February 26, 2008

February in Mississippi

I have been visiting my dad the last couple of weeks. I could try to stretch out my report, but I have opted to add pictures that Birgitta sent me and to publish a fanciful story by Luke Rader that he wrote in Argentina last month. I hope that you love the pictures of my new granddaughter as much as I do. I hope that you like the story by Luke. His crazy prose always keeps me chuckling. I also have some comments on American life and politics.

Lago del Diablo
(The Devil’s Lake)
by Luke Rader
January 2008

Largo de Diablo is one of those coastal towns, looking down on a bay. It is almost separated from the ocean by a split of sand. The celery-color ocean extends to the horizon line. With the vastness of the sky makes everything seem a lot closer and the ocean look as if it is tipping back on the beach at an acute angle. Also strange is the lack of seagulls, which seem to have been sucked by force to Africa, leaving a stillness, except for the lapping of waves. The town is built on a high ridge expanding down to a salt water marsh or swamp. Walking down the streets, you notice people with limbs and the door stoops get higher without steps. In some cases, they have shortened the door as they went higher and in others, they have extended the door frames up thru the roof like an extra chimney. There are hand and foot holes on the wall beside the doors, which means that you're closer to the swamp. The swamp is something from a different age: giant ferns, murky-rank smelling water, huge insects and large rats. Plus there is a sizable population of salt water crocodiles that have grown extremely large and have moss, and other things covering their bodies. So, a crocodile looks like an walking garden plot. The only real danger to humans is when they develop a taste for dog and slither into town. You know the danger areas, by the number of frayed dog leashes hanging by a door, in memory of a lost pet. But for the most part, their diet consists mainly of swamp rat, which is a strange hopping rodent that is similar in shape and size to a hairy bowling ball. At night, you hear the thumping sounds of rats over the droning of insects with clamping of jaws with slithers. Occasionally, the crocs will mistake a human for a rat. Both hop around the same with one foot in the jaw. You really don't realize the extent of these crocodiles until when at night you take a taxi down to the swamp. Have the driver shine his light into the marsh. Thousands of red ping-pong size eyes jump out at you. Then you notice also large number of one-eyed crocodiles. A cold chill creeps down your spine, because that is just the spacing between the eyes.

My Dad
 Sid Sundstrom
Jason, Dad and Bert
 Jason, Dad and Bert
Birgitta, Johanna and Seth
 Birgitta, Johanna and Seth
Little Johanna
 Little Johanna

When I got down here two weeks ago, Dad had two volunteers staying with him. They were from Gimli, Manitoba, which is about an hour north of Winnipeg. There was Jason. He is the Lutheran pastor for the town. He only took up preaching about ten years ago. Before that he was a farmer and electrician in Saskatchewan. Bert is a retried airline pilot. Every day they made their way to Camp Victor, the Lutheran-Presbyterian recovery center in Ocean Springs. Camp Victor is one of several disaster relief centers in Mississippi. Thousands of volunteers have come to help rebuild the gulf coast after hurricane Katrina. Camp Victor still has almost 1000 homes left to rebuild and I have heard that there are still thousands more for others to rebuild.

Mostly I have been cooking for my dad. I also have done some yard work. It is great to get outside and do something. When it is not raining, it is very pleasant. Temperatures are usually in the 60’s during the day and sometimes warmer yet.

I have gone to a couple of movies, but nothing to rave about. One night I hit a local watering hole. It was OK.

Gas Guzzling Idiocy
Traveling in the USA this winter has been interesting. I have learned how beautiful the east coast really is. The Appalachian Mountains are lovely and plenty rugged enough for me. I also have seen how we squander the precious resources of the earth. The roads here are fantastic, long ribbons of concrete and asphalt. We live in a world where you must drive everywhere, because all the things that you need to live, such as food, and enjoy life, like a movie theater, are beyond even a husky walk. So, every family has one or two or three vehicles. Most disgusting are the vehicles. They are mostly big, ugly, gas-guzzling behemoths. I think that big, and I mean big, pickup trucks dominate the roadways. They are rarely working trucks, meaning that they carry no load and just one driver. Where are all the 1.6 to 2.0 liter cars that are so prevalent everywhere else in the world?

Ready for Change
I am ready for a change. I have been ready for a change for over forty years. There has been a lot of talk about change this political season. Soon Americans will elect a new leader. Given the power of the rich and the stupidity of my countrymen, I do not see us making any real changes in the next four years. Yes, chances are Hilary or Barack will be our next leader. And yes, some positive steps will be made. But they are sure to be baby steps and as always the rich will only get richer. And the real power will never be in the hands of the people.

Alternative Realities
The vast majority of Americans have little or no understanding of the world around them. However, the possibility of getting good information has exploded in the USA over the past five years. The internet has begun to change how people, mostly the young, see the world. There are more interesting conversations going on everyday. The best sources are always on the satirical side, like the Onion. But there are more serious sources, like Slate.com or the Brad Blog or any of hundreds of political blogs. I just discovered the Brad Blog today, and I like it and its links to other multimedia sources. Check it out.

Who is f@cking who?
There has been some interesting humor on the airwaves this past month. It started with a video gift that Sara Silverman gave to Jimmy Kimmel. Its called "I'm f@cking Matt Damon." A few days ago Jimmy aired his response: "I'm f@cking Ben Affleck." Just click on the links to view them on You Tube.

Free Classical Music
This morning I heard a story on NPR about a good classical album that you can download for free. The album is called the The Naked Violin. You can get it as the Tasmin Little web site. She is the recording artist. I recommend that you check it out. I did and I like her style.

Posted by bill at February 26, 2008 05:54 PM

Diamond Bill,

The last two goals in my life are....Being able to bounce a few grandkids on my lap and to be at one of your 4th of July Beggers Banquets! I can bring the Sea Food. All is well here in Alaska...Miss my kids, Danika is in Port Angeles Wa. and kels is in Anchorage, both going to school.

I really enjoy your updates...keep it up!

Say hi to anyone that might still memba me.

Be Cool


Posted by: Russ at February 27, 2008 09:05 AM

Hi Bill,

Nice blog today. Good info. Me? I'm just hoping to make it in the music world someday.

I like Barak - Yes I do.

(Who is Russ?)


Posted by: John G at February 27, 2008 09:59 AM

HI bill.............can't look @ photos..........not there.....where is Betty?????
I would love to go to southern States one day ,in a Motor home & have time to see the USA @ a snail's pace.
Jim & I off to Hemmet Calif, on Tu March 11 th .till Easter & will spend time with Sister in law & dear friend Gayle Nicholson.widow of Jim's Bro Bill.She is spending 4 mos there ,,,will have a look around......lots of Canadians there...."Snow Birds "..............haha!! Its melting here butMarch is a long mo to wait to see Spring SPRING "..HaHa!!xxxxxLise & Jim

Posted by: Lise at March 5, 2008 07:11 PM