On this particular July 4th 2021, I get a feeling that America is on shaky ground. Voting rights are being hobbled in many states. White supremist are becoming bolder. ‘Freedom fighters’ and faux patriots are ramping up their militia to do harm in many ways. Democracy is being challenged even in the halls of Congress where insurrectionists smeared feces on the walls during the January 6th invasion.
Meanwhile one-third of the population refuse to get inoculated against the COVID virus. Climate change is here to stay with extreme heat, cold and wet. Power grids are failing, buildings are collapsing and the ocean is on fire.
This is not negative b***s***, it’s the truth!
A friend of mine posted this Langston Hughes poem today. I read Langston Hughes way back in college in 1967. It’s hard hitting and poignant. Fits my mood today perfectly. Yes, it’s long. Just give yourself a minute of enlightenment and read it.
Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.
(America never was America to me.)
Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed— Let it be that great strong land of love Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme That any man be crushed by one above.
(It never was America to me.)
O, let my land be a land where Liberty Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath, But opportunity is real, and life is free, Equality is in the air we breathe.
(There’s never been equality for me, Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)
Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark? And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?
I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart, I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars. I am the red man driven from the land, I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek— And finding only the same old stupid plan Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.
I am the young man, full of strength and hope, Tangled in that ancient endless chain Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land! Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need! Of work the men! Of take the pay! Of owning everything for one’s own greed!
I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil. I am the worker sold to the machine. I am the Negro, servant to you all. I am the people, humble, hungry, mean— Hungry yet today despite the dream. Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers! I am the man who never got ahead, The poorest worker bartered through the years.
Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream In the Old World while still a serf of kings, Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true, That even yet its mighty daring sings In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned That’s made America the land it has become. O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas In search of what I meant to be my home— For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore, And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea, And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came To build a “homeland of the free.”
Who said the free? Not me? Surely not me? The millions on relief today? The millions shot down when we strike? The millions who have nothing for our pay? For all the dreams we’ve dreamed And all the songs we’ve sung And all the hopes we’ve held And all the flags we’ve hung, The millions who have nothing for our pay— Except the dream that’s almost dead today.
O, let America be America again— The land that never has been yet— And yet must be—the land where every man is free. The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME— Who made America, Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain, Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain, Must bring back our mighty dream again.
Sure, call me any ugly name you choose— The steel of freedom does not stain. From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives, We must take back our land again, America!
O, yes, I say it plain, America never was America to me, And yet I swear this oath— America will be!
Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death, The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies, We, the people, must redeem The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers. The mountains and the endless plain— All, all the stretch of these great green states— And make America again!
When the fireworks in your neighborhood wake you in the middle of the night tonight, say a prayer for our nation. Then decide what you can do to help make America be a place for the good of all it’s citizens.
Just a quick post today before continuing to cut and remove dead trees and other plants damaged in the Great Texas Snowmageddon.
The title of this post, ‘what do you remember from elementary school’ comes from a question asked on #Twitter this morning. It got me thinking. I attended four different elementary schools up thru the 6th grade. That’s the way it is with Army brats.
I attended Kindergarten and 1st grade in Iowa. I don’t remember much except I walked down a big hill to get there. In Kindergarten, we took naps on floor mats after lunch. At the same school, I learned to read in 1st grade and fell in love with books.
Second and 3rd grade was in Texas. Our 3rd grade teacher read us the “Wizard of Oz.” which became a life long favorite. I was able to walk to and from school and even came home for lunch. I stopped by the candy store in the afternoons for 5¢ treats. Horribly sugary stuff! I think we received our polio shots at school as well. Oh! and there was a Duncan YoYo salesman who came by and did tricks and then sold us yoyos. I actually got fairly good with one–all forgotten now.
Next, we moved to South Carolina. Again, I was able to walk to school cutting across several peoples’ front and back yards. How I learned that particular route is a mystery to me. My mother thought I wasn’t learning enough. So when we moved on base, I took the bus to Catholic school.
Now, we weren’t Catholic. In fact my folks only sent me there because the school was much better. We went to Mass every morning–still in Latin at that point. I prayed to Jesus and the Saints, and fainted during a High Mass with the Bishop. The nuns wanted me to convert, but I wasn’t having it. However, as one of life’s little ironies, later on I enjoyed working for 20+ years total with two different Congregations of Sisters. I also still pray for whomever the ambulance is rushing to save.
