Support and Defend …

September 14, 2016 § Leave a comment

constitutionI, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; …

Several themes emerged from the conference at Chautauqua that surprised me … and should not have. At least two speakers, veterans, cited this oath as one of their motivations for enlisting. It was for them a solemn moment when they raised their hand and swore to defend the Constitution of the United States of America. But, they reminded us, one does not have to enlist to do this. Supporting and defending the Constitution is the right and responsibility of all Americans. It comes with citizenship. « Read the rest of this entry »

The Great Garage Saga, Part 2

September 6, 2016 § 2 Comments

garage2One of my loyal readers pointed out that I wrote The Great Garage Saga, Part 1, but there haven’t been any updates. That’s because we reached the stage represented in the photograph – general chaos both in front and in back of the house, stuff blowing around no matter how many times I police the area, and a big orange storage box I try to pass off as a landscape feature – but all progress on actually fixing the garage came to a halt. That was deceptive, though. In fact, I spent the summer interviewing contractors. « Read the rest of this entry »

Assumptions

August 26, 2016 § 1 Comment

table-and-wine-glassI had dinner recently with someone I had known from my neighborhood for several years. She wanted to get us away from our construction chaos, give us a very welcome break. I have known her only as kind and community-minded. She makes a point of greeting new neighbors, signing them up for the listserv, and inviting them to the picnic. She offers to help and she does. She is a few years older than I am. She carries memories. « Read the rest of this entry »

“Thank you for your service”

August 17, 2016 § 1 Comment

thank-you-for-your-serviceA few years ago, Mark and I were sitting with a friend in a Panera restaurant having coffee and talking. Suddenly a man I call the Panera Stranger, thrust his hand at Mark and said, “Thank you for your service!” Mark mumbled something, I was paralyzed, and we were all – including, most likely, the Stranger, were left feeling awkward and uncomfortable. « Read the rest of this entry »

Chautauqua, and not a moment too soon

August 16, 2016 § Leave a comment

250px-ChatauquaInst_HallPhilosophyI came to the Chautauqua Institution six years ago and while I loved it, I had not been tempted to return. My own fault, really. I approached it, by habit, as a Learning Experience. I took classes. I listened to lectures. In the spirit of the Institution’s founding, I felt Improved. But nothing happened that stirred me.

This year, by chance, I came across the theme for the season, “What It Means To Be Human,” and saw the theme for Week 8, “War and Its Warriors: Contemporary Voices.” I scanned the speakers. Some were new to me but I had the books, in some cases multiple books, by four of them on my shelves. « Read the rest of this entry »

Chautauqua, Day 1, Evening

August 14, 2016 § Leave a comment

fdr4Well, it’s only the evening of the first day and I am already unglued. Eight years ago today, Franklin Delano Roosevelt stood in the amphitheater at Chautauqua, the place I was sitting, to deliver what came to be known as the “I Hate War” speech. Tonight the program interspersed anthems and hymns with recorded segments of that speech. « Read the rest of this entry »

Chautauqua

August 14, 2016 § 2 Comments

chautauquaAnyone who knows me knows this just isn’t my style but here I am and that table is my desk for this week. I am at the Chautauqua Institution, a village on the shores of Chautauqua Lake in far southwestern New York State, founded in 1874 (hence the Victorian style and yes, those are plastic flowers) as a place for lectures, performing arts, interfaith worship, and recreational activities. Each week throughout the summer, the grounds fill with people exploring a theme. My week is War and Its Warriors: Contemporary Voices, so naturally, I am here. « Read the rest of this entry »