Friday, April 9, 2010

Cheers for the outdoors!

At last, grandma and the kids can play outside!

On this spot, the Donner party camped before their ill-fated ascent of the Sierra Nevadas. Maddox makes it a living monument. And Ione tries to escape the camera with her usual blur of movement.

Foiled this time!

No longer my passive photo model, Maddox mugs for the camera, while Ione imitates a shizu.

               Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

and be a child again!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

When the sun shines...'s easy to praise God as we should every day.

Psalm 100

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that have made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Psalm 148

Praise ye the LORD. Praise ye the LORD from the heavens: praise him in the heights.
Praise ye him, all his angels; praise ye him, all his hosts.
Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light.
Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens.
Let them praise the name of the LORD: for he commanded, and they were created.
He hath also stablished them for ever and ever: he hath made a decree which shall not pass.
Praise the LORD from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps:
Fire, and hail; snow, and vapours; stormy wind fulfilling his word:
Mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars:
Beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl:
Kings of the earth, and all people; princes, and all judges of the earth: 
Both young men, and maidens; old men, and children:
Let them praise the name of the LORD: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven.
He also exalteth the horn of his people, the praise of all his saints; even of the children of  Is-ra-el, a people near unto him. Praise ye the LORD.

The picture is of Pyramid Lake near Reno, Nevada, and the beautiful language is from the King James Version of the Bible.

Enjoy this and every day that God has made!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Egads! Where went March?

Is it really over a month since I blogged. Oi! But March has been busy. First and best was the visit of my son and daughter-in-law from London. What a treat!  And of course Cris came supplied with European chocolates and fine (but fiercely hot) ginger/ chili cookies. These were definitely not on Dale's to eat list, especially since he has been suffering a bout of GERD (acid reflux disease).

Our son brought his cigars and some rather good scotch, as always, and we all sampled the American microbrews he can't find in London. London, it turns out, is not really a beer and ale town, or at least not an adventurous one. My personal favorite is India Pale Ale, perhaps because my father drank it when I was little, and we kids always drained the bottles to the last drop before depositing them in the return case in the cellar (or at least I did). Over the winter, Dale and I have just stored beer in the garage, where it has been plenty cold, but as the weather has warmed we've gotten in the habit of leaving it there and drinking a cool bottle or even one at room temperature. I think that better brings out the flavor. I guess it's something I have in common with the Brits.

While he was here, Dale William got a tattoo...a free one because he bumped into his tattoo artist at an old hangout. Although I wasn't an original fan of multiple tattoos, I've come to accept my son's appreciation of this "body art," and this time I went with him and Cris not only to the tattoo convention that happened to be in town, but also to watch Dale get the freebie hour glass etched on his leg.  I'll admit it was fascinating. Tattoos aren't for everyone, for sure, but they are for my son. He loves them, and others do as well because they love him. One possible exception may be Cris' grandmother in Madrid (who does like Dale) but not the tattoos at all. Fortunately, his can be covered by long sleeves, and he works in advertising where eccentricities are accepted.

The best thing about family visits is how distance and time away evaporates as soon as everyone is together again. Our daughter Lisa hosted Dale and Cris at her house, but we all got together for a couple of family dinners (a belated Christmas turkey, apparently not easily available in London, and an early St. Patrick's Day Irish stew). Because daughter Hilary and son-in-law Dustin are next door, Dale William and Cris had a good bit of time to spend with their nephew and niece. Maddox went bowling with the grown ups and was upset when one of his balls knocked down only nine pins. "He's a competitor," said his uncle. And Maddox is; he was happy to whip around on his Christmas BMX bike and show off his increasing skills on a skateboard.

Ione overcame a very short initial shyness and then reveled in the attention only a little girl with a sweet (and sometimes mischievous) smile can evoke...especially from grandpa!

However, all good things must come to an end, and unfortunately Dale and Cris' visit ended before our Reno weather turned from late winter to sunny spring. But hey, what are they used to in London!

But I am doubly blessed because in six short weeks, I'll see them again in London with one of my sisters and then travel on to Spain to tour Galicia with Cris' parents. I've been to Spain once before, and the country is beautiful; the people are welcoming, and life is lived wholeheartedly. I can hardly wait!
I do worry that my Spanish skills (I've been teaching myself all year) will leave a lot to be desired, but I think Cris' Mom and I will be able to communicate. I know we will be able to enjoy. that was the beginning of March and on March 19th, I began a new journey that may occupy me for the next year and which I'll write about tomorrow (I hope, or perhaps the next day).

