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theorize.  

Musing on American culture and history is an addiction I picked up in the American Studies Dept at the University of Hawai'i - Manoa.  Having never lived a mainstream American lifestyle, I was ensnared by the idea of connecting the dots on why people act the way they do. I came for the Historic Preservation degree.  I stayed for the wonderful, weird world of American cultural studies. Connect the dots in a continental portrait.  Bliss.  

One of the things I play around with is how the bivouacking of America into suburban barracks has cut us off from our past. Which is part of a larger idea on how the WWII generation civilianized their shared military experience as an organizing principle for the infant world power.

Think of suburbs as military family housing.  More modest, shared spaces for lower ranks and increased luxury as you rose in the ranks.  Officers (management) directed their enlisted labor. The  nuclear family mimicked the platoon and its leader with the wife and kids as loyal troops.  

But it cut the kids off from seeing the people who raised their parents.  The nice part of a small town is that everyone has feet of clay, and everyone knows it.  The grandparent mediates the child and the parent.  Nothing cuts the sting like Grandpa explaining that your Dad was just as obtuse and fussy at that age.   Particularly when Dad is following a military model of authority.  

Hierarchy is hard to maintain if there are alternative models to follow.   Thus the hopeless clinging of the far right to a 1950s fantasy.   Every change in the rank and file upsets good order and discipline.  Behavior that made us global heroes does not translate well into civilian life, as the 1960s tells us.  

So now for something completely different.   A multi-generational household of musicians and warriors.  Living with the ancient courtesan that is New Orleans and her musicians and gypsies and pirates.  

Wow......

Max and I have already gone round on a few things.  We have the ruins of a fountain in our back courtyard that is now a shallow hole.  It was the best part of the back, and I miss it.  We agreed to rebuild it.

Max started the litany of precautions we should take.  I balked.  I will not coddle this little one. I will not shape my life to protect her. I will cheerfully kill for her safety.  She will learn her place in the dance.  She will learn to dabble feet in a pond, to feel comfortable with water.  I intend to teach her the dangers, but also how to recognize them and deal with them. I'm going to teach her to pay attention to details.  And how to connect the dots.

We decided to make the fountain a hybrid wading pool. It will be her personal pond, as well as my beloved fountain. It will be nice for those hot August days.    I grew up playing in a creek.  Her Mom says she is a water baby, like her Paw Paw. So I'll introduce her to all the aspects of Water, including oceans and bayous and swamps and ice and snow.  This is going to be a hoot.

 Taking on a daughter and her child was never in my projections.   But I was always a sucker for noble gestures. My sibs remember me as the looney who would keep attempting the impossible. Over and over.  It's given me lots of reasons to laugh at myself and curse myself and maybe, just maybe, I will be able to leave the Earth a better place than I found it.

Off to start cleaning my shambles of a house.  I've got an example to set. The old war horse is responding to the call of duty.

Originally posted to nolagrl on Sat Mar 23, 2013 at 05:59 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  A pond is a wonderful teacher (7+ / 0-)

    When I was a wee girl we lived near Nawlins in Monroe. There was a small pond next to the house, in the meadow that separated our house from the neighbor. I loved that pond - I'd catch dragonflies and frogs and other critters. My Mom and Grandparents (she'd recently divorced and moved in with them) trusted me to know which critters were okay (there were no snakes). The pond was shallow - yes, a kid can drown in a shallow pond - but I was smart, like your kidling will be. That pond was a great thing to have as a part of growing up. Good decision :)

    Thank your stars you're not that way/Turn your back and walk away/Don't even pause and ask them why/Turn around and say 'goodbye'/Just wish them well.....

    by Purple Priestess on Sat Mar 23, 2013 at 07:23:33 PM PDT

  •  You might put a fence around that pool (6+ / 0-)

    for a while. My friend's 3-year-old drowned in such a pool when he slipped out of the house while she was making tea.

    The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right. -- Judge Learned Hand, May 21, 1944

    by ybruti on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 07:52:58 AM PDT

  •  Are you still in Hawaii .... in/on Honolulu/Oahu? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mommyof3, greengemini

    Pretty hard to bivouac there.  Was just back for a visit and went to the Thursday Farmers Market and foodfest at corner of Makiki and Wilder .... always quite the mix of folks.  One of the nice things about the islands .... we are all on top of one another so absent the super-duper uber-rich, we all share the same space.

    As to your commentary on suburbs ... having grown up in such in the 50's there was WAY more community in those burbs than the gated enclaves of today.  While I can't say we walked five miles in the snow .... we did actually walk to friends' houses and cut through back yards, visiting with other kids, moms, dogs, etc. along the way.

    •  I left Hawaii for New Orleans (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      oceanview, Denver11, DvCM

      11 months after the Federal Flood.  I'd finished my degree and needed a change.  

      Actually, there are distinct enclaves.  Makakilo, Waipahu - everything past Red Hill that wasn't military was neighborhood driven.

      I was young in one of the post war 1950's bungalow neighborhoods.  We were the only Catholics on the loop and attended parochial school.   We did walk to school through the snow - though only a handful of blocks, and got thrown out the door daily to play.

      But my Mom suffered. 5 kids, 3 under the age of 5 in a teeny house. Alone all day.  No car, no intellectual stimulation and companionship. Remember "Please don't eat the Daisies"?

      So each experience is different.  

      Jesus died to save you from Yahweh.

      by nolagrl on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 11:25:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I remember a Catholic family on our street (0+ / 0-)

        nine or ten kids in a three bedroom with basement.  They thought they'd died and gone to heaven with "all that room."

        I can't imagine what that must have been like ....

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