Midpoint Musings

Midpoint Musings

Sunday, November 28, 2010

One Less Deer Hunter

My father died last February. He could have died many times due to chronic heart difficulties. I had imagined that he could die many times, I think, in an attempt to prepare myself for the eventual and inevitable. However, he did not die of heart problems as it turned out but rather a rampant, stubborn infection which led to kidney and liver failure. He lived much longer than the doctors predicted, though, allowing us a little more time for goodbyes and saying last things, expression of love and endearments.

I could write a book about him, my mom, and the life they built for us children. What kid couldn't? But, it is always late when I think of him, most often at day's end when I begin reflecting. For now, I will just say that every holiday since February 24, 2010, has been bittersweet, even this evening, Sunday, the eve before the opening of buck season.

In Pennsylvania, the day rivals Christmas, and in my house growing up, there were three major days of the year: Christmas, half-price ride day at the Cambridge Springs Fireman's Festival, and the first day of deer season. My mother would man the telephone, collecting the reports of success and passing them onto the rest of the family. For my brothers, in fact, the only thing about Christmas that could rival the thrill of the first day of buck, was the prospect that Christmas would bring a new gun or some kind of hunting gear.

My husband and boys all hunt, except for the son who now lives in Florida, but it's still a big deal as the uncles and cousins plot and plan.

As my dad aged, he ceased going into the woods. Blood thinning medications caused him to get cold quicker and the arthritic joints protested the bumpy frozen mud and brush of the fields and woods.

But, I will think of him in the next 24 hours, remembering his love of the hunt, the outdoors, the time spent with those he loved, and the scavenging of limbs and trees available for firewood all winter.

I hope the guys remember to call Mom with their reports of deer kills.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Venango Bridge is "Falling" Down

An historic bridge is coming down this week. Not a heavily traveled bridge, mind you, but a link to rural roads, community and personal memories. It is known as the Venango Veterans Memorial Bridge and it spans French Creek in the borough of Venango. 

French Creek, at the site of the bridge is quite wide, shallow, and ripply. When my brothers and I were small we would play in the creek, walk across it, sit in the middle on a hot summer day, catch mussels and crabs, study dragonflies, etc. We could see the bridge from our property along the creek, blue-green and shining inthe sun. It was a favorite fishing spot for many people. Our daughter loved using the bridge for some of her recent photo shoots of graduating seniors.

When I was 16 and began dating my husband, we took many-a-walks across the bridge, some evenings, pausing just beyond the reach of the streetlight where we would steal a few kisses and gaze at the ripples below reflecting the light of the moon. We would ride our bicycles up the steep hill on the far side of the bridge where the road met yet another bridge that spanned the gulf created by the railroad tracks below. The tracks follow the creek. 

(Interestingly enough, the railroad bridge was also closed due to disrepair, although to see it now, and the way the deconstruction crew has reinforced it in order to take out the pieces of the creek bridge is quite amazing.)

The bridge has not been kept up by the highway department in the last decade or two, and for quite sometime has been in disrepair up to the point where it was no longer safe. That was several years ago. There was some talk of fixing the bridge, but "officials" decided against it when they were confronted with environmentalists crying that the work would destroy the mussels below: apparently they are endangered or something! We think, however, it was just an excuse to not spend the money.

The irony of the project is that workers fully expect the bridge--at least parts of it--to end up falling into the creek, although they are going to take precautions not to have that happen, but no doubt in the end, a few mussels will end up being sacrificed. 
I will really miss the bridge. Even though we have all known it was coming, I think we are in that first stage of grief right now: disbelief that it is really going to happen. For Venango residents my mom's age and older, it is much harder. It is a sign to them that the good old things really are being lost day by day: a world, changing, in spite of their difficulty adjusting to the changes.

The plaque commemorating the construction of the bridge will be saved for posterity's sake. It and the pictures people have taken of the bridge over the years will be all that remains in a one week's time - a cloud on our otherwise thankful Thanksgiving.

If you follow the link below you can visit the bridge in pictures. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Why I Teach, Produce, Direct . . .

In less than two weeks, I will present, with the help of 53 middle school students, a middle school musical at the school where I teach. So, yes, I am in the middle of the effort to push it over the top. My mother frequently asks me when I am at this point in a production; still making costumes, advertising, intense rehearsals, and the inevitable messy condition of my house; WHY I do this. In fact, I actually had a seventh grade student ask me WHY I teach.

I actually don't have a simple answer to either question. And just like following childbirth, one often utters to oneself, "never again," I know that I will continue to produce shows,and aim for the most dynamic lessons I can create, even if in the middle of it all, I actually want to run in another direction.

