Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Always In Search

 I love to walk, run, and hike, and so I am always in search of beautiful pathways. Sometimes with companions, more often by myself, it has been a lifelong habit of seeking solace in the outdoors. Moving among trees or waves, coming upon a herd of deer, watching a bunny dart from under a bush, I relish the encounters. It's an important connection that brings joy in the simple moments of just walking.

Sometimes the path is in the middle of the city or in a big residential area, but there's something about a secluded tree lined path that makes me feel all alone. I hear thoughts once distant, see memories once faded, and create ideas that are new. Endorphins are coaxed out of their hidden cells. Beautiful pathways bring a subtle euphoria.



Even Sebastian felt the euphoria and had to climb out of the stroller.

For the most part, I find beautiful pathways when I don't have a camera, but they stay in my mind enabling me to return again and again: The Kaanapali Coast, the state park in Connecticut, the sand dune path in Southern Utah, the tide pools on a small island, the hot pot pathway in Yellowstone, the secret doorway to a park in Paris, the Tai Chi Park in China. In an instant the pathways appear and I am floating to distant lands. 

Yesterday, I dared the mountain side pathway thinking it would already be packed down and an easy run, but the only tracks were the hooves of deer. 

Still! How pleasant to know and see in my mind's eye, the leaping grace of a deer.

Sometimes, I am lured off a path. The smell of this cedar tree brought a rush of childhood memories. The berries! How many berries had I picked as a child and mixed with leaves and mud, to make the perfect dessert?

 When I walk to yoga class, I veer off the busy road to walk this path. It takes longer, but the to and from, is the perfect match to the contemplative practice.
As careful as I am to find and venture on beautiful pathways, I am even more careful in choosing life's pathways--friends, adventures, even sacrifices. These choices place us on a journey often longer and with more serious consequences. Even when we find ourselves on a pathway we didn't choose, Viktor Frankel taught us we still have a choice of a pathway within that pathway. Personal choice is the evader of all thieves. 

Once conscious of our choices, pathways can be skipped, jumped over, or emergency exited.

I love beautiful pathways. I love the power of choice. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

PSA For Kitchen Safety

Each time I am asked, "How was your Thanksgiving?" I have to weigh whether or not to be honest.

The inquiry has lost its sincerity in the same way "How are you?" has. We all answer fine, and I suspect no one asks how Thanksgiving went, really wanting to know how it went. No one wants to hear the turkey was dry, the in-laws were chummy, the uncle was difficult, and it was the worst holiday ever. Even so, I have confided in a few people, and each time I explain briefly what happened, the person to whom I have engaged, also has a kitchen disaster story.

It's PSA time.

Person #1 was carrying a pan of boiling water, turned around, caught her arm on something and spilled the water. Her burns were second degree and only on the top of her foot, but walking was difficult as was sleeping.

Person #2 remembers heating oil on top of the stove. She left the room, came back to a flame engulfed pot, ran to the pot and pushed it off the burner. The hot oil spilled on the dog, her mom and herself.

Person #3's memory was of her own mom having burned her hands so bad in a kitchen accident that later in life, the thin skin on her hands became painful and she had to wear gloves.

Person#4: My own mother. As a seven year old, she and her little brother were burning garbage. A piece was thrown, caught by the wind and landed on my mother's stomach. Her mother rushed outside after having seen the accident from the kitchen window. Her mother love was so intense that she put the fire out with her own hands, and she too suffered severe burns. My mom was put to sleep for three days and spent six months laying on her back in a bed moved into the living room.

We no longer burn our own garbage so the single solution is to never cook again.

Or maintain the pots in one's kitchen. Periodically check to make sure handles aren't worn down and are still securely attached. Recycle old pots and pans.

Or cook in small quantities, and always make sure there is an uncluttered path for moving hot pans and food.

Make sure children are not in the kitchen or near a stove or oven when cooking.

Pay attention. Safety depends on it.

Monday, November 28, 2016

When Evil Cloaks Itself As Good

From 1965 to 1973, the largest airborne refugee evacuation took place from Cuba to America. President Johnson's freedom flights alleviated the influx of Cuban refugees who risked their lives by crossing the sea, sometimes in rickety boats and makeshift rafts.

Not only did my son-in-law's mother come by plane, but another little girl, Giselle, accompanied by her parents, her brother and an assortment of relatives, came by plane to America. She was my new friend, a fellow 11 year old. Our only difference was that she came from Cuba and had left the country because of a very bad man named Castro.

That's all I knew, all that mattered--at the time.

 As an adult, I wish my child-self had been more curious. I wish I would have asked all the valuable questions lost over time.

That very bad man, clearly understood to people who value freedom, is being pseudo honored in his death. He was even honored before his death. I understand it is the nature of humans to be contrary, to want to kick up the dust, to "stick-it-to-the-man." All fine with me--let the first person who has never been rebellious cast the first stone. But...this man and his cohorts...

I told my students if they ever wore a Che Guevara or a Fidel Castro t-shirt to class, I would ask them to leave. It would NOT be a violation of free speech or free t-shirt wearing--they have every right to wear what they want--just not in my class. Because these men denied basic human rights to fellow human beings--even death, they cannot be glorified in my classroom. Castro ruined the economy of his country, took away people's possessions, properties, and denied the right to think according to one's conscience.

How blurred do we allow the lines of right and wrong, good and evil, to become?

Some people may remember when Ronald Reagan had the audacity to call the Soviet Union, the Evil Empire. It was a bold move in the dawning age of political correctness. In 1983, the President defended America's Judeo-Christian traditions against the Soviet Union's suppression of religious freedoms, freedoms of expression, the rights to think and act for oneself and its totalitarian rule. He wasn't afraid to call evil evil. What if? What if this blatant identification helped in the surprising, miraculous, dissolution of the great and might Soviet Union?

Yet, we keep trying to call evil good, keep hoping there is hope in socialism. We tried to cloak it again in the most recent election, because we saw such goodness in the candidate, even though he deemed himself a social democrat. Over and again, socialism has proven an unsuccessful economic experiment. Margaret Thatcher reversed the socialism of the UK and saved her country's economy. The socialist principles of the Soviet Union failed. Keep your eye on Venezuela, whose people are leaving by boat to escape starvation. Even China's economic changes were spurred by the leader who recognized, "It doesn't matter if the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice."

