Earth, Wind and Fire – But No Water

Although our campsite at Cedar Hill State Park gave us expansive views of Joe Pool Lake, a water main break meant we would spend almost half of the weekend looking at water while longing to use it inside Cloud 9. Because we dumped our fresh-water tank a couple weeks ago (to avoid any problems with freezing temperatures), we had to rely on our limited bottled water supply to get us through remainder of the weekend.

The weekend got off to a good start, with our typical Date Night dinner: A New York strip grilled to perfection, baked potato, and charred asparagus spears and shishito peppers — all accompanied by our favorite Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel. We ended the evening with the 1985 drama, “The Trip to Bountiful,” starring Geraldine Page as Carrie Watts, an aging Southern Texas woman seeking to return to her hometown. The film, largely shot in Dallas, co-stars John Heard as Watts’ son, Carlin Glynn as his wife, and Rebecca De Mornay as a woman who befriends Watts on her bus trip to Bountiful. Page’s Academy Award-winning performance reminded Jon of his dear grandmother: she was simultaneously funny and crafty, sentimental and tough, with a streak of Depression-era determination, so it prompted discussion about family dynamics that lasted late into the night.

Saturday’s weather was perfect, with warm temperatures and sunny skies. We enjoyed our usual pursuits: Reading The New York Times, drinking Bloody Mary’s, enjoying brunch, indulging in a long afternoon nap, sipping cocktails at the campfire, having a fine supper. In between, we took long walks with our dogs along the lake shore. It wasn’t until early evening that we learned of the water main break, so we managed to make it through more than half the weekend with running water.

Sunday’s weather was even more beautiful than Saturday’s, with temperatures in the mid-70s and gentle breezes over the lake. We were tempted to stay the night, but the thought of having to get up extra early to flush our tanks at the dump station and stretch our food supply an extra night dissuaded us.

Jon read an interesting letter to the editor of The New York Times that provided important context from 33 professional writers. “Words Matter: Stop Using Quid Pro Quo” made the case for avoiding the use of imprecise language when discussing the impeachment inquiry. Asking for a quid pro quo (literally “this for that”) is not a criminal act, the writers say. Governments frequently demand things in return for providing aid. Instead, call what Trump attempted to do “bribery” or “extortion,” because it more accurately reflects the nature of his “ask.” The writers go on to suggest that “digging up dirt” doesn’t help clarify what transpired in his now-infamous phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky. Rather, it’s more accurate to say that Trump effectively asked Zelensky to create false evidence or to find incriminating information about his political rivals. The reason words matter is because Trump regularly uses words to deceive and distract, and so rather than fall into the trap of using his carefully crafted words, we owe it to ourselves to use words that accurately reflect what’s going on.

These are serious times, and they call for serious discussion by people who are committed to using precise, thoughtful, and respectful language. We plan to do our part, avoiding the histrionics and superfluity that drive so much of our political discourse.