Friday, September 20, 2013

Boulder Rides Out the Flood

I was a Rainbow Girl in my tweens. Wasn't there some sort of promise by God that He
wasn't going to be doing this stuff all the time any more?

Close friends and neighbors wait on Wagonwheel Gap before FEMA escorts them out.

After surviving heavy hail in late June, my neighborhood in Boulder is still trying to get its head around the latest flood, in which a stationary
rain system dumped around 18 inches of water on a town that usually gets that much precip in a year. There've been all sorts of arguments about whether this is a "hundred year" or "thousand year" flood. My husband calls it "the Milluge." There's a great explanation of how it all came down last week by Bob Henson of NCAR.

 Grave of the fireflies: Before and after photos of the wetlands near our home.

I finally found an open library where I could return my overdue books. The main and branch libraries all suffered water damage. Luckily, all fines are forgiven.

Only in Boulder: to have a special raincoat and umbrella for your pooch, even though it only rains every 100 years.

As the sun begins to shine on the saturated soil, I'm seeing our friends the "dog people" and their companions emerge after a week of cabin fever to see how everyone is and to talk about what happened to them during the flood. And hey, Boulder's Fringe Festival begins this weekend. There's no telling what will happen there, but it'll be hard to out-quirk the weather.

Reach Out

We were saddened to hear of the death of Joseph Howlett, retired owner of the Jamestown Mercantile, whose house collapsed on Thursday, when flooding first began. Joey always put a 10-gallon jug of water out for thirsty bikers like us who struggled our way up Lefthand Canyon on weekends. Rescue efforts for Jamestown, the Boulder Foothills, Lyons, and Estes Park continued all week, as FEMA volunteers and Chinook helicopters ferried people to safety. Planet Bluegrass in Lyons was completely leveled when the St. Vrain River exploded over its banks. The owners vow to restore the festival grounds in time for next July's RockyGrass Festival.

But the Greatest of These Is Charity

We've all heard stories about how long it takes to get funds to people affected by disasters and tragedies such as 9/11 and Aurora.  Boulder musician and teacher Julie Gussaroff and fellow musicians are starting to give benefit performances, with all the proceeds going *directly* to rescue efforts and county residents affected by the flood. The first official "Wake of the Flood" benefit concert is scheduled for September 28 at the Fox Theater on the Hill.

Meanwhile, Congress threatens to cut food stamps and shut down the government on October 1st. Not really a good time, folks. . .

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Review of The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan

When we first meet Anais, she is a mess. She is being shipped off to the Panopticon, a home in Scotland for children who are in the care of the government, while authorities determine whether she attacked a female police officer and put her in a coma. The story uses a setting based on a design for institutional buildings invented by English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham.

Fifteen-year-old Anais has been transferred from place to place and family to foster family all her life. She has a history of violence, drugs, and crime, and she has no self control. She might be schizophrenic. They say her mother committed suicide. She thinks she may just be an experiment and that she is being watched by the Panopticon. She wants her mother!

We can't help but care for Anais, as she goes from one grim situation to another, because she is brilliant and lovable despite her tough exterior. As a parent, I wish I had known the phrase her social workers use constantly, "It's not optional."

Author Jenni Fagan makes liberal use of Scottish slang and obscenities to punctuate the thoughts and fantasies of Anais and the friends she makes in the kiddie slammer. You'll probably need to have the Urban Dictionary close by to get past page one.

For all those who think nothing can be done about child abuse, rape, prostitution, and poverty: they're wrong. We've got to believe that--that Anais gets out, even as she finally realizes she has to deal with life alone.