Oh, What a Funny Idea!!!


I really liked being a teacher. I mean, I really, really liked it. As in, I loved the hell out of being in charge of a group of ten year olds.

I loved helping them to grow and learn in the most important ways.

If you’ve been reading this blog for any time at all, you know that I was pushed out of teaching by a cranky old guy who resented my ideas. You know that I miss teaching every single day.

I loved those kids. I really, truly did.

Even when they were making me CRAZY because they couldn’t manage to find a way to compromise with their classmates.

Oh, holy headache. I remember long, long, long, long classroom meetings where I repeatedly told two groups of kids, “Yes, you can find a way to compromise.”

I worked so hard to show them that if Team A gave up the idea of football at every recess, Team B might respond by saying they would accept football every day for those who wanted to play.

There were days when I felt like all I did was repeat the idea that ‘If you get one thing that you want, the other guys can get one thing that they want.”

I remember sitting at my deks, waiting for the two groups to come to some compromise.

I remember telling the kids, “If you can compromise, we can go outside to play. If you keep arguing we will miss our recess.”

We did miss a couple of recess breaks. We did. I clearly remember the absolute shock of both sides of the classroom argument as they realized that EVERYONE LOSES when nobody can compromise and come to agreement.

I thought it was wonderful when my ten year old charges understood that compromise was the only way to have the whole community move forward. I was so so proud of those children when they came to that incredibly powerful realization.

So you can see why I wish that Congress and the Executive could be brought under the control of a really good fifth grade teacher.

Until then? I am completely disgusted with every single person in Congress and the Executive Branch who draws a paycheck out of my tax payments.

I would be absolutely delighted if a fifth grade class could address the government shutdown in its morning meeting.

We could find a way to compromise!!! Why can’t you guys?

You Know What I’d Like to See?


I’d really love to see some of the grownups in our government (assuming that there are a few), come right out and address this giant pile of steaming bull shit that we are currently calling our “partial government shut down.”

I would love, more than I can say, for the Democrats to come right out in public and say this:

“We recognize the fact that the President of the United States is having a giant temper tantrum over his ridiculous wall. We know, because we actually look at facts, that the crimes committed by undocumented immigrants are far fewer than those committed by American citizens. Nevertheless, we are willing to overlook the President’s hysteria and panic.

We also know that there is no emergency at the border. We have spoken to the mayor of El Paso, whose city has found itself responsible for thousands of unexpected immigrant families. We get it. Our immigration system needs a major overhaul. We need some laws, some fences, some plans in place for how to help asylum seekers.

But we know that there is no “crisis” calling for emergency powers or sending troops or any of the other hoopla that the Pres is demanding.

Most of all, we Democrats understand that we are wasting way too much time and energy on President Trump’s ridiculous fantasy of a “big beautiful wall that Mexico will pay for.” We recognize the fact that this is all just a big made up pile of nothingburger designed to make Trump feel powerful.

So. Because we have a whole lot of actual governing to do, and we have a boatoad of investigations to start, we are going to give the big baby his 5 billion dollars. We want the American voter to understand that we are giving in to a tyrant and agreeing to waste a bunch of your money. We apologize.

But we’re doing it because time is a-wasting. We need to start governing. We need to deal with a few actual crises. Things like guns and endless wars and climate change. You know, serious issues that are beyond the comprehension of the Clown in Chief.

We are doing this because we understand that you guys elected us so that we’d actually run the country. You don’t care who ‘wins’ in a stupid bullshit made up fight over a big fat nothing.

Wouldn’t you love that?

Let the Democrats finally act like grownups. Let them very publicly roll their eyes, make the “crazy” finger twirl next to their ears, and pat Trumpy on his big fat orange butt. Let them end this entire stupid embarrassing spectacle and let him go play with his little orange bricks and build his pointless wall.

Somebody out there needs to finally start running things around here.

Baby Donnie. Yes, this is the man in charge. He hasn’t progressed emotionally since this photo was taken.

Who Will Speak the Truth?


It is so difficult to watch as a loved one shows changes in thinking and language. When we watch someone struggle to find the correct word, or when we ourselves can’t follow their train of thought, our hearts sink.

