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January 10

In the morning I called the farm. Lisa told me that it was 20 below zero there, that the cold water pipe to the kitchen was frozen, and so was the bathroom drain. I told her not to worry about the cold water pipe in the kitchen, and how to thaw out the drain in the bathroom. She was not pleased about the situation, and I told her I’d be home in five hours. There were really no candidates I had an interest in birddogging again until the 13th anyway. I’d rather be home.

Driving home, I rehearsed a short speech I planned to give Edwards if he called on me at his next Town Meeting, tentatively scheduled on the 13th at the Manchester YWCA. The speech went like this:

“Senator Edwards, half a century ago Paul Robeson said that political movements succeed when people fight their own oppression. I’m a self-employed farmer; to save the family farm, the self-employed must be saved.

“The self-employed are the highest taxed, most regulatory burdened, least protected Americans. Thirty percent of the self-employed have no health insurance, they receive less than 1/10th of 1% of Small Business Administration Loans, and they must pay the draconian 15.3% Self-Employment Tax on all their income. A self-employed family earning $30,000 can not afford to pay over $4,000 in Self-Employment Tax as their first expense. I’ve read you economic plan for America (hold up book), and while I have great respect for your defense of organized labor, the word ‘self-employed’ does not appear in your economic plans, although we make up nearly 3/4 of American businesses. We have a name, self-employed, and I don’t know why you are not addressing our needs. There are 16 million union members, 20 million self-employed, together we make a populist movement. So my question is this, why don’t you know our name?”

Arrived home to five below zero weather, but was greeted warmly by the family. Repaired the drain pipe. Decided the cold water pipe to the kitchen would probably be frozen until spring.

January 11

Stoked the wood stoves, caught up with my journal, tried to be a good husband and father.

January 12

Drove back to Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. Found that the furnace had kicked off in the house and wouldn’t restart. Probably the extreme cold had coagulated the fuel oil. Went to the “water tower” in back: 30 years ago winterized for romance and study, abandoned for the past 15 years, now covered in the tracings of squirrels. Lit the wood stove and quickly got the place warm. Swept up the worst of the mess, then slept.

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© 2008 Mark Dunau

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