Saturday, February 27, 2010

Lent and Eggs

For me, hard-boiled eggs have always been a big part of Lent. They are the obvious sign of Easter, when we'd make our way through the two or three dozen we'd dyed and decorated, but I also associate them with the six weeks before. I suppose it has its roots in my mother's worries that we wouldn't have anything "meatless" when the time came. Although we always had plenty of options-- we could count on the treat of frozen fish sticks, macaroni and cheese or tuna noodle casserole on Fridays-- these were the days when there were no vegetarians (or at least no one we knew). It seemed an enormous challenge to cook without meat, even just one day a week. We had to be fortified with proteins of other sorts or we might just collapse.

So it was we ate extra peanut butter (on celery sticks, on crackers) and there were suddenly soft-boiled eggs at breakfast and hard-boiled eggs in our lunches, if no egg salad sandwiches were available. I'm not a big egg person, and still kind of use them at brunches to balance the effects that the maple syrup and gluten will have on me later in the day if I don't eat something real along with it. I don't think to boil up eggs or make egg salad. This has changed a bit since we now have chickens on the farm and a steady supply of lovely, brown, organic eggs. They just aren't on my radar.

This is why I've been delighted that Steve has started hard-boiling eggs. It seemed to begin right after Ash Wednesday, the bowl of eggs appearing in the fridge. This morning when I went down for breakfast there was another batch on a towel, as if recently gathered during an Easter egg hunt. Their color reminds me of the eggs we died the year I was at the Collegeville Institute. There was a Czech family there who shared with us their tradition of decorating eggs by boiling them in a pot with onion skins. If you're interested, I've embedded a video that shows you how to do it below. And of course, they're just about perfect food. Portable, substantial, and more or less good for you. Egg salad on toast is perhaps my favorite sandwich, with a little dill, scallions and relish mixed in especially.

Steve also (strongly) encouraged me to give up chocolate for Lent. Unfortunately, the first week of Lent coincided with a really bad bout of perimenopausal PMS, and chocolate is basically medicinal for that condition. But Steve is kind and he had said right up front that a cup of hot chocolate wouldn't count. I made it through with only one real lapse. Yesterday, we had a good talk about the second week of Lent and its challenges, basically the feeling that you've kind of done it, you get the point, and what would it matter if you had chocolate (or x, y, z) now. The rationalization stage. So I'm finding that, although I'm not big on "giving up things" for Lent, I am finding the shared experience of it kind of interesting and worthwhile. We'll see how it goes. Meanwhile, I'm going to enjoy the eggs.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Michael Haneke and His Films

Winter, as you know, is movie time. Last year we settled into a good, long run with the director Werner Herzog. This year, sort of propelled by the Palm Springs Film Festival in mid-January, I was more alert to the films we had not seen that are getting good reviews.

Among those, the most intriguing was Michael Haneke's film The White Ribbon. We went to see it in Minneapolis two weeks ago, at the wonderfully shabby, broken-down-seated, single screen Uptown Theater. It was a really wonderful film.

It is about a village that seems to still operate along feudal lines, although it's 1913 when the film begins, and World War I is just getting started when the film closes. The village is pretty much run by the baron, who hands out the good jobs, including keeper of his estate, tenant farmers, doctor and minister. The people of the town them to tolerate and have the proper love/hate relationship with him and his family. Thanks for the jobs, but why do you have all the power? The film is ostensibly about the generation of German children who would grow up to be Nazis, although I think it's more helpful to think of them as the children who would grow up to tolerate Nazis. Because really the movie is fueled by the villagers' desire and astounding ability to look the other way. When things happen, and they do, no one seems very concerned about finding out who has done the damage. Everyone lives in the sphere of their own small families, with tyrannical patriarchs in charge. There is much petty cruelty, very low-level violence, the kind I've been saying is really everywhere. The movie is very real and has a very contemporary feel to it. It is shot in black and white, but the interactions between the children and adults, and between the children themselves, is natural and compelling. By the end of the film you think you know some things-- but it would be very unlike Michael Haneke to solve the mystery completely, or spell anything out.

The second film of his we watched was Cache, or "Hidden." It is a French film starring Juliette Binoche as Ann (next to Blue, this may be the best performance I've seen from her) and Daniel Auteuil (Georges) as a couple under surveillance. They receive videotapes at their door that simply show a view of the exterior of their home. The tapes are followed by postcards, but the police can't do anything without an actual act of violence or real threat. It turns out the mailings are related to a childhood incident in Georges' life. It is another story of petty cruelty leading to larger consequences, and the filmmaking does a good job of building suspense and an aura of threat with few tools.

