Monday, July 04, 2016

“Independence forever.” --John Adams

Both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on July 4, 1826.  In memory of two great men who worked to obtain our Independence as a nation and ensure our continued freedom, I thought I’d share some of their wise words, today!


“Independence forever.”
John Adams, last public words as a toast for the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1826.


“Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it.”
John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776

“The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If `Thou shalt not covet' and `Thou shalt not steal' were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free.”
John Adams, A Defense of the American Constitutions, 1787

“Children should be educated and instructed in the principles of freedom.”
John Adams, Defense of the Constitutions, 1787

A morsel of genuine history is a thing so rare as to be always valuable.
Thomas Jefferson, September 8, 1817

A rigid economy of the public contributions and absolute interdiction of all useless expenses will go far towards keeping the government honest and unoppressive.
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Lafayette, 1823

But with respect to future debt; would it not be wise and just for that nation to declare in the constitution they are forming that neither the legislature, nor the nation itself can validly contract more debt, than they may pay within their own age, or within the term of 19 years.
Thomas Jefferson, September 6, 1789

Cherish, therefore, the spirit of our people, and keep alive their attention. Do not be too severe upon their errors, but reclaim them by enlightening them. If once they become inattentive to the public affairs, you and I, and Congress, and Assemblies, Judges, and Governors, shall all become wolves.

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Edward Carrington, January 16, 1787

Friday, October 09, 2015

Gunning for a fight

I was gunning for a fight I just didn't get the one I was looking for.
I'm very angry about the number of guns showing up in schools. What do we do about it?
ALL life IS sacred.  
I started a fight on Facebook. As we've proven in my fb posts, people get FIRED UP when it comes to the rights of the unborn and you should! I promise I can sympathize with both sides and will continue that discussion if you want but I want to know what we are going to do, as a nation, to protect the people who have already been born and should be SAFE at school!
A few weeks ago, a student at an alternative high school near my teens' high school brought a gun to school. No one was hurt and it was a blip in the local news.
Last Monday, a student at a large high school very near the alternative brought a gun to school in his backpack. Still just blocks from my kids' school. No one was hurt, thank God, so just another blip in the news. Two days later, at that same school, two students spray-painted threats in a school bathroom saying there would be a shooting "like Columbine." They were caught and hadn't planned actual violence but after hearing about the gun at their school, thought their threat would cause school to be closed for a day. They just wanted a day off and over 300 students were kept home, just in case.
I'm angry that CHILDREN have GUNS in their BACKPACKS.
I am very angry that CHILDREN HAVE GUNS IN THEIR BACKPACKS.
No one was hurt in these cases and no one made a big fuss.
But CHILDREN have GUNS in their BACKPACKS.
In a Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, people were killed. They weren't "children" but every one of them was someone's child. My oldest attends our local community college in the mornings before she goes to high school. It's far away from Oregon but the tragedy still hit close to home.
Today, we had two school shootings. TWO shootings on college campuses on one day.
If you bother to look at the national statistics, somebody's child is shot every day in this country. Every day. Shootings on a school campus should be shocking! Any shooting should be a wake-up call but TWO in ONE day? We cannot afford to just shake our heads and light candles. We should pray, of course! All of us should be praying right now but my prayer includes a plea that someone has an idea. Maybe not THE answer but AN answer!
A bunch of moms got together after too many children were killed as a result of drunk driving. MADD is now a national organization that has saved countless lives. Yes, we still have drunk drivers. But they didn't ignore the problem. Someone stood up and did something.
We need to do something. Gun registration for all is a start. My car is a lethal weapon and I must register it and have a license to drive it, even though I don't plan to run anyone down with it. People buying handguns may hope they don't use them but they aren't buying them for any other purpose than to aim them at another human being. Register those suckers. Lock them up. I'm not trying to take them away from you but I want you to keep them from your children. Please!
I'm not asking hunters to give up their rifles. I'm not asking people who have that gun by their bed to give it up. I am asking you to put it away. In the unlikely event an intruder enters your home, it is far more likely that you or your family will be hurt by that weapon than the intruder. But that is another argument, too.
Children have guns. Teens have guns. Young adults have guns. America, our children are armed and dangerous. It is time to take action.


Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Second Guessing, Parenthood

     Journeys down Memory Lane are full of speed bumps, curves, detours and bridges but it's cool to look back and see how even perceived forks in the road were still part of the same main path.   On my road, I see how the billboards and road signs were clearly there but I must have been speeding by too fast to read them or too busy looking for my exit.