I’m convinced the older I get, the more it’s good brain exercise to remember things about my life. I was fortunate to experience many different people and places, travel and cultures, and interesting adventures. I’m not done yet either!!
As Psalm 24 tells us, “the earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it.” We are called by God to treasure and care for the earth as a sacred trust. A friend of mine asked me yesterday why I was so worried about what the recent Texas Snowmageddon did to plants and animals–as opposed to the people. I told her just because I was concerned for plants and animals didn’t mean I was ranking them higher than my concern for the humans in our community. We all live together on this planet. This is part of the story.
Katharine Hayhoe is an atmospheric scientist and professor of political science at Texas Tech University, where she is director of the Climate Science Center. She her husband, Andrew Farley, co-authored a book called A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions, which addresses the ways in which climate science reflects conservative Christian beliefs. Read more,
Though I am not attached to any specific religion–I was raised in a Christian family, I do consider myself spiritual. The following quote is close to the way I feel.
“Spirituality does not come from religion. It comes from our soul. We must stop confusing religion with spirituality. Religion is a set of rules, regulations, and rituals created by humans, which were supposed to help people spiritually. Due to human imperfection religion has become corrupt, political, divisive and a tool for power struggle. Spirituality is not theology or ideology. It is simply a way of life, pure and original as given by the Most High. Spirituality is a network linking us to the Most High, the universe and each other.”Haile Selassie I
How would you explain your human soul if you can’t include the environment in which your human body lives? It sustains us and supports us, and we as humans were tasked by the ‘Most High’ with caring for our planet. When we do, we express a soulful caring for all living things.
Since Monday, weather in Texas has been really weird. It got really, really cold and snowy and wet and frozen. Then, it got worse. The electricity went out over most of the State. Not because of frozen windmills and the Green New Deal–which isn’t even really a thing, but because the State energy manager failed Management in a Crisis 101. Blame the State leaders who decided that our power management company should be separate and unregulated–which really means make money for the board, politicians and management and fuck the citizens.
In San Antonio where I live the power went off and on and off and on ad infinitum for several days. Then the water system, who must have felt left out, began losing pressure because of all the burst pipes and stopped or barely trickled. Now we’re boiling our drinking water–this is pretty much state-wide as well.
All this in the middle of a pandemic.
Oh, and did I mention the previous assault on the Capitol? Insurrectionists, anyone?
In my 73 years, I lived through a lot, but 2021 so far has taken the prize for weird shit happening.
On a good note, Rush Limbaugh died.
Also, plumbers and other tradespersons will make tons of money. Which, you know, is a good thing.
More weird shit: February 18. It’s actually snowing again!! Three inches and counting. We’ll be closed up for another two days.
Lately we seem to be in a perpetual state of waiting. Kind of like living in a version the Samuel Beckett play “Waiting for Godot.” Unlike the play, there are millions of characters. Like the play, what we are waiting for ‘invites all kinds of social and political and religious interpretations.’
This week I’ve been waiting for: The election results to be confirmed.
For the current President (and I use that title loosely) to concede to the rightful winner.
So many people to finally understand there is a deadly virus wrecking havoc and death on many people, institutions and healthcare facilities.
For my Social Security check to hit the bank
Things that did happen: I got all clear on two medical tests.
My sink got all new plumbing and the dishwasher works better than it ever did.
My friends and family all checked in well and safe.
Tip of the Day
Wear a Mask. The life you protect may be your own or a loved one.
I’ve been asking myself lately, why, oh why, do I keeping thinking about things from my past–specifically from the 1960s and 70s? Especially, when I can’t remember what I ate for lunch or my neighbor’s last name?
I questioned does this happen to others and why? I Googled: why do older folks dream of the past?
Dreaming of the past and the world beyond
An article by Katy Waldman calls it the ‘reminiscence bump’. “The basic finding is this: We remember more events from late adolescence and early adulthood than from any other stage of our lives. This phenomenon is called the reminiscence bump.” A robust line of research shows that there really is something deeply, weirdly meaningful about this period. It plays an outsize role in how we structure our expectations, stories, and memories.” Voile! That makes sense to me.