Haneke likes to set a camera in the shot and let things unfold. My favorite scene in The White Ribbon shows a closed parlor door. The father leads his two oldest chlidren through the door, where we see a glimpse of the other children waiting for the punishment that has been promised. We see the closed door, then it opens and the son walks down the hall, gets the switch, and returns, closing the door. We hear rather than see the first strikes and the child's reaction. He does the same thing with the voyeur's camera in Cache, again to unnerving effect.

The real story here, though, is power. Georges maintains power over Ann by controlling information, and by silence. She responds appropriately, railing at him and trying to make sense of what's going on. He seems particularly ineffectual, a quality that Daniel Auteuil embodies well, and which makes his influence on people so striking. The real power is simply in his privilege, not in anything he's actually doing.

Last night we watched The Piano Teacher, with Isabelle Huppert, which is the last film by Heneke we'll be watching. I'd already decided from reading the descriptions that Funny Games, both the German original and the American remake, were not for me. They promised more violence and horror plotlines than I want to be exposed to. The Piano Teacher, though it has the stylishness and a lot of the same great qualities of the other two films, also lost me with its disturbing subject matter. At the heart of it is a masochistic woman who turns sadist as a piano teacher. Her demons are also from childhood, and have gripped her in a terrifying way-- she sleeps in a twin bed next to her mother's twin bed, and we know that can't be good. Her mother berates her constantly, and the two have a mutually destructive relaitonship. The dead father is, in a shadowy way, also clearly to blame, since it turns out her real twisted behavior is related to sexuality. Watching this woman come undone and undo her students in the process was not really all that entertaining...

I highly recommend The White Ribbon and Cache. They are complex, and also open enough that you can explore several threads-- class, injustice, child/parent relationships, the nature of childhood, power, patriarchy-- it just goes on and on. And though at first I was quite against the thesis that the plot of The White Ribbon in any way at all explained the Nazis, after a few days I thought that, well, it explains them as well as anything else. Let us not, after all, think they were so different from us, that generation in Germany. Let us not overestimate our own virtues.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Found Poem

This weekend I found a poem. I did not write it; I only recognized it. That is what a "found poem" is. It's part of early deconstructionism, a sort of Marcel Duchamp approach to poetry, that involves taking language from one context and putting it in another. In a word, appropriation. In our college poetry writing class, we were shown examples by Mark Strand, and we went out and read signs and cereal boxes and other texts, looking for poems. I've been looking for them ever since-- but this is the best one I've found. It's so good, I put my name on it and sent it off to the New Yorker (you can send them poems online now, and the automated message said that they'll respond in three months).  I can't wait three months to share it with the world...

The poem I found was this:



Interior of John Gordon’s mansion.
Bob and Dick— Gordon’s two shiftless sons.
Gordon’s fruitless efforts to make men of them.
His socially ambitious wife.
Their daughter Margaret.
The mysterious Countess Du Prey.
The visit of Betty Green.


The curse of wealth.
A father’s love for his children.
The love of Betty Green.
Betty makes a proposition.
Bob and Dick accept.
Bob accepts Gordon’s offer.
A villain’s treachery.
The ruin of Gordon.


Gordon’s illness.
The downfall of Dick.
A secret in John Gordon’s life.
Bob learns the truth.
Gordon’s trust in Bob.
Bob makes a solemn promise.
The death of Gordon.


Dick’s mistake.
Bob’s loyalty.
Van Darcy threatens.
Countess Du Prey turns the tables.
Betty’s decision.
Dick acknowledges his guilt.
Bob’s secret becomes known.
A happy ending.

Don't you love it? I want to find an open mic right away, because it's even better when read aloud.  I put it in my manuscript, the first poem in the second section, the one called "Art, like life." Because really what the manuscript is about (I think, anyway) is the way language can comprehend life or not, make life seem more real, shape life, and where it falls short. The role of artifice in our understanding of the "meaning" of life, and the meaning of the spiritual life. I put a note to the poem at the end of the manuscript, which tells where I got it:  Note: This is a found poem. The original text can be found in the script of the play Gilded Youth by Martin Heymans, published by the Catholic Dramatic Movement, Briggsville, Wisconsin, 1926. It's in the frontmatter of a play Steve's grandfather wrote, among many popular plays he wrote, known for their high moral message and for being "clean entertainment." The scripts were purchased for 50 cents each (12 for $5.40) by dramatic societies throughout the Midwest. There's a scene about such a dramatic society in Main Street by Sinclair Lewis, and the arguments that ensue are over the "cleanness" of the play.
If the New Yorker decides to take it, what do I do? There is no note. I found it. Steve says Grandpa Martin would be happy if it found new life in the 21st century. I think it would just be fabulous.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Giant Strawberries! And Much, Much More

