From Texas to Navajo Nation

We left Amarillo and drove across the flat plains to the west. Everything looked frighteningly dry: the grass wasn’t even brown from lack of water, it was bleached almost white.

At lunch time, we got off the interstate and followed Historic Route 66, as it is called in New Mexico, through Santa Rosa. We pulled in to a restaurant called “Route 66.” A man got out of a truck marked “City of Santa Rosa” and walked in in front of us. I figured it was a good sign that a city worker was going to eat there. Inside, the restaurant was well kept, with lacy curtains in the windows, Route 66 memorabilia on the walls, and pretty red and white artificial flowers in vases on the tables. It seemed like just about everyone eating in the restaurant knew each other; one older man stopped at nearly every table to greet people on the way to his table at the back of the restaurant.

A distinguished looking man with salt-and-pepper hair, wearing a sport shirt and new and neatly pressed blue jeans, stood at the cash register. He asked us with a soft Spanish accent how our meal was. We got to chatting about the weather. “It’s the driest year ever since they’ve been keeping records,” he said in his soft voice. When he learned we were from California, he asked, “How is it there?” “We’ve had a wet year,” I said. “And cold,” said Carol, “our tomatoes just aren’t growing.” He shook his head at this news: wet and cold! Continue reading “From Texas to Navajo Nation”

Heading west

We got a late start this morning, and didn’t leave Van Buren, Arkansas, until nearly noon. After we had been driving a bit, we turned off at a sign that said “Oklahoma Welcome Center,” and turned into the poshest rest stop I think we’ve ever seen. It was staffed by three volunteers. One politely asked me if she could help me with something, and I said, “No thank you, I’m just waiting while she checks email,” pointing to Carol, who was sitting an a very comfortable armchair enjoying the very fast Internet service. “In that case,” she said in her Oklahoma drawl, “I’ll just kill flies,” and, picking up a flyswatter, proceeded to do just that. “Do you keep score?” I said. “No,” she said, “and I’m not doing a very good job, either,” as she missed a fly for the third time.

As we drove through eastern Oklahoma, I noticed that the land looked much greener and much less dry than it had when we drove east a couple of weeks ago. Clearly they had had rain since then.

At exit 200 for Seminole, Oklahoma, we turned off to see if Robertson’s Ham Sandwiches was open. We had seen their distinctive red-and-white billboards heading east, but we had arrived after they closed. They were open. There wasn’t much on the menu but ham sandwiches, so we each had a double ham sandwich for less than five dollars. We sat at one of the wood tables to eat our sandwiches. It was about the best ham I’d ever eaten in a ham sandwich.

We turned off the interstate at El Reno, Oklahoma. Continue reading “Heading west”

Still in the South

Our goal for our driving vacation this year was to see the South. We saw some southern cities — Birmingham, Memphis, Nashville, Charlotte — and we saw a little bit of the country — Natural Bridge and San Mountain in Alabama. Now here we are in Van Buren, Arkansas, and tomorrow we drive in Oklahoma.

I feel that we’re still in the south here. The air is warm and damp, and the trees and plants are all very green. When you walk across some grass or under trees, you can smell the earth and the vegetation. Distant hills are blue. The people say “y’all,” and it’s easy to find a place that serves turnip greens or green beans cooked up with bacon, or some fried okra.

By tomorrow night, we’ll be in Amarillo, Texas. The air will be dry, there won’t be those rich smells at night, the trees won’t be nearly so green. People will still say “y’all,” but it won’t be quite the same. We’ll be headed back towards home, towards the far West.

The last of my general assembly reporting

A few last posts by me on the GA blog:

Scholars of color assess UU history, report on brief talks by Rev. Mark Morrison-Reed, Rev. Monica Cummings, and Rev. Patricia Jimenez.
Music and cultural change in UUism, interviews with UU musicians Nick Page and Jeannie Gagne.
Commission on Appraisal continues study of ministry and authority, covering the Commission on Appraisal’s report to GA, and brief interview with Megan Dowdell of the Commission.
Moderator’s report: All of us working together, covering Gini Courter’s report to GA.

As before, comment here, or comment on the posts themselves.

(Earlier links to my reporting are here, and here.)

Yet another UU joke

I interviewed Nick Page for the GA blog, and he told this joke. I reproduce it here just as Nick told it:

“Ernie came from Dartmouth [College], where he heard a lecture on altruism. And he said, we all have to learn to share. So I said, if you had two pigs, would you give me one? Yes, he said, if I had two pigs, I would give you one. If you had two horses, would you give me one? Yes, he said, if I had two horses, I would give you one. If you had two wheelbarrows, I said, would you give me one? Dammit, he says, you know I got two wheelbarrows. And that speaks to the future of Unitarian Universalism.”

You are now invited to exegete this joke, and say how exactly it applies to the future of Unitarian Universalism

Inside “La Cabeza” by Niki de Saint Phalle

“La Cabeza” is part of the show “Creation of a New Mythology,” now at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art in Charlotte, N.C. Five monumental sculptures are outdoors in a public park across the street from the museum; and you can climb inside this sculpture. You can also stick your arm through its teeth.

More of my General Assembly reporting

Some more of my reporting on General Assembly is up on the blog:

The continuing power of liberal theology today, lecture by Gary Dorrien, with responses by Rebecca Parker and Dan McKanan.
UUA Financial Advisor reports a brighter situation, report from Plenary this morning.
Faith formation in a multi-cultural world, conversation with Mark Hicks, professor of religious education at Meadville/Lomard Theological School.
The cultural challenge of digital media, conversation with Rev. Scott Wells.
Report of the president of the UUA, report from Plenary this afternoon.

As before, comment here, or comment on the posts themselves.

Two images from GA

Next time you look at UU World magazine, or uuworld online, really look at the photographs of General Assembly. Nancy Pierce, the photographer for General Assembly, produces some very fine images. It’s also fun to watch her work — she comes into an event, dressed in black, unobtrusively takes her photographs, and slips out before most people have even noticed that she’s there. Today I managed to get a photo of her taking a photo of Gary Dorrien before she slipped out of the room:


Dorrien held the audience spellbound for an hour, and at the end of his lecture, a crowd gathered gathered around to chat with him. In the photo below, he’s the man sitting on the platform at right. You can tell by his body language that he’s really enjoying talking with all these theology geeks: