Sometimes I tire of using the word “caveat.” But I feel committed – it’s just the way this blog is organized.
A tree. Among others.
Arthur and I went into town shopping – it’s shopping Thursday, one of our fixed traditions these days.
It rained continuously. We stopped by Jan’s office at the VFW – which we often do. She used an adjective to describe her husband Richard’s efforts in adding a carport to their house, which we’d seen driving past: “Trojanesque” (this is derived from their last name). I laughed quite a bit – Richard’s construction efforts do, indeed, have a quite distinct style, and I felt the adjective captured this quite well. I’ll have to see if I can come up with some kind of objective definition for this word, which has an obvious, intuitive meaning to anyone who is familiar with Richard’s work. Perhaps related to a kind of grandiose disregard for the conventions of design, without being for that at all incompetent?
The small tree grows on the hump of the log of a long-dead big tree.
Studying psychology for one of my exams-for-credit that I’ll take next month, I’m struck by how much of it is really just vocabulary – a certain way of talking about things.
This is an archival tree. Specifically, I saw this tree while lying on a bench at a buddhist monastery in northern Illinois, December, 2009.
I experienced a somewhat embarrassing emotional insight this morning, as I saw that it was raining. I liked that it was raining. Not just because I have always liked rainy days – that’s just something about my formation on the coast of far northwest California. It’s that when it’s raining, I don’t have to feel guilty about not working outside.
I don’t exactly resent working outside on the various “typical Alaskan” projects, here: the path-cutting, the chainsawing, the digging, etc. But they are not necessarily always “fun” for me either. I feel an obligation to do them because it’s the only conceivable way to prevent Arthur from trying to do them and ending up hurt or something.
It’s not in fact clear to me that Arthur ever enjoyed these types of projects either, but they have always been part of how he prefers to organize his life. Really, his motivational apparatus is wholly opaque to me.
I am, I suppose, an “indoorsman” (in an oppositional sense to “outdoorsman”). I enjoy the outdoors, but I have always despised outdoor “athletics,” and these task-oriented, outdoor work activities are not inherently rewarding to me for the most part. Perhaps it’s just that I have never received positive feedback about my efforts, too. Certainly that has contributed to the current psychological aversion to them.
Well, it was raining. So I sat at my desk and read history and worked at my hobby coding projects on my server.
Meanwhile, trees asserted their ontologies. That leaning tree has been featured before, but I think its leaningness has been increasing lately. It may be headed for seashore.
Here is a tree from my archives. It is a tree in the front yard of the house where I spent the majority of my first 17 years. I took the picture in 2009, I think.
That tree almost entirely post-dates my years there – it was planted in my childhood but was just a small tree as I grew up. Now it looks more substantial.
Here is another picture I found of the same house, from a different angle, and taken many, many years ago, when there was a different tree in front of the house. That’s my dad’s car. I would guess mid-to-late 1960’s for when the picture was taken.
Continuing that theme, this is the same house again, but with no tree at all. This is my own ink drawing, but done from a photograph of the house that I suspect predates my parents’ ownership by a few decades.
We pulled out the “rails” for the boat ramp last night at dusk – because that’s when the low tide was low enough to make that doable. I probably should have been paying attention to the tides, knowing Arthur had that project in mind, but I hadn’t been, so it came out as one of those “ambush projects” that Arthur hits me with, that stress me out so much.
In fact I don’t mind helping on Arthur’s projects, but, like a small child, I don’t manage my stress well when I don’t get advance notice about what’s expected of me. Arthur is not inclined to communicate his plans or intentions ahead of time. After dinner, without preamble, it was: “I’m going to pull out the rails now.” Of course no invitation or expectation that I would help, but I simply can’t imagine Arthur in his increasingly frail state doing this project himself – those rails are heavy, and pulling them up the ramp is awkward. So I had a choice: let him start it himself and then be there to help when he finally asked for help, or otherwise I could simply start out helping knowing it would get to that. It’s one of those “military moments” when the arbitrary “task” comes down the chain of command and one simply has to leap to action in that moment.
Lo, a tree did grow.
Arthur and I went to a kind of “community meeting” this evening. Apparently the City of Craig has imperial ambitions with respect to the denizens of Port Saint Nicholas Road (“PSN”). The denizens, however, are quite ambivalent about this. I would myself be inclined to agree that the city offers little of value in terms of improved services, given their fire department’s poor showing during the house fire next door in August (which currently they are legally obligated to provide despite being outside their tax base, but which they receive state monies to do, too, so it’s not like they are losing money on it).
Right now, the battle is about who really controls, owns, and is obligated to maintain the road. This is taking the form of the city’s “Ordinance 719,” which appears to be an unconstitutional “taxation without representation” proposition, wherein the city is allocating to itself the “extraterritorial” right to tax property owners along the road despite their not being voting residents of the city, in exchange for road maintenance – which the city is already legally obligated to do because of where they chose to site their water treatment plant. There are a number of dramatis personae: there’s the city (and specifically its hapless yet hubristic water department), there’s the tribal association (nominally non-profit), there’s the tribal corporation (for-profit, that owns all the non-parcelled land around Craig and PSN, and that originally built the road – it’s not, in fact, “public” in origin), and there are the helpless denizens themselves. At stake: the gobs of state and federal grant money lurking out there for whoever can control the road.
But the City of Craig’s long game is pretty obvious – they hope to undertake an expansive regional annexation into their taxable territory a la Ketchikan (which took over its entire island) or Juneau (which took over several large islands as well as the mainland and became the single largest city in the US in land area). Arthur finds the prospect sufficiently alarming that he was motivated to dislodge himself from his hidey-hole and go find out what was going on. There is a grassroots, community-initiated “legal defense fund” that has hired some lawyers to battle the city and their plans in the courts. So we attended the meeting and became better informed. Arthur donated money (“…pay voluntarily now to avoid paying [taxes] involuntarily later”).
My own opinion is slightly more ambivalent. I don’t share the majority of my neighbors’ instinctual distrust of government and visceral resentment of taxation. I can see that the city has, in this instance, been poorly managed and ham-handed with respect to their treatment of the PSN community, but I refuse to generalize this behavior to the potential of governments in general. My own instinct would be to counter Craig’s ambitions with a move toward a greater degree of counterbalancing self-government: at the least, one or more legally-empowered and -chartered homeowners’ association(s); at the most extreme, pre-emptive incorporation of Port Saint Nicholas as its own “city” (village, but “city” in the legal sense) to effectively “block” Craig’s expansion.
And on that note, I provide this photo of a member Port Saint Nicholas’ silent majority: the trees.
I am studying US History. This is because I need to fulfill a prerequisite for this teacher certification program I want to enter, and despite having actually taught US History in Korea, I have never taken a college-level history class of any kind. So I do fine with the broad, outline-y questions, the order in which events unfolded, I know my presidents. But a lot of details are not well established in my mind. I don’t know the specific names of the originators of policies or events, e.g. the name of the presidents of South Vietnam in the period leading up to the Vietnam War, or the specific act of congress that tried to get Native Americans onto reservations on the Great Plains. So I have some studying to do. I scored about 70% on practice versions of the two “tests for college credit” that I am planning to take.
Meanwhile, I saw a tree.