Saturday, March 31, 2012

a day late

Yesterday, in honor of Melissa Lewis' one year cancer anniversary (typed that several ways and still can't find a way that doesn't sound odd or horrid), it was "eat ice cream for breakfast" day. I had mentioned it to my healthy-minded husband, who did smile, but wasn't for the idea. So I told him I was going to get up early and make biscuits and chocolate syrup (an Alabama special occasion breakfast dish), and that he could just eat the biscuit. I must have really been looking forward to it, because I dreamed about cooking biscuits ALL NIGHT LONG! I even woke up at 5am, but decided the biscuits would be cold if I made them that early, and by the time I got up, it was the normal no time to waste kind of morning. (I should add that we had a very late night Thursday.)  So on the way home from the many errands I had to run, which included the grocery store, I picked up some ice cream, the kind that mixes my favorite junk foods, and I had one this morning. It's a day late, but I think Melissa would understand.
So here's my celebration to life, and I hope all of us are still celebrating this way 50 years from now.

Friday, March 30, 2012

still shaking my head

This past Monday night we headed to Meredith college for the panel discussion titled: Religious & Political Dimensions of Same Sex Marriage in NC.  There were 5 speakers, two males for the amendment and three women against. (I couldn't help but wonder whether or not Tammi Fitzgerald or other NC women who are for the amendment were intentionally not asked to come.)

I think the word "contentious" would be a good description for the audience. The panelists all at various points showed constraint and toward the end the professionalism for some started to ebb as emotions flared. I will say it went a lot better than I was expecting, though I would have preferred a moderator who actually moderated.

Dr. Maxine Eichner started well, going over some of the basic legal terminology, and it was clear she is accustomed to teaching the younger generation, using power point with a lot of imagery. I would have enjoyed hearing more of an explanation for some of her reasons why it should not pass (issues of inheritance, death wishes, guardians, health & estate mandates, adoption/parental rights) as while I've heard many people state these as discrimination areas, I've found a lot of times it's simply that people are ignorant of the law and how to properly address those issues. Laws do vary from state to state, but NC has been very lenient in this area. 

Anthony Biller (some papers list it as Miller; I couldn't read his name tag) disputed some of Dr. Eichner's claims about legal terms, then addressed his main point about the competing views of marriage (whether it is family centered or adult centered), and continuously addressed the population/fertility rates of sustainability in countries that have legalized gay marriage or marginalized marriage. His presentation was very dry, very legalistic (as in jargon), and after the initial shock of hearing their professor refuted, most of the Meredith students sitting in front of us tuned him out.

There was quite a bit of rhetoric between the two attorneys on "empirical evidence". I found it a bit strange that studies based on concrete facts, such as census data, was being branded as "not empirical" while research and viewpoints ending with personal appeals and family pictures was. It was at this point I realized now matter how hard a person tries to be unbiased in their presentation, it simply wasn't going to happen.

Meredith psychologist Dr. Mann...where do I begin? Being a psychologist who deals with transgender issues and is in a lesbian relationship, this was very personal to her, and it showed. Throughout any speech where the speaker disagreed with her viewpoint, she was clinching and unclinching her fists, kicking the tablecloth, rolling her eyes like a teenager, and grimacing. After all her antics, I was expecting a hateful diatribe, but she did a decent job of presenting her emotional plea. She saved her venom for the question and answer time, where she spouted off comments like "I don't even care about marriage any more.", "Why should the Bible dictate me?" and comparing America's judicial system being based on Judea-Christian values to our government operating under Sharia law. I don't know that I found her comments as offensive as her attitude.

Patrick Wooten, pastor of Upper Room Church of God in Christ, brought along part of his congregation. It made for an interesting audience mix, with the white, pro-lesbian Meredith females in front, and the older African-American congregation in the back. We were stuck in the middle, allowing us to hear the comments and jeers coming from behind while observing the head-smacking, foot stomping, and snarling take place in front of us. If you've ever been in an African-American church service, you will understand the phrase "Let's have church." The place literally moves. The sermon is a call-response type of dialogue, with the speaker issuing statements and the audience responding with either affirmation or denial. It's not disrespectful, it has a rhythm and sequence to it, and it's not uncommon for the audience to become so excited over something said that they jump to their feet in applause. After sitting through several services, I understand why blacks think white services are boring, if not dead. So, take this crowd's cultural background, transport it into a predominately white female girl's school, and I think you can grasp the differences in how the crowd responded to speakers.

