And of course the devastation in the tsunami areas is unbelievable. Add radiation to the mix, and you just want to rush over there and DO something.
YA author Maureen Johnson (also represented by my agent Kate Schafer Testerman) incited many of us to donate books for prizes in her efforts to raise funds for Shelterbox, a truly amazing organization that ships completely equipped shelters to disaster areas. That was great--her efforts raised some $14,000 for Japan and, earlier, $15,000 for Christchurch. (The Japanese number is smaller, I suspect, because of the whirlwind nature of the effort-- it was all over by Sunday morning.) But it feels profoundly unadequate, and I know we'll all be looking for other ways to help.
Johnson did all her fundraising on Twitter. Di keeps us posted on Facebook. Say what you will about social networks, at times like these they're worth their weight in megabytes.
Meanwhile, life goes on. It's town meeting season around here--ours is in a couple of weeks--and last week I got to cover Deer Isle's for The Ellsworth American. It was an uneventful year with nothing astounding on the warrant and the budget about the same. I loved it, though--even the most stultifying town meeting has that moment "when democracy sat up and looked around," as E.B. White wrote about a Brooklin town meeting years ago.
This time, citizens raised questions about recycling and building debris at the solid waste transfer station, support for the shellfish commission, and brush-clearing on the roads. A splinter group decided the town's long-time animal control officer needed a substantial raise to help with truck maintenance. The voters gave him another $100 a month even though he'd only asked for $15 or $20 more. He said he "doesn't do the job as good anymore" because he no longer cleans up roadkill. (The crows handle that nicely.) He does, however, keep stray dogs at his own house as much as he can. He's been looking for an apprentice, but "nobody loves animals like I do."
Here's what it looked like:
Voting. In this case, whether to consider holding future town meetings on Saturday rather than Monday afternoon. (Stonington, the other town on the same island, also meets Monday afternoon. They used to call off island schools on town meeting day, but I don't think they do that anymore. That's what happens when you build a bridge to the mainland.) (They built it in the 1930s. Still.)
The Knitting Report: I'm still on my first cotton sock. It looks very sloppy--cotton turns out to be less forgiving than wool--but I'm hoping It'll All Come Out in the Wash.