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The Generation I’m Not Talkin’ ’bout

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The PG (Parental Guidance) Post 

CHARD

Dateline: Monday evening, doing my own sous chef preparation before sautéing shallots and Swiss chard.  As I strip the ruby red chard leaves from their stalks, I remember how much my father loved Swiss chard.

*   *   *

 Band of Memories

 Chester Bryan Parnell, "These are the good times," 8-8-1924 to 2-11 -09

Chester Bryan Parnell, “These are the good times,” 8-8-1924 to 2-11-2009

I think of my father every day, and mention him often (an easy thing to do, as he was a special character), in part to keep his memory alive for K and Belle.  But when my family sees that I’ve brought out the Band of Brothers DVD box set, they know something extra is in the air.

Today would have been Chester “Chet-the-Jet” Parnell’s 90th birthday.  It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around that number.  I’ll let my heart do the binding.

Martin

When Chet wanted to relax he would haul out his old Martin guitar. He loved to serenade his kids.  Beautiful, Beautiful Brown Eyes, a traditional country tune covered by singers from Roy Acuff to Rosemary Clooney, was one of the songs Chet used to sing to me at night.

 *   *   *

 My mother is frail;
“I am winding down,” she says.
She is eighty-six.

Widowed five years now;
Her eldest child lives nearby.
I am second-born.

My two other sibs
Live in the Bay Area;
Mom is in So Cal.

SOCAL

Mom loathed to travel,
even when she was healthy.
And, now she cannot.

Twenty-three years plus
I’ve lived one thousand miles north
with my family.

Mom doesn’t do much;
there’s little to talk about.
Calls can be awkward

She always refused
to learn to use computers.
Her children conspired

We got a gadget:
“technically un-inclined”
is its user base.

TECHNO

A “one-way device,”
it receives and prints email
From select sources.

Pro: she gets no spam;
Con: she gets but can’t send mail
(which is fine by her).

I send her brief notes –
a small something for the day
In her morning mail

Mondays are for jokes.
Who wouldn’t like a giggle
To begin the week?

CAMEL

Tuesdays I phone her.
Her moods and health are falling.
Tuesdays make me sad.

Each Wednesday I send
a Word of the Day feature.
(I choose cheerful words).

Thoughts For the Day
from minds famous and obscure,
are Thursday’s items.

Fridays are for Quotes:
adages and citations
to spark mind and heart.

Saturday, poems:
I send different verse styles,
From Browning to Lear.

Every Sunday
I send my mother haiku,
Two verses, or more.

I write them moiself;
thus, they are not quote-worthy.
Silly, but heartfelt.

POETRY

*   *   *

 A Brief Meditation on Ways to Fail Your Children

Is that a buzz kill subject heading, or what?  If you’re looking for the feel-good post of the week, I suggest returning to the picture of the Swiss chard and using it for a gratitude meditation focal point.

I’m thinking about the many ways my father and mother succeeded, as parents…also, about those ways in which they, and parents in general, failed.

This digression is courtesy of one of my recent morning walk podcast sessions.[1] I was listening to the Freethought Radio interview with the president of a N.O.W. chapter, re activism resulting from the SCOTUS [2] Hobby Lobby decision. This topic was antithetical to the purpose of my morning walks, which are supposed to be somewhat meditative as well as invigorating.  The former purpose took a back seat to ruminative rage as I considered the seemingly unending, fact-free, conservative political and social balloon juice about a woman’s right to right to personal jurisdiction, and other issues that should have been settled so, so, long ago….

And I find myself thinking,

We failed.

We, as in, talkin’ ’bout my generation.

We have failed in so many ways, including imagination.

Thirty years ago, I couldn’t imagine we’d be fighting the same fights. [3]  Sure, a few dinosaur fossils would remain, but I’d hoped that the battle for equality and against sexism and misogyny (at least, in this country) would be history, as in, my son and daughter would learn about it the same way they learned about women’s suffrage (There was a time when women couldn’t vote?!  And it was less than one hundred years ago?!)

