Friday, July 31, 2009

Another Birthday and a Success Story to Inspire

It's the birthday of children's fantasy writer J.K. Rowling, (books by this author) born Joanne Rowling in Yate, England (1965).Rowling grew up in rural England. She tried writing a couple of novels, but never finished them. One day on a cross-country train trip, the idea of Harry Potter just appeared in her mind. She didn't have a pen to write things down, so she said: "Rather than try to write it, I had to think it. And I think that was a very good thing. I was besieged by a mass of detail, and if it didn't survive that journey, it probably wasn't worth remembering."

As soon as she got home, she started writing what she did remember. But her personal life was falling apart. She said: "A mere seven years after my graduation day, I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. … I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life."

It took J.K. Rowling awhile to find a publisher for her novel, but finally it was published: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (published in the U.S. as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone). It started with a print run of 1,000 copies. The last book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007), had a first print run of 12 million copies in the United States, the largest first printing of any book in history. Altogether, the series has sold more than 400 million copies. She said, "I would like to think that readers enjoy my stories because they are simply good stories."

Ben by David Budbill

You can see him in the village almost anytime.
He's always on the street.
At noon he ambles down to Jerry's
in case a trucker who's stopped by for lunch
might feel like buying him a sandwich.
Don't misunderstand, Ben's not starving;
he's there each noon because he's sociable,
not because he's hungry.
He is a friend to everyone except the haughty.

There are at least half a dozen families in the village
who make sure he always has enough to eat
and there are places
where he's welcome to come in and spend the night.

Ben is a cynic in the Greek and philosophic sense,
one who gives his life to simplicity
seeking only the necessities
so he can spend his days
in the presence of his dreams.

Ben is a vision of another way,
the vessel in this place for
ancient Christian mystic, Buddhist recluse, Taoist hermit.
Chuang Tzu, The Abbot Moses, Meister Eckhart,
Khamtul Rimpoche, Thomas Merton—
all these and all the others live in Ben, because

in America only a dog
can spend his days
on the street or by the river
in quiet contemplation
and be fed.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Reord Heat in Seattle...Makes me want to Rant

I admit that often I tend to be a bit behind the times in regards to current news, so it just so happens that I missed this one when it happened. That would be the breaking news story about the mother who allowed her nine-year-old son to ride the subway alone. She supplied him with quarters, subway tokens, a subway map, and an extra $20.00 for emergencies. This was a well-thought out and prepared plan that mother and son worked on together. The boy really wanted to ride the subway alone, his mother thought that he was ready, so one sunny Sunday afternoon last spring he set out on a short subway ride by himself. The mother said that she just knew, only the way that a mother can know, that her son was ready to do this. Do I know exactly what she means about "knowing?" You betcha, mothers usually do, which brings me to the point of this post.

The flack that this mother received was incredible. One of the reasons that I probably missed this in the "news" is that she was asked to appear on daytime television (to receive said "flack" by parenting specialists and members of the general public) which I never watch. I have noticed that most parenting specialists exist primarily to tell parents what they are doing wrong. You can now google "worst mother" and this mother will appear.

Today I scanned an interview with her one year after the event. The interview pretty much said that she and her son had no regrets and that she would do the same thing again. My question is, "What kind of society have we become when a mother like this is considered to be the worst mother in the country?" Is she worse than mothers who starve or beat their children? Is she worse than mothers who drink or take drugs into oblivion and leave their children in squalor and neglect? Is she worse than the mothers who allow their children to be molested by staying with the offender? I have very good friends who just went through a termination of parental rights process in regards to their two foster children and it seems to me that mother (she lost her parental rights) is more typical of what I would expect in regards to the "worst mother" nomination.

Yes, society puts enormous pressure on mothers to be more than themselves and sometimes to be more than human. It seems like well-educated mothers who are trying to prepare their children for society are easier to target than the truly horrible mothers because other people can feel justified by comparison, "Well, at least I don't do what SHE did to my children?" I also don't like the rush to judgement in this particular case because our society is so overly safety conscious and so over-protective that we allow the kooks, nutcases, and media to control our lives. Children are not being prepared to live in the world.

