Friday, September 28, 2012

An 85 Year Perspective

This photo is of my father, many years ago. I went looking for it this morning after reading an email he sent out to the entire family last night - and the family is large. I was very moved to read it and thought about posting it - but went off to bed. This morning I see that my oldest son has posted it on Facebook, as he was proud of his Pepere - and so am I so I thought it would be worthy of a spot in this blog. He is much smarter than I anyway....:)

Here it is, below:
My dear extended family,
I have not done this before. The fact that I am doing it by itself attests to my concerns (and Jean's too) mostly for you, our children, grandchildren and great-granchildren.
The Lord blessed me with a long life. Every day now is a bonus. My childhood was lived during the great depression. My high school years coincided with World War II. I am at the trailing edge of the "great generation," having joined the Navy before the big war ended. Despite the great problems it faced, the 20th century was good in many ways for the USA.
I took a course in College, a very liberal University, essentially in comparative governments. I taught Social Justice as a semester course at Pensacola Catholic High School. My concern for the poor I believe is well attested to by my volunteer work. I am registered Republican; I was registered Democrat when I came to Florida. Then, in 1969, if you wanted action in the primary elections you needed to be registered Democrat. Today the situation is exactly reversed. Why is that? Think about it. Is it because everyone down here in the south belongs to the filthy rich 1% presently being maligned? The answer in my book has to do mostly with shifts in values. But it is not that easy to catalog my political proclivities. I can see checks in both the "conservative" and "liberal" columns and maybe even other columns. Anyway, where am I going with this?
The Church has survived much longer than any political entity or mode of government. I believe that is because it has both human and divine dimensions. Purely human institutions have come and gone. The Holy Spirit strives hard to keep the Church on track, but the essential human element keeps trying to mess it up and even eliminate it. The Church does survive because of divine guidance. Many forms of government have been tried. In recent centuries socialistic systems established were defined in utopian terms but were never successful because of the greed, thirst for power and the evil of individuals and a governing class. These systems under a strong central government have all ended up hurting the masses. The problem has not been so much a systemic one as a humanistic one.
In my opinion, our Constitution guided and our republic governed our country well when done honestly and with great deference to the separation of powers between the three branches of our government, with checks and balances where an individual can not dominate. Our capitalistic system encourages people to strive to get ahead. Unfortunately many persons are greedy and not altruistic and generous. What is it that enabled us to achieve what we did in the 20th century, to defeat Germany and Japan, for example, and make such great strides? It was the freedom to be able to prosper relatively unfettered. Unfortunately, on one hand, more and more persons do not contribute to the best of their ability and milk the system for all they can get out of it. On another hand, successful people do need to be more concerned about the condition of the unsuccessful and the incapable persons and assist them without a suffocating central government strangle hold..
My income is almost entirely from Government sources: Navy retirement, Social Security and State pension. But I did what was expected to qualify for these benefits. Despite the failure of humans in our capitalistic system, our great Constitution still proffers the best hope to prolong the life of this once great country. If the current administration continues on its present course, trying to remodel our form of government, often ignoring the Constitution and disregarding the separation of powers, with more central control and reduced individual freedom, the country is doomed and it will go the way of myriads of other societies and countries which have failed and disappeared over the ages. The USA will no longer be a shining light to the world.
I have had a truly good life under a mostly commendable system now badly threatened. Even though we were poor during the great depression, my family survived. Facing slightly different circumstances, I could have been killed in one of the wars. But I am especially concerned about the present situation and even more about the welfare of every one of our offspring in the near future. I believe this election in November gives us an opportunity to change course. If the government continues on its present course, I am certain that the quality of life we have known or at least was achievable will no longer be possible. My life may end early when the federal healthcare system refuses treatment to old codgers who have become a drain on a desperate economy.

Of course, follow your conscience, think hard about your choice, most of all pray for our children and our country and please vote.

I wish I could express myself more clearly about this, but I promised myself to keep this one page and not write a book.

Our love and prayers,
Dad/Pépère (and Mom/Jean)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Chicken and Dumplings, in a grouchy hurry.

Yesterday I came home from work and needed some mothering, and comfort food. Being that I am the only mother around and I was a grouchy tired one, this is what I did and I am amazed at how good this tasted, and still does tonight as left overs.

2 Cans of Swanson Chicken Broth 14.5 oz.  - or your own broth if you have it on hand.
Chicken Thighs - boneless - 2 lbs
Parsley - dried - 2 tablespoons
6 carrots, peeled and diced
Mary B's Frozen Dumplings

I poured chicken broth in pot, added diced carrots and boneless chicken thighs, uncooked, with dried parsley.
Brought to boil. Added dumplings per instructions on package, covered and cooked 45 minutes.

While that was cooking I made a peach pie with Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust - but fresh peaches - and corn bread. I know, the dumplings and corn bread are double bread but yesterday called for that drastic of action - :) - anyway, the Chicken and Dumplings were great and easy, and comforting.

I needed it.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Parents: Good, Bad and - who knew?

Thinking today about parenthood. I'm making dinner for my first born and much loved son, Chris. His birthday is actually 9/8 but he lives in Atlanta and is here for Labor Day weekend so today is the day. I have the benefit of having my mother's carrot cake recipe, thank God we all have copies of it. I have made this cake for years and all my boys love it - I get the praise but it is not my doing at all. The only credit I should get is that I followed her directions as they were written, finally! It is ironic to me that I get praises from my children every time I make this cake because it is good only when I follow the instructions. I find that sort of funny since I was such a pain for my Mom, and I would never describe my relationship with her as compliant - at least not in my 12 years old and on going age. But you know you grow up and you learn. Unfortunately, my mother died of ovarian cancer at age 49 and I was 25. I was still pretty obnoxious but she loved me and I knew it.
So on to this thought - Parents: Good, Bad, and - who knew? I think about my boys and what I loved doing with them as they grew up: reading at night. I will forever be awed by the Chronicles of Narnia and the wonderful stimulation I think they generate for imagination as I read the books to them - Doctor Seuss, I think I can still repeat most of One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish from memory. It makes me smile to remember my verbal interpretation of the wild rumpus for Where the Wild Things Are. All of this brings a smile to my face and it is so precious - yet - I did some things wrong. And I thought about that today, how that with all your best intentions as a parent, there are some things that you just get wrong.
And so I am glad for this truth - that God gives grace to the humble, that He requires that we do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with Him. And I think that there is a beautiful over riding of grace from God in our lives, if we allow it. I sure need it and am grateful for it!