Thursday, May 28, 2009

Together At Last

See these little tiny teapots? A few years ago I bought them for fun because they were on sale and so cute. But I have really never used them so they just sat in my trinkets cupboard. As we were cleaning out the basement over spring break I came across them again and in a bold move decided to cut my losses and give them to the camp garage sale. A noble offering.

At the first day of the garage sale, what should I spy but these placemats which PERFECTLY matched my little teapots, right down to the asparagus! So I quickly snapped up the placemats and went to look for my teapots to buy back. I searched under, around and through the tables piled high with clutter. I couldn't find them. I asked the women in charge: no one remembered them. My friend Diane, working at the sale, told people I would buy dinner for anyone who found them. Nothing. Nada. Everyone searched. Notes were left at the cashier's desk not to sell them.

So I came home with 3 placemats that I didn't want or need except to go with 5 teapots I didn't have.

A few days later what should I find in the basement squirreled away but my 5 teapots! Apparently in my ambivalence about giving them up I had culled them back out of the give-away box and guiltily repressed the memory! So there they were...or almost.

One of the teaPOTS is missing. I have the lid, but no pot. How could this be?

Now I have 3 placemats and 41/2 teapots for display, and a strong concern that I may be losing my mind.

Show and Tell

Sunday, May 24, 2009

More Memorial Day Thoughts and Pix

First, some pictures from my friend Janis' house. She really loves to celebrate with decorations. You should see her Christmas collections (and maybe you will =)!

Can you believe she put a fake pie out at my birthday lunch? Isn't that a tease!

Thank You, Janis, for your delightful spirit and sharing.

I really appreciate the comments from all on my last blog concerning the flag. (It is not at all limited to Americans, Gilly; your own country's flag history and meaning is very interesting. Comments from the Provinces are welcome as well.)

I have just noted over time how our "manners" concerning the flag have changed. Perhaps because of 2 very unpopular wars we have become more shaken within our country, whereas with WWII people's hearts and minds were more united against the atrocities in Europe and Japan. There was a reverence for country that our younger generations don't seem to have. (How do we teach that?) I don't know if we'll ever see those days again. (I hope I'm not going to sound like one of the old-timers who say, "Back in the good old days, we......")

I want to correct any false impression I gave of the individuals with differing opinions at our family dinner discussion. True, one side of the family has had time in the military partly out of a sense responsibility and partly to earn higher education or economic stability. But I have a brother who is a pacifist and worked intentionally to defend those views before a court during the Vietnam era. He did alternative service which also took a toll, and I admire him for his dedication to his convictions which have been life-long. Another nephew has been serving with a peace-keeping group in Iraq and Palestine, walking school children to their schools and homes, carrying not guns but cameras as their weapons of truth.

I myself hate war. Who in their right mind doesn't? Who would want to destroy another human being who is following his military leader's commands just as well. I wrote a poem about the insensible things that divide us this spring, see Brother to Brother,. There are some things worth going to war for but not as many as we think. I refer to the ethnic cleansings in Africa and even the gang wars right here at home. What are we thinking? The essence of true religion is to love one another.

I have profited from the sacrifices of so many who have gone before, both leading our country and following, too, out of respect for the governing principles. I am so appreciative of those who not only gave their lives or have served in the military but also those who serve sacrificially to be strong honest employees and hard workers for our government's sake. THANK YOU!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Flag: concerning patriotism, nationalism, and symbolism

As a kid, I remember people putting their hands over their hearts when the flag passed by. Some saluted it. We stood to say the Pledge of Allegiance everyday at school. We often sang My Country, 'Tis of Thee along with it.

The post office and schools and federal buildings always had flags flying, identifying them as public buildings. It used to be rare for a flag to be flown at half staff, only symbolizing the death of a president, but nowadays it is frequently at half staff for the death of a US soldier in the Middle East.

