On Being Flexible

My grandfather received this, I think in the 60s, from his family. It belonged to his father. Now the question is, what do I do with this?

I used to think that it was slow movement, unclear thinking, constant repetition of stories, and wrinkles that were a clear indicator of aging.

I have come to realize that although they often are, there is an even earlier indicator that we are getting to a not so great point in our lives, inflexibility and an inability to go with the flow.

It amuses me because, as I have said before, it was once thought of me that I was inflexible, mainly due to my being organized.

As I look at the childcare we have been involved in, I realize that Mary Kay and I, although definitely at a certain age, are really pretty flexible. With childcare being what it is, and our wanting to help out as well as have a part in our grandchildren’s blossoming lives, that we have really had to go with the flow.

Today we got our usual two at the current time and then our other granddaughter around lunchtime. I had to get her out at a certain time to take her to pre-school and will then go to pick her up when it is over and take her home. This is all going on while we have the other two at our house.

I guess I am patting our collective selves on the back, but I am also grateful because it has kept me from getting too set in a special routine. My weeks involve going to Oakton a few times a week, to the gym when I can, and to tutor, as well as keep up with my craziness at home.

People often look at me and ask me if I text. I am guessing it is because people my age often don’t want to. It always floors me.

I am hanging on to my flexibility.

Posted in Life in general, Thoughts and philosophy, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

‘Grandfather’ is back!

Our 1996 Ridgeway Grandfather Clock with Westminster chimes.

After twenty-two years, I finally had to bite the bullet and have someone come to service our Grandfather clock. Throughout the years since we got it, in 1996, it had pretty much worked non-stop. The other day, it seemingly stopped dead in its tracks and then the minute hand fell off, not to be put back on by me again.

When we bought it, money was not flowing very fast. My alma mater, Ohio University, had a deal for it, zero financing, a low payment schedule, and a good price. I jumped at the chance.

I went online to the Ridgeway Clock website and they recommended a place in Vernon Hills: Time and Time Again, Inc. I called up and Vladimir came out to take care of it. There was an $85 service charge just for coming out. In the end, I was $185 poorer.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. Vladimir was at our house for well over an hour and I learned all sorts of things. I learned that the weights are marked and weren’t properly placed. I also learned that the movements for all of the current grandfather clocks have a life of only about twenty years or so. Vladimir’s take on ours was that it still had some life, so there was no reason to replace it yet. If and when it goes, another German movement will be close to $1000.

I was fully expecting Vladimir to have to take the movement in to the shop, but instead he took it out, polished each part, oiled it carefully, and set it back in. He gave me tips on how to better care for it. For the first time in years, I will now only have to pull up the weights once a week. For some time, since we had the living room floors redone, the clock has not tolerated having the weights pulled all the way up, it would just stop. Also, the moon display should now work with the actual moon cycle, something that has not worked since the very beginning.

I am thrilled to have the tick-tock of the clock and the chimes that work. For the last week before it stopped completely, the chimes had stopped.

My first preference for the clock repair would have been our beloved Mr. Hertelendy of Glenview, but with his Parkinson’s and getting older, I thought it best to not even ask him.

I am glad to have our family clock back.

Posted in Grandfather clocks, Life in general, Thoughts and philosophy | Leave a comment

A Neo-Nazi in Congress?

A typical American home, with plays about impending fascism, things I warned my own students about as a possibility although I didn’t think it would happen in my lifetime. Rhinocéros by Eugène Ionesco. Perhaps it is time to perform the play in every city of the country.

It is a beautiful day, albeit cold and near freezing.

I got up and went about my morning routine, unaware of the nightmare that was continuing to bloom in my own back yard.

I got a message from a friend in Virginia that a Neo-Nazi has managed to receive the Republican nomination for a Congressional District Southeast of Chicago. And so, the nightmare continues to bloom.

How people can deny that there are serious issues with the current régime is beyond me.

Here we have a serious anti-Semite, an avowed Neo-Nazi, a White supremacist, and a person who denies the Holocaust as a Republican Nominee for Congress! Granted, there isn’t a chance in Hell for him to win in this Blue District, but how did this happen?

I will grant you that the Republican Party has denounced him, but nonetheless, this is a frightening new development in the atmosphere of our country. For months now we have been dealing with more lawlessness, shootings, racism, and misogyny, to just name a few things. The régime is not really working to change any of this. In all my life, as much as I may have disliked a person in office, I have certainly never called our government a régime. I do now.

Jonathan Greenblatt, who is the chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, commented on the situation in the New York Times on Tuesday. He stated that this is just one of several extremists put out there for the vote. As Arthur Jones put it himself, “Even if only myself and my wife voted for me, I’d win the primary because the Republican Party screwed up big time.” Jonathan Greenblatt stated, “It is just nuts that we are in this moment in time when we have intolerance really infecting our political process.”

Mr. Greenblatt also pointed out, in the article, that recruiting for the far-right has increased on college campuses and that “extremists feel emboldened” in the United States at this time. He also said, “This is a bigger problem than Arthur Jones.”

I agree.

So if our current government has any sense of decency, it had better, once and for all, begin acting on the problem.

I am not holding my breath.

