Monday, July 25, 2011

Of Friends, Food, Bullies, and Vita-Rays

Big week here at the Nest. As you may know from my other blog (click here), I have a friend who is going through some bad times just now, of the hospital variety.  Part of the way I dealt with the shock and sadness this last week involved developing a near automatic pilot path to the local Dairy Queen.  (No kidding - they know me now.)  So part of this week is devoted to getting back into the better habits I had been developing.  There are plenty of better and more productive things I can do for my friend instead of wallowing in the self-pitying Blizzard of Despair.  Besides, a few days of that sort of thing just doesn't feel as good as it used to.  Please keep my friend and her family in your thoughts - this is going to be rough road.

In other news, I finished reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and while I'm not quite ready to go as hard-core locavore as her family did, I'm thinking about trying a few things.  Putting up tomatoes, for example, and maybe (just maybe) trying my hand at making mozzarella.  We'll see.  Great book, by the way and it points up the hidden cost of buying out of season (like asparagus in July, which I am guilty of snatching up).

Have you seen Captain America yet?  If so, wasn't it great?  If not, why not?  Seriously - I've got my cred as a comic geek and this is quite likely the best superhero movie I've seen.  Period.  And I'll admit to going in with a few misgivings.  Cap is hard to get right - it's too easy to make him either too gung-ho, "my country right or wrong" or just pitifully naive - and if they get this wrong, next summer's Avengers movie is going to be hard to get right, since Cap is the heart of that team.  For me, they walked a fine line and balanced the story beautifully.  It's amazing what filmmakers can do once they understand that it's about the story, not the whizz-bang stuff.  It was a smart move to approach this as an origin story - you not only get great villains (who aren't Nazis, but are so evil that they believe that the Nazis are just wusses who refuse to aim high enough), but you get a "just war" against a clear-cut enemy.  This Cap is loaded with pluck, courage, and a finely-tuned moral compass - he's not out to "kill anybody.  I just don't like bullies."  It also comes with an amazing cast, including Hugo Weaving (who totally sells the Red Skull character) and Stanley Tucci.  There's even a woman (Peggy Carter, played by Hayley Atwell) who isn't flailing eye candy.  Go.  Be sure to stay through the very end of the credits - there's an "Easter egg" in there for you.

FryDaddy and I were part of a ceremony yesterday to officially become Ramona's god-parents.  Yep, when she gets a little older and thinks her parents, Victorian Marxist and Barefoot, just don't understand her and why it's so crucial to her high school career to pierce her nose or some other bit of teenage rebellion, she's supposed to come running to us.  We plan to offer a listening ear, an open door and a promise to never, ever take her parents' side "just because."  I further solemnly promise to never tell her how pretty she'd look "if only you'd get that hair out of your face."  But it's so much more than that - it's being there for her when she rubs up against the sharp edges of life and trying to set a good example by right living.  It's showing her how spirituality can make life's inevitable sharp edges more bearable and teaching her that not everyone walks the same path.  It's spending time with her and showing her that she's interesting and valuable and deserves respect and consideration.  (It's also sitting through iCarly re-runs and [this weekend] taking her to Winnie-the-Pooh).  It's meeting her for lunch at school and hearing about gymnastics practice.  It's a humbling experience to realize that we're being asked to take on such a role in a little girl's life and that her parents feel we're up to it.

Big week, as I said.  Oddly enough, I think it all ties back to Cap.  Yes, Captain America is a "super soldier" who's been altered by a top-secret serum.  But, as the film points out, really what that stuff does is just amplify what's already there.  A good man becomes great.  Whether we're trying to make sense of the random "gotchas" of the world or growing a garden or trying to help raise an amazing child - aren't we all just doing the best we can?  Or maybe we're not quite reaching that potential.  Cap knows what the right thing to do is - what separates him from most of us is that he then does it.  We don't have Vita-Rays to enhance our natural abilities or a fancy-schmancy vibranium shield, but we can write our representatives to say, "Hey, this is important to me and I'm watching."  We can speak up when we see unkindness.  We can take a few minutes to drop off used clothing to places that'll get it to those who need it.  Kids are going to dress up as Cap this Halloween, and that's good, but wouldn't it be great to start acting like him as well?

He's the Captain, but we're America.

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