Monday, July 9, 2018

To say goodbye

This past weekend I attended a service at the beautiful Trinity Episcopal Church in Ambler, PA, to say goodbye to a cousin of mine.  Andrea was an inspiration to everyone who met her, a selfless social worker who worked tirelessly on behalf of others, loved by her family of course but also beloved in her community and at her church.

The large sanctuary filled up with her friends and relatives mourning her passage, but sure she was in a peaceful place befitting her life's work.  Her son read a poem evocative of her life:

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die. 

Sunday, July 8, 2018

PeoplesBank Park

When I was in York last week, I took in a game at the PeoplesBank Park to see the York Revolution, an unaffiliated minor league baseball team take on the Sugar Land Skeeters.  The park was built in 2009 or thereabouts and is nestled in right between the river running through downtown and the railroad station.

I eschewed the "cheapest seat in the park," a so-called $10 "lawn seating" ticket out in the grass beyond the left field fence, for a $15 seat by third base under the shadow of the luxury boxes upstairs.  Combined with $3 for parking and a $2.50 hotdog (I brought my own water bottle in), it was a cheap outing to the ballpark.

After checking out my seat, I meandered around the park all game long and sat wherever I wanted.  It's a nice expansive ballpark, very underutilized as several food courts were shuttered, but it has a kids playground out by left field with a merry-go-round and its food offering are many and varied, from $11 hoagies to $5 jumbo dogs with funnel cakes, Italian ices, pizza, White Castle hamburgers and boardwalk fries in between.

The game was interesting, as minor league ballgames often are, with a 400 foot single smacked off the top of the tall wall in left field that caromed right back to the left fielder, many pitching changes, flamethrowers serving up 88 mph fastballs and best of all, the Revolution's costumed colonial mascot firing off a loud cannon in centerfield when a Rev player hit a homer run.  The decibel level inside the park, with its excellent speakers mounted everywhere, came to be annoying by the end of the game, with non-stop PA chatter, advertising ditties and between-innings breathlessly reported upon challenges on-field amongst randomly-selected spectators,  and I discovered that it was literally impossible to engage in a cell-phone conversation from anywhere inside the park.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Running into an old friend

I spent a little time in York, PA on the day after the Fourth of July, sightseeing.  York once was the capital of the United States; it is where the Articles of Incorporation were ratified.

Gettysburg is thirty miles to the west, and after the terrific, terrible battle there in 1863, 14,000 wounded Union soldiers were transported to York for their convalescence at a site now set aside as Penn Park.  The Soldiers and Sailors Monument commemorates this ground.

Further to the north is the Prospect Hill Cemetery where there is a ring of honor atop the hill, guarded by a Union sentinel, enclosing the heroes who died of their wounds suffered at the most famous battle in American history.  On this hill, along the main street which runs the entire length of this town, there is an honor station commemorating the several sons of York who have been lost in this century's wars, and here I came across an old friend of mine, Adam Dickmyer, a York native, with whom I used to run in the District occasionally.

Adam was lost to us in Afghanistan eight years ago, but he is honored still in his hometown.  He was an NCO in the honor guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and he resides there still, for eternity.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

It's coming

I got up early yesterday on the Fourth and drove down to the Marine Corps Memorial as the sun was coming up.  The sky wasn't infused with colors as it sometimes is but the moon was still out and gave the valiant Marines and the Navy Corpsman something extraordinary to seem to be reaching for in their inspiring display of love, sacrifice and devotion for our country.

Our country is currently under dire threat from within, but it has faced prohibitive times before and prevailed, based upon the resilient American spirit exhibited so magnificently by these stalwart men permanently enshrined here.  The sun will break forth again following the dark night.

At Iwo Jima those seventy-three years ago, one of the most horrific battle in the annals of warfare, uncommon valor was a common virtue for these bold Americans.  Those young men, boys really, child-men, of the Third, Fourth and Fifth Marine Divisions never wavered in their commitment to our noble experiment nor shirked their duty to move forward inexorably despite the daunting odds stacked against them.

It might be hard to see now but a new dawn is coming.  Come November, you'll see, America will be great again.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Happy Fourth, yeah

It cut me to the quick.  An email message sent by me a couple of days ago detailing the sad particulars of a service for a member of the greater family was responded to by a closer member of my family with an unhinged rant about what an, ahem, ass I am and, by the way, he pointedly asked, How are my kids?

