Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Golden Day

It's a very special day today, and the sun came up and was warm and sweet where I live. The trees are changing color, and the hickory trees and tulip poplars are a particularly rich and beautiful shade of gold right now. My morning commute involves a drive through the country just north of our city to the inland Navy base where the Norwegian and I both earn our daily bread. In the mornings and afternoons, the sun is at the precise angle to light the treetops. The entire woods look burnished and bright. It's breathtaking. We've been watching the deer, fearless in that area, step out into the open fields on the edges of the base. There's one small group, a few does and their young fawns, led by a regal buck with a nice eight to ten point rack, that we've seen a couple of days in a row now. I think they must know there's no hunting allowed on the base, and that even in the afternoon during the exodus past the south gate, they can feed in safety and peace.

On this day, fifty years ago, in a small town in north Alabama, my dad married my mom. They met at her workplace. He was a switchboard equipment installer for Western Electric, and the cotton company she worked for needed a telephone upgrade. My mom noticed him pretty early on in the job, and made excuses to frequent the ladies' room so she would have to walk repeatedly past the place he was working. One thing led to another, and they finally married at a little Episcopal church with red doors on Gordon Street. Everyone laughed about that last part, since that was my dad's first name.

Life and Western Electric took them all over the south. The first five years they were married they moved more than 30 times, in a tiny Airstream trailer--the littlest one they made. Dad had a penchant for big old Buicks, so at least they had a sturdy vehicle to pull their little home behind them. Year one brought Gordon, Jr., who left them almost as soon as he arrived. The near three years brought them my two sisters. I arrived six weeks before the assassination of President Kennedy. Our brothers arrived in odd-numbered years as well.

We stayed in the same city after 1963 and all of us grew up there. We had a backyard garden. Dad stayed with Western. We went to grade school and beyond, the Army, the Navy, and so forth.

It wasn't always easy between them. It wasn't always peaceful. The 1970s were rough on a lot of people and while we weren't devastated, neither were we entirely spared. The 1980s brought greater change--retirements and graduations; the 1990s brought grandchildren and war. And still they soldiered on.

I don't know what it takes to be married for fifty years. I look at the Norwegian and wonder what we'll be like at that milestone--he'll be 101 and I'll be 94 and 7/8s. I hope we'll be the complete embarrassment of the retirement home--still sneaking kisses and holding hands.

Dad died two years ago, suddenly, awfully. Mom was done with her treatment for lung cancer, but unfortunately, lung cancer wasn't done with her. Her third brain tumor left her in September with an esophagus so constricted she can neither eat nor drink. She has a feeding tube in her stomach now that she pours a concoction of nutrition that smells awfully like Carnation evaporated milk into six times a day. Her adrenal glands are both covered in tumors that have metastasized from her lungs. Today though, we took her flowers and a card covered in gold. It was so small a gesture to offer for 50 years of hope and love and tears and joy. This wasn't the golden anniversary we expected, but life isn't always what we ask for. The best we can do is to live and love.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day At Last

Hello friends. If you're reading this within the confines of the 50 United States, then for you, as well as for me, it's election day.


We've come a long way, baby, from the early primaries in New Hampshire 20 months ago, to the major party conventions this summer. We've learned more than we ever cared to know about the personal lives, financial condition, voting records, favorite colors, religious proclivities and bad habits of all of the candidates, and their family members as well. We've come to question knuckle bumping as a possible terrorist gesture. We've learned to equate visiting a National Guard armory as foreign policy. We've (hopefully) learned to be more careful about judging others by standards we might not so much wished to be judged ourselves.

There's a lot at stake today, both nationally and locally. If you voted today (and my fondest hope is that you did), then you probably were greeted with a number of referenda germane to your particular locale, and perhaps some Congressional candidates as well. I wouldn't presume to suggest you vote for a particular party or candidate, but I do pray that you found candidates in all areas, and positions on all issues that you could, with good conscience pull a lever, touch the screen, poke the chad or otherwise let "x" mark the spot.

Tomorrow, God willing, the sun will come up regardless of the outcomes, but let us dearly hope that whoever wakes up happy tomorrow also wakes up resolved to occupy his or her respective office with dignity, grace, fairness and compassion. We all deserve to be heard. This land is my land, but just as surely, this land is also your land.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Women of Note

Today is the birthday of Marcia, marcia, marcia. She's a strong, gorgeous woman and we're trying to encourage her to write more often. She also makes a marvelous marciarita.