A friend of mine and I just had this discussion last week. We both believe in giving our children experiences. Sometimes those experiences will turn out well and sometimes... not so much. The point being that we allow our kids to do things like experience the unsafe wilds of nature. We were hiking with our children and had to caution them when we got too close to a real waterfall. In the media experiences that most children have, the characters do things like go down a rushing waterfall on little more than a raft, so some children might not know that you can't do that in real life. I think many children are not even allowed near real waterfalls because this would be considered too unsafe. Of course it is much safer to sit home blitzed out on video imagines and shoving Doritos into ones mouth, child obesity rates are soaring, how does this prepare them to be functional/healthy adults?

As a society we let the media scares dictate our parenting. Our kids stay indoors getting neurological "highs" from playing video games and watching plasma T.V.'s. Our kids by and large don't get enough experience of the real world. Would I send my nine-year-old child alone on a subway if she was born and raised in New York City, probably not, but then she is not mature enough or ready for such an experience. She might be ready for other experiences though that will help her grow into a responsible adult and as a parent it is part of my job to pay attention to the teachable moments in the lives of all of my children. I am a responsible and educated parent, much like the New York subway mom and just because I will probably allow my children to experience some things independently before they reach college does not make me a bad mother, knowing your children and working with them to navigate the treacherous path to growing up does not make anyone a bad mother.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Common Ground by Paul J. Willis

I knew what this poem was going to be about before I even started reading it and that is one of the reasons why I like it. I like it also because it is about life and success when you least expect it.

Today I dug an orange tree out of the damp, black earth.
My grandfather bought a grove near Anaheim
at just my age. Like me, he didn't know much.
"How'd you learn to grow oranges, Bill?"
friends said. "Well," he said, "I look at what

my neighbor does, and I just do the opposite."
Up in Oregon, he and his brother discovered
the Willamette River. They were both asleep
on the front of the wagon, the horses stopped,
his brother woke up. "Will," he said, "am it a river?"

My grandfather, he cooked for the army during the war,
the first one. He flipped the pancakes up the chimney,
they came right back through the window onto the griddle.
In the Depression he worked in a laundry during the night,
struck it rich in pocketknives. My grandfather,

he liked to smoke in his orange grove, as far away on the property
as he could get from my grandmother,
who didn't approve of life in general, him in particular.
Smoking gave him something to feel disapproved for,
set the world back to rights. Like everyone else,

my grandfather sold his grove to make room
for Disneyland. He laughed all the way to the bank,
bought in town, lived to see his grandsons born
and died of cancer before anyone wanted him to, absent
now in the rootless presence of damp, black earth.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Daughters - John Mayer

I was goin' through you tube videos and found this one and remembered how much I love it.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Whore of Mensa by Woody Allen

The Whore of Mensa
A Short Story by Woody Allen
From his book "Without Feathers", Random House, 1975 (tr.it.: Citarsi Addosso, Bompiani, 1976)Estimated Online Reading Time: About 10 Minutes

