Thursday, May 26, 2011

Civility and approaching storms.

Living in what I think of as Middle America, you learn to expect violent storms when the air heats up in spring or summer. This year the skies seem to be intent on keeping us on the edge of panic. Again last night we Louisville KY residents were "up all night" but not for any purpose of pleasure.

About noon the weather heads had put a crawl on the bottom of the screen announcing a long list of southern Indiana and north central Kentucky counties under a thunderstorm warming. This soon moved to a tornado watch. At 6 p.m. that changed and live meteorologists in front of those brilliant maps, tracking a line of storms 300 miles west of us, stretching 100 miles north to 80 miles south. The entire half hour of the local news was pre-empted and we got to see 10 minutes of national news after commercials. Then there were a few minutes of the two game shows and the remainder of the evening it was a non-stop rotation of five meteorologists reporting the storm.
I fixed supper, watched a cable show, talked to a couple friends on the phone and about 10 minutes before the predicted hit, turned off the computer, dug out my flashlight and sat on the top step watching the storm. First there was wind, then lightening, then thunder then rain so hard I could see only lights across the street. In ten minutes all that remained was rain.

I'm glad it worked out this way. The destruction in the south and near west is almost unbelievable this spring. From reports having a warning of approaching storms helps. Paying attention to the warnings and doing what you can is not enough.

The three broadcast stations each have full blown news organizations and their commercials year round remind us of the piles of money they have spent to buy the latest technology to keep us informed. After a day and night of repetitive minutia weather reporting, it seems less worthwhile to me. Do I in a big city need to know when a storm is going to pass over Leota Indiana? Do I need to know when it will pass Deputy or Memphis or through the bottoms of Brownstown? Who in those little towns sees this reporting? The place this reporting would be valuable is the radio. After all we are supposed to be hunkered down with our battery operated weather radios anyway. To the people sitting somewhere watching TV it's not necessary.
Consideration of others is a kind thing. I believe people who are considerate witness to everyone.

As was recently reported a woman got on an Amtrak train in Oakland for a sixteen hour trip. She talked loudly on her cell thereafter. Efforts by her fellow passengers and the train conductor had no impact, she continued to loudly talk. The train was stopped between stations in Salem Oregon and the local police arrested her for being an unruly passenger. A witty commenter on wrote, "She was later charged with unspeakable crimes against humanity and sentenced to live on some distant planet where there are no reception bars, ever."

That last part is a joke though popular correctness does often over react.

Wouldn't it be lovely if all similar incidents were so well addressed?

Being a voyeur, I enjoy listening to one side of conversations in public. The hardest part is pretending I'm not listening but when a guy is apologizing to his wife, girlfriend, fuck buddy for having done some unspeakable thing, I only wish there was video. That would be a reality show worth my time.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Honoring dishonorable deeds for regression and the rapture.

It was announced this week in the local paper that a group of people from Sons of Confederate Veterans want Kentucky to approve a specialty license plate bearing the image of the Confederate flag. The effort is stalled and there may be law suits on both sides.

The plates would raise money for the Tennessee based organization. Their goal is to promote pride in Confederate history. This specialty plate is available already in nine southern states and 15,000 people have already put them on their cars.  As to the heritage of the Confederacy I wonder if they know what it is.  From history it was enslavement of humans brought over to America from their ancestral homes to work for free.  There's also the fact that they sold those same people like you'd sell a thing and this included the children of their slaves.  The rapes, beatings, murders, are also shameful.  Wanting to honor these horrors seems insane.
My experience with the Confederacy is from listening to my maternal grandmother speak about it. She was born in 1882 the oldest of fourteen children. Her father and mother remembered the war. As far as I know our family did not fight for the south. Our family on both sides were from a northern Kentucky county and ancestors moved there before Kentucky was a state.

I was born in 1951 so when things were lighting up in the '60's I would sit with my grandmother and watch the news seeing cities burning with race riots and police trying to deter peaceful demonstrations with water hoses and dogs. Grandmother would say, "I don't understand what those people want. They have the vote and they have public schools, why do they want ours?"

The county I grew up in was in southern Indiana within an hour's distance from Louisville. There were no blacks or Hispanic people living in the county. People bragged how there once was a sign posted at each road into the county about not staying over night if you weren't white. I never saw these signs but I have no doubt they existed.

When I was older gong to school in town my sister had a part time job after school and I walked to the town library to wait the few hours until she got off work and picked me up. The library was a Carnage Library and I would find a chair at a table behind the shelves and explore. I read encyclopedias. I read Ian Fleming novels. I read history. I read newspapers from Chicago and New York. I read Life and Time magazines. Opening those books and newspapers opened the world to me.

