Monthly Archives: January 2011

My Dad’s older brother turns 89 years old today, January 21st. Uncle Bill has always been my favorite uncle on my dad’s side. We didn’t get to see him as much as I would have liked, but when he brought his family down to visit from Superior, Wisconsin, or whenever we went up there to visit, it was always very special.
My memories of our visits are too numerous to go into here, but one of the biggest is Cribbage. It was a game that my uncle loved, and I wanted to learn, so he taught me to play. We would play every time one of our families visited the other. We played for hours. I seldom won, because Uncle Bill was very good, and he didn’t believe in “letting you win” a game. This made the victories very sweet. I would have known if he was letting me win, and I would have hated it. I learned the game very well, and I learned good sportsmanship, because you see he was a good winner and a good loser. When I won he made me feel like I had really accomplished something. We loved the game so much, that he even tried very hard to figure out a way to play by mail. That was back in the day before people had their own computers, so there were no online games. Try as we might, we never could come up with a workable way to play Cribbage by mail…unfortunately.
My Uncle Bill converted an old bus into a “motor home” for his family to travel in. Man, that was something! We loved to ride around in that, and since it would hold us all, it was the mode of transportation when our families got together. I remember one time, when we cousins were little, and we had gone for ice cream. There were about 5 of us little kids, including his youngest son, Jimmy eating at the table in the bus. Uncle Bill said, “The first one who spills, gets to lick it up.” Well, it took about 1 minute for Jimmy to spill his ice cream…on the floor. So Uncle Bill, choking back a laugh said, “Well, lick it up.” Jimmy turned several shades of green, and started to get down from his chair. Uncle Bill yelled through his laughter, “Eeewww, don’t lick it up!!!” A very relieved Jimmy, watched as his dad cleaned it up. We all thought it was the funniest thing…including Jimmy, who was a big kidder himself, and always loved a good joke. (Jimmy passed away February 1, 2006, from Mesothelioma, and I will always miss his humor).
I remember one time when I was about nine or so, my dad, my uncle and I were going somewhere while we were there. It seems like it was to a cabin he owned, but I really don’t recall for sure. As kids, my sisters and I had been allowed to sit on Dad’s lap and “drive” the car…or steer while he worked the pedals…something you can’t do these days. I asked Uncle Bill if I could do that, and he said, “Sure.” So I was sitting on his lap “driving” and the car started to drift toward the ditch. I said, “Uncle Bill, the car is going toward the ditch!” His response was, “Well, you better get it back in your lane then.” He was so nonchalant and unworried…so I steered it back on the road. I learned to keep the car on the road that day. I’ll never forget it.
My uncle has always loved genealogy, and it is he who sparked my own interest in it. He has traced our family back many generations, has many photos, letters and other family memorabilia that he has collected over the years. I have learned so much from him about my heritage. I will always be grateful to him for this fun, and challenging hobby. I’m still looking for more family information.
My memories of Uncle Bill will always be fond ones, of life in a very different time…a time I will always miss a little. Happy birthday Uncle Bill. I love you.

I just read another story about a grade school child being suspended after he formed his hands in the shape of a gun and pretended to shoot at a wall. Have we gone crazy? We have suspended these little kids for kissing a classmate because it might be sexual harassment…really, does a 5 year old know how to do that? They can’t play cops and robbers, or cowboys, or pretend they are hunting, because it shows violent tendencies…again…really? It seems to me that we have gone to the point of craziness over these issues in the schools.

Now don’t get me wrong, I want our schools to be safe, and I don’ want our kids being sexually harassed, but I really doubt if our kindergartners are the best suspects. And I don’t think rapists usually get their start in grade school. In fact, I think the way we are reacting to our little kids kissing in grade school just leads to a very unhealthy understanding of relationships between the sexes. If we make it dirty, how will they ever know what is right and wrong. Here they are, just coming out of the home setting, where they kiss mommy and daddy goodnight and to them that shows you like someone, and so it is natural to kiss a cute little girl…who by the way, wasn’t the one screaming about it, and some teacher or principal acts like little Johnny just committed a felony.

Again, I want our schools to be safe, but I really don’t think most grade schoolers are deliberately setting out to shoot up our schools. Nor are they looking to rape the little girl across the aisle.

I read a tweet made by someone I follow on Twitter today, and started to consider the reasons we are judgemental. “When you judge others you don’t define them, you define yourself.” author unknown.

