". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Monday, August 29, 2016

Good Dog

This is Willard. He refused to be still for our group picture at the musicians party we had at our house yesterday. When he ran off, our neighbor (who was taking the picture) snapped this one of him.

We are crazy about this dog. We got him in 2012, an election year. He was named after Willard Mitt Romney. :-)

Willard came from a rescue organization in Illinois. He was found on the side of the road with his brother, so we don't know what breed he is, but it is pretty obvious he has a large dose of Australian Shepherd.

(Willard with his brother at his foster home. The dog in the background is not Mom, in spite of the similar coloring.)

Cuddles with the boss his first night in a new home.

Here are a few of the many cool things Willard does.

1. He warns us about things, like mice and tornadoes.

2. When we shake our caipirinhas, he heads for the back door because he knows it's time to sit outside.

3. When we watch TV, he demands a chew stick (or three) by staring at me like the dog in Frasier until I get one for him. I guess he figures if we're going to kick back, he should get to also. However, when we have devotion, sitting in the same chairs as when we watch TV, he goes off to the side and lies down on the rug and waits quietly.

4. He is very respectful of dinnertime. He knows to stay out of the kitchen when we eat (he lies in the doorway to the dining room). After closing prayer, he knows he can then come in for his own supper.

5. He does lots of tricks! He can sit, stand, lie down, shake hands, beg, give you a high five, roll over, fetch, and even get the paper!

6. He talk to us. No, really. He talks.

7. He keeps sick people company.

In addition to the above, he loves everyone and is the gentlest, sweetest-tempered dog we have ever had. He has no territorial issues. You can stick your hand in his food bowl while he's eating--he doesn't care. He was incredibly easy to housebreak. He lets little kids get away with murder around him. He loves people and is not stressed out by them, even when we have 40 in the house as we did last night for our choir party. He comes when we call. We got him shortly after one of the most trying periods of our life, and he was a big part of helping us to heal

If only we could figure out how to turn dogs years into human ones. Or human years into dog ones. You know what I mean.

We love you, Willard!

Monday, August 22, 2016

And Then There Were Three

My adult children are back to school. It seems to be hitting me a little harder this year, perhaps because when they left last year there were still four people in the house. This year with the death of my mom, there are only three, and I am adjusting to yet another "new normal."

It has been an interesting month! Before the college kids left, we took a family camping trip to Big Bend in Texas. It was great in spite of a number of things that didn't quite go as planned. I have written an article on the experience that I hope will be available soon.

One of the challenges of the last month has been our car situation. Both my and my husband's cars had significant repair needs at the same time. As we tried to figure out how to address the situation both financially and logistically, a friend offered us his almost-brand-new Ford Explorer for our use (he has another car available to him). We gratefully accepted and have been using his vehicle for much of this month, including driving it to Texas! It was a humbling offer, one that showed us Christ's love in action. Wow. We planned to use his car again this weekend, as I needed to drive Caitlin to Missouri, and Phillip needed to attend the funeral of a dear aunt. Unfortunately, as Caitlin, Evan and I were about to hit the road, our friend's car started behaving erratically. So we had to postpone her return until Phillip got back with my car (which had been repaired). Having lost a day of travel time, I drove to and from Caitlin's college Saturday, a 16-hour trip. It was a long, long day, but one I was glad I did on Sunday when I was able to wake up in my own bed and go to my own church.

Both our cars are back in service, but my husband's is not long for this world, and we are only driving it around town. We hope to replace it around the first of the year.

Today is supposed to be the first day of school, inasmuch as we have a first day of school around here. :-) The principal is doing his part, but the head teacher is dragging. On top of the fatigue from all the driving, I have a sore throat. Nothing major, but enough to slow me down. I will try to do some planning and organizing today, and maybe we can start tomorrow. It is also going to be a week of cleaning and, I hope, unpacking most of the rest of what I want to unpack. We are having our first party in our new house next weekend, inviting all our music volunteers over to celebrate the start of a new season. Nothing like company to motivate me to do things around the house!

