It’s Cold in California!

I just got back from a long weekend in California, attending my brother’s wedding…and I’m glad to get back to the warmer Midwest!!

When I visited him this summer, I was chilled, so I knew I would be cold going out there in October (almost November)…and I was.

It sounds crazy, because the temperatures were up in the 60s and 70s. But they never turn heat on–and have gotten acclimated to the damp temperature in a way I never have.

I’m sure the neighbors thought I was this crazy woman visiting because when we would go for a morning walk, my brother would go out without a jacket–and I invariably had on two layers plus my winter coat and winter hat. Only one afternoon did I go down to short sleeves (single layer) for a few hours!

We took our grandson to the beach at Half Moon Bay–and he wanted to feel the waves. So he took off his shoes and socks–and talked his dad into doing that as well. Then they waited for the waves to come up. Our grandson loved it–and didn’t want to leave. Our son…that was another story! The first wave that lapped his feet just about froze him and although he continued to go in and out of the waves, he was very glad to get back up to the car to warm up.

But the cold didn’t really matter. What did matter was the warmth of family…the chance to share together in a significant celebration for one of our family members…for the extended family to touch base…and to draw new members into the family circle.

So yes, it’s cold in California–but it was a warm visit!

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Kids! – Part 2

Yes, sometimes our kids drive us absolutely nuts (see yesterday’s post). But they also can make us very proud.

Our son has been struggling with learning how to be a single parent to his 10-year-old son the last several months..and they both have been struggling with the aftermath of the breakup of what appeared from the outside at least to be a good marriage. Yes, one with some stresses and strains–as every marriage has…but one that appeared to be making it, only to explode in an incredibly difficult way.

It has not always been easy for them–or for us, since we often take care of our grandson. And yet, they are learning how to cope. Yes, there are wounds yet to heal–and scars that I’m sure will last a lifetime.

But they have been forging a closer relationship…learning to understand themselves and each other better. That will undoubtedly be a longtime process, especially since our grandson is rapidly approaching the tween and then teen years!

But I am proud of them.

I’m also proud of our daughter and her family. They have also had what seems like more than their fair share of problems and issues. Her oldest son died on his 21st birthday, having come back to the States from Iraq but not having been home before he died in a tragic accident. Her husband has had some significant health issues–just recently culminating in open-heart surgery, and she has been dealing with her own health issues as well.

But they–along with her youngest son–have come to terms with all of this. He has just been discharged from the Army…just gotten married…and he and his wife have come back “home” to jobs and to be available to help the folks if needed.

Do either of the kids make all the decisions we would have liked them to? No…but they are both good people, people who are hard workers and who have touched the lives of many.

Yes, I do understand why parents get white hairs…but I’m also proud of my kids.

Kids!

I’m tired of politics…so I’m going to think about something else. 

Why is it that some things we think are just basic parts of staying organized seem to go right over the heads of our kids? For example…keeping a checkbook register!

Maybe it’s because they’re so techno-oriented…they can go online any time to get the information, so why do they need to keep track of it with paper and pen?

Only problem with that is…forgetting to enter a check–or a deposit…and there goes your extra money for the month!

We’ve always kept check registers…reconciled statements (although sometimes having to reconcile two statements together)…known how much was in our checkbook. So why is that such a hard pattern to follow? Laziness? rebellion (i.e., I’m not going to do what my parents do)?

Or is it just that some kids have to learn things the hard way? and it takes several knocks on the head to get there??

I knew there was a reason parents get white hairs!

Smear?

NPR was talking about something yesterday that got me thinking…

There has been a lot of talk during this campaign suggesting/implying that Obama is a Muslim, despite his strong attestations of his Christianity. Much of that response to those messages has been that folks are attempting to “smear” Obama by saying that he is a Muslim.

Something I hadn’t thought of until it came up on NPR is the subtext to these statements back and forth–that somehow being a Muslim is a bad thing.

The parallel they were raising was of an election in Poland a number of years ago where a Catholic was running for office–and a whisper campaign was started…”He’s really a secret Jew.” The media at the time were pretty proud of themselves–saying, “Well, that’s just Poland. We’re not like that.”

But we’re more like that than we might like to think.

