Tuesday, June 14, 2011
But the hoary truth is that the blog - the daily write - the communing on page with whoever might be out there, never took hold in my soul, past the first few weeks of being newly retired.
Lacking any deadline other than elastic self-imposed and easily forgotten ones, I gave up on me, and quickly became satisfied with firing off fiery or truculent comments in the WaPo or NYT. I condensed my passion into short paragraphs (but not quite tweets) that may have been succinct but were rarely a stretch of my writing chops.
And one excuse I will provide is, I wasn't reading much in the way of good writing, and wasn't doing much besides entertaining myself online. The creative well was pretty parched so the subjects didn't arise or inspire.
I would like to change that.
The glimmer of hope that buoys me is that I am once again reading good writing, thanks in no small measure to the BTBabes book club. Agreeing to join the book club last winter meant I actually had to READ books, rather than merely buy them and let them gather dust on the bedside table. And since my ability to focus on one thing for more than 20 minutes seems to get harder with each advancing month, I decided to incorporate audiobooks into the mix, so I could "read" while on my daily walks. In a sense, audiobooks have saved my writing or literary life, since they have enabled me to hear and follow along what I am reading on a printed (or iPadded) page. An enormous weight lifted with that realization, since one of the planned joys of retirement was the opportunity to read more.
And walk more. Six years almost to the day of having retired, and I'm just now getting with the program. I began walking in earnest last Fall, to coincide with getting serious about weight loss. Listening to music while walking was a good start, as I could calibrate my pace to beats-per-minute high-energy tunes (thanks to iTunes) and get my heart rate elevated beyond what is required sitting in this chair in front of this 27" inertia control panel.
For me, walking really is a moving meditation. It gets me at once out of the house and out of my head, and insists I deal with the world as it comes at me, birds tweeting, cars passing, skies waiting to be admired. And once I got accustomed to hustling around the 'hood to the music at a fast clip, substituting audiobooks became a welcome intellectual change of pace. I traded Rihanna and Beyonce for Roseann Cash, Elizabeth Gilbert, Ann Patchett, Kathryn Stockett and Jeannette Walls. They made more than worthy walking partners!
And so, I hope to be a more deliberate (daily???) partner here, once my walk has invigorated my body and my books have planted seeds of wonder or revelation in my mind.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
So I cannot adequately describe how let down and angered I am at his apparent decision to let bygones be bygones on the subject of US-approved torture.
At this moment in time, it appears as though Barack Obama has given everyone involved a free-pass. The president who okayed the decision (I'm sure he didn't actually make the decision), the vice president who master-minded the concept that it was perfectly fine to do whatever the darker side of man could conceive to elicit truth from terrorists, the admin hacks who dotted the I's and crossed the T for torture, the Justice Dept lawyers and cronies who elegantly drafted the loop-holed laws that would make crimes against man and nature bullet and reprisal-proof, and the military goons who went mindlessly along with an order that proved they were neither officers nor gentlemen.
For a man who promised to break the mold of political persuasion, and elevate the national dialogue (thanks to Aaron Sorkin), Barack Obama has repeatedly shown a persistent cowardice when it comes to political courage to face down detractors on both sides of the aisle. He seems to be preoccupied with currying favor, or at the very least, not incurring the wrath, of an opposition party so in disarray no GOP member could get elected to dog catcher, except maybe in Alaska.
To paraphrase another Sorkin president, he seems to be still too busy running for president rather than accepting the fact that the election is over and it is time to BE president.
And what is worse, he is too comfortable and self-assured in the role of Solomon, making the grand gesture in white-washing these seminal fissures in the Geneva Conventions behind a wall of political expediency. He is mortgaging his political capital to buy votes later on healthcare, energy and education, when he already has iron-clad proof that no Republican is interested in selling this president anything that will move our country forward, under his name.
Barack Obama is a student of history. Behind his calm, glacial demeanor is a mind that can be both calculating and visionary. He has captured the minds and hearts and hopes of people around this country and around the world. This is the defining moment for him to decide where he sits and where he ultimately will stand.
The world is watching, and waiting.
Monday, January 26, 2009
I'm a little late in the annual "taking stock" of my life, but better late than never.
I guess we always focus on what is wrong or undisciplined about ourselves when we make these benign promises to lose weight or stop smoking or be nicer or get more exercise or do something better than we've done it in the past.
