Thursday, June 30, 2011

Give Me a Break

Is it just me, or has the whole world gone absolutely mad? A news story a couple of weeks ago showed video of a wheelchair bound woman, age 100, being frisked by airport security even to the point of having to remove her adult diaper. What's worse, TSA officials think that's perfectly okay.

Today, a Nigerian man who was the epitome of a profiler’s depiction of possible terrorists, was arrested after he had used a ticket with a totally different name from his own to board a plane at JFK yesterday, and then today was caught just as he was about to make it onto yet another flight out of Los Angeles with another ticket with a different name. He was found to have several other tickets or boarding passes in his possession.

Every time I go through security, I have to explain that I have knee replacements and go through what has become an increasingly invasive pat down. Small children are exposed to the same indignities.

Someone has got to blow the whistle on this nonsense and get real about what a possible terrorist looks like. Yes, someone might be offended when more people who are over 75 and under six are passed through without a blink, but I’d be willing to be that airport security wouldn’t show a great jump in incidents if a common sense policy were established.

I hope some heads roll over these incidents, and I’m not just talking about sending a few security personnel back to school for training.



Friday, June 17, 2011

Daddy's Girl

I got a note from a grammar school classmate recently citing his memory of my being picked up on the lawn of our elementary school, dear old Bellingrath, by a helicopter. It was 1954 and Daddy was running for governor of the Great State of Alabama in a crowded field of candidates. There were no Republicans to speak of in Alabama at that time, so the Democratic Primary winner was the de facto winner of the Governor’s mansion.

Part of the program was travelling to small towns throughout Alabama, gathering a crowd at a VFW hall or on a town square and giving a speech. Presenting an intact, typical American family was essential…hence the helicopter trips. There wasn’t a lot of difference between the candidates from what I can tell from reading old newspaper accounts. All were staunch segregationists, and all were promising things they probably couldn’t deliver. Daddy campaigned as a veteran and a man of integrity, with several years of experience in State Government. He promised to eliminate corruption in State government. People probably remember the helicopter more than what he had to say.

At that time, I was eight years old, and I had no idea what a Governor did although I knew the present Governor on a first name basis. He was Gordon to me, and sometimes took us for a boat ride at the lake and offered us the use of his beach house. I remember visiting the mansion a few times and being entranced by two things…a beautiful blue tile bathroom and an impressive gun collection that included a gun not as big as a matchbox that was said to shoot straight pins and was used for suicides. I knew the gun collection was Gordon’s personal one, but I wanted that beautiful blue bathroom for my own after his daughter graciously showed me around.

Daddy was never elected Governor of Alabama, although he ran twice. I didn’t love those campaigns. I was slightly mortified that Daddy was an also ran in such a public manner, but I did love those helicopter rides. It never occurred to me to be frightened, I was with my Daddy and the pilot, a handsome fellow named Joe Suttle, had me smitten even at age eight.

I never told Daddy how proud I was of his ambition, which was even more admirable because of his very humble beginnings as the son of a poverty ridden coal mining family who often didn't have enough to eat. Someone must have seen something in him at an early age, though, because he had the determination and courage to work his way through college and to have an exemplary career as a bomber pilot in the Marines while stationed in the Phillipines. I did realize that I was more like him than I ever imagined once I was an adult, and appreciated the lively discussions we shared on current events and financial matters.

I hope cyberspace is available in heaven, and that Daddy knows how proud I am to be his daughter today.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Back to the Fifties

I’ve been doing some preliminary work on a video I’m going to compile for my fiftieth high school reunion. Yes, I’m really that old...I can't believe it either. In the process, I’ve contacted former classmates and requested pictures and have spent this afternoon listening to the number one songs of the fifties and sixties.

I don’t often long for those days…the ones before air conditioning (at least at my house), color television, nearly free long distance, cable television, video recorders, and cell phones. The days before mortgages and 401 K’s occupied my mind. The days when taking a trip on a plane was a rare luxury, but one to look forward to, not an experience almost as invasive as the dreaded “complete physical” I had to have for college.

Today, for a little while, I longed to reclaim that simpler life where my visions of the years ahead were mostly rosier than those days actually turned out to be. But then I realized that some things I never would have imagined have also brought more joy into my life than my rosiest scenario concocted on a sweaty afternoon listening to my favorite 45s play an endless loop of love songs while hoping a breeze would flutter the organdy curtains in my bedroom .

Instead of lolling around my back yard pool, one of my lifelong desires, I enjoy watching little boys do cannonballs and crazy flips while shouting , “Watch this one, Grammy!” Instead of bouquets from a florist, I have cut flowers and fresh vegetables from my own back yard. Instead of elegant dining at fine restaurants, I actually enjoy back yard cookouts and homemade ice cream…and an occasional nice meal out too. I have all the books I can read and the love of two guys who basically treat me pretty darn well. I’m a lucky lady.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Summer School

After ending the “school year” of studying the Old Testament, I’m veering of in a new direction this summer. I’m taking an art class designed to teach me to “Draw on the Right Side of the Brain”. Sounded good to me. I love to paint, really dabble more than paint, but couldn’t get structure to my paintings without some ability to draw. Since I didn’t seem to be born with that ability, I decided to give a class a try.

The teacher says she can teach anyone to draw, but after my first class, I’ve got my doubts. The first assignment was to do some drawings without any instruction to see where we were skill-wise. Well, my self portrait looks like I have a beard…something I’m very careful to avoid. The sketch of a folding chair resembles anything you’d dare to sit on only vaguely. The sketch of my hand was a bit better, but my ring looks like it’s about a four karat not one. Then we got to drawing an outline picture of a face, then the reverse of it opposite. Well my brain just wouldn’t compute. After about forty tries at home, I can approximate it sometimes, but not consistently.

I’m not giving up yet. It was only the first class, but I’m prone to assess my abilities and move onto something else if one doesn’t work out. I’m afraid this may be one of those. We’ll see.

The last thing I tackled that was difficult was learning to play Mahjongg. I kind of got roped into learning when houseguests insisted, and was quickly hooked. I’m not all that great at that either, but the companionship of gathering weekly with friends for a bite of lunch and a long afternoon of a challenging game seems to be more productive than playing Video Solitaire, which I am pretty good at, during the same time period. Studies have shown that keeping your mind active with new and different activities seems to offer some protection against mental deterioration, and being with friends adds to your life expectancy. I want to keep my faculties if I’m going to be around a while.

During the years my life was so full of children and grandchildren, I never imagined the amount of leisure time I seem to have now. I’m so thankful I have the opportunity for piddling around with things that interest me. That alone should be reward enough for my leisure activities. I think it may just have to be, at least where the drawing is concerned.