Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter 2008

Easter was always a special time in our family. Back in the "old days" when Mom's four little urchins were still young, church gatherings were a large part of our family life.
Mom was a divorced woman who struggled financially to raise four children on wages that were tiny, even by 1940s and 1950s standards. Yes, we lived in poverty but didn't really know it. She saved up her pennies before Easter so her kids could have new shoes and clothes for church. This was not pride on her part, but an extension of the Easter message. Easter represents renewal, resurrection, new beginnings. So we all wore new clothes from the skin out on Easter to celebrate Christ's triumph over death. We all went to Easter services in patent leather shoes for the girls and brown oxfords for our brother. New socks, new underwear, new everything.
The celebration was not only spiritual. Mom enjoyed the secular aspects of Easter, too. We all had Easter baskets piled high with colored eggs and candy, little stuffed rabbits and chicks. She hid them around the house for us to find on Easter morning. But going to the old Methodist Church as a family, with Grandma and Grandpa beaming proudly beside us, was the essence of Easter for Mom and her brood.
Where did those days go? They lie buried in our memories today and we try to relive them every Easter. We gather as a family and still have Easter baskets, with one important difference. Mom is no longer here to share the day. Still, we are all the product of her nurturing and we haven't forgotten. HAPPY EASTER, MOM!! You still look beautiful in your Easter finery.

Friday, March 14, 2008

More random thoughts...

The last blog post prompted emails from pet rabbits, housecats, gerbils, and dogs. The respondees shared the same concerns about their masters as Missy and Mary Hoppins and wondered if the girls had any advice for politically crazed humans. Unfortunately, at the moment, no advice will be forthcoming because the girls are sleeping off their breakfast.

Tom Parker over at his Dispatches from Kansas blog and Eric Burton at his personal website blog at inspired me to think beyond the end of my nose this political season. Since I'm of an age where reminiscence is key to my concerns, here are my thoughts today:

One of the most famous TV commercials of all time debuted back in the early 1970s when Chief Iron Eyes Cody shed a tear for the environment. He paddled his canoe through heavily polluted streams, stood on dry land and looked at the litter scattered around him, and gazed at factory smokestacks in the distance belching smoke. That silent tear he shed at the awful mess this country had become spoke for a generation.

Today, 30-plus years later, not a lot has changed. Yes, civic groups have worked at cleaning litter off the roadsides and environmentalists have tried to impact lawmakers. New laws supposedly crack down on factories dumping toxic wastes into our atmosphere and water supplies, but all that did was encourage lawbreakers to figure out sneakier ways of dumping.

If that commercial could be remade today, instead of shedding that lone tear Cody would have to be weeping and wailing hysterically, throwing dirt and ashes on himself, chanting a death song. He could stand on a bluff in Minneapolis while the camera slowly pans to the collapsed bridge and crushed cars. Or he could visit that meat packing plant in California while sick cattle are tortured, killed, and processed into our food supply. He could walk potholed streets or highways, visit run down schools and ghettoes, visit homeless people by the thousands in their makeshift villages in urban alleys and under bridges. The opportunities for shedding tears are endless.

Whenever I see our politicians and presidential candidates talking about "change" I see Chief Iron Eyes Cody in my mind. That tear coursing slowly down his cheek represents questions no one asks our candidates. Such as, is it possible that the billions and trillions spent on war might have been better spent on renovating our country's infrastructure and ensuring a safe food and water supply? If it costs to much to repair bridges, roads, schools, to protect our food and water, why doesn't it cost too much to fund wars? If it's possible for presidential candidates to collect 50 million and 35 million in a week to fund campaigns, why isn't it possible to apply that fund raising ability to a higher purpose?

Iron Eyes Cody knew the answers to hard questions and so do I. Weep. Quietly weep.

Friday, March 07, 2008

A non-political animal speaks....

I like to be comfy so make a soft bed anywhere I find a likely spot. Mama says I'm getting old so guess that's why soft places appeal to me. Guess you might say I'm spoiled. I've always had a penchant for KFC. Chicken breasts are my favorite treat in the whole world.

My job description includes watching out the windows for birds and squirrels and hiding around corners waiting to ambush Mary Hoppins. Mary and I have been housemates for 13 years. She likes to play, but not with me. Mary's spoiled too. She only has three legs but you oughta see her run! Mary and I have to watch the house when Mama works. Daddy takes her to and from work sometimes. He says her nerves are too shot to drive. I'm not sure what that means, but we don't like it when both of them are gone.

Missy is the mean one and I'm the sweet one. I'm sure you can tell by looking how sweet I am. I like to lay with Daddy on the couch so he'll cover me up with the newspaper. My job description is to be Daddy's baby and to keep Missy in line. I'm the boss of this house, and Mama is the boss of me.

Missy and I get nervous when Mama or Daddy get upset. Lately we don't like it when they watch TV. They used to laugh while watching comedies, or quietly concentrate on crime shows. Now they watch something called CNN and you should hear Daddy cuss sometimes. Mama uses big words Missy and I don't understand and a tone of voice we don't like: "500 MILLION DOLLARS?? What an obscene waste of money on a political campaign!!" We don't know what that means but understand that "obscene" and "political campaign" must be something bad. Then Daddy grits his teeth and says, "That's bullshit!! Think what good that kind of money could do for the homeless or the equipment it would buy for soldiers in Iraq!! Those people should be ashamed of themselves!!"

Missy and I hide under the bed and wait for the coast to clear when Mama and Daddy watch CNN. Just as long as we get our tasty treats and good food to eat, I guess we'll be OK. We still have our soft beds and hiding places and clean litter boxes so life hasn't changed for us. Still, whatever this "political campaign" is, we can't wait for it to be over.

Missy's taking her bath and watching the snow. Guess I'll go take a nap. If anyone understands why Mama and Daddy get so upset about political campaigns, Missy and I would sure like to know.

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I enjoy good writing by writers and poets who are not famous. My mother said I was born a hundred years too late. The older I get, the more I realize how right she was.

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