Table Talk

A table dressed
In Autumn red and gold,
Flickering tapers beckon –
Come,
Eat,
Share.

The feast awaits –
An amber bird, trussed and tied,
Overflowing with succulent stuffing,
Rests in a fragrant cloud of scent,
Next to humble mashed potatoes
And glistening candied yams,
Sensible salad and unassuming rolls.
A hush of appreciation falls
As the finely dressed are seated
Before the best china and crystal,
Spreading linen cloths across their laps.

Hand in hand,
A mumbled prayer of thanks
For goodness given,
Is all too soon
Drowned out by pungent words
As battle lines are drawn.

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Share Your World – #47 (Grateful)

It’s time for another installment of Cee’s Share Your World. This week is about gratitude. If you want to play along, click here. Here are my responses to this week’s questions: 

What are you grateful for in regard to:

Your home life? 

My house may be small, but there is yard enough for 4 dogs, and the view on a good day looks like this:

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Disclaimer: That’s not all my yard. 🙂

Your family?

I’m grateful for people who make me smile and keep me on my toes. They’ve stood beside me through some very difficult times. Their support strengthens me.

Your blogging community?

I am grateful to anyone who bothers to read my ramblings. Thank you! 🙂

Your city or immediate area in which you live?

I’m grateful for the kindness and generosity of the people of my town. I live in a struggling community that somehow always seems to band together to help its kids, its poor, its most desperate people.

The regional area in which you live?

I’m thankful to be surrounded by green grass and forests, rivers and waterfalls. I love being able to take a day trip to the beach, the mountains, or the big city.

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The country where you live?

Whenever I see people protesting on the street and hear others complaining, I cringe. It can be messy and annoying, but our right to protest, to have our voice heard, is such a privilege. I am so grateful we have that basic right.

You?

I’m grateful to still be here. Sometimes the best phrases are the simple ones such as, “It’s very small” and  “We caught it early.”


Thanks again to Cee for this wonderful challenge! To all, have a very happy, peaceful, politics-free Thanksgiving!

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Seeping In

We’ve had a week to percolate
A thousand words to navigate,
It’s up to us to find the truth
That’s hidden in the voting booth;
Cryptic meetings, cracking code
May lead us down a dark, dark road
A small machine that stands alone
While Sally goes to get the phone,
A small adjustment, just a smidge
Is all it takes to burn that bridge.
Now exit polls don’t match results,
But we can take this; we’re adults.
Concessions speech that asks for peace,
And hope, and for a wide release.
We split, and while a segment cheers
Others must confront their fears,
Voices raised in deep despair,
Asking, how can this be fair?
How can a campaign run on blame
By a man who gained his fame
Through TV shows and business fails
Be asked to hoist the country’s sails?
A man who counsels with our foe.
Who knows where this whole thing may go?
But wait! you cry, Hold up! It’s good.
He’s our president. You should
Accept him now. Give him a chance.
To nothing give a backward glance,
Not to the stories where he proclaimed
Our president moot; a crowd inflamed.
Where’s that form?” He asked for years,
A plea that fell on willing ears
Of people who’d been trained to follow
News” that to the rest rang hollow.
Words we’d never heard before
Came crashing through that campaign door,
Pussy grabbing; at fever pitch
Lock her up,” and Trump that Bitch
If we don’t like the way this goes
It’s rigged, the 2A folks will show
The rest of you. We’ll right a wrong
With a seething, stewing, angry throng
Those emails proved that she was bad,
He takes to Twitter, says it’s sad.
You listened, voted, made your choice
And now the people raise their voice.
Which at present they are guaranteed,
As to the future, we shall see.
Appointments from the alt-right crowd –
Don’t normalize. We must get loud.
A son-in-law who must know all,
Now give your congressman a call.
Your civic duty doesn’t stop
Once you make your ballot drop.
Make donations, join a group,
By all means stay within the loop,
Democracy means do your part
And fight for your rights with all your heart.


Here’s a throwback to a great speech by a great American.

Hope. Change. Unity.

Good words. Let’s not forget them, though the times seem dark.

 

SYW #46

It’s time for another installment of Cee’s Share Your World. If you would like to play along, click here. Here are my contributions to this week’s questions:

Are you a traveler or a homebody? 

