Monday, November 27, 2006

Don't Drag ME into This!

Several weeks ago, before the election, I read an article written the day after the NJ Supreme Court ruled that gay couples were entitled to the same legal/financial rights and benefits as heterosexual couples. President Bush's quote caught my eye. He reiterated his stance that marriage was a union between a man and a woman and said:

''Yesterday in New Jersey, we had another activist court issue a ruling that raises doubts about the institution of marriage. . . I believe it's a sacred institution that is critical to the health of our society and the well-being of families, and it must be defended."

Sacred? Defended against what?

I started thinking about this from my vantage point of 28 very happy years in a heterosexual marriage. When we got our marriage license at our local municipality, there was nothing sacred about it, just an exchange of paperwork, money and blood test results. Come to think about it, I'm not even sure we're legally married! A friend came with us as our required witness. She had to fill out a form where she had to put down how long she knew us. She put down ten years. I just gave her an incredulous look and we finished up. Out of earshot of the county clerk's office I asked her WHY she had lied and put down ten years when she had known us for four years. She said she was afraid that they wouldn't give us the license if she didn't put down that she knew us for a really long time. We were all hysterical laughing! To this day, we kid her about it. The next week our civil union was followed with a church ceremony.

But back to serious matters - the president's use of the word sacred bothered me. Merriam-Webster Online shows multiple definitions for "sacred," three being related to religion and one meaning "highly valued and important." I wonder which version of "sacred" President Bush meant? As the leader of this diverse nation, with separation of church and state part of the fabric of our country, I hope it was not any of the religious meanings. If he meant that marriage is "valued and important," well, yes, I agree with that. What I don't understand is, if marriage is "critical to the health of our society and the well-being of families," then why not try to include as many people as you can?

I also don't understand the part about how marriage "must be defended." Against what? I have read and heard people talk about how allowing gay people to marry will change their own marriages. I can't see this at all. My marriage is between my husband and me, thank you - it is certainly not going to be affected by what someone else does with their relationship. Could anyone seriously think that any of the following could possibly be true:

"Oh, Honey, a married gay couple just moved in next door - I can't deal with it, I'm going to have to divorce you."
"Dear, that married gay couple looks happier than us - I'm going to try being gay for awhile."
"Oh, no, a married gay couple in the neighborhood, keep the children away, it may be contagious!"

I really don't get it. Defend against WHAT? I'd appreciate it if someone could tell me how someone else's loving and committed family could be a bad thing for me or my family. I can't even imagine a scenario where a gay marriage would affect my own.

As for the school situation where a child has two "mommies" or two "daddies" - teaching tolerance and respect for all other people can only be a plus. Having a child who needed special education services because of learning disabilities, I am aware that there is far too much taunting and bullying that goes on in schools. If tolerance and ethical behavior were taught in every classroom, it is my opinion that this country would be in much better shape.

I would love to see a system where the government issued only civil union licenses, giving all couples the same legal and financial benefits. Then, if a couple wanted to pursue a religious marriage ceremony, that would be for them to work out with their own religious institution.

So for the record, President Bush, my husband and I are doing quite well. We really do not need any defending from gay couples, families with gay parents, or any of the gay people legally married in Massachusetts. Maybe you can concentrate on more pressing matters that we do need defending from - things like terrorists, the cost of healthcare, or the tax structure that favors the very wealthy.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Thanks, Velvet!

I am working on another post, but meanwhile thought I might post some photos inspired by Velvet Sacks. She has been treating us to photos of her world . Sometimes, we are so busy rushing and doing, that we miss what is. I run past interesting little treasures every day, usually mumbling, "I have to get a shot of that someday."

Today was someday.

The most graceful and silent lawn mowers available. Residents of the horse farm, across the road.

"Shhh!" she clucked. "The worms don't have a clue. . . I've got my camouflage on today!"

When was the last time you saw a child playing in shorts, knee socks. . . and a beanie?

Do you think this white pine might make a cool climbing tree?