I spent a couple of decades working as a speech/language pathologist, so I have a pretty good body of knowledge when it comes to how language is organized in our brains. I’ve seen all kinds of language disorders and deficits, and I recognize them when I run into people who are exhibiting the symptoms.

I’m pretty familiar with the language of dementia, too, having watched a few loved ones progress into old age. I recognize the signs when someone begins to jump from one topic to the next as if every conversation is simply a stream of consciousness. Each comment triggers the next, with a diminishing connection to the original idea.

Here is an example of what I firmly believe is a language/cognitive disorder. Try to follow the thread and see if you notice what I mean.

Q: “Is there a number below five billion that you might be willing to accept in order to reopen the government?                                                                           A: Right.Well I’d rather not say it, ah, could we do it for a little bit less, it’s so insignificant compared to what we’re talking about. You know I’ve heard  numbers as high as 275 billion dollars we lose in illegal immigration and  here we have a wall that you’re talking about, to complete, because, again a lot has already been done because we’ve been getting money in…somebody said that we didn’t spend the money, well, we have spent it but we don’t paycontractors before they finish the job, that’s one of the other things that Pat and I sort of instituted. We like to have people do the work, so if we’re  building a wall, we’re paying as they build it, we pay it when it’s finished.  So they do a good job.This way if they don’t do a good job, we don’t pay them. So not all of the money has beenpaid, but the money has been used. So  maybe you guys could remember that we you say that I haven’t spent the  money, we’ve spent the money. We wanna finish it up. The five billion, five point six billion approved by the House is such a small amount compared to the level of the problem. When you see that the democrats want to give  away twelve billion extra, and we’re giving away 54 billion in foreign aid.  So we give money to countries but we don’t give money to our own country, which is another thing that I’ve been complaining about, and we’re cutting that back. It’s very unfair. When we give money to Guatemala and to  Honduras, and to El Salvador, and they do nothing for us. When we give  money to Pakistan, one point three billion dollars, I ended that, a lot of people don’t know it, because they haven’t been fair to  us. We wanna have a great relationship with Pakistan. But they house the  enemy, they take care of the enemy, we just can’t do that. So I look forward  to meeting with the folks from, and the new leadership in Pakistan, we’ll be doing that in the not too distant future, but I ended the one point three billion that we paid, like it was water, we just pay it. To Pakistan. And I ended that. And we ended a lot of other money that’s being sent out on a  monthly basis, and a yearly basis, to countries that don’t even vote for us  in the United Nations. We give them billions of dollars, they don’t even vote for us in the United Nations. When we want something, to help certain  countries…..and you know it’s not all about the rich countries, cuz the rich countries really do take advantage of us cuz they pay a very small percentage of their military….and they cheat on trade. They take advantage of us on trade. Other than that, they’re wonderful, OK? But there are countries that are poor, that we will com…we don’t want  anything from them! We want to help them. There are some horrible things going on in the world. And we wanna help those people, we don’t want  money from them. We don’t want that. We’re not looking for that.But when you have massively wealthy countries, that have very low military costs  because the United States subsidizes them, so they take advantage of us  on military…they could easily pay us, the full amounts. And they also take  advantage of us on trade. So when I speak up, I mean, that’s why I got elected, issues like that. Issues like the border and it would be so easy  not to do anything. When they say I’m not popular in Europe, I shouldn’t be popular in Europe! If I was popular in Europe, I wouldn’t be doing my job. Because I want Europe to pay. Germany pays one percent. They should be paying four percent.They pay one  percent. They should be paying even more than that. Other countries pay a small percentage of what they should be paying. So when I say, ‘I’m sorry,  folks, you have to pay up’, I shouldn’t be popular in Europe. They do a poll, I was at 88 percent and now I’m at, you know, a very low number. And Europe, I don’t care about Europe. I’m not elected by Europeans, I’m elected by Americans. And by American taxpayers, frankly. So, I think my relationship, I will tell you, with the leaders is very good. A lot of them don’t even  understand how they got away with it for so many years. I’ll say to….Angela, and I’ll say to many of the other leaders, I’m friends with all of them, I’ll  say, ‘How did this ever happen?’ And they sorta go, like ‘I can’t believe it either.’ They can’t believe it! You know why, cuz their  Presidents and other people within their administrations, in the past, they  allowed them to get away. Like some of them would say, ‘Well no one ever  asked us to pay.’  We have negotiations going on with numerous countries right now to pay a lot of money to the United States for what we’re doing for them. I wouldn’t say they’re thrilled. Because they’ve had many many years where they didn’t have to pay. So now they’re gonna have to pay. And if that makes me unpopular in those countries, that’s OK. But we’re doing tremendous service to those countries, and they should at least respect us. They didn’t respect us, and that was the problem.”

