ALLOW ME AN OPINION

Today I was reading a commentary by Aaron Haviland titled “I Thought I Could be a Christian and Constitutionalist at Yale Law School. I Was Wrong”

He was commenting on the uproar instigated by inviting a lawyer from Alliance Defending Freedom [ADF] to speak on campus discussing Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

Let me preface my writing by qualifying that I AM NOT a college graduate. And I AM a conservative. I AM, also, almost 70 years old and feel entitled to my own opinion. I think of myself as fair, not entirely acquainted with every current event, but certainly “aware” of many unfortunate things that transpire in our current world of politics, education and division among the citizens of our country.

I see division and deceit as today’s norm and I do not think this was normal in the past. We have devolved to this point when we should be striving for evolution, the supposed growth and improvement direction.

Back to my thoughts. If a law school is having a guest lawyer appear to lecture or speak, it would be my opinion that all students would benefit from hearing him/her. Law should be Law and Yale is educating the future of our legal system. It works when both sides are heard and informed decisions are made.

However, the outcry, over this speaker, was tremendous and by these university acknowledged groups among others:

LGBTQ – Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans

APALSA – Asian Pacific American Law Students Assoc

BLSA – Black Law Students Assoc

SALSA – South Asian Law Students Assoc

LLSA – Latinx Law Students Assoc

MLSA – Muslim Law Students Assoc

MENALSA – Middle Eastern and North African Law Students Assoc

JLSA – Jewish Law Students Assoc

NALSA – Native American Law Students Assoc

Yale Law Women

Yale Law Student Alliance for Reproductive Justice

Women of Color Collective

American Constitution Society

Yale Law Democrats

First Generation Professionals

These 15 groups [how many more might there be at Yale?] were protesting a single guest speaker, [regarding a current legal case] at a prestigious expensive university. REALLY?

Given all these groups, how can we not be inciting division and confrontation among the students? I can’t begin to imagine why these groups have been allowed to grow and flourish. Of course, there isn’t one group labeled as ‘white’ anything, because we have all been conditioned to regard THAT delineation as racist. How are groups of African, Color, Indian, Asian, Jewish, etc, not racist? Simple –  someone has allowed this division to be authentic and inclusion to be problematic.

When we allow and encourage this division and sorting by color or tribe or ethnicity, we are promoting racism where we should be promoting diversity of thought by a common group. If you come to the USA for an education, you should be getting indoctrinated in the commonality of all human beings, promoting the laws and statutes of the USA.  The only divergence allowed should be the interpretation of  right and wrong. We should only be promoting the ability to think and reason and debate, without regard to color, ethnicity or personal attributes.

Our universities are creating the socialist agenda by inciting. Our universities are creating racism by allowing and encouraging endless groups of diversity. Our universities are no longer for educating and producing thinking individuals. Our universities are actually inciting a specific plan of attack on our national attributes long held in trust.

Why are we paying for this? Why are we putting our precious young minds into this cesspool of waste? Who will pay the ultimate price for our lack of concern? Who is guarding our gates to the future? It certainly is not the parents of these students. It is certainly not the university boards and decision makers. We seem to think our high school graduates are no longer educated enough to be out in the world without that college diploma, but we have even less regard for the education process in their last four years than we did in the previous 12 or 13 years. We have parents who attack school boards and administrations over any infringement they perceive to their student at age 6 or 10 or 14, but no interest what so ever at the indoctrination of their 19 year old?

Parents, if you send a smart, worthy, high school graduate off to Yale, just what are you expecting to get for your money? Were you expecting that student to only assimilate with his race/creed/color/sexuality/ethnicity and their priorities, or were you hoping for a student who can function in a world that identifies everyone as thinking, educated and fair in their treatment of others? My guess is you don’t really give a rat’s ass what you get for your money as long as the name on the diploma is spelled correctly.

And that is why I think the idea of a college education is no longer the attribute it once was. We just aren’t proving ourselves worthy of safeguarding our kid’s futures, when it takes a bit of work, worry and real concern on our parts. We seem to have too much on our plates to follow through. It’s much easier to pay the big bucks and expect someone else to see to our kids and let me tell you, there are plenty out there more than willing to incite, lie, promote and indoctrinate young minds into their ways.

You can call them professors, instructors, community organizers, campus posers, university administrators, etc.; just don’t call them to care about your student, past the influx of fees and dollars you spend.  THEY HAVE AN AGENDA which includes using your child.

We have to invest more time and attention to the universities that actually teach and build thinking and learned students. We have to spend far less time and money  in the universities that condone and encourage division and student unrest at the expense of a real education.

