Sunday, July 31, 2016

The choice has never been more clear


It feels like swimming against the tide, 
this stubborn hope I have, 
insisting on making its way 
against all the contrary evidence, 
all the news of brutal pain, 
of anger and pointless violence. 

Every day, 
every minute, 
the flow of pictures and stories 
sweeps around me, 
around us, 
pulling me, 
pulling us, 
out toward the dark and distant water, 
far from the shore. 

Fear is a rip tide, 
a strong current that carries away 
and leaves the faithful heart 
exhausted by the effort to believe 
in the face of so much sorrow. 

But I will not, 
we will not, 
cease to rise above the waves 
or fail to take the hand of the One who has come 
to bring us all to firm ground again.

Steve Charleston

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Political conventions: Week 2

Don't go back to sleep

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don't go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the door sill
where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.
Don't go back to sleep.


Friday, July 22, 2016

I appreciate history more now.

I used to wonder
if there were 'normal' people in German society
preceding the Nazis and WWII;
people working hard,
meeting friends for drinks and dinner,
going to the theater,
listening to music,
being consumed by grief over personal losses,
having babies,
raising children,
paying bills,
worrying about aging parents,
complaining about their arthritis and the weather,
trying not to obsess about getting older;
in short, 
people going about the business of living ordinary lives.

I used to wonder if any were appalled and dismayed
 by what they were hearing and seeing in their country -
maybe a country they no longer recognized as their own,
as neighbors were demonized,
forced to wear stars that labeled them 
as 'foreign',
as 'alien';
as truth was manipulated into lies 
and as fear was disseminated by those with access 
to media and unformed minds,
convincing them that 'they', 
the 'others',
were to blame for all that was wrong in their country;
convincing them that those in power
were out of touch and out of ideas;
convincing them that a buffoonish, charismatic, odd looking little man
was the savior that would end all their struggles,
that he alone had all the answers -
all they had to do was 'trust and believe in him';
that he was their only hope
in a changing and frightening world.

History repeats itself.
I never appreciated the reality and truth of that saying until now.

I never understood how 'normal' German citizens stood by 
and 'let' their country be overtaken by such a malignant force;
never understood why there wasn't more resistance and opposition
at the start of their downward slide.

We can say "Not on our watch".
We can vote.
We can petition.
We can make our voices heard.

But, dare I ask,
what if there aren't enough 'we' to make a difference?

History repeats itself - 
and now I know that 'normal' folks can find themselves caught in a current,
unable to fight against the tide;
now I know how evil gets clothed as patriotism, faith
and relief from powerlessness.

This is the most fearful I've been in my adult life -
and with my personal history -
that's saying something.

I appreciate history more now
because now I know -
and I wish I didn't.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

It's a Shore thing

I know we're weeks away from the Fourth of July celebrations - 
and since I boycotted them deliberately
any lamenting about missing fireworks is due to my own behavior,
I wanted to share three favorite photos 
from the New Jersey shore 
that came my way.

THESE, I wouldn't have missed!
If, like me, you miss being 'down the shore',
here might be someplace you want to check out regularly.

The Easy Button

A friend expressed concern recently
about the divisiveness of our national scene;
and, rather than just complain,
she offered the beginning of a solution.

At first glance, I loved the idea.

At a certain time, say, 
7:00 pm Friday night, 
we all just walk out of the building we are in. 
Just out.

Just for a few minutes.
Not rally, not speeches, not organized.

Just OUT. 

Talk to neighbor. 
Just OUT.

Ready to move on.
Beyond guns.
Beyond oligarchy.
Beyond injustice.
Beyond racism.
Beyond homophobia.
Beyond sexism.
Beyond putting one another down to feel raised up.
Beyond fear.
Beyond hatred.
Beyond pitting one against another.
Beyond destroying this Earth that holds us.

Together we stand.
I stand here, next to you.
You stand there, next to me.

Person by Person. 
Neighborhood by neighborhood.
City by City.
Land by Land.

We, the people.

Sounds good, right?
How could you not want to move 'beyond' all the rhetoric?

So I did it;
 not that anyone else did.
I hadn't expected to see anyone else.

