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Patriotism at it’s finest – My thoughts on Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the National Anthem

For the record, I don’t give a flying *%#^! about football. I don’t watch it, I don’t care. That being said, there has been yet another controversial saga attached to the NFL that I’ll throw my two cents in on.

Over the years, my daughter rarely got in trouble at school. I can count on one hand the number of times I was summons to the principal’s office. The first time stands out in my head and applies to today’s headlines. Jayden must have been in first or second grade when I got a phone call from the school that we needed to have a meeting with her principal and teacher. Apparently my darling daughter refused to stand for the pledge of allegiance. As we sat in the cramped office of the principal’s, my kid explained to the three of us she didn’t feel right about making a pledge of allegiance to a republic for which it stands.

“Listen to the words, mom.” She pleaded with me. “I don’t even know what the republic stands for and if I did, what if I disagree with some of it? I can’t make a promise to something I disagree with.” As an afterthought she added, “And which god?”

FACT: The original pledge of allegiance was written by a socialist in the late eighteen-hundreds so that all the school children of the nation could participate in the opening ceremonies of the World’s Fair which was being held in Chicago, Illinois that year. It was coordinated throughout the country that all the students would recite it at a specified time so they could all feel included.

Recently, Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback for the San Francisco 49’s, refused to stand for the National Anthem. He was quoted as saying “I’m not going to stand up to show pride in flag for a country that opposes black people.” He gave several accurate and poignant examples of why he was protesting. It had nothing to do with the military, the troops or frankly, our government. It has everything to do with the way black people are treated in this country. Mr. Kaepernick has an agenda and an audience and he did just what he set out to do, make a point. A very patriotic point.

When a person consciously decides to exercise their first amendment rights there can be repercussions. Like a visit to the principal’s office or losing an endorsement. (Which, by the way, Colin said even if they do take away his endorsements, he knows he did what was right. He followed his heart, how many of us have done that? If only my minor actions could produce such an awareness.) Either way, as FREE Americans we have the right to stand, or sit when the National Anthem or Pledge of Allegiance is being recited. When Mr. Kaepernick stayed sitting to make a stand, no law broken. He didn’t hurt anyone or cause his team or family or country harm.

Mr. Kaepernick, I applaud you for using your rights as an American citizen to bring to light the discrimination that happens every day in this country. I applaud you for using the NFL as your platform. I agree with you one million times over and would sit by your side while the Star-spangled banner plays any day. Personally, I would not want to be treated like a black person in this country. I can’t imagine any of my white friends wanting to either. (Any of my white readers, raise your hand if you’d like to be treated as a black person? No? No one?) You wanted people talking about how racist and bigoted this country has become and you did it with a simple, non-violent act. Well done, Mr. Kaepernick, well done.

So maybe football isn’t so boring. Let’s go 49er’s!

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Dan Rather reporting on Handwriting

Feeling lazy this week. DAN RATHER wrote this. He said it better than I could have anyway…

I share this article because I find it interesting, informative, and because in the end I beg to differ.

I understand all the points the author makes. She makes them well and her forthcoming book on handwriting sounds very interesting. Perhaps it’s my age, my being a creature of habit, but I feel that she misses one of the essential elements of writing words on paper – the beauty of channeling the mystery of thought, through the mechanics of muscle, into the tangible reality of seeing inked letters on a physical surface. And cursive adds to this process a sense of beauty.

To me this isn’t about the dubious effects of improved mental or small muscle development. It is something essential to being human, to leaving a physical mark of our thoughts. It is what channeled the prehistoric cave painters, the etched hieroglyphics, and anyone who has carved initials into a tree.

Yes we live in a digital age, with electronic redundancies and back up. But just like the vinyl record has clawed its way back from extinction into a small but vibrant niche, I see a purpose for the handwritten thought into the future. There are many utilitarian reasons to not spend precious class time on handwriting. And I know many people who now write better channeling thought directly to keyboard. It is faster and more efficient. No doubt. But from my conversations on this topic, I know that those same people feel different when they sit down to write something physically. It’s not a substitute, it’s an alternate experience.

To lay out a beautifully-rendered note card or fine stationary and gather one’s thoughts to a loved one or friend in times of joy and sorrow, favorite pen in hand, considering where in the paper you will cast your first stroke, is to experience something special. And I hope we do not deny future generations these sublime moments. To me they are a quintessential part of the human experience.

I have saved many a letter from friends and family – some written in a fine hand, some quite sloppy, but most of them seem more personal, more connected then a the product of a computer printer.

Call me old fashioned. Call me out of touch. I call it human and I want to hold on to it.

I would be curious of your thoughts.…/handwriting-just-doesnt-matter.html

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Advice from the Garden

Interesting the sayings, quotes and proverbs that come from gardening. “Oh, she’s such a late bloomer!” and we all know our share of ‘bad apples’. It used to be people grew their own food and the adages represented everyday life. Now days a person has to dig for that hidden wisdom. Here’s some great advice straight from the garden.

The early bird gets the worm. Words to live by. In short, be on time. Or better yet be early. People who are on time are more likely to be dependable and diligent in their work ethics and personal relationships. It also shows that you respect others and their time.  Additional benefits of being on time are improving your own confidence and self-esteem as well as setting a positive example for your children. It’s not always easy to do, but well worth the extra effort.