I ignored the threatening aspects of the screed, although I am no fool and have taken precautions already, but the reference to my three kids, who, because of the divorce, haven't communicated with me for years, really hurt.  I don't think about them every day and I have mostly moved on past them after all this time, but this roll-out by a family member of his best version of nuclear hurt in response to this humdrum familial contact has shocked and depressed me greatly.

Today being the July Fourth holiday, I went to my well-known, well-publicized favorite restaurant at noon for lunch on a holiday and hoped that one or more of my children would come to share the meal with me so we could get started on living out the first day of the rest of our lives in contact.  It didn't happen of course, because PAS is an insidious, invidious form of cruelty inflicted on the other parent by a parent who will use tender children in the advancement of her own preening, overweening ego despite the well-documented permanent harm it does to the minor children.

Reality is very precise.  Et tu, Brutus?

Thursday, June 28, 2018

If only I'd voted

I woke up on that Wednesday in November a couple of years ago on my parents couch in the basement, depressed as usual by my $200,000 student loan obligations, and did my nails. My next job interview wasn't for weeks but it makes me feel better.
I checked my I-Phone to see if I had any new texts but what I saw was that DJT was the next president of the United States. What? Hillary was a lock to win, so I figured yesterday why go to vote when I was watching seasons two and three of Games of Thorns. Why bother? Oh well, it doesn't matter, I've got a good, long life in front of me with future children down the road, daughters, and I can't wait to meet my granddaughters who will have a perfect life as the country marches forward as always.
Two years later! What, my granddaughter, and her daughter and her daughter might be denied personal rights such as controlling her own body, like, if she was raped and couldn't abort the result, or have an abortion if her life was at risk from the pregnancy? My working class progeny can't have the protection of unions and its collective bargaining ability to break through the 25-year wage stagnation for workers because of 2018 Supreme Court rulings? And if a child has a pre-existing condition she can't get health care ever? She should just die? 
And what will happen to me in a year when I'm cycled off my parents' policy if I get into a bad accident or get sick?  I've never lived anywhere all my life where I couldn't choose to do what I wished to with my own body if I was in an abusive relationship or something.  Babies torn from their mother's breasts and separated from their parents by thousands of miles by the authorities, children put into in cages, Moslems banned from the country, our president throwing our allies away that my grandad fought alongside of, and fought against but then we won the peace and the cold war and made them our lifelong friends, or so it seemed for all my life till now, so that our dear leader could make a fool of himself and coddle and praise murderous dictators and have cabinet members swear fealty to him on national TV with the treasury emptied out so that the rich could get richer and corporations could pay far less than their fair share, I really wish I'd have voted that day

Friday, June 15, 2018

A cracked license.

The sickening, unbelievable diminution of America's greatness that I woke up to on November 9, 2016, a wound inflicted upon our great republic by a selfish, short-sided minority of our very own people, enthralled voters chasing a chimera, which hopefully will not ultimately prove to be fatal to our democracy, spurred me to activism.  That extended to voting this week in the primaries in my city where the incumbent Democratic congressman and senator are in absolutely no danger of losing their seats in November, so long as the Russians don't intrude into the process even worse than they did two years ago in aid of our current president, the Kremlin's puppet.

I walked into the polling place and had to spend five minutes in the practically vacant gymnasium while the voter officials scrutinized my driver's license.  In the first forty years of my voting life, I would just announce my name, and vote.  But the current vogue of voter suppression requires a photo ID to vote.   Don't you remember George Washington getting carded at the voting booth?

My OL was cracked right across its bar code.  The official looked at my license, asked me my name and address which I confirmed verbally, the address on it was proper for the precinct and matched their rolls, it wasn't expired and had my picture on it (no smiling!), and then she put it in her optical scanner.  I was not comfortable with having my license scanned but these are the gymnastics our elected officials have foisted upon us in order to exercise our right to vote.  The machine failed to recognize my OL.  The crack, remember?

They took it out and re-inserted it at least half a dozen times.  They puzzled over it.  I suggested the crack across the bar code, from normal usage, but which didn't invalidate my driver's license so far as I know, was preventing the machine from registering the license.  They were literally scratching their heads over what to do.  They finally got a reading on about the sixth try, seating it just so, I guess, and allowed me to cast a ballot.  I foresee lots of problems coming up in November with this system.  They could see who I was from my photo ID which was the preferred one, a driver's license, and the information it bespoke of which I verbally confirmed, yet I had to wait for long minutes while they took this extra step with their little scanning gizmo.  I hope I remember to bring my passport as backup in November.