Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Across The Divide

I cried myself to sleep last night.  I awoke to a grey, gloomy, rainy day in which Donald Trump is the President-elect of the United States. I'm still processing.  I think I'm grieving for the loss of the America I thought I knew and loved.

Let me preface this by saying politics is so not my thing. I usually don't discuss it publicly because I have family, friends and co-workers who don't think the way I think or believe the way I believe.  I respect their right to think and believe differently. I don't want to alienate or hurt anyone or destroy friendships that are otherwise enjoyable over a difference in ideology.  Although I am extremely grateful for the right to vote, there isn't much about the process I enjoy. In fact, I detest the incessant phone calls, heaps of mailed flyers, and endless negative advertising that we are forced to endure in any election year.

This campaign year was the worst ever. I was unhappy with the choice of candidates, embarrassed that this was the best America could offer for the highest position in the nation,  praying that a strong third party candidate would arise that I could get behind.

When it didn't happen, I spent a lot of time clicking through articles and trying to divine just what each candidate was promising to accomplish if elected. Trying hard to ignore all the bashing of the other candidate and all the negative advertising and just get down to the issues. Not easy, considering that neither candidate did a stellar job of clearly articulating their plans.  I knew Trump wanted to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, but no clue what he would put in its place. I knew Clinton was promising to create jobs, I wasn't clear on how. The protection of equality for all (regardless of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or ability), the protection of our environment, the protection of a woman's right to autonomy in her own medical decisions, the protection of those seeking asylum from terrible situations not of their own making, among other things, informed my vote.  

As I was watching the election coverage last night, I was dismayed to learn that the support for Trump wasn't really about being Pro-Life or defending the right to own guns (maybe some of it was). It was about an army of poor working class white men (and women?) who feel their voices have been marginalized in favor of every other segment of the population (minorities, women, the disabled, LGBT, non-evangelical Christian religions, etc.), whose pay has stagnated, who have been left behind by the country that they loved. I imagine it is hard for them to accept that the country is growing and changing, and that soon they won't be the majority. Last night they made their voices were heard, loud and clear.  As a nation, we have to own that maybe we didn't listen when it mattered.  Maybe they have a point that needs to be considered.

But it hurts my heart that this economically disenfranchised group were so desperate to change the status quo, to shake up Washington, that they were willing to chance a vote for an openly racist, misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic, hate-mongering, violence inciting, tax cheat for the hope of a different future. I believe that the majority of these folks are decent, honest, hard-working people who don't condone the hate rhetoric spewed during the campaign. At least I hope so. If not, our country is far more screwed than I imagined.  I'm not naive enough to miss the factions of white supremacists who would love nothing more than to kick to the curb everyone who doesn't look or think or pray like them. That kind of hatred exists everywhere in some form.  But I like to believe that they constitute a rather small percentage of the population.  At least I hope so.

So today I'm processing what went down.  The pragmatic side of me acknowledges that in another week or month (or maybe not until after he takes office), everyone will settle into the reality that Donald Trump is the next President of the United States.  They will move on with their everyday lives.  The stock market will settle. We will begin the arduous task of trying to reunite this country. We are far more divided than I knew or was willing to believe possible, as evidenced by the nearly even split in the popular vote.  

Already Trump has surprised me. First that he won. And second, that his victory speech was almost presidential. He didn't gloat. He sounded sincere about wanting to be the President for "everyone."  (Which I admit is totally at odds with comments he made about women, minorities, immigrants, the disabled, and Muslims during his campaign).  I hope that Trump will bring some good to this country, that by shaking up government he will be able to make a positive change in some way. I hope he will prove wrong all of our fears about his capability to fulfill the highest calling in the nation. I hope that his "crazy" was an act, a means to an end, and that we are not giving a man who is truly mentally ill the keys to the kingdom. I don't have to like him at all to hope he succeeds as our President. I will join the rank and file in granting him a peaceful transition to power and pray that he is a quick learner and can step up to the job of being leader of our country.