However, by the late 1960's a flag decal on a car's rear window was as good as a “Red Neck” stamp. Somehow the flag had come to mean a hawkish, predatory political stance as well as the logo for general ignorance, prejudice and bluster. The peace symbol, a pie-in-circle designed in 1958 in Britain for the nuclear disarmament movement, symbolized intellectual liberals, anti-war politics, and a laissez-faire hippie languidity. The flag and the peace symbol were at war.

In the 1980's, the flag came out of the closet once again, flying huge and high over the Burger King chain. The awesome sight from the freeway of the red, white and blue proudly waving on a 60' pole was the trigger for children to cry out for a Kid's Meal. Hamburgers became visually linked with the flag, hot apple pies (in a paper wrapper, make that “to go”) and Mom behind the wheel. The flag was a marketing tool.

On the day that stunned America, September 11, 2001, the American flag quickly rose as a rallying cry for love of country. Hardware stores and Costco couldn't meet the demand of consumers. Car antennae held flags, work trucks boasted flags, young men had them flying high from their big wheel trucks. Neighborhoods were full of flags hung from a standard or in the windows. There was a unity in the spirit of business people, neighbors, and strangers on the road: “We love our country. We're hurt, we're shocked, but we have something special and no one can take that away from us.” The intensity of the inward feeling compelled the outward expression of the flag as a meaningful bond with others.

Then, slowly, came the shame. The war lingered. American youngsters were killed in a war whose support was welshing. The original offense against our country on 9-11 receded as our wartime acts became less defensible. New reports that original intelligence was faulty quelled the fervor of pay-back. Now to be flag-waving was a political liability, a right-wing conservatism, a blind but loyal Republicanism that others mocked. Flag stickers came off cars but yellow “Support Our Troops” stickers emerged to mediate between the intemperate “pull out now” gang and the loyal '”my country right or wrong” crowd.

Can a person be a Democrat and have a flag decal on his car?
Can a Republican have a peace symbol?
Can you have a flag and a peace symbol, both?
Can you be peace-loving and patriotic?
Can you be patriotic without being nationalistic?
Can we have a global mentality and home-grown pride?

A while back at a family gathering we had a rather heated discussion that was left unresolved. Some of the family members fought in WWII, Vietnam, and served in peacetime, too. The flag is a meaningful symbol to them of all the best foundational principles that made America. Freedom.

And then we have some who feel that the flag has no place in a church: ie, Christ didn't just die for Americans, did he? They think that if we have a flag of one country flying we should have one of every country.

A year ago for either Memorial Day or July 4th Independence Day I made a piano medley of patriotic hymns for special music at our church. So as to be clear on the purpose of the message, gratitude to and dependence on God, not “Manifest Destiny”, I included the words of selected verses in the bulletin:

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord

Thy love divine hath led us in the past,
In this free land by Thee our lot is cast;
Be Thou our Ruler, Guardian, Guide, and Stay,
Thy Word our law, Thy paths our chosen way.
From war's alarms, from deadly pestilence,
Be Thy strong arm our eversure defense;
Thy true religion in our heart's increase,
Thy bounteous goodness nourish us in peace.

Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bids the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep:
O hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea

My Country, 'Tis of Thee
Our father's God, to Thee, Author of liberty, To Thee we sing:
Long may our land be bright With freedom's holy light;
Protect us by Thy might, Great God, our King!

America, the Beautiful
O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved, And mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness and every gain divine!

O thus be it ever, when free men shall stand Between their loved homes and the war's desolation! Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation! Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just; And this be our motto; “In God is our trust!” And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free, while God is marching on

Well, our worship leader had the feeling that patriotic songs did't belong in the service because God isn't an American and we don't worship America: we worship God. I surely agree but felt misunderstood. I am thankful for God's many provisions to me personally and to this land, including the governing principles that allow me my freedom. I do not feel superior to other nationalities or that I have done any more to earn these privileges than being born here. I am just grateful for the many blessings.

Immediately after 9-11, a preponderance of cars had signs in their windows: “Proud to be an American”. This struck a wrong note with me. I thought the sign, if any, should say “Grateful to be an American.”