We are trying hard to be mutually inclusive. We want refugees to feel welcome, accepted and hopeful. We can love everyone, do unto others as you would have them do unto you, but we can't step on the toes of truth. When we blur the lines of good and evil, evil triumphs.



Sunday, November 27, 2016

Words

A friend and I go to lunch and throughout our conversation, she says, "I remember when you said this," or "told me..." Each time I cringe, wondering what goofy opinion I espoused, or the embarrassing anecdote I might have shared. Who hasn't said at least a few silly things we wish had never been spoken?

But those said things follow us to the end of life. Both the things we said and the things said to us. I have an uncanny remembrance for uttered words, both serious and not, from my friends and acquaintances. Why they become indelible is hard to trace or determine.

"Deception is always a half-truth." We were in deep conversation while on a morning walk, Tam and me. She went on to explain why the aphorism was truth. It's why we can be deceived--because we hold on to the truth part and conveniently ignore the deception. A pure deception would never work, but a half deception does.

It's a funny thing how this phrase spoken twenty years ago, pops into my mind unexpectedly. I'll be teaching an unrelated concept, and her words will pop into my mind--inevitably they relate to the topic I'm teaching and I write it out on the board. Tam's wisdom keeps on traveling.

All seriousness aside, whenever I eat a crunchy cookie, I remember my neighbor Liz. For some unknown reason, she said to me one day, "I like soft cookies, except for a snickerdoodle. I like them to be hard, so I can dip them in a cold glass of milk."

One day I'm standing at my kitchen sink with a hard snickerdoodle in my left hand and a glass of milk in my right. When I dip the cookie, I hear Liz, I see her face, explaining the snickerdoodle eating habit, as if it were yesterday. The memory always enhances my cookie eating experiences.

Some of my father's common sayings pop into my mind when needed. When circumstances are rough, but not that rough, I hear Dad say, "It's not a murder trial," or if I do something stupid and on the verge of broadcasting the stupidity, I hear, "If you're going to be a sucker, be a quiet one." Each time I think about blessings, I hear Mom say, "We are so blessed." The words do not stand alone, but in my mind's eye, I see Dad's face or Mom's face and hear the tone in his and her voice.

Last night while playing cards with my children and son-in-laws, the girls were chatting incessantly. "Mindless chatter!" I called out to them--a frequent phrase used when gibberish filled the house or the car. Mindless chatter drove me mad!

I opened the Pandora's box for the resented litany of phrases so tied to their childhood. When they'd spend too much time watching TV, I'd brush past and dare them to make the "Big click."

Or if they complained about their nose, a bulging stomach, or aching legs, I was sure to respond with "Be thankful you have a nose, or a stomach, or legs to walk on, because there are people without."

And supposedly, I would regularly say,

"You're not hungry."

"You love brussels sprouts."

"No one likes donuts."

Their memories were like rubber bullets reminding me of how annoying a nagging mother can be. I joined with them in laughing at myself-- because, I understand that as important as the phrases are in their memories in forming a memory of who I am, I hope my actions, my love and devotion, speak louder than my words. Much louder.





Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Bees Are Gone Again

After a run, I passed by the hive and paused a moment to see if all was well.  I noticed a yellow jacket enter freely. It wasn't attacked and chased away, like it should have been.

Houston, we have a problem. 

Fearing the worst, I sat down this afternoon to intentionally observe. A bee, then one yellow jacket, then two, came and went as if they owned the place.

Wax crumbs rested on the entryway--a sure sign the hive was being honey-robbed. Not a guard bee in sight was defending the homefront. I pulled the winterizing layers off--just weeks before the wood and styrofoam had protected an active hive from the winter's cold. The observation window now exposed, revealed the awful truth-not a bee in sight. Sigh....I'd lost another hive.

At summer's end, Nikki and Lisa both lost a hive or two. We were all down to one hive. So puzzling, since Lisa's had JUST been strong and thriving. We are back to square one of the equation.

I cleaned out the hive, stuffed the entry so yellow jackets couldn't squat for the winter and carried the few bars of honey upstairs to harvest.

Discouraging, but I won't give up.

Next spring, I will start rooftop beekeeping. However, it's not technically a rooftop, it's the third floor deck.

I'm not sure when beekeepers started keeping hives on the roof, but all over the world, in hotels, in apartments, beekeepers are suiting up. The needed sun exposure is often guaranteed, and the foxes who roam my hillside will never make it to the third floor.

It's my fourth year of beekeeping and I'm not sure I can really call myself a beekeeper.

Sometimes it feels like a lost cause. As I tore the hive apart, I wondered how much money I've invested in the cause I believe in: protecting our food sources. Almost 70% of our agriculture needs pollination. The raspberries have tripled in production since I've kept bees.

...but here's the misconception...I don't keep bees. As much as I think I do, the bees have proven otherwise...obviously.

I often wonder if our efforts to save certain aspects of the environment fall into the same category as thinking we are keeping bees. Can the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions stop the rising seas, or has it been in the making for hundreds of years--with or without our destructive help? I try a new kind of hive, move the bees in and out of the sun, when I suspect it doesn't matter. Yet, just as I am the steward of my bees, we are all stewards of the earth and to not make sacrifices would be a crime against nature--but still nature rules.

In 1985, scientists discovered a hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica. CFS or chlorofluorocarbons, the chemical used in hair sprays and refrigeration were the cause. Because of the threat to human health and even existence, a first time ever world agreement to ban CFCs occurred. The Montreal Protocol of 1987 has every country's signature who is a part of the United Nations. The hole in the ozone quit growing. Yet scientists postulate the thicker ozone layer actually contributes to global warming. Other scientists report the hole is as big as it has ever been.

Still, I will order my bees for next spring. I have heard of a heartier breed that is more resistant to the decimating varroa mite that weakens hives. I suspect my hive was weak after the varroa mite had gained a foothold in the hive. I naturally treated the varroa but the hive moved on to greener grass--and they didn't ask permission.


Friday, November 25, 2016

Painful Gratitude

Thanksgiving turned into one lousy day.

We got our conflict that drives home the meaning of gratitude.

We had a kitchen accident that sent one of us to the hospital with second degree burns.

Yes, we were grateful it wasn't third degree burns. We were grateful the two toddlers were taking naps and weren't underfoot when the handle on the giant pot broke. We were grateful for the health providers who worked the holiday. Grateful for the nurse back in Chicago who answered our immediate questions. Grateful for healthcare...

We got the grateful part, but what I had forgotten is how painful it is in the midst of that kind of gratitude.