As for me, I can't change the results of the election, but I can accept them gracefully and without rancor. I can work within my own sphere of influence.  My intention is to live my life as fully and as happily as I can. To be as kind and generous as I can. To commiserate with those who think and believe like me.  To reach across the divide to those who don't, and to find common ground to move forward. I intend to let my light shine as brightly as I am able.  And I hope that whatever good I do, whatever love and kindness I show, whatever light I shine, will help to balance the scales against fear and hatred, and help to light the darkness.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Rachel and Becca


Rachel and Becca turned 23 on Tuesday.  We celebrated with a dinner out at the Cheesecake Factory. My last post about them was right after their graduation.  What about since then?

Rachel is still living at home, still looking for a job.  She waitressed a lot of hours at the Piper Tavern at the beginning of the Summer, but then gave up her regular hours at the time of our trip to London.  She fills in occasionally now, but mostly is home binge-watching television or meeting up with her friends.  I'm hoping she finds a job soon.  She really wants something in or around Philadelphia as she wants to move to the city and try on city life.  Fingers crossed!

Becca finished her Internship at Doylestown Hospital Cardiac Rehab.  She is now back at Bucks County Community College, working to get her Nursing degree.  We've agreed to continue supporting her through this next round of education, assuming she does well this semester.  It's kind of make or break on that front.  Becca works as a nanny for twin 21 month old boys on Monday and Tuesday, has class and lab on Wednesday and clinical on Thursday. She uses Friday to study and work on the Kinesiology class she is taking online. It is a full schedule.  And then she does her best to spend as much of the weekend as humanly possible with boyfriend Kyle.  She's also found a very supportive study group which is something new for her, but is already proving helpful. They've managed to teach her long division!  She's the youngest student in her group - most of them are in their 40's and 50's.  I think she has become their pet project.

So, we aren't quite empty-nesters just yet. And we are still settling in to having them home full time.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

London and Edinburgh

I went! And I've been back home for a month already. That doesn't even seem possible...  Here's the highlights:

Tower Bridge. Learned that it isn't the London Bridge! Went up to the glass walkway thing and looked down. Freaked out one of the family members. Lots of efforts made by certain family members to get the "perfect" Instagram worthy photo here. (On MULTIPLE occasions). We also saw Westminster Abbey, The Tower of London, Big Ben... you know, all the basic touristy stops.
 Buckingham Palace. That tour was a LOT of walking - it ends somewhere around the back and it felt like miles to get back where we started.  Tried to watch the changing of the guard, but by the time we were done the tour the crowds were so thick it was literally impossible to see anything.
This is what started it all.  If you have a chance, GO! The play was fantastic and well worth the price of admission, including the expensive plane fare to get there.
 Stonehenge.  Everyone wants to know was it bigger or smaller than you imagined?  I'd say it was right on par with what I expected. And I'd love for someone to figure out why the folks who did this went to all the trouble when they were nomadic... It was cold and windy up there and we weren't dressed for it. But enjoyed it anyway!
Salisbury Cathedral. It was raining when we went in, but looked like this when it was time to leave. The building is absolutely gorgeous. Spent a nice couple of hours here.  They have the magna carta on display.
 Tea at Bea's of Bloomsbury with my blog friends. Me, Mrs. Wookie, Alexa, Jacky, and Fiona.  It was so wonderful to meet all of them and I felt so honored that they would take the time out of their schedules to travel to London to see me!  Jacky made me a beautiful mixed media montage of London and Fiona gifted me with the cutest little tissue holder (that came in very handy up on Arthur's Seat).  But the best gift of all was just getting to sit and chat with them for two hours. It was over so quickly!
 The remains of Duone Castle in Scotland - one of the sites for filming of the show Outlander.  I walked in some of the same places as Jamie Fraser (played by Sam Heughan).  Really cool.
View of Scotland from the top of Edinburgh Castle.  This is where we started our last day in Edinburgh - after hiking up the Royal Mile to get there.
And this is the view of Scotland from the top of Arthur's Seat.  This is where we ended our day after touring several places along the Royal Mile (Mary King's Close, Holyrood Palace, lots of gift shops).  I trained all spring and summer to be able to make this hike and I DID IT! Admittedly I huffed and puffed and cursed my way to the top and arrived red-faced and breathless.  Hit a personal best of 26,659 steps this day (over 11 miles) and a lot of those steps were uphill. But the view was so worth it and I think even my family was a bit impressed that I'd done it!

