A Liberal Vampire in North Carolina

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I’m sitting here in the comfort of my home, dog sleeping at my side (like many dogs he wants to spoon against my side or legs…it amazes me how a 30 lb dog can push me or my wife off the bed), some clocks ticking, the occasional whirr of the refrigerator, a few passing cars, quiet, warm, and peaceful. I’m still on east coast North Carolina time where I was last week, stuck in snow and ice, and when I should have written this column instead of at the last minute on Sunday morning. One reason for my early morning, though, is the second coming of my cold…the infamous creeping crud, courtesy of my 2 year old niece who came and sat in my lap to generously show me her new Barbie doll, complete with mucus. But the head-cold does give me the excuse to self medicate with therapeutic doses of bourbon, chocolate, and hot tea. Damn doesn’t that just smack of “sensitive guy”…it should be coffee and bourbon but my mother is a Brit who, according to my father, makes the worst coffee in the world and we grew up not appreciating the bean, so tea it is. At least I drink my whiskey neat. That should take some of the polish off the “sensitive guy” finish.North Carolina was a mandatory trip…..mom’s 80th birthday party. Longevity seems to run on both sides of my family so unfortunately ya’ll might be saddled with me for a pretty long run. I didn’t travel with my dobro and was sorry I left it behind. Getting stuck in the snow and ice for an extra 3 days in a “cabin” without my axe drove me a little crazy. And on the flight from California there were at least 3 guys carrying assorted guitars and mandolins, which I took as an omen I should have traveled with mine. I’m gonna have to break down and find a good travel case. It’s just that I have only one dobro right now and would be hard pressed to replace it if I became yet another airline musical instrument horror story. However, I do have this perverse curiosity to see if homeland security considers my carryon steel and fingerpicks as dangerous weapons and wants to do a cavity search of my dobro.

I have to confess to being a news addict. I look through a few news aggregators online a couple of times every day, listen to the public radio news morning and evening, and occasionally hit the BBC…..and the bulk of it seems real doom and gloom. There have been some horrific events the first two weeks of this New Year, in the US and abroad. When I see a run of really bad news like this, I sometimes wonder if this is a kind of pre-apocalyptic dress rehearsal or is it just life. Logically, analytically, my understanding of history tells me it is just life…..we’re probably not in surprisingly violent times and possibly, in spite of all the cruel, evil, and just plain craziness, we have less bad stuff to deal with than only a couple of generations ago. But that’s not any solace to those suffering and doesn’t really keep me from being worried.

Every time I visit North Carolina I feel a little like going to Grass Valley for the Father’s Day Festival. It’s a little like the best part of visiting with my family, in a community that values its citizens. I walked into town, through the snow, from my brother’s house…not a long walk, about 30 minutes, and had three different people stop and ask if I needed a ride. In this part of the world folks wave at each other when their cars pass on the road. It’s a little unreal considering my experience with city life.

Every time I go up to Grass Valley, it’s like going back to North Carolina and I feel like I’m visiting a community that has those same values. It’s a nice vacation away from the real world to catch a glimpse of a world I think most of us would like to see.

Now the kicker to all this was, at my mother’s birthday party, one of my brothers introduced me as our token liberal, the family Democrat. I still don’t understand why they started wearing cloves of garlic around their necks and throwing Holy water at me. At least I don’t have that problem at Grass Valley.

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