After Saturday’s unusual football game “against” Michigan, I find it best to heed the Psalmist’s advice against anger. Let us say, then, that the two teams put on a diverting demonstration of how not to play football. The game included many amusing moments, including a snap that bounced off the Michigan motion guy’s leg, a completely blown hand off, a muffed punt, a blocked field goal or two, and a third quarter clinic by the NU offensive line on how not to block for the quarterback. Masters of physical comedy seem to have served as Guest Offensive Coordinators of the week for the two teams, possibly John Cleese for Michigan and Max Sennett for NU. We did not, however, behold the week’s most comical performance by a CFB player, this chap at Utah who forgot where the goal line is.
NU will probably get the most heat on fan sites, though I will avoid the Michigan ones for a bit. Brady Hoke is widely regarded as a soon to be ex-coach, and may as well trade his maize-and-blue for Star Trek red. NU coach Pat Fitzgerald has always had his critics, of course, some quite raucous. Those critics are now reaching a pitch of frothing excitement unseen since, well, the darkest days of John Pont, Rick Venturi, and Dennis Green.
Not being a clinical football guy as such (my rule of thumb, “Good teams win more than they lose, and bad teams lose more than they win,” is servicable but not diagnostic), I can’t begin to guess what’s going on. Certainly, a malaise has settled over the team since in the last year. Given the recent performance of the Chicago Bears, the malaise may be a field effect that is related to Lake Michigan. The effect does not seem to reach as far as DeKalb. I hope that top research teams will begin investigating this possibility soon.
NU’s offensive line seems particularly affected; the young men are large, reasonably coordinated, and seem sufficiently athletic for the task. None are manifest cripples. Experts can speculate. I suspect that, in a mistaken effort to ensure that our opponents cannot penetrate the secrets of NU’s blocking schemes, they receive their instructions in Sanskrit, a language in which not even NU O-linemen are fluent.
The remainder of the year looks grim; if next week’s adventure with Notre Dame goes poorly, I may adopt a noir-ish persona in commenting. Massacre in South Bend comes to mind.
Lemme tell you some things about Illinois.
The economy is in the tank and has been for years.
Taxes are high.
So is unemployment.
Our government looks like a boa constrictor that swallowed a sheep.
Too many of our politicians have been the larval form of “felon.”
On this last election day, a day when the Heffalump Party made well-nigh historic gains across the electoral board, but especially in state legislatures, the Heffalump candidate for Governor of Illinois managed to collect just barely over 50% of the votes cast. The Heffalumps managed to not even slightly dent the vast majorities controlled by Illinois Speaker of the House
Emperor Palpatine Mike Madigan and Illinois Senate President Darth Vader John Cullerton. Not. A. Dent.
The Governor Elect, Bruce Rauner, is a rich guy who ran a pretty bruising campaign. He sometimes gets a deer-in-the-headlights look when policy questions come flying at him, but he showed a bit of the brawler in his campaign. He’ll need it to go toe-to-toe with Madigan and Cullerton.
But he’s already muttering about taxes, and not about cutting them. Now that, without first establishing a record as a parsimonious S.O.B. who has razored every unnecessary expense out of the budget, has worked to get Illinois out of the bond market, is a one way ticket to Onetermsville. Same old, same old. He’s in for a 4 year brawl if he wants to reform this place.
It seems that a lot of folks are not too happy with the President. His tendency to try to rule by decree (they’re called “Executive Orders” now), his reluctance to actual deal with Congress (part of the job), and his deer-in-the-headlights approach to foreign affairs (hint: Vladimir Putin is NOT AN AMERICAN “PROGRESSIVE.” No sir, not one bit) seems to be wearing folks down. All of this was utterly predictable. The President’s political background is entirely within the strange world of the Illinois Democratic Party, and specifically Chicago, where the Mayor rules, the City Council approves, and everyone shares the moola. As a state senator, his job was to do what he was told, which he did quite well. It’s not a world where one has to engage other powerful leaders, negotiate, listen, and compromise. Lousy training for the Presidency.
I am sitting at my writing station, looking toward the garage over a long bed full of daffodils. I look east, where the sun in rising. It’s a golden sunrise, pouring through bands of grey clouds touched with cream on their eastern edges. Overhead, the clouds are solid, but rough-bottomed, the lower ruffles variously cream and very faint pink. We are still mostly leafless; the trees are weeks behind the norm.
After the snow melted, after the air had begun to warm, I feared I had lost as many as 17 roses to the bitter winter, even the 23 year old Constance Spry at one corner of the house, an immense rose – even the unkillable Dr. Van Fleet that came as a cutting from my father-in-law. The roses had not only the bitter cold and the three months of snow cover to deal with, but also rabbitty predations, with bark stripped up to three feet above ground level. But now, life seems to be creeping back into some of those dead canes. The mortality is still considerable, but I’ll take my time uprooting the losses. Where buds start on the old canes, I’ll prune back and suppresses bloom this year – no matter what happens, it won’t be a very rosy summer.