Watching my neighbors going about their lives,
noticing who was outside, who hadn't come home yet,
whose kids were playing in the street,
that's when my uneasiness with this idea coalesced.

Given the reality for many of my friends
(probably the majority),
going outside and standing with our neighbors
simply reinforces our own view of reality;
a reality shaped by our privilege,
our economic status
and our ability to shield ourselves from many of the realities
with which people struggle in this country.

It reinforces that "We the people"means
"We the White people".

Despite how many friends and family I have who have darker skin than mine,
who appear regularly on my social media 'feed',
some of whom I see on a daily basis at work,
they don't live in my neighborhood.

To understand their reality,
to stand side by side with them in solidarity,
I have to get outside
not just my house
but my neighborhood;
out of my silo,
out of my bubble.

That's where the risk is;
that's where the growth will happen.

Changing the systems
that continue to oppress and victimize
will take standing with our brothers and sisters,
but it will take more than walking out our doors
and standing in our own streets.
There is no easy button.

We're kidding ourselves if we think there is.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

beyond words ...

I thought of it this morning as I listened to the reports coming out of Dallas.

I thought of it yesterday – 
and on too many days before that – 
as I read the posts and lamentations on social media 
about more people with brown skin 
being shot and killed by people in blue uniforms.

Forty years ago, when I took out a federal loan to pay for my college education, 
in order to receive the money, 
I had to appear before the Financial Aid officer at our college 
and, with hand raised, 
swear an "Oath of Allegiance” to this country. 
Included in that oath was the phrase
 "I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America 
against all enemies, foreign and domestic”.

I distinctly remember this because it was at the height of the Vietnam War; 
it was in the midst of massive student protests on almost every college campus
about our country’s continued involvement 
and the cost in human lives on both sides. 
My revulsion with our role in what was happening 
in a country thousands of miles away 
was ultimately over ridden by my need for financial aid; 
the oath was uttered with much angst, internal reservations 
and crossed fingers on the hand held limply at my side.

I distinctly remember this because, even then, I’ve struggled to identify ‘the enemy’.

The Vietnamese people were not my enemy.
 The men of my generation who chose or, more likely, were drafted to serve in the war 
were not my ‘enemies either. 
Neither were those who chose to go to Canada 
rather than participate in an action they felt was immoral.

Clarity has not come with age.

I know and love people who were born with dark skin.
As I see their beloved faces and those of their children during our times together - 
which continue to appear magically on my computer, 
keeping us connected during our absences –
 my heart breaks for the hyper-vigilance and fear that is their daily reality.
A reality I can never know because of the color of my skin.
What I do know, beyond doubt, is that they are not my enemy.

I know and respect people who wear blue uniforms.
Men and women in law enforcement who put their lives on the line every day, 
who take seriously their oaths to protect and defend, 
with no crossed fingers and no hesitation. 
Men and women who are forced to make life altering, split second judgments 
and who do so with restraint and compassion.
They are not my enemy either.

These realities don’t mean that enemies don't exist:
those who cloak themselves in ignorance, religiosity, hatred and fear; 
those who sow dissent and divisiveness; 
those who seek to tear down rather than build up; 
those who distance themselves from the humanity of the people with whom they disagree; 
those who use guns in a perverted attempt 
to exert the power and control over others they feel they lack; 
those who abandon reason and civility to embrace violence
all come to mind immediately.

Throughout recorded history there has been violence between people..
but fighting hand to hand,
with catapulting balls of fire 
or molten tar over the side of the castle wall - 
as morbid and grotesque as those methods were - 
are not the same as the weapons currently available for purchase.

In my opinion,
the two profound differences fueling the lunacy in which we find ourselves trapped today
are our fascination, bordering on obsession, with guns 
leading to a militaristic approach to every 'problem'
a 24/7 media that is the feeding 'culture' in the petri dish that is America,
fueling our basest instincts,
giving equal weight to every voice
(no matter how ignorant and ill informed)
thereby normalizing the vitriol and, 
yes, I'll say it, 

We have dug ourselves into a deep hole -
or had the hole dug and been pushed in - 
and it will take time to find our way out.

