Friday, August 31, 2012

City Girls and the Full Moon

“What’s that light that shines through your bedroom window?” asked friend Rhonda, who’s staying with me just now, where I’ve put her up in my room.

“What light?”  I ask.

“It shines through that window,” she, indicating the window facing the Post Office.

“The Post Office light is too dim and low to shine in.  It can’t be that,” I say.

Later in the night we look through the window together – no light, save a very distant street light.  “Is that what you’re seeing?” I ask.

“No,” she, thoughtfully, with puzzlement.

A bit of time – maybe even a day – passes and I come back to her.

“I think you’re seeing the moon.  It’s been coming up to full all week.”

“The moon?!?  No, Beth, it’s not the moon,” says she, with a tinge of pity in her voice.

“Maybe not.  But it’s all I can think of,” says I.

Another day passes.

“It’s the moon,” says she in a quiet voice.

“Thought it might be.  It’s pretty bright in the night sky here.”

“I can’t believe the moon is that bright,” says she.

“Always has been,” says I.



Another day in the mountains.  Another surprise for my city friend.

I smile and go to sleep.

The Moon Last Night

The moon last night
hung low in the sky
peeking through the
white pine in Cynthia’s
yard . . . and we women –
four walking, working,
weaving, women –
stood in quiet awe –
the admixture of one
part joy, one part
silence and one part
nameless within each –
side by side – lined up
for the firing squad of
earth and all her friends’
display – the beauty
we walk in like the night*

Hat tip to George Gordon, aka Lord Byron.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dear Senator Rubio

Mr. Romney did well in giving his expected acceptance speech.  Clint Eastwood just felt weird or creepy.
But I reserve the blue ribbon for The Most Disjunct Between Reality & Wishful Thinking to Marco Rubio, Senator from Florida.  Hence this open letter to the Senator.

Dear Senator Rubio:

Did you really want to stand up as a Latino man with roots in Cuba, proclaiming yourself to be a man of color and say with a straight face that this country we both love so much was “ founded on the idea that every person has God-given rights . . .”?

Rights, Mr. Rubio, may be God-given, but America was most definitely not founded on the principle that every person has them. Or do you simply not consider women and people of color and people who did not own any land to be something other than . . . people?

Linking your own immigrant history to Mr. Romney’s, Mr. Rubio, you say, “We are all just a generation or two removed from someone who made our future the purpose of their lives.”

Oh, not all, Senator, not all.

To quote my friend Rhonda, “I’m not an immigrant.  I am the descendant of slaves and you keep leaving us out.”

Why, Mr. Rubio, as a man who made clear tonight that being on the podium at the RNC was a singular honor for you given your own legacy, do you keep forgetting that women and black people and poor people are actually – well – people?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My Cousin's Pancreas

From Wikipedia

Haley, my 2nd cousin, daughter of Betsy, has a lousy pancreas.  If it made sense to hate body parts, I’d hate  Haley’s pancreas for not doing better by her.  Haley is diabetic.  And before you bombard me with arguments about behavior and choice, Haley suffers from juvenile diabetes.  This is not her fault.  Like I said, her pancreas just lets her down.

The sad part is that so do we.

This young woman is a vivacious, funny, interested and interesting, typical drive-her-mom-crazy teenager, a great little sister, and fabulous cousin.  Did I mention that she is a diabetic?

Do you have any idea what insurance and co-pays and deductibles and out-of-pockets and medical accounts and . . . and . . . and . . . cost?  None of that comes even close to the worth of her smile.

But the stockholders of the big pharma companies should be pleased; based on the costs of Haley’s care alone, they should be doing quite well right about now.

Here’s the thing: Erica Dee, a FB friend, has been waxing economic on health care.  I’ve been asking lots of questions and she has some thoughtful answers.  The one that is staying with me is her report of a decision taken in some African countries to focus their energies on health and wellness as an economic decision, as an investment.  She also says that being forced to make personal economic decisions out of health needs actually hurts the overall economy.

I don’t know all the whys and wherefores, but that makes sense to me.  But I can never divorce the discussion about how we ‘invest’ our government and private sector dollars from Haley’s smile – it’s just too personal and too real for me to do otherwise.

When I do try to step back, here’s what I keep coming back to: this is not a question of resources.  Like food, it is often a question of distribution.  Technology is expensive.  But not that expensive.  As a fellow named Jay reported on the blog Diabetes Mine earlier this year, the same bottle of insulin that costs him $129 in the US costs only $45 per bottle in Canada.  But it’s illegal for someone in the US to purchase their medications from Canada.  What apparently is not illegal is for the same companies to charge triple in the US what they can charge in Canada, simply because they can.  And bear in mind that the drug companies are actually making profits from what they’re selling in Canada too.

I don’t know if or how much the Affordable Healthcare Act will help Betsy, a full-time working mom, meet the expense of Haley’s on-going medical needs.  I hope and pray that it’ll help some.

But isn’t it time, isn’t it past time, that we stopped yelling at people for being sick, blame sick people for being ‘lazy’, accusing those whose medical expenses exceed their income of being bad or morally flawed and started down the road of compassion?

Maybe we can learn something from the military model of honor.  That largely unspoken code holds that no one – no one – is left behind – ever.  A member of the unit may choose to be left behind, but the unit never leaves him behind.  That’s the code.

It’s costly to carry the wounded and the dead – it slows you down – but what the unit recognizes is that it would cost them far more to do otherwise, for not all costs can be measured in the moment or along the baseline of survival of the fittest.

So how do we solve this?  I am not sufficiently economically savvy to know.  But a few random thoughts occur:

1. Reimplant honor as part of our national code of conduct.

2. Consider creating health cooperatives or unions, sort of like food coops or the credit unions that arose during the Great Depression and in the face of the failure of the big banks.  Whatever profit there is, if any at all, is kept to a minimum, as the focus is on providing the service, not on making money.  This doesn’t eliminate people being paid a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work.  What it does eliminate is the payment of money to investors, we skimmers off the top who contribute nothing to the process.

3. Reevaluate the necessity for the requirement in the US of having so many pharmaceuticals by prescription only.  I didn’t know this, but apparently it was only in the early 1990's that insulin could only be obtained by prescription.  The balance between health and safety and affordability is a delicate one, I own, but too many competing interests have resulted in rules that benefit not the patient they purport to protect, but the business that exists to profit from, rather than serve, them.

