A benediction

As I told my friend Marty today over at Snakesinthegrass2014, after more senseless mass killings, this time in El Paso and Dayton, I’m tired.

Very tired.

And upset and frustrated and angry and incredibly concerned about the soul of our country.  And the inaction of our elected officials.

I don’t normally post memes from the internet, but I found this to be encouraging and uplifting during this time of deep discouragement and sadness.

I hope it speaks to you like it spoke to me.

benedition

May God bless you…

Shareable

20180509_095840

Sharing is evidently not an innate instinct of the human species.

AGMA has no scientific anthropological information to back up this statement. It is strictly based on anecdotal data.

Mainly by observing my two offspring in the 1980’s and more recently, AGMA’s MAGCITW (most adorable grandchildren in the world) in their interactions with each other and their friends.

My issue are 18 months apart. The MAGCITW are 22 months apart. For the most part, both sets of children played/play with the same toys at the same time.

“Share with your brother!” AGMA said this to no son in particular. Neither one of them liked to share their stuff.

And I hear a similar refrain from my son and DIL. “Share with your sister/brother!” The fact that the MAGCITW are different sexes makes no difference at all. He likes her pink teapot; she likes his red fire truck.

AGMA is going to assume that this lack of desire to share one’s bounty extends beyond her immediate family.

Duh.

Just read/listen to the news (real news that is…) to figure that out. So very many people need their moms to come back to earth, give them a good swat on the behind while admonishing them, “You’ve got plenty of sh*t, more than any human needs! Share with the folks who didn’t have all the advantages you did for heaven’s sake!”

AGMA wonders, how do only children learn how to share? Maybe when they are with playmates or at birthday parties or in daycare?

I’m a third child and the youngest. Because my siblings are 6 and 12 years older than me, I really didn’t have to worry about sharing my stuff when I was growing up. In that way, I imagine I was like an only child. But because AGMA grew up in a one parent household of very modest means, I didn’t have very much stuff. But I didn’t really know any better so I was pretty happy.

My neighbors were sort of in the same boat. So we shared what we had with each other. It was a way for me to have playmates.

But AGMA’s far from prefect at sharing as an adult.

My ungenerous side usually rears itself around food. Food I like. Food I don’t want to share.

Don’t judge me.

Most of the time it’s directed at Hubs, but not always. In the past, it’s involved beater/spoon licking, raw cookie dough/batter consumption, and Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies.

More recently, Hubs has been known to finish off MY unconsumed food brought home from the previous night’s dinner out.

Last night as a matter of fact.

He polished off my leftover pineapple fried rice from dinner the night before. I was at a 5K run when the offense occurred. AGMA came home starving and threw open the fridge door.

“What do you mean you ate my rice?!? *^%$#*!&@!!”

I was pissed.

First world problem, I know.

A couple of months ago, AGMA bought a bag of the totally amazing and delicious Crispy Mint M&M’s. God bless the person at Mars Inc who thought this was a good idea because it’s beyond brilliant!

The bag had “Share Size” printed on it.

Ha ha ha ha!

Yeah – I shared them. With my thighs, my butt, my waist, my hips, etc…

Seriously, it was just one individual serving as far as I’m concerned. And a small one. Just like a box of Girl Scout Thin Mints is a two serving box.

AGMA’s trying to get better at food sharing. When I was visiting my niece a couple of weeks ago, she made cookies. Chocolate chip cookies. My favorite.

She asked who wanted to lick the cookie dough beaters. I raised my hand the same time my great nephew chimed, “I do!” He being 10 and me being 64, he got the beaters. Not sure that was fair, but I was semi-gracious about it. At least I didn’t tackle him to take them away.

Let’s face it, we all can get better at sharing. Those of us in the USA live in a land with wide open spaces, abundant natural resources, bountiful food production and a vibrant economy.

There is no reason in the world we should have hungry children or homelessness.

There is no reason in the world that people should have to file for bankruptcy because of the crushing financial burden of medical bills.

There is no reason in the world that an elderly person needs to choose between buying food or affording their life sustaining medications.

There is no reason in the world that we should not welcome with open arms people fleeing oppressive regimes and seeking a better life for themselves and their families.

There is no reason in the world that we should not offer protection to women fleeing from countries whose law enforcement officials will not protect them and their children from violent and abusive partners.

There is no reason in the world that children should EVER be separated from their parents at our borders no matter what their color or immigration status is.

It’s time to get to sharing our national bounty. It’s the moral, decent, compassionate and patriotic thing to do. You know, the old fashioned American values?

Oh, and karma is real.

And she can be a total b*tch if you piss her off.

Just like AGMA when you eat my left over fried rice.

