Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cucumbers in the Church Refrigerator, To Kill a Mockingbird, and My Life as an Artist

I watched To Kill a Mockingbird on a movie channel the other night with my Elizabeth. I've read it before and this year is the 50th anniversary of the book's publication. Harper Lee became famous for that book but not very well known. She also helped research and possibly write with Truman Capote, her boyhood friend, In Cold Blood. What a strange combination.

My parents took me to see To Kill a Mockingbird when I was 12, 1962, the year the movie came out, a year before President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. We lived in a small Nebraska town, Friend, Ne, and I don't remember where we drove to see the movie, Lincoln, perhaps, 60 miles away. There were no black people living in Friend, Ne, or any where near Friend, Ne, that I knew of. Lincoln had black people, and Omaha had lots of black people, but no black people lived in Friend. As a teenager, I watched the Civil Rights Movement marches on TV, and saw President Johnson move the Democratic Party from the party of racism to the party of the Civil Rights and felt pretty proud that my parents took me to see To Kill a Mockingbird. A black African missionary stayed at our house for a few days in Friend while visiting churches in the area asking for help.

The sad thing is that fifty years after the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird, we are still coming up with ways To Kill that Mockingbird. The very popular, public, and mainstream racist elements of the Tea Party and race baiting of Andrew Breitbart and Glenn Beck, the various white pride organizations on the radar, the more underground Christian White Militias, and others too sadly numerous to list, have all manifested themselves these days as the Republican Party of 2010.

I get caught up in things. Art. Golf. Music. Life. Politics. Perhaps too much. I can't let go of stuff. I scan the national news everyday online at my favorite news sources: CNN, Salon, HuffingtonPost,, TheNation, Sojourners, and a few others. I like to post the latest outrages of Faux News, and the ever loony Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter (I still say she's a guy). The newest face on this Mount Rushmore of Crazy is Andrew Breitbart, a new Republican hero. He's personally responsible now for taking down, on false premises, Van Jones, ACORN, and Shirley Sherrod. The Faux News Right Wing Bloviating Machine knowingly propogated his lies hour after hour, night after night. And the White House over-reacted inexplicably. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice and thrice, shame on me. The tactic was very effective in diverting our attention from the racist elements of the Tea Partiers.

The Tea Party conglomeration of angry rich white people is another thing I get caught up in watching. The spectacle of it all is amusing and frightening all at the same time...... The rise of right wing Christian militias and armed citizens fomented by that crazy Mormon guy mentioned above will surely lead to mass murder at some point. It nearly did a week ago in California, but the frightfully armed crazy was stopped for drunk driving before he could get to his target, The Tides Foundation, a non-profit group advocating social justice. Unfortunately, two California State Patrol were wounded during the ensuing gun battle.

Democrats are coming out of the race closet as well..... Inspired by Virginia Sen. Jim Webb’s musings about the "Myth of White Privilege," Adam Serwer over at The American Prospect wrote: "There are a number of things about Senator Jim Webb’s op-ed “The Myth of White Privilege” to dislike, starting with the fact that one of the awesome things about the existence of white privilege is that you can be part of a body like the U.S. Senate, which has a total number of zero elected black members, and write something titled “The Myth of White Privilege” without anyone batting an eyelash." A white Senator from an All White Senate writing about The Myth of White Privilege. That's what's going on these days.......

The disastrous wars, collapsing financial system, and imploding auto industries President Obama inherited from the previous Administration gave the current Republican opposition plenty of grist for the mill. And Republicans who have opposed and filibustered Health Insurance Reform, Financial Reform, economic stimulus, and every other idea put forth by the Obama Administration which have largely enjoyed majority public support, appear to be in position to win a sizable number of seats in the House of Representatives and the Senate, despite the fact that the Republicans public approval ratings are far more negative than the Democrats. Republicans, who are doing everything they can to stop unemployment insurance payments to people out of work while simultaneously wanting to extend tax breaks to the wealthiest 1% of Americans, got us into a trillion dollars of debt in two wars, tax cuts for the wealthy, a prescription drug plan none of which they figured out a way to pay for, and are now riding the anti-deficit horse at full gallop. Try to make sense of that!

So there you go. I get pretty discouraged. And my car's broken.

And I'm sitting here waiting for a call from the garage that says my car is now drivable again so I can head to work. On Monday, I drove to church to work for a few hours and when I came out to the parking lot to head home, I noticed gasoline dripping into a large pool under the car. There was a hole in the gas tank and I'd just put in $35 worth of gas that morning. There went $35 down the drain. And I've known I needed new brakes and the Check Engine light has been on for a year and a half. And those shop mechanics charge about the same rates as brain and open heart surgeons these days. At one point in my life, no matter what the issue was, car repairs were always $200.....later that became $400.....later $900.......and now double that again....... Brakes, radiator repair, this seal or that seal, this timing belt, this water or fuel pump, or this or that whatever...... The cost rises exponentially.

But now to the Cucumbers in the Church Refrigerator story.

To the person who left the cucumbers in the refrigerator at church..... Thank you! My car was in the shop all day Tuesday and is still there today, and I have no alternate transportation. I got a ride to church on Tuesday, but forgot my to bring my lunch/dinner, leftover Mexican food from the night before. I like certain leftovers because the flavors intensify somehow. I stayed all day at church to remain for an evening meeting and was getting quite hungry but only had a couple of dollars in my wallet. So around late afternoon when my stomach was growling, I checked out the kitchen refrigerator and found a large bag of cucumbers. I found a nice big one, still crisp, and not mushy. That was the best tasting cucumber I ever had........

So I'll be thankful for the values and help along the way my parents gave and give me, my part-time jobs at my church, and Metro, and Creighton, and the house painting I do, and being able to create and sell my art, and play music in my band, and my sweetheart.

And thankful for cucumbers in the church refrigerator!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

The Broken Arm

My honey was out walking one dark summer night.
And fireflies were out in their luminescent delight.

“I must text my friends,” my sweet honey thought.
Not realizing with such danger this act was fraught.

So texting she attempted, and veered in to the ditch.
And while she was tumbling, thought, “Son of a *****.”

But gamely she continued to her sister’s near farm.
All the while quite certain she had broken her arm.

The doctors inserted some pins and a plate.
And my honey has been waiting for the pain to abate.

On her left arm she will bear a four inch scar.
But at least she wasn’t texting while driving a car!