     No.  I am not second-guessing parenthood.   With three children in school (most days), one of them being home sick today, it's a little too late to wonder if we're up for the job!   I'm thinking of R.E.M.'s song, Second Guessing.  If you're going to take a drive down Memory Lane, it's a good one for your road-trip playlist!  I loved the song back in high school.  I didn't own the album but had great memories of listening to it in friends' cars.  I said as much to a guy on our first (second) date.  I've mentioned both the date and the song here, before.  Our very first date was a lunch date in the dining hall so our second date was the first time I got into a car with him.  It wasn't my first time in that car.  I dated a friend of his the prior semester and they'd both borrowed the same car from yet another friend!   I was in a familiar car, with a fairly un-familiar guy, on a date I was pretty sure I didn't want to be on when he popped Reckoning into the tape deck.  As Michael Stipe started singing, I relaxed a little and looked at this guy, again.  First impressions being what they are, I was surprised.  He was dressed for a date, not just coming from class so he was no longer wearing a  t-shirt and a white baseball cap.  Guys who wore white baseball caps didn't listen to R.E.M.  Did they?  Maybe dinner wouldn't hurt.  We went to a little Italian restaurant where he gave the host a fake name, with a grin.  He made me laugh.  By the time we finished dinner, he asked if I wanted to go home.  I didn't.

     We agreed to go see a movie and ended up at Parenthood.  Who goes to see a movie titled "Parenthood" on their first date?  Halfway through the movie, he asked if he could "have" my hand!  No weird stretching to get an arm over the shoulders,  no slipping his hand over mine but actually asked first.  Who does that?  Still holding hands as we walked out of the movie, he asked if I wanted to go home.  I didn't.

     While trying to figure out what to do next, I think he noticed my glances at the daiquiri stand and suggested we go back uptown for drinks.  We went to O'Henry's, had long island iced teas and talked and talked until the bar closed.  Then we said we should probably call it a night.  We didn't.

     We drove down to the French Quarter.  Along the way, at a red light on Canal Street, he kissed me.  The guy who, when sober, politely asked if he could hold my hand, simply leaned over and kissed me.  He will deny that. He told everyone that I looked over and kissed him.  I didn't.

     We parked the car and walked down to the river.  We sat on a bench and talked until the sun came up along the Mississippi river.  By then, we were getting a little tired and decided it was time to go home.  A full twelve hours after the date-I-wasn't-going-to-go-on began, I made it back to my dorm room and shut the blinds so the morning sun wouldn't keep me from going to bed.  I didn't have to worry about waking my roommate as she was out-of-town for Labor Day weekend.

     The thing about these trips down Memory Lane is that they're pretty quick day-trips and you can read the signs when you're going this direction.  The signs letting me know that second-guessing was available with each and every exit?  The flashing caution sign announcing Parenthood Ahead?  There they are.  There was a point along this road, almost twenty-two years ago where I married that guy that asked for my hand.

     This was the point, twenty-six years ago, where two roads merged.   I only remember it was the Saturday before Labor Day but now we have Google, which tells me that back in 1989, that would have been September 2.




Thursday, August 13, 2015

Because survival is insufficient

     I do not play the piano, often.  Many days, I will walk by the piano without touching it.  (It needs dusting, badly!) Yet when I am lucky enough to attend a concert, symphony or just catch a talented performer on YouTube, I regret my lack of practice and want to sit down and practice. At that moment.  It makes me want to put in the work.  I want to play better.

     Emily St. John Mandel's writing makes me want to practice.  I want to write better.  I will never play the piano in Carnegie Hall.   I will never construct a novel as seamless as Station Eleven but appreciate that Emily St. John Mandel did.  The literary landscape is a little bit better because this book exists.

     After the end of the world as we know it,  a traveling symphony roams the Midwest, performing Shakespeare's plays along with classical symphonies.  "Because survival is insufficient," a quote a character has taken from Star Trek, is written on the side of their caravan.  This is a beautiful theme for the novel as it explores less what the characters had to do to physically survive and more what they do in order to live.

     The novel spans decades, effortlessly weaving in and out of time, connecting and contrasting the characters' lives before and after The Collapse.  My favorite character in this novel is Miranda, an artist who creates Station Eleven and regrets nothing.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Reality Bites

"A little learning is a dangerous thing." --Alexander Pope

We still do not have a yard.  We have mud.  A little bit of grass is beginning to emerge here and there but it's mostly a vast expanse of mud and puddles bordering our new pool.  I remembered seeing a post or two on Facebook listing flowers and plants that deter mosquitos.  I remembered marigolds but did a quick search to see if the post had any basis in fact and what other plants would work.  Different sites gave similar lists so I headed out for pots and plants!  I couldn't find lavender in the garden center and forgot to look for an actual citronella plant (I didn't think to search the lists while actually at the store) but found marigolds everywhere.

I put pots of marigolds on my upper deck a month ago.  I did not buy any of the large, pretty, colorful flowers as we already had large black bumblebees out there.  (They tend to freak my kids out a bit.  I've reminded my offspring that while they're sweet, they need not worry about a bee mistaking them for flowers so they'll be fine.)  I put marigolds up there and was happy that we've been able to sit up there without many mosquitos!

