Saturday, November 19, 2005

My Mom

My mom has the Fickle Finger of Fate, which she inherited from her mother. I suppose there’s a pretty good chance that it was passed down the maternal line for several generations before it made its way into my home. And no, it’s not THAT finger!

You might know what I’m talking about; it’s the finger that wags in the air while some truth, ultimatum or homily is being delivered. With one finger, along with some precious one liners, Mom controlled my behavior very effectively.

When I struggled against eating the crust on the edges of the bread, Mom very seriously told me, finger in action, “Oh, you have to eat the crust; it makes your hair curly.” I took two messages from this:

1.Bread crust has magical, medicinal qualities
2.Curly hair is good

I soon began seeking out the end pieces to eat, looking for more crust. And to this day I long for curly hair. (Ironically, my sister, with her lovely natural curls, has always straightened her hair. Wonder if Mom was somehow behind that development?)

When mom suspected that a fib was in play, she’d whip out the finger and ask, "Now is that a true lie or a false lie?” Stymied, I’d give up and confess. OK, I admit it, I was an easy mark. I suppose deep down I just wanted to tell the truth.

As I got a little bit older and started to rebel a little bit against the true lie/false lie double bind, she added, “Tell the truth and spite the devil!” Our home was by no means a place of hellfire and brimstone, but I was an imaginative tot, so this was another very effective ploy. I saw myself as striking a blow for truth, justice and the American Way simply by being truthful. Little children everywhere were the front line against evil.

Mom reinforced truth-telling by making it clear that I’d always be better off if she found out about bad behavior directly from me rather than finding out on her own. I learned to confess quickly and get it over with. And I still tell on myself today, though not necessarily to Mom. In the long run, this trait not only kept me out of trouble as a kid, but has become the foundation for a good marriage. The Fickle Finger of Fate dealt me a good hand.

I’m not sure just how it happened, but the Fickle Finger of Fate seems to have skipped a generation in our family. Neither of my siblings has it, and I don’t have it either, but Mom continues to employ it regularly, so there is still the possibility that he next generation will take up the tradition.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Be Careful Out There!

I’d like to extend a very special thank you to all of the folks who left huge piles of leaves along the shoulder of the street where I live. They provided me with a challenging opportunity to display evasive driving maneuvers this evening when I had to yield to emergency vehicles, which were speeding to the scene of a very serious accident ahead.

How do I know this was a very serious accident? Because every fire truck for a ten mile radius showed up. I should point out that there was no visible fire when I passed the scene, but the trucks continued to stream in. More were arriving as I got off of the road and safely made it into my driveway (no thanks to the efforts of local emergency personnel, or to my husband, who had the driveway blocked when I got there). All of those fire trucks, a couple of ambulances and a police car or two, and NOBODY WAS DIRECTING TRAFFIC around this chaotic, poorly lit site.

All cynicism aside, this looked like a bad accident, and my thoughts are with the folks involved. There aren’t too many accidents on this road, but when they happen they are often deadly. People just go too fast, and they don’t show any consideration for those who are waiting to make turns. They seem to be annoyed when they have to slow down for a car turning into a driveway. This is totally asinine because it’s never a very long wait. It mostly requires a brief slow down. But heaven forbid that they would have to show courtesy to someone else.

I guess I’m especially annoyed by this because my nephew had a very serious accident last winter on his way to work. He had started a new job several months before, and he loved it, but he can’t do that job anymore. He was waiting to make a turn that morning, not two weeks after Christmas, when someone rear-ended him and pushed his vehicle into oncoming traffic. Sadly, tragically, he was not in his new F-350 pickup, which was in for service. He was in an older, smaller Toyota pickup. 12 hours of surgery, 4 months of in-patient rehab (wearing a clamshell), and 1 new wheelchair later, he is still fighting to regain the ability to walk.

I’m sure that the person who hit him didn’t mean to do it, and he has to live with the knowledge that he caused this much harm to another human being. That thought would drive me crazy, and I mean that quite literally. Not one of us can say that we haven’t had a momentary lapse while driving that had the potential to be disastrous. But the long term impact can be so very serious, so life-altering, that we need to take care, both with our own lives and with the lives of others. So be careful out there, OK?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Last evening, I found myself compelled to gaze at the full moon. It was beautiful, surrounded as it was by a colorful ring of light, and with clouds passing across its face. I took some woefully inadequate pictures with my digicam - this is just about the best of them:

Later, my husband, moved by the same compulsion to gaze at the moon, pulled the telescope out of its dusty corner and set it up. The following pics were taken with the digicam through the telescope in my back yard.

I'll have to get some batteries for my 35 mm SLR. I'd love to see what it can do with this kind of a shot!

Monday, November 14, 2005

What Divides Us

I was just about to start writing about the things that unite us as Americans. I'm so very tired of the Great Divide between left-leaning and right-leaning Americans. Even those of us who tend to be centrist have found ourselves being shoved rudely toward one or another of the political poles by the hatred and invective expressed by our so-called leaders.

I sat down to type, planning to consider how we might go about healing the animosity, how we might begin to open up the dialogue between the two sides. It was in my mind that we must start with the things that we agree about. Surely there is far more to agree upon than there is to quarrel about. Surely?

As I began to log on to Blogger, the president came onto the TV screen, broadcast live from Alaska. With his face beet red, tension in its every line, he began a tirade, a veritable diatribe, attacking the Democratic party and accusing them of,"playing politics," with the issues surrounding the Iraq war.

The president used the Rovian technique of calling my party "The Democrat Party," with the practiced sneer in his voice that always accompanies the words. The not-so-subtle implication is that Democrats can't possibly be Democratic. The extreme right wing says Democrat like they want to say Democrap. I'm fighting the desire right now to start calling them Repulsicans. Name-calling only feeds the fire of hatred in the long run. The reason for an argument may long be forgotten, but an unfortunate name hurled during the fray can hurt forever. Unfortunately, this seems to be the point of the technique for the White House, not just a sorry by-product. They seem to want to cause long-term, irreparable harm.

My stomach turned as the president spoke, and I could no longer see the things that unite us. The rift is too great right now, and the things that divide us are looming too large too see past them.

I don't expect everyone to share my values and my political views. I don't expect a president I didn't vote for to represent my position. But I long to return to a day when we Americans showed some basic courtesy to one another. I want to feel pride in my president's bearing. I would like to respect my president, but, Mr. President, I cannot respect you. You are what divides us. You are the trouble with the United States of America today. When you sneer at the Democrats you sneer at me. In fact, you sneer at close to half of the country. I feel that I am personally insulted by my president on a regular basis.

This is what I ask: please assume the mantle of a true leader. Please stop the hatred. Yes, I know that both sides have to back off, but YOU FIRST. You're the president: act like it. And send Karl Rove back to the sandbox to kick sand in the faces of the other kids. That behavior doesn't belong in the White House.