4. Consider regulating drug prices, particularly life-saving or -preserving drugs.  The consumer of such drugs is a captive market with absolutely no bargaining power.  Thus the market will bear virtually unlimited costing.  There is no willing buyer/willing seller transaction possible for a diabetic purchasing insulin.  It is for just such inequities that the idea of price controls exists, even in a free market.

5. Repeal the law which prohibits the United States government (the largest ‘consumer’ of all) from negotiating prices for prescription drugs.  It’s not a panacea, but what reasonable person (the mythical creature in the law who is held to always act in his or her own best interests) abandons their own right to bargain?

6. Engage in a concerted grass-roots effort to organize to provide for medical expenses for those who cannot afford them with an accompanying arm of that effort dedicated to negotiating with the providers to reduce their prices.  It’s the idea common to debt collection as an industry that some money now is worth way more than little or no money later.

7. Eliminate hospitals which self identify as not-for-profit being allowed to amass profits (they do this by calling the money ‘reserves’ rather than ‘profits’).  I would eliminate profit for all hospitals, but I don’t think we’re ready for that just yet.

8. Challenge existing charities that focus on particular diseases, such as diabetes, to dedicate, dollar for matching dollar, as much money to providing for current needs as they do for research.  Research is crucial.  But so is caring for those suffering now in real time.

9. Dedicate our best minds to the ‘African solution’ of investing in health as an investment in our economic as well as health well-being.  Commit to fund their work.  And listen to and heed their recommendations.  Oh, and when any board, committee, task force, or think tank is created to address health care, be sure to include consumers as a substantial presence and voice.

10. Eliminate the in-bed-with culture between doctors and pharmaceutical companies.  That could be done right now.  All that has to happen is that doctors develop, as a group, the will to make it happen.  Let’s shame them into it.

11. Eliminate the ability of any health care provider (this might only be possible for hospital care) to know the source of funds or payment before providing services.  Keep all information about insurance or its lack, Medicare, Medicaid, self-pay or charity case, away from every chart, every computer entry, every place where the providers of health services would have access.  We treat people differently based on class as well as race, gender, etc.  Let’s remove an obvious source of bias and see if the quality of care that the poor receive improves.  Of course, that would also require the rich to keep their mouths shut and I’m pretty sure we won’t.

And please, please, please, if you’re going to respond, do not tell me how I’ve got it wrong unless you’ve got at least 2 ideas for every one of mine on how we can get it right.  Please.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

8 Reasons I Love FB

1. It's a way to engage in conversation about touchy or controversial subjects in gentle ways that sometimes lead to change – if not of ideologies, at least of how we engage each other.  Sure, the opposite happens where we go off on rants, but more often than not, I am finding wonderful conversation partners about a whole host of subjects I wouldn’t be able to engage in otherwise.

2. Inspiration in the form of the shared thoughts of the greats and not-so-greats, beautiful photography from friends far and near that lift my spirits (special shout out to Linda Elsdon and Celia Rutt) and food for thought.  There’s a lot of chaff to sort through, but the wheat is definitely there.

3. A way to stay connected with folks I don’t run across often even in my own very tiny corner of the world.

4. Outreach from friends and strangers seeking a friendly voice, a kind ear.  It’s my job, but even more, it’s my privilege to be seen as someone to talk to.

5. Candor across the generations that never seems to happen in real time.

6. A way of knowing what others who see the world differently from me are thinking and saying.

7. Some great laughs.  There are many wonderful humorists out there and they make me smile every day.

8. A way to stay in touch with family in a different way, sometimes just peeking into their page to see what they’re up to, reassuring me that all is well, or that I’ve missed an important birthday.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Harrietts I Have Known

Harriett (2rs/2ts)
you can’t even find it
on Google without the
infernal “”s

and who can say
was it Harriet
or Harriett
when it came
to the famous

so fabulous is she
so rare are they –
the Harrietts (2r’s/2ts)
that my own Harriett –
my mother –
is the 12th listing on
Google (don’t forget the “”)

One of only two
I have stumbled across
in 57 years on the planet,
my Harriett once went
to auction to buy a quilt
a friendship quilt
where the friends who
make it all put their
names on their squares

the auction was for Harriett (2rs/2ts)
Broadwater – a friend of my dad’s mom
I was 7 when she died
I remember because it was the first
funeral I went to
and when they read the family names
there was Harriett Broadwater
this woman I never met
with generations trailing behind
such a distance that I never forgot

She had children . . . and
grandchildren . . . and great-grandchildren . . .
and 2 or 3 great- great-grandchildren!
At 7, I learned that you could live
to be really, really old
my own Grandma just smiled
a bare 49 at the time
she was merely really old in my eyes
but not yet really, really old
(I had a lot to learn)

Mom outbid all comers
and got the quilt
she still has it, I think
because there for all
the world to see is her name
spelled right (2rs/2ts)
Bonus: my Grandma’s square
Mary Pyles
is there too

Mom holds the quilt of a woman
who shared her name
she never knew
and I never met
but knew of
because when I was 7
hers was the first funeral
for me
and I remember
and stand outside the quilt
circle and marvel at the women

the woman Broadwater
who lived well beyond
her four-score and ten
the woman Pyles
the same
both bent over the quilt frames
sewing their friendship into
hearts and lives
and the next generation Harriett
who would celebrate them both
with her own life
for my mother is the keeper
of memories

so to all the Harriets
and Harrietts (2rs/2ts)
and Drikas . . .Endikas . . . Enricas . . .
Enriquetas . . . Ettas . . . Etties . . .
Haliakas . . . Hallies . . . Hariatas . . .
Hatsys . . . Hatties . . . Heikes . . .
Heinrikes . . . Heintjes . . . Hendrikas . . .
Henkas . . . Hennas . . . Henriettas . . .
Henriettes . . . Henriikkas . . . Hettas . . .
Hetties . . . Jetjes . . . Riettes . . .
Rikas . . . Yettas . . . Yetties . . .
Harries . . . and Haris . . .
and most of all, to
Harriett (2rs/2ts) Eliza Keadle Pyles
I say
hats off, ladies

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Politics Not as Usual

We the People decry the negativity in this political season.

But it’s time to step up and take on our own share of the responsibility for the hate-spewing coursing through our airwaves and into our homes.

If it didn’t work, they wouldn’t do it.

Pretty simple.