And maybe (ya think??!!) I'm too sensitive, but a recent set-to with a friend brought into clear relief that doing something well -- doing ANYTHING well -- and stopping to feel good about it is a very healthy practice. Likewise, taking note when someone ELSE does something they are pleased with, and giving them an ATTA GIRL, is also a good practice. God knows, after the last eight years with Bozo's hand on the rudder, we have plenty to feel bad about that was none of our choosing.
I've always tried to be grateful for the blessings that come my way, but I also tend to wallow in self-loathing when I've screwed up or made a really bad decision or succumbed to some temptation that my "better angels" warned me against. We are each our own fiercest critics and harshest jury/judge. But self-flagellation or recrimination has never been an effective deterrent for me. I learn more by doing or repeating what makes me feel good than I do by hating myself for something that went awry.
So in 2009, I'm going to step up my sometime habit of highlighting what is good in the world around me. If it is something that I do that feels right, I'm going to bask in that glow a little longer. And when it happens around me, whether it is friend or stranger, I'm going to take note and slow that person down just long enough for them to have a chance to feel the warmth that comes from someone else noticing a good deed or a job well done.
Feeling more comfortable in my own skin - even if that skin is going to be 59 in March - is a good start to helping others see the good in themselves. Who knows, it could be contagious!
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Thomas L. Friedman
October 1, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
But I'm not whining ...
The rain may never fall till after sundown.
By eight, the morning fog must disappear.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Monday, June 11, 2007
Eiffel Tower at on an unseasonably warm spring night, how romantic!
All I can say is "C'est Magnifique'!"
Thursday, March 08, 2007
Sunday, January 28, 2007
It was no surprise, then, that the old Republican war-horse, former Navy Secretary and notorious political fence sitter, Senator John Warner, decided that public opinion had sufficiently gelled on this issue to the point that it is now safe for him to take a position on the Iraq War. In today's Washington Post, Sen. Warner thusly reflects that:
"I regret that I was not more outspoken" during the Vietnam War. "The Army generals would come in, 'Just send in another five or ten thousand.' You know, month after month. Another ten or fifteen thousand. They thought they could win it. We kept surging in those years. It didn't work."
I'd call that ironic. But there is plenty of irony to go around, these days...
It is ironic that Bush, like many of yesterday's war protesters, is a Baby Boomer who came of age when another unwinnable war, the VietNam war, was raging and claiming lives of thousands of young Americans, while many of us chanted,
"ALL WE ARE SAYING, IS GIVE PEACE A CHANCE."
It is ironic then for Bush to frame his latest request for 'cannon fodder' to fuel the war in Iraq, and the wanton waste of life and destruction of more American families, by insisting,
"ALL I AM SAYING IS, GIVE WAR A CHANCE."
It is ironic that to THE DECIDER, his losing face is of greater national consequence than America losing 21,000+ more American lives.
I'd call that the height of irony.
P E A C E ...
Friday, November 10, 2006
George W. Bush reprised his role of the inarticulate and yet unbending leader of the Republican Party, divorced from current reality and unable to seemingly grasp the sea change he both orchestrated and yet got snared in. Caught scriptless by the cameras and a cadre of national news reporters who were unabashed in their efforts to eke out admissions of missteps or signs of any newfound flexibility in the President's attitude toward forging new paths, Bush squirmed and bristled and ultimately got caught in a political prevarication. And immediately got called on it. But that wasn't news to anyone who has had their ear to the ground over the last six years.
A few hours later, in the Oval Office, Bush was relentless in his praise of the man and mentor he had been forced to cut loose, lavishing praise on Donald H. Rumsfeld that would humble and embarass any mere mortal. It was painfully clear that despite the resounding roar of disapproval from the American people Bush has just endured 24 hours earlier, his faith in his Secretary of Defense was not shaken. It was also obvious that this resignation was borne more of political expediency than of any "coming to Jesus" over the misguided course of American activity in Iraq and the Middle East.
Enter Rummy, stage left. Where Bush had been cranky and defensive in his tone and tenor, Rumsfeld took the lecturn with a Quixotic look in his eye. Once again, as has been his mein since he wrestled control of foreign and defense policy first from Colin Powell and then Condi Rice, Rumsfeld tried to explain to the pathetically misguided media and ignorant American populace that we just weren't smart enough to grasp the complexities of this war.