I was impressed with the attitude and demeanor of both pastors who spoke. They stuck to their theological viewpoints. I might have cowered at some of the questions, but Wooten had the courage to stand. The following are quotes/paraphrases from his speech: Marriage was not created by the NC legislature or its laws. God's laws are older than those of this state. It became a government issue in the 1800s when the government realized they could tax marriage by creating a license with a fee. Marriage is not a right and is discriminatory. The law sets limits on a person's age, qualifications, and the sex of the partners. Believing marriage has such definitions does not make me a bigot or a homophobe. During the heated debate between Pastor Wooten and Professor Mann, he stated emotional attachments do not change what is right. When a student raised the question about the past language of interracial marriage being similar to that used against gay marriage, he responded with the illustration of Moses and that the Bible did not teach interracial marriage was a sin. Later in the discussion, he quoted the passage from Leviticus "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination."  and asked "How many ways can you flip that?"

Rev. Nancy Petty, lesbian pastor of  Pullen Memorial Baptist in Raleigh, claims the marriage amendment "codifies discrimination." In her speech she listed slavery, alcohol, abortion, and women's rights as issues in the Bible where interpretations differed and the Bible contradicted itself. (This is one of 2 places where the crowd behind us got out of hand with their jeering laughter and comments. The other was when she said  the Bible changes positions, changes the nature of God, and doesn't offer answers.) She referenced several Bible passages, some of which Pastor Wooten had a brief opportunity to put in their proper context, as well as the following statements: Our culture is sexually illiterate and fixated; the church should be an advocate for religious education; sin is not about sex, but abuse of power; God is a god of justice; His law is inclusive.

There was quite a bit of debate between Petty, Wooten, and Biller over the purpose of the institution of marriage and the issue of divorce was brought up. Petty did make a good point with the issue of families and children. She and her partner have adopted a child from Russia. Her question was "Can you tell me this child would be better off on the streets than in our home?"

At this point there wasn't time to adequately discuss the issue of adoption or the definition of a family, but here's some interesting quotes/snippets from the end:

"It has never been a sin to be an African-American. That is not behavior, for us it's a matter of birth." ~ Wooten

to which Petty replied (the most emotion I saw out of her that night) "There is nothing wrong with my sexuality."

"With birth control, we can separate procreation from affection."
"This is about what marriage is versus what it should be." ~ Dr. Emerich

"If we're going to redefine marriage, then where does it stop?" three men, a pet, a group of people? ~ Wooten

"We need to protect Wooten's rights but also protect my rights with different beliefs." - Petty

I think if the group who sponsored the event had given each candidate the same list of topics (adoption, inheritance issues, religious issues, etc) to be prepared to discuss it might have made things a little more organized. I understand they were trying to cover as much ground from different viewpoints as possible, but it gave a hodgepodge effect of hitting highlights but discussing the details of very little. The only thing all the speakers agreed on was that changing the constitution is not a light matter, and this debate/vote is very important.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

a fun day

This morning I got to combine two of my favorite activities: walking with a friend and shopping. Exercise is not high on my list of fun things to do, but walking with a good friend helps take some of the focus off the aches and pains. Some ladies in our church are in charge of a consignment sale that started at the mall today, so we walked the mall before the sale started. Then we had fun browsing and looking, then headed to the State Fairgrounds for the annual Wake County Library Book Sale.

Every year, books that haven't been read in a year or more (or best sellers where they need multiple copies in the beginning but after a few years only need one or two copies) are culled from the shelves. Patrons donate books from their own shelves (which they claim make up about 60% of the books), and sell them for small amounts.

This year, I was pleasantly surprised to find 9 Trixie Belden books.

