I feel as if I discovered a hidden jewel atop Petit Jean Mountain. A weekend trip was planned, no different than so many others since my childhood, to enjoy the crisp fall air and spectacular vistas of Petit Jean Mountain. But this trip was different. I noticed a sign that read simply, River Rock Grille.
I followed the signs past charming country homes and expanses of idyllic pastoral scenes of Santa Gertrudis cattle, grazing serenely, their gleaming, tawny coats seeming the embodiment of the warm autumn sun. I shortly came to my destination, but this was not the country diner or wagon wheel and hay bale festooned burger joint I had expected.
Housed within the magnificent Winthrop Rockefeller Institute, itself a treasure and source of great pride, was a modern, uber-hip restaurant. The menu was incredible, the service was excellent and the food superb. I am still amazed that I enjoyed the most magnificent cioppino imaginable, right outside of Morrilton, Arkansas. If you don't know what that is, fortunately you won't have to go to San Francisco or Italy to find out. Just look for the jewel atop Petit Jean with the name that belies its brilliance.
Cee Cee Sloan-Cicirello
Back to school
In response to the letter from Renee Taylor from Warren:
The timing of reading the back to school article was quite ironic. I'm a public school teacher and yesterday I sat down with my receipts to see how much I'd spent already on school supplies. I'd forgotten spiral notebooks and made yet another trip to Wal-Mart to catch them on sale. I read briefly through the Times in the car trying to remember what else I'd forgotten to purchase. I'm sitting already at about $300, and oh yeah, I don't have any children of my own. I'd be happy if all students came prepared with any color of pencil. In reality, due to no fault of their own, this isn't always the case. I don't blame the parents. See, they live in the same society that I do. We are all feeling the high gas and food prices. People have lost their jobs and taken pay cuts and no one is protected from it. Even when that child shows up for the first day of school completely empty handed, I know that the parents sent one very important thing. They sent their pride and joy and the best that they had. My job has now begun. I have to educate their best while the child may be hungry, needing new clothes, may be suffering from abuse at home, may be in need of glasses, health insurance, medical care and dentistry. The powers that be determine where public monies go. I teach special education. We have No Child Left Behind that looked good on paper but was never funded. Special ed classrooms have less supplies and resources than any. However, somehow with limited resources, children living below the poverty level and with teachers being held hostage to test scores, we educate. We touch the life of a child and strive to improve it. I am a National Education Association member. They remind me that I must put my personal thoughts about gay/lesbian/transgender individuals behind me and remember that great public schools are the basic right of every child. If the student or their parents fall into these categories, I do not turn them away. I have a job to do. Public schools teach students to understand that there is a world outside their home.
The fat cats
It seems to me that Dr. Bobby Roberts, the Central Arkansas Library System director, is up against some fat cats who want to build a hotel. Fat cats almost always win. It's a fundamental principle of Americanism.
The best Roberts can hope for is to get the most he can out of the situation for himself and his constituents. May he could have the fat cats send him to a nice place in the Caribbean for a week to think things over. Maybe he could have them make a contribution to the Bobby Roberts retirement fund and the Friends of the Library. Maybe have them donate a piece of land out west for the future Bobby Roberts Library.
However, know this. The fat cats will eventually win. Some day patrons will look out the windows of the Cox Center and see a wall of plate glass reflecting the sun onto them. If they are lucky and the angle of the sun is just right, they may even see a glimmer of chagrin on their own faces.
Letter writer Butch Stone thinks the Republicans want to present themselves as a moral standard for the nation. Well, I haven't heard any Republican claiming to be a moral standard although certain Republicans have campaigned in support of family values. The Family Values movement makes the simple assertion that there are standards of behavior for living and families suffer when we ignore them.
A tsunami is coming to America in the form of an economic depression. The U. S. will have to use policies from both political ideologies — government assistance and reducing taxes. A simplified tax code with a single low tax rate on income and a standard deduction that excludes taxes on low and moderate wages would rescue a coming unemployment problem and reduce the budget and trade deficits, and perhaps salvage Social Security and Medicare.