"The fault, Dear Brutus, is not in the stars, it is in ourselves!" We just didn't GET IT!
And that's a big "we" that, to Rumsfeld's mind, includes not just the irresponsible media who dogged him or the American people who lost faith in him, that "we" also fatally included the generals charged with carrying out his ill-conceived directives and who withered under his rigid inability to take their counsel, borne of battlefield reality, to heart.
To the last moment of his time upon the stage, Rumsfeld was unbowed and unburdened of the truth. And as his champion looked on in pained frustration, enter Robert M. Gates, 41's CIA director, to take the helm and pick up the pieces.
While I have not one ounce of faith in any administration headed by George W. Bush, I hold out a glimmer of hope that a former CIA Director will have the moral courage to convince Bush Junior FINALLY of this simple truth: that the key to keeping us safe from terrorist activity on American soil is and has always been a combination of well articulated diplomacy bolstered by a strong and relentless Central Intelligence Agency capable of sniffing out, intercepting and averting the next plane (or dirty bomb) before it gets here.
Hubris has no place in American domestic or foreign policy. If George W. Bush has learned anything in the last week, I hope he realizes now that spreading democracy across the Middle East is not and never was his job. Keeping us safe is. And he can do that best by keeping his mouth shut and letting his experts do the talking.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Pelosi Set to Take House Leadership
You can tell you are having a bad day when all your friends are mad at you, your enemies have just moved into BOTH of your upstairs bedrooms, and the media just wants to remind you of gross inconsistencies between what you insisted last week was best for America versus what you have decided we need this week.
When reminded of his change of direction and seeming prevarication, George exclaimed, "What, do you think I'm nuts??"
Don't get me started.
Why does the word 'bipartisan' sound like an ugly lie when it falls begrudgingly from his lips? And why can't I can't shake the nagging suspicion that the actions today coming out of the White House amounted to nothing more than Rove convincing the President that the gesture of ousting the architect of our failed foreign policy would buy Mr. Bush time to regain his composure in the face of a resounding indictment of STAY THE COURSE.
As usual, the press conference was almost like watching the Daily Show... he contradicted himself, rambled and mumbled, sneered and smirked and admitted he didn't see this tsunami of citizen outrage coming.
And I believe that statement.
Our Commander and Thief has been clueless and out of touch with what Americans are thinking since at least mid to late 2003. Whether that is because Cheney, Rove and Rummy have been Master Puppeteers since Bush was first selected, or because he simply refuses to consider or reexamine his options and stances once he has handed in his homework, who knows?
What is clear today, however, is that the American people have emphatically exercised their Constitutional right to CHANGE THE COURSE when selected leaders repeatedly turn a deaf ear to their concerns.
To everyone who felt so moved to make their voice heard yesterday, Welcome home!
Friday, September 15, 2006
Friday, September 15, 2006
An excerpt from the President's press conference in the Rose Garden today...
Bush: Now, the court said that you've got to live under Article 3 of the Geneva Convention. And the standards are so vague that our professionals won't be able to carry forward the program, because they don't want to be tried as war criminals. They don't want to break the law.
These professionals are decent, honorable citizens who are on the front line of protecting the American people. And they expect our government to give them clarity about what is right and what is wrong in the law. And that's what we have asked to do.
And we believe a good way to go is to use the amendment that we worked with John McCain on, called the Detainee Treatment Act, as the basis for clarity for people we would ask to question the enemy.
In other words, it is a way to bring U.S. law into play. It provides more clarity for our professionals. And that's what these people expect. These are decent citizens who don't want to break the law. Now, this idea that somehow, you know, we've got to live under international treaties, you know -- and that's fine; we do.
But oftentimes the United States government passes law to clarify obligations under international treaty.
And what I'm concerned about is if we don't do that, that it's very conceivable our professionals could be held to account based upon court decisions in other countries. And I don't believe Americans want that.
I believe Americans want us to protect the country, to have clear standards for our law enforcement, intelligence officers, and give them the tools necessary to protect us within the law.