If we really want to stop being subjected to the negativity, all we have to do is turn off the channels that air it . . . refuse to repeat it . . . stop believing the worst of people simply because they are our political opponents – really, please trust me (after all, I am a pastor) – none of them are the anti-Christ. . . really.

After all, the Golden Rule applies whether we’ve met these folks in person or not.

And I’m pretty clear on how I would like to be treated:

1. I don’t want anyone questioning whether or not I am a Christian.
2. I don’t want anyone to say that I hate my country.
3. I don’t want anyone to accuse me of being a traitor.
4. I don’t want anyone to presume that because we disagree, I am bad.
5. I don’t want anyone to spread lies about me just because the lies coincide with their bad opinion of me.  I actually want folks to check the facts before they speak.  And I want them to correct the record when they are wrong.

So here’s the vow I’m making.  Help me live up to it.

1. I will not question the faith of anyone.  I may challenge others to live into the faith they claim, but I will not doubt what they say about their own belief.
2. I will not say or believe that politicians, any politicians, hate their country.
3. I will not accuse anyone of being a traitor simply because their views differ from mine.
4. I will not presume that the people I disagree with are bad people.  I will assume that we disagree.  And I may well try to persuade them to my point of view.  But disagreeing with Beth does not make someone bad.
5. I will not spread lies.  I will fact check claims, especially on the internet and especially those about people with whom I disagree, because I will recognize that I am predisposed to believe the worst about them and I will understand that this is my problem, not theirs.
6. And I will stop listening to the negative ads from all sides.  I will change the channel, leave the room, read a book.  But I will not listen because it affects my opinion to hear these things and I do not wish my opinion or my vote to be affected by the attack ads.

When I Was Five

When I was five . . .

When I was five,
I had a pixie hair cut
I rode in a car all across the country with my Mom and Aunt Lucie – we drove from Washington, D. C., where we lived then, to Arizona, where Aunt Lucie was going to live.
And I got to see the Grand Canyon!

When I was five,
Mrs. Story was my Kindergarten teacher.  I liked her very much.

When I was five, we lived in an apartment on a street that didn’t even have a name –
only a letter!  It was called Q Street.

When I was five, John F. Kennedy was elected President of the United States.

When I was five, one of the popular songs was ‘The Twist’, about doing a dance called the twist, where you twisted your body side to side.  It was a very fun dance, but we looked pretty strange doing it.

When I was five, the telephone had party lines, where several families shared the same phone line, so when you picked up to make a call, you might hear someone else already talking.
When I was five, both my mom and my dad already wore eyeglasses.

When I was five, one of my favorite toys was a doll named Chatty Cathy - you would pull a string on the back of her neck and she would talk.

When I was five, television shows were in black and white.  My favorite tv show was Bonanza.   It was about a family of cowboys.  Lots of tv shows when I was five were about cowboys.

When I was five, I didn’t like sports very much, but most people liked baseball the best.

When I was five, a gallon of gasoline for the car cost 25 cents a gallon.

When I was five, I didn’t even know a boy named Rowen who would be my grandson.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Kindergarten Day 1: A Sort of Prayer

We’re . . . Off to see the Wizard . . .
Click your heels three times . . .
There’s no place like home . . .
There’s no place like home . . .
There’s no place like home . . .

I imagine my grandson
off for his own trip to the Wizard --
Day One

So much freight wrapped up
in such a very small package

And so I wonder and worry . . .
Did his shoes fit?
Did they pinch?
Did he take a lunch box?
Did he lose it?
Were there mud puddles
to splash his way home through?
Did he make friends?
Did the teacher like him?
Is there a bus in his future
with all the adventures
and traumas in the microcosm
that is ‘school’?

Did he want to click his
heels three times to return
magically to the place called

Was he scared?
Did he know we were all
watching?  Waiting?  Wondering?

Does he sense how big a deal
this is?  How much we’re all
counting on him for the future
he holds in his paste-covered
nose-picking, paint-under-his-
fingernails hands?

Can he intuit that maybe he
met his wife today?  That he
is soaring into the world
without wings?

Ruby shoes or no, little one,
home is always there just
behind you . . . waiting,
watching, hoping, praying,
loving, laughing, singing,
soaring with you --
high above the clouds
where no wild things are.

Be well.
Be safe.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

BethRant3: Who Cares About Paul Ryan’s Bod?

It’s official.  Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin is Mitt Romney’s running mate.  And it’s also ‘official’ that Paul Ryan is considered to have a hot bod by Fox Nation, is described as ‘super-fit’ by the New York Daily News, in answer to the question of whether Mr. Ryan’s biceps are getting more attention than his budget.  Well, apparently, at least by the New York Daily News.  That's just a mini-sample of the 277,000,000 hits you'll get on Google for the words "Paul Ryan hot bod".  Contrast that with the mere 65,000,000 hits for the words "Paul Ryan economics" (Mr. Ryan is known politically for his economic plans for the country).

I am sick and tired of the nonsense that passes for news.  I couldn’t get away from Mr. Ryan’s physique without turning off the television and refusing to read any national newspapers.

The last election cycle, I actually stopped watching Chris Matthews out of disgust at his show's open sexism in the treatment of Hilary Clinton.  Whether for her or against her, watching Chris Matthews (liberal) and Ann Coulter (conservative) giggle like school girls over whether Mrs. Clinton’s calves are fat or not, whether she should wear one strand of pearls or two and tut-tutting over the cleavage shot captured by C-SPAN in their from-the-galleries downward camera angle frustrated and offended me almost beyond words.

If (and it’s a huge and very sarcastic if) there is anything positive in this similar treatment of Mr. Ryan, I suppose it’s that we have now devolved as a nation to the point where men are objectified as much as women.  (Well, we all know that isn’t even a little bit true, but I trust my point is taken).

For the record, if anyone should care even a little bit,

(1) I do not care, not even a little, what Mr. Ryan’s percentage of body fat is.  I understand why he would care; but I do not.
(2) I do not care, not even a little bit, what workout regimen Mr. Ryan uses.  And I am still bemused that the interviewer of Mr. Ryan’s trainer (well, actually the trainer for all of Congress – yes, they apparently have a professional trainer for the Congressional fitness center [and yes, they’ve got their own fitness center]) asked cooing questions about Mr. Ryan’s workout regimen and didn’t even bother to raise the question of how much it costs the taxpayers to assure that Mr. Ryan and others in Congress remain physically fit.
(3) I do not wish to see photographs of Mr. Ryan’s physique.  Unfortunately, searching the web for an informal count of stories about policy versus stories about physique, I was treated to the image of Paul Ryan shirtless.  I don’t know how many ways to get this point across, but here it is put another way: Running for the office of President or Vice President is not a beauty pageant.  

