Honor and Respect

It’s Veteran’s Day. A day for honoring those vets who risked their lives to protect our nation and its values.  My dad was one of the vets who served in WWII.

Much more a coward, I’ve been hiding under my grandmother’s quilt, processing the wide range of emotions from the election results and mostly trying to be still.

Being still took me back to when I first started dating, post divorce, when a good friend handed me a book, The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout, PhD., and told me to read it.  I did.

Holy Mackerel.

I’ve since given the book to a number of friends. I’d recommend the book to everyone right now.

At a minimum, goggle Sociopath, review a checklist of the sociopath’s traits with Trump’s rhetoric and actions during the primaries and presidential campaign.

Remind yourself to breathe as you contemplate the next four years.

I live in Trump country, and while my neighbors have been very gracious and understanding towards the relatively few Clinton fans living in the area, I listen to the conversations in the local shops and markets.

Many have taken Trump words at face value and expect their lives will be immediately improved.  One clerk is excited that the VA will be building a facility locally so he won’t have to drive an hour for his annual checkup. Not. Others are fully expecting lower taxes, improved medical care at reduced rates, Clinton imprisoned, immigrants deported, Muslims rounded up…well, you get the idea.

What happens when Trump doesn’t deliver?

Personally, I’ve decided that I will continue to volunteer locally, in hopes of making a difference in a child’s life.

And, especially in honor of the veterans who have so well served our nation, I will continue to respect the Office of the President of the United States and all that it represents.

That respect does not extend to the man who will occupy it come next January 20th.

 

 

Beginner Bridge

trumpsIt all started a few years ago, when a good friend took me by the hand and said, You’re retired. Time to learn Bridge.  And golf.

Good grief.  I had avoided both my entire life, and here I was, face to face with a petite blonde retiree, another teacher, with an iron will.

I sighed and asked, can we start with Bridge?  It was winter, raining cats and dogs at the time, and probably 40 degrees below zero, which was admittedly a bit unusual for California Bay Area weather.

So we started with Bridge.  She had done her prep work and was prepared with all kinds of handouts and notes for me.  She didn’t realize I was functioning at the lowest possible remedial level, with no math skills whatsoever, but she had all kinds of expectations for what I could eventually do.

Eventually being the critical word.

I struggled to hold the definition of a “Trick” while “Trump” was mystifying long before politics ever entered the picture.

But, she was incredibly patient and would repeat explanations without flinching. Nothing much helped.

Then I moved.  I wouldn’t exactly call it payback, but before the movers showed up, I nominated my friend for a county board position and now she’s an officer, which probably cuts into her Bridge and golf time.  I do feel marginally guilty about that, even though she’s doing an exceptional job.

It wasn’t long after the move, that another dear woman and new friend — actually, another petite blonde woman with a similar iron will — said she was teaching a beginner Bridge group and needed a fourth.  Thursdays, 12:3o. 

She was also well prepared with notes, a book, and cards that were pre-set so the three of us would get a lot of practice on the lesson of the day.  The other two women have also been incredibly patient, being more experience beginners than I.

That was almost eight months ago, before a more or less permanent sub was needed for yet another beginner Bridge group.  Tuesdays, 1:00.

Bridge has also become almost fun, albeit challenging, though not as enjoyable as the talking and laughter shared afterwards in the Sports Lounge.

I think I’m beginning to figure out the game.  Kind of.  The bidding process remains a constant challenge and scoring is still a mystery. 

But, now, I can confidently share that I actually understand the definition of a “Trick.”  I even get “Trump” but only as it applies to card games.

It’s probably the only thing about the Trump that I understand.

Where there’s smoke…

…there’s usually fire.

I could well be talking politics.

Hillary, the server, the emails, the FBI, the DOJ and the GOP.  If the GOP is so adamant that her actions constituted criminal behavior, I wonder if they will also include former Secretaries of State Powell and Rice for identical indiscretions.

The Donald, white supremacists and the relatively few GOP members willing to say “The Trump has no clothes.” I sent an email to thank Sen. Lindsey Graham (R, South Carolina) for his critical words. I also need to thank Gov. Romney. 

But, it’s still all a worry.  Fire, smoke or as an old friend noted, I’m beginning to worry that we won’t pass our national IQ test in November.

Today, however, I’m really writing about fire.  Actual fire. Forest fire. Thousands of acres in flames and thick dark smoke in the middle of a very oppressive June heatwave.

It made for a lot of indoor time, if only to protect one’s lungs.

The options for entertainment were relatively few, after rejecting cable news or house cleaning.  The resident cat wasn’t even much of a distraction, given that he spent most of his time sprawled on his back atop of his favorite bed and under the breeze of a spinning ceiling fan.

Left to my own devices, I pulled out the sewing machine and began piecing new quilts for our local Linus group.

The quilts are actually getting better — although an experienced eye will note there are no triangles, circles, hexagons or other assorted geometric shapes showing up.  But, the squares and rectangles are getting straighter and better aligned and I’m growing more confident with color and design.

Regardless of the quality of my work, I figure the teens and preteens who will be receiving these quilts won’t be that critical…

which might well say something about the differing outlooks of youth and adults…

and that gives me reason to smile, despite the heat, the fire and the smoke, all of which are now fading into a June memory, and the politics, which are just now heating up for an anticipated autumn inferno.

 

 

 

God’s Country

I am an occasional IMG_0362political junkie and I live in God’s country, which is another way of saying I live in a simply beautiful area that is populated by, well, a fair number of 1960 hippie throwbacks meet ex-suburban rednecks.

Somehow their political views mesh, in sort of a generic keep-the-government-outta-my-face-unless-I need-help mosaic.  Most are very nice people except when they’re angry.  I’m not sure why they’re angry — it’s something about the people having spoken.