I just watched a good bit of "The Devil Wears Prada" with Dear Daughter and the Norwegian's daughter. We laughed at the notion that a size 10 is the new 14. What a hoot. It's an hysterical movie although I must confess to loving the shoes, none of which I could ever wear.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

And another thing...

A big happy birthday shout out to young Amicus, the number one son at Fine Old Famly. Twelve is a very good year. Enjoy every moment of it!

Facing up to Facebook

So, here it is, day two of NaBloPoMo, and amazingly, I'm writing my second post in a row. Okay, my second post in a row for quite a long time. NaBloPoMo is a kind and user-friendly group that encourages creative writing through blogging, by offering advice, support and incentive to bloggers to commit to daily postings for 30 consecutive days in November. Believe me, I WANT to post everyday. I have plenty to post about, and given that blogging is so much cheaper and convenient than therapy, you'd think that I'd be running off at the with postings.

I have a deep, dark confession to make. The real reason I have fallen off on blogging is that I've been cheating on my blog with this little hussy. Yes, I can now admit that I've fallen into the clutches of an Internet social networking site. Oh, it started innocently enough--a funny "status" comment here, a peek at a friend's photo album there. I'd check my page in the morning and then again when I got home from work. Every day I added another friend or two--always someone I already knew and either worked with or had social dealings with. Some of my friends were even children of my friends. We all were gradually sucked into the vortex.

Next I found myself surreptitiously checking my page at work. Quickly, and only when I was done with a project or having a short break from the intense and important work of shuffling paper from one beaureaucratic desk to another, I'd bring up my page, and feed my "virtual pet" (as if I don't have enough real ones) or add a plant to my "virtual" green plot (while worrying about how my victory garden was going to get weeded this week.

I started checking my "friends" lists of friends to see who they knew that I might know. I started searching for people from my past--co-workers, classmates, cheating dirty dog ex-boyfriends who by all rights should be in jail or under an NFL stadium end-zone. This simple little tool became a means of checking out people without having to actually deal with them and scope out the lives of those I was better off without in the first place.

Like any other addiction, weaning myself from this black hole of a website has been a challenge. I tell myself "if I check my page before going to work, then I promise I won't even peep once during work." Of course then a message will pop up in my E-mail in-box telling me about a comment or photo post one of my friends has made, and the urge to go check it out is overwhelming. Like the siren song of a coffee pot when you've already had your limit for the morning, these maddening little reminders that someone you know is also online tease and tickle your attention.

I'm getting better though, really. I'm learning to save most of my Facebook checking and posting for the weekend. It really is inconvenient to try and post things during the day. The time I spend on Facebook is time I could spend cooking, helping Dear Daughter with homework, sorting clutter, snuggling with the Norwegian, hugging a bunny or even blogging. I guess it all comes down to remembering that those things that are really important to me are the ones most deserving of my time. And that probably doesn't include a page that takes and takes, and gives only little soundbites in return.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Saints and Sanity

Hello again, from long ago. It's the first day of November, which is not only the feast of All Saints, but also the first day of NaBloPoMo. The former is a collective day to reflect upon all those who served God well and who now rest in glory (but who don't have their own special designated day of remembrance), while the latter is an initiative for bloggers to strive to post at least once per day for 30 consecutive days. Given my recent track record, I can say it's going to be a challenge to pick up that gauntlet, but I'm surely going to give it a try. For today, at least, I'm back.

I've always loved All Saints--the idea of honoring all saints, and the happy music that accompanies this particular low feast. I love the hope and optimism that even someone like me can actually be a good servant and answer the call. I'm still a work in progress. Tomorrow, the children of our parish will come to church costumed as various saints and people from the Bible and join in the opening processional as a reminder that saints do indeed still walk among us.

We've had an interesting couple of weeks filled with great joy and some real sadness and tragedy. Life does that to us. We are lifted up and then brought low. Today the sun was shining and we shared some good times with good people. I don't know what tomorrow will bring, but I am fairly certain I will be here to write about it. Good night, all.