Saturday, March 21, 2009

THE EAGLE HAS LANDED...

We came back from an afternoon party at a friend's sugar house and found a very large--almost life-size-- wooden eagle had been installed on a sturdy post in our flag-pole garden.
It's obviously a carefully handcrafted project; who would do such a nice thing and not let us know so we can thank them. We have some investigating to do...
R.A.T.S. (Rose About Town) reminds you once again: There are good people in this world.

After Note: We discovered our benefactor who created and "planted" the eagle is Earl Seckman, a friend and hunter who keeps the deer population under control on our acreage. Thanks, Earl! We love it!

Friday, March 20, 2009

WHAT DID HE SAY; HOW DID HE MEAN IT... ?

Last night our president Barack Obama appeared on Jay Leno's show, and today's news has been filled with rehash after rehash of the president's "Special Olympics gaffe." Basically, he described his bowling score as one of Special Olympics stature.
Though it may have been careless, it wasn't as egregious as others have declared it. I'm not a fan of the president's monetary or social policies; you know that. But as a fair person, I have to say to you that I don't believe he meant any harm or disrepect toward the Special Olympics, of which he's been supportive.
The president is a highly scripted speaker, not used to talking off the cuff in such a setting as Leno's show. And almost every one of us can remember with some lingering embarassment a statement we have made that "just came out wrong." It happens to us all at some point in our lives.
Yes, I can hear you saying... if a white had made such a careless statement about an African American (or vice versa), it would have raised a furor.
Maybe that's the problem. We need to begin looking at a person's intent and stop super-analyzing a person's every word, looking for trouble; or there's no way on earth than any of us will ever be able to enter into fruitful dialogue with each other.
If our words can be weapons, our ears can be weapons too, especially when we're looking for trouble (searching deeply for any small violation of our own secret personal code of acceptable words and phrases) rather than listening.
If you disagree with the president (as I often do), don't distract your civil discourse with petty muckety-muck.
Citizen R.A.T. (Rose About Town) signs off for now. She's lowering her head to avoid attacks her reflective words might incite.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I CHOOSE TO SEE THE SUN...

A comment on a recent blog referred to me as an "oblivious Polyanna." I didn't mind the "Polyanna," but I rather resented the "oblivious."
It's not the first time I've been referred to in such fashion; at least the Polyanna reference. The inference being that I have never experienced problems or griefs. Balderdash! Hogwash! Baloney!
I simply operate on advice given to me by my father when I was 14 years old. We were walking together downtown, when I asked him what the Cleveland Clinic doctors had said about his heart. The news wasn't good, and Dad shared it as gently but truthfully as possible.
He told me as well that no human being could choose or know his time of death, but it seemed to him that he would die while he was still comparatively young, and it seemed he would die "with his boots on" without a long period of suffering. He saw that as a blessing not always given by God.
But, he said, if he should die while I was still a school girl, I should keep walking forward, keep my head up, keep looking toward the sun, doing my best, doing what needed to be done, and things would always get better at some point.
Dad knew what he was talking about. His own father had died in the 1918 influenza epidemic, leaving my father as the eldest of six children and suddenly the wage-earning man of the family. Dad said his greatest sadness, other than the loss of his father, was leaving school, giving up his studies, dropping his music lessons... He was an award-winning student, and just MY AGE at the time!
All the way home, Dad and I talked about the "sun"; the many happy things he'd known in life; and the greatest of these, he told me, was Mom and us kids.
"Just keep walking toward the sun... looking for the good things."" Those words would become his legacy to me. He died very suddenly on the job just two weeks later.
I have followed his words all my life, and life has proved that he was right. In the darkest of times, I have found, there are always blessings ahead.
So here I am... Polyanna... if you choose to call me that. I choose to see the sun, and not just the rain.
Thanks, Dad, from R.A.T. (rose about town), your daughter

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

SEE AND BE SEEN...