2 of them were hardback, like the above, and the others were paperback. Two years ago for Christmas I was trying to find this book (the first in the series) for a niece. We finally found a used one for about $10.  I was shocked. I keep reading that they are going to bring the books back into print, but I've yet to see them anywhere. I thought the price of $2 for paperbacks and $4 for hardbacks was reasonable, and then I found out ALL children's books are $2, regardless of whether it is hardback or not. Yes, I was very happy. I even stayed under my allotted spending amount for the day.

And to make the day even better...the repairman delivered our lawn mower this afternoon and I was able to get 2/3 of the yard cut.  If it doesn't rain tomorrow afternoon, maybe I can finish the last part and do all the trim work. :) and if not, I might re-read some old friends.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

It's early Wednesday

The geese are fighting.
The lawnmower repairman is coming.
I need to call the plumber.
And my ironing pile is overflowing.
If the kitchen table gets cleaned off before supper, then I'll label today a success. :)

Happy Hump Day!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

just the facts

The whole situation concerning Trayvon Martin greatly bothers me, on so many levels. When something hits close to home, it's hard not to become passionate or emotional about it. But our justice system is not based on emotions or passion. So here's the questions I've had the last few weeks that the media is not answering while "reporting" the story.

1. What is the crime rate in the gated community where this tragedy took place?
2. Did Trayvon bear the same level of defensive wounds as the shooter? (I'm not talking about the fatal gun shot here; if there was a skirmish as the defendant claims and the police reports detail, he should have had some bruising/markings as well.)
3. What about his behavior was so suspicious?
4. Do the local and county police who investigated and found the situation to be within in the law have other complaints of racial basis lodged against them?

Anytime I hear a parent say "My child doesn't..." or "My children never..." I cringe. I've been around kids. I've taught school. I've NEVER seen a situation yet where a parent either should or did eat those words. Kids, even the ones with discipline and training, are kids. They make mistakes. They tell lies. They are disrespectful.. They are kids who are still learning how to operate in society.

I've also learned that grieving parents can come up with some of the most outlandish thoughts and ideas while grieving. It's almost as if the pain short-circuits the thought process. The first year I taught at WCA, some of the students were discussing a situation that happened a few years prior to my arrival. During a high school field trip, where students drove with parental permission (signed permission slips waiving the school of responsibility), two students began drag racing on the highway, leading to a crash that killed the driver of one vehicle and injured one of his passengers. The parents of the boy sued the school, the driver of the other vehicle, the car company, the insurance company, and anyone else they could remotely blame for their son's death. (The lawsuit against the car company was filed during my first year of teaching.) I could share other stories, also involving Christian parents who would not believe their children could/would do drugs, alcohol, date rape, etc only to be shocked when the evidence overwhelmingly stated the obvious (or at least what was obvious to everyone else.)

So when I hear the Martins make statements in the media saying "My child would never..." I hurt for them. The reality is, they weren't there. They don't know what their child did or didn't do. I don't want to think evil of the boy. I also hate to think someone randomly took the life of another. I do think everyone needs to take a deep breath, wait until ALL the facts are in, and then react in a way equal to what they are protesting.

Asking for justice while placing a bounty on the head of a person who has been cleared by two separate police organizations is not a cry for justice. Demanding an investigation for truth and the appropriate response to the truth is justice. But from the battle cries ("We won't be satisfied until this man is locked up.") I don't think people are truly seeking justice and truth as much as they are seeking revenge.

For example, there's been several "mistakes" (lies, should we say?) reported already, and yet the protests aren't denouncing those mistakes.
1. It was a white gunman shooting a black boy. Turns out it wasn't a white/black fight after all, but that didn't stop the racism cries. An African-American friend of the gunman states the teenager was over a foot taller than the gunman, so it wasn't the intimidation situation originally reported.
2. There was no way the shooting could have been self-defense. An attorney for the gunman, as well as his friend, listed the wounds sustained by the gunman. They wounds and stains attest to the possibility of a fight.
3. Trayvon Martin was a sweet kid who was never in trouble. This morning someone from his area released info to the media about a suspension from school for possession of marijauna on school property. Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but school suspension for drugs throws this whole scenario into a totally different level of discussion.