 I assume that you noticed a few disturbing things about this “response” to a simple question. Hopefully, you saw that the question was never answered or even addressed. The speaker went on for four minutes and forty five seconds without pause, but never even tried to answer the question.

You may also have seen that each idea lead fluidly to the next, with the speaker never realizing that he had strayed completely off the path of the original question. That lack of self awareness is another hallmark of disordered thinking.

The speaker (pretend it’s your Uncle Pete) also assumed that his listeners were following his internal thoughts. The speaker refers to the Democrats hoping to “give away twelve billion extra,” but never explains what he means. Extra in what way? Beyond what amount? Given to whom?

When he says that “Germany pays one percent,” he doesn’t explain. He seems to believe that we already know, because he does. One percent of what? Why?

I also think that in spite of his ability to recall exact dollar amounts, this man shows signs of a word finding problem. Note the pause before he pulls out the name “Angela” when thinking about European leaders. Note the use of phrases like “certain countries” and “many leaders.” Few specific labels are found anywhere in this response.

Please watch the video that I’ve put at the end of this post. I ask you to turn off your partisan reactions, and pretend that this language and this thinking is coming from your elderly relative.

Then reach out to our members of Congress, no matter which party they represent. Reach out to the media. Ask why in the world nobody is willing to stand up and say that Uncle Pete needs a neuropsych evaluation as soon as possible.

The entire world is put in danger by a US President with this kind of disordered thinking, no matter what its’ cause.

Listen with your eyes closed and try to follow the tangents.

Who Are They?


I had the grandchildren today, for the first time in almost two weeks. I was absolutely filled with joy to have them back.

But I was also absolutely beat beyond belief when they went home.

So after they left, I started dinner, and poured a big glass of wine. Then I went out into my hot tub.

I turned on the jets, aiming at the sorest parts of my neck and shoulders. I sipped. I sighed. I laid my head back against the side of the tub. And I looked up.

I saw the many stars arching above me. I saw the undersides of the trees around my yard.

And I saw the blinking lights of the jets passing by so far overhead.

I couldn’t help but wonder. Who’s up there? Where are they going?

I live in Northern Massachusetts, so I know the general flight paths that cross over my head. I know that many of the flights coming from my West will turn toward the North, to Canada and the maritimes. The ones that come from my South will eventually make their way toward the Canadian maritimes, and will then swing out across the North Atlantic toward Northern Europe, or they’ll turn toward the South and aim for somewhere to my West.

I watched the lights crossing my sky. I thought about the passengers whose flights I was seeing.

Of course I had no idea who was up there, but that’s the beauty of it, right? I was able to make them up. To imagine the lives of the people who were silently intersecting with my own life.

Maybe, on this flight from West to East, there was a woman in her 70s. Maybe she had lost her husband five years ago, and was struggling mightily to move forward into some kind of future. I pictured her opening a letter from an old friend, someone she’d known decades ago in college. “Come to visit, please!” I pictured the note saying, “I’ll meet you in Shannon and drive you out to our place in Connemara. You can meet our friends and have some fun.” I saw the women frowning, shaking her gray head. I saw her waking up in the darkest part of her lonely night, reading the note again.

I imagined her buying her ticket, telling herself to go.

I wished her all the best as her flight crossed my path.

Then there was the jet that ran from South to North, too high in the sky to have come from Boston.

On this one, I saw a young woman. I imagined her feeling stuck in a dead end job, wondering where all of her dreams had gone. I saw her in her little apartment in Charleston, eating a lonely take out meal and opening her mail.

