Sunday, August 05, 2007


It's routine. "Double-tall americano, please." Barista follow-up questions can go one of two ways- room for cream? or so, coffee with hot water? The kids at Cowboy Joe know their way around the espresso machine. A local art show, photos of rodeo highlights and downfalls, cattle in the basin complete the western feel. Hang your jacket on the horseshoe rack, the patio out back is glowing warm before 9am.

Along Idaho St., the visitor center at Sherman's Station was closed. The windows of the school were cloudy, but we could see through a crack in the creamery door. I called it the livery, but Aslin wondered why a farm would have a library. Down the road at the NE Nevada Museum, also closed, outdoor exhibits gave clear definitions of stage coaches and mud coaches. An original Pony Express cabin was brought to the property a decade ago. The job announcement stated clearly that "young, skinny, wiry" riders, preferably orphans, could earn $25/week if they'd risk their lives daily as riders on the path from Missouri to California.

At the park, a church group held a bingo fundraiser. We rushed the old-school swing-set. Long chains suspended from a steel frame, primary colors chipping away. A toddler in church clothes ran through the puddle surrounding the merry-go-round. "" Aslin didn't finish, didn't need to. The flop and cry said it all. Getting tricky on the swings, she somehow flipped forward only to land backward- thankfully clearing the cement buffer that would never meet today's playground codes.

A flyered telephone pole told us of the event. We decided Oregon could wait, and stuck around another day to hear what Barack Obama had to say to the rural communities. Aslin found her breath and we rested before heading to the convention center.

Aslin- "I like. I'm never gonna wash my hand again because he shook it. He said about health care that everyone should have it. He said something about the war not really solving anything. People mostly, I think they really like him and appreciate and admire the way he thinks and makes decisions. He's good at doing speechs and answering questions- seems kind, I was listening and I know that he he is. Well, in my opinion. I like him."

Ukiah- "It seems like he went out of his way to go to a relatively small town- seems like most people would skip that I guess. But it seems important to visit different parts of the country.

He said we spent 200 something million a day in Iraq, but we could use that money on different things- like special education and health care. Somebody asked how he's going to improve medicare. He said that it doesn't make any sense for people who make a billion, or even a million dollars to pay half as much tax as everybody else. There is money for health care and we should work more on disease prevention.

He said that thing about Volvo driving, latte drinking liberals. Something about mining, I don't remember. I thought he totally did not look 35, he looked younger- or maybe it's just because George Bush looks like he's 200. He seemed really smart, supported a lot of things I would support. I think another funny thing he said is that sometimes he thinks people are here because he's so wonderful- but his wife reminds him that not it. They care about the issues.

We had to wait 70 minutes, but it was worth it. I thought the people in front of me were obnoxious- the woman had a big hair-do and was taking a lot of pictures."

The local democrats had their work cut out for them. Overhearing the network of volunteers and rural liberals, the turn out was much larger than expected. Which is encouraging. The audience heard soundbites on all the key domestic issues. Meaningful soundbites. An understanding of immigration and interest to continue learning about water rights and mining. "If Canada were paying $100/hr, we'd be headed to that border." "I haven't signed onto the ___ mining bill, but the law dates to 1872, it probably needs some updates."

Senator Obama wants to bring "common sense and fact" to the White House, to be rid of ideology. He noted that individual citizens don't have federal lobbyists and that the in No Child Left Behind, the "money's been left behind." It was a town hall style meeting, and Obama was comfortable talking to the people. The conversation centered on domestic issues- education, health care, environment, jobs, with the Senator sounding interested and competent on all fronts.

I'd have preferred if he'd closed with his acknowledgement that "change takes time." That as president, he "can't suddenly make everybody's life better, automatically." That we have a mutual responsibility to each other and that we have to overcome our cynicism. "I'll be a president who believes in the constitution." But no. The final words were along the lines that "no president can guarantee that there won't be a need for war." I'm reminding myself of his emphatic belief that "this war should not have been authorized, should not have been waged." Trying to comfort myself with my belief in his 90 minutes of advocacy for early childhood education, wind power, labor unions, national health care, civil liberties and diplomacy. The Senator knows we have to talk and listen to one another, communicate. "In democracy, we have to compromise." I know he's right, I'm just tired, disgusted with what now passes as compromise.

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