I was so grateful when the day finally ended, and I could try to forget the day's tragedy. It worked for the first half of the night, but in the lonely, wee, morning hours, I relived the moment over and over again.

I was dumbfounded and helpless as I watched the boiling stock fall out of my daughter's arms and burn her hands and arm--helpless as I watched her slip, bounce, and hit her head. Dumbfounded and helpless as I watched her jump into the sink screaming, "I'm burning." Over and again, I replayed the incident.

An hour after the incident, after she and her husband had arrived at the hospital, we sat down to eat. But the food was without taste and it just wasn't the same without her. Eating while in shock is perfunctory-without pleasure.

She kept in touch with us. She let us know when the IV was in. Let us know when they scrubbed the blistered skin. She even laughed when she was finished and waiting in her Dad's big blue robe. Five months away from officially being a Registered Dietician, she knew what she needed to teach her students from her accident, and she knew enough to write, I've gained a lot of empathy for potential future patients. This is typical [pain] for burns. 

As the night continued, her pain intensified and she knew there wasn't a whole lot to stop it. My mom turned to me and said, "Don't you wish you could take her pain upon yourself?" Mom then recalled an incident with my older sister in which she would have suffered herself rather than take the wounds to her mother's heart.

I knew my mother's wish was impossible and I knew my own weaknesses, and so I answered honestly, "I'm too big of a wimp to take on someone's pain."

As the night wore on, as my daughter's pain intensified, as I thought of her days ahead, of the little people she still needed to care for, of her internship obligations, I made a shift. I came to the realization--if I could, I would take the pain. Gladly. I had found a place heretofore undiscovered. I let my mother know I could do it, even wished it was possible. Sincerely, even though I knew it was unlikely, even impossible.

"You've had your glimpse of a mother's unconditional and pure love."

For which I am grateful, even when it is so painful amidst that kind of gratitude.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Great Blessings

After an afternoon of banging on the piano, driving toy trucks through the kitchen, playing chase on limited-space window seats, the children have settled in front of the screen for an animated show. Calm has overcome chaos...until...the screen goes black and the emergency broadcast system blares in ...WARNING ALERT...extreme thunderstorm. Little heads pop up in wonder. My focus turns to the bank of windows showcasing the valley, the mountain range, the on-a-clear-day-you-can-see-forever view. Dark clouds loom beyond.

Earlier that day, the valley's roof was a clear blue sky. It was November 23, and that morning, Mom and I had taken off our coats on morning errands. A storm had been forecasted, but it was hard to imagine the perfect pre-Thanksgiving weather could turn cold. Wanting to take advantage of the last good weather, I made sure everyone was settled and happy before I laced up my running shoes and headed for the mountain trail. I quickened my pace as those dark clouds threatened my afternoon getaway. But I made it home dry, foolishly thinking the great weather would last.

The first lightening hits behind the distant mountains. The light flashes and rumbles and it looks like Mordor--middle earth controlled by Sauron, and the evil is brewing. Some of the family moves to the windows--we are mesmerized by the churning clouds, by the fearful strikes of light. I pull a little one up to the counter; he scoots close to the window and watches. FLASH! We ooh and ahh. We are spellbound. We wait. FLASH! I insist the lights are turned off, even though dinner is soon to be served.

The next little one stands at the counter and asks to be lifted. I pull him up and he sits still for the awaited spectacle of light. The littlest one has toddled over and I lift him too.

The dark house, the anticipation--he stands and pound on the window completely caught up in the excitement of--who knows? The whole sky turns white! Best of all, the storm moves closer. The wind becomes fierce and outside, the wicker couch flies across the deck. The chairs are next and slam into the railing clear on the other side. A rescue party rushes outside caught up in the delight of almost-danger. They take the glass off the table and move it to a protected corner. They salvage pillows carried over the rails--and then the hail, furiously thrown down by the wind, hits hard, shortly followed by pelting snow.

It is all so exciting! We startle at the first clear and clean strike of lightning! It lingers, and its vein is so peculiar, so fantastical. These are record-breaking lightning strikes. As we watch, a strike sends a firework into the sky; the valley goes dark, our house goes dark. Within seconds our lights come back to life, but just below, sections of the valley are without power. We feel humbled and grateful that ours are still working.

"How would we cook the turkey tomorrow without power? How would we keep the babies warm tonight?"

The storm seems to settle. The time between lightning strikes stretches. The little one still on the kitchen counter with me, wants more. He uses his sign language--striking his fists together to signify his want.

"Sebi, it looks like the storm is over."

How we enjoyed the storm!-- from the safety, from the warmth and protection of our home. Knowing this, directs my thoughts to all those people caught in the storm. My daughter pulls up a weather app that shows all the car accidents on 1-15 and that a short journey from point A to B has increased by 45 minutes. I almost feel guilty for the mysterious pleasure of the storm.

Perhaps, this is what makes Thanksgiving so poignant--that we gather around a table of abundance, fully aware that others may not have the same blessings. It forces us to pause and recognize the peace and love surrounding. It's what inspires us to let the grocery cashier tack on an extra $10 to our bill so we can help provide a meal for someone without. We are reminded of the bombs that still fall on Aleppo, that people still need homes, that jobs, food, and loved ones will always be great blessings not to be taken for granted. The realization comes only in part, because others go without, and because we too have been caught in a storm.




Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Downscale

Yesterday, the house was bumpin; today it rocks; tomorrow it shakes.

Mom drove up yesterday; Mandi's band of four arrived late last night. Jillian will arrive this morning, Tanner later tonight when he gets off work, and Holly will join us for lunch, along with her almost teenager Max, Annika, and the little monsters. Tomorrow, not a soul will be missing from the family. Sixteen of us will cook, play, and around 4:00 p.m., will squish in around a table we've already outgrown.

It's a good thing we kept the house.

No matter how much I can't imagine it, one day we will abandon this house, like a shell we shed because it no longer fits. Usually the slug, the snail or the hermit crab abandons his camper top for a larger one--we will be looking for a more snug fit.

This house mobility seems to be a phenomenon of our generation. Tony's grandparents built a two bedroom, one bathroom home on the Montana ranch. When the kids came faster or more abundantly than expected, the oldest child (Tony's mother), and her sisters moved into a tent on the property. Soon enough, she went to college, married, and was followed by all the sisters and a brother. Grandma and Grandpa Hitchcock had their home back.