Please, please, please, people of the United States, can we please grow up?  Can we please get down to the very serious business of picking our next elected officials?  Can we please stop caring about the unimportant?  Can we please stop being distracted by the silly baubles others put before us and pay real attention to the real issues?

If all we ever do is look at the cover, we will never bother to read the book.  And trust me on this: what’s inside the book matters way, way more than the cover.  Everyone in the world, including those who are running, understand that far better than we seem to.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sweet Grass

Sweet Vernal Grass at Wikipedia

Was it sweet grass I smelled today                            
the car-whipped air floating across me
as I sped up and out over the mountains?

That smell, so seductive that all you
want to do is inhale into forever
never letting it go
afraid it’ll be gone come the next breath
wondering if you every really smelled
it at all

Does sweet really have a smell
all its own?
I think I detect a hint of cinnamon
but no – it’s more burnt sugar
(I guess sweet does have a smell)
but the whisper of cinnamon
persists – more a memory, a footprint,
than present sense impression

there is, of course, the smell
of green overlaying it all
fresh . . . clean . . . definitely green
the smell of memories
and safe haven
of laughter
and bare feet
what running smells like
when you’re small . . .
or old . . .
somehow in the middle years
that particular smell is lost
yielding to the busyness of the
business of life

I smelled the cut grass today
and it was very so so sweet

Vacuuming Happiness

I hate to clean house.  Can I say that again: I hate house cleaning.  When I was a girl, my poor mother despaired of me and rightly so.  When she asked in utter exasperation who I supposed would clean if I didn’t when I grew up, I said, “I’ll have a housekeeper, of course.”  And I have, ever since I set up house independently of my parents.  Even when I didn’t have money to do things I would like to do, I managed to find the money to pay someone to clean for me.  It’s a matter of one part lazy + one part not interested + one part not all that capable with things physical + one part I don’t want to and you can’t make me.

Since moving to the country, however, I have discovered (there was no ‘rediscovery’ in my case) some joy in a few of the so-called womanly arts.  One is hanging clothes out to dry.

The next foray may well be vacuuming.  I’m making no promises, but I recently had to buy a new vacuum cleaner and it’s a beauty.  Not top-of-the line or anything, but it really works.  And it’s got one of those clear canisters instead of the old bag, so you can see the dirt you’re pulling from the floor, which, for some reason, I find very satisfying.

But the real reason I’m so enchanted just now is that I have actually managed to repair my new vacuum cleaner all by myself.  Its first day of operation proved problematic: it turns out the thing is just too good at its job and Kathy, who cleans for me, ended up first with a ten-foot thread literally pulled out of the middle of one of my rugs.  Instead of being mad at the vacuum cleaner,  I was enchanted with something so innocuous that has so much power.  But the fact remained that the darned thing had a ten-foot string wrapped around its roller.  And not to brag, but I actually managed, with my handy Phillips head screwdriver, to take it apart and get the string removed.  Problem solved?  Alas, no.  A few hours later, it had stopped working all together, having sucked up an entire small area rug and then spit it back out.  Kathy diagnosed a broken fan belt.  Turned out she was right.

Here’s where the pride part comes in: I managed to locate online and order new fan belts (I got several – who knows when you’ll need another?).  And last night I tackled the replacement.  And I did it!  I managed to replace the fan belt on my vacuum cleaner.  And now Kathy and I know this baby is too powerful to use on anything that can move.

But the satisfaction I derived from being able to make this small repair on my own is no small thing.  Allow me to explain.  I’m left-handed.  If you’re right-handed, you won’t think that’s a big deal.  But living in a world where everything is designed for people who enter the physical world from the opposite direction as you is, I can assure you, a challenge.  In addition, I have incredibly bad motor skills.  Back in my college days, preparing for a project, I took an IQ test, a part of which was to recreate designs with blocks.  There was a time limit and the ordeal finally ended when the tester told me to stop, to put the blocks down.  I kept insisting I only needed a little more time (he later commented that he had never met anyone as persistent as I, which I rightly translated as pity).  Finally, he insisted, “Beth, you have to stop.  I’ve already given you way more time than you’re allowed.”  Later when we met to review how I had done on the tests, he remarked that if he hadn’t watched me with his own eyes, he wouldn’t have believed the test results: seems I’m quite gifted when it comes to talking and such, but when it comes to working with my hands, I am borderline developmentally disabled.  (See Mom, I really wasn’t breaking all those dishes on purpose!)

Flash forward into the now.  I have spent a lifetime accommodating my own limitations.  We all do.  In my case, that usually means having someone else do the physical stuff for me.  It means showing me instead of telling me when it comes to visualizing.  And up til now, it has meant that when the vacuum cleaner breaks, if there’s no one handy to fix it, I would just buy another.

But now I am liberated to explore the mechanical world, to take a chance that I might actually be able to figure this out on my own (well, with some help from Kathy).

So of course, after I fixed the fan belt, I had to give her a try.  Turns out I can replace the fan belt on my vacuum cleaner and she runs like a charm.

Vacuuming happiness.

Who knew?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I'm on Craig's List

Living in the country, being on my own and older now and being the preacher, I am the recipient of many random acts of kindness, although they aren’t really that random, especially this time of year.

It’s harvest time in the mountains.  Cucumbers are about done, and so are zuccinis.  But there’s still lots of squash and tomatoes and peppers.

You might be tempted to think I am a gardener.  But I’m not.

What I am is the beneficial recipient of the fruits of the labors of others.  Neighbors, friends and congregants will drop off at the odd time various vegetables from their gardens.  I am so grateful to them all – for thinking of me and including me.

One of my ‘angels’ is Craig Smith.  Craig always (so he claims) has more food from his garden than he and Belinda can use.  And so he comes by every so often to the neighbors with buckets filled with goodies that we get to pick through, taking what we can use.

We both spent our morning, Craig and I and lots of others, at Edna Mae’s funeral.  I came back to the computer and Craig to his garden.  And so here he came again, this time with green and jalapeno peppers added to the largesse.

