Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Grandpa's Darling

Jim leaves to go deer hunting early tomorrow morning and will miss not only his birthday, but Ada's as well. She'll be two on Friday; he'll be some outrageously large number on Monday!

So last night Ada's mommy and daddy (Jim's son and d-i-l) met us for dinner so we could have an early family celebration. Jim had bought a set of matryoshka (Russian nesting dolls) while we were cruising in Alaska just for this event. Ada has a very orderly mind and manner, and in no time at all had mastered putting them back together (with only a very little help from Grandpa).

I do love to see Jim with Ada. She is his only grandchild, and they adore each other. When Grandpa is in the room, Ada has eyes only for him, and he for her. Jim and I were already seated when the kids arrived and Ada was a tired girl, having not had a very good nap yesterday. So although she wasn't her usual smiling, bouncy self, the minute she laid eyes on Grandpa she made a beeline for him, climbed up in his lap and gave him hugs and kisses. It was a beautiful thing to see.

Everyone should have at least one person who adores them, no questions asked. Clearly, Grandpa and Ada personify love and devotion!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Camp Gran

Tomorrow morning, for the first time in five days, I will not be awakened at 5:30 am by the soft touch of a toddler climbing into bed with me for a cuddle and another hour's sleep. Although I'll definitely welcome the uninterrupted sleep (especially since it's now 1:30 am!), I will definitely miss that warm, cuddly boy curled up next to me with his feet planted squarely in my back.

Okay, I won't miss the feet, but I will miss the boy!

Addison's mom and dad returned late tonight from a 5-day vacation in Mexico, and Addison had a whole week of "Camp Gran" (his mom's name for our long visit). We had a lovely time, as we always do with the grandkids. It reinforced my long-held belief that women in their 50s and 60s who decide to have babies really need to be talked out of it, and my admiration for grandparents who take on the full-time responsibility for grandchildren.

Addison is an exceptionally well-behaved toddler, so we had virtually no behavioral issues. It's just that toddlers hit the floor running when they wake up in the morning (or after a nap) and I need three cups of coffee before I can even discuss the morning newspaper with Jim. Of course, the morning newspaper has been the afternoon newspaper this week, but I still managed to stay on top of the current financial crisis, just with less intensity and a few hours later than everyone else. But you know what? Everything happened just as it was going to happen anyway, and I can now put together puzzles with the best of them. Oh, and I've learned the time and channel for "Clifford, the Big Red Dog." And I had lots of hugs and kisses, laughs and cuddles, splashes in the pool, swinging at the park, and a full time view of the world through the eyes of someone for whom everything is new!

He helped Grandpa Jim get the trailer hooked up and started packing for deer hunting next week; he and I played with his "letters and numbers" in the tub; we took Winnie-the-Pooh to the park and put him on the slide and on the swings;

and tonight, after I took him back to his house to await his mommy and daddy's return, he decorated a bush in the front yard with dandelion blooms to celebrate!

Sure, I missed the first Presidential debate, but I can read about it in the paper, or catch in on YouTube. These moments are far too precious to miss.

I'm sorry Camp Gran is over. It went by far too fast - much more quickly than I would have imagined. And as I return to my normal routine tomorrow morning, I know I'll be longing for some of the sweet moments of this past week.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Just a walk in the park

I'm a lucky woman. Sometimes I forget and start to take it for granted - not that I'm the only one who's ever done that! And sometimes a day is just so perfect that I wonder why I'm not just constantly aware of how lucky I am!

I have these wonderful grandsons - four of 'em. The three oldest - Andrew, David and Matthew - live in the Midwest, so I don't see them very often. This year it has been my joy to visit them twice, and I treasure the memories we made. Being a Gran is the most enjoyable thing I've ever done. Don't get me wrong - I also loved being a mom and treasure my three sons. But there's just something about grandmothering...

My youngest grandson, Addison, lives about 12 miles from me - a much more reasonable distance for visits! And I've had the unending joy of being his "Granny Nanny" since he was two months old (he'll be 3 in December). Not that every minute of every day has been pure bliss, you understand. After all, he's still an independent little person and he can be oppositional with the best of them!

