Happy Birthday, Jay!

Jay on the Durango-Silverton Railroad

This was a great trip. Not just the railroad, but the whole vacation. Well, maybe not the whole vacation. I’m remembering now the Saturday night massacre, with a double feature at the ER after a course of mac & cheese from sweet Auntie Pooh, “Have some more cheese, my pretty.” At least Rey finally got his lactose intolerance diagnosed.

Vallecito Cabin

It was 2006 and Saint Louis met Seattle in Durango, which is about halfway in-between. We rented a pair of cabins just outside of town that overlooked a lake. Really just a damned river, but Vallecito Reservoir still represents a sizeable percentage of Colorado’s 0.4% water covered area. I saw there, but did not snap a flight of national guard C-130s that swept in low over the lake. I still have the bike. Dave has the car. 2006 was the Gnome summer.

Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

In addition to the train ride, we also drove to Silverton via the “million-dollar highway.” The other big highlight of this trip that we shared was Mesa Verde. Jay, thanks for having a birthday and the excuse to go down memory lane.

Spruce Tree House, Mesa Verde

A Doll’s House, Part 2

Doll’s House, Part 2 Cast

A Doll’s House, Part 2, written by Lucas Hnath, is a sequel to Henrik Ibsen’s famous play by the same name. We went to see it, Thursday. A group discussion followed the performance. At the conclusion of which, the cast, Tina Johnson (Anne-Marie), Caralyn Kozlowski (Nora), Andrea Abello (Emmy) and Michael James Reed (Torvald) agreed to a photo.

This play begins fifteen years after Nora famously shut-the-front-door, while walking out on her husband and children. Having never heard from her since, the household is surprised to find that first she is not dead, but instead wildly successful (She has become a women’s writer.), as she walks back into their lives through that same door. She has again run afoul of Norway’s repressive 19th-century laws and needs a divorce to make things right.

The play’s bleak set telegraphs the message that the past fifteen years have not been kind to the Helmer household, with chairs stacked in the corner and only the shadows of paintings that once hung on the walls. The actors were attired in period finery, particularly Nora, who’s costume we learned later was both heavy and hot. The play’s dialog is written in contemporary language, replete with the use of four letter words.

In addition to Ibsen’s original characters, Anne-Marie the housekeeper, Nora the wife and husband Torvald, Hnath introduces daughter Emmy. In the original play, three year-old Emmy’s was only a mute walk-on part. In this sequel she is a grown women, as willful as Nora, but unwilling to flout conventions as her mother did. Reproach is the order of the day that greets Nora upon her return. Anne-Marie is resentful that having once raised Nora, she is then left to raise her children. Torvald was deeply wounded by her act and still feels aggrieved and  Emmy would prefer to have nothing to do with the mother who abandoned her.

Ibsen’s play was a forerunner of what we now call #MeToo. In-between these points, women’s rights has enjoyed successes from the suffragettes to the feminists, but as Michael James Reed’s pictured “I Believe Her” button attests, there is still much work yet to be done. It is good to see a pioneer like Nora brought forward into the 21st-century, to continue on the struggle. 



Billions and Billions

Times Square at Night

Like any self-respecting retiree living on a fixed income, I bought a lottery ticket today. I know lotteries in particular and gambling in general are taxes on people who cannot do math, but how else am I going to become a billionaire? My Dad, love him as I might, isn’t going to make me one via the trust fund route. No way. Nada. It’s not going to happen. Neither do I have the inclination nor the initiative to go the Silicon Valley route and just invent a billion dollars out of thin air and forget about earning the money. I’m all done with work. So, that pretty much leaves the lottery as my only avenue to membership in the 1%.

Fortunately for me Mega Millions is offering a billion dollar jackpot. The odds of winning tonight are pretty farfetched, but I figure that springing two bucks for a single ticket does increase my odds immensely. The old fallback of finding the winning ticket lying on the sidewalk seems like even more of a longshot than just purchasing one. Purchasing more than one ticket only increases my odds of winning infinitesimally. One ticket is substantial enough to support my dreams.

Anne asked me if there was a line to buy the ticket and there was a long one. Then she asked me if I had queried any of others queued for their share of the riches, what they planned on doing with the money. I confessed that I hadn’t. It seemed impolitic of me to intrude into their dreams. Speaking of politics, Anne and I both joked that with a billion dollars, we could buy a senator or two, his and hers. Why not? We’d be one-percenters after all. I mean how much money can you really spend on stuff? How many houses and cars does one need to buy? If I’m too lazy to go out and get a job, then I’m certainly not going to work that hard at spending it all. Winning a billion dollars could turn out to be quite the white elephant. That is, a gift so expensive that it bankrupts the recipient.