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Holy Moses!!!

"Holy Moses" were the exact words out of my mouth as I walked out of the bedroom this morning and looked out the office window: snow and lots of it! But this has just given me an extra opportunity to try out my new camera, a point and shoot Sony Cybershot DSC H20.

I chose a point and shoot because I've become quite the klutz with my DSLR, missing most of the good low-light shots I really wanted to capture (and I hate flash, with which I've always been unsuccessful). I've had the new camera for three days now, and I am very pleased. It is almost klutz-proof (the exceptions being when my granddaughter Ione chooses to move too  abruptly). With a memory stick PRO-HG Duo, the pictures load zippily into iPhoto, and that certainly is a change from the past.

Here are some of my shots from Friday:

Maddox in his "Mohawk"..."The kids (at pre-school) laughed and laughed." And it was a good day..."no time outs," he reported on his arrival home. Hurrah! He gets to watch "Toy Story."

Meanwhile, Ione and I hung out together: and she took some advantage of her brother's absence to test out his clothes and the toys he's outgrown, but not entirely, not completely enough to really want to share with a little sister.

And Saturday, Grandma stayed home and baked tomato soup muffins for church on Sunday, which (due to the Sunday morning scene outside) never made it to our church that is 40 miles away.

So the kids came out to play:

...and to snitch graham crackers...

and to tell Dad all about it.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Do You Want to Clone a Caveman?

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Most of us chuckled at GEICO's caveman ads ("so simple even a caveman can do it!") that placed a couple of Neanderthal-appearing guys in a contemporary setting where they are regularly offended by Neanderthal-acting humans. But some day in the not distant future, the joke may be on us as scientists clone Neanderthals in the lab and create, perhaps, a modern day Neanderthal community, with which we humans will need to deal ethically and legally.

BioEdge, an on-line review of issues in bioethics, quotes John Hawks, a University of Wisconsin paleoanthropologist, who says "In the end, we are going to have a cloned Neanderthal." Hawks is opposed, but others interviewed by Archeology magazine, from which BioEdge draws its review, favored cloning. George Church, genetics professor at Harvard Medical School, even believes it may be unethical not to clone: "Just saying 'no' is not necessarily the safest or most moral path. It is a very risky decision to do nothing."

According to Archeology, Neanderthals and humans co-existed for 6,000 to 7,000 years before the more adaptable humans pushed Neanderthals into extinction some 30,000 years ago. The Neanderthal, who Archeology notes, broke away from the lineage of modern humans 450,000 years ago, was physically different from the human: shorter with a protruding brow, stronger upper torso and a larger brain cavity. He lived in communities, buried his dead, made and improved on tools, and likely communicated in a language. Archeology quotes Jacques Hublin, a paleoanthropologist at Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany: "they [had] a different way to give birth to babies, differences in life history, shape of the inner ear, genetics, the speed of development of individuals, weaning, age of puberty." But others believe Neanderthals were not different enough to be considered a separate species.

Bits of Neanderthal DNA have been found in a cave in northern Spain where 11 Neanderthals were murdered about 49,000 years ago and then cannibalized. Geneticists like Professor Church believe it may be possible to create a Neanderthal person by implanting a stem cell with Neanderthal DNA into a human blastocyst and then keeping all the non-Neanderthal cells from developing. Of course, just as does embryonic stem cell research, this requires eliminating human life and is opposed by many, like myself, for this reason.

But there are other reasons to balk at cloning a Neanderthal. Church, himself, acknowledges that anyone cloned would lack the social and environment factors that shaped the original: "They would be something new," he says, "neo-Neanderthals." "This is a species-altering event. It changes the way we are creating a new generation," says Lori Andrews, a professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law. Archeology notes that "legal precedent in the united States seems to be on the side of Neanderthal human rights" of which would certainly be the right not to be experimented on. This might make moot Professor Church's desire to use a cloned Neanderthal to further medical research.