THE CLIENT
One thing about being a private investigator, you've got to learn to go with your hunches. That's why when a quivering pat of butter named Word Babcock walked into my office and laid his cards on the table, I should have trusted the cold chill that shot up my spine.
"Kaiser?" he said. "Kaiser Lupowitz?"
"That's what it says on my license," I owned up.
"You've got to help me. I'm being blackmailed. Please!" He was shaking like the lead singer in a rumba band. I pushed a glass across the desk top and a bottle of rye I keep handy for nonmedicinal purposes.
"Suppose you relax and tell me all about it."
"You ... you won't tell my wife?"
"Level with me, Word. I can't make any promises." He tried pouring a drink, but you could hear the clicking sound across the street, and most of the stuff wound up in his shoes.
"I'm a working guy," he said. "Mechanical maintenance. I build and service joy buzzers. You know - those little fun gimmicks that give people a shock when they shake hands?"
"So?"
"A lot of your executives like 'em. Particularly down on Wall Street."
"Get to the point."
"I'm on the road a lot. You know how it is - lonely. Oh, not what you're thinking. See, Kaiser, I'm basically an intellectual. Sure, a guy can meet all the bimbos he wants. But the really brainy women - they're not so easy to find on short notice."
"Keep talking."
"Well, I heard of this young girl. Eighteen years old. A Yassar student. For a price, she'll come over and discuss any subject - Proust, Yeats, anthropology. Exchange of ideas. You see what I'm driving at?"
"Not exactly."
"I mean my wife is great, don't get me wrong. But she won't discuss Pound with me. Or Eliot. I didn't know that when I married her. See, I need a woman who's mentally stimulating, Kaiser. And I'm willing to pay for it. I don't want an involvement - I want a quick intellectual experience, then I want the girl to leave. Christ, Kaiser, I'm a happily married man."
"How long has this been going on?"
"Six months. Whenever I have that craving, I call Flossie. She's a madam, with a Master's in Comparative Lit. She sends me over an intellectual, see?"
So he was one of those guys whose weakness was really bright women. I felt sorry for the poor sap. I figured there must be a lot of jokers in his position, who were starved for a little intellectual communication with the opposite sex and would pay through the nose for it.
"Now she's threatening to tell my wife," he said.
"Who is?"
"Flossie. They bugged the motel room. They got tapes of me discussing The Waste Land and Styles of Radical Will, and, well, really getting into some issues. They want ten grand or they go to Carla. Kaiser, you've got to help me! Carla would die if she knew she didn't turn me on up here." The old call-girl racket. I had heard rumors that the boys at headquarters were on to something involving a group of educated women, but so far they were stymied.
"Get Flossie on the phone for me."
"What?"
"I'll take your case, Word. But I get fifty dollars a day, plus expenses. You'll have to repair a lot of joy buzzers." "It won't be ten G's worth, I'm sure of that," he said with a grin, and picked up the phone and dialed a number. I took it from him and winked. I was beginning to like him.

