Columbus Day came and went, and I didn't buy a new
car to commemorate Christopher's drive across the ocean. I didn't buy
one in February to honor George Washington on his horse, either.
I do remember once asking my boss if I could have Columbus Day off, and
he said, "Only if you plan to entertain an Italian sailor." I also got
Patriots Day off if I planned to run 26 miles.
Vacation policy changed when I became my own boss. Normally I'd be
honoring Chris by eating my way around the Topsfield Fair, but this year
I went early. Which reminds me, did you notice in the 2007 Salem News
Fair Guide the recommendation from Steve Dion, Salem State health
education coordinator, to "avoid being tempted by the smell of fried
dough before you even get in the gate, (so) eat a small meal before you
Steve doesn't get it. I drive all the way to Topsfield, pay $7 to park
and $10 to get in, primarily to have fried dough for breakfast -- not to
mention German french fries for lunch, etc. Fair Day is the one day,
along with my birthday, that I give myself permission to eat whatever I
want without hesitation or guilt. If I ever eat a small meal before I
go, to avoid temptation, call Homeland Security: An alien has invaded me
and I'm not the Barbara you know.
Chip Ford decided that if he was going to shop on Columbus Day, he
should shop for a sailboat in Mystic, Conn. I went along for the
leaf-peeping ride and lunch on the water.
Considering that I live in Marblehead, it shouldn't have been such a
treat; but it was cold and damp here, hot and sunny there. I waited on
the quiet dock, enjoying the warm breeze and listening to the carillon
chiming over the charming little town.
It reminded me of other pleasant touring days, listening to the carillon
while taking the ferry between San Diego and Coronado Island, and the
glockenspiel at New Town Hall in Munich, whose clockwork figures put the
little monk to bed each night.
One of the best things about growing old is that the pleasant things you
do often remind you of other pleasant things you've done over several
decades. You now own several layers of enjoyment.
Saturday was perhaps the last hammock day, so I spent it reading "Cape
Wind: Money, celebrity, class, politics, and the battle for our energy
future on Nantucket Sound" by Wendy Williams and Robert Whitcomb. It's
informative -- I knew little about this and had no opinion except a vague
concern about migrating birds -- and riveting. I was sitting on the edge
of my, well, swinging in my hammock, eager to learn if Ted Kennedy would
kill the wind farm with a really sleazy amendment to a Coast Guard bill.
Most delicious was how the NIMBY environmentalist liberals were exposed
in their hypocrisy.
NIMBY conservatives are easier to take, as they aren't simultaneously
lecturing about global warming or pretending anything but self-interest
-- though I was surprised that they were resisting innovation on the
energy front instead of investing in it! Reading the book was like old
home week for me; I found tax-issue friends and enemies on many pages,
on both sides of the issue, behaving badly or heroically. I was also
reassured by checking with the Mass. Audubon Society, which, after
requiring rigorous monitoring, will support "the largest, clean,
renewable-energy project in the Northeast."
Trust me: "Cape Wind" is a revelation, and great fun. Maybe I'll have a
chance to write a sequel if someone tries to site a wind farm off
Having been dragged back into political mode, I was eager to meet Jim
Ogonowski, who is running against Niki Tsongas in the 5th Congressional
District; so Chip and I joined old friends at a Sunday cookout sponsored
by the Billerica Republican Town Committee.
Ogonowski is a retired Air Force/National Guard lieutenant colonel who
has taken over the farm that belonged to his brother, John, the pilot
who died on American Airlines Flight 11 on 9/11. New at politics, so
somewhat awkward in formal debates, Jim speaks confidently to small
groups and is charming when he meets individual voters.
I can't vote for him on Tuesday, but I personally contributed to his
campaign. If he does well, it will give a major boost to other
prospective congressional candidates, including Manchester's Rick Barton
in the Sixth, who also believes in fiscal and personal responsibility,
and is opposed to illegal immigration. That hot-button issue could get
Ogonowski elected, because his opponent supports President Bush's
unpopular amnesty bill.
Columbus Day weekend is behind us, it's time to focus hard on politics
again, until we take our next break at Thanksgiving. I must remember to
be thankful for the books, forums, debates and newspaper coverage that
gives us all a chance to be informed voters in what is still a wonderful
country -- for as long as we pay attention and fight for it.
Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens
for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and
Eagle Tribune, and often in the Newburyport Times, Gloucester Times, and
Lowell Sun; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the
Providence (RI) Journal and other newspapers.