London was fun, but far too busy and fast-paced for my tastes. I feel like I can say I visited, saw most of the important sites, and have no need to rush back.  Scotland was more my style. The scenery was gorgeous and since we only had two full days there, I feel that we hardly scratched the surface of what we could have seen.  I'd love to go back and spend time in both Scotland and Ireland.  We also found that staying in small flats with a family of five and doing everything together was, well, maybe just a touch more family togetherness than we were all prepared for!  The flight home was blessedly uneventful and I was back to work the next day (what was I thinking???).  I can't believe it was already a month ago.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

My Mother

I absolutely cannot believe it is September already! This summer has been crazy busy and I have so much catching up to do here, so many things to share.  But my life hasn't miraculously slowed down (I wish) so the updates will have to be short and sweet as I can fit them in between everything else.

I've made a list and hope to tackle one subject a day.  No promises.

First up.  I just got back from Texas where I was visiting my mother prior to her surgery.  She's had a re-occurrence of her very rare form of cancer called soft tissue sarcoma.  This time it has taken up residence in the right lobe of her liver.  She has a few more tests yet and then a surgery date will be set to remove that half of her liver.  Those of you who are prayer warriors, please add her to your prayer list.  Her name is Sandy.  I know she will appreciate it!

While I was in Texas we had a quick meet-up with Melissa before she took off on her own adventure. So here we are - Sandy, Sarah, Cheri, and Melissa at the Frisco Mercantile enjoying an hour of artsy inspiration!

Til next time!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Countdown to London

I can't believe that two weeks from this moment I'll be on a plane somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, winging my way to London.  With that in mind, I know that it is high time I've checked back in with my blog peeps and finalized some plans!

I asked those of you who live anywhere within reasonable traveling distance of London to save the date and meet up with me on Friday, July 29th for dinner.  Now I need to get a count of who will be able to be there and make some reservations. Will YOU be able to meet up with me????  The apartment we have rented is in the Fitzrovia section of London and I'll be looking for a restaurant close to there, but also close to a station for those using public transportation.  King's Cross is fairly close by.  Any recommendations?

In the meantime, I'll leave you with this shot of Item 15 on the Scavenger Hunt - a team logo.  Taken at the Varsity Inn Restaurant in Ocean City N.J.  Almost every square inch of wall space is covered with college team pennants.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Memorandum Monday - a post without a photo

I did have something "new" happen to me over the weekend. But it wasn't pleasant.  You'll be glad there are no photos.

I was driving down Route 33 headed to Saylorsburg - Jay and I were on our way to one of our favorite flea markets. Less than a mile from the exit, I saw a flash of grey and heard a "thwack" against my windshield (at 60 miles per hour). The sound literally made me feel sick in the pit of my stomach.  And then I just started sobbing.  I don't know what kind of bird it was. There was nothing I could have done to avoid it, as it flew right into the windshield.  After nearly 40 years of driving with a clean record, killing nothing more than the bugs that splatter against the windshield on the highway, I experienced my first nature fatality at my own hands.

As we arrived at the flea market and parked, I was still crying. I hope nothing like that ever happens again because it honestly felt awful.

On a happier note, we had a great flea marketing weekend and I hope to catch you all up soon on what is happening with The Shop these days!

Two Weeks Ago

My babies became college graduates...
 A friend of theirs took this photo. I love it. No need to say more.

 On a grey and drizzly Saturday morning, we gathered outside to watch the first ceremony - the graduation of the Schools of Business and Education.  Rachel has a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and Communications.  The red cord denotes honors in her major.

The second ceremony, for the School of Science, began just past noon. And the sun had finally put in an appearance, so we were all stripping off the layers of clothing we had needed to survive the morning.  We got to listen to another round of all the same speeches. Then I missed getting Becca during the recessional because she was way earlier in the pack than we anticipated.  But she was happy to recreate her victory moment.  She graduates with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science.  One very tough and demanding major.  We couldn't be prouder!

And we got through the day with a minimum of drama!

Now the girls are moved back home and we are still working to integrate their stuff and their schedules into our home and daily routine.