Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day, 2011

Memorial Day. All amazing words of wisdom or erudite thoughts have been expressed before. We all know that along side our picnics and bar-b-cues, beach parties and beer to see in the summer, there are the wounded, the dead, the grieving and the continuing presence of harm’s way. The important thing for us is to Remember all that. To say Thank You when we can. To recognize and remind our children that our freedoms have come at a price all the way back to 1776. It is with blessings and gratitude as well as remembrance that I lit my prayer candle this morning.

Friday, May 27, 2011

In my last blog I mentioned the word kleptocracy and said I had found it in a crossword puzzle and then read it in The Tudors by G. J. Meyer. This book has nothing to do with the Showtime mini-series of the same name. Neither does it have anything to do with the many, many historical novels that I have read about this period of history.

This is a historical narrative, telling the story of the Tudors from the first man with that name, Welshman Owen Tudor, through until the death of the final Tudor monarch, Elizabeth I. Meyer is a very good writer and he makes this dynasty come alive even as he relates the facts of their journey. Often he will make what we might call an aside, or at least a tongue-in-cheek comment about the modern fascination with this clan, particularly Henry VIII. I found myself laughing out loud or reading something of interest to Dean. The Tudor narrative chapters are interspersed with Background chapters. These set the historical and global context in which the Tudors lived and moved. The background chapter on the The Popes even gave us some more information on the Borgia Pope Alexander VI ~ we have just been watching the Showtime series on The Borgias.

Again, this is not a novel, not a story. On the other hand it is fascinating reading for anyone who loves history and would like a more realistic view of this Tudor dynasty that we have placed on the pedestal of history.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


There is a phenomenon that most of us will have at least heard about and probably experienced. We hear a word for the first time or hear a person’s name for the first time, and within 24 to 48 hours we hear the word or about the person again. Sometimes we even inquire after an old acquaintance only to have someone mention them or have them call soon after. Anyway ~ that phenomenon is out there and part of our lives occasionally.

Last week I was doing a Friday, New York Times Crossword. My book contains puzzles from 6 days of the week. Mondays I do; Tuesdays I do; Wednesdays I do ~ sometimes missing only one or two letters; Thursdays I sometimes need a little help; Fridays and Saturday I always needs help. Sometimes I feel like I just copy in the words of Saturdays ~ although here and there scattered throughout the books of a lifetime are Saturdays with a big check on top meaning I did it all by myself.

Anyway ~ doing a Friday, I came across a definition of a long word: Government marked by rampant greed and corruption. The word was “kleptocracy”. I got the “tocracy” part on my own. The rest needed some help. I figure it is from the same root as kleptomania. Fast forward a few days. I am reading a book called The Tudors by G. J. Meyer (having nothing to do with the mini-series by the same name). It is an historical narrative with lots of contextual background material. More about this later.

I come across this sentence: Dudley by now was himself an immensely wealthy landowner - that followed more or less automatically from political success in the Tudor kleptocracy - and so had much to lose. I knew instantly that I had heard the word recently and knew where to find the definition. The whole experience has grounded the word in my thinking although having never heard it for 68 years, I doubt I will have occasion to see or hear it again in the my next 68. It is a fascinating phenomenon though and one I enjoy when it happens.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Return to Normality

I believe it is worth mentioning that something “normal” has returned to our life together. This morning we took our regular morning walk. Of course it hasn’t been regular for a year or more because of the pain in my hip. This morning it was so regular and so normal. I kept up with Dean. We wore water-proof boots (shades of Christopher Robin) because there were still patches of snow and even some rushing, gushing creeks to wade through.

There were plenty of places to walk side by side and talk about all sorts of things. In places I stepped in his footsteps to keep from sinking in the snow. Crossing the creek I asked for him to wait for me just in case I needed a hand ~ which I did once when a rock was less sturdy than it looked. All of these things are normal for a snow hike when snowshoes are no longer needed but not all the snow has melted.

The creeks are amazing. The pictures will give you a little idea of our “back yard” and our joy in watching. Wish you could hear them as well. It was a glorious spring morning and we said next time we needed to bring a picnic along. For me ~ a return to what Dean and I have done together for ten years except for last year and it felt So Good! ~ blessings

Friday, May 20, 2011

Rapture Reflections

Well, I guess it is time for me to comment on the Rapture - after all, if I wait until tomorrow it may be too late. You know me, although not a Biblical scholar, I have been to seminary, lived with a pastor for 36 1/2 years, taught Sunday School, been to conferences, studied, preached and in general have a good deal of solid scriptural background. And . . . I keep remembering Jesus saying that no one (including him) knows when he will return. Only God knows that. Hmmmm.