Now I pictured her on the flight above me, heading toward a meeting with a man she had so far only met online. I could imagine her friends telling her to go, but to be careful. I saw her mother, looking very much like me, telling her not to go. Telling her that she could find someone right here, right in our very own town.

I saw her, as my head lay back against the edge of my hot tub. I saw her brown hair, recently done up with highlights. I saw the hope in her heart and the caution in her mind.

I watched her fly across my deck. I waved as she passed. I wished her luck and courage and strength and love.

Our lives cross back and forth every day with so many people we will never meet. How lovely to imagine their paths. How powerful to wish them well.

Who are you up there?

“Time Keeps On Slipping Into the Future.”


Sometimes, like all of us, I wish that I could make time run in reverse, and go back to earlier days.

I wish that I could visit my childhood again. I’d still have both of my parents. My Dad would be alive and full of fun and handsome and strong. My Mom would still be his beautiful bride, and their six kids would giggle as he pulled her into his arms for a kiss before dinner.

I wish that I could reclaim the sense of endless hope that pervaded those days. When I’d sit in the backyard and gaze at the full moon and dream of the adventurous and romantic life I’d lead one day.

More than that, though, even more than that: I wish that I could hit rewind, just for a few minutes, to see my three little children playing on the living room rug. I wish I could hold each of them in my arms, my beautiful babies. I wish I could hear those voices, laughing or crying, or calling “Mom!”

But time doesn’t work that way, does it? No matter how much we want to hold onto the past, or hold onto today, all of it keeps slipping into the future. And as impossible as it seems, here we sit on the eve of the year 2019.

I will turn 63 this year. My Mom will turn 89. Both are impossible from the vantage point of my heart.

My oldest child will turn 33, and her oldest will turn 4.

Impossible. Unbelievable. Somehow all of it simply wrong. Too soon, too quick, too rushed.

I am not ready.

And that’s the beauty of the whole thing. Time doesn’t care if we are ready. Time doesn’t care if we have grasped our own mortality, or if we’ve accepted the losses that it has brought us.

Time keeps on slipping into the future.

So what is that I wish for in my 63rd year of this wonderful, tiring, surprising, inspiring life?

I wish for another year with all of my children and their partners happy, healthy and filled with hope. I wish for a year of growth and new adventures and continued good health for my grandchildren, my best beloveds.

I wish, with all my heart, for another year with my Mom on this earth. I wish for more shared meals, more jigsaw puzzles, more hours spent pouring over old photo albums. Her memory is weak, so sometimes these jaunts into the past are more upsetting than pleasant. Even so, I wish for more time with her as the rudder in my life.

For my country, I wish for a year of healing. Somehow, some way, I hope that we can find our way back to the days of arguing without hatred. I hope and I wish and I pray that something will change to bring us out of these dangerous times and help us find our way back toward some sense of national unity.

Time keeps on slipping into the future.

We can’t turn it back. We can’t stop it.

We can only keep moving forward, faster and faster every year, keeping our minds and our hearts open to each other. Trying to grow and learn and improve.

Wishing all of you a Happy, Healthy, Joyful 2019.

Time Keeps On Slipping

Bathrooms Are So Very….Necessary


Our house is an interesting place these days. I mean, like really, ya know….”interesting’.

We are renovating two bathrooms. That means that we are now tearing apart two out of our two bathrooms.

Ergo: we don’t have any bathroom sinks this week. And we only have one working toilet. The one that is in the hall of our main living area. The one that has (cough, cough), no DOOR.

Now, let me be clear. Our house is about 35 years old. We’ve been here for roughly 28 of those years. We have been in the same bathrooms all this time.

Oh, sure, we’ve painted and put in a couple of new medicine cabinets after the original $3.95 cabinets kind of fell apart. We did a little bit to make things better, but still.

We were bathing in a wicked old tub and a wicked old shower. The drains were…in a word….gross. The bathrooms had those horrific “popcorn” ceilings. 

It was PAST TIME to update.

And we are.

We have hired a crew of very skilled men who are ripping things to pieces while adding plaster, paint, a new tub, new shower, new toilets, new vanity. It’s gonna be LOVELY. 