My grandparents did the same. As newlyweds, they bought a one bedroom house with a kitchen and a parlor. When the trick or treaters hauled away the outhouse, they added a bathroom. As the children came, Grandpa finished off a crude room in the basement and the kids made due with the space they had, even though it must have been a tight fit with four sons and a daughter. Grandma lived in that house until the day she died.

Roots. A home. I need a place to belong, a place where memories are not stored away, but are the memories. Each time I sit down in my study, I remember this space used to be Jillian's bedroom. I've never painted over, Viva la bonneheure!! on her ceiling. I look down the hall into Tony's study and see our youngest's little feet peeking out of her twin bed blanket. A downstairs bedroom, its ceiling covered in shining stars, is still referred to as Mandi's room, and Holly's room will always be so.

The word downscale-- to cut back in size or scope,--was first used in 1945.

Even the tax system is conducive to selling one's home in older age. Tony and I could sell the house and use the profits, up to a certain limit, to travel the world or buy a condo without a garden to plow or grass to mow.

The odds are that we won't.

Just when I think about downscale, our home becomes a welcome refuge for the daughter and son-in-law who can't find an apartment in their price range. After a promise of "just a two week stay," we all become comfortable, dependent on one another, and it seems silly to live elsewhere. All to soon, school will be finished, the business will flourish, and they too will move on.

So how long will we keep the un-snug shell? Will we ever downscale? Take the profits, buy an RV and see the hidden America?

As my Dad used to say, "I'll leave this house in a pine box."

The only guarantee we will not live in this house forever.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Magic Chemistry of People Who Made It Happen: The Cold War Ends

In order to organize history, historians have compartmentalized it into periods: Stone Age, Bronze Age, the Renaissance, the Jazz Age, Post-Modernism, and so forth. In doing so, the human-ness disappears as if these moments were just scenes from a fast paced montage of world history. But the flow of time and events are distant from the neatly packaged years lumped together for convenience. They are the diverse, messy, bloody, and even well intentioned actions of  individuals, who thought, energized, and created. History only happens because of individuals who act--either on their own or together, consciously or not.

The end of the Cold War was the combined influence created by small and bold decisions one at a time. Imagine standing at a picnic in the park and the person in charge realizes the food table needs to move because the watering system is about to come on. She calls for help and one by one, two by two, the frisbee team hurries over, the father hands the baby to the mom, they gather and when there is enough cumulative strength---the table moves. This is how the "evil empire" was defeated. It took several people who came to the table.

Andrei Sakharov had helped to create the first Soviet atom bomb and the first hydrogen bomb. He was considered one of the most valuable and prominent Soviet physicists, but even he reached the point when he saw the futility of an ever-competing nuclear build-up. He began to write and protest. His power demanded attention; when people started to listen, he was shut down-- put under house arrest. He later received a Nobel Prize for his courage. His decisions were part of the great puzzle.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was a respected Soviet playwright and novelist. Through his writings, he revealed the imbalance and injustices of the Soviet Union and was labeled a dissident and banished from Soviet society.--another part of the puzzle.

Once there was an actor and a playwright from Poland named Karol Wojtyla. At some point in his life his call was no longer the stage, but a call to serve God. He listened. In 1978, he became Pope John Paul II, the Pope who would be forever known as the first non-Italian Pope in 455 years and the  one who came from a communist country.

When he made his first visit to his native country the party deemed him an enemy: "He is dangerous, because he will make St. Stanislaw (the patron saint of Poland)...a defender of human rights...Our activities designed to atheize the youth not only cannot diminish but must intensely develop (Gaddis, John-The Cold War)."

When Pope John Paul II entered the city of Warsaw, he was greeted by hundreds of thousands of people shouting, "We want God, we want God." The next day, the next city, over a million people came to see the people's Pope. The crowds grew and so did the desire for religious freedom.

Another blow to communism was the election of the first female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher. She robustly targeted nationalized industries, intrusive government regulation and high taxes. "No theory of government was ever given a fairer test...than democratic socialism received in Britain. Yet it was a miserable failure in every respect (Gaddis)." Thatcher's policies showed that capitalist principles of privatization, deregulation and entrepreneurship, helped the economy.  When England's economy was rebounding, the Eastern bloc countries were suffering from stagnant growth, lower production, the threat of famine and bankruptcy.

Lech Walesa, was a Polish electrician and in 1970 had seen shootings in an anti-government protest. This memory festered and in 1976, he lost his job for trying to organize workers or unionize his trade. Outside of the Lenin shipyard in Gdansk. 1980, he announced the formation of Solidarnose, or solidarity!--the first ever independent trade union in Marxist Leninism tradtion.

He was arrested by Polish communists and when they came for him he said, "This is the moment of your defeat. These are the last nails in the coffin of communism."

Why? The theories of Marx and Engels, the actions of Lenin, were born in the name of the proletariat--the workers of the world. They were encouraged to rise up against the establishment. This is exactly what Walesa was doing. It was an ironic slap in the face to the cause of communism.

For every person who played a pivotal role, a role of notoriety, there were thousands who will forever remain unknown; but the surge, the changes, couldn't have happened without them.




Monday, November 21, 2016

Herodias' Hate

It is disturbing that one of the most frequently painted New Testament scenes, is of the severed head of John the Baptist. Almost every room of the Louvre displaying sixteenth through twentieth century Biblical influenced art, has a John the Baptist's head on a charger, painting.

We are especially horrified when we learn the story behind the brutal decapitation of a man who was the precursor to Jesus Christ.

John the Baptist ruffled the wrong political feathers. He dared to openly criticize the illegal marriage of Herodias to Herod Antipas. The complication was that Herodias was still married to Herod Antipas' half brother Phillip. She had never been legally divorced; her pretend marriage was considered adulterous and incestuous under Jewish law. But Herod Antipas was the government authority, the tetrarch of Galilee and Petrea, and he considered his actions above the law. Herodias allowed the charge of adultery to fester and grow with hatred and blame towards the "heretic in the wilderness." To have him imprisoned in a dungeon was not enough. She wanted his head.

Salome was Herodias' daughter by Phillip. Salome was loyal to her mother and fiercely committed to avenge her mother's bitterness towards John the Baptist. She seductively danced before her step father in such a way that it led him to promise her any desire. Her desire was the head of John the Baptist.