It's an important debate. It really is. It's a debate that really is going to define whether or not we can protect ourselves. I will tell you this -- and I've spent a lot of time on this issue, as you can imagine. And I've talked to professionals, people I count on for advice. These are the people who are going to represent those on the front line protecting this country. They're not going forward with the program. They're professionals -- will not step up unless there's clarity in the law.
Now I wasn't at that press conference, but I don't think there's any doubt about the professionals Bush is trying so hard to protect...
Professional thugs who want free reign to torture detainees in secret prisons without due process.
Professional bullies who have no problem giving orders to subordinates on how to best "extract vital information" from prisoners of war...
Professional liars who will be called upon to defend in court the actions of the aforementioned professionals if and when they are accused of war crimes.
Because in reality, the Bush professionals have shown they have a robust appettite for breaking the law and flaunting the internationally accepted tenets of the Geneva Convention.... but God forbid they should be held accountable or tried and punished for their actions.
If Congress buckles and passes the (un)law Bush has drafted that gives Rummy and the CIA free reign over how detainees are interrogated, Congress is signing the death warrants of every American citizen or soldier who is captured on foreign soil tomorrow, and for all the tomorrows thereafter.
And not surprisingly, Bush, with the help of his army of professionals, has once again employed the rhetoric of fear and the spectre of September 11, 2001 to bully Congress and the American people, and suborn the American justice system, to push us closer to Armaggedon.
God help us.
PEACE -- HeartSleeve
Monday, August 28, 2006
MY KARMA RAN OVER MY DOGMA
It is no secret that the Catholic Church (MY church, or so I thought) frowns upon homosexuality, stem cell research, same sex marriage, freedom of choice and any number of other issues that I either espouse, practice or agree with. But up until Sunday, I always felt welcome at Sunday Mass.
Apparently, there is a new associate pastor at St. Ann's in Bethany, a young man who has decided to lead with his chin when he gives his sermons. To paraphrase his intro to this Sunday's sermon, he decided he "wasn't going to go near the gospel passage that entreated wives to obey and be subordinate to their husbands" -- "not with a 10-foot pole." That got a chuckle from the parishioners. Nope. He decided instead to lash out against the inherent immorality of gays, stem cell research and same sex marriage. And he cautioned that anyone who supported any of those activities was not welcomed in the Catholic Church. Never before have I felt so insulted, offended and enraged, all in the space of less than 60 seconds. "Welcome to Catholicism."
I guess, given his audience of mostly middle aged, white married couples, he figured it would be safer to single out those of us who belong to the fringe element. It rather reminded me of Senator George Allen's recent oafish remarks to a young opposition researcher of Indian descent who invaded Allen's campaign event in rural south western Virginia: "Welcome to America, Maccaca."
What irks me most today, 36 hours later, is that I have chosen to remain a catholic, despite the overwhelming exhortations of friends, because my Bowie pastor assured me a year ago when I returned to Mass after a 30-year absence, that I shouldn't let the fact that I am gay stand between me and my God. Seems the Bethany priest didn't get that memo, because he certainly doesn't operate with the same degree of tolerance or compassion I found in Maryland. I feel like a gauntlet has been thrown down, and I must summon up the courage to address it, spiritually and then literally, to the St. Ann's pastor.
TO BOAT OR NOT TO BOAT,
THAT IS THE QUESTION...
Having faced that slap of cold reality on Sunday, I decided to come to grips with another issue I have been putting off. In what will seem like the mother of all non-sequiturs, I turned my attention to my boat. Since early May of this year, it has been sitting idle in the slip I purchased for it last Spring... a $25,000 investment moored to a $30,000 hunk of floating real estate.
I intended to name my boat "Baramula East" in homage to a long-ago Mendocino vacation cottage that was sublimely idyllic. In hindsight, I should have cut to the chase and named it "Bucklew's Folly," because it represents the most outrageous example of impulse buying I have committed in all my 56 years. It also represents a time in my life when luxury boat-buying was only one of the several questionable decisions I made.
So this morning I made the decision to cut my losses -- at least my material losses -- and put the boat (if not the slip) up for sail.. er, sale. What is true is that my life has careened in many different directions since May 2002, and the solitary confines of boating solo no longer holds the charm it once held. And I never guessed it would be so difficult replacing my "First Mate."
NEW CHALLENGES (or) "When God closes a door, He opens a window."