I have learned that the mice in these here parts think our house is their vacation home. We are slowly disabusing them of that notion.

I have been giving some thought to online security and privacy, something about which I have not worried much in the past. But as I put myself out there more and more as a writer, I think it behooves me to take more steps to protect my family's privacy, if not my own. In the near future I am going to revert all my public Facebook posts to private. I have set up a new public Facebook page where I plan to post my writings as well as other links I find informative, encouraging, or entertaining. If interested, you are invited to like and share my page!

 The three that remain. Photo taken last spring at Evan's First Communion. 
We haven't changed too terribly much since then. :-)

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Dreamin' on a Sunday Afternoon

Donald Trump's numbers are tanking. He himself is coming to terms with the likelihood of defeat, as demonstrated by his talk of a "rigged" process. This was to be expected from Trump, as he has a history of not taking responsibility for his own failures. For those who have pinned their hopes on him, this is an understandably discouraging turn of events. For others, it provides a glimmer of hope.

I am both a #neverTrump and a #neverHillary voter. Knowing what I know about both, I can vote for neither. I have been looking at the possibility of casting a strategic vote for Gary Johnson, in spite of my reservations about his positions on social issues, because he is the most viable third-party alternative in this race and because I think it can be reasonably argued that even though some of his personal beliefs differ from mine, his commitment to smaller government and respect for the Constitution would over time lead to better results.

But my vote for Johnson, should it come to pass, would be not a passionate but a measured one. I would prefer to vote for someone who shares more of my values and has a demonstrated conservative record, and I think there's still the [remote] possibility of that happening. Here's how. 

To Reince Preibus and the RNC: as it stands, you have lost me as a Republican voter. But you could get me back. Now is the time to use every tool at your disposal to convince Donald Trump to pull out of this election. Make him see that he is bound to lose and that it will forever be a stain upon his supposed reputation as a perpetual winner. Convince him that he will be better able to preserve his influence and image by bowing out now, before he loses, and portraying it as a move based in magnanimity and love of country. Then replace him at the top of the ticket with Mike Pence, his own VP candidate. If Trump supporters truly want to defeat Hillary, they will get behind the man Trump picked to be his second. If they don't do so, they are demonstrating that their support of Trump was never about Trump's ideas, but about a sycophantic loyalty to a cult of personality. In that case, they were never going to be reliable as GOP voters and it is best to cut them loose now. 

Give Pence's VP slot to Newt Gingrich. Gingrich has somehow and almost uniquely managed to be supportive of Trump and his supporters while at the same time criticizing Trump's missteps and excesses. He, too, could be a unifying figure, able to appeal both to Trump's supporters and his critics. And he would add the needed "attack dog" element to the ticket that would be lost with Trump's departure.  

To Mr. Trump: You have said you are not running for President to feed your own ego but for love of country, out of a spirit of self-sacrifice and a desire to "make America great again." You have also claimed to want to advance conservative ideals. If that is the case, and you also believe you can’t win, then it makes no sense to continue. The best, most selfless course of action would be to pull out, allow Mike Pence to take your place, and campaign as hard as you can for him and the Republican party, up and down ticket. Continue talking about and promoting the ideas you claim to hold dear. Take credit for giving voice to many who have felt ignored, for upending a highly frustrating electoral system, and for demonstrating that voters are hungry for something other than the usual political-speak. But be a big enough person to let someone else take the good you have brought to the process and carry it forward--someone whom not only your supporters but many others can get behind.

I am not a particularly savvy political analyst. I am just an average mom, wife, and concerned voter. But as I survey the current state of things, this scenario seems like the Republican party’s best shot at preventing a total and unmitigated disaster in November. Of course, it would require the cooperation of one Donald J. Trump. Ah, well. A girl can dream, right?