I am definitely a traveler. My parents raised us on road trips. I get antsy when I’m home for too long. My favorite book for a long time was Blue Highways, by William Least Heat Moon. I have another that I’m still in the middle of reading called A Voyage Long and Strange that is a curious mix of history-seeking and adventure. Give me a prepaid visa, a car, and a map. I’m outta here. 🙂

What kind of TV commercial would you like to make? Describe it.

I would love to make a commercial promoting small, local businesses. I live in a town dominated by a Super WalMart and many fast food joints. Interspersed are some really good family-run restaurants and small shops, plus an artist’s guild that sells local art. But there are many empty buildings lining our downtown.

I think I’d film each of these owners and ask them what local support means to them. I’d focus my camera on the character that each of these places brings to my town. I’d encourage everyone to buy local and keep the money in our community.

Describe yourself in a word that starts with the first letter of your name.

Curious.

List some fun things for a rainy day.

Playing games with my family. Baking! Curling up with a good book and hot chocolate. Hitting the gym.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? 

I am grateful that we have freedom of speech.

I look forward to putting together my annual cookie baskets to take to my family at Thanksgiving.


Thank you again, Cee, for this wonderful challenge. It’s been hard writing this week. I’m glad I have this.

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Look to our Leaders

Dear Middle America,

I know your heart. I live on an arteriole of your productive farming and logging community. I am surrounded by people whose families are still reeling from mill shutdowns and farmers who scoff at the idea of a 40 hour workweek. I feel your pain. My community has been hurt by changes in our world. Spotted owl stew is still being offered up on the metaphorical menu. I hear your voice. You feel drowned out. You want the country of your grandparents back. Nostalgia is a sweet feeling. It’s the feeling I get when I look back on pictures of my kids and smile at the good old day. But we can’t go back. What we had is gone, morphed, changed, and its up to us to morph and change with it.

Sincerely,
A Fellow American

Maybe in the America of today we identify with the wrong metaphor. The idea of our country being a melting pot originated with a play of the same name in 1908. But it’s a flawed metaphor. It creates the illusion that our identities can be melted down and fused with others. That doesn’t accurately define what this country is. Maybe our country could be better described as a tapestry of rich, intertwined threads. We should exercise care in tugging on those threads, lest the whole fabric of America unravel.

We are a country of immigrants. Some of us came here by choice, some by force. Some of us were original inhabitants of this land and must be wearing a very ironic smile at the talk of taking our country back. Yet here we are, all converging on this point in time together. In light of all of this, maybe it’s time for a little history lesson.

Throughout our short history we have accepted many to our shores. In the early days of our country, citizenship was granted to “free white people” of “good moral character” with a two year residency requirement. That was changed under Adams to fifteen years and back to five under Jefferson. It’s important to remember that during this time forced immigration was occurring due to the slave trade with no prospect of citizenship to this addition to the American population.

As the years passes, our United States was flooded with wave after wave of immigrants fleeing crop failures, social unrest, industrialization, religious intolerance, pogroms, and poverty. Laws were created to admit some and deny admittance to others. Fears that our country would be undermined and taken over by the Germans, the Catholics, and the Eastern Europeans were very real. But has this happened? Have we become an arm of Germany? Has the Pope wrested control of our nation? Or have we have taken these immigrants in and incorporated them into the tapestry of America? Today the descendents of such immigrants are our professors and policemen, judges and farmers, inventors and data entry clerks, though many of their grandparents and great-grandparents began as laborers and domestics who themselves endured the ire of the citizenry. Immigration laws have changed over the years, but what hasn’t changed is the vision of America as a place where people go to belong, where their thread can be woven into history, where their children have a chance to join the great American experiment. (And who among us in not included in the “they?”)

This election has brought a lot of ugliness to the surface. People who don’t look like that handful of pilgrims fleeing religious persecution who landed at Plymouth Rock so long ago, people who are second or third generation Americans are left reeling as they are told to go back where they came from. Even in my relatively sheltered existence, the truth of the Trump effect is hitting home. People who just days ago fit into the American tapestry are looking around, wondering just who they can trust, and it’s up to many of us to hold the fabric of our collective identity together with safety pins. Just try searching the hashtag #Trumpeffect on Twitter to see what many of the people who share this country are experiencing after this election. It’s vile. The KKK is having an outright victory parade. These are dark days. How far have we sunk as a country that any of this would be okay?

