Wednesday, February 24, 2016

How I Spend My Time

First of all, this is where I live. Not right here in the Provincelands, but no more than a mile or two away. In addition the bay beach is barely a block from our house, and whether the sky is puffy like this or deep pink or bright orange or wild grey or robin blue, light bounces off the water here in Provincetown and it makes the world here very beautiful. But too, it''s been a tough move. JB's been sick and settling into this small wonderful community has been slow. Socially, I'm probably as sedentary as I've ever been.

It has been a year since my Mother died. I factored her into my plans so much and so often that there's been a certain kind of day-to-day relief (freedom) since then. I find I think of my parents quite often: how lucky I've been to have been raised in a family who loved me and put me first. I'd never seen this picture of my Father and me until recently: I look so hip-nerdy and he looks so handsome-relaxed that I just feel proud that he was my Father. He was a mason with rough hands and easy tears whenever he talked about his difficult childhood or his lottery-winning gratitude that my Mother loved him. He died the same way my Mother died: surrounded by our family, unafraid, comfortable. I'm so thankful for that.

JB and I have begun looking for a shelter dog to adopt. Maybe even two. We're more cautious than we've been in the past because our last dog, Chase, a greyhound, never adjusted to living with us and we had to return him to be rehomed where he would live with other greyhounds. It was awful to admit he was wasn't happy or bonded with us. I wouldn't want that to ever happen again. We want an adult dog who's had a hard life, who's good with kids, who's very smart and a little goofy, and who like all dogs deserves a good home. We've begun the search.

I went to Colorado for two and a half weeks to help JB help with her sister's surgery and I came home thinking I'd have three weeks to write before JB came home herself. I began, but I got sick and stayed sick for the whole remaining time. So much for plans and preferences. I have a novel to finish and it's moving so slowly. I think part of the reason is because my main character thinks she can handle just about anything thrown at her and that's not quite how I feel these days. I'm not sure a writer is supposed to get bogged down identifying with her characters, so that might be a problem. Some of the reason is also because I'm working again and I can get pre-occupied with that. I wrote my first book in 2008. This second one is way overdue.

I feel that I'm damn lucky to love. I hope I love well most of the time. I know I've become far less judgmental as I've aged. I have strong opinions, and I shy away from people I don't feel good about, but I'm not righteous about any of it.

I wrote a stupid comment here on my blog about finishing up a work project and I made it sound like all I cared about was getting paid. It wasn't at all true that money was at the root of it, but my words gave cause for someone to be offended and my thoughtlessness created some waves and conflicts. I should have known better. I'm at a point and an age where I have zero interest in competing with anyone or winning a race. I just want to do my best and feel proud of what I do. (What a relief that is.)

JB is nudging me to take a walk with her every day and I am reluctantly agreeing. I'm trying to walk at least 1.5 miles a day. I know it's important for my health but I am at my core a sedentary person. I surprise myself by how lazy I can be. If left to my own devices, I could stay in the house for days at a time.

I am cooking more. And baking. I like that.

Ah my four grandchildren. I adore them. I try to see them every two weeks and lately I'm plotting how to have overnights here with one kid at a time. I like teaching them things, pointing out colors and clouds, telling them stories real and imagined.

Long ago I read this book and I remember thinking these "Agreements" were pretty much on target. I've come across them again lately, and I still think that.  So I'm sharing: here they are.

He's six and he came for an overnight. It was a grand success.

We did a lot of things--movie, beach, shopping, eating, walking, coloring, story telling. But best of all we made sugar cookies from scratch and then frosted them. Drew wants to learn to cook. Here he is with  JB in our kitchen which, by the way, is going to be completely gutted, probably this fall, a new and necessary foundation put in and rebuilt and designed. We're working with a space planner and it's exciting.


And finally, this is a typical scene walking along Commercial Street. It is just beautiful. Which is how I started this post. Life is wonderful and life is hard and the trick is not to miss the wonderful parts.


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

If I Ran for President….

Here in the USA the extremes between the two major political parties are shocking. If it weren't so sad it would almost be comical. My logical and confident self has ideas that make more sense to me than so many put forth by politicians. Here's my platform: 

1.I’d make it a major emphasis of my campaign that I understand why and that white males and middle class families feel under siege. These folks have lost generational job security, upward mobility, wage increases, and traditional values. They’ve watched entitlement and welfare programs grow and gay marriage and minority rights overshadow their beliefs about hard work, tradition, and the American dream. They’ve lost power that through the years they’d been able to take for granted. They want their country back the way it used to be. But there’s a problem with that. starting with  a significant 37 % of American citizens are non-white and  3.8 % are out of the closet gay or lesbian. We’re even more of a melting pot than we were back in the days when Americans prided themselves on being a land of immigrants. And now there’s an x-rated bodacious fear mongering candidate who graphically describes White American frustration and anger, using crude and exclusionary language and who  points fingers and casts blame. 

2. I would talk incessantly about job creation, starting with how to bring manufacturing jobs back. I’d outline new tax incentives for certain businesses and I’d describe my plans for no or low tuition training programs. And not just manufacturing: I’d talk about new economy jobs and how the public and private sector will and can concretely help citizens access them.

3. I'd bring back welfare to work. Democrats emphasize being a voice for poor and minority and underprivileged Americans. But in most people’s minds, entitlements are not the best way for these folks or for the country. I agree: I’ve been privileged to work first hand with families on public welfare.  More than half of these folks, maybe even three quarters, have the physical and mental ability to work and a good number want to and would work. But the average cost of living--not fancy living--far exceeds what even two paychecks can bring home on $ 9/hour. Add up the actual costs of food stamps, health insurance, child care, subsidized housing, and  compare that figure to the take-home pay of an unskilled person earning $ 9/hour. The disincentives to work are real, not to mention that folks who don’t have cars rely on public transportation that sometimes require two or three bus changes. That’s a tough situation for someone trying to show up for work on time. 

 My plan would screen and then insist on full time work for everyone who can and should work, but also provide a supplemental income to at least allow a reasonable standard of living. And my plan would train or retrain folks for new skills, not indefinitely, but for a year or two. After that, work would be expected; if necessary, in assigned community service.

4.And finally, although I’m no expert on foreign policy, I’d run on this promise: If I drew a red line, I’d keep it. I believe the waffling in intervening in Syria has caused a whole lot more deaths and heartbreak than a clear and enforceable red line would have. At the same time I’d continue efforts to collaborate however and whenever possible though the United Nations and with other countries. (This doesn’t conflict with red lines.) The nations of the world need each other more than ever..... 

This is what I would do Hillary, Bernie, Jeb, Ted, Marco, and Mr. Kasich. (Mr Trump omitted for good reason.) Call me naive or ridiculous, but the difference with me is that I mean every word. And I think across the board, I'm not alone.