"Much negotiation lies ahead before middle ground can be found," writes Chicoan Dick Cory in his new book, "Down To Earth" ($20 in paperback from the author--write to email@example.com; also available at Made In Chico). Maybe Congressional seating ought to be rearranged. "Opposing parties should be seated next to one another. ... We must talk with each other rather than at one another. ... Let's make sure 'down to earth' progress is reached before we go over a fiscal cliff or another election occurs. That's my two cents worth. You decide if it's worth a plug nickel."
The retired teacher brings his small-town Nebraska heritage to bear on a multitude of observations. These reflections, the sixth collection of essays since he began writing more than a decade ago, consider "culture and environment" (Cory has been deeply involved in a group considering the disposition of Chico's Teichert Ponds); education ("I am a teacher!"); family ("life hasn't been without pitfalls, but it has never been pitiful"); and "nostalgia and wit" (whatever happened to the Chico "Community Bench" project?).
Cory writes that if he taught English instead of science he would use a thunderstorm as a way of teaching composition. "If you are lucky enough to live on the plains, you are able to watch as the storm approaches along a squall line. This is a slow moving curtain of water flowing from clouds at the front of a storm. Call this the topic sentence. As this shower line reaches you, the precipitation increases, barometric pressure drops, and lightning flashes and thunder courses the sky. This shows the brilliance of the storm and your paragraph. A funnel cloud, called a tornado or cyclone, adds exclamation to your paragraph!"
There are poignant moments, too, as Cory adjusts to life without his wife, Jan, who died in 2012 "the day after our twenty-six wedding anniversary. She was a pillar of strength and love."
The book contains daydreams, letters to the editor, sometimes crotchety observations, and a lot of "chewing the fat" (the term "in America may have arisen from having to chew salt port or fatback when food supplies were low").
As for Cory's views? "You may disagree, but remember I'm only shooting the breeze, gabbing, and chewing the fat."