As I have watched some of the political hatred, I have been surprised to see how far it has gone. Each protest seems to push any precedented level of decorum just a little further. I understand the frustration and even the fear some people have expressed. I have listened whole heartedly to my own students, some of whom have Mexican ancestry and feel especially oppressed by the previous rhetoric of our president-elect. But I have a strong conviction that once the president has been elected, it is our duty to sustain and uphold the office with respect. Eight years ago, I had the same requirement when some of my students were against the election of Barack Obama. "He is now our president and we will give him his due respect. Regardless of how your parents voted or your own political leanings, we speak respectively of the office and the man who now presides."

The less divisions our country has, the better--even in a high school classroom.

Yet, my daughter points out the absolute necessity of dissension, but I counter her argument with positive dissension--dissension with respect and voiced through the proper channels--dissension that may have power to change and not power to destroy.

"But we need to keep our eye on him and not let him get away with improper behavior," she retorts.

Yes, she is right. But the right must be handled in the right way.

The cast of Hamilton handled it the right way. Though their actions will continue as debate and news fodder, they were respectful and honest. They needed to be heard. VP elect Pence also handled it the right way, "I am not offended," he said. He left the debate of impropriety to others, but he applauded the sound of democracy, even in a Broadway theatre.

The unacceptable actions in the theater, were the people who booed Pence and his family.

Where will the political disenchantment lead us? How far can hate push its little tendrils?--like the determined growth of ivy, it creeps into the mortar surrounding bricks, creeps into the slices between glass and building. It takes over, and destroys the integrity of structure.

Disappointment is justified, but to allow hate a foothold in one's heart is inviting personal destruction.

I shake my head in disbelief at Herodias' hunger that drove her to demand another human being's head on a charger. It began so simple: a political calling-out, an offense, a seed for revenge--fed, watered--enough to destroy souls.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Mistakes, Forgiveness, Relationships, and Life in General

I awoke this morning with this poem in my head:


Introduction to Poetry
By Billy Collins

Related Poem Content Details

and hold it up to the light  
like a color slide 

or press an ear against its hive. 

I say drop a mouse into a poem  
and watch him probe his way out, 

or walk inside the poem’s room  
and feel the walls for a light switch. 

I want them to waterski  
across the surface of a poem 
waving at the author’s name on the shore. 

But all they want to do 
is tie the poem to a chair with rope  
and torture a confession out of it. 

They begin beating it with a hose  
to find out what it really means. 

When I awoke this morning with this poem in my head, it was accompanied by other thoughts skipping urgently behind. 
First thought: the poet's admonition is so much more than a request for readers to just enjoy poetry.  
Second thought: This poem is not only about enjoying life's beauties, but about the over analysis of the unavoidable, ever present, un-glorious messiness of life--the mistakes, the relationships, the wish-I-could-forgets. 

I dare say we overanalyze the faux pas far more than we revel in the joys. 

How many times have I tied my sins to a chair and beat a confession out of them? Even kept them in the chair far longer than necessary? How many times have I beat a relationship, or a scenario, trying to figure what it means or what went wrong?

If possible, analyze life with joy, with the purpose of discovery and learning. Find its light, its mystery, hear its music. 

Resist becoming the KGB. Put away the rope, the hose...buckle the water ski and hop into the water.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Pounds

I'm down to the last three pounds. Not of Swiss chocolate in my pantry, nor fancy dates from the Turks, nor butter imported from New Zealand.

I'm speaking about the last three pounds on my body gained from twins of the above indulgences...and I feel like I'm chipping away at black ice on a North Dakota highway during a snowstorm. The last three pounds are like the heavy walnut bureau brought over from Italy in the 19th century, placed in the castle and never moved. These pounds are like the stone foundation of Notre Dame...and I'm eating so well; I'm so focused. I count my nuts, and I calculate water intake. If I eat light and don't lose weight, I eat more. I'm like the football coach trying different strategies to move the ball just five more yards. But my passes keep getting intercepted, my quarterback fake is detected, I'm sacked before the first step. The earthquake doesn't measure on the Richter scale. Even the four hour hike didn't make a difference.

Yesterday's activities included a walk in the wind chill, an interval workout with a twenty year old, in which I mostly kept up. My eating was calculated. I stepped on the scale this a.m. and I'd gained a half pound.

My routine includes stepping on the scale within the hour of waking up. With the same expectations as a Christmas morning, my anticipations are high! Just a half pound...please scale, please body...give me the gift of just a half pound.

Five Christmas mornings without a present under the tree or an orange in my stocking. The tree may be bare, but the tree is still standing--and this is how I'm making it through this dearth of weight loss. My body is the tree, standing straight, green and healthy. Gratitude is my lifeline.

Ahhhh....

My body's refusal to let it go, may really be a blessing in disguise. Previously, I would have arrived on the doorstep of Thanksgiving Day at the idolized weight. All the discipline, going to bed hungry, the denial of so many fluffy cupcakes, would have put me in the mood to overindulge on this holiday of gratitude; I would have been so grateful for my second piece of pie. Yet, this cutting-loose attitude is what got me here in the first place. It's what gets me here every year: overindulgence. Lack of balance. I consistently ignore the YOLO sign down the dark and dreary path and embrace the Eat drink and be merry for tomorrow I die. So, because of the stubborn three, this Thanksgiving, I'm going in with battle gear on. Can I keep some of it on for the rest of my life? Should I?

I used to think that weight control was an indulgence of youth, and I am disappointed, even shocked that it still matters in my middle age. It mattered to my grandmother in her eighties and my mother now in her seventies.

When will I learn?

A student sits down next to me with a whole box of fresh Krispy Kremes. "Mrs. Martinez, would you like a donut?"

"Thank you, but I've come to learn, if I sit next to a donut, I'll gain a pound; if I smell a donut, I'll gain two. If I eat a donut, I'll gain four! But thanks anyway."

The student nervously laughs and wonders if I'm grounded in truth or if I understand the laws of thermodynamics. Indeed I do!


Friday, November 18, 2016

How the Cold War Ended 17: Pop Culture Invades, Influences and Embolds

In the 1940s American jazz made its way across the world, and even the Soviet satellites couldn't keep it out of their country. Musicians in Prague Czechoslovakia developed their own version and the party line was tolerant; but then came Elvis and the Beatles--and with their music a counterculture of rebellion, free expression, drugs and long hair. Even Alan Ginsburg visited Prague and preached his poetry for freedom and free love.