It's seed ordering time again. I've been getting catalogues, but thanks to my friend Connie, I ordered a bunch of seeds from an organic seed company in Vermont, High Mowing Seeds. The seed catalogues I used last year were very much of the mass production variety, with more flowers than vegetables. The choices were limited and pedestrian and the results just good enough.

Last week I got a catalogue called "Gardener's Choice" which reads like a carnival barker's best schtick. Reading this catalog, it is clear that what people want is BIG food!! And lots of it in a small space! In addition to "over a dozen sugar-sweet slices from one single strawberry," you can grow an amazing strawberry tree, a fruit salad tree with five fruits on one tree, an apple tree with five kinds of apples on it, and my favorite, the plant that yields tomatoes on top and potatoes underground. You can grow chili peppers a foot long , 7 1/2 pound mammoth onions and 100-pound pumpkins. And don't miss the 2-foot ears of corn growing on "skyscraper" plants you need a stepladder to access.

I just have to share the entry for the antonymously named "Little Giant Blueberries," headline:

16,000 blueberries from just one single plant!

That's right! As much as a heaping basketful each day . . . over 20 teeming bowlsful a week!

Its [sic] a non-stop berry festival all season long! You've never seen anything like them in all of nature. . . these super-fruiting "Little Giant" blueberries that weigh themselves down with more berries in a single week than other varieties eke out in the entire season! And not just ordinary, pea-size berries. . . but jumbo harvests of the most delicious, sweetest blueberries ever developed by U.S. plant scientists! Yes, blueberries by the thousands. . . heaping fresh, new pint baskets full in just a single day. . . yours to pick and feast on for less than 5 cents a basketful!

And don't for a minute think that all you get with this new "Little Giant" wonder-variety is a living "blueberry factory." You also get so much more: a magnificent, compact flowering shrub that smothers itself in an avalanche of snow-white blooms each spring. . . berries by the bushel each summer. . . and a firewall of blazing, scarlet foliage right up to frost. Truly an All-American, 3-season, red-white-and-blue wonder plant!

So strong, so hardy, they thrive in sun or shade... so care-free they virtually grow thmselves! But suppplies of "Little Giant" blueberries are still extremely limited. They were only recently discoverd and cultivated by U.S. Plant Scientists, so it will take at least another year for full supplies to be grown at the nurseries. To make sure you do not miss out-- to grow, pick and enjoy blueberries by the thousands-- as much as 16,000 giant, sweet-as-sugar "Little Giant" blueberries from each single plant-- ORDER TODAY! Satisfaction 100% guaranteed or money back in full.

Wow, the work of those U.S. Plant Scientists is truly a wonder! It is hard to resist this tantalizing offer!!

Meanwhile, Gwenael Engelskirchen is the name of the woman keeping me informed of the backordered seeds at High Mowing Seeds. Which makes me think I'll be able to grow really large tomatoes tended to by elves once they arrive...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Taking of Pelham 123 (1974)

This weekend we watched the original version of The Taking of Pelham One Two Three. I was very interested to see how it would be different from the 2009 version with Denzel Washington and John Travolta. I like the remake, but this is definitely a case of an OK film being made from a truly great film-- one that just could not be made today.

The film is about a hijacking of a New York subway train. The hijackers go by code names: Mr. Blue, Mr. Green, Mr. Grey and Mr. Brown (Quentin Tarantino copied this in the film Reservoir Dogs). They are types: the leader, Mr. Blue, played by Robert Shaw (the captain of the boat in Jaws); the crazed ex-mafia hitman; the disgruntled subway employee who knows how to drive the train and the very expendible guy. They want a million dollars. Very quickly the City decides to pay them, and then try to catch them. It's a hostage situation, and anyway, how are they going to escape from a subway?