And the way out, 
the only way there's ever been an out,
is if we come together.

The 'enemies' are all variations of US
and it's going to take all of us to fix it.

We must NOT become the evil we deplore.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

I had the perfect 4th of July

for an introvert.

After driving all over the state on Saturday,
a full Sunday at church,
complete with brunch afterward and discussing baby names
(of which, lets be honest, 
there are simply too many -
and this was even before people started making up their own 
which now gets the number to well over a bazillion 
because everyone seems to believe their baby needs to be 'unique' - 
lets face it, it already will be 
since there's not another creature 
with the exact same mix of DNA
and - unless you get it identical plastic surgery 
by the same plastic surgeon like a Kardashian -
 you can be assured your baby WILL be his or her own little person - 
but now with a name that most assuredly will NOT be found on any personalized license plate 
for their tricycle or hair barrettes, depending on gender and hair length).
To celebrate my independence this year -
for starters from:
*blindly wearing some red, white and blue outfit 
that only comes out of the basement once a year;
*standing with the hordes drinking at 10AM
(this year in the drizzle),
watching people walk in a street
*hoping some float riding, hat wearing, flag waving citizen of my town 
will throw a stale piece of penny candy in my direction,
which BTW, I can buy myself any day I want 
and be far more selective abut the flavor I prefer
*having to restrain myself from booing 
when the local Republicans go marching along ...

basically freedom from trying to pretend 
that displays of small town Americana don't get old 
when repeated year after year, 

Insight flash -
maybe it gets old for everyone and that's why they're drinking!

Anyway it seemed a safer bet for all concerned 
for me to stay in bed until noon -
shopping on Etsy for the new grandchild - 
who will, in perpetuity, 
be referred to as "The Tot" or "Tater".

If its a boy, the outfits I chose are great;
if its a girl, she'll either be 
too young to care, 
a hipster,
or well on her way to being a dyke.
(Not that there's anything wrong with that!)
 It was also the perfect day to binge watch "Mozart in the Jungle"
 without a twinge of remorse
since it was raining and I couldn't do yard work
even if I wanted to
which I don't and can't
since my lawn mower is broken and still being repaired.

And, IF you haven't seen Mozart already -
why not?

Go do it now.

I spoke to no one -
beyond reassuring the dogs they were not going to die from the sound of fireworks
and I'm not sure that counts.

I took pictures of small things,
 added an element to my holistic approach of treating my recent flare of RA,
and was back in bed,
asleep by 9.

It was lovely.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

It doesn't always go as planned

but that doesn't mean it wasn't fun.

I envisioned blue skies,
white fluffy clouds,
picturesque cattle and fields
and quaint, perhaps abandoned, homes
practically begging to be explored 
and photographed.

I got 50 shades of gray sky
and rain; 
hours and hours of rain.
The fields were there
but I got soaked just taking these pictures,
so I gave up getting any more.

It was not the day I had planned.

But it was rural Missouri
so there were surprises
because nothing quite says 
"Happy Fourth of July"
like Darth Vader, Yoda 
and a wild turkey in a boat!
And there was treasure hunting.

You've got to love a town where people read
AND sell antiques!

Now THIS is the way to celebrate our freedom - 
poking around in other folks cast offs!
Recycling at its most glorious!

 I thought of all the Christmas 'stuff' I still have downstairs -
after giving away boxes of it - 
and I resisted the holiday section - 
although my heart did beat a bit faster while browsing around.

Textiles were the draw of the day ...
although I don't need any.
But 'need' doesn't enter into the equation on these outings!

Politically incorrect or not,
this vintage "Black Lives Matter" baby doll made me smile!
(Too soon?)
I was tempted by this guy too ...
and found myself wondering what his story was.
 I never fully understand why some antique stores look more like museums than stores.
I had an upcoming event on my mind as well
but didn't succumb to any vintage baby item - 
 Wandered around in the gardens before the rains forced me back inside the car 
and headed home.
 Oh well, at least I have another excuse to go out again later this summer!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Future Shock

Is anyone else out there feeling shell shocked?