My attitude about people who were of a different religion or different color or home country was that really we were the same, human. I talked to my grandmother about this. I did not talk to my teachers or other kids at school. The Civil War and the then current fight for civil rights were covered in my classes as history. There was no overt sympathy for the south or the Confederacy. We learned to recite the Gettysburg Address.

I remember telling my grandmother that it seemed to me there couldn't be real peace among Americans of different kinds until we all had brown skin. She was shocked and wanted to know where I got such strange opinions. I told her the problem was I learned to read so I discovered how to think.

Now here we are one hundred fifty years since the Civil War and people who are hanging on to their white history want us to regress to make their flag an emblem on American license plates. If they want to put the Confederate flag on their cars they can paint them, use a bumper sticker or put a flag plate on the front. But a state issued license plate like that should not be sold.

This all started with license plates allowing you to personalize your plate with a quote or name and paying extra for it. I won't buy special plates because I'm too cheap. I'll buy whichever color plate that's issued that year and if anyone wants to raise money for their cause or have their name and cute quote on the plate hold a bake sale!

How would these guys like to see a state endorsed plate that celebrates Islam? I mean, the In God We Trust plate doesn't say a Christian god! How would these guys like a plate that celebrates the Underground Rail Road?
We do not need anymore things to divide us.
Also, some very rich old fellow in California is saying the Rapture is tomorrow about supper time. I'll be spending it with a good friend. He says we should try to end it with a bang!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

My Mom's Diaries

This picture published in the Courier-Journal yesterday from the Evansville paper and taken by Denny Simmons.  It shows deer congregated on the little high ground from the flood in Indiana.

Recently I have been typing my mother's diary. She kept one for about a decade. She might have done so earlier in her life but there is no record if she did.

When I was eleven I got one of those red leatherette books with the strap from my grandmother. It had a clasp, lock and key. I wrote in it when I had something I thought important to document. In 2001 I began writing in a WORD document what I stated was my journal. I began again in 2002. In 2003 was the first year I wrote almost every day. I've continued until the present day.

When I learned my mom was keeping a diary she showed me these slips of note paper about 4" long and 2" wide. I bought her a blank book in 1987 and every year after that I bought her a blank book to use. Her handwriting is very small and each day she wrote from 80 to 100 words in one paragraph. Most days she begins after the date by saying what the temperature is and what time she checked the temperature. Often when I was visiting she would call the local time and temperature recording several times a day but usually she did not record it in her diary more than once.

May 8, 1986, Thursday
The sun is shining 7:00 am 66 degrees. Mabel called about the things coming up for homemaker's. I didn't feel like much this morning. Everything looks fresh from the rain last night. Called the doctor's office said would call in a prescription for nerves. I went out got it. Fixed pistachio pudding salad and took to Mother-daughter banquet at church tonight. Charlene came up and went with me. Was in 50s come. I think I had a good salad.
She was 73 years old on that day in 1987.

Her days fascinate me. She recorded who she spoke to on the phone or in person and what she did with her time generally. She would say if she watched a movie or listened to Billy Graham on the television. She would say what she ate for lunch or supper. If there was a pitch-in planned at church she said what she made to take. There is also an account of what she planted in her garden and when she picked something what she did with it. She shared her tomatoes and gooseberries. Her friends shared their rhubarb and tickets to lectures and banquet suppers. If she had lots of produce she canned it or froze it and accounted for how many quarts or pints she put up.

She made a cake or pie or casserole more often that you'd think and then shared it with her neighbor next door or across the street. She volunteered at the Hospital Auxiliary weekly and worked for the Missionary society at church. She and some friends were responsible for communion at her church. She picked up others and took them to church or they picked her up to go to church or other community meetings. She and her friends almost always went out for lunch after Sunday morning church. She would specify where they whet, what she ate, how much it cost and if she had a coupon.

She would account for letters she wrote to which relative or friends who were visiting their children or on vacation. She sent birthday, anniversary, condolence and get well cards. She documented who wrote her a letter or sent a greeting or post card. Often she called a mutual friend and read the letter she got to them and they did the same. When someone died, was sick or in an accident, she called her friends and told them. They did the same. She visited people at the hospital and local nursing home.

One thing she never did was speak about politics or mention entertainment news. I know this was not reported in such detail on the television or radio, but the closest she came was to mention was when a famous person died or if there was a major world disaster.

Considering how much she disagreed with my sister marrying her husband or me marrying Dennis, she referred to we couples as "the children." She documented conversations she had with Dennis. He sure loved her and she him. I think he was the son she wished she'd had.

I don't rant and rave in my journal but I do give my opinion of things that happen or what I'm thinking about something I'm trying to accomplish or decide on. She never revealed this in her writing. I wish she had.

I've completed the year 1986, which I believe it the first year and am a couple months shy of 1987.  Lenny asked me the other day why I was typing the diaries.  I told him I wanted to.