THE SETUP
Seconds later, a silky voice answered, and I told her what was on my mind. "I understand you can help me set up an hour of good chat," I said.
"Sure, honey. What do you have in mind?"
"I'd like to discuss Melville."
"Moby Dick or shorter novels?"
"What's the difference?"
"The price. That's all. Symbolism's extra."
"What'll it run me?"
"Fifty, maybe a hundred for Moby Dick. You want a comparative discussion - Melville and Hawthorne? That could be arranged for a hundred."
"The dough's fine," I told her and gave her the number of a room at the Plaza.
"You want a blonde or a brunette?"
"Surprise me," I said, and hung up.
"I shaved and grabbed some black coffee while I checked over the Monarch College Outline series. Hardly an hour had passed before there was a knock on my door. I opened it, and standing there was a young redhead who was packed into her slacks like two big scoops of vanilla ice cream.
"Hi, I'm Sherry." They really knew how to appeal to your fantasies. Long, straight hair, leather bag, silver earrings, no make-up.
"I'm surprised you weren't stopped, walking into the hotel dressed like that," I said. "The house dick can usually spot an intellectual."
"A five-spot cools him."
"Shall we begin?" I said, motioning her to the couch. She lit a cigarette and got right to it. "I think we could start by approaching Billy Budd as Melville's justification of the ways of God to man, n'est-ce pas?"
"Interestingly, though, not in a Miltonian sense." I was bluffing. I wanted to see if she'd go for it.
"No. Paradise Lost lacked the substructure of pessimism." She did.
"Right, right. God, you're right," I murmured.
"I think Melville reaffirmed the virtues of innocence in a naive yet sophisticated sense - don't you agree?" I let her go on. She was barely nineteen years old, but already she had developed the hardened facility of the pseudo-intellectual. She rattled off her ideas glibly, but it was all mechanical. Whenever I offered an insight, she faked a response: "Oh yes, Kaiser. Yes, baby, that's deep. A platonic comprehension of Christianity - why didn't I see it before?" We talked for about an hour and then she said she had to go. She stood up and I laid a C-note on her.
"Thanks, honey."
"There's plenty more where that came from."
"What are you trying to say?" I had piqued her curiosity. She sat down again.
"Suppose I wanted to have a party?" I said.
"Like, what kind of a party?"
"Suppose I wanted Noam Chomsky explained to me by two girls?"
"Oh, wow."
"If you'd rather forget it..."
"You'd have to speak with Flossie," she said. "It's cost you." Now was the time to tighten the screws. I flashed my private- investigator's badge and informed her it was a bust.
"What!"
"I'm fuzz, sugar, and discussing Melville for money is an 802. You can do time."
"You louse!"
"Better come clean, baby. Unless you want to tell your story down at Alfred Kazin's office, and I don't think he'd be too happy to hear it."
She began to cry. "Don't turn me in, Kaiser," she said. "I needed the money to complete my Master's. I've been turned down for a grant. Twice. Oh, Christ."
It all poured out - the whole story. Central Park West upbringing, Socialist summer camps, Brandeis. She was every dame you saw waiting in line at the Elgin or the Thalia, or penciling the words 'Yes, very true' into the margin of some book on Kant. Only somewhere along the line she had made a wrong turn.
"I needed cash. A girl friend said she knew a married guy whose wife wasn't very profound. He was into Blake. She couldn't hack it. I said sure, for a price I'd talk Blake with him. I was nervous at first. I faked a lot of it. He didn't care. My friend said there were others. Oh, I've been busted before. I got caught reading Commentary in a parked car, and I was once stopped and frisked at Tanglewood. Once more and I'm a three time loser."
"Then take me to Flossie."
She bit her lip and said, "The Hunter College Book Store is a front."
"Yes?"
"Like those bookie joints that have barbershops outside for show. You'll see."
I made a quick call to headquarters and then said to her, "Okay, sugar. You're off the hook. But don't leave town."
"She tilted her face up toward mine gratefully. "I can get you photographs of Dwight Macdonald reading," she said.
"Some other time." FLOSSIE'S
I walked into the Hunter College Book Store. The salesman, a young man with sensitive eyes, came up to me. "Can I help you?" he said.
"I'm looking for a special edition of Advertisements for Myself. I understand the author had several thousand gold-leaf copies printed up for friends."
"I'll have to check," he said. "We have a WATS line to Mailer's house."
I fixed him with a look. "Sherry sent me," I said.
"Oh, in that case, go on back." he said. He pressed a button. A wall of books opened, and I walked like a lamb into that bustling pleasure palace known as Flossie's. Red flocked wallpaper and a Victorian decor set the tone. Pale, nervous girls with black-rimmed glasses and blunt-cut hair lolled around on sofas, riffling Penguin Classics provocatively. A blonde with a big smile winked at me, nodded toward a room upstairs, and said, "Wallace Stevens, eh?" But it wasn't just intellectual experiences. They were peddling emotional ones, too. For fifty bucks, I learned, you could "relate without getting close." For a hundred, a girl would lend you her Bartok records, have dinner, and then let you watch while she had an anxiety attack. For one-fifty, you could listen to FM radio with twins. For three bills, you got the works: A thin Jewish brunette would pretend to pick you up at the Museum of Modern Art, let you read her master's, get you involved in a screaming quarrel at Elaine's over Freud's conception of women, and then fake a suicide of your choosing - the perfect evening, for some guys. Nice racket. Great town, New York.
"Like what you see?" a voice said behind me. I turned and suddenly found myself standing face to face with the business end of a .38. I'm a guy with a strong stomach, but this time it did a back flip. It was Flossie, all right. The voice was the same, but Flossie was a man. His face was hidden by a mask.
"You'll never believe this," he said, "but I don't even have a college degree. I was thrown out for low grades."
"Is that why you wear that mask?"
"I devised a complicated scheme to take over The New York Review of Books, but it meant I had to pass for Lionel Trilling. I went to Mexico for an operation. There's a doctor in Juarez who gives people Trilling's features - for a price. Something went wrong. I came out looking like Auden, with Mary McCarthy's voice. That's when I started working the other side of the law."
"Quickly, before he could tighten his finger on the trigger, I went into action. Heaving forward, I snapped my elbow across his jaw and grabbed the gun as he fell back. He hit the ground like a ton of bricks. He was still whimpering when the police showed up.
"Nice work, Kaiser," Sergeant Holmes said. "When we're through with this guy, the F.B.I. wants to have a talk with him. A little matter involving some gamblers and an annotated copy of Dante's Inferno. Take him away, boys." Later that night, I looked up an old account of mine named Gloria. She was blond. She had graduated cum laude. The difference was she majored in physical education. It felt good.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Happy Birthday Tom Robbins

