“These are the times that try men’s souls” Thomas Paine wrote in 1776. These words are appropriate today, except we should add “women’s” to the mix. What the hell is wrong with our country? With our leaders? Heck, I can’t even call them leaders any more.
I grew up in the late 1940s/1950s in Wichita, Kansas, a state considered for all intents and purposes to be Southern in leaning. I remember my first contact with a Black person, a man whose car my Dad was fixing. We were introduced and I was afraid to shake his hand for fear the color would rub off. I was 6. Dad was mortified and apologized to the man. My first lesson in prejudice.
In Wichita at the time, neighborhoods were strictly divided and one didn’t cross over into the other. When a Black family, a doctor’s family, moved into my grandparents’ neighborhood, every house in that neighborhood went up for sale; I saw this happen.
I made a friend at the butcher shop where my grandpa worked. We played whenever I was there and one day I asked my grandma if I could invite her over to the house to play dolls. I was told a firm “no.” She was Black.
When my folks decided to buy a house in Seattle after Boeing moved us there, Mom waited in the car while Dad went in to talk to the realtor. The realtor questioned this and asked if Mom was Black. Dad said, “No, but I’m an Indian.” There were no houses available after that.
In the 1960s I watched in horror as one leader after another was assasinated in the name of Civil Rights and wondered what kind of a terrible world I was bringing my new infant into. I watched on TV the marches, the protests, read about the hangings, the injustices.
And years later I went to Selma, I crossed over the infamous bridge I’d seen the marchers cross, I held hands in Atlanta at the tomb of Martin Luther King Jr and sang “We shall overcome” with Coretta Scott King and a crowd of people I didn’t know. My husband and I were the only whites present.
And later still I stood at the mass grave at Wounded Knee and laid my Sema (Indian tobacco) down and prayed. A Native elder sat at the bottom of the hill and gave me the quiet I needed while keeping others at bay.
And now it’s happening again. I’m not naive enough to believe that these things didn’t stop but to see it happen again and witness a president who seems to condone it is beyond belief. We’ve taken a giant step backward.
Who do we want to be as Americans? Do we want to stand for “freedom and justice for all?” ALL. Do we want to love our neighbor as ourselves? To stand up for our neighbor? Fear breeds hatred; we hate what we fear. And if it’s a person with a different skin color, be it Black, Red, Brown, Yellow or Blue, we will hate that person because we don’t know him.
When I’ve spoken publicly about the forced march of my Potawatomi ancestors from Indiana to Kansas in 1838 I’ve concluded my talks by encouraging people to get to know their neighbors. To get to know the person across the street, down the block. To share each other’s stories, to learn what makes them “tick.” Maybe only then can we start to heal. It begins with us, with you, with me. It’s time to begin.
Well, we survived the 4th and all the fireworks displays. We drove down the road a half hour and saw a gorgeous display put on by a local community. I was surprised to actually find parking but then we were early. It soon filled up.
Nani seems to have survived the noise and explosions. She still watches for her brother even though he’s been gone over 2 months. We now have a neighbor’s cat visiting us at night so have taken to locking her in; Koa used to protect us from this cat, who seems to think this is his new home. For heaven’s sake, please spay and neuter your pets! This one isn’t and is a major nuisance. Have you ever had someone else’s cat mark your bed while you were asleep in it? I have.
The weather has certainly taken an upswing. Upper 80s with slight trades, which feels great to me since I was born in Kansas and love the heat. But I hear it’s 124 in a town in Arizona; I don’t think I love it that much.
If you haven’t read John Grisham’s new book I heartily recommend it. I love mysteries with surprise endings and Camino Island is a doozy! I was never much of a Grisham fan until I found Gray Mountain; then our book club read The Whistler and now with Camino Island I’m hooked! Check out Ken Tucker’s review on Yahoo.
I’ve also been reading Sherman Alexie’s book You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me which is about his mother. It’s a tough read, combining prose and poetry, about a rough upbringing and for me has proven to be slow-going. I’d met Mr. Alexie many years ago in Seattle and so enjoyed his storytelling on that occasion. I’ve loved the movie “Smoke Signals” based on one of his books; in fact I own several of them. He’s a Spokane-Coeur d’Alene-American novelist, poet, and filmmaker according to his Google biography.
I also recommend Colson Whitehead’s book The Undergroune Railroad which is about slavery in the South. It’s a pulitzer prize winner (2017 fiction) and presents a unique outlook on the topic. I met him in 2016 at the Kaua`i Writers Conference and was taken by the way he writes. Our book club read it and discussed it at length. You can probably find it in your library.
