Thursday, April 9, 2009


I've been granted some breathing room here, a rare commodity for me these days. I'm taking full advantage.

The spawns are still vacationing at their grandparents', relieving my wife and me of a week of pre-dawn parental butt-kicking. On Monday I hauled another load to the storage unit, and I set aside a couple of hours to gather paperwork (along with my thoughts) for the next morning's formal bankruptcy hearing.

Truth is, my visit to the federal courthouse wasn't quite the proctologic exam I'd once envisioned. Having competent legal counsel helped, as did arriving with a firm grasp of the inevitable. Once I was seated before the trustee, the whole thing took five minutes.

Five minutes. The disposition of thirty years' honest labor reduced to a brief Q&A -- that's the way it works. The trustee ended the scripted ritual by looking me in the eye and saying, "Good luck to you, Mr. KintlaLake." Indeed.

Foreclosure on our house hasn't yet begun, but the company holding the mortgage has petitioned the court to expedite the process. Even on a faster track, however, my attorney assures me that in this county it'll be "four or five months" from the time I'm served with papers until my family and I will have to be out. The national average, I'm told, is seven months; in some states, foreclosure proceedings can drag on for a year or more.

We're fortunate in that we have a place to go. Also, since securing the storage unit we've already made a respectable dent in our move.

That's breathing room.

I'll resume more urgent activity this weekend, or next week at the latest. For now, I'm taking some time to decompress and indulge in a few simple pleasures. Little things, really.

Sitting quietly in a room lit only by a candle. Sipping my morning coffee on the front porch, the rising sun warming my face. Resurrecting an old Zippo lighter, enjoying the sound and smell of an American classic. Making popcorn the right way -- a little peanut oil in the bottom of a pan, a handful of kernels, a few shakes and patience. (No paper bag, no microwave.)

Mostly I've been keeping company with myself, engaging with my own thoughts. Current events invade, of course -- like hearing about the nutjob who murdered three cops in Pittsburgh over the weekend, reportedly because he was convinced that the federal government is intent on taking our guns.

(So am I, fella, but I know the difference between prepared and paranoid. You can go directly to jail -- and straight to hell.)

And there's the high-seas piracy drama that's unfolding off the coast of Somalia. I've seen many media accounts question why the crew of the Maersk Alabama was unarmed -- and then, in the convenient context of the Pittsburgh incident and the mass shooting a day earlier in Binghamton, New York, they wonder aloud why any individual American citizen would need to own a firearm.

(First of all, Barbie & Ken, you may have noticed that it's a damned dangerous world -- in the Gulf of Aden, in your neighborhood and everywhere in between. And second, it's our constitutional right to keep and bear arms in our own defense. Out.)

That sort of editorial idiocy is due more to ignorance than to ideological bias, I think, but the irony caught my attention. So did the results of a Gallup poll announced yesterday.

The percentage of Americans who favor a ban on handguns has dropped to 29%, the lowest level since Gallup began asking the question 50 years ago. Digging deeper into the survey, I found still more encouraging news for law-abiding gun owners.

Americans now are evenly split on the question of whether or not laws governing the sale of firearms should be made stricter. With that, proponents of gun control have lost more than a third of the support they had back in 1990. Hell, I'll drink to that.

To be sure, these trends are no guarantee that Second Amendment advocates have won the fight, and prevailing public opinion probably won't stop the current administration from pushing its explicit anti-gun agenda. As recently as February 25th, Attorney General Eric Holder reminded us that change is coming:
"As President Obama indicated during the campaign, there are just a few gun-related changes that we would like to make, and among them would be to reinstitute the ban on the sale of assault weapons."
In what qualifies as a pinch-me moment, 65 (count 'em) House Democrats immediately fired back in the form of a letter to Holder, unequivocally opposing such a gun ban. Rep. Mike Ross of Arkansas, one of the Democrats who signed the letter, observed,
"Now we know there are 65 pro-gun Democrats. When you add up all the pro-gun Republicans and the pro-gun Democrats, (an assault weapons ban) or any other anti-gun legislation is DOA."
Even Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded to the Attorney General, saying that she favors "enforcing the laws we have now." (When she takes the same position on federal immigration laws, hell will freeze solid.)

My most favorite quote on the subject, however, came just yesterday from CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley:

"Let me just give you about six words on why there will not be a major change in gun control -- Michigan, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Ohio, West Virginia."
Crowley makes a good point -- and no, we can't take it to the bank, ever. That's the price we pay for precious freedoms. But even if we don't have grounds to be complacent, at least we can be buoyed that sentiment, both public and official, appears to be moving in the right (as in constitutional) direction. I know I am.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to continue to decompress for a little while longer and keep things simple. Outside my window a red-winged blackbird perches in the pear tree, which is in full bloom.

Simple is good.