Pop bands who combined the sounds of the fifties and sixties, came alive in Prague. When the Prague Spring of 1968 squelched the dissident voices, there was one band that wouldn't go away. Their licenses to perform were revoked; it became illegal to have concerts--but they persisted. Plastic People of the Universe became a voice for the quest of freedom.

https://youtu.be/jYLKwvGkRy0

They insisted, persisted, when concrete walls were put before them. They continued to create, to hold concerts, even when they had to go underground. Fans would walk miles to an abandoned farmhouse for the chance to witness free expression. The human mind and soul must create, must speak.

Their anti-party shenanigans caught up with them. At least three of the band members spent time in prison, but they never lost the fight. While imprisoned, they fueled the nation with more animosity, more desire to become a free people. It was only a matter of time and time included the playwright and poet Vaclav Havel. He started writing revolt literature. He too was imprisoned. For four years, he used his excessive thinking time to create and protest. His works were smuggled to the people. His works infused the rebellious with different ideas about successful protest. He knew the physical fight was pointless--the country was up against the iron fist of the Soviet Union, but all the tanks, bombs and guns can't beat the spirit that longs for freedom. He wrote of a different kind of insurgency:


“That gave Havel the motive and the time, through his essays and plays to become the most the most influential chronicler of his generations disillusionment with communism. He was, it has been said, a Lennonist rather than a Leninist.— He did not call for outright resistance: given the state’s police powers, there would have been little point in that. Instead he encouraged something more subtle, developing standards for individual behavior apart from those of the state. People who failed to do this, he wrote, “confirm the system, fulfill the system, make the system, are the system.” But people who were true to what they themselves believed—even in so small a matter as a brewer deciding to brew better beer than the official regulations called for—could ultimately subvert thee system.” John Gaddis, writes of Vaclav Havel

Havel challenged his people to be better. Better than the system.

 Vaclav Havel at the time of his arrest.


When the Soviet Union did fall, Havel became its president from 1989-1992. When the country split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, he served his people again until 2003.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Serve With Joy

In five days, almost the entire extended family will gather chez moi for Thanksgiving!

Naturally, I thought I was in charge--until daughter number four called and told me with authority, "You're in charge of making two cottage cheese pies."

I gulped, felt a little stunned, like I'd been relegated to the cheap seats in the auditorium, but pleased that I'd raised strong women who could handle Thanksgiving dinner just fine without their mother's input. Thank you very much.

Bartering over who would make the turkey took place at the beginning of the week. I imagine heavy negotiations behind my back that may have spurred my relegation to only making two simple pies. As a vegetarian, I'd threatened to make a cauliflower turkey. They justly feared I wouldn't care if it was dry...or perhaps they remember the stuffing I made three years ago that was absolutely delicious, but wasn't traditional. I'd made a gourmet wild rice, water chestnut, pecan dressing and even laced it with sausage. It didn't even need the turkey. The truth that marched forward is that my daughters love tradition, and I love spirited, new, adventures---even in the Thanksgiving meal. It was a major faux pas for which I haven't been forgiven and for which I have been banned from making stuffing--forever!

The NYTimes has a beautiful collection of 15 Thanksgiving stories.** Each story focuses on the family eating traditions in a one minute video, followed by a write-up, photographs, and the recipe for the featured dish. A Vietnamese family stuffs their turkey with egg roll filling; an Italian family splits the turkey and uses a traditional stuffing and a mushroom-spinach version. The family of Irish ancestry makes Sweeney potatoes instead of mashed; the woman with ancestors from Jamaica, makes a jerk-spiced turkey.

It's a lovely reminder of the things we gather and bring to the table from the four corners of the earth.

Our meal will include:

A turkey. But not just any turkey. My Swiss grandmother made a thick paste of butter and flour which she coated the turkey (its entire body) and basted it throughout its time in the oven. I see my mother rising early, packing on the mixture and covering it with a tent of foil. By the time I arose, the house was filled with buttery smells of turkey. I see my father standing at the kitchen counter slicing that turkey. Mom scraped away the paste and mixed it into a rich gravy with mushrooms.

The pomegranate salad. Rich red tendrils mixed with apples, pecans, sour cream and marshmallows that dissolve during the night.

Mashed potatoes with a decadent amount of cream cheese and butter. Two bars each, dumped into the middle of the well, beat until creamy, then sprinkled with nutmeg. Tony prefers to make a lighter, less fat-laden version--for this he too has been banned from making the mashed potatoes.

Cottage cheese pies. If one hasn't been raised on these pies, one cannot appreciate the value. After raving for years, I saved a piece for my sister-in-law, who wasn't impressed. These pies are part of my grandmother's legacy. They are Swiss, or her Americanized version from her youth in the motherland. They too have generous amounts of butter and cream, in addition to the staple cottage cheese and beaten egg whites. I become a child when I think of these pies and honestly coud eat a whole one myself.

Rolls. Doesn't matter who makes them as long as they are fluffy, fresh, and smothered in homemade strawberry jam.

The sweet potato/yam souffle. Easily my favorite go-to for seconds; it takes the place of pie, as it is so sweet, so velvety and crunchy at the same time. However, somehow, the recipe has been misplaced and the family is in a panic!

Something green, always, at the table. I may inherit this at the last minute too.

And....we've never had a Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie.

Ahhh...the children may adhere strictly to the traditions, but I do give them credit for allowing an outside dish to invade the table once in a while--the two years ago invasion came with the company of a future husband. The man came from the south, and his future wife, my daughter, wanted to honor one of his traditions. Macaroni and cheese was allowed and ended up as the honored guest. Like the new husband, the dish will always be a part of our family.

Oh! I will also be in charge of setting the table...and it will be grand! I even ordered four new chairs.

As the flurry begins, I find myself longing for last year's Thanksgiving. The weather and water temperature was mid 80s. A white sand beach lay before us, and all our meals were prepared by a lovely staff of women who could cook like nobody else. I remember my delight when the main meal for Thanksgiving was fresh seafood.

In truth, my duties as the host, as the goddess of the harvest, may have been eliminated because my children sense the real problem: my angst at the crowd, the food preparation, the overwhelming responsibility of preparing not only a perfect, traditional meal, but creating a lovely, loving, non begrudging atmosphere.

Fortunately, I was saved from slumping into pre-Thanksgiving worry and hassle, through the words and wisdom of the yoga teacher, Lisa. "If your service isn't given with joy, then you might as well serve poison." My Thanksgiving mini-dread made an immediate U-turn. I now look towards the joy of the gathering and the preparation, the joy in sharing a traditional day with loved ones, and the opportunity to consciously give thanks in an abundant world.