I don’t know how I got on Craig’s list (I didn’t have to sign up or enter a password or anything – all I had to do was be here), but I’m sure glad I did – glad to have such kind neighbors.  Craig’s the kind of guy who would keep Edna Mae stocked with fire wood.  No fuss, just kindness.  That’s how the folks around here are.  No fuss.  Just a lot of kindness.

Monday, August 20, 2012

10 Things I Want to Be When I Grow Up

1. wiser
2. kinder
3. published
4. quieter (well, I don’t really want to be quieter, but feel that it’s something that I should want to be)
5. more serene
6. able to understand time
7. someone who can sit still for more than 5 minutes
8. better read
9. thinner (another one of those supposed to be things)
10. a genuine pacifist

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Edna Mae's Hands

Edna Mae Booth passed from this world in Friday’s early morning hours.  Her body wrestled long with death even though her spirit had been long ready.

What I will remember most when I picture Edna Mae are her hands.  Fine-boned with long, tapered fingers, hers were the hands of a concert pianist.  But Edna Mae never played the piano.  So thin was she at the last that the blueness of the veins on the backs of her hands stood attention against her skin, a roadmap of life.

When her kids, now grandparents themselves, remember their mom, they see her standing in the kitchen cooking, washing dishes, hauling water, washing clothes in the wringer washer, tending kids, chasing kids, spanking unruly kids, her hands never idle.  When it came her turn to be tended instead of to tend, her hands held bits of the jigsaw puzzles or a pen to work her puzzle books or her devotional books to read, hands still busy almost to her last day.

With poor circulation, she wore soft black gloves to keep her hands warm, but would take them off when I held her hands as we prayed together and at the amen, I would kiss her hands.

Others, closer by blood and time and shared life will miss other things, but I will miss Edna Mae’s hands – beautiful and soft and filled with the music of a life.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Joining a Church: Isn't It About Time?

Reading Cynthia Campbell’s book God’s Abundant Table, I read the biblical story of Levi’s conversion in Luke 5.27-32 and ponder Campbell’s question: “Has an invitation ever changed your life?  How?”  I think about the significant life questions posed to me along the journey: “will you marry me?” . . . “where will you go to college?” . . . “will you go with me?” . . . but the question that sticks in my memory was the simplest one of all: “isn’t it about time?”  

I went to church as an adult seeking an education.  I had come to faith and belief (if those two can be thought of separately) and I wanted to know more about this man I said I would follow.  I was a student seeking teachers.

I found them at Beechwood Presbyterian Church in my hometown at the time.

Like Goldilocks in search of the perfect meal, chair or bed, I had attended or tried out various other churches before making my way to Beechwood.  One didn’t welcome or notice me amidst the throng at all.  Another noticed me too much and stalked me to work and tempting me to join them with cookies.  One only liked me when they saw me connected with someone they already knew.  Another liked me well enough but was nervous that one like me would even be there.  And so it went until I found my way to Beechwood.

After a few Sundays, the pastor spoke to me about what I was seeking.  I remember (with some shame) telling him that I was not seeking friends, I already had friends – I was seeking to learn.

With his usual gentle smile, Pastor John told me about the adult Sunday School classes and about a prayer group that met on Sunday evenings.  I joined both.  And I learned.

Pastor John let me poke along like that for about a year before he came back to me and gently asked me if it wasn’t about time I joined the church.  And I agreed – simple as that.  I didn’t think at the time that I was waiting to be asked, but perhaps I was.

And I was right about one thing: I didn’t make friends.  What I did was find a family.

Almost twenty years and countless bible studies, seminary classes, workshops and conferences later, now I’m the pastor and it’s up to me to ask folks, ‘isn’t it about time?’

Life’s funny that way.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

When Shirley Died

More than twenty years ago, and more than ten years after the fact, I wrote about the death of my grandfather, Shirley Francis Pyles.  It was written at a time when his wife, my Grandma Mary still lived and I was far from being a grandmother myself.  As I look back, I realize I have for some years lived longer without Grandpa than with him.  It is a startling revelation.  For some time, a family is gathered around the bed of their dying mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, Edna Mae.  Ministering to them and coming across what I wrote back then makes me think on my own times of loss, of family gathered around a bedside.

When Shirley Died

How well I still remember Grandpa’s dying, much more than his funeral.  What a time.  Grandpa died slowly and held on to each struggling breath even at the last.  I know because I was there.  We all were: a family sleeping in hospital chairs, I on the floor outside his room.

Looking back, I’m not even sure why I was there; but at the time, I knew it was important.  Not to Grandpa – he was asleep.  That’s how I think of it, anyway.  But to Grandma and my dad, there was no question of where I would be, so there I was.

How startled I was at his funeral.  The casket was open.  The service was comforting to some, not to others, as those things always seem to go.  But at the end, it suddenly occurred to me as I saw the men from the funeral home striding up the church aisle, that the casket lid would be closed on Grandpa as we sat there and watched.  

Up to that moment in my life, I thought I was strong.  In that instant as the lid came down, however, I wanted to scream, to run, to cry out, "No!"  But I was Grandma’s girl.  I said nothing, did nothing, allowing only the pressure of my fingertips in Mom’s arm to give me away – our little secret.

Whether time brings wisdom or not, I do not know.  But I do know that I can look back and understand that Grandma needed to see the lid close, needed the finality of that good-bye.  The more I think on it, the more I think we all need such simple and final good-byes in our lives.

Every time I leave Grandma’s house, she stands at the porch, the inevitable dish rag in hand, and waves good-bye.  Even after she’s gone, that’s how I will always see her.  And as I watch the next generation grow, I picture myself as somebody’s grandma.  I wonder if my granddaughter will pause and watch me standing on the porch and waving goodbye.*

*I have become the grandmother I imagined I would someday be.  It is a grandson, beautiful Rowen, who sees me waving now and I wonder if somehow, he sees the shadow behind me of my grandmother waving us all on.  I know I do.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

8 Things I Didn't Learn in Kindergarten*

1. That the other kids are as scared, confused and disoriented as I am.  

2. That eating paste is not a capital offense.

3. That the one who colors outside the lines will probably invent something marvelous and wonderful to behold.

4. That teachers are people too – they will make mistakes and I can hurt their feelings, even if I don’t mean to.

5. This too shall pass – for nothing is forever.

6. You won’t know you’re having the best time of your life until its past.

7. Some days, the sun shining on your face is the best gift you could ever wish for.

8. I don’t know everything and I never will.

*The title is inspired by Robert Fulghum's All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.  The link takes you to his man page because his August 8 poem with its note to would-be thieves is worth reading.  If you want to check out to the book, just click 'books' on the nav bar at the top of the page.