Today - as I do every Monday and Tuesday - I picked Addison up from daycare. Sometimes we go to the local mall and have smoothies and visit the stores. Sometimes we go to the pool where he spends nearly an hour on the water slide, which he loves. Today we went to the park, and had a little more than an hour to play on the slides - no swings today. And I promised him I would put the photos of him swinging from the crossbar on my blog.

So, Addison, here you are for the world to see! Thank you for bringing so much joy to my afternoon. Now if I could just see my other three boys on a more regular basis!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Brood mares and sugar-tits

I had a difficult and emotional conversation recently with a beloved member of my family regarding Senator Obama's position on "partial-birth" abortions.

I don't really like the idea of abortion at all, quite frankly, and I know I could never have made the choice to have one. However, I am equally uncomfortable with dictating to other women the choices they can make. I noted to this family member that Sen. Obama's objection to the bill was based on the fact that there was no exception to be made if the life and/or health of the mother was at stake.

Now you will find those who say there is never a health reason for a "partial-birth" abortion. If this is the case, then where is the harm in putting that clause into the bill? It would be incumbent upon the doctor to show cause for performing the procedure, so I think that would preclude much abuse. And, if they are so dangerous, I think only women in dire circumstances would make the choice to have this type of abortion. (Call me logical, but that's how I see it!)

On the other hand, my research shows that there actually are cases (specifically hydrocephalus) that can occur late in pregnancy, in which the fetus' head can be nearly three times the size of the adult human head. If that isn't a life-threatening situation for the mother, then I don't know how else to define it!

So then we have the argument that a Caesarian section would be preferable. Well, preferable perhaps for the fetus, but having had one I can assure you it's no picnic, either. And, as with all major surgeries, a C-section carries its own risks.

So what I read into all of the abortion debate - whether partial-birth, therapeutic, or for any other reason - is that, if you are anti-choice, the woman is NEVER a consideration. The scales are always balanced in favor of the fetus, regardless of the circumstances. If the woman has been raped, even if by a family member, it's just too bad for her. She still must bear the consequences of someone else's actions. If her life is in danger, or if her health may be permanently impaired, well, that's too bad, too.

After all - and this is the crux of the discussion for me - she is only a woman and can be replaced by some other woman. If she dies and leaves behind a living baby and perhaps other children - well, that's okay. We'll find someone else to be a mother to those kids.

I think this is part of the inspiration for the Women's Movement in the 60s and 70s: not so much abortion on demand, but the demand that women be viewed as individuals, not as replaceable bodies. For too many years we allowed ourselves to be relegated to second- or third-class positions. Other women raised our babies, particularly prior to the 20th century when so many women died in childbirth. Other women breast-fed our babies, so that we could keep our figures for the men who demanded it.

Oddly, I never really considered myself a feminist, and for many years abortion was anathema to me. But as I've gotten older, I've seen people in circumstances that had never touched me before and it has softened my once hard heart. I still wish no one ever chose abortion, but I don't have the right to take that choice away.

And neither does the government.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Racism is alive and well

I am so appalled and flabbergasted that I'm almost speechless - not a common state of being for me, I promise you!

I learned this evening that at a "Value Voters Summit" this weekend, there was for sale boxes of waffle mix with a racist (think "Aunt Jemima") drawing of Barack Obama on it. What kind of "values" do these people have? And to think that absolutely every negative comment about Gov. Palin draws a cry of "sexism" from these folks!

Perhaps even more distressing was the information that Lou Dobbs from CNN was delighted by this box and reportedly cried, "My wife will love this!"

Can we please get some perspective on what we're doing in this country? We're trying to elect a President in the 21st century, while a group of sophomoric "value voters" revert to mid-20th century bigotry.

I may say more on this later, but right now it's just too much.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Politics, not as usual

I did something today that I never thought I'd do - I went campaigning door-to-door! I suppose you'd have to understand that I grew up in an atmosphere of politics - an atmosphere so choking that I've avoided it for the past 45 years. Oh, don't get me wrong, I vote religiously. And I have some pretty definite ideas about who I vote for and the choices I make. It's just that, when your mom lives and breathes it for all of your growing-up years, you kind of get the inside view - and it's often not very pretty.