Archeology quotes Bernard Rollin, a bioethicist and professor of philosophy at Colorado State University who believes "the problem lies in how that individual would be treated by others." Rollin says, "I don't believe it is fair to put people...into a circumstance where they are going to be mocked and possibly feared, and this is equally important: it's not going to have a peer group. Given that humans are at some level social beings, it would be grossly unfair."

In the end, Archeology poses the question: "The ultimate goal of studying human evolution is to better understand the human race. The opportunity to meet a Neanderthal and see firsthand our common but separate humanity seems, on the surface, too good to pass up. But what if the thing we learned from cloning a Neanderthal is that our curiosity is greater than our compassion (remember, as Archeology states, the number of sick and dead individuals produced by nuclear transfer cloning is the reason nearly all scientists are opposed to human reproductive cloning") ?"

More likely what's learned (or relearned) would be that our technological know how is greater that our wisdom.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Count Me In!

This is the Mt. Vernon statement, signed by a group of conservatives today at Mt. Vernon:

A Constitutional conservatism unites all conservatives through the natural fusion provided by American principles. It reminds economic conservatives that morality is essential to limited government, social conservatives that unlimited government is a threat to moral self-government, and national security conservatives that energetic but responsible government is the key to America’s safety and leadership role in the world.
A Constitutional conservatism based on first principles provides the framework for a consistent and meaningful policy agenda.
  • It applies the principle of limited government based on the rule of law to every proposal.
  • It honors the central place of individual liberty in American politics and life.
  • It encourages free enterprise, the individual entrepreneur, and economic reforms grounded in market solutions.
  • It supports America’s national interest in advancing freedom and opposing tyranny in the world and prudently considers what we can and should do to that end.
  • It informs conservatism’s firm defense of family, neighborhood, community, and faith.
Does this match your beliefs?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sadly a Portrait in Group Think

At U.C. Irvine, Islamic students disrupt and attempt to shut down a speech by the Israeli Ambassador. To the University's credit, the disrupters are escorted out and if students, will face disciplinary action.

However, the whole scene is a sorry spectacle of closed ears and closed minds. This is an un-American spectacle...though at least one and probably many in the group are American citizens. As such, they certainly are bereft of American values. We can not let our culture of free speech be destroyed by those who so totally disrespect it.

These people need to be strongly condemned and prosecuted. I would same the same if it were Israeli or Jewish students acting in the same manner...but Israeli and Jewish students don't act like this.

This video is raw footage and a little lengthy, but please watch and note that politeness in the face of fanaticism effects nothing. I apologize for not being able to embed it here, but click on this youtube address, and you will be able to see the video:

After watching, think about whether tolerance for such actions is un-American as I believe it strong as that word is. Dissent that shuts down the constitutional rights of others is a threat to the foundation of our system, and perpetrators need to be prosecuted. Free speech requires constant vigilant protection, and it is cowardly to tolerate its affront.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

From Little Rhody: A Rare Portrait in Courage

I'm a product of Rhode Island public schools: a good elementary (then Broad Street School in Providence), a bad junior high (Roger Williams, but only for 7th and 8th grades), and an excellent college prep high school (Classical). But that was in "the day," I guess. With five of my siblings, I went on to college and also earned an advanced degree, and I do credit much of that success rate to our high school education that sent more than 90% of graduates on to college or nursing school (and, of course, also credit much encouragement from home).

Today, I am passionate about the need for better public schools, and I believe that means charter schools where parents lead and participate and/or school vouchers where parents choose public or private education for their children. This will only be accomplished, you can bet, over the cold dead bodies of teachers' unions. So cheers to School Superintendent Frances Gallo who will fire all the union teachers at Central Falls High School, which has a graduation rate of less than 50%, because they refused to work an additional 25 minutes each day or to help tutor failing students. Guess where teacher unions' priorities are!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Got Ya (Cel Phone) Number! Friday's Quote

"… Where liberals once screamed foul that George Bush ordered the monitoring of phone calls going in to and going out of the US from, or to, known or suspected terrorists and phone companies who participated in that measure should be tarred and feathered… [to] when Obama says Americans should have 'no reasonable expectation of privacy' and it is decided their 'Fourth Amendment rights are not violated when a phone company reveals to the government its own records' ... is fine and dandy and is met with silence…
"My, what a difference a “historic” and “unprecidented” presidency makes."     Erick Erickson

Monday, February 8, 2010

Patience, thy name is Stubborn!