**NYTimes article: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/11/16/dining/thanksgiving-dinner-in-america.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Shopping With Grandpa

It was a dark night. We traveled a dark road which seemed to lead us into obscurity. The five granddaughters had almost worn their grandpa (my dad) out. However, his generous, patient spirit, groomed by raising three daughters and becoming the grandfather of five more little women, he'd  adjusted, even learned to thrive amidst so much love.

He'd taken all the girls to the outlet mall, made sure everyone had a new jacket, or new shoes, or jeans; but there was a new store, a new brand, that specialized in yoga wear. My niece had heard raves about Lulu Lemon and heard there was a LL outlet. She had an address, but no one had heard of the store and no one was sure where the address would lead us--it was before we'd all pledged allegiance to googlemaps. We didn't even know if the place existed. Nonetheless, Grandpa had promised.

With no other commerce to be seen, no signage, only a poorly lit out-of-the-way mini warehouse, we piled out of two cars and made our way into Lulu Lemon: sparse racks, rough flooring, and try-on rooms with ill-fitting curtains. The place appeared to be pop-up store--here today, gone tomorrow.

As Dad used to say, "They were like dogs in a meat factory." The girls disappeared and fell in love with the fit and feel of Lulu Lemon. A tradition was born.

Over the coming years, Grandpa continued his shopping trips with the girls, but as he aged, he'd find himself a chair, a spot, where he'd people watch while he patiently waited. Everyone had a story.

The day came when walking became difficult for Grandpa, but he refused to use a cane or a walker--he preferred to take the risk of falling. A well intentioned shopping trip became too much for Dad as he tried to make it across one floor of the massive department store. It was the last time. True to himself, he made sure Grandma continued the tradition, and even set aside the money for one pair of yoga pants for everyone.

The week after Grandpa died, my mom, my daughter and I, had to go shopping. It was the week before my daughter would start college and, she'd found the winter jacket she needed. I was preparing to pay when my mom stepped forward and said that Grandpa wanted to buy her the jacket.

"You must have a pretty special Grandpa," the saleslady said.

For a moment, no one could respond. We just looked at each other with our watering eyes and said, "We sure do."

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Prague Spring 1968--How the Cold War Ended I6 (a continuation from last spring)

There were only a few details left, when a student raised her hand and said, "The best part of all this is how excited you are."

I was taken aback, but recognized how true the moment was. I didn't have time to think about an answer, and so the thoughts and words that followed were a pure and sincere reaction, "I lived through all this!" I exclaimed.

This was the end of the Cold War.

I, like many fellow Americans and even my German friend, had only paid attention on the night that Tom Brokaw was broadcasting from the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin Germany. We hadn't been aware of the forces working to bring down the wall, the tragic symbol of communism vs. democracy. But there it was, that great wall of oppression, being chiseled away, dismantled by West Berlin fire fighters and East Berlin Police. The moment was spectacular; most Berliners danced in the street. My friend Lori, who had left her sister behind on the other side in the late 1940s cried. Her daughter asked, "Mom, why are you crying?"

"Tonight, all of Germany cries."

And now, for the first time in my life, I have an understanding of why, what, and who lifted the Iron Curtain. No wonder students could feel my excitement. Yet, there are so many pieces of this puzzle; it's like a 1000 piece jigsaw, and I've only put in the first 500 pieces. But, it is a start, and with my classes, I started with  the Prague Spring of 1968.

Czechoslovakia had suffered under the communist thumb for 20 years. The country had failed to thrive under communist promises. Many goods were sold and shipped to the USSR for government controlled prices which were less than the manufacturing costs. Growth was staggering, famine threatened, and manufacturing had declined. The people started to revolt. The leader Anton Novotny, was a communist party hardliner and the party felt the forces against him. He was replaced by Alexander Dubcek who wanted to give socialism a "human face." Ultimately he was for the people. He loosened restrictions for free speech. He eliminated the hard party members from government. He freed political prisoners and artists, and implemented reforms that took Czechoslovakia away from communist policies of the USSR.

His tactics were scaring the Kremlin and other control parties of Soviet bloc countries.

Send in the tanks.

Brezhnev's doctrine required intervention if any satellite threatened the perpetuation or continuation of communism. In the evening of August 20, Soviet tanks, soldiers, along with most of the Warsaw Pact countries, invaded Prague and the surrounding country.

To silence the rebellion, to quiet the voices, took only three days, but beneath the stamped out plant of protest, were the seeds of a power, that in its right time would germinate, sprout, emerge, and help destroy communism.




Monday, November 14, 2016

The Veteran's Day Dinner

I didn't expect much. A dry chicken breast, a few musical numbers, a pledge to motivate patriotism.

But dinner was good! Purple potatoes, salad and green beans.

The night's host began the evening program by introducing the men and women who had served in our country's military. Some came in uniform, but most of the servicemen and women were dressed in regular clothes. As the introductions deepened, I realized I was sitting among the elite of our country who had served in Vietnam, South Korea, Afghanistan and even WWII. Yes. When the man's name was called, he stood with the help of the back of his chair, and when the emcee mentioned he was one of the 13 survivors of the USS Arizona, Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, we were all quite astounded.

The man's lips quivered. His sun-glass shaded eyes had to be filling with tears. We watched him close, most of us probably doing the math. Was he 93? 94? Or did he lie about his age and join the navy at age 16? We witnessed in his trembling, his pride, his sadness, his privilege of having been there on such an historic occasion.

When the evening ended, my husband thanked the marine sergeant (who was sitting at the table next to us), for serving our country. He spoke with a heavy southern accent and mentioned he'd been serving for the past 17 years, part of that in Afghanistan. I was so curious to know how he felt.

"Well Ma'am, I don't think about what it feels like or why I'm there. I follow the orders of our Commander in Chief and while I'm there I do my job which is to protect the marines under my command. We were in Afghanistan to protect American interests."

American interests, I wondered. He picked up on my quizzical expression. I was trying to figure out what American interests might be in Afghanistan: oil?

"Ma'am, American interests include human lives. When a dictator or corrupt regime murders their own people, we're there to save lives. Human capital."

I was humbled by his dedication, his unwavering loyalty, and the pledge he had taken to protect lives.

