Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Father Forgive Yourself

I heard today that the Vatican underestimated child abuse by priests. Well, it was pretty much a secret, eh? I mean, do you ever remember hearing about a priest abusing children? What? You have?

Well, evidently no one ever told the Vatican. At least the Vatican didn't realize it was such a big deal. They thought it was just a few thousand children whose childhoods were stolen by the very men who were supposed to be representing Jesus. They didn't realize the number was much larger. . . . possibly even significant.

Do you think maybe requiring life-long celebacy for priests, imprinting brains with the notion that sex is sinful and women are inferior might lead to some sort of sexual immaturity? Do you think we might have some evidence of that yet?

Yeah, I feel just terrible about the priest shortage. I feel just awful that the Roman Catholic Church might have to sell a painting or three to pay for therapy for people who just can't get their minds around the fact that the person that taught them to pray preyed on them sexually. I guess maybe those big hats interfere with hearing, otherwise the Vatican would not be surprised.

Big Cats and Old Western Outlaws

Ok, so a guy named Tiger and a guy named Jesse committed adultry. A lot.
I don't know these people nor their wives. Therefore, I don't really care.
And I think it's disgusting that instead of just admitting that they did something wrong and hurtful they go to rehab for it. Oh, give me a break!
And even more disgusting than that is that it's on the news ALL THE TIME.
I guess there is nothing important going on in the world and news programs have to fill in with something, but I would prefer muzac.

And Health Care for All

The hospital in my community has a relatively new campus. The main building is gorgeous. It looks like a fancy hotel with marble floors, statues, soaring ceilings, lots of parking and great landscaping. It has every sort of diagnostic machinery and technicians. When I go to get a mammogram, I feel sort of like I'm at a spa.

A couple of miles away is a little building that houses the free clinic. It's only open a few days a week. There's always a line outside on the mornings when its open. There is a bus stop not too many blocks away.

If you have good insurance, you can go to the fancy hospital. If you don't have insurance. . . well, you can't go to free clinic because they aren't taking new patients. They haven't been for a while. Even if you're an existing patient, you're pretty much stuck if you need a test or procedure they can't do there. And they don't have much in the way of equipment or staff.

People tell me that if we had a national health service, we'd have to wait for health care. They tell me that people in the UK have to wait a long time. However, the people who are telling me this are from the US. My friends in the UK don't say that. People I know who go to the free clinic can tell you about waiting for health care.

The truth is, if we had health care for everyone, those of us with good health insurance would probably have to give up some things. New hospitals might not have as much money invested in artwork and luxury appointments. They might focus on - oh, I don't know - health care?

If my limping for a month while I waited for a knee replacement meant someone else could have emergency life-saving heart surgery right away, I'd gladly limp. Would you? It's a question of prioritization. Everyone could get what they need.

I'd rather make sure some of my tax money allows all babies get immunized and all women get good prenatal care than have to pay for sick babies to use the emergency department. Wouldn't you?

I'd rather pay for a stranger to go to a primary care physician when she has a cough than to have my emergency department clogged with people who are sick because they didn't have primary health care, or people who consider the ER their primary care physicians because they don't have an alternative. We pay either way.

And don't kid yourself that Medicaid fills the gaps right now. Call physicians in your area and see which ones are accepting new Medicaid patients. Good luck with that.

So when I hear politicians threatening to "Take back America" and overturning the health care bill, I get a little politicked off. To me that says that a few rich people want to take back what little poor people might gain. Why are they so threatened to think that someone might get something to which he isn't entitled? To what are we entitled anyway?

It might be totally selfish of me, but I want everyone with whom I live in this country is as healthy as possible. I don't like hanging around sick people. I don't like the waste when they can't work. And yeah, I'd rather pay a little up front than a bunch later on.

I'm not afraid of something called National Health Service. I'm not even afraid of the words Socialize Medicine. But poor people dieing in America because they can't afford health care scares the poo out of me.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

My Hero, Willie Metcalf

This is from Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters. I highly recommend reading it again and again.

It is a collection of poems - statements from all the people buried in Spoon River Cemetary. Willie Metcalf has been my hero since I first read this nearly 40 years ago.

I was Willie Metcalf.
They used to call me "Doc Meyers"
Because, they said, I looked like him.
And he was my father, according to Jack McGuire.
I lived in the livery stable,
Sleeping on the floor
Side by side with Roger Baughman's bulldog,
Or sometimes in a stall.
I could crawl between the legs of the wildest horses
Without getting kicked-we knew each other.
On spring days, I tramped through the country
To get the feeling, which I sometimes lost,
That I was not a separate being from the Earth.
I used to lose myself, as if in sleep,
By lying with eyes half-open in the woods.
Sometimes I talked with animals-even toads and snakes-
Anything that had an eye to look into.
Once I saw a stone in the sunshine
Trying to turn into jelly.
In April days in this cemetary
The dead people gathered all about me,
And grew still, like a congregation in silent prayer.
I never knew whether I was part of the Earth
With flowers growing in me, or whether I walked-
Now I know.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Oh, Grow Up!

A lawmaker in California wants McDonalds to leave the toy out of the happy meal because, he says, it contributes to childhood obesity.


The toy is the only part of the happy meal that doesn't contribute to obesity. Let's just use some common sense here. If you don't want your child to eat happy meals, just don't buy him happy meals. It's really not that tough.

Oh, it's the marketers faults! Those evil advertising people who perform that voodoo that they do so well that makes us drive like zombies in our gas guzzling vehicles and inch forward in the drive through line where we are forced against our will to buy super-sized greasy, salty, fatty food. We're helpless to resist.