On the other hand, I am tad upset, too. Beyond the system being rigged and out of control, there’s an enormous ethical issue that has been casting a wide dark shadow. 

I have a dear friend, a conservative, whose email has been overwhelmed the past eight years with forwarded emails, usually about the President or his wife.  My friend asked me to check out some of the claims, as he doesn’t navigate the internet, and let him know what I found.

It was appalling. One blatant lie after another, one accusation after another, one photo-shopped picture after another, usually in the context of making the First Lady look like a street-walker or linking Obama to a Kenyan birthplace or Islam or terrorists.

My friend deletes the emails now, but it’s no wonder the majority of Republicans doubted the president’s birthplace and still doubt his religion and loyalty, not that religion should matter under the Constitution (Article Six, Section Three).

Apparently, any God and religion are just fine, as long as He’s a WASP. Not quite what the founding fathers had it mind.

It’s a bit sad in how quickly people forget their roots and history.  I recall a thousand years ago when I was teaching in a very white, affluent high school. I had one black student.  We had just begun celebrating MLK Day when another student, a bit of a loudmouth and bully, started mouthing off about the day. 

The goddesses must have been listening, because there was an immediate inspiration for a new lesson.

Everyone stand. We all stood. We’re going to go see which of our families have endured prejudice. 

Anyone who’s African American, sit.  My one student sat. He was very, very alone.

Latino, Hispanic, sit.  I sat.  Now there were two.

Asian, sit.  Another joined us.

Native American. Sit.

Eastern European. Russian. Sit.  

Latin Countries (Italy, Portugal, Spain). 

Middle East.

Irish. 

Women.

Now, for families or you — parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles

Catholic.

Jewish.

Muslim, Buddhist.

Gay, Lesbian.

Disabled.

By the end, we had our one WASPy male kid, the classroom bully, still standing while the rest of us were sitting, united in our minority status.

It’s kind of like that, America.  Most of us have been or still are “those people.”

That one bully rather reminds me of The Donald, who also speaks at a 4th grade level (Boston Globe and the Flesch-Kincaid readability test) and evidently struggles at math as well. I’m no math wizard, but even I understand that the Republican Convention hosts some 2,274 delegates, and it takes just a majority (1,237) to become a marginally weak candidate. The D has 673, a little over half way to getting the nomination, and he’s throwing a temper tantrum over not having been crowned as of yet?

Of course, he has a model in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who announces that the people need to speak before we can proceed with approving a Supreme Court Judge. 

ah, the people already spoke.  Sixty six million of them. Of course, that hasn’t stopped the majority party from blocking most appointees, effectively denying the legitimacy of an elected president and undermining the work of the government.  Unethical in addition to setting a very dangerous precedent.

That said, the Republicans deserve The Donald.  It’ll be interesting, if a tad painful, to see which group of Republicans can out-con and out-bully the other as their convention grows closer.

Needless to say, I am trying to focus on quilting and walking, at least through November.

Although walking may have to be tempered if we’re to believe Trump’s veiled threat of rioting if he’s not selected, not that he’s encouraging rioting, you understand, just sayin’ it’ll happen.

 

Dark Clouds Gathering

dark cloudsIt is dark, stormy and I am trying very hard to escape the gathering dark clouds of both the weather and the national politics.  Both are difficult to ignore.

I cannot fathom the current national debate nor the ignorance that abounds. All common sense, to say nothing of functioning brain cells, seems to have gone missing. The candidates?  Am I listening to a policy debate, a Kardasian script or a reboot of Hitler?

The people are angry. The people have spoken.  Well, yes, we are all angry regardless of our political views. The system is failing and the middle class, to say nothing of the social safety net, is fast disappearing. And, yes, it’s relatively easy to follow the thread and see where both sides of the aisle failed the country and her people.

And yes, people are speaking, although, as noted above, I’m not sure with how many functioning brain cells. The nomination process is only one third of the way complete and no one, in either party, has secured sufficient delegate votes. Didn’t anyone in required government classes learn anything?

I sure as hell hope, however, that delegate votes are not being secured on the basis of the best endowed male, although, by the looks of things, it’s getting close to that.

Come to think of it, isn’t that how the Kardashians, with their well endowed asses, gathered such an enormous following?

I got a call over the weekend from a “national polling” group; in a round-about way, they wanted to know if I’d vote for Sanders. Not sure. They read a paragraph from his well-known policy statement on what needs to be done.  I responded with yes, I agree.  And Congress has the authority and power to tax.  He’s been there for twenty-some years.  What has he done to mitigate the situation?

I do remember my government lessons.

I listen to the two front runners on the Republican side, and am very frightened of their rhetoric. Cruz conveniently forgets that there is separation of Church and State and wants to re-cement the Constitution in religion.  His religion; screw everyone else and their beliefs regardless that pesky First Amendment protecting freedom of religion.

Trump?  For the first time in many years, I agree with Governor Romney. Trump is a con artist. He is also an adult caricature of students that repeatedly fail — strong-armed bullies, terrified that others will learn of their shortcomings so they play on fears, certain that if they out-yell and out-intimidate, they’ll show everyone they’re great successes.  It seems to be working, God help us.

That leaves Clinton.  Of all the candidates, she certainly has both the credentials and experience. That said, she is also the most mis-understood candidate in history, the most maligned, or, as David Alexrod noted, there’s a problem.

Perhaps it’s time to revisit a quote by Abraham Lincoln from his Lyceum Address:

If it (danger) ever reach us it must spring up amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher.

On that note, I’m going to go back into hiding. Project Linus put out a call for infant quilts and even I can make one of those in a few hours, although, at this point in time, I’m not terribly optimistic about the future these young ones will have.