Both versions of the film have some suspense. The hijackers are going to start killing people if the money isn't delivered in 30 minutes. Given city and other bureaucracy, this is a virtually impossible deadline. There is a car chase, crash, etc. There is also negotiation. In the original version, the subway cop in charge is Walter Matthau. In the remake, it's Denzel. And it's in the handling of these main characters: Mr. Blue (Travolta/Shaw) and Lt. Zachary Garber (Washington/Matthau) that we see the primary difference in the two movies.

The remake is about the psychological interaction between these two characters. Their motives, their abilities, who will get in whose head most quickly and most completely... Washington's control center is at the center of a room, like a space commander's desk, and everyone is focused on him. Will he do it? Will he be a hero?

The 1974 version does not really give a $#@& about these two characters. The movie is about New York City. The city is at the center of the film, and it is populated by a huge number of characters, all equally vivid, all equally engaged, and all in motion.  The hostages on the train are not given names even in the credits; they are listed as the pimp, the prostitute, the hippie, the Latino woman, the secretary, the grandmother with kids, etc. But this does not mean they have no personality to share with the audience. Oh, no, indeed not! They are vivid and essential. They are fascinating.

As are the city employees. The city cops, the transit cops, the motormen, the brakemen, the dispatchers, the station agents, the mayor (who seems to foreshadow Ed Koch) and his assistant, and the rest. The most immediate difference is the room from which Matthau works. Almost no one stops to see what he is up to. He himself doesn't even stay by the phone. He is moving around, checking in with people, including a cop who "doesn't negotiate with terrorists" and is very unhelpful, mostly whining about how difficult this incident is making it to run the trains. People are re-routing and doing their jobs, which don't stop because of the incident, but get more difficult.

This is a great movie about New York City. And what it does that is not really done these days is, it trusts the audience. It trusts that the audience will be interested in this story, this depiction of New York City in motion. It thinks city offices and a train car underground will not be static or boring, and do not need the infusion of a psychological battle of stars to keep our attention. The remake is really a common formula today, no different from Phone Booth or Inside Man. And it's too bad, because really, New York City is just as interesting-- if not moreso-- now, as it was in 1974.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Hoar Frost

We've had a lot of days lately of just beautiful frost. When I wake up the fog is sometimes so thick I can't see anything outside the window. Yesterday, driving to work, I was literally driving through a wall of white until I got to the end of our driveway, when objects, then whole houses, started to emerge.

Today the thick fog reminds me of this wonderful night on the 95th floor of the John Hancock building when I was a student at the Newberry Library. A group of us had gone out-- it was the end of the semester-- to see something at the Auditorium theater. I'm surprised I don't remember what we saw, just how dressed up everyone got and how fun it was to be out in the city. We didn't have much money, but we wanted to go to the restaurant on the 95th floor for dessert after the show. We would not have been allowed in without purchasing a meal except that the fog was so thick the place was nearly empty. It was the first time in a restaurant when I asked for water the waiter asked if I wanted "sparkling or still." I actually wanted "tap" but think we ended up having to pay $6 for Evian because we didn't understand the options. That was crummy of them (taking advantage, really), and an early experience of class snobbery. There was also a harpist, and so the place, with white clouds pressed against every window, just fully surrounded by clouds, felt like heaven. We had not had a drop to drink, but I think of us as flushed and happy, giddy with the experience and our fancy dresses and suits. We were so happy to be there, in good, smart company, together in such a place. We were too young to be disappointed-- who needs a view!

That isn't what I was going to write about, however. What is really beautiful here is when the fog dissipates, leaving behind this fairyland view of all the trees coated in frost. It isn't snowing, but pieces of frost, like dust motes, float through the air. They are so lazy and light they seem part of the atmosphere. It's truly like being inside a snowglobe.

The temperature has been just right for this effect to stay throughout the day. The sky is perfectly white as well, no sun to burn off the frost. It is the variety like this, opening the curtains in the morning and not knowing what you will find, that makes all other places seem pedestrian and flat.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Crazy Heart

I've mostly used this forum to write about films I like-- to promote good films people might not otherwise see, although not always. Because sometimes, as with Clint Eastwood, I just don't get it. Or I get something in a way I don't hear discussed elsewhere.

We went to see the movie Crazy Heart on Friday, mostly because we love Jeff Bridges, and since he was nominated for an Academy Award for the performance, we thought it would certainly be good. I didn't know much about the film, but it was easy to see from the broad outlines that Maggie Gyllenhaal was the love interest. I have to say, I liked her better before seeing her in this film. Maybe it was just the lack of chemistry between her and Bridges, or maybe it was the character I didn't much like, but her innocence was not at all convincing and she seemed a little silly and precious.

