Pulling Back the Curtain(s)

This was a weekend of revelations, brought about by the Supreme Court’s decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health case, an unexpected visit from a horse and a man with a feather in his hat, and a new set of curtains expertly made by our friends Dan and Stephanie Matney. A few words about each of these subjects will be illuminating.

We arrived at our Loyd Park camp site late in the day on Friday, just as news of the Court’s overturning Roe v. Wade prompted protests nationwide. We spent much time discussing the decision and its implications.

It seems as though we’re trapped in a binary bias, wherein we tend to reduce a complex spectrum into two oversimplified categories. People are either good or evil. Beliefs are either right or wrong. If we disregard precedent, we oppress women. If we allow unfettered access to abortion, we’re a nation of baby killers.

Personally, we don’t care about precedent. As the saying goes, tradition is peer pressure from dead people. We also don’t believe in being held hostage by the Constitution. It wasn’t self-evident to the founders that Black people should be free and women should have the right to vote, which is why we have amendments!

We keep saying this is a complex issue, and it is. Any discussion of it deserves thoughtfulness and nuance.

We believe in both bodily autonomy and the sanctity of life. So how do we reconcile those contradictory beliefs? We think abortion is wrong in some situations and right in others. In some circumstances, being “pro life” is also being “pro abortion.”

Which brings up another point. Not only is this a complex issue, the people behind the issue are equally complex. As Catholics, we have to acknowledge how our upbringing shaped our beliefs. For example, Jon was raised in a household that was headed by his mother and his grandmother. Had he been raised in a different household or in a different faith, he might hold different views.

Much has been said about the Court and the justices who decided Dobbs. Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) made a stink about the fact that Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh assured them they would support long-standing precedents. We’re not so concerned about that. We think most nominees will say whatever they need to say–on and off the record–in order to get confirmed.

The real villains here aren’t any of the conservative justices. Rather, they’re George H.W. Bush, who nominated Clarence Thomas in order to win over the Reagan Republicans; Joe Biden, who cancelled the appearance of Anita Hill’s two corroborating witnesses at Thomas’s confirmation hearing; Mitch McConnell, who wrecked the rules to keep Merrick Garland off the court and then jammed through Amy Coney Barrett.

The justices are who they are. But the politicians who orchestrated or enabled their joining the Court are the ones we despise.

On Saturday, we received notification that the custom curtains we had ordered were delivered to Hampshire, so Jon drove home to retrieve them from the porch. He returned to Cloud 9 and installed them, introducing an unanticipated look of luxury and a nighttime level of darkness.

Later, as we were enjoying cocktails, Cliff turned toward the window and came face to face with a horse. As it turns out, “Handsome Hank” was visiting nearby sites with his handler, Robert, and his rider, Connie. Robert came bearing a Mason jar of peach moonshine, looking quite benign in his denim overalls and feathered hat. A former Marine, he was drawn to our site by Cliff’s Marine Corps flag. He invited us to a DFW Devil Dogs cookout near the camp store. We were somewhat surprised at what we discovered.

The group gives the appearance of being tolerant — no politics, no hate speech, Marines supporting Marines — but it soon became clear that this was a militant group with a political agenda. There was talk of the “Zuckerberg people” taking down the group’s first Facebook profile, prompting them to develop an app to support “free speech.” At one point, Cliff said to Jon, “I feel like we’ve infiltrated some far-right extremist group planning its next assault on the Capitol.”

We didn’t stay long. In fact, we couldn’t return to Cloud 9 fast enough.

There, we were happy to end our evening with an episode of Kathy McCabe’s Dream of Italy featuring several celebrities who’ve chosen to live in the Bel Paese. Alas, our own dream of returning to this Mediterranean marvel is still far off, but we keep it alive in our hearts.

Next day found us pursuing our typical Sunday delights: an early morning walk; watching “CBS Sunday Morning,” reading The New York Times, enjoying breakfast cocktails and brunch, napping. This was the first weekend that incorporated Cliff’s new work schedule that allowed him to work from the Airstream on Saturday, and we loved it! Site 10 is now at the top of our list for summer shade, so we booked stays through the month of July.