When my mom was packing up her house and moving to Arizona to live near my sister she asked who wanted her diaries and the letters our father had written her before they married. My sister wanted both. I said I'd like the diaries. After Mom died in 1998 my sister tried to get me to give her the diaries. I told her I'd send her copies of the typed document. I feel lucky to have them and hope to get them typed up and put online. I guess I'm a little behind in the typing.

Heck, John Adams has daily Tweets from 200 years ago.  My mom's words are not important to world history but they are important to me.

Friday, May 6, 2011

A woman walked into the room.

A woman walked into the waiting room of my doctor's this afternoon. The doctor I was to see was a podiatrist I'd never seen before and he comes to my regular doctor's office to see referrals one afternoon a week. I'd been waiting for 40 minutes. I was reading a book.

A UPS delivery guy came in with three huge Styrofoam packages about 4' tall and stacked them on the reception counter. After getting his electronic signature box signed he turned to leave and pulled the still open door closed. I said, "Leave it open!" He turned around and smiled, "It is a pretty day!" The solid wood door was off a glassed in vestibule and the blue sky was visible outside in the bright sunshine.

A woman with a man sitting on chairs further from me said, "Thank you for asking him to do that. It's so nice to see sunshine after so much rain."  We've had 26 days of rain out of 33 these past weeks. I took a picture of the sky when I was getting in the truck to drive over.

She and the man were in their 40's. We continued to talk about all the rain we'd had and the disastrous tornados in the south as well as the Kentucky Derby that's to be run Saturday.

As we were talking, the woman walked in. She was older maybe 75 or so. She was carrying a small oxygen canister and clear plastic tubing ran encircling her head resting in her nostrils. She went to the counter, signed the book and then came into the room seating herself across from me. She placed her canister on the floor and sat watching the door.

A few moments later a younger version of her walked in. The younger woman spotted the older one and came over to her asking, "Did you sign in?" The older woman said, "Yes I did. I always do that. You know I always do that." The younger woman sat in the chair next to the older one and said, "I know Mother but I'm just checking so we don't wait longer than we should."

They sat there beside each other not speaking. The daughter eventually said, "Did you go to Steve's birthday party the other day?" Her mom said, "No I didn't go up there. It's all too much. All these birthday parties and they always have cake and ice cream and they all eat it when they shouldn't and I can't eat it for sure." Her daughter looked up at me and smiled tensely and said, "I just thought you could get out of the apartment for a little bit. You went to Jenny's party the other week, so I thought you'd go to Steve's too." Her mother said, "All those things are the same, same people, same cake, and same ice cream. It's boring."

The older woman looked up at me and I smiled at her and said, "Maybe you should go to some strangers' parties. Just go on in and get to know new people." The older woman laughed.

Soon they were called back. Yes, they came in after me and were called back before me!

The older woman walked ahead of her daughter who was holding the oxygen tank following. I said, "It looks like you've got your mom on a leash." The daughter laughed, "Yes it does doesn't it? Hey, nice to talk to you. Thank you for making my mom laugh. I can't seem to do it anymore."

So, there I was internally bitching about waiting again when I was early and I knew no one was ahead of me for this doctor because they just got back from lunch. And then a mother and daughter walked into a doctor's office. Sounds like the first line of a joke.

I feel compelled to say a word about Osama. The man was a fanatic who happened to be born into a Saudi family that had extreme wealth. The family was in construction building buildings and homes for extremely wealthy people who sell vast amounts of oil to western countries. Although he felt he was waging a religious war, he was not a good moral man. And some Americans believed and still believe we are in a religious war with all Muslims. He and his followers are the enemy, not all other Muslims.

Our country not finding this man in Afghanistan the first time and then leaving that country to go into Iraq on contrived proof and manipulated association with Osama is a crime that will never be adjudicated. This means that a decade later we not only lost people in New York, DC and Pennsylvania on 9/11/2001, we have lost more people in Afghanistan 1, Iraq and Afghanistan 2. While he is responsible for the first events he was validated by how we responded to that. That is America's responsibility.

I believe that if the first response had been patient and deliberate we would have had Osama before GW left office. I applaud the current leadership of all involved in killing Osama because that was a man who needed killing. All the people both in our military and their countries' civilian dead didn't need killing. That is the shame of this.
Today in Louisville the fillies ran a horse race for a blanket of stargazer lilies sewn to a large piece of satin. The color for the day is pink and everyone followed the plan; pink dresses of every tint, pink ties, hats, jackets, shoes, purses. They put pink shades in the spires or the original grandstands. It was quite a sight.

Tomorrow the 137th Kentucky Derby will be the biggest party in Kentucky. Rain late in the afternoon is predicted but I'd not bet against it. Everyone who lives here will be at a party literally or virtually and mass amounts of food and liquor will be consumed.

Pray for us.