Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Good Change of Heart

I’ve been thinking about Daddy a lot these days with all the conversation about race and the need for conversation about race. I think being born and raised in Maryland was good for Daddy in that regard. He may have been against integration early on but he changed his mind for whatever reason and that was good both for him, me, TCU and the Petroleum Club in Dallas. Someone said to me that Daddy changed his mind because he knew integration was coming and where he had influence, he wanted it to happen easily and lawfully. Maybe so - ok, what’s wrong with that. Because of his stance, TCU was integrated. Because of his stance, The Petroleum Club in Dallas was integrated. And I don’t believe it was just his mind that changed. I believe his heart did as well. I remember saying that he needed to work to allow women into the main dining room at the Petroleum Club. “ Don’t rush me, Susan. I just got blacks admitted to the membership. Give me a breather before I start on the women.” He got there too though. A change of mind and heart is a good thing and should not be questioned too closely if it proves in action and not just word to be an honest change. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Thoughts While Coloring

How interesting. I had a really nice meditation ready in my head because the mandala I colored was all connected branches and I kept thinking of Jesus saying “I am the vine and you are the branches.” I do believe he is speaking a universal truth no matter what our personal belief ~ we come from the Divine and remain connected to it. He does go on to say that we have to stay connected through him so if I am going to be true to scripture, I can’t really just have him say “I am the vine and you are the branches.” On the other hand, he does say that and I do believe we are connected to the Divine. Just as the piece of apple pie doesn’t suddenly become cherry when it is cut from the whole, neither do we become lesser when we are born. We come from the Divine and we continue to hold that spark of the Divine within us all our lives. No matter how many weeds entangle us, no matter how broken we become, we are Divine and we should recognize that in each other.Maybe, more especially,  we should recognize that in ourselves.

Friday, June 26, 2015

New Interest - or Hobby - or Something

I'm not sure how "new" the hobby or interest is. I have after all been coloring inside the lines since I was three. This is adult coloring though. During Citizenship Week, we went to a book store and a couple of art stores and voila! There was a book of mandalas to color. I have created mandalas. I have colored mandalas. Never have I seen a mandala coloring book ~ and there it was ~ and it was crying out to me "you want me! You want me!" For some reason it was absolutely essential that I have the book and pens with which to color in the wonderful designs.

This first one was little (a quarter page) and created on the long plane ride home. If you look closely, you can see the times the ride got bumpy or we hit an air pocket. Nevertheless, I knew I had found my fun for a while. 

Although I am not creating the mandala itself, I am having a wonderful time deciding and applying colors. Sometimes the activity becomes meditative. Other times, it is coloring. It can go fast or slow. I can know instantly what it will look like or need to do one color at a time and then let it sit while I do other things before returning in a knowing mood.

This one even got named: Incan Sun Burst

This is one that went slowly. After I had done the red, I thought of leaving it.
Then I added the green and yellow and thought of leaving it.

It finally ended up complete and I am very pleased.

I have learned to be patient with them. I have been reminded of my creative process: give it time, breathe, it will come. I am thoroughly enjoying my time spent coloring. I am always amazed at what emerges from the pens I pick up. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

I Pledge Allegiance

I have been wondering how to approach this particular blog. I am very aware that my last several blogs and FaceBook posts have been about Citizenship Week and how proud we are of David and what a big deal his becoming a citizen is. This of course has led to the praising of the country. Which has led to the strong awareness that all is not well with this country nor has it been from the beginning.

People who were already living here and who for the most part were nice to the first Europeans who arrived were eventually treated horrendously, moved out of their lands, made to learn a language not their own and treated as “less than”. Slavery thrived and the resulting racism is rampant today as the recent massacre  in South Carolina proves. Political parties are more divided than ever and to differ has come to mean being divisive. Personal attacks rather than debating the issues has become the norm of our political process. 

And so we face the dilemma. While we complain about our government and talk about how bad things are in this country, 881 people on one day last week said, we have worked and strived and been through an FBI check because we want to become citizens of the United States. Why in the world would they do that?

