Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wedding fever

The UK is very excited! Until this week it's been rather muted -- but now we've all -- mostly-- given in to the media hype. Thursday is my regular grocery shopping day  I thought it would be a bit busy, but was totally surprised at how crowded it was. When I finished my shopping it was so impossible to even get in line for a till, that I wandered around the store for 20 minutes waiting for room just to get in line.

Of course there are those who detest all the royal goings on and long for the time when the royal family will be relegated to history. I especially like the guy on Channel 4 news tonight who argued for the demise of the monarchy and then admitted rather sweetly that he would be sneaking a view of the proceedings when they happened! Members of the Labour Party are somewhat scandalized that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have not been invited, but John Major and Margaret Thatcher have been. The official excuse being that Major and Thatcher are members of the 'Garter' and so were invited. And since it is not a 'State' occasion, but a 'private' one Blair and Brown were not included in the invitaions list!

Royal occasions usually mean that people plan street parties -- the last time a vast party was planned in Southport on Lord Street. It was deemed that it would be so popular that only children would be seated at the tables which lined the street. On the day it rained cats and dogs and all the tables and chairs ended up folded up and stacked along the sidewalks/pavements.

Tomorrow, not being an official state occasion there is no town party, but several lesser street parties planned. It looks as if the weather may very well cooperate in this part of England -- though it is not so promising in London -- fingers crossed for the crowds down there. They are expecting thousands and thousands of people to join the thousands already lined up along the wedding procession route to West Minster Abbey. Myself, I cannot imagine putting up a tent on the pavement -- some for several days -- in order to have a prime view of the event. No, I shall be sitting comfortably in front of the telly and will make a point of wearing something respectably comfortable!

But, in honour of the event I am planning a special celebratory dinner of fois gras, duck in plum sauce and cream puffs for dessert -- see the excitement has caught up with me. I even felt slightly teary when they released details of the order of service. God Bless Kate and Wills...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Bit of Something Awesome at Easter

My memory frustrates me greatly. I cannot remember things that happen well enough to relate to others their meaningfullness. Easter Sunday was a wonderful in-church experience for me and I want to write about it, but I cannot quite remember ... So many times on Christmas and Easter the church experience can not quite live up to what you hoped it would be. Especially sermons. But this year the vicar would have knocked my socks off -- if I'd been wearing any.

You know what? I love the Anglican church. I love its catholic/protestant inability to define itself -- which is for me a recognition of the fact that Christianity needs to be a Big Tent. And I am especially priviledged to go to a church that has a fine vicar, who is a highly regarded theologian and author, the Rev'd Canon Dr. Rod Garner.

In the meantime, at this moment, I am listening to the final 10 on Classic FM's Easter Weekend Hall of Fame. I have a feeling the darn bird is going to win again -- as far as I'm concerned it's a mere bagatelle and I wish someone would shoot that Lark Ascending. But maybe I'll be surprised -- every year I've thought I would be -- one can but live in hope. But now it's Beethoven's Pastoral bliss ... I listen ... Long pause and it's Tuesday already!! Lark Ascending was down one and came in second ... a much more believeable Rachmaninov Piano Concerto Number 2 in the number one slot this year.

Back to Church now. Easter Sunday's sermon. Apologies for the digression. The Vicar talked about the way kids especially make rather banal use of the word 'awesome' in their everyday conversation: i-phones are awesome, for example, but the Vicar's sermons are likely to be 'awe-ful' -- which led him to talk about how nice it would be to have the word come back to its original meaning as in walking along the road after the crucifixion and realizing the companion walking along beside you was Jesus. Yes, that would have been 'awesome'.

Now I'm hazy about how one thing led to another, but the talk was soon about thuribles and incense and there was reference to a service later in the day where incense would be burned. The Vicar described a part of an Orthodox ceremony using incense in which the congregation is blessed three times by the incense as the officiant swings the thuriber toward them and after the third time, the officiant bows from the waist to the congregation. When asked by an Orthodox theologian if he knew why the officiant bowed in this way to the congregation he admitted that he did not know. The bow is in recognition of God in each of us for we are taught that we are created in the image of God and so we are therefore holy and of God.

If that isn't a lesson in how we should be treating each other throughout our lives, I jolly well don't know what is!

