My dad has a dog named Dixon.

 

His little niece was over, and she said,

“I can never remember if his name is Dixon or Diskin, so I call him Dickskin.”

 

They hushed her up pretty quickly after that one.

For some reason I am very weepy this morning, on our American Independence Day.  Usually I hate holidays’  interruption into my daily routines and find July 4th to be one of the silliest displays of “Ugly Americanism” possible.  But somehow today, I started thinking about the Statue of Liberty and how she was the first thing that immigrants saw as they disembarked awful, stinking steamships–  if they had survived the journey at all- the tired, the poor, the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” 

And it got me to thinking about how my ancestors got off those boats and had their last names mangled and Americanized (by possibly well-meaning and overworked Ellis Island employees) and lost part of their identities in exchange for newfound freedoms.  You know not everyone survived the journey; of course even now many people from Mexico die for the same reason.  Trying to enter Los Estados Unidos with a dream of a better life, just as my European ancestors did- and we mangle their hyphenated names too, our computer systems unable to handle the not-even-very complex system of ….well I digress.  My maiden name is unpronounceable and unspellable even in its Ellis-Islandified version- and I’ve seen it in the original language.  Jack’s is “odd” as well.  My dad’s ancestors were some of the few survivors of a ship that burned off-shore in a horrendous blaze visible for miles.  My maternal grandmother’s great-great-grandmother came over on a sailboat.   But our families came here- to America- with hope.  Hope and faith that carried them through steerage and seasickness and storms and uncertainty and probably even the separation from family back home awaiting the letter – in any language- telling them that it was finally time to join Papa in the new country.

I also have been thinking too much about this stupid ongoing war that we are still in for no reason. 

This year it is not a stupid picnic for me.  Nor just a stupid parade (though I will be there).  Not just a gun salute by the fewer-and-fewer surviving WWII veterans.  It is an actual celebration of freedom- well, the ones we still have and need to continue to fight for.  Fight with your pen (or your computer, or the library’s computer if you don’t have one) for it is mightier than the sword.  We the people elected our officials.  They need to  know what you think.  Tell them.  Write them.  Call them.  Even meet with them- they just might agree to it (yes, I know this personally.)

I wrote before about how death would be a sort of freedom.  Maybe that is why I am weepy today- because my ancestors were the ones that did not die while seeking freedom.  That, my friends, is irony: the best and most beautiful kind.

God bless America.  Let freedom ring.

I awoke at 3am, and got up out of bed to enjoy the best part of the day: the time just before dawn, when all the crepuscular creatures are partying.  I love dawn, just before the sun comes up.

 

Once it was light enough outside, I went out on the porch- I have a great second-story porch with a decent view, and a tree that envelops it on two sides (which a previous very naughty cat used as an occasional escape route).  Now, Sheba has an obsession with the porch.  If there is any indication of an about-to be-open door- say, Jack goes out to enjoy a delicious Marlboro, or what have you-  Sheba will run out making a particular meow, used only for this situation. Kind of an urgent triple meow.  It has to mean something specific.  Is it simply “Hey, ma, I’m going out now?”  Is it “OMG, now’s my chance to climb down that lilac tree?”  Is it, “proximity to birds is imminent and my dream of burping feathers like Sylvester will finally come to fruition?”  Because, it’s almost like a “wow!  Wow!  WOW!”

 

Somehow Sheba- who was a wild cat in her younger days, and I will never know exactly what all happened to her, except that it involved five adorable kittens (who clearly all had the same babydaddy)- knows the boundary is not to be breached.  This porch has cat-width railings and she could certainly jump if she had the desire.   But when I tell her “No!”  she knows.  I stopped watching her so obsessively too, as she earned my trust; a couple times I even forgot she was out there for a couple hours, and then found her just lying down, in bliss, or curiously sniffing everywhere birds had been- bliss, again; or just rubbing on the railings- all pure, feline, delighted bliss.