Friday, February 20, 2009

Partisanship is not the same as patriotism

It was really a time of learning new trades, new ways of doing things, and making do. Other than heavy hearts, I fully believe that if the truth was ever told, this country was more together, caring more, with less, than ever before or since. (Cecilia P. Jones-Angell, October 19, 1990)

The statement above is taken from my mother's memoirs,which she wrote out in the years before she died, and refers to the early days of WWII. I am struck by the comment of people caring more, with less, and that the country was together.

In many ways, perhaps, it was a simpler time, despite the fact that the whole world was at war, and given that the country was emerging from the Great Depression. I think that we could learn from our history about the value of pulling together toward a common goal instead of fighting to undermine whatever hope we might find for our nation and the world.

I can accept that there are people who did not vote for our current President and who are disappointed that their candidate, their party, did not win. I know that I would be unhappy had the election gone the other way. But I hope that I would be looking for solutions and working to mend fences instead of continuing to be angry and working to tear the fragile fabric of our economy.

Today I watched a documentary by Alexandria Pelosi, the daughter of the Speaker of the House. She compiled film clips and interviews with my countrymen who supported the McCain ticket because she felt it was important to know that there are people in this nation who vehemently disagree with what the Democratic Party stands for, and who yet are faithful Americans and patriots. She wanted people to know that we share a love for our nation with people who believe differently and who feel excluded from decision-making, and who even feel betrayed and marginalized.

The documentary began with a disclaimer that not everyone who is Republican is as radical as some who are portrayed, but that the people who spoke were sincere and genuine in their feelings. I can accept that; I can even embrace the differences of my fellow Americans without accepting their ideology. What I cannot embrace or accept is the determination to see our country fail just because of spiteful feelings or resentment over last November's election.

In recent days I've seen and heard too many conservative politicians posturing over the stimulus bill that the President signed this week. I've heard some Republican governors decry the bill and make statements regarding whether or not they will accept money from the bill, even as their states sink further and further into unemployment, foreclosure crises, and budgets bordering on bankruptcy.

Fortunately, the bill allows for state legislatures to accept the money over the governors' objections so as to avoid states being penalized for political reasons. I heard Governor Schwartzenegger on this documentary as he criticized then-candidate Obama for his fiscal policies; and yet today the governor of California is eagerly awaiting the assistance this stimulus package will bring to his state. I know that the Republican governor of Florida has taken a stand with the President to implement the bill and bring relief to his constituents.

I don't think anyone should be silenced for their genuine objections, but I do think that people need to accept reality. I think Republican members of Congress need to look at where we are headed and, instead of attempting to place every stumbling block possible in the path of this new administration, they should be working for the good of the country rather than looking at their chances of getting re-elected.

I am so tired of the intractable partisanship that permeates the fiber of our nation. It was not always so; even I can recall a time when Senators, Congressmen, Governors, and even the common citizen put aside partisan politics for the good of the whole. Why would any right-minded person want our nation to fail? Why would one hope that our President will be proved wrong in his policies? Why wouldn't all Americans want to see our nation succeed, regardless of who is in office?

I truly cannot fathom the mindset that denies reality. If you don't agree with the stimulus package then, by all means, speak your mind; and if you're truly against it, then please return whatever monetary benefit you accrue. If you're really dead set against it, then you would be hypocritical to accept a reduction in your taxes or assistance with your mortgage or a job that is created or even additional weeks of unemployment compensation or COBRA assistance. If you put your money where your mouth is, then you will have credibility.

Otherwise, you are, in the words of St. Paul, a noisy gong or a clashing cymbal, seeking only to disrupt rather than attempting to heal in our time of national need.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Historical Valentine's Day

What better way to spend Valentine's Day than doing something you love, in a place you love, with the person you love!

I awoke to find my bathroom floor covered with hearts (they look so striking against the white tile that I'm going to leave them there for a few days!). Jim has always managed to find a clever and dramatic way to surprise me, but has never surpassed our first year together when he filled my shower with heart-shaped balloons, but he still manages to find ways to surprise me!

After reading the newspaper and taking my morning walk, I had an appointment with the Red Cross to give blood. By 11:00 I was home and Jim and I were ready to begin our Valentine's Day Adventure! Yesterday, you see, was also Oregon's Sesquicentennial and we two history buffs had promised ourselves a day immersed in the history of this beautiful state.

We live just north of Oregon City, which was the capital of the Oregon Territory and the first Capital of the State. In honor of the day, many of the historic sites were admission-free, and the City's trolley was on a special route to hit the highlights. (As an aside for any other history buffs, Oregon City's archives holds the original plat for the city of San Francisco. Since OC was the territorial capital, it had to be filed here, and here it has stayed!)

We enjoyed two museums and two local homes, most notably that of Dr. John McLoughlin who is known as "The Father of Oregon." We viewed the city and the Willamette River from OC's own outdoor elevator, and then headed over to our favorite little wine bar, Winestock.

All in all, it was a lovely, if exhausting, day for two people who love sharing time together, and who love the history of our State and our Nation.

I hope you and your Valentine had a special day as well.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


I'm multi-tasking this morning. I'm adding descriptions to family photos on my family tree site, recording episodes of "Little Bear" on a VCR tape for Addison, and watching the snow fall gently outside the window.

The snow is gentle and light, sticking to roofs and trees, and a little bit on the ground, but melting quickly on streets and sidewalks. It's so pretty when it falls and I do love it, although by noon it will turn to rain. We may have light snow again tomorrow morning, but then it will also turn quickly to rain.

In the 14 years I've lived in Oregon, we've had more snow this year than ever before, a sign, some say, of climate change. Whatever the reason, it's a nice change from our usual winter weather of rain, rain, and more rain.

It puts me in mind of the first time I saw snow.