"There's no use being Irish if you can't be thick," my Dad told me with a chuckle on a number of occasions, not all of them appreciated. Stubborn I am; patient I am not. And I've long realized my lack of this virtue. It's golden, my mother frequently reminded me. And I won't quote some of what Dale has said as I have fidgeted, muttered, and banged my way through frustration.

In truth, I have even prayed over my failure, and God has left me impatiently awaiting a fix: until now, until my ever-patient younger sister Madeline reintroduced me to knitting during a visit last month. Years ago when my two oldest children were young, Madeline guided me through the making of two afghans before I set my needles down. Last month she guided me through the making of a scarf, and it occurred to me that I should become more ambitious and make a gift, a shawl for a dear lady I will be visiting in May.

Luckily it's still February. As I curse the delay of sunshiny days, the absence of even buds on the trees, the soggy ground, the filthy car that would be senseless to wash, the dour expression on the face in my mirror, the darkness even until past seven in the morning, the chill, the flat grey sky, the dog tracks on my living room floor, the power bill, and the grumblings of discontent that fill my mind, I begin my project and find I am grateful that I have three months to succeed in it.

For knitting is an in and out proposition...not so much the movement of the needles, I mean more the knit five rows in, tear six rows out. Indeed, I have been driven nearly to distraction. I have spent periods of three and four hours bumblingly testing my sanity.  And it's been a very near thing. Ask Dale.

But gradually I am making some progress. I'm learning to be smarter about tearing out and catching the added stitch that necessitates pulling out nine rows. I'm taking some of this with a grain of salt; it really doesn't require I tear my hair out as well even as it makes me feel like doing just that.

There's even some humor in the situation. For instance, Dale finds it hysterical that I am becoming the caricature of a grandmother. I have the white hair, the spectacles, and now, Lord help me, the knitting needles. But he restrains himself also because knitting needles have other uses, which is why, I suppose, the TSA in its high flying wisdom forbids taking them on board an airplane.

There's really no joy in tearing out. In some ways, it's rather masochistic. It really would be a whole lot easier to simply dump the whole mess and begin shopping for a gift. But I'm from New England (originally), and it's hard to take all of that out of a girl even in riotous Reno town. Remember, I am stubborn. So I stand over the trash can, and retract the hand that is about to dump in the yarn. I pull out the needles. I grit my teeth, and I begin again. Some might call this patience...but as you can see they would be wrong.

Quote of the Day

"You [President Obama] say you want innovation. You say you want competition. And you say you want America to lead, not follow. You brought down the house during your State of the Union address by saying so. But education innovation, competition and leadership depends upon giving parents, teachers and schools the freedom to do their jobs, not forcing them to abide 20th century labor laws that [protect] adults and not kids, and allowing children to attend schools based on their best interests, not on their ZIP code.
Good domestic policy isn’t just about making tough decisions on biofuel, energy or health care. Good domestic policy means making tough decisions about who educates our kids and who does not, and puts parents, not bureaucrats in charge."                 Jeanne Allen

Sunday, January 31, 2010

By Invitation Only

This morning after church I was handed a copy of Bender’s Immigration Bulletin of January 1, 2010, which purports to analyze "What the Bible Really Says about Immigration Policy…(" by Bruce and Judy Hake, who associate themselves with the advocacy of “merciful” immigration laws—and asked to comment on what they have to say.

The Hake's are contrasting the pro-open immigration policy supported in a book by Donald Kerwin and Jill Marie Gerschutz (You Welcomed Me: Immigration and Catholic Social Teaching) and an article for the Center for Immigration Studies Backgrounder: A Biblical Perspective on Immigration Policy by James R. Edwards Jr., Ph.D., that is opposed. The Hake's also refer to an article they wrote in 1998 that supports open immigration.

Obviously, I haven't read the Kerwin book, which is available on Amazon. com and has a single five star review (and no others). I wouldn't recommend it on the strength of the Hake's discussion. 

Both the Hake's and Dr. Edwards look to the Bible for guidance on the issue of illegal immigration into the United States (I know I will be chastised by open immigration advocates for using the term "illegal," but it seems straight forward and factual to me).  Edwards' discussion allows some hedging: "On some matters of public policy, the Bible speaks clearly," he points out, "On other issues, there is less clarity and more room for prudential judgment. The rub comes where there is a lack of scriptural clarity on a particular issue."