Exit boating, enter GOLF. When I embrace a new interest, whether it is a new hobby or a new skill, I throw myself into it 300 percent. It was true 20 years ago when I got interested in wine, it was true 10 years ago when digital photography first delighted and amazed me, it was true five years ago when boating consumed me, and it is true today, as I embark on a new passion, thirsty to learn all that is required to be respectable in playing a game of golf.
Perspective is everything, and for me, at this stage and age in my life, finding something that inflames my passion for learning a new skill, especially one that relies as heavily on physical prowess as it does mental focus, is absolutely a GODSEND. It is juicy and delicious and humbling and enthralling and oh so beautiful in the morning when the fog has just lifted and the dew is still heavy on the ground. And it is practiced in graceful, bucolic surroundings offering the most magnificent vistas. Almost like an outdoor cathedral.
I am into my second year in retirement, and this new obsession couldn't have arrived at a more opportune time in my life. I have the time, the resources and the incentive, not to mention a gazillion opportunities, to study the rudiments of the game, take practical instruction, practice what I learn and put it all together on any number of fine local golf courses.
And unlike boating, where it was next to impossible to meld schedules with anyone who might join me on the high seas, golf has expanded my social circle and given me an open door to a pasttime that I can enjoy well into my dottage. It is something I can enjoy in solitude, on the driving or practice ranges, and it is a team sport that welcomes participants at all skill levels. What's not to love about that! And almost every woman I know plays golf!!!!!!
Surely the most gratifying aspect thus far for me is that with a modicum of weekly golf clinics and due diligence on the driving/practice range, I have gotten good enough in a mere six weeks to post a respectable round of 80 on the scoreboard after 18 holes at a local course. The magic of golf is that no matter how many humbling stinkers I hit, there are those pocketful of lucky shots that just light my hair on fire when I hear that coveted "ping" of club face squarely meeting the ball.
Maybe it is just summertime or a new era, but life has gotten more social lately and my community of friends is slowly but surely widening. In the past six or seven months, through the wonders of online social networks, chance meetings, new hobbies or full moons, I've met many new friends and enjoyed a more robust social life than I did my first summer here as a Delawarean. And what is true, is that no matter how much I enjoy my "life of the mind" perched here at the computer or bent over an art or photo project, nothing takes the place of personal interaction: making someone smile, sharing a meal, engaged in friendly competition or sharing a heart to heart talk.
ISN'T IT MORONIC (Sad but true headlines)
* Tom Cruise and Paramount parting ways... YAWN...
* John Mark Karr -- Your 15 minutes is over...
* Bush celebrates Katrina anniversary... PUHLEEESE!
* "Morning After Pill" finally given the green light -- eight years after the launch of Viagra...Enough for tonight...
Sunday, August 13, 2006
(Go on and take the bait, Mare!)
WHO ELSE MIGHT I HAVE BEEN?
I'm tempted to go totally "Walter Mitty" here, skydiving like the Red Baron and pirouetting like Ballanchine through alter-ego lives full of derring-do and romance, but the truth is, I'm mostly smitten with the me that is...
Who I am is mostly a result of the choices I've made in my life, and less so the result of external forces, at least, that's the way I see it.
My parents assumed I would graduate from public high school and GET A J*O*B. But I've never been one to jump into anything without a little research, and I didn't expect anyone would hire an 18 year old high school graduate to play sandlot baseball, write melodramatic poetry to the light of the moon or crack jokes, and those were the main skill sets I had acquired at 18.
So college beckoned despite my father's insistence that he wouldn't pony up the tuition so I should just GET A J*O*B!!!
I knew how to craft a sentence or two back then, so I wrote an essay, masquerading as a senatorial scholarship application, outlining my suitability for higher education and my total lack of financial resources. A brash young state senator from Maryland, who is now the House Democratic Whip in the US House of Representatives, liked what he read and decided to take a $250 a semester chance on me to attend Frostburg State College.
So that choice, to go to college, detoured me from what might have been a more traditional (back then) path of high school, job, marriage, kids, divorce.
When a teaching job didn't materialize upon graduation from college, I GOT A J*O*B working for an international freight forwarding company in DC for the summer, thanks to a high school friend who was working there full time. On a lark, having shipped tons of household goods all across the planet, I applied for a Peace Corps teaching job in Western Samoa, never for a minute thinking they would seriously consider me.
