Monday, January 23, 2012

Republican Bus

Did you ever play that game about who you would rather sit by on a cross-country bus trip? Someone gives you two names and asks which one you would choose to sit by on a cross county bus trip and you have to explain why. Who would you choose, Marilyn Monroe or Sophia Loren? George Washington or Abraham Lincoln?

I decided to take an imaginary cross-country bus trip with the Republican presidential hopefuls. How would I, a moderate Democrat, fare with this group of people? In my imagination I got on the bus in Iowa just as Tim Pawlenty was getting off. He seemed like a friendly fellow, but I didn't have time to get acquainted with him. I looked around and decided to sit with the only woman on the bus.

Michelle Bachmann seemed like a nice Christian lady. We showed each pictures of our kids and told each other funny family stories. I told her about my faith in a loving and gracious God. Her faith came across as far more judgmental than mine and has a lot more rules. She seemed to be very uncomfortable with my interpretation of scripture and very uncomfortable with diverse opinions. I was relieved when she got off the bus. I thought she was scary.

Next I sat next to a man with a big, friendly smile. Herman Cain made a fortune selling pizza and thought he could use this experience to make America a better country. He kept saying something about 9-9-9. He thought his tax scheme would fix the economy. It seemed to over-simplify a complex problem and I had my doubts. When I asked him about foreign policy his answer got really weird. It turns out Herman had a mistress and the Republicans are the party of family-values. The mistress was a big no-no, so Herman had to get off the bus.

There was a nice man from Utah who rode the bus for awhile. Jon Huntsman seemed like a nice guy . He had worked for Obama as ambassador to China. I admired the way he put serving his country ahead of political ideology. The Republicans didn't seem to like him very well. He too got off the bus.

A good-old-boy from Texas was my next seat-mate. Rick Perry liked to hunt and fish. I don't hunt or fish and I found it hard to talk to him. He just never seemed to quite figure out what to do with himself outside of Texas. He got off the bus and headed back home.

I looked around and decided to sit with the older gentleman from Texas. I really liked Ron Paul, but his fellow passengers don't pay him very much attention. He comes across as an honest, sincere man who champions the cause of small government and withdrawal from all foreign entanglements. I find myself disagreeing with his proposals, but respecting him as a man of honor. I don't want him to drive the bus, but I do like him.

Rick Santorum was my next seat-mate. He reminded me a lot of Michelle Bachmann. He is driven by faith. I'm sure he is a loving husband and father. I think he is sincere. Sincerity just doesn't seem to be enough to qualify a person to president. Especially not when I disagree about many of the things that he holds dear. I think he will be getting off the bus in the near future.

I look at the last two men on the bus and decide to sit by Mitt Romney. This man has money. I think he probably paid for the bus. He seems a bit stiff, but still likable. He has a nice wife and has raised five sons. I find it is easier to talk to him as I get to know him better. He was once the Republican governor of a Democratic state. Somehow he seemed to be able to talk to people with different opinions and find a consensus they could both agree on. That is a rare talent. He really wants to be president. He has made this bus trip before. I'm not really sure where he stands on several issues because he seems to have changed his mind about lots of things. I'm not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing. Did I mention that Mitt has a lot of money.

There’s one man left on the bus. I approached his seat, but just couldn't make myself sit down. There was a stench that completely repelled me. Newt Gingrich is a man with a very bad history. Congress convicted him of ethics violations. He has been through two messy divorces. He owed Tiffany’s $500,000. Surely the party that stood for family values would find this man repellant. He comes across to me as a creepy, dirty old man.

It was an interesting bus ride, but I don't think I want to ride with this group any further.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Warm Nights

I woke up this morning, as I do most mornings, in my comfortable, warm bed. My husband of fifty years slept beside me. We were safe in our warm, quiet house house. The only difference was that this morning I was acutely aware of the blessing of having a home and family.

This week our church is participating in a program run by the county social service department called Warm Nights. During the cold months various churches in our town volunteer to turn their building into a shelter for a week. This is our week. Last night my ladies' circle prepared dinner for our guests. About six PM our guests began to arrive. They were pretty ordinary looking folks. You probably would not identify them as homeless if you passed them on the street. Some of them work during the day. The children attend school. Some have mental problems that make working impossible for them. The folks I visited with were friendly people who were profoundly grateful for a safe place to sleep and some food to eat. They are nice people who have hit a hard place in life. We had prepared a meal of meat-loaf, potatoes and collard greens, with sweet potato pie for dessert. The greens were the big hit of the evening. The pot was licked clean. After dinner some went to take a shower, some visited and shared events of the day, some watched the TV. One man had a sewing kit and was mending clothes for others. A few curled up and their cots and went to sleep. For this week our fellowship hall was home, and they were glad to be there.

