Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Stress, on many levels

I think that now, more than ever, we are killing ourselves with stress. How much easier it would be to only have to worry about whether or not it would rain at the right time. What I want, and I mean really really want, is to have a few acres far enough into the sticks where I can't see a neighbor, no one turns around in my driveway, I can grow a garden and a few chickens, maybe a milk cow, with my husband who works from home, and our children.

Although the kids will be leaving for college in a few years, they will always have a place they can call home. I know that I will miss them terribly. But I don't want to hold them back from their dreams cause I know that my dreams and theirs are radically different. I cannot see my daughter plucking a chicken or my son tilling manure into the garden.

We talked with some friends of ours about buying 20-30 acres, building a couple of houses with a big communal kitchen, and making a commune of it. I can see it now, it would be total chaos. But many hands make light work, you say. That is definitely true, to a point. But the chaos factor, coupled with the destruction of the peace, would negate the goodness of the concept. I still like the idea, at least for a little while.

We have too much stress. Work, kids, money, cars, TVs, bills, taxes...we try to put too much on our plates. That is why so many people have IBS, migraines, high blood pressure, heart disease, road rage, strokes. And we are teaching our children to be this way too. Soccer, Dance classes, karate, scouts, youth groups, play dates, ad nauseum.

Our kids don't understand the concept of relaxing anymore. Or playing. Only the stresses of modern living. Is it any wonder at all that kids are making bad choices as they grow up? Drug abuse, sex, handguns at school, all of these are a mixture of absent or uninterested parenting, mental pressures at home and school, and lack of structure from society. No one wants to do anything to prevent it from happening, but they analyze it to death after the fact and then flood the rule books with really stupid "laws" that everyone has to follow. For crying out loud, it is in my kid's school handbook that they cannot take a doorknob to school. Well, DUH!

OK, enough ranting.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Today's Gripe

Normally, I don't get into the whole political argument, but after Bush made his little speech last night, and the Democratic response afterward, I have to say I am just pissed.

Who was our President trying to impress? Did he honestly think he could get the Dems in Congress to change their minds about our men and women serving overseas? Or is this just another case of CYA?

Our men and women who serve in the military deserve better than they are getting, both from Congress, and the population of the US. These people took an oath to Protect and Defend the United States, from ALL threats. I am sure they would all rather be at home with their families, sitting the their back yards drinking beer before the game, going to their children's ballet recitals, or even just mowing the yard. Instead, they are getting shot at by the people they are trying to protect because some crazy fanatic clergy don't like the fact that we can buy an I-pod if we want one.

Sure we can bring all of our military back to the US. Sure we can leave the Iraqis to stand or fall by their own will. And we can absolutely cut our military budget to the point where we do not even have enough service men and women to fill a thimble. But none of those things will keep another 9/11 from happening.

General Petraeus was asked by a Congressional panel if what we were doing in Iraq was making the US safer. He gave the only answer he could give. He didn't know. Even generals in the US military don't have the luxury of opinions like that. They follow orders. If you are given an order, you make your plans to execute those orders to the best of your ability. You don't question WHY you are given the orders, or if people will like or agree with the orders. You just do it the best way you know how.

The Democrats are trying to make the military look like a bunch of Republican stooges to further their own agendas. And that is just wrong, no matter how you look at it. Those people in US uniforms are doing their very best under the worst conditions for little pay or gratitude just so flaming liberals in Congress can beat their own drums and call President Bush a warmonger.

Why don't we just gather up all of the liberals, fit them with designer organic, eco-friendly BDUs and send them to Baghdad to reason with the Islamists. And then we can see just how safe it will make the US.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Are Americans too jaded to live simply?

Have we forgotten what it is like to just have conversations with each other? Why does it seem that we can't just get together without having to be entertained by something? We have gatherings of friends and family that must have a purpose. A BBQ, a family reunion, a birthday, a holiday of some sort. We just can't take time out of our artificially busy lives to just sit and visit with one another.

