Happy Birthday America

The following appeared in The Washington Post as an anonymous letter to the editor on July 4, 1976.

What am I?

I am a free man — a good and decent man — a man of compassion, generosity, and understanding — a true friend, a steadfast ally, and a bitter foe.

I owe my allegiance to a government founded in the belief that among the rights of man are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Indeed, I would acknowledge no other. I can redress my government for injury; not satisfied with redress, I can elect a new one. I have watched my government function smoothly during periods of transfer of power caused by re-election, assassination, and resignation.

While other nations have a distinct race, religion, and/or geographic denominator, I live among people of my home without fear of intrusion by anyone — citizen or government designee — unless they have my personal invitation or a duly authorized search warrant.

I haveI live under a system of justice, merciful and fairly administered, where I am assumed innocent until proven guilty — a system which provides me appellate privilege while denying it to the power of the state.

I am free to go anywhere I want, earn my living in any way that suits me and, based on that freedom, I have created a standard of living unequalled in the history of man and envied the world over.

I have suffered in humility at the consequences of my mistakes — economic deprivation, social injustice, unequal opportunity and racial prejudice to name a few — but, once aware of these mistakes, I have set out to right the wrongs they created.

I have faced challenges to my way of life. I have fought and died countless times from Lexington and Concord to Vietnam. I was humbled at Valley Forge, Pearl Harbor, Corregidor and Malmady. But these experiences gave me the character I needed to go to Yorktown, Gettysburg, Midway and Normandy. I cherish my freedom above all else — I bow to no tyrant.

I am two hundred years old today. I have never been so proud of my ancient heritage, so grateful for my present situation, and so confident of the future. Today, I reaffirm my allegiance to, faith in, and love of my country. To the proposition that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth, I do humbly pledge my life, my fortune, and my sacred honor.

I am an American.

Mighty Big Shoes to Fill

Can you miss or grieve for someone you never knew or met? I don’t know, but today when I heard Tim Russert had died of a massive heart attack at the too-young age of 58, my heart sank. News people in general don’t inspire much trust, but I always liked when Tim Russert was on my TV- he seemed genuine, trust-able, and, well, normal. Catching Meet the Press on a Sunday morning was something I like to do once in a while. He seemed to care about journalism, care about being honest, impartial and unbiased- kind of a rarity these days, when every cable channel has some lip-glossed and hair-clubed pundit telling you what to think.

Godspeed, Mr Russert. May the four winds carry you safely home.

Studying Japan

For the end of year shenanigans, Jeffrey’s school is staging a mini-Olympics, and he has been asigned to represent Japan. So, like all good Foodie-Moms, I decided I would throw down a Japanese meal, complete with digging out the proper table ware and chopsticks.

Beanie was gung-ho to help, and he cut the tofu into cubes, peeled the garlic and the ginger, and measured the miso into the stock pot. I fixed miso soup, steamed fish, sticky rice, fried tofu, soba noodles with broccoli and tempura yam. As gung-ho as Bean was to help with prep, when we set the table, he asked for an English muffin with peanut butter. *sigh*

Jeffrey was a really good sport and actually tried everything on the table. We talked about Japan and the types of food they eat. The verdict was: tofu is tolerable with ranch dressing, the fish was fine, and rice needs butter, and yams were worth licking, but not eating. How can I argue- I mean, at least he didn’t ask for ketchup.

Sometimes I wonder how much of being a parent is really just trying hard. I mean, dinner was basically a flop- Abby ate the soba noodles, Bean ate his English muffin, and Jeff smothered his bowl in buttermilk salad dressing. But, I have a strange feeling, when they look back, they just might remember that mom made Japanese dinner, it was fun and different, and maybe that’s enough.

Besides, watching three little kids try and master chopsticks is priceless.

Memorial Day

Shuttering up for the long weekend…

Have an enjoyable Memorial Day. If you are interested in doing something for the living serving our country, try this site, AnySoldier.com– for a daily updated list of servicemen and women in far flung lands who are mighty happy to get a package or letter from home. Just a thought…

Be back on Tuesday. Have a happy weekend!

Happy Mother’s Day

This is a post from my archives- but I can’t say it any better today than I did then- and it’s one of my very favorite things I’ve written. Happy Mother’s Day…

I’m feeling rather soft and squishy about my children tonight. Somedays I feel I am the one learning and they are the teachers. Not necessarily the older wiser teachers, but the harder, tough teachers that you never forget the lessons you learn from. Ever had any of those? I’ve got three of them here under my own roof.