Blessings on you awesome all this Eastertide...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Unpredictable

The past 48 hours have proved once again the life and plans are never predictable. A close family member collapsed Sunday evening interrupting an evening I had planned out with friends. As I have been pretty tied to my mother as well as without a car, I was looking forward to doing something different. My girlfriend picked me up around lunchtime and we had a very pleasant afternoon shopping and going out to lunch in Millerton, New York. Then off to my parents old home in Kent, Connecticut. It was a beautiful day -- rare this year in this part of the country. Once in Kent we wandered around in the sunshine admiring the shops and sitting outside with some yummy coffee with several Sunday afternoon bikers. So far, so good...

We enjoyed a glass of wine at my friend's house with husband and friends and were ready to leave for the restaurant in town when a cell phone rang and there was a call for me from my mother's nursing home. Of course we thought immediately that something had happened to her, but in fact it was someone else who had been visiting her! So it was no dinner for me or my good friend who drove me through the rainy night for several miles along back roads to first see my Mom and then to head for the hospital. I will not go into details of who this was, but it was important enough to do a lot of rushing around. By noon the next day the crises was over and the patient was discharged. We went immediately to see my Mom and all is now well.

The events have proved once again how vulnerable we are to change -- especially since most of the time we can make plans, we can get on with the day-to-day routines of our lives. But sooner or later -- and especially as we get older, the expected unexpected happens. It is humbling to realize yet again the mortality of those we love as well ourselves. It is reassuring to be reminded once again how important it is in my life to have such supportive friends who never falter in their ability to respond to the moment and fly to the rescue. The longer I live the more I believe that it is how we live with each other that makes lives worth living. We are strongest as social beings interacting and caring and living for each other. While it is important to recoginize the individuality of ourselves and others it is the working together of individuals that answers a more divine call. I have long been struck by the fact that the Lord's Prayer is all about we and us and not I and me ...

Friday, April 15, 2011

On the Other Hand

Today's post by Rosaria has set me to thinking about our personal sense of identity and how it affects us throughout our lives. Why do we begin to recognize that we are, when did I see that I am?

I expect in my case it began most profoundly with sibling rivalry: a baby sister only 14 months younger who stole from me some of the fabulous attention I had throughout my short life been given. So realization that I was somebody and that there was another somebody begat my need for identity!

There was the Daddy's girl I-D and the Big Sister I-D and the school girl, teenager, working girl, wife, mother, grandmother etc throughout life. When I look back over the years I don't have much more sense of who I am than I did from the earliest days of contending with the arrival of my little sister. Professional advancement slowed right down after my move to the UK. I tried to find work several times, but was not successful until 2000-2002 when I had some part time work as an administrator. I do not have a professional identity. If I did have it most probably would have been as an editor and journalist.

Of course the identity we may believe ourselves to be and the identity that others perceive us to have may be very different! At the moment, today, and for the past two weeks, I have felt my identity to be that of 'daughter'. And thinking about it, it seems to me most apt that my sense of who I am is in fact ever changing -- that it is the condition of my life and that I do not necessarily expect to be who I am today -- tomorrow.

On the other hand, philosophically thinking perhaps the most important identity to consider is that I and all who gather here are human and our humanity is the most important identity of all.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Politcal Mumbo-Jumbos and Jackasses

Well the politicians in Washington have finally done it! They've 'wore me out'... For hours this past weekend I sat glued to various TV sets waiting to see if there would be a government shutdown. By the time it was averted at literally the 11th hour I'd had enough -- and I'm a political junkie. The thing that is so dis-heartening is that everyone is gearing up to fight the same battles another day -- and that day is already upon us.

Now my politics are left of center -- but I am not here to proselytize. This was after all about last year's budget -- when the Democrats had control of both houses of Congress as well as the Presidency and they couldn't get it done. And I have to begrudgingly admire the way the Republicans showed how it can be done -- even if I hate what they are doing and planning to do next.

And I so wish that both sides would stop saying the words, "The American people want" -- as if they know or -- well I was going to write 'care' -- but I'll stop at that because probably most of them 'care' -- but honestly, I don't think most of them 'know'. And come on Eric Cantor are you serious? A Government Shutdown Prevention Act that would override the Senate's right to consider House legislation? You would think the number two Republican in the House would understand the dynamics of the Constitution better than that! Your ignorance, Sir, is not understandable.