News outlets are reporting that this past election had the lowest voter turnout in two decades. The nature of the election may have caused some to sit it out thinking they couldn’t stomach their choices. I’ve heard people say they couldn’t vote for Hillary because she sounded shrill or because they didn’t want to see a woman in charge. This saddens me to no end. I cringe to think that Trump’s speeches inspired the hateful supporters who were shouting “lock her up” and who threatened to exercise their second amendment rights if their candidate was not elected. Some of those people are the ones decrying the current exercise of the first.

For those of you who are watching the #notmypresident protests unfold and are crying foul, those of you who, like me, believe in the peaceful transfer of power, look at who you’ve elected. Look closely. Play devil’s advocate for a moment and consider the arguments of the other side. Think of the possibility that you’ve been hoodwinked, that maybe the version of reality that’s been trotted out before you is not what you’re going to get.

If you are one of the many who wanted to be heard, to whom this was a protest vote in and of itself, we hear you. Let me offer this: Instead of a man who has a history of lies and evasion, who has manipulated the election, who will probably never again be seen wearing a baseball cap, who hasn’t released his tax returns… instead of this man, look to the true leaders of the common man. Bernie Sanders has a history of standing up for us, the people. Look it up. He’s still here, fighting for us. Look to Michael Moore, who predicted this win not because he supports Trump, but because he’s had his finger on the pulse of downtrodden middle America for a long, long time. I’m going to argue that we can’t have a top-down approach at this point in our country. The top has been compromised, including Donald Trump.

We are shaking the tapestry of America by exercising our first amendment right to protest. Like the flag unfurling in a tempest, it ripples and roils. When the storm dies down, we must ensure it remains intact.

I’ll leave you with the whole sonnet written by Emma Lazarus that graces the base of the Statue of Liberty:

New Colossus

statue of liberty poem

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Let’s not let it come to this:


Photo credit: On Location in Los Angeles via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Patriotism or Nationalism

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Wow. This has been quite a year, one that’s challenged my faith in my system of government, a beloved system created by brilliant men who thought out most what-if situations and installed checks and balances on absolute power. I love my country. I have never felt that flag-waving was a good expression of this patriotism. Instead, I read, I educate myself, and I vote. I claim my 1st amendment right to speak without fear of reprisal. I worship in a way that is true to my heart.

Like everyone else, I have my ideas about what makes this country great and what makes this country work best for the majority of people. I commit to respecting your difference of opinion and speaking out in a reasoned way against those who disagree with me, which is increasingly hard to do. Though soft in structure, the brain and heart can be incredibly rigid. I am aware that my voice is small in this echo chamber. My 1/325,000,000 of a say in the running of this great country is not worth losing friendships and family relationships over. Still…

I am reeling from the election of Donald Trump. I am flabbergasted by the response to the election by Paul Ryan, who claimed a mandate. I am worried because we have an obstructionist GOP who now have their hands on the reins and have spent the past 240 days not doing their job of even considering Merrick Garland as a Supreme Court justice. What we are witnessing right now is a party arguably at their worst in recent history making a huge power grab by co-0pting all of our checks and balances. Did the Founding Fathers anticipate this? Did they anticipate the GOP shutting off the security feature on voting machines that would record an image of each ballot as it went through? Did they anticipate the GOP purging the rolls of people they claim are double-registered, thereby depriving many fellow citizens of a voice? Did they anticipate the GOP gerrymandering or manipulating polling places to make it logistically difficult for certain populations of voters to cast a ballot?

There is much more going on in this country than the drama that has made headlines over the past few months. There is a more insidious movement to shut down dissenting voices and to grab power in a way that makes it more difficult for it to change hands again. This should worry us all. I contacted my senator this morning. I will continue to look into what I can do to preserve our democracy in the face of a Trump presidency. What will you do?

Democracy is not a spectator sport.