Should we be allowed to sue fast food places because they have yummy fries and bacon cheeseburgers that contribute to high cholesterol and overweight? Well, we surely aren't conscious enough to find a phone number for an attorney unless we see commercials every ten minutes that tell us that we're entitled to a large settlement if there is, might be, or has ever been anything wrong with us.

Those violent video games might be bad for our children, but what can we do? Their friends have them and if our children don't have them they might grow up thinking they are inferior. They might feel bad. They might even get mad at us. Oh, the horror!

If your 8 year old's physician has put him on a restricted calorie diet because his weight is causing health concerns and your husband is out of work, please don't tell me that you're going to buy Easter candy and cigarettes after work because they're on sale today at your pharmacy. I just don't want to hear it.

We make choices every day. I admit it. I make my share of stupid ones. But I'm not going to blame a plastic toy, a brilliant marketing campaign, or peer pressure for my stupid mistakes. I refuse to give away my power like that.

Surely lawmakers have something more important to do than go after happy meal toys. Surely lawyers have enough real battles to fight. Surely we don't really believe we are totally controlled by advertisers, no matter how clever they are.

For crying in a bucket, people, it's time to find our ovaries and grow up!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Call Me Alice

I grew up two doors from Dr. Alice L. Kibbe, a biologist, professor at Carthage College, and an odd sort. If you had an injured pigeon or were trying to raise a baby squirrel, she could tell you exactly what to do. She could tell you if you could catch her between her car and her door and if you were brave enough to ask her.

She didn't believe in mowing her yard. It was all grown up with all sorts of wonderful stuff. She had a little pond in the back with goldfish and frogs and lily pads in it. There was actually a park bench in her back yard where you could sit and cogitate. Once my father saw her fall backward into a snow drift and ran out to help her up. She said, "I'll get up when I'm damn good and ready." He wisely left her there.

She had a stuffed giraffe looking out the window of her office at the college. She wore a string around her neck holding about a gazillion keys. She drove as often in the ditches as on the streets, and in the fall she could sometimes be found digging bulbs out of your yard. She wasn't big on the idea of ownership. She was really old and sort of creeped around.

So today I was walking through the woods next door, picking up trash and enjoying the Universe. I came back for a bucket and shovel and divided some spring bulbs and tubers that were overcrowded. I certainly left some of everything there and only took what was crowded in. I also got some starts of ivy and some other interesting things.

My goal, and I'm well on my way to achieving this, is to have a totally planted "lawn." No mowing is done at my house. I have lots of ground covering plants, herbs, bulbs, leaves, rocks. Nothing fancy. No sod. No chemically stuff. Good compost bin and rain barrels. I'm planning to put in a little goldfish pond, largely so I can attract bats to naturally control the skeeters.

Today, while thanking the Universe aloud for the gifts from the woods, speaking words of encouragement to the plants and bulbs, I noticed that some of my neighbors were out also and were evidently entertained by me. I smiled and gave them the peace sign.

I know this isn't the time to dig or plant bulbs, but I've got to do it when I can do it. My body is creaky a lot of the time, so I do things when I can and often just creep along. At one point today, I lost balance and fell over backward from a squatting position. The sky was nearly unbelievably blue and there were just a few cotton ball clouds floating above me. What a view! I enjoyed it for a minute before getting up.

And that's when it hit me. I have become Alice L. Kibbe. Oh, of course there are differences. I'm a better driver for one thing. My ceilings are no where near high enough for a stuffed giraffe and I don't think I'd want one anyway. I don't know one percent as much about biology as she did. But I'd like to.

I understand that Dr. Kibbe didn't care what people thought of her. I know if I could tell her that I thought she was brilliant and lightyears ahead of her time and that I'm proud to be much like her, she'd probably give me a humph and a lecture on the speed of light. But I'd like to tell her anyway.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Fate of Muscadine Jelly

Wanted: Jars for canning. That was my post on Freecycle. A lady emailed me stating that she had a few dozen jars of some sort of jelly. The jelly would have to be thrown out, but I was welcome to them.

I collected what turned out to be eight dozen half pint and pint jars of jelly, complete with rings and eight quart jars. Even though it meant driving to a not-so-nice part of town, I was thrilled to have this great start to my new garden canning. My Ebay pressure canner had arrived a couple of weeks prior. The lady told me that a house had burned and she was hired to clean out the shed behind the burned house and found these. She remembered that they were in her garage when she saw my Freecycle post.

I decided I'd clean out the jars a bit at a time, as I had room in the dishwasher and debated about whether or not to compost the contents, finally deciding the black gooey stuff was better off down the disposal. I didn't want all that sugar in the compost attracting Grimm knows what.

Today I was dumping sticky, nasty, ancient jelly down the disposal; smugly thinking about what a great find I'd made. A crumbling, yellowed, hand-written label on the front of one of the jars flashed a scene into my head.

Muscadine Jelly. On the top of the jar was a smaller label: $1.75.

A widowed woman, looking much older than her 70 years, in a print cotton dress, bent sweating over a huge pot of muscadines she'd picked from the overgrown jungle behind the house. Once it had been a neat garden, but that was before her joints woke her every morning with their constant complaining. Before she was on her own.

"No need crying about it," she said, smiling to herself as she stirred the dark mess of fruit and sugar. She'd just pick what she could and put them up and go sell them at the Jockey Lot on the weekend. It wouldn't bring much, but it was better than nothing, which was about what she had now. Not that she needed much more.

But things happen. Maybe she sold most of them. Maybe she never got to the Jockey Lot at all. The jelly was well past using. Some of the rings were rusted, though they'd been stored neatly in their boxes.

I decided that jars with this much history deserved a good hand washing. A bit more care. I was smiling but there was a tear in my eye when the jelly went down the drain.