March 1st, 2010


Casimir Pulaski Day

Casimir Pulaski Day

Golden rod and the 4-H stone
The things I brought you
When I found out you had cancer of the bone

Your father cried on the telephone
And he drove his car into the Navy yard
Just to prove that he was sorry

In the morning through the window shade
When the light pressed up against your shoulder blade
I could see what you were reading

Oh, the glory that the Lord has made
And the complications you could do without
When I kissed you on the mouth

Tuesday night at the Bible study
We lift our hands and pray over your body
But nothing ever happens

I remember at Michael's house
In the living room when you kissed my neck
And I almost touched your blouse

In the morning, at the top of the stairs
When your father found out what we did that night
And you told me you were scared

Oh, the glory when you ran outside
With your shirt tucked in and your shoes untied
And you told me not to follow you

Sunday night when I cleaned the house
I found the card where you wrote it out
With the pictures of your mother

On the floor at the great divide
With my shirt tucked in and my shoes untied
I am crying in the bathroom

In the morning when you finally go
And the nurse runs in with her head hung low
And the cardinal hits the window

In the morning in the winter shade
On the first of March, on the holiday
I thought I saw you breathing

Oh, the glory that the Lord has made
And the complications when I see his face
In the morning in the window

Oh, the glory when he took our place
But he took my shoulders and he shook my face
And he takes and he takes and he takes

Sufjan Stevens (born 1975)

Happy Casimir Pulaski Day! For those of you not from Illinois, let me explain that in that state, today is a public holiday dedicated to the memory of Casimir Pulaski, a Polish soldier of fortune who fought for our side in the American Revolution. He was given permission by General George Washington to establish an independent cavalry regiment, the Pulaski Cavalry Legion, which was so successful that Washington pressed Congress to create a cavalry and put Pulaski in charge of it. He was mortally wounded at the Battle of Savannah. Since 1929, October 11 has been observed at the Federal level as General Pulaski Memorial Day, but Illinois went its own way, choosing to celebrate the life of General Pulaski on the first Monday in March (probably because there already was a state holiday in October: Columbus Day).

This song, as you've no doubt noticed, is not really about Casimir Pulaski Day, but rather about something that happened on Casimir Pulaski Day, in a year when the first Monday in March happened to fall on March 1. Just like today!


A list of books I read

Here are the books I read in January and February:

  1. From Every End of This Earth: 13 Families and the New Lives They Made in America by Steven V. Roberts
  2. Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs by Ellen Dunham-Jones and June Williamson
  3. Comic Books 101: The History, Methods and Madness by Chris Ryall and Scott Tipton
  4. The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care by T. R. Reid
  5. Quarry in the Middle by Max Allan Collins
  6. Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood by Michael Lewis
  7. Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
  8. What I Did for Love: A Novel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
  9. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
  10. The First Rule by Robert Crais
  11. Inventing Niagara: Beauty, Power, and Lies by Ginger Strand
  12. Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin
  13. Alice: Alice Roosevelt Longworth, from White House Princess to Washington Power Broker by Stacy A. Cordery

My non-fiction to fiction ratio is way off: only four of these 13 books are novels. I imagine that will be rectified eventually, but right now it looks a little off-kilter.



In addition to being Casimir Pulaski Day and St. David's Day, it is also my grandmother's birthday! She is 93 but still in fine fettle. I talked to her earlier this evening and she was in good spirits and sounded healthy (though she says she is still a little weak from her bout with pneumonia last November).

In less fine fettle, unfortunately, is my Uncle Irvin, who passed away last week at his home in Kewanee, Illinois. He was 97. A childhood trip to Irvin's farm was an early indicator of my future habits; for years after, he liked to tell people about how during my visit I would walk around making lists of all the animals.