This morning other church folks fed them breakfast and sent them out for the day with a bag lunch prepared by another group of church folks. They have to be out and gone for the day about six AM. Tonight they will return. Sunday morning they will move on to the next shelter for the week.

I am grateful for the work of the county and it's churches in helping these people. I am grateful that I was able to be part of the effort to keep these needy people safe, warm and fed.

I am just overwhelming grateful for my life today.

Our church fellowship hall as a shelter from life's storms.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I love this picture of my daughters.
I find it amazing just how much the car they each drive says about them.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dr Pepper

A friend of mine is upset by the new Dr Pepper commercial. According to the commercial the taste of Dr Pepper is, “Not for women.” My friend says the commercial is sexist. She is offended and has vowed to never drink another Dr Pepper. I will admit that it seems a bit dumb to tell half the population that this drink is not for them.

The whole discussion about Dr Pepper took me back to the Texas vacations of my childhood.

I grew up in California where Dr Pepper was not yet distributed, but both my parents were Texans. That meant we traveled to Texas every summer to visit relatives. In spite of the heat and the chiggers, I really enjoyed these trips visiting with all my kinfolk. One of the best things about these trips was Dr Pepper. My grandmother loved Dr Pepper. There was always a case of this wonderful drink sitting in her kitchen. With all my well-meaning relatives watching me I never got to drink nearly as much as I wanted. My crazy, good-hearted Aunt Rubye (pictured with her daughter Janice) knew how much I loved Dr Pepper and tried to help. Every morning at ten she would sit me down with my cousin Kenny and give us orange juice in a Dr Pepper bottle. We sat there on the back steps swigging our juice from the Dr Pepper bottles and talked about how much we would prefer to be drinking the real thing. Finally at two in the afternoon we were allowed to drink a real Dr Pepper. I remember getting the icy cold bottle from the refrigerator and sitting on the shady steps with Kenny We clinked our bottles together and sipped our cold sodas. It was one of the best moments of the day.

I seldom drink Dr Pepper any more, but when I do I am flooded with memories of people and happy times long gone.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Far Away

My grandson is in the hospital. He's in the Air Force stationed in Texas. I'm sure he will be fine, but he is far away.

My daughter came straight to me this morning at church and hugged me tight with one of those, “Oh Mom, I'm scared,” hugs. Her son had sent a text saying he was in the hospital having his appendix out. They had been asleep when he called and found the text just before coming to church. That's all she knew and that just was not enough information for his parents or his grandparents. He called later just as he was waking up from surgery, sounding OK, but a bit groggy. We are grateful that he is in a place with good hospitals and medical care. Appendectomies are routine surgeries. We expect he will recover without problem. But Texas does feel very far away today.

I just called the hospital, really just trying to find out which hospital he was in, and was connected to his room. He sounded good.

Thursday, January 05, 2012


When was the last time you received a long, hand-written letter from someone you loved?

I'm reading a wonderful book,”Last Letters from Attu” by Mary Breu. Most of the book is a collection of letters from the author's aunt who was a teacher in remote native villages in Alaska during the years before World War II. She was captured by the Japanese from the small island of Attu and become a prisoner of war. The letters are long, newsy letters to her family about her life. They are fascinating. I am so glad her family saved them and made them available for others to read.

The book reminded me of all the letters I used to write and receive from my family. My mom and I exchanged letters at least once a week until she was no longer able to write. I loved the long letters full of the trivia that made up her life. We shared stories about family and news about friends. We shared our fears and joys. Those letters were always such a joy to read. Sadly only a few of her letters remain. The few I do have are a precious connection to her and a fascinating family history.

Letter writing is a lost art. We tweet and update our status on facebook. We text and occasionally actually talk on the phone. We don't sit down and write letters to the people we love. I miss the joy of going to mailbox and finding a letter addressed with the familiar hand writing of someone I love.

I don't plan to start a letter-writing campaign, although the US Post Office could use the business. Instead I will write my letters on this blog. I hope one day that my family will find them interesting.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Verse for the new year

This is going to be my Bible verse for 2012
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Philippians 4:8