But. 

In the meantime…..

I am here in my house. With two or three toddlers every day.  One is in a diaper, so he’s safe, but the other two? Well….they need a toilet every two hours. Or less. 

So I have to call out to the nice worker men, “Can we use the toilet!?” They say “Yes!” and go into another room. Then I take the identified toddler and put her on the pot. I stand in the doorway, since both are suddenly all about “privacy” and we have NO. DOOR. on our bathroom.

Here it is:

Sure, there’s a working toilet, but…….no door…

This means, of course, that the kids sometimes pee in their pants. It means that the working men have to tell me, “Just a head’s up, gonna use the bathroom!”

And it means that old Nonni here holds it in. All. Day. 

Like….all day.

Nonni is channeling her inner teacher. But still…..yikes. 

It means that when the kids go home and the worker men go home, and Papa hasn’t arrived back from work yet….Nonni rushes right into the incomplete bathroom and finds some relief.

New shower! New floor! No toilet or sink!!!!

It also means that at 3 AM when Nonni feels the call of nature, she has to stand up, turn on her phone’s light and stand there for a minute. She has to think “Wait. Bathroom. Huh? Bathroom? What bathroom? Oh, yeah in the hall….with no door….in the middle of the freakin’ night…..”   Nonni finally gets there, but she is left with a strange feeling of “what the FUCK?” as she climbs back into bed after answering the call of nature.

This is a very strange place to be.

And here we are now. At 6PM. The kids and workers have gone home. I have organized and cleaned the living room and started dinner.

And I look around the house, thinking about Nonni’s needs.

We do have one working toilet (thank you, dear Lord, for the half hour with nobody home except for poor old backed up Nonni!). We have a new floor in our small master bath (Nonni will sing the praises of these worker men for months….) We have smooth walls, with no paint or color….we have no sinks, but we can brush our teeth in the kitchen sink for a couple of more days…..

Nonni is working very very hard to remain calm and serene. She is overlooking the plaster dust, the missing toilets, the lack of bathroom doors. She is trying to embrace her inner camper woman, she is trying to recognize that many people around the world are in much worse shape…..

But.

Nonni is kind of “all done.” I will be thrilled to have new paint, new fixtures, new smooth walls. 

But I am ready to have this all done. Nonni is ready, thank you, to have a nice, private place to go to get some relief from nature’s most primitive urges.

I. Can’t. Wait.

Pez Hoarding


I had a great day today.  I took my sister Liz to see a live production of the Wizard of Oz. When we were kids, she absolutely loved that movie. It used to run on the weekend after Thanksgiving, back in the days of yore, when you could only watch a movie if it was shown on network TV. We waited all year for it, and my parents would let us all stay up late to sing along with the Munchkins and shrink in fear from the flying monkeys.

When we were in High School, my sister performed in a spoof of the Wiz of Oz at her Senior Talent Night. That meant that for the next few decades every birthday, Christmas and joke gift to Liz had a Wizard of Oz theme. She’s got the flying monkey signs, the Wicked Witch cups, the planters, dish towels, earrings, ruby slipper socks and Tinman toenail clippers.

She even has two complete sets of Wizard of Oz Pez dispensers.

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I know this because my three year old granddaughter Ellie came with us to the show today. As usual, Auntie Lizzie was her generous and thoughtful self. After the show, when the three of us went out for dinner, Liz pulled out a beautifully wrapped gift with Ellie’s name on it.

Inside the package was a really cute t-shirt with Dorothy’s blue gingham dress printed on the front. Ellie gave it a quick glance, but then went right for the second item in the wrapping.

It was a complete set of those Pez dispensers.

You remember Pez, right? Those weirdly creepy plastic toys wearing the heads of popular figures from TV and the movies? The heads that you could flip back with just a quick flick of your thumb, nearly decapitating the character you loved? And right there under the wrenched-back head, right where the old Adam’s apple should be, you’d find a rounded rectangular piece of candy in some pastel shade. That little coffin shaped goody would poke right out of Mickey Mouse’s slit throat and you’d pop it into your happy little kid mouth.