We do have racial bias and problems in this country. I never realized just how much so until I kept a bi-racial child for a friend. It does exist. It does need to be addressed. But at the same time, we have to be honest and fair in addressing situations. Life is sacred, whether it's the life of an unarmed drug-using teenager, or the innocent 15 year old shot in a drive-by shooting. But when we nationally protest what could possibly be self-defense and ignore the horror of a drive-by shooting which has no other motive than malice, what does that say about us as a society?

Friday, March 23, 2012

150 years ago

I'm not sure what to expect, but I'm a little excited.  We're officially headed to Beaufort, NC. I hope my Civil War aficionado is not disappointed. It would not surprise me in the least if after he retires he chooses to BE in the reenactments and not just watch. We're not sure how wheelchair accessible the bus tours will be, nor if it will rain us out of the outdoor activities, but we're going to give it a try!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

book review

The Heart of a Soldier, by Capt. Kate Blaise is NOT a vacation read.

What I liked about the book:
  • she's open and honest about her beliefs
  • she's transparent with both the good and the bad about military life
  • her only agenda is processing her grief and remembering her husband
  • it shows the true sacrifices of our servicemen
  • it illustrates how no job is too small, even though we don't often think that way
  • I can relate to the small-town mentality/upbringing
Overall, it's a book worth reading to remember that our freedom is not free. We say that a lot, but it's another thing to be reminded of the cost. That book does that. I sobbed through the last two chapters, and really felt bad for her as she had to deal with the media and people's political agendas at a time when her only priority should have been grieving and her family. I was reminded of how stupid we can become when we allow policies and procedures to trump the very people they were designed to protect. I cannot imagine being so close to living a "normal" life to only have it disrupted in such a crazy way. If you like romances but also want something patriotic to read around Memorial Day (for her deceased husband) or Veteran's Day (for her), then I strongly recommend this book. If you're looking for light reading or something to make you feel warm and the opposite direction.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

movie review

One of my (many) favorite books as a child was Where the Wild Things Are. My mother didn't like it AT ALL, but it still remained a favorite for me and my younger siblings. Years later, while taking a children's lit class (Mom went back to college when I did to finish her elementary education degree...after teaching for 12 years) Mom called me and said she suddenly saw that book in a different light. As a parent she just saw it as a child being disrespectful and then punished, as an educator of children examining it through a child's eyes, she realized it was much more than that: disobedience, consequences, emotions, fatigue, imagination, parental love and security. That's a lot for such a little book. So I was quite excited to see a while back that it was made into a movie. Target really had the movie for $4.75, and while sick last week I actually watched.

And I was terribly disappointed.

Had the main character looked more the age in the book (4-5) as opposed to 9-10 years old, it might have been a little better. But seeing a child who appeared to be in at least 4th grade acting crazy in a costume while making ostentatious demands and attacking people and things didn't settle too well with me. Over all, I found the movie VERY sad, and thought it totally missed the point of the book: that actions have consequences, but parents still love us even when do bad things.

This isn't a movie I'll be keeping. :(

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

today is...

One crazy thing about being sick last week, and at home, is that I couldn't remember what day it was. Even though yesterday was a "normal" day for me, having revival last night threw me for a loop yet again. So today is...not Thursday.

Core class creates sore stomach muscles. Coughing doesn't help. If my body lost weight and sculpted to the tune of how I feel, I'd be wearing a size 2 right now.

Sally the rabbit started tunneling near the garden. I'm thinking "great; what a waste of my time" when Bobby pointed out she's tunneling AWAY from the garden. Now I'm baffled, though I wouldn't be surprised if somewhere that thing eventually makes a u-turn and I am once again running Ruthie's Restaurant. The chickens have scratched away 2 of my blueberry bushes.

I made out a list of things I need/want to do outside around the house before the kid's Easter party. My husband just gives me one of those blank expressions, which I've learned he wears when he's contemplating how my sense of time is under-developed. Yesterday I was determined to get it all done in the three weeks ahead, but was babysitting and watching it rain outside. This morning? I took a nap. :) Priorities.

