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February 27, 2008

William F. Buckley, Jr. — My Hero

Sometimes there is a person, a friend, a celebrity, unlikely though it may seem, who speaks to you as if from your own heart but with clarity you can't usually muster up for yourself. This person seems to know secrets to existence, to love life, to understand its hardships, its revelations, its brilliance, its comedy, its sadness and to bear all with dignity, humanity and humor. To me, such as man is William Buckley, Jr. I suppose true celebrity is to aspire to such a role in someone's life and thereby merit celebrity.

William F. Buckley. Jr.
Mr. Buckley in his office at the National Review in 1965. Mr. Buckley's winningly capricious personality, replete with ten-dollar words and a darting tongue writers loved to compare with an anteater's, hosted one of television's longest-running programs, "Firing Line," and founded and shepherded the National Review.

It's hard to summarize what William Buckley means to me. To me, his is the kind of life one aspires to, filled with so many varied things of real value and I wonder if people always value these same things properly. He stands for freedom of expression. He represents fairness of intellect and living. He means you can have fun and be scholarly both, one not canceling the other out.

Buckley is famous for having friends with whom his ideas were diametrically opposed, his political ideas, that is. This has confused people since he was famous for his strong conservative ideas. He was onto the secret of life being more than just the surface, more than just ideas, important as they are, more than any one thing; he was onto its soul.

In addition to his political career, in which my own interests do not lie, William Buckley wrote a series of captivating detective novels, with a colorful hero named Blackford Oakes. He was married to a socialite, who must have been quite a woman, Pat, and so had his hand in the upper crust of New York social life.

William F. Buckley, Jr.

When I was a tiny kid, there was a girl in my class whose mom worked for Buckley. My own mom, who was a Buckley type in brilliance and diversity but a Democrat, was fascinated by Buckley and liked my classmate's mom too. My mom told me that Buckley was this unusual man with many different aspects to his life and even at the age of five or so, it stuck in my head and made me curious about this guy.

Excellent sailor, prolific, adept and varied writer, noted politician, witty man, social figure, individualist — a truly great man. I cannot stop weeping for the world's loss.

February 21, 2008

Workaholic — Enjoying the Remnants

I've been a workaholic lately (five or six weeks now), which I assume if it goes on too long is bad like any other over-indulgence. However, at least this one has the benefit of leading to getting a lot done.

Some of the "remnants" with which I have managed to sustain myself
L to R: ancient eggs, canned black beans and chips (high protein), brussel sprouts

Why food pictures, you may ask? Understandable. Well, during this odd time of intense work focus, I have gone many days, if not weeks, eating whatever was around in the house. And I don't mind telling you that whatever is around in this house could be pretty dicey — like we're talking rubber bands and shopping bags. So therefore, it is not without a bit of pride that I present these photos of the scraps with which I have managed to sally forth (is that correct English?). Okay, the last one of brussel sprouts was bought so it doesn't really count but I was proud of steaming them so I included them. (They are very filling and, indeed, fattening, doused with butter, salt and pepper — yum.) The others, though, the eggs and the black beans with chips were salvaged from the depths of my cabinets, of dubious date origin, to be sure and I am elated to say that I have not suffered food poisoning episodes or any ill effects as a result.

I write this solely as a confession to my own oddities that strike me as relatively harmless and that have, in this particular instance, saved me bucket loads of grocery cash, while sustaining me through an odd time in my life. Sally forth now you, good friends.

P.S. I love taking pictures of food I've cooked because it's a rare occurrence. And I admit to getting the idea from a Queen Latifah movie I loved (Last Holiday), where she was an aspiring chef who took snapshots of her meals. It's great to capture them in time when they're going down your gullet in a few moments.

February 3, 2008


Belief is a powerful force, right up there with love.

Believe in Yourself

I ran across The Magic of Believing today and it captured my attention. A friend and client of mine, Peppy of Peppy's Dream, just wrote in her blog on the same subject:

“…I believe in angels, in ghosts, in reincarnation, in aliens, in just about anything. I am not a cynic or a doubter. I don’t have to see, smell, hear, touch or taste something to believe it exists. I choose to believe…”

There is calm resolve in my friend's statement. Choosing to believe is half the battle, I think. More power to her and to all of you who are on the side of faith and belief.

When I was a kid, I was troubled and puzzled by two stories in the Bible about faith. One is Doubting Thomas and the other is the Prodigal Son. These are no doubt two of the most famous Biblical stories around and they have come to be my favorite stories as well. Doubting Thomas had to see Christ had risen for himself before he believed so the question is whether his faith was less solid than the others who believed as soon as they heard. The Prodigal Son is believed in by his father (and ultimately by himself), who has every reason to doubt him and his older brother doesn't get it and is jealous and mad since he was a good guy all along whereas the Prodigal Son was a screw-up.

Prodigal Sons and Doubting Thomases, my mother helped me to see, represent a huge group of people and also something that's inside each of us at times, even those with strong faith. They are human, flawed, doubting screw-ups and that doesn't mean you dismiss them. Evidence of the depth of Biblical stories lies in these tales' ability to show that while these characters are flawed, they are also great. I have a weak spot for all life's Prodigal Sons and Daughters, those who keep at it after they've messed up. We all have, each day, the ability to choose differently, to make the brave choice that we've been so afraid of. Be brave, believe against all odds and your faith will be rewarded.