Our children’s future, our country’s future, rests on parenting with more integrity and regard. The education world, here, has changed, but it has not evolved. We can no longer be complacent.

 

28 CARDS

My memory isn’t great at dates. Today I am sorting and purging AGAIN, and I ran across 28 cards I was keeping. I got them all for one single Mother’s Day, but which? Not sure. It may have been 2010, but it hardly matters. I got them all from the same person.

They are signed:  “Much, Much Love”,  “Hope you have a  great day”,  “WOW, are you surprised to be getting a Mother’s Day card?”,  “Sorry, all I got you was a card, LOL”,   “Hope you are loving your cards.”,  “J”,   “<3”,  “WOW, I’m nuts, LOL”,  “Much Love”,  “Oodles of love”,  “Awwww, pretty sappy huh ?!?”,  “Roses are red, violets are blue, I wonder how many cards, I actually got you…..??”,  “Who said it’s just one day”,  “LMAO”,  “Hope all these cards have helped offset the smattering of negative mail such as ….bills, invites from OH…[LOL]”,  “So, I just grabbed a card for ya….LOL”,  “We all love you”,  “Love, Travis. In case he doesn’t come thru on his own”,  “<3, Happy Mother’s Day”,  “Roses are red, violets are blue, excited about this new house, which sounds perfect for you!”,  “Love Ya”, “I love you”,  “Memories – Spider? Or cat hair – Holy Shit, SPIDER”,  “Much Amore, Madre”,  “Hope you are truly enjoying Mother’s day….which is every day!”  “Love”.

There are lines and lines of notes, quotes, poems, love and laughter spread throughout all the cards. They didn’t come all at once. It was a great time to get the mail, which is rarely that big a treat.

So one year, much love was shared, long distance. We had all those inside jokes that make up a family. A word or deed mentioned and we could both laugh “long distance”. The handwriting was family.  The cards lined our desk, decorated the night stand, and marched across the mantle. They were a rush and I loved each one and laughed in all the right places. I knew the fun that was enjoyed shopping and writing and sending. It almost matched the trip to the mailbox and the opening and reading. Sort of like a treasure box on each end.

Our family treasure boxes disappeared with the firing of a gun.  Even as grown-ups, we were unprepared and ignorant of how to walk or run or crawl beyond that single moment. The bullet ricocheted from boy to Mom to sister and brother and father and grandparents and uncles and aunts and cousins and great relatives.  It is still bouncing from love to love, from caring person to caring person, plowing through each heart and moving on, target after target.  It  is coated with so much torn love and anger, the weight should have stopped its journey by now, but it seems destined to orbit our family planet far into the future.

My first instinct [remember, I’m sorting and purging] was to purge! How many keepsakes can I store? Who else would want these cards, but me? I can’t believe I still have them! The thing is ….. I read them and now I can’t throw them away. I knew what they were when I found them and that’s when I could have pitched them. After rereading them, I can’t.

I have put them back. Maybe I want them because they came “before”. Maybe I want them for the love that is on them. Maybe next time around, I will let them go.  Not today…….

 

A RAMSEY, ILLINOIS Pit Stop in Late April

Driving home from Illinois is no longer a one day trip. This past Tuesday, I left Bloomington at 5AM heading to my son’s house in Tennessee. I am NOT an interstate driver, so I had my two-lane course planned out. I could leave Bloomington heading South on US 51 South and drive all the wayyyyyyyy thru Illinois and a tiny bit of Kentucky, before getting on a different road.

About 7AM, driving thru Ramsey, Illinois, I decided to look for the local pickup truck drivers. I watch for them parked at a cafe and know that is a good spot to grab a meal. Sure enough, I spied a half dozen trucks parked and stopped in. Upon entering, there are two tables of guys  and I am certainly not what they were expecting to see over morning coffee. [I have my hair colored at the beauty shop in a most beautiful and unusual shade of purple….really, it is lovely…..but unusual.]

The easiest way to meet their stares is with “Morning guys” to them all as a group. It’s the ice-breaker. I order from the waitress and they have asked how I came to Ramsey. I say and one of the guys points to a baggie on the table asking what I think of its contents. I reply “why, you lucky dog. If you aren’t careful, I may just slip out of here with that and be thrilled to do it.” He has a bag of morel mushrooms that another guy at the table brought to him.

Morels are the prize mushroom of our Illinois world. They are to brag about, divvy up one at a time and never tell where you found them or whose property you had to trespass to get them. Supposed to be in Georgia, but I have never found any.