With his permission, I quote the newest citizen I know:

I find that people are indeed very interested in the history of their country and are often surprised to discover it. It is an amazing history that was very nearly, not. Of course call it good timing, an overextended monarchy or even that Twitter had unexpectedly gone down during that time in the 1770s, delaying intelligence, and thus things had surely lined up to favor our intrepid rebels.
I am honored to be among the newest of immigrants, rogues and rebels, to be considered a Patriot at home.
Registering to vote will indeed be my first official act as a full citizen. I have listened to many great ideas from the various political camps and some that are not so interesting which I think just poorly considered. My values lean toward local sourcing with smaller very diverse industry for healthy economies and heavy leveraging of local labor resources. 

Ideology is easier with; equitable access, liberty with personal responsibility for that liberty and protection of the standards that were provided by our founding thinkers. Those things that were and are still necessary for a successful and long lived union.

Thank you, David! May we continue to be aware of our shortcomings and strive to become even better than we were. 

David registers to vote within minutes of taking the Oath of Citizenship

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Citizenship Week ~ Day 3

On Friday, two days after David became an American, we went to Plymouth, where, for those of us of European and especially English descent, it really did all begin. 

David enjoys just looking out over the ocean that brought his ancestors to this new land. Whether he came to America or not, I do not know. I do know that David's ancestor, Captain John Willis, was captain of the Cutty Sark (yes, think the ship on the front of your Scotch bottle). White Hat Willis himself!

It was also very important to dangle his feet in the water of the Atlantic, a first for him and he did it first as an American.

New England lunch. Fried clams and lobster rolls at the Lobster Hut.

Walking the breakwater.

Plymouth Rock

A very helpful and interesting park ranger told us again some of the story.

Not really impressive until you realize it used to be as large as the surrounding basilica. People chopped and chipped for souvenir pieces until it was finally rescued by the Park Service.

The harbor was shallow. The Mayflower was anchored further out and the people rowed to shore in little boats.

Mayflower II.
We were late in the day and there were no others on the ship. Chris, who was in character as the first mate, told us story after story of the crossing and of other crossings the Mayflower made. There were 102 pilgrims who started out. After two births (and I cannot imagine giving birth in the hold of that ship), 104 people landed at Plymouth. This was in November, 1620. Although it was a hard winter, they survived and in April when the Mayflower returned to England, they all chose to stay in the new world. We were also fortunate to encounter a staff person not in costume and character who took us below to where the passengers lived for the 90 day crossing. It is a very tiny space ~ everything on this ship is small when you think of carrying a crew and 102 passengers.

A proud, new American who relished the history we discovered this day.

And jumping forward 150 years, we closed the day by watching 1776, a favorite of Meredith's and mine and now a part of David's American heritage.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Citizenship Week ~ Days 2 & 4

Even Citizenship Weeks include Stuff and Things days. The morning after the Big Event there was at least one thing done that every citizen understands: Meredith paid her quarterly estimated income tax. Yeah, it comes with the territory.
Saw this sign in Concord and knew it fit the week. Why? Because what David didn't yet know was that his gift from us was going to be a grill.

He had written to his brother-in-law that steak and hot dogs were America's true and amazing contribution to international cuisine. Little did he know when he wrote that that the grill would be delivered the day after he became a citizen.

The grill master and his first meal, chicken and veggies.

Another day a truck was rented, all the moving boxes were moved from the shed to the dump and a futon was bought so there would be something to sit on in the living room. While Meredith and mom (but mostly Meredith) put together the futon, David made another dump run ~

~ and while the futon was finished,

David made lunch.

One night he grilled lamb chops and zucchini, with a little couscous on the side.

All stuff and things days should end as deliciously as this one did!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Citizenship Week ~ Day 1, Part 2

The title of this post should probably be "Food, Glorious Food" given that one way we celebrated David's becoming an American was by eating ~ over and over again. 

