Saturday, October 24, 2009

21 Years

Today is Scott’s 21st birthday. I struggled to find an appropriate card at the Jewel last night. Hallmark, American Greetings, and the like seem a lazy way to recognize a milestone birthday. I understand, however, that when we are rushed and tired, it is easier to let card wordsmiths say it. I will give him the purchased card with cash tucked inside. He can go buy something that will soon be forgotten, but I hope he remembers one thing—his mother loves him. Always.

Photo--Uncle Scott introduces Nicolas to video games. Well, Nicolas is just happy playing with the controller.

Be Well

It is October, and October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Panera Bread brings out the Pink Ribbon bagels, and advertising reminds us all of what many would sooner forget. However, I noticed today, someone bought some of my cards over on CafePress. Thank you to all who like my designs enough to plunk down some cash. I wish you or those you love the best. As one of the volunteers at the Montgomery Cancer Center always said, “Be Well.”

Friday, October 16, 2009

Seasons Come and Go

Stacked high. Waiting for me to figure out what goes and what stays and where to put it all.

A pile of summer clothes. Books brought out of the closet. You can tell a lot about the books a person surrounds herself with. I don’t have a lot of books now, and so the ones I took when the marriage dissolved have special significance. A slim volume of One Hundred and One Famous Poems inscribed in Mother’s handwriting, “To my dear daughter with love. Mom. Xmas 1969”--Tennyson, Whitman, Keats, Frost, and Kipling, whose “If” is a favorite of mine, are the standards I grew up with.

“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you; . . .
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same. . . .

Scraps of paper with ideas for art projects I’ll probably never have time to get to. Fabric. My addiction. Lots of that. Clothes waiting for me to iron them. Who am I kidding?

My place is small. The one bigger closet is about half-filled with my clothes. Art supplies take up nearly the other half, competing with quilts, Christmas decorations I didn’t even put up last year, and a box of photos. You get the picture. Something has got to go.

I’d rather get rid of the clothes than the art supplies. Who knows, I might find a way to have my own studio. Hey, I am old, but I still dream.

Today, I purge. Farewell striped pink blouse. What was I thinking! Socks, I can never wear all of you. Cute black and white Keds, you guys hurt my feet. I will hang on to Mother’s Day cards long ago given and 21-year-old ‘Happy Mother’s Coupons,’ which certify son Jeff will clean the bathroom and make his bed. I’ll even keep another 21-year old artifact: an anniversary card emblazoned with “The Marriage that Would Not Die.”

Triumph and Disaster aside, the lesson here is to make room and time for what really matters in my life and a reminder of what was once upon a time.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The world is but a canvas to the imagination.

There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly. Buckminster Fuller

Most grants and funding made to social service agencies addresses basic human needs. The not-for-profit I work for, the Humanitarian Service Project, does that too with our summer Feed the Kids Project. At Christmas time, we help families with two to three weeks of food and gifts for all of the children. And year-round our Senior Citizen Project delivers a monthly food package to needy seniors in our area.

But there is more to life than basic needs. Our Children’s Birthday Project, is described on The Common Grant Application as “an early intervention program for children ages 3-12, to bring joy and self-worth to poverty-level children on their special day at an age while they were still impressionable but before they were subject to intense peer pressure and the appeal of negative influences such as gangs.”

That’s a mouthful but what it boils down to is we think even poor kids should know their birthdays are worth celebrating!

So, we collect new toys and books, school supplies, and stuffed animals. Every box also includes what we call a party-in-a-box with all the makings of a fun birthday celebration like cake mix, frosting, paper plates, streamers, and party favors.

Now, we are hoping to include an arts and crafts kit in the birthday boxes if our donors support the idea. Arts and crafts kits with drawing and painting supplies of all kinds, craft supplies—you name it. We see it as a creative and positive opportunity to enhance the lives of our program’s children. With schools cutting back on funding for art education, I think many kids grow up failing to discover their innate creativity. And poor families just scraping by surely don’t have money left over to spend on art supplies.

All week I have been caught up with this notion. I have a growing list of ideas with over 30 suggestions so far. If any of my readers know of organizations or manufacturers who might be able to help as we get this underway, please let me know. We are a small grassroots organization, highly regarded, but also with a small staff.

I am excited about the possibility. Here is the list I have come up with so far. Wonder what I have forgotten?

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Where Is We in We the People?

Utterly ridiculous! Unpatriotic! For shame you Republicans who applauded America’s failed bid to host the 2016 Summer Games as a personal failure for President Obama. When the International Olympic Committee turned down Chicago’s proposal yesterday, gleeful opponents of Obama cheered. Rush Limbaugh called the U.S. delegation “Ego-obsessed imbeciles on parade representing the United States. Oprah is now eating Denmark.” This is strange, and if Democrats did it, Fox News (right-wingers for those of you outside the U.S.) commentators would be all over it like white on rice.

That hacks me off. This is still America. Where is your national pride? This was not about Obama. This was an American city trying to capture an important world event. However, this time it was not our turn. South America has never had a chance. For that reason and some apparent Olympic committee bad blood, more than Obama failing, the International Olympic Committee said no thanks to Chicago. It’s a blow to the City of Big Shoulders, but I believe when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.

Charles Lane over at the Washington Post said
The bid for a Chicago Olympics was to put a large American city, and probably the state and federal governments as well, deeply into hock constructing velodromes and the like, in return for the thrill of watching a bunch of steroid consumers try to break ephemeral world records in obscure sports.

Some say President Obama was ill-advised to put his prestige, and that of his country, at risk in a losing effort, especially when he has so many other important issues to worry about. Actually, it was a mistake, win or lose.

Yup. President Obama did the right thing as did President Bush in supporting Chicago’s bid. On hindsight, it is for the best that we lost. Chicago can now turn full attention to more pressing problems like finding a way to keep teenagers from killing each other.

However, a recent column by Thomas Friedman of the New York Times lays out a more disturbing concern interconnected to the lost Olympic bid. In Where Did ‘We’ Go?, Friedman writes about the poisonous political climate in Israel in 1995 that surrounded Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin before he was assassinated.

Friedman writes:
Others have already remarked on this analogy, but I want to add my voice because the parallels to Israel then and America today turn my stomach: I have no problem with any of the substantive criticism of President Obama from the right or left. But something very dangerous is happening. Criticism from the far right has begun tipping over into delegitimation and creating the same kind of climate here that existed in Israel on the eve of the Rabin assassination. . . .

Even if you are not worried that someone might draw from these vitriolic attacks a license to try to hurt the president, you have to be worried about what is happening to American politics more broadly.

Our leaders, even the president, can no longer utter the word “we” with a straight face. There is no more “we” in American politics at a time when “we” have these huge problems — the deficit, the recession, health care, climate change and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — that “we” can only manage, let alone fix, if there is a collective “we” at work.

I thought Obama might be the leader to bring back the ‘We’ in “We the People of the United States . . .” from the U. S. Constitution. Now, I question, can any one?