** I attended the Alexander School for kindergarten and my framed kindergarten diploma hangs on my office wall alongside the other life honors of which I am proud.

***This is dedicated to my grand-son Rowen, who has begun his own countdown to kindergarten.  May it be will with you, wee boy of my heart.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Being Showered by Meteors

A photo of the 2010 Perseid Meteor Shower taken by NASA’s
Marshall Space Flight Center.
Photo courtesy NASA via Flickr Creative Commons.

Five years ago, almost to the day, I set my alarm for 3 am, got my sleeping bag, went outside and lay down on the warm sidewalk to watch the Perseid meteor shower in the dark of the August night sky.

It was an amazing show and I stayed awake watching for over an hour.  And then I fell asleep . . . in the sleeping bag . . . on the sidewalk . . . in front of my house . . . next to the church . . . only to awaken during the 7 am ‘rush hour’ of traffic rushing past.  I lay there for several minutes pondering the reality that I, the preacher, still pretty new to this country parish, was laying on my sidewalk in my pajamas in full view of all the folk going early to work.  Should I pretend to be injured and continue to lie there until a break in the traffic?  Or should I just get up and make a run for the front door?

I made a run for it and scooted back into the house, chuckling at the image I must have left behind in some poor unsuspecting motorist’s bleary morning eyes, treasuring, all the while, the after images in my own eyes from the night before.

If you’ve never fallen asleep to a meteor shower, I recommend it highly.  It’s like being rocked in the cradle of the universe.

Last night, I set the alarm for 3 am.  But I am 5 years older now and so I just stood at my window and watched the shadows of light cast by the meteors flashing in the small bit of sky visible from where I stood and then I went back to bed.

I am the poorer for it.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Fly in the Ointment: A Short Reflection on the Fallacy of Citizens United*

Thesis: Human beings, people in common parlance,
are moral beings – don’t take my word for it –
read the philosophers – 

Corporations are by definition amoral**

therefore they cannot be people – 

citizens – 

or good ones, at any rate – 

by definition corporations exist for profit

all other considerations

all other constraints

on human behavior – 




even love

must fall by the wayside

for there is no profit in such things

sometimes there’s even loss

Life is not a balance sheet

and corporations are not people

*See Citizens United for the text of the Supreme Court's opinion upholding a First Amendment right of free speech for corporations as citizens.

**A nice way for people in polite society to say immoral, for sooner or later, that not governed in its own view by the mores of a society will violate those mores.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


In this Olympic season, there is celebration of the undefeated.  And the character Harvey in the television drama Suits seems to claim an undefeated record as a lawyer.  We adore and admire the undefeated among us.  But should we?

‘Undefeated’ just means hasn’t failed yet.

Failure comes to us all.

It’s part of life.

And that is not a bad thing.

Think about it.

Who wants to hang out with a bunch of winners all the time?

Especially if everyone else in the room is a winner too?

I’m not running out and grabbing failure.

But I am ready for it.


and only because

failure and I have met before

We’re actually old friends

so this time

maybe, just maybe

I won’t be blindsided

I won’t think it wasn’t supposed to happen to me

I won’t be devastated

I’ll just give a little shoulder shrug

and tell myself

better next time

I’ve got no rep,

no street cred to hold onto

I am a failure

at many things

which makes me a success

at one thing . . .


Friday, August 10, 2012

Do I Want a President Who Is Wise?

Do I want a president who is wise?  Or do I want a president who agrees with me?  Do I conflate agreement with wisdom?  Chances are I do.  But I don’t want to.

For here are the qualities that I really seek in a president – or any other leader, for that matter:

1. I want my president to be smarter than I am.  Smart as in wise and well-read and open to all options and able to assimilate a lot of information in a fairly short amount of time and able to think long-term consequences as well as short-term gains.  I want my president to see farther than I can.

2. I want my president to have spiritual depth.  I do not seek a president who will be my spiritual leader.  The structure of our governance does not allow for a ‘pastor-in-chief’ (a phrase I first heard used by a conservative whose name I cannot recall about George W. Bush, but which has since been used to refer to Obama, Romney and Santorum on different occasions).  Those running for the office of president are not qualified to act as spiritual leaders – their expertise lies in the realm of the temporal.  That is not to say that they lack spiritual depth of their own; it is to say that personal spiritual depth is a very different thing than leading others in spiritual ways.

3. I want a president who understands the concept of collective sacrifice and can explain it to us as a nation in a way we can hear, understand, and heed.  We live in challenging and difficult times.  But we might do well to recall history in order to recall that every generation has lived in challenging and difficult times in one form or another.  I want my leader to tell me the hard things to hear, to not shy away from what the opinion polls might negatively react to, to challenge us to give more, do more, be more, to recall that we did not get where we are by wishing.

4. I want a president who respects the office and the oath as much when it comes to enemies as to friends.  I want my president to respect my freedom of speech more, not less, when we disagree.  I vow to do the same and give him* a fair hearing.

5. When deciding the best interests of the nation, I want my president to remember that honor and integrity are as much a part of the best interests of the nation as are physical and economic security and act accordingly.

6. If my president must be beholden (and I would prefer he were not) to anyone, I would prefer he see himself as beholden to me for my one vote, however I exercise it, as to any of the myriad of corporations and special-interest groups who will donate millions to his election efforts.

7. I want my president to be a good student of history, starting with our own: not our mythology, but our history – the good and the bad of it.

8. I want my president to put away the cheerleader pom-poms, discard the talk of exceptionalism, and get down to the business of governance.  It’s hard work.  It requires dedication, effort, attention, and truth-telling.  Telling us what we want to hear is a waste of our time.

9. When it comes to problem-solving, I want my president to begin with identifying the problem and the causes.  Seldom, if ever, is one person, let alone one party, solely responsible for the ills of a nation.  Thus, for example, when it comes to curing our economic ills, I’d like my president to remind me of my own part in all of this as citizen Beth: Wall Street, government deregulation (accomplished by both parties working together), corporate savagery, all have their place.  But so too does individual greed, the idea of buying above our means, of entitlement not to life’s necessities, but to its luxuries.  In other words, I would very much like to be treated as a grown-up and reminded that my behavior must change too if we are to come out of our economic woes as a nation.