Point in fact. For the Labor Day holiday, my family of 4 and some of our friends, a family of 5, descended upon another of our friends, another family of 5, who happen to live full time in a house on a small man-made lake in the Ozarks. This is the 4th time we have been up there this summer. It is the first time in over a year that the other family has made the time to go. Normally, we spend the time talking, playing darts, fishing, or just visiting. For this Labor Day holiday, we played games. Several of them. When we were not playing games, we took turns doing online game turns on the two laptops that made the journey.

Unfortunately, my husband spent most of the weekend in a dark room with a migraine. I managed to only have to play 1 game. Due to the burn ban that was in place, we were unable to conduct the mandatory bonfire the trek to the Ozarks generally necessitates. That was a shame. We always have some really interesting discussions around the bonfire. Usually involving differing quantities of alcohol. Evolution, werewolves, song titles, and dancing naked are some of the past topics. I missed it.

The Lady of the House and I did have an interesting discussion about biblical issues on Sunday. That is our normal religious debate day. Our hosts are Baptists, the other family belongs to the Church of Christ, and my husband and I are rather eclectic religiously. When we are there, we generally go to church with them. This is what leads to the lively debates.

The rest of the weekend was spent sweating, cooking for 14 people, 8 of which are teens or preteens, washing dishes, and gaming. We did watch one movie. But not once all weekend did I feel relaxed. My husband was trying to keep from throwing up, so he didn't relax much either. The kids all had a good time. But hey, kids still remember how to do that.

I still felt like a babysitter all weekend. You know what I am talking about...keep fights to a minimum, keep everyone fed, keep everyone entertained. And it wasn't even my house.

I would have liked to just sit around and talk. I didn't need to keep checking my email or ebay bids. I did sort of keep up with a couple of football games on Saturday, but even that I only paid half a mind to. I was more concerned about my daughter wearing a pair of torn up checkerboard Vanns with her skirt to church because she forgot to pack dress shoes. But you know what, I don't think God really cares what shoes you wear to church.

Anyway, my whole point was that we must be entertained at all times. We can't just sit and talk anymore. We have gotten so used to doing something at all times that even when we are supposed to relax, we don't know how. We have lost the ability to be still.

But sitting on the deck of the Lake House in the still quiet morning, drinking a cup of coffee before the kids get up, looking out across the water and hearing the birds and squirrels in the trees, I think that is about as close to God as you can get. That is the time that I don't need anything else to be at peace.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Missing craft folk

Every year, we seem to be getting farther and farther away from the arts and crafts that defined us as a nation. The few people who know how to make a quilt anymore only do it to make artwork, not as a means to keep warm. Granted, these quilts are beautiful and are treasured by the recipients, but they are put away or displayed and not used. My grandmothers both made me quilts when I was a kid. One had a very simple butterfly cutout on a white block. My Grandma had me draw the butterfly for the pattern without telling me what it was for. My other grandma gave me the last last quilt that my grandpa helped her to piece together before he died. While they are very special to me, they would lose some of their meaning if I just stored them away. My mother even tried her hand at quilting once. She made me a Dutch Girl quilt made from scrap pieces from my baby clothes. My daughter has slept under it since she first moved out of her crib. She will be going to college in a year or two and has already told me that if it is still holding together she will be taking it with her.

Me, I don't have the patience to quilt. I crochet. I have made afghans for all of my family, my friends, my daughter's friends. I even started one for her first boyfriend. They broke up before I finished it. Oh well.

I tried to teach my daughter to crochet. She wanted to learn. It was a frustrating experience for both of us. She doesn't have the patience to sit still long enough and still pay attention to what she is doing. Where I on the other hand, go into an almost Zen like state and can only teach by showing. She didn't get it. She really wants to, but her talent lies elsewhere. I can watch TV, hold a conversation, and crochet at the same time. She can draw, write and play her viola. But not at the same time.

Yes, I know it is easier to go to your local Megamart and buy a blanket if you are cold, or buy one of the thousands of "throws" available with your favorite sports team, favorite holiday, favorite bible verse, or favorite pet. But where is the love that goes into it? An Army surplus wool blanket can keep you warm, but a hand made quilt or afghan is like a hug every time you use it. And that is what you are giving someone when you give them something you made yourself.

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