I went on a 20-mile bike ride this morning, taking my first hills since my knee injury. Near Concord, I was skimming through puddles and wet roads past a big field of red-winged blackbirds when, at the base of the big hill, a coyote crossed the road in front of me. He was no more than 20 feet away, and his loping canter was beautiful. Not a hurried run, but calm and collected, free in every sense of the word. I squeezed my brakes and peered into the woods he moved into, but there wasn't a sound, nor a leaf out of place. He was many colors, all of them some variant of gray and brown, but covered in patterns and light tufts of fur. Perfect for vanishing.

Biking home along the river last night I swung onto a wooden deck over the river that's locally famous for good wildlife viewing. I ducked heavy overgrowth to get out there, and a teenager was leaning over the rail. "Any ducklings?" I asked. "No," he said, "but there's a turtle on that log." I looked, and exclaimed. "And," he continued, "there's a pike right here." I peered into the water, the sun hitting the clear river bottom. He pointed more surely, and I saw it. The fish was still, save for some gentle undulations. It was covered in dark patterns. Above, a great blue heron pounded his tremendous wings.


Sins of War

A very unusual op-ed was published in yesterday's Times, conceding that the great paper had been repeatedly led astray by a small-change misinformation campaign of Iraqis insisting that Saddam was hiding weapons of mass destruction. They wrote: "Complicating matters for journalists, the accounts of these exiles were often eagerly confirmed by United States officials convinced of the need to intervene in Iraq. Administration officials now acknowledge that they sometimes fell for misinformation from these exile sources. So did many news organizations — in particular, this one."

It's amazing that world events could turn on the voices of a few people who supported (inadvertently or not) the administration's previous agenda (get Saddam & get Iraq). Salon has an excellent piece today responding to the op-ed, and naming the journalist, Judith Miller, who was responsible for penning the most damning front-page stories. She's no Jayson Blair; she didn't lie. But she listened to liars, and she wasn't skeptical enough.

After the Jayson Blair scandal, the Times hired an ombudsman, and began acting, in my view, much more accountable to its readership. This op-ed reads like a holdover from that graceless moment when the paper's credibility briefly ground to a halt. Blair was the bad reporter who instilled the fear, and Miller represents the alternate way to write stories that aren't true.

In some ways, the Times has too much power. Editors managing the stories that really matter, like whether or not we should invade a given country, should probably start considering their writers political operatives. They are, whether we like it or not, whether they intend to be or not. If editors come to terms with the true impact of great writing and bad sources, then perhaps the journalists under their guard will be more fully vetted and promptly pulled off stories that come with poor sources and dangerous agendas.


Oh, Bloggy

It's been so, so, so long, Bloggy, oh Blog. I've missed you. I have left my old, terrible, crazy job, and have a new, wonderful, happy, interesting, exciting job. My office is in a Civil War building, composed of red brick, old burnished metal, and exposed wood beams. It sits on a river. A path twists and winds around the river, and on it I ride my bike every morning, on my way to my happy, interesting, exciting job. The river in late May is exquisite; the young leaves of weeping willows trace the river surface, the water's edges swiftly cut into mud banks, making soft rippling noises, and the herring make their annual way upstream, enticing scores of men into the water with big nets, standing in the shallows after quitting time on nice days.

The goose eggs were painted shut this year to control the population, but one single gosling emerged, and he is small, yellow, and always centered right between his two large geese parents. On lucky days, I see him. One goose will move to the side, and suddenly everything will feel very special. He'll tread water against the current, a small but growing ball of yellow fuzz. There are ducklings, too, about five, each with their own set of brown stripes. I hope the big snapping turtles and muskrats we sometimes see leave those babies alone.

On my way to work recently, walking and loaded down with two plants and a lamp for my new office, I saw a dead tree filled with night herons. They are really weird. They look like small dinosaurs, the way they sit, watching everything below them. Like prehistoric vultures.

And there are the bunnies. I see them on both sides of the river, a soft brown with big ears and easy-going dispositions. When I walk, they linger; it's only when I surprise one on my bike that the white flash of a tail is all they let me see. There's a groundhog flat and round as a pie pan that waddles fearlessly through the grass, and a very small field mouse. Probably more than one, but I can't be sure.


My Boss

My boss posted this thread today. That's my boss. Now do you see why I am leaving?
Is there a Doctor in the house?

Hey, my baby is defending his dissertation today! I'm so amazed and impressed and happy! I took half a day off work to go see it. And tomorrow is my last day at work. For tonight, I bought real Champagne, from Champagne, France. I figured, if you don't drink Champage for a PhD, when do you drink it? You know? My new slogan is, "A PhD is forever." I just think it has a nice ring to it.

Incidentally, not that it has any bearing on this post or my current writing ability, but I have not been able to sleep past 5 am for most of the last two weeks.


A Shower of Wednesday Posts

I like to call these staccato ten-minute posts. One post every ten minutes. Actually, it's just that there are so many topics, and I'm so starved for writing time these days, that I can't think of a better way to do it.

I have not one but two very close relatives who are considering not coming to our wedding. This would be OK with me; plenty of people can't come, and I understand. It's fine! But both people are hinting that I would be remiss in not twisting their arms to come. And that they will come, but they need more attention from me. It's amazing! My response is, increasingly, a nonreaction. I feel so awful and harsh in not lavishing generous helpings of praise on them, but the problem is, I had already done so. One person had been given a major role in the ceremony, and around the other we'd designed much of the activities. The lesson seems to be: give someone a lot of power in your wedding, and they will use it to threaten you. I knew weddings were supposed to be stressful, but I clearly had no idea!

Happily, though, we are making lots of progress. We've found an amazing rehearsal dinner space: the Samuel Brooks House in Lexington. It's creepy, haunted, old, and awesome, and it even comes with its own ranger who will give us a tour of the Minute Man trail. And, invitations go out soon. I'm really excited. My veil and dress are getting close to ready, and I may have found rings, even. And now I have a wonderful new job, meaning that my free time this summer will really be just that: free time! I can't wait!
A Shower of Showers

I had another wonderful shower thrown for me last Saturday. My mother organized a really sweet, loving party for me, officially making me feel like the luckiest woman in the world. There was a massive bouquet of fresh flowers, former neighbors, my first boss, and the women in my life as I was growing up. It was really special. The gifts, too, were thoughtful: beautiful pieces of pottery; an amazing rolling pin unlike any rolling pin I've ever seen (but still functional!); poems and thoughts; an awesome mobile; and a lovely collection of cookware and cookbooks.

I appreciated the words of wisdom from 30-year marriages. It was really good, and it left me feeling grateful for my fiance, for my mom, and for so many wise and wonderful women in my life.

After months of looking, I have found a new job! I am the Online Content Manager for a Digital Divide project at an international educational nonprofit thinktank-type-place. Quite a mouthful! It surprises me that after five months of wanting another job so badly, I'm moving to something that is like a dream. If I really liked my current work environment, and this opportunity came along, I still would have taken it, I think. I'll get about six weeks in the position before my wedding, which should be enough time to get settled in without being *too* overwhelmed.