10. I don’t want to see my president all that often, as I would prefer him to be busy about the business of the nation.

11. I want my president to be the best him he can be.  I do not require my president to shake my hand or have a beer or even want to have a beer with me.  He need not look like me, act like me, or even think like me.  I am not the best yardstick for a good president.  If he is to be a great or even a good president, he must be true to himself.

12. I want my president to hire people to work for him who passionately disagree with him.  Being surrounded by sycophants is an invitation to believe in the truth of one’s own publicity, which is a sure beginning of foolishness.  Hearing from people who think differently is crucial to seeing the world more broadly, to learning new ideas, to working around problems in ways perhaps he never before even imagined.

So, fellow citizens, I don’t know what you’re looking for in a president.  But I do know this: for far, far too long, we have settled for far, far too little from our leaders.  We have demanded they be just like us, and to borrow from the kids, we aren’t all that.

For my own part, I will not celebrate ignorance.  I will not rejoice in the language of moral rectitude that has no backbone.  I will not be jollied by platitudes and slogans.  I will not believe the attack ads.

I will listen.  And I will read and learn.  I will explore.  I will pray.  I will decide.  And then and only then will I cast my vote.

And at the end of the day, whoever wins, I hope they retire to have that proverbial beer not with me, but with their friends, for surely they will have earned at least that much respect and well-wishing from me.

*I believe fervently in inclusive language.  I use ‘he’ and ‘him’ herein because the only viable candidates in this particular election are male.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

7 Reasons I Love My Life

1. It’s mine
2. It’s taken a long time for this life to look and be as it does and is right now.  It’s an investment and I think I’ve gotten a pretty good rate of return.
3. Home-made popcorn – a return to the things of my youth that are worth holding onto - like popcorn and hanging out the laundry on a sunny, windy day
4. The children in my life – grown and not so grown
5. I get to live in one of the most beautiful places on earth
6. I live in a time of mobility – which has allowed me to see an amazing breadth of this world and its people
7. I’m paid to think
8. I’ve had some great dance partners

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

7 Sure-Fire Ways to Guarantee No One Comes to Your Church

1. When they do manage to stumble into your doors, don’t talk to them.  Really, I promise, it’s that easy.
2. Alternatively, if you find it too hard to ignore them, take the opposite approach and hunt them down after they leave to shower unwanted attention and gifts on them (works every time:  no one likes a stalker, even a church stalker).
3. Keep doing everything the way you’ve always done it.
4. Fight – a lot – often and loud is best.
5. Refuse to show them the secret hand shake (all churches have them, usually called ‘the way we do things here’).
6. Lock the doors.  Some churches overlook this one, it’s so obvious.
7. Treat it like a secret society so it comes as a surprise to friends and neighbors when you die that there’s even a church there or that you belong to it.

BONUS METHOD: [100% guaranteed success rate] Act like a jack-ass Monday through Saturday.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Infinite Hope

"We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope." --Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Who do you know in need of some infinite hope today?

May your prayers
          be converted
                    by God's own Spirit
                              into whispers
                                       of hope
                                                 into their hearts
and yours

Monday, August 6, 2012

To the Would-Be Mass Murderers Among Us

1. Every turban does not cover a terrorist.  Almost no turban does.  You yourself are the living proof that you can't tell a terrorist by looking.

2.     Call it anything you like, but acting on purpose to create fear and terror is terrorism.  And yes, I actually do understand.

3. White is not God’s favorite color.  God made the entire spectrum.

4. Hate is your problem, not your solution.

5. It may not feel like it, but God loves you too.

6. You do not have to do this.  It is a choice you can refuse to make.

7. If having a gun tempts to you to do something you know you shouldn’t do, get rid of it – right now.

8. It’s not a stranger’s fault that your life is not what you wish it to be.  Maybe it isn’t your fault either.  Sometimes things just happen.

9. The shift you are feeling under your feet is the change of time.  That can be scary.  But it doesn’t have to be.

10. Other people telling you to do bad stuff are not your friends.  They do not have your best interests at heart.

11. If you die, your death will not mean anything.  No one will remember.  Everyone gets forgotten given enough time.  Everyone.

12. Killing others will not make you important.  It will make you a murderer.

13. By holding on to that gun, pulling that trigger, you are creating the very world you say you hate.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


Last night we stood out on the curb in front of my friend Twila’s house as her nephew Daniel, a veteran of the Iraq war who now studies to become a nurse, lights the star lanterns (also known as   Thai wish lanterns) as the cap off to a day of food, swimming and festivity dedicated to the memory and in honor of Twi’s husband and my friend, Stu.

At one point, I found myself standing behind the rest of the gathered, at an emotional remove.  With the street lights positioned as they were, Stu’s family and friends stood in tableau and it was – we were – beautiful.

There was Twila, holding her great-niece, 11-week-old Regan in her arms with daughter Jess at her side, the visual of Regan in Jess’s arms before she handed the baby off to her mother still fresh in my mind’s eye  –  a double-exposure of a memory.

Daniel stands, arms uplifted from just having wished the lantern into the air.  Friend Kip stands in the street in the foreground with sweet Kinsley, Regan’s little sister, standing in 2-year-old rapt stillness at his side.

All the rest, sundry sisters and brothers, nieces and nephews and friends, radiate out from the center axis that is Twila.

Light and shadows play over this moment frozen in time like Stu’s imprint does upon all our lives.

And in that moment, we know we are blessed.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

7 Things To Adore About John Calvin

John Calvin, 1554

1. He was a step-dad                    

2. Bitchin’ hat

3. Predestination*

4. He was French

5. Genevan Bible and its treatment of the tyrannical nature of kingship (Calvin didn’t author the Genevan Bible, but its production took place in ‘his’ Geneva)

6. His own recognition that he was a man of his time, a recognition that allowed for the possibility of women in leadership within the church in future because of his view that the biblical admonition that women keep silent in church was a thing ‘indifferent’ (meaning not an essential tenet of the faith)

7. Emphasis on education:  Calvin was a small ‘d’ democrat, insisting that all must have access to education - and that included girls

*Paving the way for Karl Barth's exposition on predestination and election as God's expression 'for' humanity in the person of Jesus the Christ and the idea that thereby, God can claim all of humanity (and not merely those 'chosen', as it is Jesus himself who is the object as well as the subject of God's choosing).