Well, speaking of books, I need to go finish the book club’s July selection great small things by Jodi Piccoult so I’ll be ready for our next meeting on Monday. I’m a fast reader so should be finished by then. I confess I’ve joined Goodreads’ 2017 challenge and have read 38 of the 50 books I signed up to read. And that’s in spite of the trip to New Zealand and a recent trip to Honolulu! I’m so glad Mom taught me to read when I was 4!
Meanwhile, till next time. Aloha and Happy Reading!
I think I know why I don’t want to live in a big city! True, shopping is fantastic, so many shops, so many choices!! But alongside that there’s so much traffic! And the high-rise condos. We lived in a small apartment for the first 6 months of our marriage; it was in an old converted house and there were six apartments but even that drove us nuts. The noise of people walking, fighting, whatever was more information than we wanted; we lasted six months before buying our first house.
And now we live in our second house. Imagine that! However, it’s on a small island and some services available in larger cities aren’t always available here so there are times you have to catch a plane and make a trip off-island. So there we were at the airport planning to make a necessary trip. But when we do, we combine necessity and fun and this trip was no exception so off we went to Honolulu.
We landed EARLY on Sunday morning and ended up at a Summit honoring the Hokule’a home from her 3-year voyage around the world. Crew members, teachers, students, tourists–all were there. We enjoyed stopping at various tables, watching the excellent movies, purchasing memorabilia. I met a crew member who’d written about his time sailing on board and spent time visiting with him about the similarities between Polynesian and American Indian cultures. Shopping occupied the afternoon as well and then we checked into the hotel.
Monday was reserved for the purpose of our trip.
Tuesday morning we fought Honolulu traffic to get to the Iolani Palace for our scheduled self-guided tour. We were only 10 minutes late, though allowing over 30 minutes to get there. TRAFFIC! The 45-minute tour took nearly 2 hours but was time well-spent. They had electricity in the palace before the White House thought to install it! We visited the King’s and Queen’s bedrooms, viewed the quilt Queen Liliuo’kalani created with her ladies-in-waiting during her exile (read a history sometime). I recommend the tour if you ever get to Honolulu.
Tuesday afternoon we spent with an old friend who moved there from Kaua’i. She’s fighting a return of her cancer but we laughed and talked genealogy and it was like old times. One pill a day is helping her in the fight. Amazing!!
And now we’re home. Our lightly-packed bags were stuffed and heavy, our new bags likewise. But what a great time! i must admit however, I’m glad to live on a small island in a small town with only one traffic light and cows and wild pigs counted among our neighbors!
You never realize how much your kids know about you until a special day comes along. Birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s Day, etc. Mine never cease to amaze me. I have a pot of mums sitting on the dining room table and a Mom’s Sippy Cup (shaped like a wine glass) sitting in the cupboard. And yes I’ve watered the mums and used the glass.
I’ve not written lately because on April 30 my beloved cat Koa died of a blood clot following surgery. He was almost 13.
He was an amazing cat. My husband doesn’t like cats but curled up with Koa every evening to watch TV. My husband swore he’d never have a Siamese cat in the house but delighted in Koa’s “talking,” which sounded very much like a Siamese cat’s vocalizations (he was a feral cat we adopted with his sister so don’t know his lineage for sure).
When Koa got bored, he opened the bottom drawer in the bathroom cabinet (both bathrooms, he wasn’t fussy) and dug everything out. He liked to nap under the bathroom sinks or on the 2nd shelf of the linen closets after he opened the folding doors. He taught his sister Nani these tricks, too.
He didn’t care for fish but liked spaghetti sauce if we put our plates on the floor. He would claw at my chair, and my arm, and lead me to his food dish to show me it was empty or to the sink where he wanted water (no water bowl for him!).
Instead of giving us the “stink eye” when we got home after long vacations, he was overjoyed to see us and rolled around purring to let us know. When we were in New Zealand for three weeks in March, even though he had a daily visitor, when we pulled up in the driveway and I called him; sure enough, the rolling around/purring began.
The end came quickly. We noticed a lump on his left rear leg and when the vet excised it it turned out to be cancerous. Since the cancer hadn’t spread beyone that site his leg was amputated to save him and because the tumor was lying next to his sciatic nerve. Three days later he left us. He’s now buried beneath the bathroom window, as close to his food dish as possible.
Nani watched for him to return through the cat door, perhaps she hears him when we cannot, and has finally started eating again. She follows me everywhere and has started repeating some of his favorite “tricks.” We can only smile.