I realize that historical milestones are almost never confined to a single day or week…or even era. The campaign for women’s suffrage was not waged and won on August 18, 1920, when the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified.  Nor was the amendment a one-time antidote to the festering, cyclic, boil-on-the-ass-of-human rights that is the tendency for groups of people to oppress those they view as The Other.

 

suffrage

*   *   *

Power shared = power diminished.

According to one Wise Old White Guy © I had the pleasure of knowing, [4] there is a widely held but false axiom behind bigotry and discrimination. That was the gist of what he tried to explain, one day in our Tuesday morning book group of yore. The group stumbled onto the continuing struggle for civil and women’s rights vis-à-vis religious institutions – a provocative topic for anyone who hasn’t downed their first cup of coffee by 7 am.  I brought up what I saw as the ultimate butt-frosting, teeth-grinding, bloomer-bunching irony: in order to acquire the rights and opportunities that you, say, a woman or African-American, are denied, you have to convince a majority of those in power – the very people who have been denying you those rights – to grant them. [5]

This prompted WOWG to share his “unfortunate observation” regarding human nature:

Few people anywhere have ever easily agreed to share power.

I knew what WOWG meant, but asked him to elaborate.  What follows is my (paraphrased) recollection of his simple but profound Walter Cronkite-ism [6] :

 Power shared = power diminished – this is what people in power believe. But power does not diminish when shared, it multiplies.  Small, stingy, fearful minds don’t understand that – they think power is finite, or is in limited supply, and therefore sharing power with you means there is less of it for them.  This is especially true for those who are (or who see themselves as being) on the lower rungs of the power and status ladders; e.g., some of the fiercest, most vicious criticism of the civil rights movement came from poor white southern men.

He ended with: We failed. Our generation didn’t fix that. Maybe it can’t be fixed; but now, it’s your turn.

 *   *   *

And now, a segue to make us all feel better.

I Am A Bad Person
#359 is a never-ending series

Making travel arrangements for an upcoming family wedding, my brain did that thing it does, and conjured up a memory from a friend’s wedding, several years ago.  I was talking to a teenager at the wedding reception. When I asked her about the rather sour look on her face, she complained to me about how “old people at weddings always poke me in the ribs and say, ‘You’re next!’ “

I told her she could get revenge by saying the same to them at funerals.

 

"I'm sure she meant, next in line for the buffet."

“I’m sure she means, next in line for the buffet.”

*   *   *

Spam subject line of the week:
IF  YOU  DON’T  READ  THIS  NOW  YOU’LL  HATE  YOURSELF  LATER !!!

I didn’t read it “now” (or at all).

It is later.

I don’t hate myself.

Ergo, it must be my turn for an all-caps-three-exclam-attack:


VICTORY IS MINE !!!

Mmmmmwwwwahahahahahaha !!!

Mmmmmwwwwahahahahahaha !!!

*   *   *

 

 

May you always be next in line for life’s buffet, and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] During my morning walks I listen to podcasts of some of my favorite radio shows, including Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Freakonomics, RadioLab, This American Life, TED Talks, Fresh Air, and Freethought Radio.

[2] Which, yes, oft times seems as if it should be the acronym for Sexist Codgers (and not Supreme Court) of the United States.

[3] Only with different, and often troll-enabling – technologies.

[4] WOWG lost a brief but fierce battle with leukemia ~ 10 years ago.

[5] I remember, a long long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, trying to explain to my kids, who were dealing with fledgling democracy concepts in school, how women couldn’t vote to give themselves the vote.

[6] “And that’s the way it is.”

[7] Wait a minute…there is no seventh footnote.

The Black Friday Sales I’m Not Shopping

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Well, of course I’m not shopping the Black Friday sales today.  Black Friday was last Friday. The Thanksgiving week lingers on in my mind; having K and Belle home from school threw off my calendar sense. When all else fails, blame the fruit of your loins.

On the actual Black Friday Day (BFD?), we observed our traditional ode to consumerism:  Buy Nothing Day. Getting lunch at a local sports pub doesn’t count, because…well, because.  I hadn’t pledged to observe Eat Nothing But Leftovers Day.

