Friday, November 14, 2008

Tightening Our Belts

Miss Grimke: I’m so excited about the big dinner in December at Elmwood. Thanks so much for putting me on the task force!

DGF: We all know of the extraordinary turbulence still roiling the world’s financial markets and the broader economy.

Miss Grimke: I am preparing vast amounts of congealed salad, using locally harvested sustainable canned fruits and tiny marshmellows and generic gelatin.

DGF: The downturn is widely seen as the most serious in decades, and each day’s headlines remind us that heightened volatility and persisting uncertainty have become our new economic reality.

Miss Grimke: Cheese balls provide a really fun, festive touch, and they are also economical, if you shop at Trader Joe’s for the cheese.

DGF: For all the challenges such circumstances present, we are fortunate to be part of an institution remarkable for its resilience.

Miss Grimke: Of course I’ll make them myself, using an old family recipe that was once printed in the Charleston News and Courier!

DGF: Over centuries, Harvard has weathered many storms and sustained its strength through difficult times. We have done so by staying true to our academic values and our long-term ambitions, by carefully stewarding our resources and thoughtfully adapting to change. We will do so again.

Miss Grimke: Do you think we can afford to double the amount of pecans in the pies? I know that makes them so much better than ordinary. I’d hate to skimp on pecans!

DGF: But we must recognize that Harvard is not invulnerable to the seismic financial shocks in the larger world.

Miss Grimke: Okay, I guess that means we’ll be rolling in squash and pumpkin pies. Sustainable, locally grown squash and pumpkin.

DGF: Our own economic landscape has been significantly altered. We will need to plan and act in ways that reflect that reality, to assure that we continue to advance our priorities for teaching, research, and service.

Miss Grimke: But at the expense of pecan pies, I see! Indeed we have fallen on hard hard times.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Tear Down the Curtains

Drew and I were recovering from all the excitement by working on a plan for a demonstration produce garden at Elmwood. Of course the new administration was not far from our thoughts.

Miss Grimke: Does the election of Barack Obama mean our country has been redeemed from the original sin of slavery?

DGF: I would not want to put that great a burden on the shoulders of any one man. But it certainly lightens our hearts.

Miss Grimke: Are you jealous that Larry’s name is being mentioned for a cabinet post?

DGF: Oh yes. I want everything Larry has. I have his office, his chair, his university. . .

Miss Grimke: His bell, book, and candle.

DGF: What? Oh you mean the keys, the charter, and the great seal.

Miss Grimke: Whatever. Don’t you want to be in the cabinet too?

DGF: Absolutely. I have radical ideas I want to implement as soon as possible.

Miss Grimke: Please share them with us!

DGF: My ideas center on draperies. I want to tear them down. . .

Miss Grimke: And make a ball dress?

DGF: No no no! I would send them to Al Gore for recycling. I want to tear down the draperies to leave the windows bare, to let in all the light. I favor a simple, unadorned window, draperies take a lot of energy to clean, and sunlight is the best disinfectant.

Miss Grimke: Dr. Faust, I would appoint you Secretary of Drapery.

DGF: And I would work myself right out of a job!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sumner Would Be Proud

The scribbler Alex Beam tried to make fun of Dr. Faust because she’s promoting sustainability. Of course he failed, but not before delivering a nasty jab. He went so far as to mention goats, callously disregarding Dr. Faust’s having had to give up her dream of a dairy at Elmwood.

Mr. Beam resides in splendor in the principality of Waban, where at the “farmers market” during the warm month one may be allowed to purchase a ripe tomato for $5, truly a bargain given that it is not raised but coddled, nurtured in organic soil worked by free-range basidiomycetes and fertilized by yak droppings hand-gathered in the high Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau.

Mr. Bean’s ribbing Dr. Faust is like the Mercedes calling the Volvo snobbish.