This quote started me thinking about why people judge others. We have all been guilty of it. Sometimes, I suppose it is because we are insecure in our own skin, so we judge others to make ourselves feel better. I often wonder if this is really where bullying comes from. I don’t think bullies just hate everybody for no reason, but rather because they don’t much like themselves. They bully because it makes them feel like they are bigger or stronger than others. And the “targets” they choose are always smaller and weaker than they are, so they are judging these people to be of inferior strength, and therefore in a position to make the bully feel better about themselves.

Another reason we judge, is because we have a preconceived idea of what people should be in order to fit the mold we are trying to place them in. This may or may not be intentional. In our jobs, we sometimes judge people to see if they fit a mold for a product we are trying to sell them. Other times we look at someone who is, say waiting on us in a restaurant, and cringe because they look different than we think a waiter or waitress should. Maybe we are right in these judgements and maybe not, but are we too quick to judge.

I know there are times when we need to judge others, if only for our own safety, but when we choose to allow our judgement of other people to define who we are in a negative way, we begin to see others only from the negative perspective of humanity that we carry inside of us. If we assume that all people who look or act differently than we do, are bad…then what does that make us?

Many people had yesterday off to celebrate Martin Luther King Day. As I was relaxing at home, I thought about the differences in people. We are all very different, and most of us would agree that being different is a good thing, but sometimes those differences can be very annoying, to say the least. When people don’t share your core values, and each one feels that they are right or justified, arguments can ensue. Both parties can feel very strongly about their beliefs. So what is the solution?

Well, there probably isn’t a solution that will be accepted by both parties, and I think we have to accept that. Sometimes we must agree to disagree, but along with tolerence, I believe we must have equal respect for the feelings of others. We all say things not knowing that they are hurtful to others, but I think that when we know they are hurtful, we should make our best effort not to say or do those things around that person. Does this violate free speech? I don’t think so. I think it only adds compassion to free speech. Choosing not to say or do something in the presence of certain people so they are not offended. Is that really so very hard? It can’t be made a law, except our own personal law, but it can be so easily practiced. I don’t mean to say that we all need to tip toe around, just be somewhat aware. And on the other side of that coin, just because someone says something that offends you, doesn’t mean it was aimed at you. A cute little saying in the movie “Miss Congeniality II” has always stuck in my head. It goes like this, “Everything is not about you!” How very true that is. In this “me, me, me” world, I think we have forgotten that little fact.

I’m watching a show on TV in which a girl was hit by a train because another driver, filled with rage pushed her car across the tracks. This was a fictional story, of course, but this could just as easily be a true story. We have all been guilty of road rage, whether we want to admit it or not. I recalled my own experiences with road rage, on both sides of the story.

I was going home for lunch one day as the snow was melting. I lived out in the country, and didn’t often go home at lunch, but I had forgotten something that day, so I was in a hurry. As I was driving along, a car pulled right out in front of me. I swerved to miss him, and spun completely around in the road, due to the melting snow. I came to a stop, safe at last, so I got out of my car. He got out too, and said, “Are you alright?” My answer, “Yes…You aren’t too smart, are you?” He meekly responded, “I guess not. I’m glad you’re ok. Have a good day.” Of course, I felt like two cents waiting for change, and I decided at that moment, that road rage was a waste of energy, and it tended to make people feel really bad…on both sides.

A few years later, I was sitting at an intersection. The light was red, so I was stopped. The light changed to green, and I started to proceed into the intersection. Suddenly another driver came through the red light right in front of me. I stopped, and as she came through the intersection, I observed her panicked face. Many thoughts ran rapidly through my head, but then I recalled the earlier incident, and I smiled and waved. The relief that flooded her face was all I needed to know that I had made the right move. Two people went their way that day with a smile on their faces, knowing that kindness is the better way.

Another time I was on the other side of that coin, in that I was the one who went through the red light. No accident occurred, but the man who had to stop because of me, followed me to the next light, got out of his car screaming. I tried to ignore him, but he wasn’t leaving. I grabbed my cell phone, called my daughter, and rolled the window down a crack. He was still yelling when he realized that I was talking on the phone…I turned to him and said, “I’m sorry. What more do you want me to say?” He sort of, came to himself and realized what he was doing, apologized and left. I was shaking.

Just the other day, with the parking lot covered in snow, I was driving down the lane at Albertson’s, when a girl came across 4 parking rows and in her white car, ended up right in front of me. I jumped, turned the wheel to the right, thankfully no cars were right there, and avoided her car. Again, our eyes met, and the relief on both faces was very obvious. We smiled…very relieved smiles, and went on our way. That was how my new year started. I felt thankful that it wasn’t different, and thankful that we both left the rage out of the mix.