*   *   *

I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land.
(Jon Stewart)

pilgrims

Even as a child I was skeptical toward the Disney-fied version of what my school taught about The Pilgrims. The idea that, to this day, there are still people who celebrate the survival of the Plymouth colonists trespassers by thanking a god who supposedly protected and championed the European offensive makes my mouth feel as if I’ve been sucking on a cotton ball.[1]  Nevertheless, faced with the mythical vs. factual scenarios –

☺ Pilgrims invited the locals to a feast after surviving their first year in New England.

☺Indigenous Americans broke bread with the invaders they’d saved from starvation, those who later stole their land and decimated their numbers via murder and disease.

– which image would your grandparents favor for their Hallmark holiday greeting card?

*   *   *

Ah, but I’ve mellowed in my dotage. I am pleased that the observance of the third Thursday of November has evolved into a special day set aside for gluttony gratitude. There was much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving, including last week’s politics/world affairs-free blog from moi.

It even seemed as if there were several days (as in, maybe two) that were rant-free. Silence from the Repugnicans – what gives?  I began to wonder if the sore losers of the election finally decided to just go away.  But, nooooooo. Like a recurrent arse pimple or a psychotic, spurned lover, the acumen-free, neo(lithic) cons are not going to be ignored.

But the latest rightwing hysteria cause caught me by surprise. I’d thought the kind of minds attracted to the secession twaddle would have so many other things on their agenda. After all, they’ve got crosses to burn, mayo-on-white bread sandwiches to eat, pro-wrestling matches to watch, and there are sheep out there, somewhere, in desperate need of lovin.’

But really, some of them sound like they’re serious.  And the loudest-sounding seem to be (surprise!) from Texas.

Now, I acknowledge the majority of the whining comes from fringy-wingnut element of politics and punditry. There are many decent, rational, realistic, intelligent and compassionate people from Texas, even some political and media figures I admire, including Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Walter Cronkite,[2]  Molly Ivins [3] ….

Oh yeah, they’re all dead. Anyway….

Memo to Texas Nationalist Movement President Daniel Miller and like-minded loonies: Stop holding your breath and kicking your feet and otherwise throwing the political equivalent of a marginally potty-trained toddler’s tantrum.

tantrum

And, hey you — any state claiming to be serious in your girly-man threat to secede: go ahead, make my day. After your residents have ponied up for their share of the national debt[4], don’t let the information highway[5] hit you in the ass on your way out.

Cleverer minds than mine® have taken the secession speechifying seriously enough to come up with about twenty Declarations on the matter.  I’ve seen so many variations I can only offer attribution to the version[6] brought to my attention by my alert Swednadian friends.   Here it is, with just a bit o- tweaking from yours truly.

~~~~ * ~~~~

The Declaration of Oh please, are you serious? November 2012

From: Red/Slave State Secession Support Group, aka The E.S.A.

To: the Red States Threatening Secession

Dear Red States:

We’re sick of your Neanderthal beliefs and 47% politics. We who support your secession intended to form our own country anyway, and we’re taking all the Blue States with us. In case you aren’t aware, that includes Hawaii, California, New Mexico, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, New York, and all of the Mid Atlantic and Northeast states (as per the most recent election, Florida and Virginia have a two-year probationary status).

We believe this split will be beneficial to the hopelessly polarized nation, and especially to the people of our E.S.A., The Enlightened States of America.

You wanna secede?  Go for it. A brief summation of the results of your departure:

  • You get Texas, Oklahoma and almost all of the other slave states. We get stem cell research and the best beaches.
  • We get Barack Obama and Joe Biden. You get Bobby Jindal,  Richard Murdock, and Todd Akin.
  • We get the Statue of Liberty. You get OpryLand.
  • We get Harvard. You get Ole’ Miss.
  • We get Tahoe and Vail and Aspen. You get Utah.
  • We get Intel, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft. You get Chic-fil-A.
  • We get 85 percent of America’s venture  capital and entrepreneurs. You get Alabama.
  • We get two-thirds of the tax revenue. You get to make your states pay their fair share.
  • We get science. You get myth and fantasy.

With the Blue States in hand we will have:

  • firm control of 80% of the country’s fresh water,
  • more than 90% of the pineapple[8]  and lettuce,
  • 92% of the nation’s fresh fruit,
  • 95% of America’s finest wines (y’all can serve French wines at your state dinners)
  • 90% of all cheese,
  • 90% of the high tech industry,
  • most of the US low sulfur coal,
  • all living redwoods, sequoias and condors,[9]
  • all the Ivy League and Seven Sisters schools, plus Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT,
  • the Rose Bowl

With the Red States you will have:

  • 88% of obese Americans and their projected health care costs,
  • 92% of US mosquitoes,
  • nearly 100% of the tornadoes,
  • 90% of the hurricanes,
  • 99% of Southern Baptists (without counting our provisional states),
  • virtually 100% of televangelists,
  • the philosophers Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilley, and Sean Hannity
  • Bob Jones University, Liberty University, ‘Bama, and the University of Georgia.
  • 90% of all deep fat fried foods.

We get Hollywood and Yosemite – jackpot! Thank you!

Here’s just a sampling of the cheap entertainment provided by y’all; in other words, what we may actually miss about you when you go:

  • the 38% of you who believe there was an actual dude name Jonah who was actually swallowed by a whale,
  • the 62% of you who believe life is “sacred,” except in cases of war, the death penalty, and shoot-first laws,
  • the whopping 5% of you Republicans (according to Gallup Polls, really) who even partially understand the scientific theory of evolution.
  • the 61% of you crazies who believe that you have higher morals than we lefties.

Oh, and BTW, we’re taking the good weed from Oregon, too. You can have that crap from Mexico.