Posted in Civil Rights, Elections, Equality for All, Fascism, Hatred, Illinois, Life in general, Neo-Nazi, Odd occurrences, The Holocaust, Thoughts and philosophy, Tolerance, Violence, Voting, Xenophobia | Leave a comment

Women in Song

The Program of the Songs of the Program.

For several weeks in February and I think late January, I spent some time one night a week with Randy Casey and his crew of female singers. Randy is a former colleague of mine from New Trier and then, oddly enough, he became a colleague of MK’s at Lake Forest High School.

Randy is a talented accompanist, an organist and a pianist, and has the degrees to accompany his gift. He reminds people that his language is tinted with Texas, thanks to his having grown up there. Recently, Randy gave a wonderful program on Francis Poulenc at the Church where he is the Director of Music.

Randy, knowing of my background in French, as a former teacher at New Trier, contacted me when he decided to do some beautiful, fun, French songs from Canada. The ladies needed some help with the pronunciation, so we took each song and slowly went over the pronunciation and I translated them so that they could understand what they were singing.

When we were done with the French pronunciation work, I asked Randy if we could attend their performance. We were thrilled that we could and so we went to the First Presbyterian Church in Waukegan where we were able to hear their almost hour performance. It was delightful and I even recorded the French songs we worked on and posted them above.

Randy recently started blogging, writing of his lifetime love affair with music and how it affects every aspect of his being. I highly recommend taking a look.

I find it fascinating that everywhere you look, if you really try, you can find something cultural, something to pique your fancy. When one thinks of Waukegan, Illinois, one usually doesn’t think of finding something like that. Here we found a group of people, led by Randy, singing in a local Church on a Sunday. From what we gleaned, it seems that this was an event sponsored by the local Park District.

Anyway, what a wonderful way to spend a spend a Sunday afternoon…

Posted in Concerts, Illinois, Life in general, Thoughts and philosophy | Leave a comment

Jesus is Hatred

A few short weeks ago, I ended up in a political sparring match on Facebook that surprised me.

I am surprised that I was surprised, my naïveté should have not have been in force and I should have known better.

One should avoid speaking of politics. That is something I learned a long time ago and should have practiced. However, maybe I should not have ever practiced it; perhaps it was wrong to do so. Maybe the liberals are the only ones practicing this and perhaps in doing so we are giving license for the opposition to run with their plans and philosophies.

No matter what we say or think, our government is an absolute shambles and both sides are not doing their jobs. Clearly, it is not all of them, but the few who are actually doing their jobs are truly shut down in reaching fruition for their concerns.

Be it what it may, I found myself in a sparring match in which I was criticized for my reactions to the current régime and the politics and human beings that are its workers, designer, and proponents.

I am American and my ability to criticize is a fundamental right. I admit I have perhaps gone over the edge with my criticism, being downright mean-spirited at times, but for the first time in my sixty-something life, I feel that we are living on the edge of Fascism. We have a government that is running in a very scary direction.

In our sparring, I was told that I needed to read a book: ‘Republican Like Me: How I left the Liberal Bubble and Learned to Love the Right.’ I quickly proceeded online to read it. I was asked why I would read it. I chose to because I want to know more and my ideas are not etched in stone. I must also admit that one of my reasons for not being political, is because I truly have felt that the opposition does not listen and has a very closed mind.

I read the book. It was a hard read, because frankly I don’t see it as well written. The author himself apologizes that he loved the research but hated every moment of writing time.

There are a lot of statistics and although I don’t deny their possibility, I know that statistics are numbers that can be played with to display almost any side. I did enjoy the way in which the author, Ken Stern, took a year of research to try and get to know the other side. He gets into the origins of the Evangelicals and their political movement.

I found that Stern, although seemingly writing a work that looks as if it is going to thoroughly promote the ‘Right,’ actually often criticizes it and their leaders for not really seeing things as they are or should be.

Which all leads me to the title of this post: ‘Jesus Equals Hatred.’

I guess I have a huge problem with all of this. I am a lapsed Catholic and although I do not practice, my head is full of Judeo-Christian values that I learned of as a very young child, throughout my 3rd grade to 8th grade Catholic education, and through my days in CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine). They continued to grow as I became a part of a vibrant, North Shore Parish that provided us with a Faith Community in which to rear our children.

Nowhere in my studies have I seen that Jesus espoused hatred of any group as a tenet. I don’t get the idea that any god would want to see people suffer, I don’t see that any god of worth would say that a certain group of people should not see ‘Paradise.’ I do not see that skin color should determine people’s worth or that one sex is better than another and worth more salary. I do not see that God would be judgmental about the people we choose to love. I just don’t get it at all.

Jesus does not mean hatred; Jesus is the antithesis of hatred. Some human beings have skewed interpretations and used them to establish their superiority over others.

Our country was founded on the idea that we have religious freedom. There is also to be separation of Church and State.

We need to get back on track, once and for all, and put aside our differences and move forward in the area of human rights and responsibilities and take care of our people in every area from education, jobs, health, and overall welfare. When we do that, we all win.

Posted in Fascism, Life in general, Literature, Politics, Thoughts and philosophy, Uncategorized | Leave a comment