We are a country that is hugely diverse–in ethnicities, religion, economics…just about any category you can think of. Singling out one of those diversities–in this case, religion–to suggest that somehow belonging to that religion can be seen as a potential “smear” is dangerous to us all.

There are significant problems that we need to deal with–and to deal with them, we are going to need to work together.

Are there problems with some folks who claim the Muslim religion? Sure…just like there are with some who claim Christianity or Hinduism or any other religion you want to name. But is suggesting that somehow it’s a bad thing to be a Muslim the way to deal with those problems? Not to my mind.

We can easily get into a tit-for-tat mode by doing that. And if we do, then a quote by Gandhi comes to mind: “”An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’ leaves the world blind and toothless.”

I may not agree with those who are of a different faith tradition than I am. But to claim that those who do belong to those traditions are somehow “less than” me suggests that anything I do to them is correct because I am “better” or “more right”…rather than learning from them and finding ways to work together to deal with the significant problems that affect all of us–regardless of our faith traditions.

Unbalanced…

My balance has been off the last few days. No, not my mental balance–my physical balance.

That’s one of the challenges of living with a chronic illness–in my case, MS (multiple sclerosis). While it seems to be largely in remission, if I get too tired / hot / stressed, then the weakness in my legs becomes more pronounced–and I have been tired and stressed the last couple of weeks!

It hadn’t been too bad until we were at my mother’s last night–and then as I was walking down the hall to put a game away, I found myself periodically running into the wall on my right side…and just feeling a little weirdly unbalanced.

I’ve had to resort to using my Amigo and my cane the last couple of weeks. At major events (like I was dealing with last week), I usually use the Amigo anyway to save energy. But I’ve needed it–and my cane–more since then…to save energy, yes, but also to feel more confident and steady.

This will pass–again. It’s just been quite a while since I’ve had to deal with this aspect of living with a chronic illness to this extent. Oh well, I’m still mobile…still working…still able to enjoy life–so I can deal with this as well.

Double Standard?

Just some musings that have been fermenting for quite a while…

I was truly sorry to hear about the pregnancy of Governor Palin’s oldest daughter. I think that–even with family support–she and the baby’s father, assuming they stay together, will have some difficult times ahead of them…and I hope they can make it work to the benefit of all.

However, it does raise some questions for me… Governor Palin supports abstinence-only sex education. If she–as a strong advocate–cannot get her own child to live that practice, how can she be so convinced that it is the only appropriate form of sex education for all children?

But the bigger issue for me is how the pregnancy has been treated. James Dobson of Focus on the Family has issued a statement of support that in part says:

“Being a Christian does not mean you’re perfect. Nor does it mean your children are perfect. But it does mean there is forgiveness and restoration when we confess our imperfections to the Lord. I’ve been the beneficiary of that forgiveness and restoration in my own life countless times, as I’m sure the Palins have.”

I believe that. And I am glad that the family is receiving a lot of support.

But I also wonder…what would the reaction have been if we had been talking about one of the Obama daughters? Would there have been the same kind of statements of forgiveness and support? Or would the color of their skin have elicited comments more along the lines of “Well, what can you expect from one of them?”

I’d like to think otherwise…but I have my doubts…

Disappointed…

I am disappointed with John McCain…

I have not always agreed–okay, to be honest, I probably really have rarely agreed with his political stances. But I felt he was a man of integrity, a man who took a stance based on what he believed.

I don’t believe that now.

It began to change for me when he waffled on the flying of the Confederate battle flag a few years ago. I could let that go, because everyone sometimes says or does things they wish they hadn’t later.

But the last few weeks of this campaign have really disappointed me.

Sure, I expected there to be some harsh rhetoric–and some major disagreements between the candidates about their positions/actions/statements. That’s always been a part of the American political process.

But to hire someone to work in his campaign whose tactics he deplored when they were used against him…to begin to play the  race card…to imply that Obama is simply not telling the truth about who he is or what he believes…to get down deep into the mud…all this has truly disappointed me.

I probably would not have voted for McCain anyway. His positions are too different from what I believe. But I am truly disappointed that this campaign seems to indicate that when it came down to a choice between standing with integrity for his beliefs or choosing to do whatever it took to try to become president…he took the lower road.