory over Texas Tech.
Getting ready to go to breakfast this morning, I was amazed the temperature was 43 degrees which is a little cool for the Roanoke area the last week in March. Of course there is always something amazing if you look close enough. Some things jump out at you like Randy getting his newspaper at 8:30 am this morning. Of course he really did have a great excuse, West Virginia beat Texas Tech and Bobby Knight to make it into the elite eight. If that's not a good reason to start your day a little later, I don't know what is. I have several very good friends from West Virginia so I have little interest in West Virginia jokes, and I am always glad to see some good news come from the Mountain State. It's too bad a few students had to spoil some of the good news. It is important to remember that the WVU students are not alone with this problem. This year University of Maryland students celebrated a victory over Duke with bonfires as was recorded in this Washington Post article. Then of course the prestigious Duke Blue Devils themselves had some problems with bonfires after their February 5 victory over UNC this year as was recorded in the News & Observer article, "Cold water douses bonfires." So I don't to hear anything about this being a West Virginia problem. West Virginia is in my neighborhood, and neighborhood is very important to me.
The three businesses in this morning's picture are part of my immediate neighborhood. We're regular patrons of all three. We know the owners of two of the businesses and many of the waitresses at Famous Anthony's as I wrote about in the article, "The Peanut Came Back," where I compared their stellar service to that of the famous Fishmongers in Seattle. These businesses and the people who work there help make our neighborhood a good place to live. Even Northern Va. has neighborhoods, but the pace of life up there makes it hard to enjoy your neighborhood. The same was true in Columbia, Md which was designed around the concept of neighborhoods. I have decided you can't manufacture neighborhoods. You can design enabling architecture like the side walks and village centers in Columbia, but it is really people and their connection with other people who create neighborhoods.
As we were having breakfast at Anthony's this morning, I noticed another neighbor eating in a booth not far from us. As is often the case these days, our neighbor was so involved with the conversation and the friend at the table that we were invisible even when they left and walked by us. That is really the biggest challenge that we all face, staying connected with those who are really important to us while at the same time paying attention to our larger neighborhood. Glenda, my wife, often can't get in or out of a restaurant or a grocery store without having to connect with some friends, often ones we haven't seen in a while. The roots that she puts down with these connections make our lives much more rewarding. Of course it makes it a lot harder for me to get her to consider spending some extended time down on the North Carolina coast.
Steve, our florist friend in Mt. Airy, hit the nail on the head the other day when he said that it would take her about an hour to make new friends. If anything I suspect he was being conservative. We ended up visiting with some potential neighbors, Andy and his wife, in Beaufort on our last trip. It just amazes me how many interesting people there are in the world if you can just make that first connection.
On the way home from Anthony's this morning, we saw a neighbor's Lab wandering the mountain. Luckily around the next corner we saw the neighbor looking for him so we could expedite his recovery without having a cold wet Lab we've never formally met in our back seat. You could tell our neighbor was grateful for a line on her escaping Lab. There's nothing like a Lab to introduce you to neighbors. They think the whole world is their friend.
Our youngest daughter is about to get her first taste of home ownership and neighborhood. I told her and Alex to go out and walk the neighborhood so that they could meet people. The more people walking around the better we get to know each other and the fewer regional stereotype jokes there are. In Canada it was always the people either from Cape Breton Island or mostly the folks from Newfoundland who bore the brunt of the regional jokes. It is a shame that some of the places where people have to work the hardest to get a living also have to put up with such weak excuses for humor. At least they live in some of the most beautiful places in the world, and I certainly include West Virginia in that list.
At a time when our government seems to know no limits to its intrusiveness, it good to focus on the neighborhood and the people who really know and care about you. If anyone starts making decisions for me on my right to life, I hope they're a little closer to home and certainly not inside the beltway.