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Well-Mannered South


I have a love-hate thing going on with the South.  Of course, my congregant from Mississippi would tell me (rightly) that I am nowhere near ‘The South’ here in Virginia – she’d be right as far as that goes, but she’d be wrong too.

Today, I have to say that the stereotypical Southern approach to conflict – avoid, change the subject, cajole, agree to disagree, offer up prayer (for anything, it really doesn’t matter much what) as a way to get folks to just shut up – that of avoidance, the coming-at-you-sideways way of life, while useful from time to time, is exhausting for this gal of ‘The North’.*

So I’m going to forgive my Southern friends for having absolutely no idea how to do direct conflict – they were taught a very different way.  But I am going to suggest to them that they take some lessons before entering such fraught arenas as FB.

Otherwise, when they post an “I support Chick-fil-A” call to support the franchise chicken chain and their friends from far away start posting “I’m gonna gay-kiss in front of Chick-fil-A” responses, they will be woefully unprepared.

Most, if not all, of my Southern friends will protest that this is not a North-South thing.  I beg to differ: it’s fried chicken, for heaven’s sake!

And only in the South (of the United States) would anyone (1)  buy something and (2) have the something bought be fried chicken and (3) call that a protest.

Just sayin.**

* ‘The North’ – I know, I know: West Virginia isn’t the north.  Except it is – at least when you’re living in the South.  It’s only the South when you’re living in the North.  (Try explaining that one to a visitor from another country).

**Here’s a hint at what’s going on here: I’m trying to do the Southern indirect thing and I am woefully inadequate to the task (Exhibit A: what I’ve written above).  So here’s the direct skinny: I’m guessing you, my Southern buds, will be offended by the above.  Don’t be: it’s actually an example of what I’m talking about.  This is not bating, hating, speech.  It’s humor as a way to express a disagreement, which leaves wide open what the actual disagreement is/might be.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Bears in the Middle of the Road

Who cares why the chicken crossed the road?  Nor do I care why a mama black bear and her three cubs crossed the road in front of me near the top of Jack Mountain yesterday morning, but I definitely care that I was there to see them.

I wonder if bear cubs usually come in threes.  And I wonder about the last cub to cross, who was lagging behind, not quite as sure or as brave as his siblings . . . or maybe just stopping to enjoy the smells of the mountain day while the others bounded forward, sure never to lose sight of mama.

Life is good:  Grizzly bear scratching his back on a tree in
Glacier National Park.  Photo by Glacier NPS at FlickrCommons
They look so cumbersome but move so gracefully.  And even we people of the mountains who know they’re there, receive the actual laying eyes on them as a gift.

Years ago a friend had a series of questions supposed to elicit something about one’s psychological makeup.  The first went something like this: You’re driving on a road when you come upon a bear in the middle of the road.  What do you do?

I thought the answer was obvious – drive around her.

Little did I know then that other people would turn back and still others would simply stop and watch her for awhile.

This question was supposed to determine one’s approach to problem solving: my own technique was assessed as ‘plowing through’ them, probably a pretty accurate insight.

But most of the bears I’ve seen in my lifetime weren’t on roads, literal or figurative.

Photo by Glacier NPS at FlickrCommons
Most of the bears I’ve seen are of the grizzly variety when I spent a summer working in Glacier National Park in Montana.  If you’ve never been, it’s well worth your time and trouble to get there.  

During our orientation to life in a national park, one of the rangers told us bear avoiding and surviving strategies.  When he finished, I noticed that he had made no mention of the bells we sold to guests in the lodge store.  Responding to my question about the efficacy of bells (as a sort of warning to the bears, reputed to be shy, that humans were approaching), he smiled and as gently as he could, told me that when bears hear the bells, what they think is “dinner!”

Needless to say, I saved myself the cost of the bells.  Nor was I comforted when a fellow worker, a man young enough to be my son said with a grin on his face, “Beth, I don’t have to outrun the bear.  All I have to do is outrun you!”

I saw lots of bears that summer, most of them from a safe distance.  The most compelling sight was a mama grizzly and her three cubs crossing the river far below where some friends and I sat enjoying the sun.  Mama crossed with confidence, either not knowing or ignoring the falls just a few feet away from her and her babies.  Inculcated with the instinct to follow mama, all three cubs went into the water, one by one.  And one by one, all three were swept over the falls, accompanied by our shouts and screams above, as if we could somehow communicate the impending danger to them.  Of course, we could not.

We then watched as mama, discovering none of her cubs behind her on the other side, made her way searchingly down landward to the base of the falls, calling out to the cubs.  One emerged and then another.  But not the third.  She spent a long time walking the water’s edge calling for her third cub, but he never came.

Maybe he made it to shore farther down.  Maybe.  But somehow I doubt it.

We cried with her, my friends and I that day.

Life and its ending are like that: sudden, inexplicable, safely in hand one moment, gone the next.  All we’ve got in this bodily form is the here and the now, which is never to be taken lightly, never, ever, for granted.

I saw three bear cubs today and remembered the day years ago when once there were three and then there were only two.  And I was blessed – blessed by their sheer existence.  And I wished them well.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Where You Can Simply Be

Home, the place where you can simply be who you are . . . without explanation, without back story, without grinding out the details of your life to explain the now of things. . .

Olympic gold medalist Mary Lou Retton is from my home town of Fairmont, West Virginia.  She and I grew up a couple of miles and a couple of years apart.  Her experience is not mine and vice versa.

But when my mother told me recently that Mary Lou and her family had been living in Fairmont for a number of years, having moved back from Texas, saying, in effect, in an interview in the local paper, that it was nice to be home, to be in the place where people leave you alone in the grocery store, I got it.

Nobody hounds me in public places for an autograph, but home as the place where you can be part of the background, where your presence is taken for granted, resonates, I think with us all.

We all have, at least some time in our lives, that yearning for fame, acclaim, fanfare, and notice, don’t we?  But if we stopped to think about it, that would wear rather thin after awhile.  Sometimes, it’s actually nice not to be noticed, not to be on stage, not to have to worry about whether the hair is combed, the smile on, where our absence is more noteworthy than our presence.

Today, that’s the place that feels like home.