First of course there was the joy of the fact. 
David is now an American.
As we left the crowd, saying 'congratulations' to everyone we saw with a certificate in their hand, we headed for Concord.

Concord, where the shot heard 'round the world started the whole revolutionary thing.
We lunched at a lovely cheese and wine place and David chose several delicious cheeses for us to take home and enjoy later.

After a nap and a few minutes of just being, we headed out to dinner.

Fun! Excitement! Joy! and the love of each other just pours from these two even when they don't know the picture is being taken.

David enjoys a card made especially for their "American uncle" (Trinity's phrase) by Akira and Trinity.

We ate the all-American dinner of STEAK! And yes, that is a 24 oz steak in front of David. 
We all ate on it the next day as well.

Seeing David's boutonniere, Greg, our waiter, asked if we were celebrating anything and we of course told him. He shook David's hand and expressed congratulations. He brought David's steak first, explaining that he usually brought the ladies' dinners first but tonight David was the center of attention. We agreed. After dinner Meredith and I ordered dessert, David a flight of Scotch. Greg brought David dessert anyway with the word of the day written around the plate. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Citizenship Week ~ Day 1

June 10, 2015, we declared Citizenship Day in the Mix/Willis household. It grew into Citizenship Week, but I will get to that later. For now, here beginneth the day when Canadian son-in-law David became a United States Citizen. 

The sky was blue and even their balcony declared it to be a special day.

David was excited and ready to go. What better way to start the day than standing on your balcony surveying the country that will soon be yours. 

Flags over the streets in Lowell, MA where the ceremony would take place. It is Massachusetts so the flags may fly all the time, and we like to think they flew today because of the very important celebration of new citizens.

Traffic in town was tight so Meredith dropped David to get in line. Then she said, "Mama, get out and go. Someone has to witness this." And so I joined David. It was not long before Meredith had found a parking place and joined us. The line was long and filled with excitement.

Meredith had given David a rose boutonnière
and we pinned a little American flag beside it. 

There were lots of little ones dressed in Red, White and Blue. They too became citizens when their parents did. I am glad this dad let me take his daughter's picture.
Judge William Young was amazing and told both personal and judicial stories in his very brief remarks. One was that he had presided when his daughter-in-law became a citizen. When asked to raise her right hand, he watched her switch her baby from her right hip to her left in order to be able to raise her hand. 

Family and friends were in the balcony. Directly across from us against the back wall (leaning forward next to a man in a white shirt and tie) is David. Our positions allowed for waving, smiling and of course lots of texting until the ceremony began. At one point those becoming citizens are asked to pass their invitations to be there to the end of the row. Then someone comes by and takes their green card. Meredith turned to me and said, "he is nervous with no papers." Immediately she gets a text from David, "this feels really strange, having no papers. The man next to me is really upset." They were in limbo, having neither declared their allegiance to the US nor having any papers that gave them legitimacy. 

The Oath itself is administered by the Clerk of the Court. It is an interesting oath and is given to all regardless of gender and age. I say that because much of it has to do with bearing arms to protect the country if so ordered. Following the Oath we were led in the Pledge of Allegiance by a young airman. I was a little disappointed because his English wasn't too good and he was hesitant. We all knew it though and said it. When the ceremony was over, the Judge announced that the airman was receiving his certificate of citizenship and he (the Judge) was honored to present it to him. Wow!! So much for being judgmental, Susan. 
After the Pledge, we sang the National Anthem. You can see the retired soldier in front of us saluting. That was when the tears came. We live in an amazing country and 881 people said, "Yes! We want to be a part of this country." Their desire has nothing to do with political opinions, but rather with the ability to be able to express those opinions openly and freely.

And so the first thing David did was register to vote. We thought he would have to go the next day but the registrar was there and David filled in his papers. Having worked here for as long as he has, this was first on his reason for citizenship, being able to vote, to have a say (even one vote's worth) in his government.

He even thinks once he retires from flying, he might run for city council. 

Congratulations, to David Willis, one of our newest citizens and Patriots! 
(Stayed tuned for his continuing saga)