In the past few months as my students and I have studied America's involvement in Korea, Vietnam, and in arming the Afghans in their fight against the Soviet Union, we have asked over and over again: Did America do the right thing? Was it worth fighting communism?

We never have a definitive answer. Some students will argue, "Yes, all life is sacred and all peoples' freedom must be protected. But then we look at the cost, the supposed 6 trillion spent on the Middle East over the past years, the debt we accumulated in the Vietnam war, that the cost of a B52 bomber was 2.5 billion dollars--each. But then, Soviet aggression was blatant and fast moving. If we hadn't interfered would we even have a country to defend today?

And to think my main concern was a dry chicken breast, a few musical numbers and getting back to my comfortable home. I've been changed by a night among Veterans.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Immanent Will

On the night of April 14, 1912, the largest ship afloat, on her maiden voyage from Southhampton to New York, collided and sunk to the bottom of the sea. Of 2,206 passengers, 1500 died. Thomas Hardy, the prolific English poet and novelist was 72 years old when the Titanic sunk. Imagine how the news might have hit him. Imagine how he may have pondered the event in his later, quieter years. He reacted as a poet should; he wrote a poem.

His iconic poem, The Convergence of the Twain, has an interesting take on the tragic event. He saw the Titanic sinking as a tragedy in the making, an unavoidable confrontation between ship and iceberg, planned...by the Immanent Will.

First we must consider what is the Immanent Will? Is it God? The forces of nature? Or the balance of the universe that keeps hubris and humility in check?

The immanent Will had it out for the Titanic because the Pride of Life had planned her. Her construction, her opulence, her vaingloriousness, were all contrary to the Immanent Will. As she grew in stature, grace and hue, In shadowy silent distance grew the Iceberg too.

According to Thomas Hardy, the Titanic never had a chance.

How much power does the Immanent Will have?

I am pulling together, adding to, re-structuring, my last presentation on the end of the Cold War. In last night's study, I came upon a secular reference that referred to the 1989 events as The Miracles.

As much hope, vigor, and fight it took to create a communist countries, it has never worked, because it was always contrary to the Immanent Will. It is the vaingloriousness creation of man that conflicts with the greater principles of freedom of thought, worship, and speech.

When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, the world was astounded. Yet, the makings for the symbolic fall of communism had been in the works for years. The tectonic plates had been shifting, adjusting, ever so slightly until the final shift, brought a shudder through the land.

The fall of communism had been in the making since its inception. Stalin's injustices, economic failures, each act of invasion and control was a shift, an evil build-up that had an equal.  The Immanent Will was building in stature, strength, and resistance until it, like the iceberg, moved unexpectedly into its path and an unavoidable collision and take-down of communism occurred.  Before the Berlin Wall was hacked away, there was the the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, the independence proclaimed by Poland, The Hungarian uprisings, ---sixty years of building steam against the Pride of Life.

It's a humbling thought. Humbling questions. If I am not on the right path, what equal and opposite forces are building for my take-down? Hubris is excessive pride and the Greeks were especially adept at writing plays and stories about their heroes, their hubristic tendencies and the tragic endings of death and blindness.

An iceberg is always waiting.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Only Tidbits and Anecdotes From the 2016 Political Shift

My sister tries to continue the political conversation by sending a well crafted essay on the history of the vote, but my mom can only respond with, "Sorry, but I'm politicked out."

Most of us are, yet the conversation continues--as it should, and I've been corresponding and  listening... 

*In a conversation with a friend whose sister lives in Michigan and who is a part of the auto industry, she said they voted Trump because of the trade agreements that killed the American auto industry. 

Trump hit on the issues that pockets of America were suffering from--perhaps each economic issue wasn't enough to address on a national level, but giving credence to each region's suffering became cumulative...maybe he is smarter than we wanted to acknowledge. Maybe his business acumen is real and when applied, he will help make America great again....couldn't resist the slogan.

*My nephew works in a gay bar/restaurant in Washington DC and was one of the 11,000 votes for Mr. Trump. While working on election night, my nephew served a small party who were there to celebrate the election of Mrs. Clinton. A political conversation ensued, and the party asked their waiter for whom he voted.  When my nephew told the truth, the party chided him, but he stood up for his well -thought out beliefs, and presented (according to his mother), a convincing argument. The table listened. When they shuffled out to continue the celebration, my nephew discovered they'd left him a $250 tip.

His family took it as a kudos that a man could stand up for his beliefs when he was such a minority among the majority who thought differently. Or, they could have felt sorry for the poor chap who was voting astray.

*Our Chinese exchange student was thrilled over Trump's victory. His teacher explained why he was thrilled: "He anticipated greater Chinese/American exchanges especially with regards to education and openness. He also said Hillary wants us all to be equal but they are trying very hard to stand apart and improve themselves and their condition."

*"I've been stewing all day trying to figure out where the Trump vote was coming from.  I really was in shock about the whole thing.  I couldn't believe that it was purely a "Just Not Hillary" vote and it is so hard for me to think that people would support the kind of person who Trump appears to be...Maybe there is a cross-section of the country that is tired of being told they are racist and unfeeling and over-privileged and somehow Donald Trump tapped into that."

*"In addition to the economic issues in Michigan, Ohio and areas in the coal industry were purposely oppressed in order to elevate what has been considered more environmentally friendly resources. This is a great idea but was not governed by market forces rather it has been artificially propped up by tax payer money (remember Solyndra) which is also why Silicon Valley was so desperate to keep a Democrat in office...Additionally, Florida is perhaps reacting to the loosening of the Cuban embargo Obama has pushed which could make them sitting ducks for another missile-like crisis which does not seem to be beyond their leaderships capacity especially considering the raising of tensions with Putin which Obama has inspired."

*While picking tomatoes with my granddaughter, SHE brings up the election!---and happens to mention that Trump must have won because the opposition killed people---what have we done to our children?!?

*Another acquaintance is part of an email thread that credits prayer to the election of Trump. The prayers started in Jerusalem...

*The next day...in class, we watched Trump's acceptance speech, Hillary's concession speech, and President Obama's Come Together speech. Differences were made clear, but everyone was conciliar. They love America, want the best for America. The three most important people of the hour gave us hope. Thank you. 

Last night, we happened on a short clip from Lesley Stahl's 60 Minutes interview that will air on Sunday. Donald Trump and his family looked sober and humble. Trump's hubris seemed to have gone the way of dead warriors. 

The show is over, the reality of responsibility, the work begins.

God Bless America.