The Wrong Lilies

The Wrong Lilies

Friday, November 25, 2011

Ah, now I understand

Sometimes it takes me awhile to figure out certain realities.  Like many folks who like to write their thoughts down, sometimes my thoughts and writings keep on stirring around in my brain, particularly during the sleeping hours.  And then I awake with a full-grown awareness of something within what I’ve thought or written.

I’ve thought and written and talked about concerns about Republican pledges against taxes for quite some time, but only in the wee hours of this morning did my conscious mind fully realize what has been going on for years, in full view of us all, and what it means.

It sounds good, the idea of low taxes.  It sounds good, the idea of smaller government.  But, in effect, an organization funded by undisclosed donors with a lot of money (generally believed to be certain very large corporations and the very wealthy) controls all the Republican Senators and Representatives who have taken a pledge and who continue to honor that pledge of ‘no tax increases under any circumstances.’  By that one fact we are dominated.   By that one fact, there will be no budgets resolved, no deficits resolved, nothing done regarding our children’s education and our health programs and immigration policies – nothing will be resolved.

Think of it:  there is an organization with unknown donors with unlimited funds which holds the pledges and controls the votes in Congress.  We have lost control of our country and Congress has lost control of themselves.

So now we know

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My goodness, oh my goodness

Well, our illustrious and peerless Congress has done it again.    Just think of it.  There was the Simpson-Bowles bi-partisan commission, which suggested, in late 2010, that the financial ills of our country could be tamed by a combination of judicious cuts and increased revenue, but Congress refused.  Then Mr. Obama proposed just such a combination during the debacle concerning managing our debt ceiling crisis in July 2011, but no, Congress refused.  Then, after the U.S’s credit rating was lowered, there was the Gang of Six, another bi-partisan committee, but they failed to agree, leading to the appointment of a – ta-dah! – Super Committee, with a November 23 deadline, and guess what, it failed!  If this were a baseball game, Congress would have been out after the third strike, right?

But this is not a game.  Because, you see, there is an individual named Grover Norquist who has entrapped almost the entire Republican Party by their voluntary pledge to refuse to raise taxes, except of course, on the poor and the elderly and the disabled; for what else are steep cuts in benefits except a type of tax.  But there will be absolutely no increase in taxes for the wealthiest among us, who, interestingly enough, are understood to fund the organization Mr. Norquist operates to entangle and monitor all elected Republicans everywhere and which is dedicated to preventing the re-election of anyone who breaks their pledge of no tax increases.  Yes, that’s right.  If the reader doubts this, look up the 60 Minutes Program on the CBS website, for the date November 20, 2011.  There, in Mr. Norquist’s own words from his own mouth, he explains his ‘system’ and seems quite proud of it.  It is quite terrifying.

So here’s the way I see it:  a conspiracy of staunch Republicans have voluntarily taken an oath that supersedes their oath to their country and their constituents, and they are not only willing but determined to block any viable means of meeting our country’s obligations to both its debt holders and its people, by refusing to raise revenues from the top corporations and the top CEO’s and all other millionaires and billionaires.  They will happily preside over the lowering of America’s prestige in the world, over drastic cuts in Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid benefits, in VA benefits for our returning injured,  and in unemployment benefits and help for our returning military.  And somehow they think that the American people will overlook their intransigence, one might say disloyalty, and they’ll be re-elected, which for Congress is the true purpose of that blasted no-tax oath, to begin with.  (For Mr. Norquist and his masters, there are obviously other reasons.)

So the title of this piece is a misnomer.  Because goodness has nothing to do with it.

Friday, November 18, 2011

There are berries on the possum haw

This is the message I gave my son when he answered our cell phone, as he and his dad were on the way to the home improvement store.  His response:  “The pelican crows at dawn.”  As you see, he thought I was joking and came right back with nonsense.  That’s our boy.     But he did pass the message on to his dad, who was driving and his dad explained that this was not only wonderful news, it was no joke to us.

Possum haw, for the uninitiated, is a Texas native holly, deciduous, which produces glorious red berries in the fall.  Where the name came from is anyone’s guess; it is as unique as the plant.   If, of course, the plant is a female, it bears berries; if it is a male holly, no berries.  We planted the shrub in the spring of last year, and last fall it produced no berries, nor did we detect any blooms during this last summer.  So we came to the conclusion that we had a male holly, and while it would be a lovely shrub, it would be berry-less.  Until today, when I was raking the first crop of leaves of the season, and a shaft of sunlight reached over our house and lit up the possum haw at the moment I glanced up, and there those lovely berries were. 

So all our fretting and sending strong thoughts of encouragement toward the possum haw paid off, as well as the careful watering we gave it during this interminable period of drought. 

We all, gardeners or not, have situations where there is something we hope for very much, and which we despair of happening.  And in the scheme of the world’s problems, a tiny frustration about a small plant is irrelevant.  But in the small personal world we each experience on our own, it is the small despairs we must deal with every day, and it is the small joys that light up our lives like the sunlight lit up our possum haw.