A tale of many cities

statueoflibery

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.”                               Charles Dickens: A Tale of Two Cities (1859)

It’s been a long time since AGMA’s read the CliffsNotes on this great book. I’m pretty sure that I never actually read it from cover to cover.

I saw the movie though…

But holy crap on a cracker, this quote totally describes so many people I know in the USA.

Including AGMA.

On one hand, life is very good. It took 60+ years, but I’m finally comfortable in my own skin. I’ve dispelled (for the most part) the shadows of the past that held me hostage for so many years. It’s really wonderfully liberating.

AGMA’s become a Ms. Sassy Pants.

I’ve taken up marathon running. I’ve discovered a passion for men’s elite cycling (young men in spandex!). I have a blog I adore writing and a family in my WordPress friends. And I got a tattoo this year. That I still LOVE by the way.

My relationship with my older son and DIL has completely transformed into something I only dreamed of a few years ago. I’m welcomed into their home with open arms and lots of love. They have given me two adorable grandchildren to spoil.

And spoil them AGMA does indeed!  Which is what I was doing last week when I should have been posting to AGMA.  Oops…

Hubs is retired. We have a comfortable income from his pension and my part-time massage therapy work. And some modest savings.  So I can travel. Something AGMA has been wanting to do since her early 20’s.  Egypt, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and all over Europe multiple times. For me it’s been a dream come true.

However, I just found out that we are actually at the poverty level based on the GOP’s definition of the middle class in the new tax bill. Evidently to be middle class, you need to earn $450,000 per year.

Who knew?

#MAGA

Great segue to the worst of times…

Our traitorous illegitimate president. His pack of corrupt henchmen and Stepford women. The spineless, heartless, bottom dwellers of the GOP. The morons in charge of education, our natural resources, consumer protection, financial regulation, commerce, housing, veterans affairs, public health, social programs, immigration.

Lobbyists basically in charge of public policy.

A nuclear game of cat and mouse between narcissistic megalomaniacs.

The repeated assaults on and the attempted destruction of the tenants of our Constitution. The attacks on the judiciary. The demonization on the free press. The egregious, illegal exploitation of public office for personal gain.

The fear and hate mongering. Condoned attacks on women, minorities, non-Christians, LGBTQ’s, the disabled.

The extreme profanity of the “Christian” alt-right.

Treason and rigged elections. Gerrymandering. Voter suppression. Poll taxes.

Our precious children at Sandy Hook and Columbine. Virginia Tech. Charleston. San Bernardino. Orlando. Charlottesville. Las Vegas, New York City. Denver. Sutherland Springs.

Our precious children…

Chuck was right; it is the best of times and the worst of times.

AGMA’s challenge, as I think is every other person who loves what American used to stand for, is to not retreat into my personal best of times out of fatigue or sense of helplessness or a desire to block it it all out. Although I know plenty of people who have done just that. They have just tuned out what’s happening to the US because it’s not all unicorns and rainbows. Or it makes them feel bad or sad or ruins their feng shui.

Ah…I think that’s what happened in Germany in the 1930‘s.

Just sayin’…

As AGMA loves to tell via social media our Trump-arse-kissing, spineless, gutless, in-the-pocket-of-the-lobbyists, dishonorable Georgia senator David Perdue, “History has its eye on you and will judge you accordingly.”

Truthfully, history has its eyes on all of us. And will judge us on how we used our best of times to heal our worst of times.

AGMA knows this seems overwhelmingly daunting. But I also know that the actions of one person can make a difference.

We all can’t be a Mother Theresa (especially AGMA!), but we can pick up the phone and call our legislators. On the federal, state and local level. Often. And let them know what we think about the worst of times and how we want them to make it better.

And we can support, either financially and/or with our time, local political candidates who would unite and heal rather than divide and wound.

The same thing with organizations that support civil rights, voting rights, LGBT rights, a clean environment, sensible gun laws, our Constitution, immigrant rights, our veterans, etc…

You get the idea.

Honestly, AGMA would really like to cocoon and withdraw from all of this worst of times stuff. I mean, my life is going great. I’m living large. Finally. Why should I worry about all that other “unpleasantness”?

Two reasons…

An almost 3 year old boy who loves trucks of every kind, wants to be a “worker guy” when he grows up, and loves inventing make-believe stories he can act out with his Nan when she visits.

And a just turned 1 year old young lady who loves to climb on things she’s not supposed to (that’a girl!), babbles incessantly and gives her Nan the best heart melting snuggles that Nan ever had.

They and millions of other precious children of all colors and religious backgrounds and cultures deserve a better future.

History does indeed have its eyes on us.

I wonder how we’ll do?

Pink pussies everywhere

womensmarch

Picture courtesy of AGMA’s crappy phone camera

Hats I mean…  Pink pussy hats.  Everywhere.

The Women’s March on Washington was awesome!