A few more reflections:

The pastor who started all this just renewed his radio/television license through 2012.

His non-profit staff are all planning to be at work on Monday morning, the work week as usual.

There is another Star Trek movie due out in 2012 with Chris Pine as Kirk - ergo, how can the world possibly end?

And if the Rapture should come? I will either be meeting God face to face or staying around and continuing to do whatever good I can for the world in which I find myself living. My “preparation” for this day was done a long time ago and I am just fine letting whatever happens, happen. I will have something to say to God, however, if I am not allowed to see my grandchildren graduate next month and go to my 6 year-old granddaughter’s “graduation” from kindergarten in two weeks. ~ blessings

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Weather Report

Last night the sky was gorgeous. A full moon lit the drift of clouds and a few stars made it through the bright moonlight to claim their places in the heavens. This morning those same few clouds were changed from orange to pink to pale yellow as they moved away from the rising sun. Nothing fell and the sun pushed its way into May ascendency. It just might be spring.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Corn Snow

Middle of May and it is cold and damp with rain and snow. Particularly “corn snow”. This morning the regular, wet, heavy snow clung to the trees and made the world look like December. Then the sun came out and melted most of that. Then it “rained like hail” as we used to say in Texas.

Corn snow is a cross between snow and hail. Little round kernel sized balls of snow that pound down, sounding almost like hail. If they fall gently, they are quieter but still noisier than snow. It has come and gone all day, mixed with snow and rain and even a little bit of sun.

Tomorrow and Friday are supposed to be sunny with rain coming back over the weekend. Spring in the mountains is a mixed bag. Now if the sun would just join the rest of the mess and finally outshine it all.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Blogging Books 4

Agatha Christie is undoubtedly the Queen of the elegant English mystery. She was prolific and endlessly fascinating although when you read the books straight through, like I do sometimes, you do discover similar plots or short stories that have become novels.

She has three main characters.

Hercule Poirot, Belgian detective, living in London and operating as a private, consulting detective. Poirot is fastidious and obsessively neat. His mustaches are never mussed; his clothes are never allowed to wrinkle or have a fleck of lint; and everything in his apartment is in perfect order. Even his breakfast eggs must be of the same size. This weird compunction for order comes from a well-ordered mind in which Poirot thinks up the answers to the most baffling mysteries and brings the murderer to justice. Poirot believes in the power of “the little grey cells” and will sit patiently in his chair and think while his rather bumbling friend, Hastings, and his Very efficient secretary, Miss Lemon, do the legwork and bring the clues to Poirot and Inspector Japp of Scotland Yard.

Miss Marple, dithering spinster of St. Mary Mead, is quite the opposite of Poirot. Everyone thinks Miss Marple is past her prime and is just a gossipy old lady. Everyone that is except Sir Henry Clithering of Scotland Yard who knows her to be one of the finest judicial minds in the country. She putters around her small village gathering news and gossip and then catches the criminal because he or she acts exactly like some young village upstart. Criminals learn to fear her because she is, as she says of herself, “a noticing sort of person.”

Tommy and Tuppence Beresford are the other two main mystery-solving characters to grace Christie’s pages. They were in intelligence in WWII and remain helpful to some folks in the Home Office afterwards. Because of the times in which Christie was writing, Tommy is the one who gets called on and Tuppence has to figure out a clever way to be in on the action. She does of course.

Because I bought my books years ago, some of them while Christie was still writing, I am very aware of the sexism and racism that are occasionally reflected in them. It is not overt and I suppose easily skipped over while reading the excitement of murder most foul. On the other hand, it is there and can jump out at you unexpectedly ~ not often and not in every book ~ and I add this caveat in case you start your Christie reading at a used book store. Newer editions have changed some of the language to be more in keeping with today’s.

The other interesting difference in when Christie wrote and today: the definition of “old”. Except for Miss Marple who is in her 70s, everyone else who is considered old or dying or senile is in his or her 60s. That is just plain funny to me, who at 68 goes to the gym almost every day and is energetically living life. And it is an indication of how our life styles have changed. Nevertheless, Agatha Christie makes for great mystery reading and a chance to use “the little grey cells” to figure out the answer before her famous detectives.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day, 2011


~ snuggling in bed in the mornings tucked in close to my mom’s skin. I’m sure that’s why I still love to snuggle close.