It's the birthday of novelist Tom Robbins, (books by this author) born in Blowing Rock, North Carolina (1936). He's known for novels such as Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1976), Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas (1994), and Villa Incognito (2003). He says that when he starts a book, he has no idea of what the story will be. He never outlines and never revises. He just works on each sentence until he thinks it's perfect, sometimes for more than an hour, and then he moves on to the next one. He said, "I'm probably more interested in sentences than anything else in life."

Great Wine on a Budget

The wine that keeps Troon Winery in the Applegate Valley of Southern Oregon going. Great taste and great value, I just may have to order some.

Monday, July 20, 2009

In the Good 'Ol Summertime

I was on vacation...
but, like all good things, it had to end.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Jacksonville Historical Cemetery

I must admit that I like cemeteries and not just on Halloween. I am not so fond of new or overly manicured cemeteries, I prefer older cemeteries, ones where the dead have withstood the test of time. Today I visited such a cemetery, the Jacksonville Historical Cemetery in Southern Oregon. I haven't been here for quite sometime. This is a cemetery that house dead folks from the War of 1812 through the Gulf War. There are large family plots, unmarked "potters field" graves, and old headstones that are quite literally cracking at the seams.

The ambiance is peaceful. Indeed I am not the only person to feel this. There is a small interpretative center with guest book, I noted that more than one cemetery "guest" observed a peaceful atmosphere in this cemetery. This is a cemetery where one might observe the term "killed by Indians" on a number of headstones. Then there are the mother, father, son, daughter, baby plots with no names. It is easy to think that "back then" human life wasn't as valuable as it is today, after all people had so many children. The ornateness of many of the infant, toddler, and child headstones make me question this assumption. It seems as though people grieved much for their lost little ones back then, much as they would today.

This cemetery is housed on 32 acres. It is divided into seven sections, six of which represent religious or fraternal organizations: Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, Catholic, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Independent (German) and Improved Orders of Red Men, and Jewish. The seventh and largest section is the City of Jacksonville's portion which includes a Potter's Field.

Some of the more notable stories include those of Regina Dorland-Robinson (1892-1917), William Green T'Vault (1806-1869), and Mary Ann Harris Chambers (1821-1882). Regina Robinson was a promising young artist who committed suicide at a very young age, William T'Vault was a newspaper editor who died in the Smallpox epidemic of 1869, and Mary Ann Chambers held down the fort during an Indian attack on her homestead, she died later of natural causes. One could learn the whole history of an area, a history that would be much more interesting than what could be found in a textbook, just by following the stories of the dead.

I think that John Lieshman sums up my feeling about cemeteries the best, "A cemetery tells the history of its people, and through its people, the history of its town."

Friday, July 10, 2009

United Breaks Guitars

This is a true story a case where talent meets opportunity. Don't you just hate it when big corporations show indifference? Payback is a bitch.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill

I watched this movie this weekend on the computer via Netflix and it was an unexpectedly awesome documentary. It chronicles the life of a flock of approximately 45 "wild" parrots who live near Telegraph Hill in San Francisco. They are being informally studied by a free spirited musician, Mark Bitner, who finds in them his passion and life's work. He also found his wife through the making of the film, she was the director. This is a touching and beautiful true life story about the interconnectedness of humans and animals in the most unlikely of places, the heart of a large city. In the end Mark must leave the cottage that he occupied rent free for three years, putting distance between himself and his beloved birds. The birds that were handicapped or sick who had been staying in Mark's home, were taken to the Parrot Oasis in Arizona. The rest were left to survive and thrive or perish in the "wilds" of San Francisco, the primary predators being hawks and humans. A slow-moving, but brilliantly done visual presentation.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Monty Python - Spam