Jeff Bridges looks in the film a lot like Kris Kristofferson, and the songs he sings are somewhat like Kristofferson's. His character is mentor to a sexy, popular Country Western singer (played, oddly enough, by Colin Farrell, who can sing, but why?) who is the only person who seems to have real feelings for him. Their relationship, oddly, was the most convincing in the film.

I don't have much to say about the film-- it was flat, predictable and uninteresting. It was not moving. I had heard a few comparisons to The Wrestler, and so I spent time this weekend thinking about how it was not like The Wrestler. Then on Sunday night I saw Kris Kristofferson on Austin City Limits and I watched the whole half hour, and I found that really poignant, and found in that what I think this film could have been-- what it would have had to be to be like The Wrestler.

Kristofferson does not have much voice left. He was on stage with just a guitar and a harmonica rack. His playing is pretty pedestrian, which just draws attention to the heart of his music: the lyrics. He sang "Me and Bobby McGee" and though you can hear Janice Joplin behind every phrase, that made it somehow more powerful, too. The "not-Janice" quality of his simple singing and playing. He also sand "Help Me Make It Through the Night," his more famous solo number, opening with "Take the ribbon from your hair...."

When he got to the lines: "Yesterday is dead and gone / and tomorrow's out of sight / I don't care what's right or wrong" he paused ever so slightly and inserted insistently, "I do," and then finished: "Help me make it through the night."

That break in persona, break from the "outlaw" past, to say "I do," was really moving. He wants to sing what he believes, and in some ways he seemed a shell of what he was in the 1960s and '70s. But probably a really good man-- something to celebrate.

Somehow, a story about the man with a past and a few great songs who has been clean for years staying in crappy hotels and playing to little bar and bowling alley crowds who want to relive the glory days, trying to make family relationships work when he no longer has the mystique or the desire to keep up the mystique-- now THAT would have been an interesting movie. In a way, that's what The Wrestler was, the story of a man who wanted to be good and also live a lifestyle that had disappeared or no longer worked-- or in his case become more brutal and diminished. His piece of it was small and diminished, but it was all he knew how to do, and there was a poignancy and truth to that and it was much more significant than Bridges's character's binges and failures in Crazy Heart.

To read my thoughts on The Wrestler, click here.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Badge Pool

I've been thinking a lot about the Park Forest Aqua Center these days, particularly the Badge Pool. For those just getting ot know Park Forest through the blog, the Aqua Center was this amazing city pool complex, all outdoors, run by the city until the late-70s or early 80s when it became a YMCA and started its decline. It has had many incarnations and seems to be doing well now, run by the Park Forest Parks and Recreation Department. It was built in 1954 "by the citizens of Park Forest," a gigantic single pool with an octagonal deep end and diving boards that turned a corner and became a shallow kiddie pool.

When we were kids it was a complex of five pools. There was the adult pool for parents, completely gated and fenced; the teen pool, a long narrow rectangle with a high dive and deep end and a shallow end; the baby pool-- just a series of concrete puddles; a kiddie pool that was basically a two-three foot wading pool; and the badge pool. The badge pool was squat and full of kids who could swim, although mostly they were playing. You had to have a badge to get in, and to get the badge you had to swim two lengths of the pool.

Every day at 3:00 was the test, and kids would start lining up about 2:30 for the chance to attempt to get a badge. At 3:00, the kids were sent into the pool in spaced intervals. Those who already had badges would line the edge of the pool to cheer kids on or just to watch the drama. Lifeguards spaced along the way decided if you were still swimming or just struggling for your life. It was the first big test in life, like a driving test for nine-year-olds. Were they going to let you in the deep water? Did you have the skills? Were you a good swimmer, or at least good enough?

I remember the lead-up to getting my badge, going up to the fence and trying to get a sense of the challenge, seeing the bigger kids in the pool having much more fun than we could ever have in the kiddie pool. I took swimming lessons, so probably qualified for my badge earlier than some other kids. We'd try practicing in the 3-foot waters of the kiddie pool.

I don't really remember, but I doubt I made it on my first attempt. I sort of remember standing in that line several times. THe only way to really practice was just to do it. And I remember my utter lack of confidence, feeling that I certainly would not pass the test. I'm sure a large part of it was psychological. There was also the pressure of all those kids with badges watching you, yelling at the pool, knowing you were being watched AND tested. In not wanting to be embarrassed, how could you help but try too hard, gulp a big mouthful of water, and so fail. We'd psych each other up: "Just relax. You're a good swimmer. You can do it." But standing in that line in nothing but a bathing suit, it was hard to believe.