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Sort of explains a few things about the mental state of today’s adults, I guess. But I digress.

Anyway, Ellie recognized the familiar faces of the characters from the show, but she had no idea what the toys were supposed to do. We took them out of the plastic and she started to play with them. The Cowardly Lion was dancing around the table with the Wicked Witch and all was well.

But then she noticed the candy. “What are these?” she asked in pure innocence.

Now, Auntie Lizzie loves us all very much. She doesn’t have any intention of poisoning her great niece. So she pulled out one of the packages and reminded me that she’d been hanging onto the set for a while.

“These candies are OLD,” she said sternly. “Like….old.”

“Years,” I suggested.

She shook her head. “Decades.”

The people at the next table were listening in. They were about our age, so they recognized the Pez dispensers for what they were. I could tell they wanted to see us fill up all those plastic necks with pastel coffins.

Ellie sat there quietly, holding onto the packaged candy, waiting for one of the adults to make a move.

“They probably shouldn’t be eaten, ” Liz said.

I held one pack in my hand. It was wrapped tightly in cellophane. Under that was a paper wrapper that contained a foil wrapper. And of course the whole damn set had been sealed in that super thick plastic that you have to cut with a blow torch to even open.

I decided it would be safe to try one.

Besides, I wanted to see if I could still remember how to load them up.

So for the next five minutes Liz and I, the people at the next table, and one young waitress all worked on remembering how to stuff candy pellets into the Scarecrow’s esophagus. We had to do it one at a time, even though I’m pretty sure that in my youth I could slide a whole package into the plastic gullet with one move.

Anyway, at some point, I popped one of the pink candies into my mouth. It sat there for a minute, tasting like a chunk of plastic. Gradually, slowly, it softened just enough to emit a faint taste of something between chalk and sugar. It was hard as a rock and I had to use my imagination just a bit to detect anything you might call “flavor.” I tried to bite it, but feared that my jaw would break. So I tucked it into my cheek and waited.

The crowd of onlookers was spellbound.

“Well?” Liz asked.

“It tastes exactly the same as it did 40 years ago! Hasn’t changed with age!”

Everyone took a breath and we all started to chatter. We realized after a little bit that Pez were invented back in the days of “Tang“, the powdered orange juice that was supposed to be preserved well enough to travel into space. It came of age in the time of freeze dried soups and Velveeta cheese product.

In other words, those little pastel coffins will probably outlast both Liz and me, not to mention the folks at the other table.

“In fact,” I said after swallowing the last bit of candy, “If there’s ever a nuclear holocaust and we’re the only remaining survivors, we could probably live off these things!”

Can’t you just picture it?

A dark bunker, somewhere deep underground. One dim light burns. There are a few human figures huddled around. Two of them are chubby gray haired ladies wrapped in baggy sweatshirts.

One of the old ladies is clutching something in her hand. She shuffles over to her sister and the two crouch in a corner, stealthily sneaking a life saving snack into their now toothless mouths.

What is it that they hold so closely, so secretly? What is it that keeps them alive in such stark surroundings?

Why, it’s Glinda the Good Witch. With one swift move, the older sister tears back Glinda’s shiny pink head and a little yellow coffin pops out below her chin. The younger sister grabs it and tucks it between her gums.

They cackle.

“Good thing we were hoarding Pez for all these years, right, sister?”

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“I’m even creepier with my head ripped off.”

 

 

If A, Then B


As we all squirm, worry and heart palpitate our way through today’s national vote count, I have a few questions for my conservative friends and family.

I just can’t quite figure out the logic behind some of conservative, GOP talking points. I’m trying to use simple, basic reasoning to make sense of some things.

For example, I don’t understand the sudden panicked hysteria about immigration. As some on the right keep screaming, “Illegal immigrants are ruining the country! They are stealing jobs!!!!”

But, if that’s true, how can they also be boasting about the fabulous economy and very low unemployment numbers? If A is true, B can’t be true at the same time.

I can’t figure out the fixation on voter fraud, either. I mean, Trump and the GOP have been ranting about the “rigged” election since before it happened. They keep trying to convince us that millions of people voted fraudulently.