At some point, I do plan to give a project update and a book update. Just not today.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

the things we remember

The last few days while I've not felt like doing much of anything, I've done a fair amount of reading. One of the the books I've had on my dresser for some time is My Turn by Nancy Reagan. I was in middle school during the Reagan years, so most of what I remember about that era was filtered through a young child's perspective. After finishing the book, which included the uproar over the White House China, I got to thinking that I had never seen the Reagan china. So living in the google era, I found it.

It doesn't look anything like I anticipated. There's lot of pretty settings from different presidents, but I was surprised to find that one of my favorites was from the Clinton era. If you're crazy like me and enjoy this kind of stuff, this link will show you different White House China.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I am the 7 dwarves

Today my life resembles a Disney cartoon.

I am Doc, choosing cold meds and cough drops, hot apple juice and naps.

I am Grumpy. Being sick was NOT on my agenda this week.

I am Happy. Neither sickness nor schedules can separate me from the love of Christ. And that is awesome.

I am Sleepy. Cold medicine, even the non-drowsy, makes me wish for Sleeping Beauty's un-interrupted sleep.

I am Bashful. After reading Michael Reagan's Twice Adopted, it made me realize just how much I have to be thankful for, and how much about life I still have to learn. It's not easy reading.

I am Sneezy, though Drippy would be a much better name for me today.

and I am Dopey. You know how cold medicine gives you a bit of a brain fog?  That's me today. It's probably best if I don't balance the checkbook right now.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

a medical fundraiser

For over a year, our church has been praying for a young mother (Kim Sappington Wilson) who is fighting scleroderma, one of the ugliest forms of auto-immune disease there is.  She is now off of chemotherapy, and is being treated by John Hopkins. The lung damage is irreversible, but there may be hope for her heart. To help offset the costs of travel to the hospital, a fund has been set up in her name. If you click on the red box to the left of this page, it will take you to the donation page. And if you can't give, please pray for the doctors as the pursue treatment options, for her emotions as they've been on a downward spiral lately, and for her family as they watch her suffer.

On a much brighter note, my brother-in-law has accepted the pastorate at a church in Washington, NC (hooray for being closer to my sis!). While we'll never understand this side of heaven all the steps that lead to this move, I have to rest in the assurance that God does have a plan, even when it doesn't make sense to our finite minds.

And Lord willing, Bobby's cold will not worsen (or aggravate his polyps or his bp) and this time next week I'll be heading to Emerald Isle for our church's ladies retreat.

Happy Friday everyone!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

not today

Well, today I was supposed to add three little biddies to our household, but it wasn't to be. Last week I went to Fuquay, only to find out the store was carrying two breeds, one which we have already and the other I don't want. Today the Garner store had everything up and ready, only to receive word from the hatchery "Not today. Maybe Friday or Saturday."

Perhaps we'll make it to the Flock Swap on Sunday, but I really don't want another batch of straight run biddies. (you get what's there, not knowing whether they are male or female).

So no cute, cuddly pics of Ameraucanas, Tetra Tints or black Australorps today.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

unintended irony

For those of you who haven't heard about the "Nugget-gate scandal" in North Carolina, last month a preschool child (from one of the More at Four programs, which is a modified form of welfare daycare) was given a school lunch instead of eating the lunch packed by her mother. Stories differ widely from the parents, the teacher, the principal, the health inspector who deemed the packed lunch "inappropriate", the local district superintendent and the media. Evidently this happened to four children on the same day, this is an on-going problem, and despite all the letters and press releases that the health inspector/social worker and the teacher were both simply doing their jobs, the teacher is now suspended.  Two of the children were supposed to only be given milk to drink (the missing ingredient from their lunch), but instead were given an entire lunch, of which the kids only ate the chicken nuggets. I won't digress on a commentary on this.

So now you know the back-story. NC Spin, which my husband watches every Sunday morning and I semi-despise because the men often bicker over each other making it impossible to understand what is being said, at the last moment briefly delved into the whole More at Four program and the political mess that is going on in the legislature and courts over it. One of the panelists mentioned that a private daycare couldn't operate on the funds that the state does because of the state's requirement that lead teachers in daycare have college degrees. Time was up, the news came on, and WRAL's opening news item and picture: UNC students jumping over illegal fires in celebration of their win over Duke.