Lack of clarity may very well be the case here, although the Hake's appear not to believe so. The strength of their argument is "many passages from the Old and New Testaments regarding the imperative of generosity to foreigners." They also speak of "a mainstream Catholic social justice view" and cite catechism. The extent of their conviction (or might I say prejudice) is the statement that "[o]ur own instinct is to regard the CIS article as discredited before even reading it."

Their argument is further spoiled on a number of occasions by attempts to slur Edwards and those who disagree with themselves as "nativists," perhaps even "racists" (note the quote from the Southern Poverty Law Center  on the third page). The Center for Immigration Studies is an "anti-foreigner propaganda outlet," while, oddly, a site associated with the American Immigration Lawyers Association is recommended as "genuinely neutral." In fairness to the Hake's they do footnote Mark Krikorian, executive director of the CIS, writing that "Free Speech is Great, But...The open-borders lobby's attempt to silence its critics."

But what about the arguments? To be generous to strangers or foreigners? Clearly this admonition appears throughout the Bible, beginning, the Hakes suggest, in Genesis when God says to Abraham: "And to you and to your descendants after you, I shall give the country where you are now immigrants, the entire land of Canaan, to own in perpetuity." But I wonder, "to own"? Does not ownership imply control over?

The Hake's also cite Matthew 25: 

"The the King will say to those on his right hand, 'Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take as your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. /For I was hungry and you gave me food,  I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you made me welcome, lacking clothes and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me."

But skeptic that I am, I think that the kingdom prepared for believers is in Heaven, not on Earth. And food, drink, clothing, care...compassion? Yes, I'd say--but residency, citizenship??  This is not at all clear, the Hake's further recitation of the parable of the Good Samaritan and the Golden rule notwithstanding. 

Edwards provides, to my mind, a useful distinction: government is required to exercise justice, and occasionally to act with mercy. The two are "complementary," but not synonymous. 

Writes Edwards: "Government's exercise of mercy is more challenging that its role in ensuring justice. Examples of mercy in public policy exist; for instance, granting a criminal a pardon or parole before he serves out his prison sentence, having proportionality for punishment of a crime (e.g., an eye for an eye, rather than a life for an eye). But most such policies aim in a rifle-shot fashion at individual cases, and often they involve some level of merit."

He adds: "When considering mercy as public policy, however, an important distinction must be drawn. Nor every moral or ethical teaching in the Bible fits cleanly or applies equally to both individuals and societies...Legislating mercy requires prudence, restraint, and good judgment...[because] the practical consequences of civil government's 'mercy' are actually borne by the citizenry." 

The consequences here could and honestly have included lawlessness (gangs, drugs), a drain on the public treasury (education, medical care), and the taking of jobs from citizens (especially the least educated). There has also been the tendency (in opposition to Biblical passages Edwards' cites on immigration into the Biblical Jewish state) of recent illegal immigrants to resist assimilation into the host culture. Of course there is also the history of immigration enriching our nation over the course of centuries, but there remains the difference, the need for assimilation that is lost in the chorus for multi-culturalism today. The Hake's assert in their own article that "there is no evidence that the American melting pot has stopped working." It's an assertion that is coming under increasing negative scrutiny in this country today.

Personally, like most Americans, I am conflicted on the immigration issue. I recognize that I am the granddaughter and great-grandaughter of immigrants (albeit legal entrants). As a Christian I do want to alleviate suffering in the world, but as a practical (former) New Englander, I don't believe open immigration does much of anything permanent for the rest of the world (for example, Mexico) as the U.S. tries to absorb its brightest or its most discontent. Better (more practical), I think, is putting pressure on the Mexican government to improve; better is pushing for a decent government in Haiti or ending the genocide in Sudan than attempting to receive all the world's hurting. 

The Hake's do admit in their own position paper from 1998 that "The United States has been far and away the most generous nation in world history in its treatment of foreigners"and "Compared to other countries, current U.S. policy is angelic." At the same time, it's true, I think, that current U.S. policy is ineffective: protecting neither American citizens from potential security breaches nor improving the lot of foreign populations. We should do better.