In response to The Daily Post’s prompt: Or 

The Day After

Like many of you, I am waking up in shock. What happened? How could we have a reality TV star for president, a man who has admitted to a propensity for sexual assault, who readily sues anyone who comes in conflict with him, who lies and lies and lies and thinks his supporters are stupid. We have voted in a man who doesn’t understand science, who thinks if he sprays CFCs in a room, they will stay there, who has vowed to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord. We have voted a man into the highest office in the land who has said he would torture the families of the people who wish to do us harm, who wants to bomb the hell out of ISIS. We have voted in a man who has talked about using the nuclear option. We have voted in a man who was congratulated by Vladimir Putin.

I am astounded. I wasn’t excited about a Hillary Clinton presidency, and it has nothing at all to do with emails. She’s smug and has made it appear that she deserves this. She has ties to Wall St. She plays the political game too well. She morphs into what she thinks she needs to be to accede. Personally, I wished for a more deserving first woman president, but whatever. I could have lived with her with a modicum of grumbling.

But this?

I am a science-minded, liberal leaning moderate who appreciates the differences that make up the fabric of America. I vote for people who are inclusive to everyone. I vote for people who respect science, who listen to scientists, and unfortunately that does not include Republicans. I want a president who promotes science and engineering, a Congress that will fund space exploration. I want people in power who see the impact we have on our environment and don’t look at it with dollar signs in their eyes. I vote for people who believe in stewardship, in preservation of what we have for the benefit of future generations. Our new president has threatened to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement. God help us all.

I believe that the First Amendment of the Constitution, the right to free speech, free press, and freedom of and from religion, supersedes the Second. Religion has meddled way too much in politics. I know my fellow Christians have felt persecuted, and maybe that’s why they rationalize and justify voting for a man twice divorced who makes his living from casinos, a man who hosts beauty pageants of which he has bragged about walking in on contestants who are changing just to get a sophomoric glimpse at what a 10 looks like naked, a man who lies over and over again to suit his purposes. When I ask why, I hear “Pence” and  “Supreme Court.” Seems like a big gamble to me. Our new president elect has threatened to sue and silence the press.  People who are speaking out against him and his ideas are repeatedly harassed and sometimes threatened by his followers. How does that jive with 1A?

I believe in our system of government, and I stand behind the election process, though I couldn’t be more disappointed in the outcome. I think there are dark days ahead. The question is, where do we go from here?

Just Do It

Determination set in steel.
Decision making – this is real.
The first step is to take the leap.
Your destiny is yours to keep.
In a world of opportunity
Sometimes the road is hard to see.
Second thoughts may hold you back;
Go ahead and choose a path;
You alone can make the choice.
Stake your claim.
Find your voice.
Enter the ring, though you may fail.
Have hope the wind will catch your sail.
Live your passion.
Find your bliss.
Shoot for the moon,
Though you may miss.
The stars are there to break your fall,
So go ahead, give it your all.

SYW #45

It’s time for another installment of Cee’s Share Your World. If you would like to play along, click here. Here are my responses to this week’s questions:

Describe your own outlook on life in seven words or less. (NOTE:  does not  have to be a sentence.)

Observe, love, laugh, listen, appreciate, always forgive

Where do you like to vacation?

Anywhere and everywhere. Cities, beaches, state and national parks. The world is so big and there is so much to explore. I’ve never understood wanting to go back to the same place year after year.

Candy factories (sweets or treats including chocolate) of the entire world have become one and will now be making only one kind of candy. Which kind, if you were calling the shots?

Though I would dearly miss caramel, I couldn’t live without dark chocolate.

Complete this sentence: Something that anyone can do that will guarantee my smile is… 

Offer to help. With anything. I’ll probably say no, I’m fine, I’ve got it covered, but your offer will mean the world to me, and if you manage to push your way in, I probably won’t be all that upset.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? 

Though my weekend was full and I’m tired as a result, I’m grateful that I had a chance to attend Wordstock PDX (A 4 hour drive on Saturday) and the final performance of my talented brother’s zombie opera (another 4 hour drive yesterday). I’m pooped!

This week is full of civic duty. I’m scheduled for jury duty on Thursday, and I look forward to casting my ballot today or tomorrow. (I kind of like to vote on Election Day.) This year especially, I’m hoping for a good outcome and a peaceful transfer of power. Hang on, I’m consulting my Magic 8 Ball

And it said, “Yes, definitely”


Thanks again to Cee for hosting this fun writing challenge. Have a great week!

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