There’s just SO much to respond and react to …
I no sooner had written those sentences than I heard an NPR report
on the death of futurist, Alvin Toffler.
His book, Future Shock, published in 1970,
coined the term he used as the title
 as a psychological state of individuals and entire societies.
The shortest definition for the term is
"a personal perception of too much change in too short a period of time".
He predicted that when we reached that point on a massive scale,
individuals, as well as societies, would go a bit crazy.

Frankly, I think he nailed it!

The mass murder in Orlando,
bombs going off in Istanbul,
BREXIT and complete chaos in the British government
(that I fear is, sadly, just a portent of what’s to come in this country) -

and may I just ask -
what’s up with the hairdos of the rousers of rabble on both sides of the pond?
 Is disordered hair an indication of disordered thinking?
Or is it just that too much bleach has seeped into their brains.

I think both these guys are case studies in how much easier it is
to tear things apart
 than build them up and keep them together.
Neither one of them seems to have an actual plan for how to govern -
they're just interested in self promoting
and being 'against' whatever exists now.
Although clearly whatever exists now
is working out a whole lot better for them
than it is for most of us!

I think it’s telling
(of what I don’t know except maybe that
stupidity isn’t exclusively the purview of Americans) –
but the most Googled questions in Britain –
 the day after the Brexit vote –
were “what countries are in the EU”
and” how will Britain leaving the EU impact the country”?
 The day after you vote!!
It doesn’t occur to you to educate yourself BEFORE casting your vote.
(As if ‘Googling’ is a substitute for an actual knowledge base and critical thinking!)

 Don’t even get me started on the complete failure of the education systems -
in both countries apparently -
to teach reasoning, sequential thought, and history!
Oy vey!

As if that isn't bad enough,
we have the conventions coming up.
Even thinking about what will be on the airwaves later this summer
is enough to induce gagging.

It’s predicted to be the Trump Family reality show.
 All of his children speaking at different times -
because no one in their right mind wants to share a stage with him.
Not that I think anyone in the Republican Party nowadays is in their right mind these days.

BTW, does his wife even speak English?
Has he not programmed Stepford wife to speak in whole sentences yet
or is it just that her heavily accented 'foreign' voice is the wrong visual
to have while he spews hate about immigrants?
(OK, so it s not a visual, its an auditory, but you know what I mean!)

Don't get me wrong ...
the Dems convention won't be much better.

While I DO think the whole Benghazi investigation was politically motivated
and an outrageous waste of tax dollars and time
when Congress could have been,
 oh I don’t know, actually GOVERNING,
there’s been too much ‘where there’s smoke, there’s fire “with Ms Hillary
for my taste.
You can just bet that IF there had been anything to charge her with though
she’d be wearing an orange jumpsuit instead of a pants suit by now.
It’s just, how many times can you or your husband be linked to some sleazy
or ‘just this side of the law’ occurrence
before you figure out there may be more than a teeny problem with truth and honesty?

And Bills latest debacle about meeting with the Attorney General?
I don't care if you were talking about your grand-kids, vacations and the weather,
what about the appearance of impropriety
and incredibly poor judgement do you not get?

Does anyone else wonder if he's deliberately trying to undermine her campaign?
After all his hound dogging around and her standing by him,
I'm sure she has him by the short hairs...
this might be payback.
Just sayin'.

 Then there’s Bernie…
another WTH.

He doesn’t give a rats ass about the Democratic party;
it is, after all, the first time he’s ever run as one.
And there's no denying it was a good run
but come on,
talk about staying too long at the party.
He’s like the gum wad you get on the bottom of your shoe;
you think it’s gone
but you can’t really ever scrape it all off.

And to add insult to injury,
the FDA is weighing in that eating raw cookie dough is bad for you.
Not that we haven't heard it all before  ...

Truth be told,
it's not going to change my mind
or my eating practices.

If anyone gives me a hard time,
I'm just going to tell them
I've started a raw food diet!
That's supposed to be good for you, right?

It's all just too much!

That's why a road trip is called for ...
time in the country,
away from the radio, TV and any other form of social media.
 Just me, my camera and hours of unfettered time.

Stay tuned!