Yeah. Just because you go to a state-sponsored school that your parents and tax-payers are paying for where you learn to drink and party and burn your butt because you are happy and built a fire in the middle of a road for which you don't have the proper permit means you deserve a better salary and a lead teacher position to teach colors and numbers and crafts and how to wash your hands after pottying to four-year-olds.

Somehow I think the irony and the timing of these two items were lost to Capitol Broadcasting.

Monday, March 5, 2012

rhythmic order

I never know whether to sigh or laugh when someone uses daffodils as an example of how "warm" our winter is this year. Granted, we have had a very warm winter, but daffodils ALWAYS bloom in January. It's what leads to the old southern tale that after the first daffodil bloom there'll be snow in 2 weeks. This year was unusually warm, and many daffodil shoots started poking their head out of the ground in December, but this beautiful flower reminder us that winter isn't forever always come in January. And the rest of the cycle continues.

January - Daffodils bloom
February - Tulips, crocuses, and camellias start growing/blooming
March - Trees (dogwoods, Bradford pears, etc) begin to bloom.


April -Usually by Easter dogwoods are flowering and fruit trees begin shooting out their leaves and flowers. Then you know it's seasonally spring (even though it's "officially" spring March 21). Plant the summer garden at the end of this month.
 May - amaryllis bloom, iris grow and some bloom

June - Irises and Gladiolis bloom; beans, cucumbers, and squash are ready for picking; blackberries & blueberry season begin at the end of the month

July - Okra, Tomatoes, watermelon and cantelopue start coming of the vine; corn, peas and beans are ready; many cucumber and squash vines dry up in the heat; Gladiolias keep blooming

August - okra and tomatoes continue to produce; the rest of the garden is finished and it's time for your winter crops (lettuce, collards, turnips, etc); Fruit is ready for picking (apples, pears, and at the end of the month, grapes); Magnolia trees start flowering

September - fruits are ready
October - everything starts dying
November - Nut season!
December - plant bulbs and trees; otherwise chill! :)

And that is a southern growing season.

Friday, March 2, 2012

swirly clouds

There's nothing like Facebook to be able to see what's happening. When the earthquake shook NC a while back, Facebook updated everyone long before the news media. And when a tornado hit Huntsville, AL this morning (in the Madison area where my cousin lives), it was on Facebook before the weather stations carried it. In lieu of the storms, I'm posting the words to a song that is a favorite back home. Almost every music group sings it; almost every 5th Sunday night singing (where the congregation got to choose the songs) it was requested. And given the tragedies of this last year, it's so very fitting.

In the dark of the midnight,
Have I oft hid my face;
While the storm howls above me,
And there's no hiding place;
'Mid the crash of the thunder,
Precious Lord, hear my cry;
"Keep me safe 'til the storm passes by."

'Til the storm passes over,
'Til the thunder sounds no more;
'Til the clouds roll forever from the sky,
Hold me fast, let me stand,
In the hollow of Thy hand;
Keep me safe 'til the storm passes by.

Many times Satan whispers,
"There is no need to try;
For there's no end of sorrow,
There's no hope by and by";
But I know Thou art with me,
And tomorrow I'll rise;
Where the storms never darken the skies.

'Til the storm passes over,
'Til the thunder sounds no more;
'Til the clouds roll forever from the sky,
Hold me fast, let me stand,
In the hollow of Thy hand;
Keep me safe 'til the storm passes by.

When the long night has ended,
And the storms come no more,
Let me stand in Thy presence.
On that bright, peaceful shore.
In that land where the tempest
Never comes, Lord may I
Dwell with Thee when the storm passes by.

'Til the storm passes over,
'Til the thunder sounds no more;
'Til the clouds roll forever from the sky,
Hold me fast, let me stand,
In the hollow of Thy hand;
Keep me safe 'til the storm passes by.

Hold me fast, Let me stand,
In the hollow of Thy hand;
Keep me safe 'til the storm passes by.

'Til the storm passes by.