We attended a church service in Tunisia on a Sunday when they were celebrating Nigerian Independence Day. The Nigerians were dressed in traditional finery, and they sang and danced Nigerian songs and thanked God for the rich national resources that He had given to the land and people. There were heartfelt prayers for the leaders of their government to do their best in managing those rich resources. It was a beautiful time of blending love for country and love for God in proper perspective, and I thought it was very appropriate in a Tunisian church as an American to thank God and pray for Nigeria.

Yes, I think you can be patriotic, grateful and still have a global world view.

I would love for this to become a forum for your views, too, on the flag, patriotism, globalism, etc. My thoughts are still developing and I welcome yours.

A Poem for Memorial Day, and Everyday

Brother to brother

Man to man

in combat

against their own


See the face in the mirror?

That is you, my brother

in South Africa

my Hutu brother,

my Tutsi brother.

See your face in my mirror?

Between the barbed wire

I see you

my Greek brother

my Cypriot brother.

Children who walked

step by step

now stand

fist to fist.

Facing one another,

reflecting each other


across a line

only irrational love

can see to cross.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

For Mother's Day

I am blessed to have had a wonderful Mom. I would like to honor her by showing some pictures of her during her child-rearing years. Thank you, Mom, for everything.

An Easter Sunday

We're a little older now...

Summer vacations for who?

Road Tripping in Style

In Elizabeth Park, Hartford, CT

A brave mom to face the Neskowin waters with us

...and the calmer East Coast waters

She loved to read to us

And she was the queen of Paper Chain Making

Happy Mother's Day, Mom! What a gift you are!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Tales from Tunisia

Last October, 2008, we had an amazing trip to see our daughter who is teaching school in Tunis, Tunisia. The real purpose was to meet the young man who had won her heart. He won ours, too, and they now plan a July wedding. (Our trip also included 5 marvelous days in Paris staying with a delightful young couple. The young woman had been an exchange student in our home a few years ago, but that is the subject of a different blog!)
Lindsay and Arthur had all kinds of activities planned for us, from seeing Roman ruins to shopping in the bazaars in Hammamet and Nabeul. It is there that our story takes us... Lindsay and I shopped tirelessly. My strategy was to look over everything once and then go back for the treasures I wanted most. We looked at fabrics, tiles, pottery, jewelry. But the men folk weren't so hardy. Ron found a place to hide from the sun in the shelter of a shopkeeper who was a George Foreman afficiando and thought that all Americans would be. (Ron allowed him his illusions for the shade).
Meanwhile Arthur was flagging and Lindsay warned that if we wanted to have a fun evening it was time to quit shopping! It's good to know your man.
So we hurried away leaving behind treasures because of my indecisiveness!

Fast forward to March, 2009. Emily and John went to visit their sister and her fiance in Tunis. Guess what the 2 couples sent home to me! A pierced bowl just like the one I had admired months before. Isn't it beautiful, and aren't I a lucky mom, to have such great kids? It's so pretty with the pears in it, I hated to eat them.
I love it and my kids too!

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Show and Tell

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Oregon Coast Refresher

I just got back from a 3 day retreat at the Oregon Coast with a group of women from my church. It was really a good time although I always go into these wishing I could retreat by myself instead of in a group. People think I'm an extrovert but really I'm a socially active introvert who needs a little quiet space to recoup. Believe it or not. So I have pictures to show you, mostly taken this morning when I got up at 5:45 AM and snuck out for a beach walk by myself. (I just hate it that nowadays you have to think twice before going out alone on a walk...) But it was wonderful!

Remnant of a beach fire last night

Tide Pools

"Smocking" by God

Rainy Saturday, off and on

We made earrings as a craft

See Kelly's?

Worshipping together

Just a little cabin by the sea...(across the street from us)

Of course, it was beautifully sunny when it was time to go home, so we just couldn't bear to part...

I think I'll stay here a while...

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