Later, when talking with a landscaper, I asked him if it was true that lavender would deter mosquitos like marigolds.  He didn't know of any plants that actually deter them and reminded me that my deck is higher and mosquitos prefer to stay low by the ground.  Okay, maybe my marigolds weren't helping but I figured they weren't doing any harm, either so I left them on the deck and yesterday, bought many, many more to plant near my pool.  While I was planting, the kids were having fun in the pool but had to duck once in a while to avoid a pesky wasp or two that were scaring them.  (What happened to those big, fuzzy bees?)  I suggested we take a break and go sit up on the deck for dinner. They could stay in their wet suits but get up and away from the pool and the bugs.  They climbed the stairs half-way and stood there, waiting for another wasp to stop circling the deck, then went to sit down.  My youngest started yelling that our dog "pooped on the chair!"

My Golden Retriever is capable of a lot of mischief but actually climbing up on a patio chair to do that?  Not likely.  I came up to investigate and did find something on the chair but it was not put there by my dog.  I stormed into the house, complaining that I've been trying to avoid chemicals but I now we had a mud-dauber nest on a seat cushion and no spray to kill those suckers.  My husband said he thought we had hornet killer in the garage but while I went to get it, he took care of the nest.  He went out with a fly swatter and swatted the one trying to protect the thing, scraped it off the chair and kicked it somewhere!  (I asked what we would do if it was still full of wasps but he said he stomped on it!)

It was gone but the kids didn't want to sit there, any more.  One went inside and another came back down to sit by the pool, beside the large pots of marigolds as I went back to planting.  I finished the pots up with ivy around the edges, just as a deer came by to investigate!  (I'd forgotten the deer as I was planting my large pots of salad for them!)  The deer left, I cleaned up, poured a glass of wine and got back online.  I wanted to read more about marigolds and see if they really would deter any insects, at all.  This time, I read a little further.  One site said that both mosquitos and many gardeners dislike them for their strong smell but they are a good plant to place by windows and doors to keep the mosquitos from entering your house.  The same site cautioned, however, not to put them on patios or around a pool as the large orange blooms can attract wasps.
It does look like poop.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Everyday miracles

     You can take the girl out of the South but there ain't no getting rid of her southern fears.  At 5:30am, I saw it out of the corner of my eye as I walked down the hall.  Some of you will recognize the following routine.

     Keep walking and start praying.  "Please God, don't let that be what I think it is."
     Stop walking, start talking to self.  "Don't be stupid.  It's not what you think it is.  Can't be.  CANNOT be."
     Turn around, slowly.  "It isn't moving.  That's a good sign.  I should turn on the light.  I don't want to turn on the light.  PLEASE, God don't let it fly."
     Turn on light (while preparing to run).  "OK. Breathe.  It still didn't move." Actually breathe.
     Slowly retreat to go grab a shoe.  Walk around complete opposite end of kitchen to get a paper towel.  Continue inner pep talk.  "You live in Indiana.  That is not what you think it is.  Repeat.  Not.What.You.Think.It.Is."
     Move closer, try not to close eyes.  "It's just a moth.  Oh Lord, it's The Biggest Moth Ever."
     Try not to panic because deep down, you know it is still going to fly.  "Please God, just don't let it fly in my face.  Please God."
     Move in.  "Please God."
     And it's just dog hair.  "Thank you, God!  Thank you, God.  Thank You, God!"

     I've just admitted my house could use a cleaning but we've not yet invited roaches and thank the Lord, Indiana roaches don't fly!

     One more cup of coffee and I'll be ready to write another southern scene. ;)

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

An open window

Sometimes you just have to sit back and listen.  Often, you need to pray.  Some days, all it takes is opening a window.

I did not sign up for the first class of the day, today but at the last minute thought I'd try to run over there.  By run over there, I mean last minute shower, grab a cup of coffee and pray I had time to make it over to the House of Seven Gables.  (Those of you who know me, know that this is how I operate even though it rarely, if ever, works out successfully).

By the time I got my coffee, I realized I had 4 minutes.  Still not feeling 100%, trying to run (with coffee) clearly wasn't worth it.  I checked out the library board, went back to my room, opened the window and realized how to make the old draft (the one I'd shelved and resolved to let go) work.

Months ago, I saw this Tweet from Donald Maas: "It is THE event of the year for fiction writers, space is limited.  Registration opens today.  Go.  Just. Go." with a link to Writer Unboxed.  I was pretty certain he was talking to me, specifically and I signed up.  I thought I was meant to attend his workshop but perhaps I was just meant to be here.

*Side note: I write historical fiction and am loving this hotel.  If in any doubt however, you know you're staying in an older hotel when you open a window and find you could get out through it! ;)