My husband is bowling today, which means I get to have some me time. I love my husband very much, and those of you who have been married as long or longer than we have, 36 years, will understand that in a good marriage, there also needs to be time for yourself.

I know that in most young marriages, it just seems like you can’t get enough of each other’s company, and those of you who know us very well, also know that we spend a lot of time together, but sometimes you both need time to be in your own head. Bob and I have been married 36 wonderful years, as I mentioned before, and we are very happy together, but we are each our own person, as those of you who know us can attest. Our lives are quite busy with jobs, family, care giving for our parents, and walking. I am a devoted Christian, and I believe Bob will be. We don’t fight over our beliefs, as they are much the same, and he will always argue for the rights of Christians, when the law makers try to step on those rights. Our family is of the utmost importance in our lives. We are parents of two daughters each happily married for 17 and 15 years respectively. Our oldest daughter and her husband have given us 2 grandsons, and our youngest daughter and her husband have given us a granddaughter and a grandson. And all of our family and most of our extended family lives here. So you can see that our lives are very full.

In personal likes and dislikes, well we are different. He likes noise around him, like music and television, and mostly people, while I sometimes really crave the quiet, and that is hard to achieve when we are together, so the quiet “me moments” are a blessing for me. I am what many would call a bit of a “computer geek” and I enjoy spending quiet time on the computer (yes, my computer always has the sound muted…which I’m sure annoys my grandchildren), doing a multitude of things, from genealogy research to blogging to Facebook and Twitter, to crafts. I also love to read. These things are harder to do when the television is on and he is talking to me. So “me time” is very nice.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with my husband, and we have much in common. We both love to hike and do so as often as possible. We also, bowl, but I’ll have to admit he is more dedicated to that than I am. He is a great mechanic, and I can help with that, but thankfully I don’t have to very often, because the whole greasy hands thing just doesn’t appeal to me much. We also have long talks, and since they often turn to politics, I’m thankful that we agree 100% on that subject. And we love to travel, especially when we can add a hike or two to the mix. So you can see that we enjoy each other’s company. So then why do I need me time?

Well, I think we can each bring more joy and happiness into our marriage when we take time to relax and re-group, and then when we are back together, we have more of ourselves to give to each other.

I was watching the news and once again, a government official was misquoting the US Constitution regarding the “church and state” issue. I wish people would take 5 minutes to really read the Constitution and not just try to make it say what they want it to say in order to keep God out of government. Nowhere in the Constitution are the words “separation of church and state” mentioned, they are however, written in Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto. Many people think it came from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson which said he would “keep the government out of the church” not the church out of the government. The amendment to the Constitution that everyone so often misquotes is below.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This does NOT say that we are to keep religion out of the government, it says we are to keep the government out of religion, just as Thomas Jefferson wrote in his letter. There is really no way to keep our faith out of government, since the government is made up of people…of many faiths. But government, being a mix of people of many faiths, an entity, should not and really, cannot mix with religion. It is impossible, because the faiths are too different, and government cannot make them agree. Nor should it try. The main reason our founding fathers left England is that they did not want to be forced to attend the Church of England, which is what was going on. Government ruling over religion.

In my opinion, the religious beliefs of the people in our government have had some of the most positive effects on our laws, and it is only as we push God further and further out that our laws begin to be as corrupt as those of the communist countries. And isn’t it funny that the churches have no problem displaying the American flag, the constitution, etc, but the 10 Commandments, nativity scenes, etc can’t be on public property. I say put the Bibles back in school, and even read from the Quran. At least then, everyone will know what it really says.

And an addition from my friend Jim – One more thing, since all the founders kept diaries and almost all of them wrote in them what they said in the meaning of the constitution, and each related phrase to mean. None of them wanted anything outlawed as far as religion goes. The FIRST thing the new congress did was to pray a prayer “IN JESUS NAME!!”. If they didn’t mean for that to happen, they would have stopped it. I believe they all applauded?

As I watched the memorial service for the Tucson shooting victims, my thoughts went back to all of the political blame rhetoric that has gone on since this shooting. This shooting was tragic in every way, and the loss of life unthinkable, but I think that the need to blame people other than those who committed the act is simply wrong. We all hear negative things said about ourselves and others in this life. Unfortunately, we don’t all agree on who is beautiful and who is not, or who is doing a good job and who is not, or who has the right idea and who has the wrong idea, but we must agree that once we reach the age of accountability, we each know what is right and what is wrong according to the laws of this land and moral (God’s) law, and the accountability for our actions lies with each one of us…and only there. It’s like we are trying to transfer the blame upward, trying to find a final person who must say, “the buck stops here” in the hope of finding some way to make someone pay for this monstrous person’s existence.