I mean, OK. So the election was somehow completely inaccurate, false, rigged, tainted.

If that’s true, then wasn’t the WINNER of the election the beneficiary of those failures? Then why do those on the right keep claiming that it is the Democrats who refuse to accept the legitimacy of the Presidency? You’ve heard those claims, I’m sure. “The Dems just refuse to accept that they lost!”

But it’s the R’s who keep telling us that the election was a mess, full of illegal votes.

If A, then not B.

I just don’t get it.

Anyone care to explain?

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Those Marching Migrants


MEXICO-HONDURAS-US-MIGRATION

I’ve been thinking a lot about the people who are walking from Central America to the US-Mexico border.

I’m really fascinated by the way they are being described. I know that words have power. Words shape our beliefs and our opinions.

Words can be weapons, and words can speak truth.

Are the people walking across Mexico a caravan intent upon invading our country? Or are they desperately poor families making a nearly hopeless attempt to save their children from violence and starvation?

Are they criminals with evil intentions, some of whom have arrived inexplicably in Honduras from the Middle East? Or are they completely innocent, loving, kind families with beautiful babies who need us?

Let’s see if we can find some actual facts to help us figure out what is actually taking place to our South.

According to the Heritage Foundation, Honduras is the second poorest country in Central America, and has one of the world’s highest homicide rates. The government is unstable and corrupt, and often works in tandem with drug dealers and gangs.

The same foundation reports that Guatemala is in equally poor shape economically and politically. It, too, suffers from an unstable government, poor infrastructure and low quality education and health care. Drug trafficking is rampant there, as it is in Honduras.

So it is a fact that many families in these two countries are living in poverty, with little hope of improvement. There are few educational opportunities and therefore little hope of improved economic conditions. Got it.

Are some of them criminals? This one is a little tricky to fact check. I can find lots of information on news sites that have their own political agenda. Fox News assures us that there are loads of gang members and criminals in there. They say that this information comes from our own Department of Homeland Security, although there are no real specifics in the DOH report.

Other sites focus on individuals within the migrant group, exposing their stories of suffering and fear. One Nicaraguan family was highlighted by US News & World Report. The story is powerful, gripping and incredibly sad.

There are hundreds of photos of children from the migrant group. Those photos will break your heart, no matter who you are. Little babies crying from hunger, toddlers crossing flooded rivers in the arms of their parents. We know that there are in fact truly desperate people in the migrant group.

So.

Where does this leave us?

We know that there is a group of human beings of various ages walking all the way from the southernmost border of Mexico to it’s northern border with the United States. We know for sure that some of them are true refugees who want to seek asylum. We know that some are kids. We know that a lot of them just want jobs, any jobs, here in the land of relative safety and decent education.

We are told that some are criminals. I haven’t seen any actual factual information on this, like a story that gives locations, ages, names, histories. But you know what?

I’m willing to admit that it is very likely that SOME of the migrants coming our way have criminal histories. It seems to make sense to me, that if you have a large group of adult humans in one place, some of them will have criminal tendencies.

But does that mean that ALL of them should be stopped, kicked out, lumped together as a group of bad guys because of the company they keep? Some people (like Sen. Chuck Grassley) seem to think so.

I’m not so sure.

I mean, yeesh. If every group of people in our country had to be held to the lowest standard, what would happen? If every teacher was judged by the few who dressed up as a wall for Halloween? If every doctor was judged by the few who steal drugs? Where would we be if every religious leader was judged by the actions of Catholic Priests?

Yikes.

And….well….what would happen if every member of Congress was thrown out because some of them have been convicted of crimes???

Welp.

We’d pretty much be ruling ourselves, wouldn’t we?

#AnthonyWeiner #TomDelay #JohnEdwards #MikeCrapo #JesseJacksonJr #TreyRadel

 

 

Saving George


happy-spider-cartoonOh, brother.

In an effort to prevent my beloved granddaughter from sharing my ridiculous arachnophobia, I think I sort of went too far.