When I was taking flight lessons in the mid 1960s, one mantra of my instructor was to "See and be seen." I passed that on to my three sons as they were growing up.
It was not enough for them, when travelling along the highway by foot, bike or car, to expect everyone ELSE to look out for THEM. They should be sure they were clearly visible and they should be aware of traffic too; it was as much a part of their responsiblity as it was for "the other guy."
One argument over that arose over my rule that, when riding their bicycles along our hilly, curvy Concord Township highways, they must attach tall bicycle safety flags to their bikes. Oh, that was TOO uncool. But I never wavered.
I remember a tragedy from my youth, when an aunt was run over and killed as she dashed across the street to enter a church on a rainy day. Her husband and children grieved; we grieved; and the man who hit her grieved. He was not charged; he could not have avoided her: but he seemed to charge HIMSELF. He never ever got over it; it all but ruined his life.
I recall as well, on a winter evening years ago, my husband coming home during a snow storm. His face was ashen, and I thought he was ill. He explained he had come over the crest of a steep hill, and suddenly before him loomed a group of teens, locked arm in arm, clear across a thoroughfare. He was able to stop in time--but barely--on the snow-covered highway. It was a close call, but the kids thought it was funny.
He was mad at those wreckless teens, but just as shaken at the close call. "I thought I was going to hit them all," he told me. "That would have been horrible; I can't bear the thought of it, no matter whose fault."
Teach your youngsters well, and follow the rule yourself: See and BE seen.

BUILDING OUR CASTLES ON SAND...

I see in the paper... a "surprising" uptick in housing construction (led by apartments). The apartment construction might be because so many families have been dispossessed of their private homes.
But what catches my eye is that only the western U.S., which led the housing boom and then the bust, has not shown that same construction increase.
I can't help thinking, that very area of our country is full of eco-radicals, and yet they never cease to build huge neighborhoods in areas (like Arizona) that have water problems, and areas (like California) where so many houses are built in scenic treed woodland areas and are thus prone to loss by forest fires.
Deserts are meant to be deserts; if you settle in desert areas, don't try to grow green lawns and trees or fill your outdoor swimming pools or build your golf courses and fountained casinos...(and then cry for our Great Lakes water).
Forests are meant to be forests, and prairies are meant to be prairies; don't tuck your wood-studded homes at the edge of, or in the middle of, prairies or evergreen groves or at the edge of national forests... or for that matter, on scenic slopes that are prone to mudslide. Beautiful view or not.
Same goes for seashores and flood plains that are prone to hurricanes. The policy there should be: Uncle Sam rebuilds for you once, then you're on your own; insurance and all.

SHARING THE SPRING MORNING

In this first warm spring morning,
I put on my boots and splat my way
across wet grass toward the bridge.
From under the bridge two mallards appear,
with Papa resplendent in rich greens and tans
and Mama as plain as a frau.
In sun-tipped reeds at the curve of the creek,
a redwing blackbird practices the rich notes
of his first spring concert.
The muck near the water bears animal tracks,
and a handful of robins sit plump on a sumac
like overstuffed ornaments.
A chorus line of finches dances and sings
along the rail of the old barn gate;
a chipmunk hurls himself across the lawn;
and a big old crow in Motown tux-and-tails struts
as he belts out his own raucous blues.
My morning eyes observe a feathered family
nesting in the hemlock near the garden,
and an army of ants begins its march
toward the toe of my boot.

Ah, the small spring wonders!

From my journals, March 1990.
R.A.T. (Rose About Town), saluting spring

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

LUCK O' THE IRISH...

When I was a child, my dad used to call me "Rosie O'Grady." He would say with a smile that I was a definite throwback to the Irish in our family.
Irish? I thought we were exclusively German---we were Baldaufs, for crying out loud---and I presumed his reference to an Irish grandmother was a gentle, silly joke about my personality.
Not too many years ago, after I had achieved my elder status, I discovered I actually did have an Irish great grandmother; her surname was Gallagher.
I wish I had a photo of her, to know if, perhaps, I really WAS a throw-back.
In 1960, I met a man named Moore, Irish in his ancestry and personality, and I had the good sense to marry him. We're still married. Turned out, it was another bit of the "luck o'the Irish," perhaps visited generously upon me by my Irish great-grandmother, who may have known a good Irish man when her great-granddaughter ran into him.
If you had any part in it, Granny Gallagher... Thanks!
R.A.T. (rose about town) St. Pat's Day 2009

Monday, March 16, 2009

BUILD YOUR FOUNDATION...

The hub of society is the family. In your time and efforts and good deeds, start with your family; then extend to your neighborhood; then your town; then your county; then your state; then your country; then the world...
In anything but that order, you are building a house of cards on a flimsy foundation. The world needs good families; the rest will come. But it doesn't just happen.
R.A.T. (Rose About Town) has always believed that.