~ being so scared of that “wolf” in the back yard, and mom, who could see there was no wolf, suggested I invite him into lunch. We laughed, sharing a joke against the whole world.

~ calling home from school in the middle of the day to see if anything had been heard about her surgery.

~ knowing she was feeling better when she was in the garden digging in the dirt.

~ coming home from school to find my picture of Dan missing from my bedside table and having her say, “he is up here. I just wanted to look at him for a while.”

~ feeling so lost after her death.

~ welcoming Mama Bear whose love surrounded me and knew how to let me be both my mother’s child and hers. She did that really, really well.

~ finally crying over my mother’s death the night of Michelle’s wedding when suddenly all the pain of lost times together came pouring in

~ and the day Michelle called to say she had been stung by a bee and had morning sickness on the same day and needed to talk to her mommy ~ and I couldn’t respond because I was crying over never getting to share like that with my mom.

~ enjoying her written statement on the back of the picture when I was 7 “Dean McKay comes over to play” and wondering what she thinks of my being married to him.

~ my joy that Meredith writes under mom’s name and has some how given me permission to bring her back

Happy Mother's Day, mom

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Family Story

My grandmother, Addie, had her first child when she was 18 sometime in the late 1800s. She was living out in the country and the baby, a little girl she named Mabel, was born at home as most babies were back then. The doctor did come out from town, however, and was there for the birth. The baby was tiny, premature and prognosis for life was not good, so the doctor signed a death certificate rather than a birth certificate so when the baby died, he would not have to make another trip to the country.

Addie knew that as long as the baby was alive she needed to take care of her. She nursed her and then heated bricks in the fireplace, lined a drawer or a box with them, covered them with blankets and placed her tiny little girl inside this natural incubator.

When my Aunt Mabel turned 21 and wanted to marry, she had a dickens of a time proving she was who she said she was because all the official records had was her death certificate! :D She raised two daughters, lavished her grandchildren and nieces and nephews with love, was an amazing cook (fried chicken, homemade pimento cheese, and biscuits come to mind), seamstress, and lived to be 98.

Thanks be for Addie (we called her Mama Dear) who did what women have done for generations before and after her and loved and nurtured her child and never gave up hope or practical caring. Amazing woman and I am proud to be of her lineage.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mother's Day Thoughts

So the big thing on FB right now is to post a picture of your mom. I don’t have a decent one scanned and the scanner is not in good order. So I am going to try to use a picture of the 5 Trent sisters and Mama Dear. Mama Dear was my grandmother ~ speaking of amazing women. She had 5 daughters. My mother, standing in the center back, was her youngest by 8 years. I remember my mom as being very pretty and smiling and yet in all the pictures I have in my computer she is very solemn. Anyway - here she is with her mom and sisters. I think I am alive at this point because this is how I remember all my aunts and my grandmother looking. Having been moved to post this, I think I may need to tell some family stories. If so I will keep them short and interesting. For now ~ Happy Mother’s Day. My mom’s birthday was May 10th so often her birthday and Mother’s Day coincided. Wonder what she thought about that? I thought it was neat.

Monday, May 2, 2011

History Being Made

The big news is the death of Usama Bin Laden. The Pakistani government and intelligent forces working closely with ours located the man; President Obama authorized a surgical strike on the compound where he was and in a fire fight he was killed. No American lives were lost. I like friend Elizabeth's way of putting it: a subdued celebration.

There is something that reminds me of how the family felt when Daughter told us her abusive ex-husband was dead. Something was lifted. Something was released. We didn’t cheer. We simply were at a different level. That’s how I feel about my country this morning. We simply are at a different, lighter level. There were cheering, chanting crowds gathering spontaneously at the White House last night and in some ways it was nice for them to have something to cheer and chant about. On the other hand, I could not have joined them. Rather I would have held a candle in a subdued celebration for the persistence and power of our military and intelligent services who for ten years have searched and fought and lost their own lives to bring justice to 9/11.

I also thought President Obama was as presidential as I have ever seen him. He was calm. He spoke with great clarity. The speech was well-written and delivered, invoking the history of the event, making it very clear why we went after and killed this man. He referenced President Bush when he declared we were not at war with Islam. And he closed by quoting some of the pledge of allegiance. Today all the journalistic questions will be asked, mulled over and chewed to death. Last night our President stood tall and spoke to his people and people around the world in the strong and powerful voice of victory. History had been made.