Best line ever, came a few minutes later when another guy at the table, said to me that Gary [the mushroom sharer] was selling morels for $5. a pound [if someone will sell, they go far higher than that], “you pick”.

It will forever be a classic line. I couldn’t help busting out laughing. And I can’t help sharing the story.

NOT YOUR REGULAR RICE

I like to go to my local health food store in Franklin, NC.  I buy luxury items. I buy things I don’t even look for in my regular grocery store and sometimes I buy something novel to try. I have a few standbys’ that are luxury, like walnut and grape seed oil by La Tourangelle. I buy chocolate bars if they happen to be on sale – dark, of course. Occasionally I buy specialty pasta [John was born with a pasta gene] and sometimes bulk items.

On one of my town trips, I stopped in to browse the healthy stuff, the supplements, my oil and the goodies, set out to entice me into spending.

In the bulk area that day, I noticed black rice.

At our house, wild rice – the absolute real deal – is a staple and as black as I had ever cooked.

SIDETRACK:  I order it in bulk from Wisconsin, 5 lbs. at a time; repackage and we eat it often. I give it as gifts too. I can blame my Northern sister on developing our ‘wild rice taste’.  It takes a long time to cook, but always worth it. No family holiday meal would be complete without wild rice. [Boil in water to cover, a cup or more plain wild rice till tender to taste – it does NOT have to be puffed and open, just nicely tender. Drain. Into a skillet, using scissors, cut ½ lb. bacon and fry till crisp. Remove bacon, and add, give or take, 1 cup of chopped onion, 1 ½ cups chopped celery, ½ cup slivered almonds [she adds sliced mushrooms-I would never]. Saute several minutes, add back your drained rice and bacon and serve. You will notice I never said to pour out the bacon grease, but you can adjust and / or include some butter as you like. Some bacon makes lots of grease, some not so much. This reheats nicely. I will eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack.

Back to the health food store:  I checked out this black rice and moved on down the aisle. Soon I was back, checking the price and wondering how to cook this rice, when another customer in the store quietly said to me “you can’t buy that, of course,…..it’s Forbidden”. He was right too. The rice was called “Forbidden Rice”, plain as day on the label.  So, being a shopper AND female, it was pretty much a given that I would be buying “Forbidden Rice”.  It might end up tasting like sewage, but how could I be deterred?

I bought a ½ lb. of Forbidden Rice and took it home to sit for ages in my cupboards along with my plain white, my basmati, my rice-a-roni  [yes, I buy that too, sometimes] and my wild rice. I shelved it to the back a bit, not prominently to the front of the shelf. Because…..you know why……it was Forbidden. What if someone saw it? What if I had to explain buying that particular rice? What the heck was I going to do with it?  What recipe would disguise that it was forbidden? Dare I serve it to company? And tell them!

Turns out Forbidden Rice is just black rice – no special flavor. I know I cooked it, but whatever I cooked wasn’t the standout recipe that would stick in my mind.

The very best attribute to that rice was its name – and all the fun of it; being warned in the store, admitting to the purchase at the register, storing it at home and serving it, too.

This just goes to show a number of things.

1] I will talk to any stranger at the store, even when the talk turns to “forbidden” things.

2] It doesn’t take much to get me to part with money.

3] I can stash food for months before digging it out to cook.

4] If something is “forbidden”, I just can’t leave it alone.

5] If I can write a blog post about rice, I’ll probably write about anything.

If you go shopping your local health food store, you should be aware there could be forbidden things just waiting to accost you. And you have my permission to warn any other purchasers, “THAT RICE IS FORBIDDEN, I’ve read you shouldn’t buy it!”

ARTHUR AND MARIE

He was born in 1910. She was born in 1914. It’s an old story.

I wish I had been curious and wise enough to ask the right questions, to draw out their love story and lay it out for you here. I didn’t and I can’t.  Their story is timeless and painful.

I met them in another life when I was living out my first love story. It was a time when I was young and barely concerned with the complications of real life. I married into a family of rare generations, both fascinating and confusing. Because I was genuinely self-centered in those years, every family reunion was spent relearning who belonged to whom, their places in the family structure and trying to appear as if I knew everyone when I only saw them once a year. They all knew my place and probably knew my character flaws as well.

Anyway, I married into the early end of the lives of Arthur and Marie. Arthur, nicknamed Poddy, was my husband’s uncle, his Mother’s brother. We visited Poddy and Marie on occasion. Poddy was soft spoken, with a nice smile and he was a skilled craftsman in his wood shop. Marie was a homemaker and not soft spoken, with no smile and a sour disposition. No matter how friendly your attempt, she didn’t seem to care. I wrote it off early on, as old age.