I know my sister didn't make it on her first try, because I remember standing by the side of the pool to cheer her on, watching as she started out strong, lost speed, more or less stopped kicking, and eventually was lifted out of the lane. Some kids would just keep flailing and turning their heads to breathe even as the lifeguard was removing them from the pool. It was in some ways a terrible spectacle. It was very clear when someone earned a badge, and when someone didn't. The bobbing and flipping sideways to gasp for air, the sinking, said quite distinctly that this particular child could not be allowed in deep water, lifeguard or no (of course all the pools had lifeguards-- four of them at the badge pool alone).

There was no triumph like the day you got your badge. It was a white plastic circle printed in red. As the possessor of a badge, you then had another decision to make. What bathing suit should you sew it onto? You likely had more than one for a whole summer of swimming, but only one badge, and it had to be sewn on to count (no sharing of badges by pinning them on the suit). So would it be the Speedo with the bad racerback tan lines, or the scoop-neck with the low back? I'm sure I went with my red Speedo the first year-- it showed off the badge's colors so well.

And when you were tired of swimming, there was no place like the gigantic sandbox alongside the locker rooms. The sand was clean and deep and the sandbox was shaded-- the only place in the Aqua Center that offered relief from the burning hot concrete. You could dig your toes into the deep, cool sand, watch the kids with all their trucks and buckets making elaborate construction sites, and live the dream of your town, where a couple men after World War II claimed acres and acres of farmland in the name of Families and Progress. The American Dream.

Please leave your memories of the Aqua Center!

Photo: Octogonal Pool at the Park Forest Aqua Center in the 1950s.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Minnesota Caucuses

Last night I went to my caucus. It was cold and dark and not an exciting election year, but 11 people showed up from the township, of which 10 were willing to be delegates at the next level, the (state) Senate District caucus on March 9. We are eligible to send 14, but 10 was a pretty good showing for our little township. It took about 90 minutes to complete the business, because two people had brought resolutions, which required a little discussion/explanation before they were entered into the record. Most of the time was taken up by reading out policies and procedures, getting people to count the ballots for the straw poll for governor, and reading more statements from the party leadership and more notes about policies and procedures. There was some good discussion on the resolution process-- what it is, what it means, how it works. We had two solid people there who are really into DFL politics and are willing to be our chair and alternate for two years and represent us at the larger meetings.

After that 90 minutes, however, all that had really happened was that we signed up to attend March 9. The straw poll for governor was pretty meaningless: there are 11 candidates and 6 people voted "uncommitted." The rest were split between 4 candidates.

Yesterday on the radio I heard debate about whether or not the caucus system should be continued. Those against it were arguing that it's a closed system that doesn't really welcome everyone and that is only a way to get party insiders to choose a candidate. Well, our group certainly was not a bunch of "insiders" and was very welcoming. But what did we accomplish?

I have one political goal this year: work to defeat Michelle Bachmann as my congressional representative. I am voting for and advocating Tarryl Clark, who is in the state senate and a hard-working, moderate candidate who seems capable of working across the aisle. She has another contender, Maureen Reed, a doctor from Stillwater who has not held office before.

Last night had very little to do with this race, and yet it had a lot to do with it. At the next caucus, we'll be lining up to choose delegates to the district caucus, some of whom will then go to the state caucus, where the party endorsement will be decided. The party endorsement means significant money (and momentum) for the candidate. There will still be a primary, and both candidates can run in that, to see who is on the ballot in November. This is just about the party endorsement and so party funding.

I will go to the senate district caucus on March 9 and stand with a group that pledges to vote for Taryl Clark in the next caucus, although they may have other things on their agenda (including the governor's race) that results in my delegate switching issues in the district caucus, or sends a delegate from the next level who votes differently at the state level.  If I want to be sure my vote goes to Taryl Clark, I need to commit to being a delegate all the way down the line-- which means more Saturdays and more traveling, and a lot more reading of the policies and procedures.

I'm not a political animal in that way. I want to show up and vote and move on with it. The two people running our caucus really seemed engaged by the process, by gathering and counting and writing things down and putting slips in envelopes and etc. I'm quite happy we have them to keep our township in the process, even if I see the process as very flawed indeed.