In your world it is Memorial Day. You are connected to someone who died while serving in the military. Unlike many in my generation, no one among family or friends died in World War II or the Korean War.
Then there was U.S. intervention in Vietnam, or as it was known there, "the American War." In my twenties and thirties then, I met parents of young men who were intent on not being drafted. When Ron taught at Oberlin College (1967-69) there was a Dean who left his job, moved the family with two almost draft-age sons to Canada.
Once I began my therapy practice, a few Vietnam veterans came my way as spouses when Ron and I did couple therapy. One clearly had PTSD though it had not yet been named in the DSM-3. A state trooper, he had grown up in a family with profoundly problems. He entered the military, as happens often, to get distance. We told him he could not bring his gun into our office (also our home),
Another couple we were seeing for the first time. Husband worked for the FBI. This led to one of several unexpected experiences I had with client behavior. Because we were getting supervision from another therapist, we'd tape record, with permission, all our sessions. We were using a two-sided, 60-minute tape.
At the end of 30 minutes, the machine clicked. This man immediately reached for his gun, then stopped. Along with his wife, Ron and I were stunned for a moment. He, like the state tropper, was not pleased when told the weapon would have to be left in his car next time.
Before Vietnam, my connection with war were only two. My father who was in business at the time took a second job in a St. Louis munitions factory making weapon for the war. My mother told me this when she decided to leave St. Louis with me to move back to New York. "Your father might get drafted," she announced. Since he hardly spoke to me about the experience, that might have been the reason for another of our numerous moves. Or the beginning of the end of their relationship. My wartime memories are school connected--collecting tin foil from my mother's cigarette packs, adding stamps to my war bond books.
Where my dread of guns came from is unclear to me. Like other Americans it was Vietnam that put the images of war into my consciousness. Last week Portland became another city have an Art=Ammo demonstration in support of sensible gun laws. Lorin Latarro, dancer and choreographer initiated the idea last February in New York; video from that one starts when you click the link.
Even though I knew my body did not have it to lie on the ground, I went because there is so little happening in a creative way around gun control. Maybe it would be helpful, I thought to draw a chalk outline around the bodies on the ground. Discovered my serious limitations in this. Even crouching to make the chalk marks was too much for me--apparent in this video from the Oregonian. It did not help that I went to Pioneer Square just after an appointment at the Apple store and carried my MacAir.
March against Monsanto arrived on Saturday, brought out estimated 6,000 women, men, children. Sunny Saturday a couple of days later. It is an equally dark cause--us against big corporate money--but somehow defending food makes joyfullness more possible. I could have created a little red hen hat to wear. And stayed upright.
Yes, I have things to figure out about ways to be acting my age when I care too much about a cause.
Yes, that is a provocative headline but I am disappointed in MY candidate, Barack Obama. Sure, he has my vote. He has achieved changes in his short time in office that are remarkable. The Affordable Care Act alone would be significant.
"Stephen Barton who was supposed to spend the fall teaching English in Russia on a Fulbright fellowship. But shortly after midnight on July 20, a gunman in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., derailed those plans."
Mayors against Illegal Guns has produced the ad, will run it during the debates in some parts of the country. Please join me--demand a plan from Obama-- for a safer and saner future in America. Thanks so much.
Toward the end of our trip north, my move toward 80 occurred. An August birthday often has seemed less notable than those happening in non-summer months. The month is know primarily for its connection to Hiroshima, our country's leap into the darkest side of "American exceptionalism." Does that sound like an only-child sigh? Yes. What did my 12 year old self think as children at summer camp puzzled over the news. We could not have understood more than that "the war was over."
From the window of our Tacoma, Washington motel on August 5, this dancing green figure sent a welcome, could pass for a birthday wish.
The heat that our son had reported from New York, our daughter from Chicago, had reached the northwest. We searched for a spot to get a good view of majestic, mysterious Mount Ranier.
Found a local free paper, learned there was a used bookstore in the south part of town-- good views of the mountain and the industry on Puget Sound. We had a fine time among the shelves at King's Books. I bought two bread books never seen before; talked with the young man at the counter. He loved New York, was very involved in local theatre. Oh, he must go to the Brooklyn Museum on his next trip--since he has friends in the now-youth-filled Williamsburg.
Because the front window of the store was filled with feminist books, I mentioned that Judy Chicago's Dinner Party was there. "What is that?" Always time for educational input of the feminist sort. He immediately looked it up on the computer, "Looks fabulous!" Yes.
