Monday, December 28, 2009

Review of 'The Road'

I read the novel The Road by Cormack McCarthy while visiting Sarah and Ned over Thanksgiving. It was a kind of default choice; I just happened upon it in a box of books Sarah and Ned were moving out of the nursery. The movie, based on the book, finally opened in Memphis and I saw it yesterday afternoon with two friends who were probably humoring my interest rather than their own.

All of us found the film well done, hard to watch, but fascinating. I found both the book and the film to contain much more of a message of hope than most others I’ve talked with seem to find.

Watching a man and his son traveling and living off the land in seach of food and safety in a post-apocalyptic world is grim. There were many frightening images during their fight for survival, but I came away from the film feeling that there were also several important messages. The first is how deep mankind’s desire for survival must be. The second how very, very necessary it is to pass along our ideals of protecting and conserving our planet and helping others to our children if we expect our species to survive. These ideals are tempered with a strong dose of reality that there are “good guys and bad guys” and that sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference, but we can decide to be the good guys no matter what.

Sally and Aleine and I differed on whether we’d recommend the movie to a friend. I vote yes, because it is beautifully and artistically done and because I saw a message of hope for mankind.

In these frightening times it’s sometimes hard to stay focused on making choices for good. I hope I do a better job of it in the coming year.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Greatest Gifts

It’s the time of year when the family is asking what I want for Christmas, and I’ve cooperated this year by having a few simple wants on my list. But when I really, really think of what I want, aside from World Peace, I’m acutely aware that I have basically everything I could possibly need and most of what I want.

The gifts I treasure most, though, are not things, but the people in my life who make a difference.

Parents who gave me a good education and lots of love, even when I didn’t deserve it.

A husband who notices when the gas tank is low and fills it up, especially if it’s raining or freezing, and warms my backside on a cold night.

Daughters who want to know how to cook some of my favorite recipes, even if they’re full of fat and sugar.

Daughters who know that going to a live performance of “Wicked” or having food prepared for me is infinitely more exciting than more stuff.

A son who never forgets to take out the trash on garbage night, helps clear the table when we have guests, and gives me a hug and a nuzzle when he gets home from work.

A brother who shares my interest in books and always has time for me.

A sister who lavishes me with love and special treats.

Nieces and nephews who stay in touch and even drop in for a visit sometimes, always being patient with my stories of the old days.

Son’s in Law who carry on conversations with me as if I have some sense and make me laugh until I hurt, and who love my daughters as much as I do.

In Laws who are thoughtful and fun to be around.

Lots of “cuddin’s” who are also friends.

A friend who calls regularly to say, “What’s goin’ on?” and listens and cares when I tell her.

Friends who include me in things, even if it’s been a long time since I’ve reciprocated their invitations.

Friends who trust me with their secrets, even though I’m notorious for flubbing up and letting them out of the bag.

A friend who remembers selling lemonade, smooshing buttercups on noses, catching fireflies and putting on plays in the front yard.

An aunt who has known me since birth, and remembers it.

A guy at who never makes a mistake and always delivers on time.

A paperboy who rarely misses the driveway.

A guy friend who marvels at how I keep looking young…even if I don’t!

Women who are willing to read books and share their thoughts on them with me and affirm my opinions when they are right and challenge them when they’re wrong…all in the nicest possible way.

Neighbors who share their “helper” list with me.

Old friends who reconnected on Facebook and comment or send me cybertreats or funny forwards occasionally.

Medical professionals far and near, especially a wonderful orthopedist and chiropractor who gave me the gift of mobility…whether I wanted it or not.

Someone who cuts my hair consistently and makes me feel more attractive after.

People, apparently from some far away places, who read my posts

A dog who loves me and kind of minds me…especially if treats are involved.

Grandsons who like to sing and play games or discuss life in general with me and sometimes ask if they can live with me.

A granddaughter who loves to play with my old Ginny and Madame Alexander dolls as much as I did at her age and still snuggles up when we watch a movie or read.

A tiny baby boy, hovering on a cloud somewhere, waiting for just the right time to enter my world and confirm once more that life is really, really good.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Let There be Peace

"Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages." - Thomas Jefferson, 3rd U.S. President

I was going through the mail today when I picked up a copy of a Pottery Barn magazine aimed at "tweens" and noted as I showed it to Becket that the back cover was filled with items featuring a peace logo. As I looked further, there were also polka dots, and camo, and lots of girly stuff, but it's the peace logo that has me thinking.

I almost wrote about peace for Veteran’s Day, but just couldn’t sort out all the jumble of thoughts in my mind.

Walker and I attended Grandparent’s Day at Presbyterian Day School to see our kindergarten aged grandsons in their debut performance in the big church. The bi-annual performance always has a glorious focus on patriotism and hearing a chorus of little boys sing many of the same patriotic songs I sang as a youth initially made me beam.

The performance began with an ROTC color guard from one of our local high schools, and as these fine very young men entered I suddenly teared up. The reality that many of these young men might actually volunteer to face real battle in the next few years contrasted starkly with the innocence of the beautiful younger boys singing battle songs. When they played the Army anthem, my husband stood along with a decreasing number of veterans honoring the corps. A bit of tear crept down my cheek as he stood beside me. (Okay, I’m kind of weepy lately…so sue me!)

I was born to a “war bride”, and served three years as a military wife. One of those years was spent anxiously awaiting news of my husband who was flying a little plane, not much bigger than a bicycle, over Viet Nam, being shot at in his tent at night and adjusting artillary to get the bad guys by day. I can still remember holding back my heaving stomach as I boarded a plane in San Francisco just before Walker’s deployment, cuddling my five week old baby, and knowing that I might never see her father again.

I watch the military families on the news or in airports as they adjust to holidays, feeling the absence of one parent or the other, for now many of our servicemen are women, and grieve for every one of them. I don’t care how patriotic you might be, every mother and wife and every child grieves seeing loved ones off at war.

On the other hand, I know that I never want to feel the alarm and fear that followed September 11, ever again…but I do. There are actually people who want to kill me because I’m an American who believes in a God of Peace. I’m glad there are brave men and women willing to give up their holidays, and perhaps their lives, to keep me safe.

Peace to me is not just the illusion that we experience in the U. S. all because there’s no active conflict here. Peace is something that the world deserves to enjoy.

Peace means that we all respect each other, regardless of how we look or worship. Peace means that no women live in terror of the men in their world, are not beaten, or even killed, for an indiscretion. It means that all the citizens of the world have enough to eat and productive jobs to do. It means that we don’t take things from each other, even when the temptation is great.

Peace means that those who disobey these standards spend their lives isolated so they can do no harm, but that vengeance does not lead good people to do violence even when it’s for the right reason.

I’m not sure whether Peace requires men to stop lusting after their neighbor’s wives or coveting his ox and ass...honoring our parents is nice…up to a point. I’m not going to go through all Ten Commandments, you can look them up if you like. I don’t set a really high bar…just don’t hurt others deliberately.

For now, I hope I live to see some semblance of world peace. In the meantime I give thanks for those who fight for it, celebrate those who fought to earn the degree of it we enjoy today,  and hope for peace in my own heart, my family, and my community. That would be a great start. Go to
for my favorite song about peace, or just listen to your radio, the Christmas Carols are full of the most important message of all. Peace.