As a Florida native, growing up in Tampa and Lake Wales, snow was never a part of my life. I do recall one winter when snow fell briefly, but melted mid-air. That was a big disappointment to me, since I read all the books that talked about kids playing in snow and was intensely disappointed in the eternal sunshine of life in Florida!

In 1964, however, I lived briefly in Portsmouth, VA. On a winter day around December 1st, I looked out to see snow! I was so excited! I put on my heavy coat and went outside and stood in it for about 15 minutes, marveling as it brushed my face and landed on my coat, melting too quickly to really count. But it was beautiful and I was young enough at 17 to be enthralled by the experience.

In subsequent years, we traveled to Oregon and Washington and I was treated to snow in the mountains, but never again to see it fall. Until 1991 when Ben and I lived for a fall and winter in Indianapolis.

That year winter came early - in October, I believe. Of course everyone blamed me for wanting it so badly, but I didn't care! Ben and I got up early in the morning and went outside and had a snowball fight. My 11-year-old son was as excited as I was and we laughed ourselves silly with the excitement of it all!

That afternoon as I gave a co-worker a ride home, the snow started falling again! She was telling me a story when I interrupted and said, "It's snowing!" She continued with her story, and I, in my excitement, repeated, "It's snowing!" "Yes," she replied, "I see it." "But," I exclaimed, "you don't understand: It's snowing and I'm driving in it!"

With exaggerated patience, she looked at me and said, "Cheryle, I'm from Buffalo, NY, and this just doesn't even count as snow!" I laughed and she continued with her story.

Perspective counts, but it shouldn't count for too much. Especially when it's snowing!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

You're no longer relevant

I want to relish the thoughts of a granddaughter and enjoy the planning that Jim and I are doing for travels this Spring. I want to bask in the glow of a new Presidency, and delight in the knowledge that the Oval Office is now occupied by a man who understands and cares about both the history and the future of this nation.

What I don't want to do is think about Dick Cheney.

However, he has insinuated himself into the public consciousness again this past week, and has violated a longstanding, if unwritten, code of conduct regarding new administrations. Oh, he's not the only one of Bush's administration to act out in the manner of petulant children, but he's been the most vocal. And, given the recent history of our nation, he is arguably the most dangerous.

Mr. Cheney still supports the suspension of civil rights for detainees at Guantanamo. He either fails to understand or, more likely, just doesn't care that civil rights are not just for select individuals. If they are, then who, exactly, gets to make the selection? If you think it doesn't matter, ask Oregon attorney Brandon Mayfield who suffered mightily under the so-called Patriot Act, which allows the government to suspend an individual's rights. Think of the horror of having this happen to your family!

Mr. Cheney has also continued to defend the use of torture, including that torture known as waterboarding. By defending this reprehensible action, Mr. Cheney has de facto agreed that the US will not object should such tactics be used against our own military. After all, how can you take the righteous high road for your own people when you care not at all for the people of other nations?

I believe that Cheney - who was almost frighteningly silent during the waning days of the Bush Administration - is now feeling the loss of power, the impotence, perhaps, of a man who is no more important than anyone else. The trappings of power are gone and I think he can't deal with it. Therefore he feels compelled to attack the current administration in a futile attempt to make himself look better.

Give it up, Dickie Boy. You just aren't relevant anymore.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Buttons and bows

I suppose, in her heart of hearts, every woman wants a baby girl. I've always theorized that it's a hangover from the days of dolls and daydreams of clouds of pink lace and soft, fluffy things. And, of course, from somewhere deep in our ancient genetic code, the desire to reproduce oneself.

I had three pregnancies and delivered three wonderful male children, who have presented me with four adorable (and adored) male grandchildren. I've grown accustomed to boy things: trucks, Spiderman, StarWars, light sabers, Matchbox cars, tiny little briefs, questions about why I can't pee standing up, and fart jokes. I've also enjoyed through the years the button-bursting pride of being surrounded by tall, handsome young men, and a sense of matriarchy that perhaps comes from being the only woman in a houseful of male children. I've shared a sense of camaraderie with my two beloved daughters-in-law, and especially Lisa, my d-i-l, Sr., who is herself the mother of three gorgeous boys.

When my youngest son and his wife (d-i-l, Jr.) announced late last fall that we will have a new addition in July, I kind of assumed that I would add one more boy to my stable of boys. And, quite frankly, I was okay with that. I had long ago given up the idea of leaving my doll collection to a grandchild and assumed that it would pass someday to a great-granchild, or find its way onto the shelves of the local Goodwill Store.

So, here I sit tonight, still digesting the news that Ben and Briana delivered this afternoon: I'm going to have a granddaughter! It still seems unreal. I've tried to imagine changing girl diapers, and I'm already pondering what I will sew/crochet/embroider for her first gift. Oh, I know that her parents will want me to not be too fluffy, and I will try very hard to honor that. And I know that she is just as likely to be a tomboy as she is to be a girly-girl. And I know that I will do with her as I have done with her brother and allow her to grow into her own person, respecting her strengths and weaknesses, loving her and reveling in her accomplishments. I know that her gender will not make her more or less important to me, and I know that I will love her for herself, cherishing her life as I cherish her brother and her cousins.

But I know, too, that she will carry within her the strength of generations of strong women from both sides of her family, and that she will also live in a time when those strengths will not be deprecated because she is a woman. This child, my granddaughter, will stand in a time of new opportunity. She will benefit from the generations who have gone before, male and female, and can make her choices based on her own abilities and desires. In some ways I envy her, being born in this time to parents who will recognize that she will be her own woman and who will help her realize her potential.

I look forward to meeting you, dear granddaughter, and holding you and rocking you and singing to you, as I have your brother and your cousins.

I hope it's okay if the blanket I wrap you in has a little lace around the edges!