Oh how I miss the days when the likes of LBJ and Sam Rayburn ruled the roost! The truth is the Democrats were able to operate far more effectively when led by 'dictators' in smoke filled rooms a la Tamany Hall than as 'democratic' organizations. The era of the political boss is over, but it sure hasn't been replaced. When I was first learning about politics, Connecticut Democratic politics were controlled by John Bailey. In those days he carefully balanced the candidates throughout the state with Irish, Italian and Polish candidates. At the time the state had a Congressman at Large -- always with a Polish last name. I worked for him when I was in College and he told me himself how he ended up being selected to win... He was sitting on the steps of either the Court House or Capitol Building in Hartford and eating a hot dog. I believe it was Bailey himself who approached him and asked for his last name -- Grabowski -- occupation -- lawyer. He was then informed that he was chosen to be the candiate for Congressman-at-large!

So now we are in the era of primaries and endless television advertising and I wonder, is it an improvement? Do people care any more than they did before? Before it was a few men in back rooms that chose, now we the people are more responsible for our choices than ever before and I wonder if the process is just as apathetic as ever it was.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

A Postive Outlook

It is very strange to be staying in my Mom's apartment when she is not here! Fortunately, the Geer Village where she lives is very accommodating to families of their residents and very flexible to the needs of those residents when their needs change.

I make the short walk over to the Geer Nursing Home every morning around 11 o'clock. The positive change in my mother each day is so encouraging. It has been quite an eye-opener for me to be this up close to the kind of therapy that patients must endure as they recover from various injuries. When I arrived Tuesday of last week Mom was already less confused than she had been when I'd spoken to her on the phone. My sister had arrived the day before and had found her in the process of being moved to another room, which led to her feeling low and dis -oriented. However, by the time I arrived the next day she had settled down again and though weak and frail was very happy to have two of her girls there with her.

The following day we were thrilled to see her in the Physical Therapy room with two therapists about whom I can not speak highly enough. They soon had her up on her feet and slowly and with support she walked  with small tentataive steps toward my sister, who stood about 10 feet away. And she did it twice! As the days go on her alertness, appetite and strength improve noticeably. But it will be a slow process and we will all need to be patient. One thing we are all certain about is that having her children nearby has been important in lifting her spirits and promoting a positive attitude. Every effort is being made to ensure that she will be able to return to her apartment here. She may need more assistance, but that kind of help is available and it is likely she will be able to remain in the same apartment -- which makes it much easier for members of the family to stay with her.

And aren't I lucky to be in the USA and able to witness the enduring budget crisis? Not to mention the beginning of the next Presidential election cycle? And will Spring ever come to New England? It's sunny today -- maybe that's a start -- to bad it's in the low 30's F! I have until the 21st for Spring to break through here -- it's already doing just fine in the UK. In Southport the trees are blossoming ...

And many thanks for the kind and encouraging comments from my followers. They really mean a lot to me.

Monday, April 04, 2011

I Guess You Could Say It's All's Well That Ends Well!

So here I am 'home alone' in my mother's apartment, while she lies not far from here in a nursing home hospital bed. Until last night my sister and I were here together which made it feel more ''strange" somehow.

The flights to Hartford were pretty much inconsequential, though there was a small detail that passed over me lightly at the time and made my eyes fly open as I was about to fall asleep! I flew to Bradley Field from Newark in a Bombardier Q200. Approaching the little aircraft I thought it probably among the smallest I've flown. The flight steward was charming and extremely amusing. In fact I wished by the end of the flight that he had been on the Atlantic flight where there never was a more po-faced bunch of stewards to be found! He warned us before take-off that there we were likely to have some severe turbulance on the way to Hartford and pointed out that sick bags were readily available! Then he went through the safety drill -- pausing now and again as he waited for his passengers to 'fill in the blanks'! And we were all eager to oblige. He was a charmer all right!

The little plane took off right on time and we certainly did bump our way out of New York/New Jersey air space. I never came close to needing it, but I did look in the seat pocket to ensure the sick bag was securely in its place in front of me ... Ten minutes later and all was calm -- maybe the occasional 'bump', but nothing untoward. Forty-two minutes later and touchdown, Hartford-Springfield, Bradley Field.

And so to the rather disconcerting incident that popped my eyes open later that night. It's one of those things that can happen and you can't believe your ears and besides you just want to get off the plane and get your bags and be off -- but it's a definite 'WTF' moment: Just as the hatch opened and the stairs fell into place, the pilots door was released -- just in time to hear him say: "Whewww!! We made it!!!!"

As I said, WTF?