Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Little of This -- A Little of That

Labor Day weekend is upon us -- the last weekend of summer before school begins and the world once again settles into schedules and routines. One last chance for playful summer activity. I have deliberately left the next three days unscheduled -- I love the freedom to take each moment as it comes and change my plans on a whim.

Most of all this weekend, I need rest. My summer has been busy, and a recent two-week episode of allergy and asthma symptoms has left me weakened and tired. The simple act of coughing can exhaust our bodies and spirits quickly. With my allergy in full force, I will be unable to do the gardening and lawn mowing which cry out to me, but that is a blessing, because my body needs to heal right now.

My summer weekends have been filled with activity -- two large parties this month to celebrate my grandson's Christening and my granddaughter's first birthday, an 80th birthday party for a favorite uncle, a 40th class reunion -- and the weeks of summer have been busy with the ongoing tasks of our contracting business and tending my grandchildren. The stresses of our declining economy are always shadowing my days.

This past week I watched the Democratic Convention with a mixture of hope and fear. Our quality of life has diminished so drastically in the last eight years, I don't know how we will fare if the Republicans win the Presidency again. John McCain certainly espouses the same old free market theories which have so badly damaged middle-class America. My husband has Multiple Sclerosis, with its accompanying fatigue, and struggles daily for the success of his business, and had looked forward to an early retirement. That dream is shattered now -- we will be working for years to rebuild our financial equilibrium.

Barack Obama is an eloquent man who makes me believe that we can turn our country around. In fact, when I heard him speak at the last Convention, I was certain that one day he would be President!! His ideas are sound, he seems to be an honorable man who has devoted much of his career to improving the status quo for working class Americans. He reminds us that one of the great problems of our time is the extreme partisanship in our government. We have become a nation divided by two very different belief systems, and until Democrats and Republicans can once again compromise, our nation will suffer. Obama seems to be a man who can begin to bridge the gap.

But, I do worry -- I think that racism is still very much alive in this country, and I fear that there are people who will not vote for him because of his color. I desperately hope I am wrong!! There may also be some Clinton supporters who will not vote for him because they feel Hillary was not treated well. I desperately hope I am wrong!! And, I certainly hope that no disillusioned Clinton supporters will vote for McCain/Palin just because Palin is a woman. With the extremely volatile foreign policy issues facing this country, I have serious concerns about Palin's qualifications to take over as President, with her seeming lack of experience outside of her home state.

We live in troubled times, and this election is extremely important to the future of our nation.

That being said, I was so impressed with the grace and stoicism shown by Hillary Clinton in her speech. This has to be one of the most devastating defeats of her life, but she handled it all with her usual aplomb. Let's face it -- a few months ago all of us thought she would be the nominee, and I'm sure she did, too. But, she put her own hurt and disappointment aside for the good of our nation.

This blog has rambled a bit. There are so many thoughts in my mind as this summer draws to a close. For the most part this weekend, I will try to quiet my mind and body -- to take the time to savor the last few days of summer vacation, the lovely flowers that grace my yard, the bounty of fresh vegetables and fruits, the delectable foods of summer, the birdsong, the children's laughter as they play ball on our street, the sunshine, the comfort of my tree-shaded yard, and the companionship of loved ones.

I will leave the worrisome thoughts for another time --

Friday, August 15, 2008

"And A Time to Every Purpose Under Heaven"

The long summer evenings of June and July have abruptly transformed into the early, almost palpable darkness of August. It is 9:00 as I write, and the house is enveloped in the deep moist coolness of an August evening. Its quiet, although broken by the trilling of insects, settles around me, soothing away the trials of the day. I am reminded that "To everything there is a season."

August is the season of harvest. The farmers' markets and roadside stands are brimming with sweet corn, colorful squash, eggplant, and ripe, red tomatoes. Anyone who has tasted the crunchy sweetness of freshly picked corn or the succulence of a sun-warmed tomato does not have to be convinced to "buy locally." Vegetables and fruit all have their season, and an ear of corn bought in January from the grocery store does not really taste like corn as we know it in August.

The flowers in my garden also have their season. The breathtaking roses of June are long gone now, and my late summer hydrangeas, zinnias, and muskily sweet phlox have taken their place. The ferns which graced the pond with their green lace just a week or two ago are slowly fading in vibrancy. The black walnuts are falling to the ground, to be picked up by the industrious squirrels who know that a long winter is not far off.

Just as in nature, women's lives are marked by seasons, also. The carefree days of childhood are followed by the busy season of creating homes and raising children. Once the children are grown, we enjoy a season of renewal -- we have time to reassess our lives and get to know ourselves again. Just as we have gotten used to this season of self awareness and freedom, we become grandmothers, and a new and exciting season of loving begins.

How boring life would be if it were static -- the sameness would wear us down. We would not appreciate the sumptuous bounty of August if we did not first know the starkness of winter. We would not appreciate the laughter and joy of life if we never experienced its sadness and grief.

As I sit by the window in the August darkness, and remember the long bright twilights of the summer solstice, which I also loved, I am thankful for these lovely seasons in nature and in life -- what blessings we are given, if we only appreciate them.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Please Think Before You Vote!!!

My granddaughter's first birthday party was held yesterday. It was a large gathering of family and friends -- a lovely celebration with good food, adorable children, and high spirits that weren't even dampened by the drenching thunderstorm that pounded the pavilion roof.

I was troubled by a conversation with my son's friends. They were talking about their financial difficulties in these troubled economic times. These are young men and women who work hard to provide for their families, but they are finding it increasingly hard to manage. One couple has a two-year old son and would love to have another child; however, they are currently paying $200/week for day care and cannot afford day care for a second child. They need both incomes to survive, so have decided for now to limit their family to one child.

How sad this is! When we were young, women had a choice; many women chose to stay home with their children. Of course, budgets were tight, but families could choose between comfortable incomes or more simple lives. For today's young families there is no choice. With ridiculously high housing prices, large college loan payments, expensive health insurance premiums, and now, skyrocketing gas and food prices, two incomes are a necessity, and then day care adds significantly to the equation.

It is a sad commentary on our cultural values when CEO's of large corporations make millions of dollars, and hard-working young people struggle to provide for their families. Corporate greed has bankrupted our economy. We have entered a new "Gilded Age".

I hope our citizens will give serious consideration to the economic plans of our presidential candidates. Can our nation's young families survive four more years of status quo Republican policies? I don't think so; these stressed and overburdened young parents deserve an economy which once again rewards hard work and promotes real family values.

Please think carefully before casting your vote this year. In the past eight years of Republican "free market" economy, the oil companies are thriving, and hard-working, honest Americans are losing their homes and declaring bankruptcy. Please vote Democrat and then hold them accountable for rebuilding a better America for our young families!!!!