An unexpected bouquet of sunflowers from my husband.

Sometimes our treasures are right there in front of us - we just have to stop and take the time to look.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Dona Nobis Pacem - Grant Us Peace

"There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Jesus Christ." Galatians 3:28 NRSV

Whether you believe in Christ or not is immaterial to the meaning of the verse. African, Asian, Australian, European, North or South American - we are all members of the human race - we all have the same DNA. One's country, social standing, wealth or gender does not make one person more "valuable" than another. Yet, everyday, people are killed senselessly, without a thought to the fact that each one is a precious person.

I am greatly troubled by the war and violence throughout the world. Three more soldiers dead in Iraq today; one newborn baby found dead in a recycling plant by workers sorting through paper; rape and killing continuing in Darfur. Everyday we see too many examples of inhumanity in our country and around the world - both within countries and between countries.

What can we do? Sometimes it all seems so depressing and daunting, the quest for peace. I started thinking about some of the the generic things we can do. We can vote. We can write letters to our representatives voicing our opinion. We can write letters to the editor of our local paper.

I spent the morning pondering what else I could do to make a difference in the world. I was in the grocery store parking lot and a woman was turning into the spot next to mine. There was a shopping cart in the way that she hadn't seen when pulling in. I put my hand up for her to stop and I moved the cart out of the way. She gave me a big, cheery and very surprised sounding "Thank you so much!" I had barely gone out of my way - yet she was so appreciative. That's when it hit me. I may not be able to stop the war in Iraq, single-handedly - but I can do a kindness for my neighbor. Isn't being kind to one another what peace is all about?

I challenge you all to do a kindness a day. Just one. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Compliment someone. Donate blood. Go without a meal and donate the money to a charity. Give up a seat on the bus to someone who looks more tired than you feel. Leave a supermarket coupon on the shelf where someone else can use it. Let the mom juggling a baby go ahead of you at the bank. Use your imagination. Your kindness might turn someone's day around - it might even cause a chain reaction of kind acts.

It will take time and effort to achieve peace in the world. But meanwhile, we can try to achieve peace in our hearts and in our towns.

Many thanks to Mimi for her wonderful dream and call to action for world peace. Dona Nobis Pacem.


Friday, November 03, 2006

My Lucky Day

This morning, I was browsing my usual haunts and I passed through Dr. John's where I saw his link of the day for New York Nitty-Gritty. Being a New Yorker, born and raised, I am so excited about this site. I look at the photos and it is like looking at the city through my own eyes. Nitty-Gritty notices the same beautiful and quirky things about the city that I would.

In appreciation, I would like to share a photo of the city that I have been saving for a special post. Many thanks to Dr. John and New York Nitty-Gritty.

Today is my lucky day, eh, Dr. John? ;-)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Beauty and the Beast

I recently read an article about why leaves change color. Turns out the leaves are always the glorious and varied colors of gold, russet, red, purple and orange. However, during the growing season, these beautiful shades are masked by the hardworking (and very green) chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is the wonder chemical that can take a little sunlight, water, carbon dioxide - and abracadabra! - turns it into the carbohydrates needed to nourish the plant.

But when the days get shorter and the nights get colder, the plant stops producing food. The chlorophyll breaks down and disappears, leaving the spectacular "true colors" of autumn to shine through. This artist's palette of color is short-lived, however because as the chlorophyll winds down, the branch grows cells at the point where each leaf is attached - soon the leaf will be severed from the branch and winter will be upon us.

Well, now that I've been a beast and force fed all this science to my innocent readers, here is the beauty I promised. Although I must admit, the colors are not as spectacular as in past years, so I will keep looking for better examples. This post was started last week and I've been walking around with my camera ever since, looking for some worthy foliage. I think the colors have been weak because it has not been cold enough for a dramatic change.

But I can live with that ;-)

This is the little tree-lined road, where I live. Every time I go home and pass by all this beauty, it reminds me to be thankful for every blessing in my life.