So often, we turn first to the parents. How could they not have known of the monster they had created? And perhaps they did, but people are made into what they are by many different factors, and this was, after all a man of 22, not a child, who could be spanked by his parents or sent to his room! Once a child has started school, the complete input control of the parents is over. They meet friends, who might be the type to get into trouble, they listen to the ideas of teachers, politicians, and many others. They watch television, play video games, and see the actions of others, but while most of us see and hear negative things, we still turn out ok. We would never commit the acts we saw in Tucson. So, how can we blame others for the acts of one? I don’t think we can. And to try to blame a statement made 8 months earlier for something that happened now, is simply wrong. We have all heard negative remarks, from both sides, but when we make the choice to commit acts of violence against other people, we alone must carry the blame.

And while I’m at it, I would also like to comment on the way the memorial service was handled. I think most of it was a disgrace. This is not a campaign rally or a great photo opportunity. This wasn’t a great chance to meet the president and his gang. And then to have a big reception line for the president and his gang was ridiculous, you are supposed to be giving condolences to the family, not the speaker!! This was to mourn those lost in this terrible tragedy. Cheering and whistling…really, and we call this killer calloused. There were families whose lives will never be the same and they came to this memorial service expecting to be comforted, not to have everyone around them screaming and cheering, because they got to hear the president speak. It was a disgusting display in my opinion and if I were the family of one of those poor victims, I would have walked out.

I think that they should have held a separate ceremony to honor the heroes of that day, who very much deserved the honor, to be sure, but not at the memorial service. That should have been a solemn service, and if the president wanted to attend, he should have attended in silence, showing his understanding (if he had any) and not his so called “great” speaking ability.

Recently I had the misfortune to deal with a couple of situations in which a person in authority lied to cover their own backside. I know that the natural instinct in life is to do whatever it takes to protect yourself, but when a person in authority lies, it is really inexcusable. People need to be able to trust those in authority. It is especially deplorable when a person in authority lies to our children. Children are looking for someone to model themselves after, to look up to, and when a person they trust lies and the child knows they lied, they begin to think that all adults are the same.

There were two recent situations whereby teachers/coaches lied to their students, and that especially angers me. We tell our children to listen to their teachers and be obedient in class, and when the teacher/coach is the liar, and our children are the ones who take the fall on it, or don’t receive what they were told they would receive…well, it is wrong in every way. The children lose faith in the teacher/coach, the school system, authority figures, and adults in general. They begin to feel that they are not important, so adults don’t feel the need to be honest. And to top it off, the same authority figure will “punish” in one way or another, the student for lying. If you are going to lie to the students, at least have the decency to expect the same treatment, and be big enough to let it go when they do lie to you. After all, what have you taught them? As a teacher, you have taught them not to lie as children, but when you reach adulthood…well, then it’s ok.

The one thing we can take with us, no matter where we go, is our good name, or bad name, if that is what you choose to cultivate. If you destroy your good name by lying, you must work awfully hard to get it back, if it is possible to do so. The best thing to do is to protect your good name by never telling lies, and keeping your word even when it costs you more than you had hoped.

My husband and I were at the mall last night for our evening walk, when I saw a teen aged girl wearing a t-shirt that said, “Discipline or Disappointment, Take Your Pick” on the back of it. My first thought was, “Well, how profound.” But after thinking about it for a little while I began to wonder what our kids really want. I don’t think you would see a teenager wearing a shirt like that one if they weren’t trying to make a serious statement. This girl truly understood that without discipline in our lives, we are not going achieve our best self.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that most teenagers won’t admit that they need and really, want limits, but I believe that most kids do want to be good kids. I don’t think that any child dreams of being in constant trouble, but without limits, rules and regulations, and discipline, kids will get into trouble. Now I know that many people don’t like spanking, but there are many ways to discipline your child. I don’t believe that “time out” is an effective method, but I think grounding works quite well.

In this world of bad influences, it is hard enough to keep kids out of the kind of trouble that comes from time spent with the wrong kind of friends, but when you add a lack of discipline at home to that mix, you are headed for trouble.

Was this girl a one in a million, I don’t really think so, unless you are talking one in a million who tell it like it is. No, I think she is speaking for many other teenagers who are saying, help me be better. Make me behave. Help me achieve. Keep me out of trouble. Give me limits, rules, regulations, discipline, because all of these things, even though I might hate them at times, tell me you LOVE me.

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