Last night Dale and I watched a National Geographic documentary (God Grew Tired of Us) that tells the story of three "lost boys" of Sudan, raised in a refugee camp in Kenya, who are brought to the U.S. to begin new lives. Of these three, one receives his bachelor degree in economics from the University of Pittsburgh, marries a childhood sweetheart, finds his brother, and plans to return to Africa to start a school. A second, brings his mother and sister to this country and supports them, sends money to other family members in Africa and to the refugee camp of lost boys, forms an NGO to build a medical clinic in Africa and along with holding three jobs, goes to the University of Syracuse to earn a bachelor's degree. The third is unable to locate family members and remains working gainfully in this country.

This is the kind of seed immigration we need to support. This is the kind of immigration that spreads benefits here and abroad. The Hake's cite "the enlightened perspective" of The Wall Street Journal in favor of an open immigration policy because the modern, globally interconnected world requires free movement of goods, capital, information...and thus labor. But this perfect balance has certainly not arrived, and some of the policies (free movement of goods, for one) are stridently opposed by the same people who are pushing an open immigration policy. Rather than an open policy, we need a common sense policy that promotes continued U.S. strength: economic, cultural, constitutional. And, believe it or not, that's best for the poor nations of the world as well: that we should be strong enough to offer effective aid to their peoples.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Teaparty Opportunity Missed?

Life certainly interrupts good intentions. I intended to blog on Sunday and decided to put it off until Monday, but then spent Monday morning from 1:45 a.m. to 6:45 a.m. with Dale in the emergency room. He had puzzling chest pains and had to remain in the hospital himself until 8:45 p.m. Monday night with many blood draws and tests, little sleep, and nothing to eat until dinner time. And the result was inconclusive, but of course that's good news: not a second heart attack (his first "baby" attack was in 2002).

I did get to go home and keep my scheduled appointment with the oncologist at 9 and after that flailed around for the rest of the day on the strength of a one hour nap.

But I had pursued my better intentions on Saturday and gone to the Washoe County (NV) Republican Precinct meetings, all held in a beautiful new high school on the current fringes of the city. I needed to look up directions to get there, and apparently many others didn't do that because the caucuses were sparsely attended. I looked in vain for all the teabaggers that I'd heard had been urged to attend local precinct meetings, but I saw no wild-eyed revolutionaries in evidence (myself excluded, I guess). I was the first of two in my  precinct (out of 2 or 3 hundred registered GOP voters) to show up. Thus, I became precinct captain. Dale says that makes me officially a politician, but I think one has to run successfully for office to achieve that distinction.

So I will be attending the county convention on March 13, and I've even expressed an interest in the state convention in April. But I'm nevertheless uncertain about all this, as was my companion attendee. I want the Nevada Republican Party to stand for something. Eight or so years ago, I abandoned participation in the Lyon County Central Committee because I didn't believe it did  (anymore, of course, than the state Democrat Party of the time). Has anything changed? I think the Democrat Party has become even more Las Vegas centric and even more at the beck and call of the Service Workers Union. So why didn't more teabaggers show up for the nitty gritty work of moving the Republican Party toward their goals?  Please don't tell me that's not possible because I think that sentiment is a cop out.

I attended two teaparties in Reno and Fallon last summer and fall. It was great fun...especially the sunny and hot Reno outing (it was freezing in Fallon). It was terrific to join with people who noisily (but orderly) shared my opinions on the issues of the day (healthcare, national security etc.). I missed them on Saturday, but it is possible some were present in the rather humdrum process of party organizing. This wasn't a time when party platform or even candidates (beyond a straw poll for governor and U.S. senator) were discussed, but it was the stepping stone to the county and state conventions where these will be on the agenda.  It seems a little odd to me that on the same weekend as the Washoe County meeting, sixty national teaparty leaders were meeting in D.C. with Dick Armey's FreedomWorks group and specifically targeting Harry Reid in the Nevada senatorial race as a must defeat while Washoe County Republicans stayed home or enjoyed Saturday's beautiful sunshiny break from the gloomy, wintry grey we've been suffering through of late.

