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charlie-brown-rain Much to the exasperation of Mom, there seems to be a permanent part of my subconscious that is not happy unless it’s fretting about something.

Recently, this fretting has taken the form of a whole series of anxiety dreams about my softball team: Sometimes I can’t protect all of them from some horrid accident.  Sometimes there is a miscommunication or misunderstanding for which I feel somehow responsible.

This all seems to have started Sunday evening after practice got rained out.  And, as I watch the chance of rain continually creep up (it’s currently at 70%), it’s beginning to look like we’ll be rained out tomorrow as well.

For those of you who think it ridiculous that I am apparently internalizing a feeling of guilt about the furshlugginer weather, let me assure you that this time I’m pretty annoyed about it myself.

UPDATE: For those of you keeping track, I do not recall having another softball dream last night after posting this.  (Perhaps there is some theraputic benefit in airing these things out on teh blog.)  Instead, I had a dream I was with a squad of G.I.’s sneaking up on a gate guarded by WWII Japanese troops.  We got right up to the fence even though the Japanese were just the other side of it.  Suddenly the Japanese commander came riding through the gate on a horse.  He came right up to where we were lying still in the tall grass, but kept scanning the horizon because he was too proud to look down at the ground immediately around him.  His horse noticed us, but he didn’t. It was suspenseful but not scary because we knew the instant anyone actually spotted us we would start shooting.

Go figure what that might be all about.

In a post covering a trip I took to Oklahoma last month, I had this to say about the Arbuckle Mountains, located in the extreme southern part of the state:

In layman’s terms, the Arbuckles are a ridiculous little knot of short, steep hills surrounded by the rolling prairie.  When I first saw them, my inclination was to exclaim, “What the hell are those doing here?”  On closer inspection, I become fascinated with the “tombstone” effect mentioned above.  Indeed, I actually stopped at one of the scenic overlooks at the edge of the range where the highway passes through it.  As I stood there, I was overcome with the sense of age.  These hills were never very big.  Not like the Blue Ridge, for instance, which I read somewhere were once as tall as the Himalayas.  But they’re old, the remainders of a bygone era pretty much incomprehensible in one’s personal timeframe.   As I thought about it I got the shivers.  You may call me strange, but it was a nice feeling.

This prompted fellow port-swiller Chuck to comment:

Hey Robbo– Have you read John McPhee’s “Annals of the Former World”, or “Rising from the Plains”? If not, I think you would enjoy them. Your synopsis of the Arbuckles as “a ridiculous little knot of short, steep hills surrounded by the rolling prairie” is classic– and very McPhee-ish.

No, I had not.

Now, if you will be so kind, please allow me to take you on a very short trip in the Way-Back Machine.  I used to be a regular subscriber to The New Yorker magazine.¹  Just before Tina Brown took over as editor in the early 90’s and trashed it – thereby causing me to cancel my subscription in disgust- I had read an incredibly fascinating three-part article about earthquakes, fault lines, plate tectonics and the fashioning of the California coast.  Because I am terrible both about names and about saving articles of interest,  I quickly misplaced the piece and forgot who had written it.  Nonetheless, I was so taken with the descriptions of geological evolution therein that I never forgot it, and every now and again over the years I would from time to time tell myself, “Self, you really need to track down that article again.”

So.  After Chuck left his comment, I immediately nipped over to the devil’s website to look up McPhee and his books.  Imagine my surprise and delight, then, when having found him I realized…..that was the guy!! 16 years after having had my interest piqued, I finally caught up with him again.

annalspulitzerNeedless to say, I bought myself a copy of Annals of the Former World instanter.   And imagine my further surprise and delight when, flipping through the table of contents, I realized….that article I had enjoyed so much in the New Yorker is now the last section of this book!!

Last evening, feeling that I needed to take a break from my Lenten studies, I decided to plunge into the Annals.  Of course, I quickly became lost in all the technical jargon, but I also just as quickly became caught up in what I can only describe as the romance of the terrestrial dance.   Two or three pages in, I was already beginning to think how cool it would be if I could become a geologist some day.  I know that’s a little boy reaction, but I also think it’s a tribute both to how fascinating the subject really is and also how well presented by McPhee.

Oh, and thanks Chuck!

¹ I used to get both The New Yorker and National Review delivered to my college box at The People’s Glorious Soviet of Middletown, CT.  I still remember some of the baffled looks I’d get when I pulled them out of the box at the same time.

So today is the eldest gel’s eleventh birthday.   This fact prompted her to wake up in a sunny mood, which is not usually the case on school mornings.   It also prompted her to shower and wash her hair without a squawk, again a phenomenon that is not usually the case on school mornings.

Would that every morning was this easy!

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