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I know the problem, but can't guess a solution...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Whaaaaaaaat in the world are we going to do to change the direction our society is going in?

How can we reverse the course that the young adults in their 30's and the teenagers and the kids coming behind them are headed in?

What can we do to save all our forefathers held dear and generations of Americans have died for: this way of life that seems to be making a beeline for hell in a handbasket?

I have been taking a sort-of continuing ed. course the school district offers teachers who need credits for renewing certification. (I won't go into the aggravating story of why I am not certified: another tale for another time.)
The subject of the two week study is Diversity, with discussion focus on what we as teachers (and parents) can and should be doing to become more aware of factors that have an impact on our lack of tolerance for anyone who acts, appears, learns, differently from ourselves. I've mostly been a 'fly on the wall', as one with very limited classroom time, perversely fascinated (in the manner of observing a train wreck) by the teachers and para-pros as they share their stories and experiences from the 'front lines'.

Someone today talked about a first grade kid who cussed at his teacher. How can a child who is suspended for three days learn while he is not in school? How can a teacher teach the rest of the students when they hear and see such disrespectful behavior? How can parents who appear to be indifferent, absent, focused on self-gratification expect teachers in public schools to instill qualities that are not found or reinforced in the home? When you call in parents for conferences and see the kids being combative and failing to respect their parents or guardians, how can you think they are going to be learning anything they will need to become self-sufficient adults? When the kid receives any type of disciplining punishment at school, and the parents' response is combative, defensive and threatening to teachers and administrators, how can you expect the child will not end up incarcerated, being supported by taxpayers? How horrifying is it to think that 'behind bars' is what the future holds for an elementary school-age child? What is going on in the life of a parent that is so overwhelming and consuming they do not have the time to invest in their children?

I can still recall the last time my dad pulled his belt through the beltloops to use it on my backside. I believe that children and young people need and desire to have limits set, and benefit from being told 'No'. I think having rules enforced by caring, compassionate, nurturing, supportive adults is the first step toward learning self-control and self-discipline. I fear we are seeing a society so wrapped up in self-gratification and permissive behavior they will become adults, our nation's leaders, with no 'moral compass', and will not have a sense of responsibility for anyone or anything greater than the "it's all about me" individual.

What can we do to alter this path we are headed down? How can we change the direction of this seemingly 'run-away' train we are traveling on? Where is that sense of living and serving for the 'greater good'? What happened to Character?

Looking back and ahead...

Monday, March 29, 2010
Within a week of returning from the trip I made last fall with the WWII veterans on the Honor Flight to Washington DC, I sent in my application to go again. The experience last September with that group of nearly 100 vets, flying to DC and touring the war monuments in the Mall area was remarkably gratifying. I am sure it brought back many bittersweet memories for those men and women who traveled to Washington that day. I find I cannot go to places that honor fallen service men and women, and not feel a sense of loss, and overwhelming gratitude for their sacrifice.

When I got home, I started recruiting everyone I know, to persuade them to send in paperwork to go on future trips. I knew there would be more Flights organzied for the spring, especially with so many military retirees here near Ft. Benning, who would hear about the experience. The first Flight in late September got a huge amount of media attention, and there was much flag-waving, with a welcoming crowd and military band when we returned after a long day of sight-seeing. All the publicity has been so good the foundation that provides the funding and planning for the flights is sending two seperate groups next month. There has been such a wonderful community response to support the program, and so many veterans applying to go on these one-day trips, there is even a wait list for a fourth Honor Flight.

The second flight is April 16. I will be going with the third Flight, on April 23rd. The organizers had a meeting over the weekend for all the people who will be going on the these trips, to provide information, and give the veterans an opportunity to meet with the people who are going as the support team. There is a group of veterans from the Albany area who will be going, and another group from east Alabama, in the Opelika-Auturn area. I met Mr. Anderson, the man I have been paired up with, and his family. I plan to contact him this week, set up a time for me to go and visit him, in Cusseta, below Ft. Benning. I did not get a chance to talk with him on Saturday, but know he will have an interesting story to tell.

pondering a little quandry...

Sunday, March 28, 2010
I was a Publix on a Sunday afternoon, going about my little work, tending to the floral shoppe. I saw a little girl, probably about six or seven years old, who had one of the $1.29 latex balloons in her mouth. I said: 'you know your mom will have to pay for that now that you have put it in your mouth'. She just looked at me, said nothing, and casually wandered over toward a woman in the produce department, who was likely her mother. And mentioned to her that she would like to have a balloon. I didn't hear the mom's response. The little girl looked at me, and followed her mom away from my area.

I watched her until I could not see them anymore, so don't know what she did with the balloon: but suspect it got stuffed in her pocket, to turn up in the wash several days hence, or tucked away in a display before they left the store.

I wondered about this incident. And decided that although the balloon had almost No Value, I had a problem with the little girl taking it. If you shop at Publix, you know we give away balloons all the time to kids who ask: but the'free'/give-aways are printed with the Publix logo. The balloon the little girl had in her mouth was not one she had asked for, or was given, but one she took out of the jar we have for customers to choose colors and have inflated to purchase. So essentially she was stealing. But it was something of almost No Value. Like a one cent piece of bubble gum would have been, had I been sticky-fingered as a kid.

So: what would you have done? If I had said something to the mom, she would have either gotten really defensive, or skinned the kid alive when they got home. Or offered to sue Publix for slandering her child.

I later asked several people in management what they would have done if I had told them about the scenario before the customers left the store. I'm thinking it's just as much a 'loss' as someone going through the produce department and taking a bite out of an apple and putting it back in the display. No one wants to buy a bitten apple or a balloon that has been in another's mouth. Though the girl would have been humiliated if the mother had corrected her, I believe were I the mom, I would want to have the situation brought to my attention, to use it as a 'teachable' moment with my child.

what a bee-u-ti-ful day!