What's the best thing for lunch at Doyle's Bar next door, we asked. "Definitely, the Cubano sandwich." He was so very right.
Driving back to Portland, we heard of the awful murders in a Wisconsin Sikh temple. How often, people, will we allow the rationalizing to continue: that gun control is not the problem...accept that our presidential candidates slip and slid around this monumental issue? Have you signed a petition, written your congressperson?
Read, please, this from The Washington Post, a blog by Anya Cordell, "Sikhs bearing pizza," filled with many insights from her work against appearance-based judgments. In 2010, she received the Spirit of Anne Frank award, is author of Race: An Open & Shut Case, a book I intend to read and share.
Only for my spouse. Making jam never claimed my attention. Maybe I have a less sugary early history than his in Brighton Beach, the 20th century one so different from today's changing Brooklyn. But, he says, Becky only made a simple compote from summer fruits. He claims it's my influence. Curious. This photo from last month cannot truly represent the extent of his enthusiasm for peaches, apricots, blueberries as their seasons arrive. Our supply is only limited by a very small freezer drawer. Always room for more, however, as he gives a jar away to friends and neighbors.
My favorite this year is peach-apricot jam. Just a little sugar. He went to a free how-to evening at one of Portland's vintage co-operatives, People's Co-op (sorry the link only gives first paragraphs to Oregon Historical magazine article). Afterwards he tried the suggestion to add a little lemon juice. Not pleased with result...back to his way.
Cooking jam takes the place of some winter knitting of button hats. And there is always the opportunity to give one of these away in warm as well as cold weather. Here's a neighbor in one he selected at the April arts & crafts event at our retirement community. As we left to travel north to Vancouver, B.C. and surroundings, Ron selected more hats to take along for women and men we will meet along the way.
Myself, the non-driver, will be knitting a blue cotton sweater for youngest grandchild, Eliana, almost four, who has reached a behavioral milestone (no details, please). We are very lucky feminists, spouse and I. Beneficiaries of a lost mid-20th century time, we craft, we politick to bring a saner 21st century to the lives of those we will leave behind.
Mary Kirkland, mother of the late Army Spc. Derrick Kirkland, on Sunday's "Up with Chris Hayes" devoted to Memorial Day. Her shirt reads, "Mother Against War." Her son committed suicide after being redeployed to Afghanistan though he had made a number of suicide attempts. "Military killed my son."
Everything about this program was painful, uplifting, and educational. It included Joe Biden's personal and heart-breaking words to Gold Star families. The entire, 5 minute clip from Rachel Maddow show was posted on TGB.
Ron and I watch these MSNBC programs quasi-religiously. To keep up daily, it's Rachel Maddow. For more depth--intelligent, literate discourse among educated people of many colors--we watch Chris Hayes (recorded on DVR). All of the segments appear online if you do not have cable.
Usually discomforted by holidays, I had a new realization that three-day ones are especially difficult in retirement. It is all I can do to keep track of days of the week, unmarked as they are by regular scheduling of that past life of work, the third day throws me off.
Babysat Friday night. Elie, youngest granddaughter, examines my earring. We try to get photos of her cute face minus posing but she's too wise to our efforts.
Friday was typical one of multiple climates in Portland. Over on the other coast Xtreme English, another cloud fancier, shot a great photo from a parking lot in D.C. Mine is moment I'm about to jump into the car after dinner and pleasant stroll in the sun-- never seen pink poppies before--on Mississippi Avenue. A gentrifiying neighborhood where, according to my daughter, people are thinner and more expensively dressed than Alberta Street, an earlier gentrifier. Both areas were predominantly African American until a few years ago.
Reading Sunday New York Times a day late; it's Monday now. Front page photo of Army officer in Afghanistan walking through pink poppy field while on patrol.
Like the day, I'm a bit overcast: Eileen Brady, my candidate, has been defeated in her run for Mayor of Portland, Oregon. She sent a "Thank you" to supporters:
...As I have said on many occasions - Jobs save lives. Jobs save families. Jobs allow parents to send their children to school having had breakfast. And together we said that we can and must fully fund our school system, we can and must have both an accountable and respected police force and we can and must invest in all our communities including in East Portland.
Two qualified Democratic women are now tied for same seat on City Council. Two other equally qualified Dem women ran against one another at the state level; one has won.