I’m sure you’ve read about it and seen the pictures by now.   You’ve heard about Ashely Judd’s reading of that incredibly powerful poem written by a young Tennessee  woman.  And Michael Moore’s five step resistance plan.  And feminist icon Gloria Steinem’s speech.

And Madonna.  She was…Madonna.  ‘Nuff said.

But as always, there is an AGMA version.  Of course.

I got to DC on Friday, 1/20.  Inauguration Day.  Tragically, another day in American history that will live in infamy.

The Dulles gift shops were stocked full of DT t-shirts and memorabilia and made in China “Make America Great Again” red hats.  Considering how sparsely attended the inauguration was, they would have been financially more astute to have stocked Women’s March stuff since there were sooooo many more people at the March.

Hindsight…

I stayed with my niece and her family in Virginia.  Before I left home, I got a text from my neice asking if I had my flu shot.  Ah oh…   Turns out her middle son had the flu, but before the end of the weekend, my niece also came down with it.  And her husband and oldest son got a severe, extra nasty colds.  It was the house of contagion.

Charming.

Friday was spent getting ready for the March the next morning.  I finished my poster which was truly a thing of beauty.   Front…

20170120_175841

And back…

20170120_175919

I loaded up my burner phone (OMG – yes I did…) with the ACLU DC Justice app.  And encrypted everything on my phone just in case it was confiscated.  AGMA created a new FB account thinking I would do FB live if things got “rough”.   I brought $100 with me and my medications in their original bottles in case I got tossed in the hoosegow.  I wrote emergency contact numbers on my arm with a sharpie.

Seriously.

You can imagine my surprise when I saw a grand total of two police officers the entire day until the March got to the park in front of the White House.

Not that I’m sad it was peaceful and I didn’t need to do all that stuff.  AGMA just felt a bit…over prepared.  Understatement.

But it’s better to prepare for the worst and get the best, which is what happened!

There were 9 of us who went down to the March.  We got there around 9:50 AM. We couldn’t see the stage, but had a jumbotron in front of us so could hear and see the rally.  I didn’t realize that there were soooo many people there that 70% of them couldn’t see or hear anything.

My first inkling at the size of the crowd was when a friend who came up from Atlanta called me.  She said that they were in front of the National Archives and couldn’t get any closer.  That was a loooong way away.

The rally was great, but long.  Too long.  The organizers, in wanting to be inclusive of all groups, let too many of the many speakers go on a bit too long.  So instead of being the 3 hours and 15 minutes it was supposed to be, it went over 4.5 hours.

It was chilly and crowded and was nearly impossible to get to a port-o-let.  I didn’t try.  Thankfully, AGMA is good at managing stuff like that.  TMI right?

By the time the March started, AGMA was by herself.  My niece and the other 7 ladies bailed at 3.5 hours.  They were cold, hungry, had to pee and tired.  And my niece looked awful.  Remember, she was coming down with the flu.

But AGMA had no intention of leaving.  I was there to march and, by God, I was going to march.

And I did.  And it was a glorious thing.

Despite the long rally and tired feet and hungry bellies and full bladders, when the march finally started, the marchers were polite and peaceful and considerate of each other.  The energy was amazing.

I’ve never been in a crowd of nearly a million people.  It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.  Words fail AGMA if you can believe that…

Once we got to the Elliptical in front of the White House, I found a bench to stand on and watched for nearly an hour as people poured it the park.  Again, it was a sight I really can’t describe.

At 5:15 PM, it seemed like it was time to leave.  It was getting dark, things were winding down and I had to figure out how to get back to my nieces house.

But AGMA had two urgent needs.  I needed a toilet and some food.   I brought one banana to the rally.  Not good planning.  I was starving.

Thankfully there were port-o-lets close by and no lines.

But the lines at the food trucks were crazy long.  AGMA opted to head to the Metro to get somewhat close to my niece’s house.

It took my niece about 20 minutes to drive to the Metro stop to pick me up.  There was a Subway, a Chinese food place and a BBQ place across the street.  That was cruel.  The smell was intoxicating.

Bless my niece’s husband for having dinner ready when I got back.  They all kind of stared at me in disbelief as I inhaled the food.  Then had a second helping.  Protesting and marching evidently requires a lot of fuel.

Oh, and my burner phone could barely take pictures let alone do Facebook live.  I guess you can’t expect a lot for $29.99 from Walmart.  And I came back with my $100 and all of my meds.  And I had sharpie on my arm for a few days afterwards.  A reminder of what didn’t happen.

This time.

But in the 10 days since the inauguration, it’s far worse that I imagined.  Probably far worse than anybody imagined.  Our free speech, our free press, the rule of law, our Constitution are all under serious attack.

I keep thinking of Theoden’s line from The Two Towers from the Lord of the Rings series by JRR Tolkien, “What can men do against such reckless hate?”