Must have been another craftily worded essay, because a month or so later, a large manila envelope arrived from the Department of State/Peace Corps, inviting me to an orientation in Chicago that November, where they would interview me and psychoanalyze me and grill me and test me within an inch of my 23 year old life, to see if I was suitable Peace Corps material.
So off I went, for two years in James Michener's South Pacific, looking for remnants of Margaret Meade and finding instead a descendant of Bloody Mary... it wasn't Bali Hi by any means, but neither was it Capitol Heights, Maryland, the small town from which I hailed.
I had never seen poverty and wealth juxtaposed so closely as I did during my two years in the Peace Corps. Funny thing was, the Samoans didn't consider themselves poor or impoverished, and were in fact some of the most generous and genuinely hospitable folks I've come across, before or since. I learned more about myself than I taught over the course of those two years:
- Sexuality is a fluid and often confusing endeavor.
- Teaching kids is fun - hassling with school administrators is hell.
- Abundance and scarcity are in the eyes of the beholder.
- Grading papers for the rest of my life was not for me.
A lucky internship with the Department of the Army resulted in the government paying for my Master's degree in Communications, and I parlayed that degree and those wonderfully useful skills and abilities into a lifetime of writing for various government transportation agencies. In the bargain, my employers sent me hither and yon around the globe, interviewing soldiers, photographing cargo ships being loaded with ammunition for mock military battles in Europe, and generally chronicaling the lives of ordinary folks doing often extraordinary feats.
Now that I am retired, once again I have the opportunity and the means, within reason, to be someone other than who I am... but the fact is, whether I'm a cat burglar or a science fiction writer, I'd still be who and what I am:
56. Female. Daughter. Sister. Aunt. Niece. Friend. Blessed.
Monday, April 17, 2006
For the three people on the planet who haven't heard, Scientologists believe that the birthing room should be SILENT... not merely devoid of the idle chatter from family members getting it all down on video-tape, or husbandly exhortations to breathe, or the errant epithets of mass destruction being hurled by the new Mother who decided against an epidural, but also of most of the instructions of the doctors and nurses in attendance.
Never having given birth, I am grossly ignorant as to the efficacy of this decision, but I think it has definite possibilities in other medical scenarios.
For instance, I am seriously considering becoming a Scientologist in time for my next visit to the dentist! I've never met a dental hygienist who didn't insist on engaging me in a spirited Q&A while having her hands in my mouth up to her elbow, as I am doing my best not to choke on the plaque she is chipping off my teeth or sucking the detritus out of my mouth with her trusty waterpic... invoking silence in that situation definitely has its merits!
And I am so "there" with Tom and Katie the next time I am flat on my back looking at my gynecologist thru the stirrups craddling my knees, while she chats amiably about the little "pinch" I might feel as she aims the speculum toward my throat! Silencio!
I can't wait to announce my conversion to Scientology when I schedule my next mammogram! Gone will be the useless instruction to "hold my breath" for 30 seconds while my left or right breast is being pancaked in a steel vise, automatically inhibiting the ability to breathe, much less the desire to do so!
I can see other venues where being a Scientologist and insisting on SILENCE would come in handy:
- movie theaters (no more side conversations, especially the ones that give away the plot!)
- subway cars (ah, reading or snoozing without the cacophony of idle chatter, cell phone conversations or Bubba's music choice)
- elevators (let's deep-six MUZAK's rendition of Mantiovanni's Greatest Hits!)
Yes, Tom and Katie may be on to something!
Monday, March 13, 2006
Only time will tell if this heading should have been, "be careful what you ask for," but I pondered part-time employment several times over the last two or three weeks, and on my first attempt, God slapped a green Giant polo on me and said, "grab your apron and get to it!"
Eventually, after my OJT is completed in about a week or two, I'll be recruited to get the not-yet-open-for-business Giant ready for its first customers -- it is opening on April 20 less than a mile from my house, and that lack of distance was what drew me to Giant as opposed to higher paying jobs farther away in Rehoboth. I've always been tantalized by the prospect of working 5 minutes from home, and -- VOILA! -- here we go!