However, there will be a competitive group of Republicans running in the June 8 primary for the party endorsement in this race...despite the fact that the national media seem to mention only Sue Lowden. Teabaggers and everyone else should be following these candidates and becoming involved in the campaigns now and should plan to register and vote in the Republican primary to choose the best candidate. I hope there is no intention to raise up a third party contender. Harry Reid, as unpopular as he is in state, has a huge campaign chest...and probably a lot of political favors to call in. It's not a given that Reid will be defeated, and teabaggers need to work with conservative Republicans to choose a candidate that will embody their principles and a candidate who can win.

On principles, most important, in my mind, is solid fiscal conservatism. This is the keystone issue both for teabaggers and independents, and the latter are essential to ending Harry Reid's dynasty. Social conservatism, of course, is not unimportant. Respect for our constitution, knowledge of our history, and embrace of the traditional virtues of truthfulness, honor, self reliance and self respect really are essential to a strong free-market economy. And participation in the political process is essential to educating and shaping public opinion and successfully electing principled candidates.

Friday, January 22, 2010

God Forgive Us For We Have Sinned

    But when Jesus saw it, he...said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.           Mark 10:14

Today marks the 37th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade and below is telling commentary from today’s edition of  Erick Erickson’s Redstate morning briefing:
Almost four decades later, somewhere around 50 million unborn children have been victimized by the breathtaking arrogance of the Court. They committed no crimes, were afforded no due process or trials at all, and every appeal made on their behalf has fallen on deaf ears. They have been killed in the most brutal ways imaginable, unceremoniously sucked from their mother’s wombs, and carelessly discarded without even the dignity of an unmarked grave. Every reasonable effort to curb the abuses of the system that has produced these gruesome results has been summarily rejected by society’s robed masters. And so the carnage marches on.
The truth that these children are biologically human and biologically distinct from their mothers is beyond question to anyone who believes in the most basic tenets of science. Why, then, are they declared so totally bereft of rights in our society? The fact that a woman can, with the protection of the law, kill her child on the day of its planned full-term delivery, indicates clearly that the only answer to this question is “physical location within their mother’s womb.” If a child is in this place, it may be killed with impunity; if it is in another, to kill it is murder. Even the more generous (but less accurate) characterization of the Court’s jurisprudence as respecting “stages of development” rather than physical location provides us no more satisfactory answer. If a child can be kllled with impunity because it has not reached 24 weeks’ gestational age, why may it not be killed because it hasn’t reached its first birthday? Or puberty? Logic and reason provide no defensible answer to these questions, because in the legalized abortion regime, logic and reason - like science and law - have been sacrificed on the altar of self-aggrandizement and convenience at any cost.
The evil Roe v. Wade has wrought has cheapened and weakened our society. It has decimated minority population growth, especially among African-Americans. It has caused us to devalue the handicapped and less fortunate, as mothers who carry these precious children to full term are now somehow thought to be less responsible for the decision. The damage to the fabric of the family itself - the most basic building block of our society - has been incalculable.

The good news, I suppose, is that more and more women, particularly young women are turning from the evil of abortion and having their babies. They deserve our praise and support. But for redemption as a society, a nation, we need to condemn and end the legal killing of God's most innocent beings, and we need, practically, to provide loving homes with a father and a mother so much as possible for all our children. 

Although the ideal two parent family is not universally obtainable, we need to affirm it as our goal at the same time as we reach out with compassion to help single mothers and fathers and children who are orphaned or not able, for one reason or another, to live in their parents' home. Christians are called to be child centric, and good people of any belief need to recognize and support the vulnerable child's need to be loved and secure in a stable home.

    ...Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.         Matthew 10:4

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

God Bless America!

Here's a great way to start a day. Listen to Denyce Graves singing at the National Service of Prayer and Remembrance following Sept. 11. May our nation continue to be united as we were that day.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Here's my first "oil painting" (click for a close up) using Corel Painter Essentials 4...which I can't take a great deal of credit for since it was done from one of my photos entirely on the auto setting.

 The subject is my granddaughter on the occasion of having just finished a piece of her first birthday cake. She is entirely without chagrin over wearing some of the frosting on the end of her nose: what aplomb!