What indeed…

Every American has to answer that question for themselves.  My prayer is that each one of us will be brave.  And not be silent.

Ever…

P.S.  On a lighter note – OMG, OMG, OMG…I got inked yesterday.  It’s glorious!  Stay tuned for a picture once it quits looking red and nasty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poppies everywhere

P1060649

So yesterday was Memorial Day here in the U.S.

Every country has it’s own version of a special day set aside to honor those who have lost their lives in service to their country. Whether you agree with the war/conflict that took their lives or not, it’s important to recognize and honor those who sacrificed their future in the service to their country. And recognize the families who lost precious daughters and sons, wives and husbands, fathers and mothers.

Growing up in the late 50’s, early 60’s in the little town of Aspinwall, less than 8 miles from downtown Pittsburgh, was a lesson in patriotism. The good kind. Not the Trump kind.

The Korean War had just ended in a stalemate, but America was still basking in the glow of becoming the “King of the World” after WWII which was only a short 10 years before. It’s good to be king.

Our local VFW hall was always packed with veterans. It was next to local drug store where I used to sit at the counter with my sister and drink cherry Cokes after going to matinee at the local theater. I think the matinee cost a dime… And the cherry Coke probably cost a dime too.

On summer afternoons, you’d find the vets talking and sitting in rocking chairs on the front porch of the VFW. Some of them would be in the small yard at the side of the building playing horseshoes. At the time, I thought they looked terribly old and I was a bit wary of them.

Much how little children may feel now at the sight of AGMA.

Every Armistice/Remembrance Day (now Veterans Day), Decoration Day (now Memorial Day), and 4th of July (still the 4th of July!), Aspinwall held a parade. And all of the veterans came out to march. The oldest were from the Spanish American War. There were lots of WWI veterans too.  And paper poppies everywhere.

We dutifully went to every parade. And even though I really didn’t understand what it was all about, I knew that these parades and the people who marched in them were important. Even though they were a bit scary to an 6 year old AGMA…

The biggest parade by far was on the 4th of July. Not only did the veterans march, but half of the town was in the parade too. I remember going to see my 14 year old sister marching with her junior high band playing the stuffing out of her clarinet. She rocked. And there were American flags everywhere – hanging on homes, on the floats in the parade, in people’s hands, on every store front.

To young eyes, it was wonderful. Thinking back on it now, it seems almost surreal that things were so idyllic.

Then came the Vietnam War, the violence of the Civil Rights movement, Kent State, Watergate.

AGMA now looked at the world with older & wiser eyes. And she didn’t feel all that patriotic anymore.

We raised our children with an appreciation for the freedom’s in America and the importance of exercising the right to vote, but we never went to a parade on Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day or the 4th of July. We never had any discussions at the dinner table about what was important about those days; why we needed to observe them. To my kids, they were just long holiday weekends.

AGMA regrets that. *sigh*

Only later in life did I realize that, for as flawed as I saw my country, it really is the land of the free and home of the brave.  There’s no place on earth I’d rather live.

Well okay – maybe I’d like to live in Ireland for a couple of months of the year…

Democracy is messy and complicated because people are messy and complicated. And dysfunctional and wounded. And egocentric and self-serving.

No wonder our presidential politics are so messed up.

But we have a duty to those buried beneath the white headstones in Arlington, those resting in foreign soil, those who were never found, to try to make our country worthy of their sacrifice. They plead with us to honor their memory by coming together and working to create an America for the 21st century we can be proud of. One that the world can once again look to with respect. They ask us to teach our politicians that patriotism is not the partisanship of being a Republican or Democrat or any other party, but about the spirit of fairness & freedom, concern for the greater good, and unlimited opportunity. About agreeing to disagree and civility and taking the blinders off to see the bigger picture.

I hope we listen to them.

P.S.  I took the above picture at the American Cemetery in Normandy, France in 2014.

Ailing America

I have a post about shopping for Thanksgiving dinner I’m putting the finishing touches on.  It’ll be a little more introspective than most of my posts generally are and not quite as mildly amusing as normal.  But it’s still pretty “fluffy” in light of what is happening in Ferguson, MO and all over our country.

I can’t bring myself to post it today.  Not today.

I’m not eloquent when it comes to serious subjects.  I stumble and bumble and struggle to express myself, and will come up with something that’s marginal at best.  So I’m not going to try.

All I know is that there is something terribly, horribly, fundamentally wrong in America.  It’s like the country itself has contracted Ebola.  We’re bleeding all over.  And nobody knows how to stop it.   Actually, I don’t think anybody has called a doctor.  Yet.

My heart grieves because I’m so fearful we’re going to wait too long and lose the patient.

And I feel powerless to stop it.

And that feeling sucks.