I am hoping this new "prototype" Giant will afford me the option of suggesting wine pairings along with the gourmet meats, cheeses, breads and olives that will be our mainstay. That would get me a step closer to a dream job that involves the marriage of food and wine in any capacity. And I am amazed at how quickly this entire experience went from 'thought in my head' to 'reality.'
So what this experience has once again taught me is this: God is still listening!
Saturday, March 04, 2006
Spring cannot get here fast enough.
I am smoking too many cigarettes (one is too many).
I am spending too much unproductive time sitting in this seat, staring at this screen and finding frivolous time wasters to justify my current existence.
I am outspending my monthly retirement check by about a grand or more a month.
I am sick and tired of beautiful blue sky days that invite me outdoors, but are still too damn windy and cold to spend more than a few minutes outside.
I am puzzled and frustrated by my inability to hold more than a simple thought in my head for more than a nanosecond, which makes it impossible to pen anything of substance.
I want to go home. (Newsflash: I AM HOME).
Friday, November 25, 2005
In '55, I came to be
A GS-12 in OCE.
'Twas a fearful place
In those days of yore,
With Fanflicks, Berges and many more.
A crew of tyrants was what they were
And if you erred, you got what fer.
The work was tough, the days were stressed
But through it all, the days were blessed
With the constant presence of a brassy dame;
Insolent, engaging, precocious and game;
Who finished her work, and others' as well,
And with it all, was as funny as hell.
She brightened our days with comments witty,
Malaprops, jingles and a poetic ditty.
The years have flown by
(Where have they sped??)
But through them all
There runs a thread
Of a bright little lady
So thoughtful and sweet
That to have worked with her
Has sure been a treat.
To you, dear Nora,
Much has been owed
By all of us,
So we sing you this ode.
May God bless you and
Keep you through all of your days.
A happy retirement and
Let nothing you faze.
We love you, will miss you
In the days ahead
Please don't forget us
Wherever you tread.
-- William J. Cronin
September 23, 1983
Reprinted today on what would have been Mom's 80th birthday.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AND HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
On Friday, November 25, Mom would have been 80 years old. And she'd have made one fantastically saucy octogenarian!
We always celebrated Mom's birthday on Thanksgiving, since it fell on or near the day that the Bucklews, like families all across America, gather 'round the kitchen and the dining room to celebrate the simple joys of family, fun, fellowship, food and -- did I say family?
Mom was all about family. Maybe it was because she lost her own Mother when she was just four and her father by the time she was 18. Maybe it was because she was raised by her older sisters and brothers, and had a kinescope of hilarious but bittersweet memories of growing up as one of eight kids in a crazy-quilt depression-era environment. Whatever the root cause, Mom was adamant that holidays (and for that matter, weekends, evenings and lunch hours) were meant to be spent in the company of your Mother!
What each of her four kids wouldn't give today if we could summon the powers of Heaven and once again share Thanksgiving Dinner with Mom!
Since that isn't possible, I will give thanks for the 73 years, seven months and 15 days she spent here on earth, and let anyone who happens upon this cyberjournal see why she was so well loved and is so perpetually missed.
Mom was all things to all people... Mother, grandmother, sister, friend, neighbor, co-worker, and second mother to many of the kids from the old neighborhood. Her passion, generosity and courage spilled over onto everyone she met. And Mom was a woman of many passions. She was passionate about her family, her kids and later her grand children. Growing up, she called us her four little diamonds. Our friends growing up I am sure saw her as a safe haven and a generous spirit.
Working with lawyers all day ignited Mom’s passion for words and language, and she instilled that same passion in her kids. She loved writing outrageously funny letters to family and friends, and she loved crafting her little ditties, as she called them, to mark important milestones for her office colleagues. She took great pride in being a secretary for the Corps of Engineers and she reveled in the lightening speed with which she could take dictation or dress up a letter.
She loved clothes but she was FRUGAL FANNY before it became the rage. She could scout out a designer outfit at Purple Heart and Good Will for a quarter, that she could then pair up with another passion of hers, sexy open-toed Amalfi sling backs.
She had a sweet tooth, and a weakness for Fannie May candy, and later Godiva and Mrs. Sees. And although Mom wasn’t much of a drinker, she loved her afternoon bottle of Miller High Life. In fact, when she retired from the Corps of Engineers in 1983, she listed as her reason for leaving: It’s Miller Time. She knew how to make an exit.