A Brief History of Spam

It was on this day in 1937 that SPAM came onto the market. The canned meat product from Hormel Foods Corporation was given its name by a contest winner; the prize for his ingenuity was $100. On one occasion, a Hormel spokesperson said the name was short for "Shoulder of Pork and Ham"; on another, a company official said it was a conflation of the words "spice and ham." All sorts of parodic acronyms have circulated over the years, including "Something Posing As Meat." The original recipe, still sold as the "Classic" flavor, contains pork shoulder and ham meat, salt, water, sugar, and sodium nitrate. There's a gelatinous glaze on top, which forms like that after the broth cools down.Spam sold in the Americas is mostly produced in Austin, Minnesota — "Spam Town USA" and home of the SPAM museum. Hawaii's residents consume more Spam per capita than the residents of any other state, and the canned meat has been nicknamed "The Hawaiian Steak." Spam is the main course in the Israeli Defense Force's combat meal kits, but the pork is replaced by beef so that it's kosher.There's a Monty Python sketch that came out in 1970 where the actors go into a cafĂ© and try to order breakfast, but almost everything on the menu contains Spam. One woman doesn't want Spam in her breakfast and gets into an argument with the waitress, who tells her that the menu consists of "Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, baked beans, Spam, Spam, Spam, and Spam." It's from this Monty Python sketch that "spam" acquired the use so familiar today: unwanted or unsolicited e-mail. The first recorded use of the word in this way is in 1993. It's also become a verb in the English language, for the action of sending out spam.And the word "spam" itself, untranslated, is now a noun in French, Portuguese, and Vietnamese. The verb "to spam" in German is "spammen"; in Czech the verb is "spamovat"; and in Italian it's "spammare." There's a new Monty Python's musical, SPAMALOT, currently playing in San Francisco.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July

I consider myself to be a holiday person. Typically I enjoy most of the festivities that accompany any holiday. Although I don't enjoy anything that could be considered overly materialistic, like putting oneself in debt for Christmas presents. I just like the holiday, food, sometimes family, friends, a reason to have a day off of work and celebrate. When I was a child I lived in a small town. Every year our small town had the best Main Street parade. The traditional kind of parade with marching bands, old cars, floats, horses, and candy. I am told that there are still parades like this in the area that I now live, but I have been hard pressed to find one. What is more common is children riding decorated bikes, scooters, and pulling wagons. Sometimes there are a few typical parade festivities, but our local parades seem to be more about the local children riding through on some sort of decorated child transport system.

Now I certainly have nothing against children doing this, nor do I begrudge the parents their early morning labor in order to produce this patriotic effect, I just can't get into it. I have tried, but the fact of the matter is, aside from perching my lazy self on a float and waving to the crowds as I pass, I just don't want to participate in a parade, I want to be enterained by the parade. Now I am sure that my kids would probably enjoy decorating (or having me decorate) their bikes and pedaling down Main Street to cheers and waves. To be fair we have done this. Three times to be exact. One year (when we had one child) we decorated her jog stroller and walked with other families in the parade. There are so many families walking in these parades that I am surprised that there are any observers. Another year we pulled a decorated wagon and I seem to remember at one time scooters being involved in a parade. I tried to be a good mom and enjoy doing this, but I just didn't. I like to do fun things with my kids, often I put my needs last and do what they would consider to be fun even if I do not. I just don't find decorating kid transportation and walking them in the parade to be, dare I say, tolerable.

Then there is the early morning aspect. To be in the parade, which usually starts early in the morning, you have to arrive 30 minutes to an hour early on a holiday when I am dying to sleep in. Now that my kids are older, they sometimes sleep in too. That didn't happen today though, my younger two were on a sleep over and I was informed that they woke up gleefully and loudly at the crack of 5:30 am. I don't think that they will be returning to that friends house for another go 'round any time soon.

The other thing is that our town does not have a parade. There is a neighborhood parade in a neighborhood near us, if I went I would probably know quite a few people. Suffice it to say that this parade is pretty much only kids on bikes and scooters. There is also a parade in the town immediately North of us, less than ten minute drive. Neither of these are real community events for me. If I have to paraticipate and not be entertained by the parade it would at least be nice to have it be a community event.

Our family usually does not much of anything during the day of July 4th and then we go to a party late in the afternoon and watch fireworks at night. That is our celebration and aside from the guilt about depriving my kids of walking in a parade, I am happy with it.