~~~~ * ~~~~

Revisiting the subject of gratitude, I am thankful to be able to confer a Pretty Purple Toe award this week, to my most deserving friend and blogging mentrix,[10] SCM.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’ve always loathed “ess” or “ette” or other attachments to what should be gender-neutral nouns. Such suffixes add a diminutive/diminishing effect, and presume – and teach, IMHO – that there are male “defaults” for certain occupations. If I act in a play I call myself an actor, not an actress. My family (MH, K, Belle and I) has a family practitioner who sees us for our respective medical concerns;[11] when we have our annual exams we see our doctor, not our doctress or doctrette.  When I had friends over for Thanksgiving dinner I was their host, not their hostess.

However….

A day or so before I was to host the Tday dinner I e-queried one of our dinner guests, SCM (also an attorney), re questions I had about updating MH’s and my wills.  I mildly tweaked SCM for using the term “executrix” in her reply.  She was, as always, succinctly witty in her own defense:

I like executrix instead of a gender-neutral executor, or administratrix instead of g-n administrator. It just sounds faintly naughty and it’s more precise. Maybe you should be a hostrix?

Hostrix.  I think I could get used to the sound of that.

Hijinks ensue.

*   *   *

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] Or on a piece of overcooked turkey breast. I was the cook. The legs & thigh portions were fine. Sound familiar?

[2] Beloved by most Americans for his “most trusted man in America” journalism, and by moi because I was able to get the traffic court judge to drastically reduce  my one-and-only speeding fine when I explained how, mesmerized by an Uncle Walter radio interview, I failed to notice the lowered speed limit and thus was driving “under the influence of Water Cronkite.”

[3] One of my fave MI witticisms: “I have been attacked by Rush Limbaugh on the air, an experience somewhat akin to being gummed by a newt. It doesn’t actually hurt, but it leaves you with slimy stuff on your ankle.”

[4] A whopping portion of it run up by the war now pay later policies of a president from Texass

[5] As well as those pesky Federal $$  paying for your Social Security, Medicare, Johnson Space Center and other defense contract businesses, highway improvements and fee-free interstate travel, the defense of your borders from illegal immigrants….

[6] Paul Magnusson, Spokesman for the Red/Slave State Secession Support Group, The Enlightened States of America (E.S.A.)

[7] Swedish-Canadian

[8] I like pineapple

[9] I like condors, too, but wish they smelled more like pineapple

[10] Not mentor or “mentoress”

[11] It’s a good thing our good Dr. MM can write her own Xanex prescriptions.