Still not satisfied that I have adequately answered why? Well, I suppose it is because being in the thick of creative activity and expression is to me the abundant life. Unfortunately, one cannot realize or experience this abundance without diving into the midst of the task, and, it is also in that place one is refined and inspired for the next time.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Driving in the Middle

Many of the newly surfaced roads in Northwestern Pennsylvania have received an annoying application of the the apparent latest safety feature. After the road is laid, a mean-looking digging vehicular machine goes up the middle of the road on each side digging evenly spaced ruts all along the edge lines and up the middle. A dump truck follows the machine collecting the chunks of pavement scooped out. The end result is a ridge system not unlike the lines on many interstate highways. These ridges warn drivers who venture too far beyond the side of the road.

But the ridges I drive across everyday are much worse. They are ON the white lines, not 12 inches to the side. And, if your car tire but touches the white line, a frightening rumbling sound results. If you want to pass a driver on a dotted line, it makes no difference, the gouges are twice as wide in the middle of the road. That sound is shocking, causing one to rethink the need for passing. 

On the way home from work a couple of days ago, I ventured onto the white line while taking a curve. The roadway was wet, and as I fought my way back onto the solid surface, my outside tires slid which felt like hydroplaning. 

The majority of highway I travel everyday also has tire ruts; low places where the majority of vehicles pass. When it rains, these create little shallow troughs of water. Having a small car, I have often sought the higher ground of the roadway. Where might that be, you ask? Along the white line, of course.

If you live along a road filled with these gouges, you are regularly shocked by the sound of cars who dare venture onto the white line as well as those who legally pass. I honestly cannot think of one good thing about these gouges.

Keep in mind, now, that PENNDOT spends countless, painstaking hours every year filling little road cracks with liquid tar attempting to prevent the crack filling with water in the winter, freezing and melting into bigger pot holes in the spring.  In spite of this, Pennsylvania is well-known for it's record-setting pot holes. It defies logic that chuncks of the asphalt would be removed to invite the wet/freezing/thawing/heaving process.

What I think happened in this case is something like this: some friend of a friend's brother-in-law's step-son invented this really neat machine that puts the same kind of gouges used on interstates into common roadways. He is a friend of a cousin who is a Pennsylvania politician, who's father is a big wig at PENNDOT. It was simply a case of 'you scratch my back; I'll scratch yours.'  Another way your tax dollars are wasted in Pennsylvania.

What does all of this have to do with Midpoint Musings? It's my life, now, trying to stay in the middle, to avoid the rumble bumps and the troughs of water. So if you come upon a little red Toyota going slower than the speed limit, it's only me--trying stay out of the water and avoid the rumble bumps in order to make my way to work and back.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

What is Harmful About Politics

It is obvious to me that elected officials who push extreme agendas with no intention of cooperating with each other will do more harm than good for their electorates and Americans' general faith in their government.

Talking news heads do not help as they seek to offer sensationalistic "reporting" in order to attract a viewership.

A fairly recent exception to all of this would have been NCLB (No Child Left Behind), a bipartisan education act which started out being a good thing, but now is not. Unfortunately, our government's preoccupation with power has not motivated anyone to examine the law which needs tweaked at best.

It truly feels like it is all nothing more than a game to these elected officials. I hate it. 

How could our legislators' working together for the good of its citizenship be a bad thing?

And what about us? We get to ride the seesaw and hope for better days.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Source of the Search

I just showed my new blog to my husband. He was amused. He didn't say much. He usually doesn't. He is what Tim LaHaye calls phlegmatic. I am not phlegmatic. I used to be sanguine. When I was younger and raising three very active boys (before the Baby Princess arrived), I could be very choleric, just trying to keep ahead of them. During midlife I was quite melancholic, being at the mercy of pending menopause, I think. Now, I don't know what I am. 

Sometimes I feel bad that I don't fit personality categories very well. I have often felt either too much of this or not enough of that. 

I do have a Savior: Jesus Christ. But, I'm not a very good Christian. Once I heard a quote by a Christian college professor who said, "It is much easier to move to a logical extreme than to remain at the midpoint of Biblical tension." True; and so it is in life.

I have very deep and raw emotions to some things, but I often hide them thinking it is best for the time being, to ignore them. But, unfortunately, I do have a breaking point, and all too often, the hidden things surface at inopportune times, causing me regret or embarrassment. 

I think by nature I am quite impatient, and this causes internal strife that I am constantly trying to understand. I absolutely hate it when my mother reminds me of what a difficult child I was; especially how she never understood what I wanted. She only knew it wasn't what she was offering. 

All of this background, has me, lately, contemplating the wisdom of looking for a middle ground. I find myself seeking the midpoint, constantly. I know I've always been very sensitive to criticism, ashamed of poorly-timed comments that were not meant to harm. I have lived a little over a half of a century. That's in the middle, isn't it? But whatever the cause, I think I'm going to try to middle.