Monday, November 14, 2011

What it was, was football

So there’s this amazing football stadium in Texas, built expressly for this storied football team in Texas, and owned by a fellow that many in Texas revere, but that a lot of other Texans find creepy.  But the stadium is still amazing, no matter what the team’s season is like, or the guy who owns the team.

And on this particular Saturday, we find ourselves there through a simple chain of events.  We have a beloved grandchild, the grandchild plays a horn in a high school marching band, the high school’s football team manages to make its way into the playoffs, the playoffs are held at the amazing stadium, and there we were. 

And there was this huge screen suspended from the ceiling where we could watch close-ups and instant replays of our very own kids.  Just our kids from our ordinary families who attend an ordinary high school in a very ordinary area of the Metroplex we all call home, and there they were, up there, just like the big guys.

And as we sat there, watching the drill teams from both schools, the bands in the stands, the family and friends and interested spectators in the stands, all the colors of modern high school football life, I realized what a rich and privileged life everyone in that stadium was experiencing at that moment, regardless of the price of the homes they would return to.  What a special collection of moments we were sharing.  And when the ROTC officers marched out with the American flag and the state flag, when in this instance our band’s trumpet section played the national anthem beautifully, when everyone stood and honored the flag, our country, and our children there, I found it to be almost more moving and beautiful than I could bear. 

Not being a particular fan of football, and definitely not being a fan of the owner of the storied team for whom the stadium was built, never would I have thought we’d be sitting there, eyes wide, mouths open, loving the spectacle, but grandchildren (and children before them) lead you places you never expected to go. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A little bit of this, a little bit of that

It is increasingly fascinating to watch politics this season.  For instance, the lowest-rated Republican candidate, according to one poll, with only a one-percent rating, is far and above the most articulate and moderate candidate.  He's the one who said he thought 9-9-9 was the cost of a pizza!  At the front in this ever-changing competition are folks who simply change their position on concerns according to the audience they are addressing at any one time.  As a staunch and unwavering Obama supporter, I frankly don’t much care that the ones with the higher percentages in polls keep shooting their own feet off, but as a lover of my country it is awfully disheartening to watch presumably serious candidates, able to spend millions of dollars to seek the presidency, keep presenting foolishness after foolishness as their positions.  Such as 9-9-9 or 20-20.  And here’s the equally disheartening thought:  they all seem to have so many supporters, who obviously aren’t thinking things through. 

Now, time has taught me that politics is not a dirty word.  Heck, we decide what to have for lunch many times by negotiation and compromise, and that, dear friends, is politics.  But there’s another aspect to life and politics that I have learned as a gardener, particularly a gardener with a strong bulb addition:  the best results I get are from the best bulbs from the best sources.  Stay away from damaged bulbs.

The point is that when we vote, when we make that important choice, when we exercise that all-important privilege of citizenship, it’s that much more important that we are careful in our support, that we make good choices.  Because like so many other ‘ships’, a citizen ship can sink.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

What freedom is for

So today my husband and I went to the grocery store to buy a few necessities.  This is a very nice neighborhood grocery and the staff are pleasant, and so, for the most part, are the fellow shoppers.  Folks say ‘excuse me’, and ‘thank you’, folks like that.

However, and you knew there would be a ‘however’, just as we were leaving, there were two people getting bags of ice from an outside location by the exit door.  One was a man in perhaps his mid to late forties, somewhere in that age range, and the other person was a young man in very late teens or very early twenties.  The younger man had a black hoodie that caught my husband’s eye.  On the front of the hoodie were the words “Camp Auschwitz” and a skull and cross bones and under that the words “Work Will Make You Free”; on the back was the word “Staff”.  Just repeating this description is nauseating.  After we went on to the car and unloaded our groceries from the cart, my husband was gone longer than expected to return the cart.  When he returned to the car he was very upset, actually trembling with disgust, and he described the hoodie and that he, a very non-confrontational man, had confronted that young man.  He asked the young man if he really thought the shirt was cute; he also asked the young man if he realized that people were roasted in ovens in Auschwitz.  The only reply given was a mumble.   When the situation and the hoodie were described to me, I wept.  I wept for my husband’s pain, I wept for all the suffering that the one word, “Auschwitz” represents, and I wept for the appalling ignorance of that young man and the venality of whoever created such a garment.

There was nothing illegal about the shirt.  We live in a country where freedom of speech is one of our many rights.  Where disgusting statements such as what is described can be made.  Perhaps these two men consider themselves white supremacists and felt pleasure in my husband’s being upset.  I decided to be very grateful for three things:  that we have a country where even something such as that disgusting shirt can be displayed with impunity; that they didn’t pull some sort of weapon and hurt my husband for confronting them; and finally, that I share a life with a man who expressed so decently his horror and revulsion.

And finally I thought of the terrible, terrible price paid by those who lived and died in Auschwitz and the other camps, because unlike the young man wearing that hoodie, all of those people, all of the people caught up in the Middle East ‘Arab spring’, all of our military, and so many others, all of these know what freedom is for.