First of all, I hate spiders. I know, on an intellectual level, “spiders are good for the environment, they eat the bad bugs, they can’t hurt you” blah, blah, blah. Still, I wake up at least twice a month from the world’s most vivid dream that a HUGE BLACK HAIRY SPIDER IS ABOUT TO DROP FROM THE CEILING ONTO MY FACE!!!!!

I hate them.

But I am a good Nonni. I am a wise Nonni. I am an enlightened Nonni.

Yay me.

Last week, my sweet granddaughter Ellie looked up during breakfast and asked, “What is that scary scary thing on your ceiling, Nonni?”

It was a very small spider. As in, wicked small. Like the size of a sesame seed. It was black and had 8 cute and tiny legs. I decided that it was the perfect opportunity to teach about the wonders of spiders. I figured if I did it right, it might just spare Ellie 45 years of night terrors in which a giant spider lands on her face.

“Oh,” I said with a benevolent smile. “That’s our kitchen spider. His name is….um….ah….George!”

“Hi, George!” Ellie chirped, before returning with serenity to her waffles and blueberries.

As for me, I kept an eye on ol’ George. He seemed pretty calm, just moving his way long the ceiling, without ever once giving me the idea that he might intend to pounce upon my actual face.

I was cool. I was calm. The kids and I have been smiling at and chatting with George for about a week now. All eight of his tiny legs have remained the same size, and he has never once made any effort to come off the ceiling.

Nice George. Good George.

Nonni was pretty impressed with her ability to stave off severe arachnophobia. Nonni was doing the hippy environmentalist yay-me dance all week.

But. This morning, while Nonni was trying to get a pot of espresso going, she heard this little tidbit:

“Oh, good morning, George!! You got really really big last night!”

Holy heart attack.

I snuck into the dining room, where I found Ellie smiling down sweetly at a HUGE, HUGE, H-U-Fucking-GE wolf spider on the floor under the dining room table.

To my credit, I said, “Oh, my. Oh, gee.” instead of “What the HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU????? THAT IS NOT GEORGE!!!!”

We paused for a moment. Ellie had a waffle bit on the end of her fork. Johnny had a blueberry in each hand. I had a spatula the size of Minnesota in my hand.

“Nonni”, Ellie looked at me with her beautiful innocent eyes. “Please save him!”

Heart pounding. Every horror movie since the dawn of movies flashing before my eyes.

I do NOT want to scare her! I don’t!

“Sure, honey. Let me try! I sure would love to save George’s wicked big Uncle….Tony…..”

I grabbed a juice glass and popped it over the giant spider on the floor. Said giant spider immediately hurled himself upside down against said glass. Every single inch of Nonni skin crawled.

Then I took a piece of sturdy but thin paper and slid it under the glass. Uncle Tony was writhing, but he was contained.

“Oh, look, Ellie!,” I cheered “I captured him!”

Only no I didn’t.

Uncle Tony got one horrifically articulated claw under the glass and pulled himself out from on top of the paper. In less than a nanosecond, I could envision his horrible bendy legs rushing over the side of the glass and right up my sleeve.

With a soprano shriek worthy of the Metropolitan Opera, I hurled the glass, the paper and old Uncle Tony out onto the floor. Then I backed up, sat on a chair with my hand on my chest, gasped and said, “Um….no, no I didn’t.”

At this point poor Uncle Tony was desperately trying to escape by rushing across the floor toward the wall. Unfortunately for him, he was pounced upon our intrepid/stupid puppy dog, Bentley, who tried to snuff the spider up his nose.

The horror of that thought propelled me out of my chair, cloth napkin in hand. I dropped the cloth onto the spider and stomped down with so much force it probably left him as nothing more than a stain.

Gagging, I scooped up the cloth, rolled it into my hand, shoved it into a plastic grocery bag and stuffed it down into the trash. Which I then tied into a knot.

I was gasping at that point. I was soaked in sweat.

I fell into a chair and looked up to see both Ellie and Johnny staring at me with huge brown eyes.

“Nonni, did you KILL him?” asked Ellie.

Gulp. “Yes. I’m sorry honey. Sometimes we try to save our spider friends, but it doesn’t work out.”

Ellie looked at me solemnly.

“Good.” She said. “He was creepy.”

She took another bite of waffle.