The mortality amongst the herby perennials is harder to guess. The clematis seems gone. The peonies were reluctant to start but are moving right along now. Some of the hosta have vanished, simply vanished, and in others the center of the root mass seems to have died but left behind the orbiting daughters. Even in the depths of winter dormancy, I believe, there is a certain amount of sleepy metabolism that goes on below ground. I suspect that the icy conditions reduced the oxygen exchange down at ground level, but maybe I’m guessing through my hat. I’ve been thinking of converting the garden to daylilies, coneflower, phlox, and carefully selected hardy roses, maybe concentrating on the wonderful Griffith Buck roses that need little care beyond food. The coneflowers don’t seem to have made it, though. Gonna be a slow replanting.
Snow was falling when I got up a couple of hours ago.
It’s falling still.
We have been under snow since, I think, January 3rd. The day of rain we had a couple of weeks ago served only to solidify the flake into a sheet of ice, upon which another six inches or so of fresh snow has accumulated.
My town practices “alternate side parking” when two or more inches have fallen. Odd numbered sides on odd days, and so on. Folks are now so accustomed that at the first sign of snow, they rush to seize a parking spot on the appropriate side.
The weather forecast contains rumor of 40 in a few days. For a day. Then back below freezing.
My garden is covered by nearly a foot of snow. At this point, with this forecast, one must wonder what is likely to survive. Rabbits are stripping bark on the smaller shrubs. A dogwood I planted last fall has been buried for two months. A reluctant tree peony that I’ve been nursing along for a couple of years, and that finally showed signs of cheering up and growing last year, is also buried. Are the early bulbs trying under the ice, or waiting? I imagine that farmers are wondering.
When will it end?
Sounds like a 20s novel, Nashotah being a slightly wayward young lady of the author’s acquaintance. Which is how some conservative Anglicans are treating Nashotah House seminary. Let’s keep this simple in the event any of my two or three readers are unfamiliar with the characters in this pageant.
1. Katherine Jefferts Schori is the top bishop of The Episcopal Church (TEC). They call her, “Presiding Bishop and Primate,” but if she had a Secret Service code name it would be “Red Queen.” She likes to sue people. It’s more than a hobby, it’s a way of life.
2. Nashotah House is a seminary, not quite a property of The Episcopal Church but almost sort of but not really. It is quite willing to train priests from The Episcopal Church and from its rival, the Anglican Church in North America (yay, underdogs).
3. The Chairman of the Board of Nashotah House and it’s Dean are both members of the House of Bishops of TEC. They’re both good guys, for TEC Bishops.*
4. Red Queen has received an offer to preach at Nashotah House. Consternation arose. Attitudes were struck. I believe imprecations were tossed.
5. #4 is not surprising, given #3.
Some of those who, like me, have with various degrees of delight left TEC, now fear that orthodox students at Nashotah will contract Episcopal Bishop Contamination Sickness (EBCS) and become little Spongs (see, Spong, John, and Spong’s Ego). I doubt this is a substantial danger.
Now were I a student at The House, as it is fond of referring to itself, I would certainly have been up to the wee hours memorizing the Acta of the 23rd DemiEcumenical Council of Arles (813 AD-902 AD)** and St Macer Adhaeresus’s Commentary on the 22nd Council,*** fueled by virtuous coffee and cookies. The presence of Presiding Bishop Schori would mean nothing so much as “nap time.” The ability to sleep with eyes wide open is essential job skill, for many will be the meetings these protoclerics must attend at which nothing is said, often in a mumble, at great length. Also, for those happy folks who have never had a progressive TEC bish talk at them, falling asleep is the first and most natural choice for personal survival.
If detected, it is best to feign nausea (feigning may not be needed) or, in dire circumstances, madness. In any event, EBCS is unlikely if the teachers have done their jobs.
However, as usual, the debate began to turn to the question, “why on earth would an orthodox Anglican Christian remain within TEC,” and that’s a contentious one that tends to exhaust the kindliness of either side quickly. To many who have left, remaining within TEC is as unimaginable as volunteering to be a judge at a Vogon poetry festival. I’m quite happy to acknowledge that there are those who believe they have a vocation to remain in TEC, or whose theology of the Church prohibit them from leaving, and to let them be, but then I am tired all the time and my lifetime supply of indignation is nearly exhausted and the remaining minims should be conserved. It’s better used on those who devise such phrases as “gorgeous glowing Flutterfield Flutter Flower” for grandfathers to read. That one destroyed by ability to compose for several days.
*It is tempting to go all Jeremiah on the TEC HoB, as a group. “Strutting peacocks of damnation” comes to mind. But Lent is nigh, temptation must be avoided, and I shall restrain myself by confining invective to footnotes.
* *The 23rd Council was convoked to deal with a controversy regarding the varieties of beer suitable for consumption by clerics. It was prolonged by the frequent tastings of various brews, as well as the introduction of issues of ceremonial. The Germanic delegates are said to have found the climate pleasant. They prolonged the conference with the serial introduction of additional matters to deliberate, so much so that the final Acta ran to 1738 items.
***The Acta of the 22nd Council are lost, and are known only in Macer’s Commentary. If it is a commentary. It might be a sheep herd book. Opinions vary. St. Macer’s Latin is so ungrammatical as to be nearly incomprehensible.