Toddlers have such a wonderful capacity for sang-froid. A few days ago we walked down the block, and Ione stopped dead in her tracks (clutching my finger as usual) in front of a group of four older teenagers who were bouncing around in the somewhat chilly air, giggling and smoking cigarettes. Of course they said "Hi" to Ione and "Isn't he so sweet," but Ione responded with not a word to them (although "hi" is definitely in her vocabulary)...and not, I think, because they'd mistaken her gender. She simply stared and stared and stared some more, recording many new tidbits of information through her mental synapses, before responding to gentle tugs from grandma to return up the street.

I really hope she carries her self-possession along with her through life, and especially through that dire challenge to sanity, the teenage years. But already with my gentle tugs, I am teaching her that staring is unsociable. She'll learn other marks of unsociability as she grows and will refrain from making fun of people (at 4 1/2, her brother knows that is wrong), and hitting, of course, and pouting and a whole hosts of other infractions. All this is necessary, but at the same time, I hope she will retain the confidence to be herself, to be original and creative, to stand up for her beliefs, to go her way and not the crowd's way, to be a good, generous and giving person. Knowing her Mom and Dad, I think she will.


I stopped blogging last September, discouraged, I guess because no one seemed to be out there reading my blog (oh, vanity). I thought I needed to find a new direction. And that turn in the path eluded me.

There were, also, a few other obstacles. My leukemia/lymphoma reasserted itself and worsening blood counts left me with less of my normal energy, plus a great deal of time was spent at the doctor’s office in the infusion room receiving therapy. Therapy will continue again next week as I become one of the first people to receive the recently approved Arzerra (ofatumumab…what a name!) treatment.

Then, yesterday, I was surprised to find an email in my inbox inquiring about my absence from blogging…about my health or other reasons for being a laggard (my phrase). It was from Lisa Rosewell, who blogs at  Over the past year, Lisa’s blog has grown slowly to express the variety and depth of her many interests. One of those, membership in a very small (in my case very, very small) traditional Anglican congregation, we share: hers in Texas and mine in Nevada. Lisa’s site also reflects beautifully her interest in music and participating in people’s politics, i.e. the 9/12 freedom march in Washington D.C., and her blog expresses her faith in God’s grace.

Lisa’s email has re-energized me to begin blogging again. I’ve thought I had no more to say and have been instead forwarding what others say, about politics mainly, to a list of friends, whom I hope I am not burdening with so much insightful commentary.

But I do really have some things I want to say. For example, right now I am looking at the sky as the sun rises over Reno. It’s red, purple, and pale blue, etched against the rugged outline of the nearby, snow frosted hills…even though I can see only a swatch through the office window. Of course, red-in-the-morning means sailors-take-warning. It will be a stormy day, grey again later, and we will have wet in some form because, as my daughter told me so many years ago when she was three: “The trees are shaking.”

And there are tales of my wonderful grandkids. Maddox is now 4 ½, still jumping through life, so full of energy; he will be a rock star (as he believes he is already) or a skateboarding/BMX daredevil if he continues on his present path…or maybe, Spiderman.

Ione is almost 17 months now, with a smile and charm that can erase any trace of grumpiness in her world, which, however, doesn’t preclude an occasional, comical and short lived display of temper when regal charm meets the word “no.” She clasps my finger (and her granddad’s) and leads us around. On walks now, we stop and investigate melting piles of old, dirty snow and rocks and whatever other small treasures appear along the sidewalk. She still doesn’t have a lot to say in English, but she chatters emotively in her own tongue.

And then there are those who pray for me because of my health. I find it a little disconcerting to be prayed for, which is not to say that I am not very very grateful for the prayers, which come from family and friends and people I don’t even know. But it’s been a little bit like accepting a gift I believe I haven’t merited.

I remember my mother telling me and my brother and sisters frequently, “T’is better to give than to receive,” but also telling me at a later date that it’s important to be able to receive a gift graciously. She didn’t put that in a religious context, but it is the essence of Christian faith, really, to receive the gift of God’s grace that not one of us can ever “deserve.” 

And it’s like that with prayers. So I thank all those who pray for me, and I try imperfectly to pray for others. I am not systematic about this as I feel I should be, so if someone forgets to pray for me, I can certainly understand, and honestly, sometimes I hope that they do forget as I do, so I shall feel less guilty for my neglect. I haven’t yet been able to hang on to living as a faithful Christian throughout an entire day…or perhaps even an entire hour, so I know how needy I am of God’s all-inclusive love.