How wrong I was! We learn life lessons in jarring ways..

Their marriage produced three children, a son and two daughters. The first was Shirley, born in 1936. Next came Freddie in 1938 and lastly Connie in 1945. In my imagination they must have had a pretty lively household with two toddlers, probably during some lean years. I like to think they were made of grit and grace, an average family, living life. Along came Connie and made her place as the baby.

Living life should be so normal and uncomplicated, but sometimes living life is just about the most cruel ordeal no one can ever prepare for. Such was the case for Poddy and Marie.

I can’t begin to dress down the tragedy of their lives. Some people just face more than should be endured…. I haven’t the details; they hardly matter. The facts are that Shirley died of rheumatic fever in 1949. She was 13. In 1952, at the age of 14, Freddie died during an operation.  In 1964, Connie died in a car accident – age 19.

And in some miraculous way for Arthur and Marie, their hearts continued to beat.

R A

RA is the acronym for rheumatoid arthritis. I have it in both wrists. Meds make life normal.

Acronyms are wide spread these days. All our government departments have been reduced to a few capital letters. Our social media is a jumble of acronyms, enough to make actual typing and spelling obsolete. I think acronyms are reasonably common in our business lives too. Here are three examples to back up my hypothesis.

Example 1]   I do the drive-thru at MdD’s for breakfast. I order two sausage patties, two hash browns and one milk. After I get the sack opened, I discover two sausage/egg McMuffins and milk. So now, I have to park and go inside for ‘the confrontation’. It should go like this: McD employee,”‘Oh my, I see that you are suffering from RA this morning, that you are Rather Annoyed. Let me correct your order and here is a fried apple pie as a sorry-for-the-mix-up token”. Of Course, it doesn’t, but it should! [AND this happens ALL the time at every drive-thru- Ugh]

Example 2]   We were vacationing by camper and stopper overnight at a state park, with signs referring campers to the lodge to register. We asked if we could pick our site and the young lady replied ” you just register here, pay your fee and choose any site available over at the campgrounds.  What card will you be using to pay?” I said, “I am paying with cash” and she said, “in that case, I will need to see id.” And I said, “Excuse me….I think I will need to speak to a manager. You can’t seriously tell me you need id to take cash?”  Along comes a manager who could clearly see that I was in the throes of RA [Really Angry] and assured me that, “No, they did not need id to take cash.”

Example3]   Let me preface this example with some facts. For 16 days in June of 2018 we were without phone service from our local provider. We live in an area without cell reception, so our landline is it. We did have internet and I had numerous online ‘chats’ regarding a repair.  My husband tried calling from work, all to no avail for half a month…..which I refused to pay for, so late charges accumulated.

On with my example. In October, after some serious storms, we were once again without landline beginning on the 13th. Still fuming to get my billing from June corrected, my online ‘chat’ acquaintance said that they could NOT schedule a repair until after October 31. WHOA! I explained this was our only source for emergency calls, said my husband has a pacemaker. Asked how would I call an ambulance, a cop or the fire department? He said ‘no repair till after October 31’.  Breathing fire, of course, I sent an email to the office of the phone company president, then I filed a consumer complaint online with the state. Next I emailed a letter to the editor of the local newspaper. Finally I emailed a second letter to the president’s office with the consumer complaint and the letter to the editor as attachments.

In two days our phone was repaired. Soon after, I got a call from a lady in the president’s office wanting to confirm my billing correction for June and my present outage credit.

She didn’t mention it, but I think my account is flagged RA…….Royal Ass.

BUYING A FINAL HOUSE?

So we are buying another house? The question mark is because, in point of fact, we want to buy another house and our funds are  L I M I T E D and so the buying on our part is  L I M I T E D by the sellers motivation and willingness to sell for less than they want – if they don’t agree to our offer, we are pretty much out the door.

Isn’t that the path of life? What we want is mostly governed by whether someone else is standing in our way.  We want independence and our parents are certainly a roadblock.  We want a car, a particular that-looks-good-on-me-car and the cost skyrockets in direct proportion to our desire – they see us coming a mile away.

We want to date that guy or girl, the one over there, looking really cool and smart and …….oh no, he’s holding her hand or she’s wearing a ring.  Damn! Is there a hex on me?  I’m getting nowhere.

