Sunday, December 11, 2011

I Believe

This time of year, we're asked to believe in miracles. This got me thinking about what I DO believe. Here's the list:

I believe that the love of money (i.e. greed) is definitely the root of all evil. [Just think about what's wrong with our world for a minute and see if it doesn't come back to money or power, it's sidekick.] Money in and of itself is not evil - it is the lust for wealth that is evil.

I believe that we should all take care of each other - in our communities, in our state, in our country and in our world.

I believe Congress could do a much better job of representing the will of the people of this country if they were willing to listen to each other.

I believe the words liberal and conservative are perfectly good words and should not be demonized.

I believe that the best compromise, when diverse people are working on a problem, is the solution with which everyone is equally unhappy.

I believe the middle class is in danger of disappearing.

I believe family is the most important thing in my life.

I believe in God, but I don't always understand God's rationale. I also believe that trying to understand God is like trying to teach calculus to cats.

I believe good and evil abide in each of us and we need to be constantly on guard to make sure that good wins.

I believe that "Happy Holidays" is not an effort to destroy Christmas but a greeting said by those who are in doubt of what religion you are and wish not to offend you.

That's about it for today. I'm pretty certain most of these won't change much over the years, but there may be some new ones along the way.

So...what do you believe?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Got Community?

I live in southeastern Vermont, one of the areas recently hit by Hurricane Irene.

Brattleboro, the "city" closest to where we live - where we do our shopping, where we work - was deluged with water from a brook that runs through the downtown. One street flooded so badly it looked like a lake. Many stores on that street lost much of their inventory. Most of them did not have flood insurance.

Brattleboro is an artsy town. There are galleries, several good restaurants and cafes, a music school, several churches. It's a medium-sized town and a good place to raise a family, though the kids probably think that it's boring.

The town has been through a lot recently. In April, a fire nearly destroyed the main downtown building, the historic Brooks Hotel, home of several businesses and about 50 families. All were displaced. The owner is rebuilding, but it's going to take a long time.

In August, a disgruntled employee of the Brattleboro Co-op, another central business for this community, walked into work and gunned down his supervisor. This happened only a couple of weeks after a young woman from a nearby town had been murdered, so people in the area were reeling. Things like this just didn't happen here.

And then the hurricane came.

The Saturday Farmers' Market on Route 9 is another big part of this community. The hurricane nearly destroyed it when the local brook overflowed and cut a new channel through the site. The market's Board vowed to be open today at the usual time. When I saw the post-hurricane video online, I could see no way they would be able to accomplish that goal.

On Thursday, about 100 people descended on the site with racks, shovels, barrels and other implements of construction and went to work.

This morning, we got to the Farmers' Market just as it was opening. Things looked a little different. There were brand new picnic tables, a brand new sandbox with one little girl seriously digging, and hay everywhere protecting grass seed.

At the entrance, someone had hung a sign that read "Got Community?"

I'd say the answer is yes.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Update on 9/11

When I first decided to write something today, this was going to be a completely different article. Then I happened to glance at my last post nearly a year ago and saw that it was about the proposed mosque near Ground Zero.

I'm guessing that that debate has died down now given the state of our economy and the recent shenanigans in Congress. Most people are more concerned about what's in their pockets than whether or not different religions should be granted the same guarantee of free speech and religion as the rest of us.

This morning, I watched a short video on the memorial at Ground Zero scheduled to open on the tenth anniversary of that tragedy.

I was not ready for the visceral reaction I had when I saw the memorial. The shot was from an airplane looking straight down at the two squares on the footprint of the Twin Towers. There was a sinking in my stomach, and a profound sense of sadness overcame me. The final waterfall splashing down into the hole in the center of each perfect square reminded me of the many people who lost their lives that day, who became part of an earthly void. Some were never found, and this memorial will serve as their final resting place as well as a reminder to the rest of us.

And I wondered, have we really learned anything?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I find these quotes from some Congressmen on the question of whether a mosque should be built near Ground Zero interesting, if only for the fact that they sound reasonably thought out.

From an article listed on Yahoo, "Senator Jack Reed, a Democrat, did not answer directly if he thought the mosque should be built, but said he supported its designed intention to provide interfaith communication and dialogue. 'But it can't be there, and I don't think it should be allowed to be there, if it's going to be some type of way to undercut the truth, the reality, of 9/11... which was an attack by fanatical Muslims against the United States,' he told the program. Republican Representative Peter King of New York acknowledged the right to build the mosque but challenged Islamic leaders to 'listen to the deep wounds and anguish that this is causing to so many good people' and consider moving the center to a site further away."

Is there hope that some of our representatives might actually be THINKING about issues rather than just throwing taunts and slinging mud at each other.