Kate Morton, a truly resplendent author, says this about memories in her book The Clockmaker’s Daughter. “Human beings are curators. Each polishes his or her own favored memories, arranging them in order to create a narrative that pleases. Some events are repaired and buffed for display; others are deemed unworthy and cast aside, shelved below ground in the overflowing storeroom of the mind. There, with any luck, they are promptly forgotten. The process is not dishonest: it is the only way that people can live with themselves and the weight of their experiences.”
I reached a moment of clarity when reading her comparison of sentimentality to nostalgia to “Sentimentality is mawkish and cloying, where nostalgia is acute and aching. It describes yearning of the most profound kind: an awareness that time’s passage could not be stopped and there was no going back to reclaim a moment or a person or to do things differently.” However, as I have previously stated, I have no deep regrets and I hardly ever say “if I had only…”
So out of my head and on to the stars for a moment as I embraced the cosmos with one of my favorite persons on twitter Sarafina Nance, who goes by the handle @starstrickenSF she is an Astrophysics PhD, a stargazer and an eternal optimist. She greeted today with an out-of-this-world observation about the universe
…some stars explode, their light as bright as entire galaxies, while others collapse in on themselves, stuffing all their mass into a tiny yet supermassive blip in space-time. Some stars are so massive, and their photons so many, that the stellar surface simply floats away, forcing the star to disintegrate others are so small, barely larger than Jupiter, that they live on for trillions of years, bearing witness to the cosmos in a way nothing else can.
She has also said all of us will be stardust someday, how cool is that?
This was a constant refrain on road trips when we were kids. Now in the 21st week of most folks’ isolation life we are asking “are we done, yet?” NO we are not done—not even close.
There are still lots of folks who deny there’s a very contagious disease out there. In a week or two, when some schools start up with in-school classes, we’ll see another wave of infections–this time in children, teens and adults. I can’t imagine the complexity of the question whether to attend school or not. That it is possibly a life threatening decision, makes it even more difficult.
I like this chart of suggestions, though some of these may be easier said than done. Alas, we are slow dancing this pandemic so we have time to work our way through. Because it didn’t just disappear, it’s not going away, and, no, we are not there yet.
Back when my husband Richard and I first got together, our respective children were very young. My son JB was 11, his daughters Maria was 6 going on 7 and Linda was 5. Every weekend we were challenged to find free or cheap activities to keep them occupied.
It wasn’t too hard 35 years ago to rent videos from Blockbuster, go to a ‘free day’ museum visit or head across town to the $1 movies. In the summer we spent lots of time at the apartment pool. Somehow we got into the habit of every Sunday morning heading out to Friedrich Wilderness Park.
We’d pile into our little Ford Fiesta with a bag of snacks and take a hike. This was the days before IH10 had Fiesta Texas theme park, the Rim and a s**t-ton of other developments. We’d usually take the medium level trail. JB and Maria ran around the course leaving Richard, Linda and I in the dust. But, that was OK. We’d meet at the bottom and have our picnic.
Sitting on top of the tallest part of the trail–in the shed which was home to hundreds of daddy-long-leg spiders–I’d proclaim “This is our Sunday church. We should contemplate the beauty and be thankful.”
When is it too late to say “Happy New Year”? My personal opinion is it’s appropriate all through January, then it becomes tiresome. Also, we forgot our black-eyed peas. I hope that does not forecast a calamitous year.
However… things aren’t looking too good in the USA right now. Most days, I open up Facebook, Twitter or news sites and go WTF!
At my age, it’s hard to face the reality of our possible demise. My generation spent so much time and energy trying to create a place of equal opportunity for all genders, ethnicities, ages et. al. and for education, housing, healthcare, civil rights…
And, the saddest thing to me was when I told a group of 30-40ish women that ‘I was just an old hippie’ and that’s where my values and attitudes were born and raised, they just gave me a blank, puzzled stare. Suddenly, I felt my age a bit more.
Our poor planet! Katharine Hayhoe’s TED Talk addresses the issue of climate change. Her message “the most important thing you can do is just talk about it,” makes this talk essential viewing.
If you want to escape reality for a while, my suggestion, if you like science fiction, is to watch all three seasons of “The Expanse” on Amazon Prime. Best stuff out there! I confess to watching it three times–’cause I’m old and my mind wanders.