So, I have learned to just plan for second place. I want this, I’ll settle for that.  I want that, this is what I’ll get. It’s life. Like it or lump it.

Move along, play your best hand and accept what comes.  You can live a whole life on the terms of second-fiddle, second-chances, second-string, second-place. It becomes habit. Money is my benchmark. Money over matter, if it matters, money is my deciding factor. Cheaper is my benchmark. Better is limiting. If it’s better, it’s not going to be cheaper and money equals benchmark. Second place is comforting and secure and where I have settled. It is my zone, a very familiar place of protection.

When we moved to our 5th wheel, at my nagging and rationalizing, I hoped to nudge him into retirement. Our chance to explore, travel and have some partner leisure. That was my goal. We sold our house, we moved and 60 days later after a nice vacation, my idea of dual retirement was just mine and he was back to work. I was sitting again at second-string, second-place.  Damn.  How does this keep happening?  Live with it, get busy and “be happy”!!!

Projects come and go, interests take center stage, time fills and I am productive and in my safety zone.

A big anniversary rolls around.  We are getting along very peaceably and a week in Florida with some warm and sunny weather is just what we need after a cold, wet winter. His conversation has been heading in the direction of buying a property where it’s warmer, that we could vacation to and move “eventually”.   When that might be, is certainly not up to me, but hey, if I have a place to visit, I can visit solo on my timeline.

Our fun week, somehow, turns into the proverbial hunt. We are good at the hunt and enjoying our week.  We find a first possibility  – projects galore. We offer. Owner has delusions of value. We pass.  We find a 12 on a 1—10 scale.  It is out-of-the-park, magazine-worthy and nothing we can afford.

Finally, we find the second place slot that matches the money factor.  And would you believe we were shot down because our dogs didn’t weigh 15 pounds. Oh My G.!!!!!! Who would pass on asking if we were prison parolees, bankruptcy pirates, bad check writers, etc. when they could ask “how much does your dog weigh”?

Next, driving home, we saw two places that could have been salvaged with a gas can and matches.

AND THEN, sort of in our backyard, we found the right place, but I say that with lots of reservations. We found a number 9  place, sitting right next to a number 5 place on the 1-10 scale. I am not in the habit of claiming any number over 7.  [It’s that second-place mentality]. Any other number is more my comfort zone and I always say, I can make any place better and money is the factor in my book and hey, we are looking at number 9 at this PRICE and number 5 at this price, so I know where I belong…….and I also know where I want to belong.  This could be my last chance to choose or try for the ‘brass ring’.

We made an offer; it is not lowball, but could be offensive if they are sensitive. It isn’t all our money, but close and we wanted to hold back just a smidgeon for comfort. It needs exterior work…and we can do it, but it will require dollars and labor.  The inside is absolutely perfect…..already scary, just saying that.

I mean, two remodeled awesome bathrooms, a master with a king size bed, which we can replace with a full or queen, a walk-in [walk-innnnnn] closet, another bedroom, both with nice carpet. The main portion, the great room, is dark hardwood with the coolest appliances [they shouldn’t matter so much….BUT THEY DO], a three door stainless fridge, a dishwasher I don’t need, and BOTSCH stack washer/dryer….BOTSCH –stainless tubs; they are lovely enough to put on my Christmas card, he and I on each side, a pet in each tub – what a card that would be with no nonsense writing. Friends and relatives would be relieved. May I add, this is a single wide manufactured home….with lovely front and back porches, a postage stamp yard and the piece de résistance, a noisy mountain branch [southern for trickle] about 4 feet from the back deck.  I AM IN LOVE !

BUT,  the number 5 house is sitting right next door, ogling me, nagging me. It chants “you belong to me – I belong to you” continuously.  ” Remember that price, Deb. Remember your standards, remember..….you always settle”.  It seems to beckon, as if knowing our offer was nigglingly short of what the sellers of the great number 9  will accept and 5 is waiting in the wings. Damn.

Could be my last house ever, discounting a ‘community house’, worst case scenario.  How about I get this number 9? The chances are low, low, low.

What can I do to focus elsewhere and leave this in God’s hands? He handles everything so much better than I, of course.

I will just write an addition to my blog………see where that got me!

 

UPDATE – EMERGENCY UPDATE: as I am proofreading this blog post, my phone rings. It is the seller’s realtor.  Ugh!  I so want to answer and I so don’t want to answer.  She says if we are willing to add in the ‘smidgeon’ we had held back, the sellers will agree to the sale.  I just had to AGREE!  We are going to move to the number 9 house.  It’s NO SECOND PLACE !!!!!!