And to those who keep insisting that 3,000 Americans were killed on September 11, 2001, please check your facts. That number includes the 19 hijackers, and I don't think any of us want to claim them as "American." It also includes nationals from over 70 countries, also not "American."

Not that we should mourn those deaths any less - it just shows the horror of extremism and how if affects the entire world.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Fellowship of Women

About three years ago, we moved from one state to another because of a job offer my husband received. We left a community and a house where we had lived for 25 years. We also left a church community where we had been members for over 20 years.

I have yet to find a new church community.

It is interesting to be on the other side of an issue we discussed so frequently at my old church - church growth, or "How do we get more people inside the doors?" It is harder to walk over that threshold than I had imagined.

I have found that the need for a faith community, however, has not gone away, and this was brought home to me after a retreat I attended last week. This is a yearly event, and I've been going for eight years.

It is a fellowship of women with common ties through employment in the church. Some have retired but still attend the retreat because we have become like sisters. One of the attendees said this year, "I may not know all of you well, but I feel like you are all my sisters, and I feel such love and acceptance when I am here." Perhaps that is what I'm looking for in a faith community - love, acceptance.

But my logical self tells me that it is not so easy. We are all imperfect. We all have our own ideas, feelings, insecurities, etc. There's an old saying that God puts at least one member in each church who irritates almost everyone else just to make sure that we're listening to what God is telling us.

Easier said than done.

And yet, for three days, I was in a community of women who shared deep thoughts, hugs and quite conversation, laughter as well as tears.

Is it possible to find a church with that kind of atmosphere?

I hope so...I guess I'll have to keep looking.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Is My Cat a Druggie?

We own two cats who deign to live with us, named Bonnie and Clyde (in a moment of terminal cuteness). We assume they are litter mates, being almost the same size when they were unceremoniously dumped on the porch of our farmer neighbor's house.

Bonnie is a long-haired steel gray and white cat and Clyde is your typical tabby. Bonnie sleeps about 18 hours a day, becomes frisky for a half hour before dinner and then goes to sleep again. Clyde, on the other hand, can often be seen racing from one end of the house to the other or walking around crying with a questioning meow that says, "Where is everybody? I'm lonely."

This month both of the cats became senior citizens because they turned seven, the golden years for kitties. Time to start buying the senior cat chow. And one more reason to worry about their teeth.

I had been advised by the vet to brush the cats' teeth. I much prefer to keep my skin intact.

Because of the wonder of the internet, I found a product called Greenies that promised to cut the tartar on the cats' teeth. I got a sample. They loved it. Time to go to the pet store and buy more, but trying to save gas as I have been, it was my husband who actually bought the treats. (I think that Clyde actually knows what "treats" means, so I've got to be careful about saying that word out loud.)

When my husband was in the store, he was told by the salesperson that they refer to this item as "kitty crack" because cats seem to become addicted to it.

I should have been on my guard. Bonnie is, shall we say, pleasingly plump, and I try to watch what she eats.

She is also the cat that goes crazy whenever she gets a whiff of catnip. (I recently learned that only about half of cats feel the effects of catnip. As if to prove this point, Clyde smells the stuff and looks at me as though to say, "So? What's the big deal?"

The recommendation on the package of these teeth-cleaning treats is that I feed each cat 8-10 of the treats twice a day. I'm trying to keep it to once a day. They're not cheap! I think that Clyde inhales them because I cannot hear them crunch once they've made it into his mouth.

Bonnie, however, chows down and crunches on them to beat the band.

She also knows where I keep them in the pantry and will sit outside the door several times a day now and meow, begging for her next fit.

Tell me - have a created a druggie cat??

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Dealing with a Loss

He was my big brother. I'd known him my entire life. And now he's gone.

My big brother died February 27 of this year from brain cancer, and there is a huge hole in my life. I cannot imagine how my sister-in-law and niece are dealing with this. I cannot imagine that my great-niece and great-nephew probably won't remember their Poppi. That all they will have are old photographs.

He was 63 years old, far too young to die. We watched as the cancer ravaged first his body and then his mind for eight months. By the time it became evident he had very little time to live, all we wanted was to get him home and let him die in his own house, unconnected to machines, surrounded by friends, family and pets.

We are all trying not to be angry at the doctors who first said he had little time to live and then, when the end seemed imminent, said he had weeks when it turned out to be only days.

I wish I had found an excellent website on this awful disease, brainhospice, more than a couple of weeks before he died. The information in this site is invaluable for anyone who is dealing with this terrible disease. It answers questions that are difficult to ask and helps with specifics that you might not think of.

If you have come to this site because you or someone you love has brain cancer, please visit the site above. It can only help.

And I'll keep you in my prayers.