The woman I used to be was independent, a world traveler, a career chick who had a really fun job, cool and interesting friends, a convertible, nice clothes and a good dye job on the hair. I relished my freedom and independence, I sat in bed on Sunday mornings reading the paper and writing self-indulgent things in my journal while my dog slept at my feet. I had friends over for fancy meals and to try out new, gourmet recipes. I spent my free time with other bohemians who were equally self-indulgent and submerged in relative luxury. Luxury of time, of money, of place and weather. Luxury of friends and career’s and choices and plenty. Luxury of museums and concerts and sunset cruises on the Bay after tiny bistro dinners in the City… Ah, I can still feel it, and on melancholy days, I might even miss it a tiny bit.

The woman I am now… Ah, the woman I am now is so much happier than the woman I was. The previous life sounds glamorous and full and fun- and at times it was. But it was also a whole lot of hollow- years of looking for what I felt was missing. Years of writing in that journal, wishing for a family of my own, wishing for my eternal companion (even though he was right under my nose), wishing for children, wishing for a home, wishing for everything that now occupies my days and often my nights.

From my children and my choosing to be a stay-at-home mom, I have learned more than I ever imagined possible. From the moment Jeffrey was born, he has been teaching me- starting with his body sliding into the world… Came the stunning realization that there really is a God. Nothing in my life has been as impacting and as sure as that moment. From Eric’s birth I learned that my heart could expand indefinitely, that love was not something metered out or finite. From Abby’s birth, I learned my capacity to cope and deal with pain reached far beyond what I thought were my boundaries, and I came out not only alive, but thrillingly so.

Each day, as I watch my children grow and change, visibly metamorphosing, the same thing is happening inside of me. My life is not about me anymore, but the irony is that I am more alive, more myself than I ever was when it was all about me. Motherhood has given me confidence in the face of opposition, a knowledge of my personal resources and how deep they might actually be, lessons in patience repeated over and again, a solid sense of what is really important, the ability to discern and trust my intuition, and faith. Oh, most of all, Faith.

How could any of us mother without faith? How could we get through the long nights and exhausting days without faith? How could we do what we do, over and over, without faith?The Lord gave me the greatest gift when Jeffrey was born. I had been searching for years for answers, but it was not until the very moment his warm, wet body was laid on my stomach that I knew, knew with all my heart, that God was there, that God is real.

As mothers, we walk around in the world watching our hearts live outside ourselves. Tiny bodies holding our very lifeblood toddle off into the great blue beyond, and the vulnerability would be unendurable without Faith.

So today, I thank the Lord for answering my questions in unmistakable ways, and for giving me the gift of these little teachers, who stretch and grow and push me toward my eternal destination. I pray that I am enough of a mother to do the same for them.

Happy Mothers Day to all of you. Go kiss your mother!

Short Rant

I don’t live in Seattle. For some reason, many people think the rest of the Northwest is hicksville. I just don’t get it, and sometimes, just sometimes, the comments and cracks bum me out. We live in a very nice town- and I love it here. Sure, we may not be cosmopolitan, but we are an easy drive from Seattle if we need some big-city culture. We don’t have an Ikea, but Seattle does, and I can go there if I need it bad enough.

Not all people who opt to live in smaller towns are backward hicks. Just needed to say that.

So I’m taking a day or two off to go sew. I owe some folks some things, and I need to make stuff.  Rant over.

Complicated Pasts

So today I got an email from someone waaaaaay back in my past. A little back-story- oh crap, there is no human way to make the back-story on this one little. She is an ex-girlfriend of my husband’s. And, she is now married to the man I was seriously involved with for over three years. She and her husband are hosting a wedding for… wait for it…. the man I was dating at 17, who introduced me to my husband. Yeah. Really.

See, long ago, David and I ran with a, um… looser crowd.  To be fair, I’m certain we aren’t the only ones who’ve grown up. From her email, it’s clear they are now much like us- married, kids, house- all that.  But it’s still weird.

For close to ten years, this woman’s life and mine were painfully intertwined. We ran in the same social circles, we dated, and in some cases, loved, the same men, and I can speak with all certainty, we caused each other much heartache. And yet… I was oddly pleased to see an email from her.

Has enough time gone by, water under the bridge, all that, that we can reminisce? Really, there is no one in my current social circle that knows my history, knows what my life used to be like, except my husband. This woman was there for many life-changing events- she was a part of some of the most tumultuous times in my life. We knew each other as teens, into our twenties and we grew from girls into women during that time.

Were we friends? No. I could never claim that. But… there was always something there. We were fascinated by each other. The men who loved her ended up loving me, and the men who loved me, ended up loving her. On quick glance, we couldn’t seem more different- and yet, I suspect we were more alike than anyone knew. 

It’s been- holy cow- maybe 13 years since I’ve seen her. I think, think, the last time was when my recently broken-up boyfriend came to my house to take our dogs from me. She was in the car. I remember hating her. Not only was the man I had loved taking my beloved dogs, but she was there to see my pain. She’s married to that man now. They have two kids. He belonged with her.

See? Complicated. What think you? If you had the ability to reconnect with someone from your past, someone like this, would you?