Keeping Our Freedoms Alive

Monday, May 28, 2012

The NATO summit was in Chicago a week ago. With temporary road closings as dignitaries drove through and protesters blocking other streets as they marched by, many people decided to stay out of the city. Some businesses even closed on Monday so their employees wouldn't have to worry about getting to work.

Still, the summit demonstrated this country's greatest strength.


Several thousand people marched through the streets of Chicago protesting everything from the war in Afghanistan to economic conditions here at home, and the protests were mostly nonviolent. A small group of individuals did challenge police on Sunday after most of the marchers had disbursed, and 40 plus people were arrested. Those arrests were for throwing bottles and other objects at the police, not for marching or protesting.

That's because the police were there to protect the protestors' right to free speech, not to quash it. The United States does not ban protests, as many countries do. Instead, our government facilitates peaceful protests.

On Memorial Day, we honor the men and women who died to keep our freedoms alive.

The protesters should thank them for it.

I do.

A Forgotten Anniversary

Monday, May 21, 2012

May 12 was my 33rd wedding anniversary. With all the excitement over moving and then going to Missouri for Mothers Day, I forgot all about it.

We took Mom Camp out to dinner that Saturday night. As we sat there waiting for our food, Roland looked at me and said, "Happy Anniversary."

I'm not proud that I forgot it, but I am proud that my marriage is strong enough to survive forgotten anniversaries.

Roland and I have grown closer over the years, but our relationship still feels very much like it did in this poem I wrote to Roland three months before we got married:

For many years I walked along,
Rich in the love of friends and family,
But never feeling love for a lover.
Then I met you, and gradually
I knew that kind of love;
Not as a raging sea that tears at my soul,
But as a quiet, gentle warmth,
And a smile that appears upon my face
When I think of you,
And a comfortable feeling whenever we're together;
And now I know,
I love you.

Happy belated anniversary, Roland.

A Tale of Two Mothers

Monday, May 14, 2012

My mother-in-law and my mother lived two very different lives.

Mom Camp was born in Youngstown, Ohio but moved to "The Region" in Northwest Indiana as a child. She married a region native and continued to live there until she and Dad retired to Missouri.

My mother was born and raised on a farm in Iowa, but she moved frequently during her years as a minister's wife. It was only after Daddy retired that Mama got to settle down again.

Mom rarely traveled and never needed a passport. In her later years she and Dad took vacations to Hawaii and Puerto Rico, but those were the only times she crossed an ocean.

Mama knew she had married a man who loved to travel, and getting a new passport became as common as getting a new driver's license. When I was a child we started counting the number of states and countries we visited, but at some point we lost track. We even lived in Amman, Jordan and Edinburgh, Scotland, traveling around the Middle East and Europe during vacations. After my parents retired, they often wintered in a small town on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, where they volunteered their time and talents at a Presbyterian school.

So Mom and Mama lived two very different lives.

On the surface.

Where it matters most, however, the two mothers could be twins.

Both are strong Christian women. Both were active in their churches until age and circumstances intervened. Both worked hard all their lives and taught their children good Christian values.

And both have children and grandchildren who appreciate what the family matriarch did for them.

The first picture shows Mom Camp with some of her children and grandchildren at Christmas 2010.

The second shows my mother with two of her grandchildren (my niece and my son) at Christmas 2011.

So here is my Mothers Day message to Mom and Mama.

Thank you.

Did you thank yours?

Assembly Required

Monday, May 7, 2012

What do my new desk, my condo, and my life have in common? Assembly required.

According to the fourth edition of The American Heritage Dictionary, one definition of assemble is "to fit together the parts or pieces of." And I'm in the middle of that process.

When the movers couldn't get my old desk into my new office, I knew I would have to buy one unassembled. Because I didn't want to increase our already escalating expenses by hiring someone to put the desk together, it had to be simple enough for me to assemble. That meant a smaller L-desk without a file drawer or a hutch. I made up for those deficiencies by purchasing a matching printer stand (with a file drawer) and an expensive Levenger book carousel (which I had been lusting after for years). Each of these pieces required some assembly.

The desk was easy. I put it together in about two hours without help. The book carousel was also easy. All I had to do was drop in the hardware and stack the pre-assembled units.

The printing stand was the hardest, and it didn't help that one of the parts was mislabeled. I asked Roland to lend his muscles a couple of times, but I could have put it together on my own if I had to.

The picture shows the three pieces of my new desk unit. Although the walls look bare now, they will eventually hold a bulletin board, a poster of today's cliches that originated with Shakespeare, and some examples of my photography.

The condo is taking longer to assemble. We ordered new bookshelves for the living room, but two of the bases are on back order. That means only one of the three bookcases is currently usable.

On Thursday, we went to our neighborhood furniture store and ordered a dining table with chairs and a buffet. Now we have to wait four to six weeks for delivery. The same is true for the narrower reading chair, with footstool, that we ordered to replace the one that wouldn't fit into my office. And we can't finish unpacking boxes until we have the other two bookcases and the buffet to put stuff in.

I'm also finding it hard to fit together the parts or pieces of my life. With all the time and energy spent moving, I haven't done any writing lately.

Yes, I need more time to assemble the condo and my life. Still, I know they will come together eventually.

But right now I need to assemble a laundry cart.