In 1972, a very small group of women--black and white--started the Women's Political Caucus in Baltimore. We had no background in politics, no money. We were knocked off by the very savvy, well-funded women of Montgomery County, Maryland--very close to that notorious Washington beltway.
As I sit back today from my current home in this different universe in the Pacific Northwest, how do I put it all together? Looking at where we came from in the late 20th century and where things are for women now, my feelings are mixed. I need to figure out how to direct my energy/my dollars in the few years left to me.
Emily's List receives a monthly contribution from me in its work to select pro-choice Dem women. The other day you asked me for more to support Claire McCaskill's re-election in Missouri. Sent a check right away. But soon was disappointed to learn that she was uncertain on joining Obama's support for gay marriage. I would not have sent that $25.
You need to tell me more about the Democratic women you promote.
I endorsed Eileen Brady because this city needs a smart leader with an instinct for what is best for all Portlanders--women, children, men. Endorsed her because her company, New Seasons, gives parttime workers health care and she has put considerable volunteer energy into that issue.
We have terrible racial problems here; I wish she had addressed these more fully. We have a serously underfunded public school system--same for social services. Would she have been well-advised to put the considerable money raised along with her personal resources into an effort with more likelihood of creating change? To her credit, already strongly pro-choice, she immediately announced enthusiastic support for the President's on gay marriage.
Does your organization ever advise potential candidates about working together? About what issues each must stand for as Democratic candidates for office? These are hard times for women. I want to be behind women candidates who get that my daughter, my granddaughters are entering uncertain times for women.
Women running for office must recognize that we need an energy field that brings us together. We know about "every man for himself." What we need again is a women's movement for all of us, for a path that leads to lasting cultural change.
How to support a movement seen as necessary, important, but beyond one's participation? Since October 7 when Occupy Wall Street began, that question has been on my mind.
It was so close here in Portland, Oregon, yet so far away. Contribute some change to Occupy Portland. Last week Pay Pal notified me that Red Owl Media had returned the money. There has been a problem between those who wanted Occupy Portland to become a non-profit, those opposed. Money collected in two places. Now returned. It is all part of the formlessness of the effort.
Last week I left a canvas bag from the local, longtime Peoples Co-op with a miscellany--bags of millet and garbanzo flour from cooking classes at Bob's Red Mill, jar of Ron's strawberry jam, bedroom slippers I was discarding, toothbrushes from the dentist (have to stop taking these: we use electric), pony tail hair bands purchased for grandchild Zoe. And another bag: Keep Portland radical. Talked with a neighbor who had purchased a blanket from our thrift shop, made the bus trip downtown and left it with someone at the edge of the encampment. Hearing that I'd taken the short walk inside to hand over my stuff to a place about food, she asked, "How was it?"
Smelled awful, even on a sunny day there was an overcast, scruffy feeling--people living outside for a long time, and coughing. What could we expect? Radical political action is not attractive.
[Problem with this report, had to take down] By chance, what is happening in Vancouver, B.C., was broadcast as I was writing this post. The responses to questions by a volunteer medic are worth listening to especially the hard ones about a young woman found dead at this encampment. Is it my imagination or does this Canadian broadcaster seem far more respectful than ones in the U.S.?
Have watched the live streaming from here and NYC. Think how different it might be in New York where people around me would be talking about frequently, arguing its merits. In Portlande, even at Portland State University, there is not a sense in the halls that some of their peers are in tents only 10 blocks away, that what is taking place is work by those who speak for all of us who would never occupy but feel voiceless. But maybe that's the norm in other cities where many have opted out of full engagement with any kind of politics.
Lunch today at Pearl Bakery with Alon, who taught the delightful Sociology of the Bicycle. He has been to GA (general assembly) meetings at Occupy Portland, works with Education and Outreach groups there. It was good to talk with someone who has real time experience with the group. We have been concerned that our unsolved social problems in Occupy cities--homelessness, mental illness-- street people in need of food and a roof might overwhelm the political intentions of those who began the occupations.
He is hopeful; we want to be too. Love this video.
In an open letter to the Occupy Portland movement, Mayor Sam Adams said the current safety conditions at the encampment were "not sustainable," changing the previous day-by-day approach of the city. Citing specifically increasing arrests, drug use and violent behavior, Adams said the purpose of the letter was to stress the urgency in dealing with these problems...."I have said from the beginning that I believe the Occupy movement would have to evolve in order to realize its full potential."