So when Barack Obama said he was for change, I started to listen. Especially since a lot of politicians say that. And they say that it won't be "politics as usual." And they say that they're different, they're not beholden to the entrenched bureaucracy. And I always want to believe; God, how I want to believe! But I'm almost always disappointed, because it usually turns out that they aren't any different than the ones who went before them.

But something about Obama resonated with me. I saw young people starting to get excited, and I started to get excited, too. But I kind of held back, waiting. Then I read his book, The Audacity of Hope, and I got a little more excited. So I went to my local Barack for President headquarters and told them that I thought, maybe, I might like to help, but I'd get in touch when I got back from my cruise. And I kept thinking about it and talking about it, but not doing anything. (I'm pretty good at procrastinating.)

But on Monday of this week, I went to Obama's web site and registered to do door-to-door canvassing for him. I got a list of 40 names in my neighborhood. Today, I visited every one of those houses. There were about 10 people who weren't home, and of the others, only two refused to talk to me. Out of the 28 or so I spoke with, all but four are voting for Obama, but everyone was cordial - even those who are voting for John McCain! I feel good about having done this, and I'll catch the others tomorrow or early next week. But I proved to myself that we can disagree without being disagreeable. We don't have to be mean-spirited or spiteful just because our politics are different!

Do I think even Barack Obama can create immediate change in the country? No, but I think we have to make a start, and he's the only candidate that seems willing to speak to the issues and not make this a war of hatred and name-calling. And I think we have to start somewhere. Maybe by the time my grandsons are old enough to vote, we will have returned to some level of kindness in politics.

I hope more people will take the time to really investigate who they're voting for and make informed decisions, not party-line decisions. No one can do everything they say they will; our system pretty much ensures that. But you can choose to vote for the person whose ideals more closely parallel your own - IF you take the time to learn. Otherwise the overblown (and often deceitful) rhetoric, the hate emails that are circulating on the internet, and the loudest voices will determine our future.

If you care enough to vote - and I hope you do - then you should care enough to investigate the facts for yourself. November 4th isn't so far away.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Well, it's about time!

Okay, so it's about time I stopped putting this off and got started. I set up this blog way back in July, but kept putting off starting it up. You know how it is - Well, I want to start with something profound but not offputting. Or: I'm going to be out of town and I want to start when I'm going to be here and can develop the habit of blogging. Or: If I were to start today, I'm so pissed off that it would just be a rant.

Then, of all things, I discovered that one of my dear d-i-ls had started a Blogger Blog! And I felt that if I started mine she would feel that I was trying to steal her thunder. Which is stupid for two reasons: 1. She's not that kind of person; 2. We have distinctly different styles and write about different kinds of things. Okay, three reasons: 3. Blogs are personal.

So today, I start. Tomorrow maybe you'll get the rant, but today it's just stuff.

I am a frustrated writer. I've had a few things published. I even got paid for a couple of them, but mostly it's been the occasional Letter to the Editor. I love to voice my opinion (as you'll learn if you read this very often), and I love language. I don't think I'll ever write the Great American Novel, and I don't even think I want to. I'm more of a personal experience/opinion (see what I mean?)/observation type of writer. Along with the occasional spiritual insight.

After my mom died in 1992, I spent the next year or so transcribing her memoirs. Someday I hope to get them in a form that is publishable. I'm now in the process of transcribing my grandfather's memoirs. I've been working on them for about a year and should have them done by 2020. Maybe sooner, but I'm not holding my breath! His memoirs sat in a box for many years, then were donated by my mom (his daughter) to the University of Florida, where they sat in several boxes for a lot more years. A couple of years ago, my cousins went to the University and made copies. They sent them to me (at my request) and I work on them when I'm not traveling, goofing off, reading, watching my grandson, or drinking wine. Now, of course, they'll fall a bit further down the list so I can blog.

In the meantime, this gives me an outlet for my thoughts and ideas, and maybe I'll meet some new people who will inspire me to write more and procrastinate less.

For now, I think I'll take a nap...