She loved playing bingo and working the daily crossword puzzle, and upon retirement, one of her greatest luxuries was reading the Washington Post every morning from cover to cover with her morning cup of Maxwell House.
She was also a woman who appreciated the seasons. She loved tending her flower beds and vegetable plants in the Spring and early summer. She loved canning tomatoes and freezing peaches despite the effort and time it took, because of the rewards they delivered as summer gave way to fall and winter. And at Christmas and holidays, she loved baking fruitcakes and her world-famous toll house and oatmeal raisin cookies.
Mom sorely regretted her lack of a college degree, so she made sure her four kids all went to college. She had a life-long passion for learning new things, and she was brilliant at teaching us through memorable if slightly unorthodox methods! Growing up as we did before the age of computers, I remember spending evenings with Mom grilling us on vocabulary words from Readers' Digest, making us memorize and recite the 50 states, state capitals, the U.S. presidents -- any arcane factoid that would serve to sharpen our young eager minds.
She was up to her old tricks 25 years later when her three grand children came along, with a slightly diff spin... they usually earned a buck or two in the bargain. She really delighted in spending time alone with Matt, Ben and Chelsea. Mom would sit patiently for hours as Chelsea the toddler gave her a complete make-over -- curled and fixed Mom's hair, applied make-up, filed her nails ... not sure who enjoyed that more, Mom or Chelsea!
Mom also was a frequent customer of "Ben’s Best Back Massages." He would take his strong little hands and knead her back and neck muscles, with Mother cooing and ahhhing with every twinge.
With Matt, who was the oldest of the three, she played word games and sparred with him over the card table, teaching him card games and reveling in his quick mind and precocious demeanor.
She treated neighborhood kids no different from her brood of four or her grandkids, and well into retirement, she could be found holding court with a gaggle of little ones swarming her porch and doing little odd jobs to earn cookies, fruit and homemade treats. What I wouldn't give to turn back the clock and sit quietly on that porch step, watching her in action!
Tomorrow, when my family gathers at my younger sister Lynn's house to celebrate Thanksgiving, we will honor Mom by doing what she would have insisted we do, were she here: eat too much, laugh often, share funny family stories, speak by phone with any family members who couldn't be with us, and give thanks that Mom's traditions are alive and well!
HAPPY 80TH BIRTHDAY AND
HAPPY THANKSGIVING, MOM!
Friday, November 18, 2005
A cliche' that happens to be true right now in my yard as well as my life.
After months of playing novice gardener and nurturing the myriad flowers, trees and shrubs that decorate and enrich my outdoor landscape, I turned my attention this Fall to my yard -- an ugly abundance of weeds, crabgrass, wiregrass, dandelions and chickweed set against a backdrop of patchy barren brown dirt. Fescue is definitely not my middle name!
The lawn service guys finally arrived on Halloween, dutifully core aerated the ground and then sent bag upon bag of grass seed spewing in every direction, and then disappeared, cautioning me to "water every day, Ma'am, if you want it to grow."
Of course, since "Murphy" is never far from most of my endeavors, we settled into a long dry spell here in Lower Slower Delaware, so I was once again busy every day with sprinklers, hoses and wet feet. The water meter spun like a top as I kept the ground bog-like in hopes of reversing the effects of five years of benign neglect, thanks to the previous owners of 9 Gracelyn.
Jera is the ancient rune of Harvest. It suggests beneficial outcomes but cautions that no quick outcomes can be expected. Plant, cultivate, tend... and be patient. So I watered and waited, despite the fact that PATIENCE has never been one of my virtues.
After three weeks that seems more like three years, brown masses of crab and wire grass still greatly outnumber the small verdant patches of new grass. And I am still clueless why some seeds that showed such promise and hope for new life, nevertheless were choked out by the encroaching weeds. Lessons learned...?
In love as well as lawn maintenance, either because of or despite my clumsy but well-intentioned efforts, some seeds fall on stones and blow away, some seeds initially take shaky root but eventually wither and die, and some seeds, thankfully, find fertile soil and fight their way upwards toward the sun.
This morning, in the bright sunlight, new growth is evident all across the yard, and even as the days grow shorter and the lengthening darkness heralds a time of hibernation, my heart is a little lighter as I reflect and await the natural cycle of rebirth.