You reap what you sow. What comes around goes around. Karma. You get the picture. One thing about a garden is it’s reflective of the grower. As with a garden or life, a person’s actions have consequences. If it’s tended, watered and nurtured it will yield results.

He who has a garden and a library wants for nothing (Si hortum in bibliotheca habes, deerit nihil- Marcus Tullius Cicero). This quote is old. Before the Bible old. So, like the Bible there may be more than one interpretation on this piece of advice. One theory could be; if one has a garden their bodies are fed, if one has a library their minds are. Read, learn, stretch your mind.

This is all sound advice that come from the garden. There are those that believe life began in a garden. Others say those that garden believe in tomorrow. Either way, there is nothing like homegrown vegetables to feed the body and spirit. Gardening teaches life lessons such as responsibility, patience and gratitude not to mention the miracle of science.

Personal note: When I was young, I couldn’t keep a houseplant alive let alone entertain the idea of a garden that actually produced vegetables. I was also habitually late for everything I did, (friends and family would take bets on just how late I would be.) Back then, the only person that really mattered to me was me. Rarely did I challenge myself as I was struggling to get by day to day. Life was the task.

Now that I’m older (and much wiser) I have the patience and dedication that it takes to have a garden. I’ve learned the above lessons; yea, I’m the late bloomer (lol). And I know, life is truly like a garden. What you put into it is what you get out of it. Now I’m on-time, so much so on-time is late. Other things in my world have changed for the better and I have to stop and ask myself which came first? The changes I made, then the garden; or did the garden come in my life and then I made specific changes? To me, it’s all relevant. Thanks for reading.

Photo credit: DW Plato

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Vacationing at the Cape (Cape Cod that is…) Travel Blog

“Enjoy the Cape”, my aunt said to me as we headed from Boston to Cape Cod. I had no idea that Cape Cod wasn’t a town but an actual geographical location with approximately fifteen little towns peppering the coast line. To be specific, Cape Cod is the hook shaped peninsula reaching out from Massachusetts into the Gulf of Maine. Apparently, this is where the Pilgrims came in when discovering the New World, coming into Provincetown and then Plymouth.  An English explorer (and lawyer) named Bartholomew Gosnold (is that not a perfect English explorer name? Bartholomew Gosnold?) anyway, he was quoted as saying, ‘We came across a great store of cod upon arrival.’ when they landed in 1602, eighteen years before the pilgrims and Mayflower. Naturally an abundant cape was desired when developing a new country and that’s where the name came from. Cape Cod, the cape full of cod, lol.

It is a picturesque place with lighthouses, ponds, bays, and the ocean. Not to mention, amazing food and quaint little shops to explore. Drinking a Cape Cod (Vodka and Cranberry with Lime) in Cape Cod was on my bucket list and immediately after arriving, I did just that (with extra lime, please.) We met some oyster hunters at the bar. (Okay, oyster farmers-they don’t really hunt oysters.) Their accents were a rural Bostonian and we just kept asking them questions to hear them talk. After explaining the do’s and don’t’s for our whale watching expedition, they recommended The Naked Oyster for dinner. (Best seafood I’ve ever had in my life!) And we set off in search of the humpbacked whales that were winding up their migration.

The Hyannis Whale Watch Cruise said there was a 98% chance we would see whales. (“You’ll see them”, the ticket gal said to our granddaughter with a wink, “They’re there.”) And they were! Approximately twenty-five hundred make it along the east coast every year, we saw about one percent of them. The guides were so informative and had done this so many times, they knew the names and migration patterns of the particular whales we saw. They were identified by their tail markings. Most were in pairs, Mama and Calf. The boat guide explained to us that during their months of migration, they don’t eat or sleep, living off their stored fat. They travel in ‘pods’, 2-6 whales. And they travel thousands of miles every year. When they arrive, they are tired and hungry. Since whales are mammals, they can’t very well go to sleep under water, they will drown. Often they will be seen floating just at the surface with their blow-holes exposed, sawing zzz’s. It was also explained one of their hunting techniques is to swim circles under a school of fish and blow bubbles. The fish get confused and don’t know which way to go so they just hang out in the circle of bubbles, then the whales just open their mouths, chomp.

The whales we saw were very active. It seemed they had patterns of movement and once you watched for a few minutes you could tell which ones were going to breech out of the water. One baby, okay a huge toddler whale, seemed to know we were all oohing and aawwing over him and jumped several times. Seriously, it seemed he was showing off for us. (‘Take a picture, take a picture, take a picture’ he seemed to say-like three-year-olds do. See photo.) His mama was always hanging out close by to make sure her little one was safe. Mama whales keep their young with them from two to three years until they are old enough to start their own families. The humpback whales’ song is the loudest noise that any mammal on earth makes. It can be heard up to five miles away and it has been disputed over what they are communicating. Some believe the song is a male dominance yell while others believe the whales are simply chatting up their whereabouts and intentions. (easier and more effective than Facebook, yes?)

Overall, I highly recommend this area if you’re looking for a U.S vacation spot. In fact, I can’t wait to go back!
It’s a magical, beautiful and delicious place to explore. (No wonder the whales come back again and again.)