Friday, March 19, 2010
I had to go to Publix, in the dark (Thank you Congress, for the universal continent-wide time-change)at 7:00 a.m. But got off at 2:00 and went with my friend P. out in the country to dig up some clumps of gloriously blooming daffodils. I'd seen the bulbs blooming on the right-of-way earlier in the week, and knew how much she loves daffodils, so told her I knew where some 'free' ones were, if she wanted to go with me to get them. She said "we won't get shot or arrested, will we?" I assured her I had a LOT of experience at digging in the ditch from growing up in south Georgia. Places where you see them growing in big clumps around the foundations of caved in homesteads, or snuggled up to the base of a still-standing brick chimney with no house attached. Shades of Choppy: she lives in my genes...

You are all invited to my house to see the 'surprise lilies' blooming all over the lawn in a couple of weeks: courtesy of my Dad, who went with me to dig lily bulbs, several miles north of Q., while my children jumped up and down in terror of being transported to the hoosegow, while they watched the action from the back seat.

P. thought we were digging them for me to replant in my yard, but I told her 'wrong', so she's got more digging to do!

Which brings to mind story about the time my brother and I went off in the country, down a dirt road in Brooks County, in a pickup truck with a hand saw, when we were high-school age (old enough to know better, but foolish enough to not care) to 'borrow' a red cedar at Christmas..... a tale for another time...

What a beautiful day. I am compelled to go dig holes, though I know that nasty, tenacious, sticky, clay is too wet to dig. My little pea seeds finally decided to come up, so I am going to plant the rest of the packet,and can hardly wait to go hunker down in the back yard by the fence, out in the garden and eat them straight off the vine.

Went by the hardware store, and saw flats and flats full of 'starter' plants: peppers, tomatoes, stuff that was calling my name.... but without several little hispanic guys to get them planted, I resisted temptation.

What a beautiful day....
The sun is shining, the sky is blue, God is Good. And Always keeps His promises.

wetness and spring-y-ness

Thursday, March 18, 2010
I guess it stands to reason that after having the coldest-est winter in recent memory, we would also be drenched with the wettest spring... March has apparently gotten it all wrong, being more unreasonable and demanding: taking control over the 'April Showers' season, as well as the usual windy "let's all make heavy, un-flyable kites during art class" season. It hasn't been that long since we were standing out looking up at the sky, praying for rain, stewing over low water-table drought conditions. And now reading about flooding rivers and overwhelmed watershed lakes.

Thankfully, I live at the top of a nice safe hill, so I can look out the window and see Glorious Spring.

The hyacinths are blooming like maniacs, always bringing to mind my grandmother R. She was probably not five feet tall in her 'spectator pumps', but had no problem instructing her faithful, ancient yard man in his duties. She had him planting hyacinth bulbs every fall for a row of beautiful blooms across the front of her house in a curving bed each spring... I suspect he 'wondered' about her when she then had him dig them up and tuck the bulbs away in the bottom of the refrigerator over the summer, to repeat the process again in the fall. When I look out or wander in yard and see the dozens of bulbs blooming their fool heads off, this time of year, I always think of her. My crop is exclusively 'rescued' (diverted from the dumpster when they have 'bloomed out' and no longer sell-able, having been forced to bloom out of season in some Canadian greenhouse)... but they apparently can't forget what was programmed into their genes, because they are really putting on a show all over the place, popping up from the leaf mulch out under the trees surrounding the house.

There are even more daffodils than hyacinths... I have always been a fool for daffodils, and belatedly find that they seem to be more temperamental when they are rescued. My dad always said (yes: right as usual!) that after bulbs were 'forced' to bloom, they never would perform as well... and I believe it is true of daffodils and narcissus. But those hyacinths: wow!

Also huge, spreading, expanding, multiplying forsythia bushes. These were transplanted from Quitman, but imported from Virginia when my mom was there in the spring, and apparently decided south Georgia needed those early-blooming, bright yellow smile-inducing plants. Before they start putting out leaves, and are covered in tiny yellow blossoms, I am reminded of the clouds of yellow-sulfur butterflies that used to billow up along dirt roads in Brooks County in the summer when you would breeze through under the inter-laced, overhanging branches of live oak trees.

If you want any of the tiny little 'snow drop' bulbs that seem to 'come up twice' (a "Choppy-ism"), let me know. I will dig some after they finish blooming and save for you. The little white bell-shaped blooms are slightly reminiscent of 'lily of the valley', but there is only one 'bell' per stem, instead of several. These came from Grandmothers' yard as well, so they have a sweet history, and precious memories attached: her daughter dug them up when she was renovating the house, and gave me a bag full that have multiplied like... mice? rabbits? bulbs?

Happy Spring...

Working: just a little bit....

Saturday, March 6, 2010
I worked at Publix four days this week: the most I have been on the schedule except for the days surrounding Feb. 14 in over a year. I won't even attempt to impress you or flatter myself by saying it's because I am so gifted and in such great demand. The truth is that they were so 'short' and under-staffed, if I had not been available they would have be drafting any of the people under the bridge who could pass the 'sniff' test.

There is a new guy in the produce department. I think the management periodically does this "stir 'em with a stick" thing to all five stores in town so no one gets too comfortable or complacent. It gives them a chance to see if the guys the are transferring across town, or to a store in Montgomery (a three hour daily commute)are willing to take their crap. Or greedy enough to feel like it's worth it. I do think that several people, who are apparently part of the 'Fran Cheer Squad', have told this new guy that he should schedule me to work Sundays so he won't have to do the work himself, in addition to all the other stuff he has to get accomplished.

I should probably be feeling badly about working on Sundays. But I choose to think that Publix can be my little 'ministry': I will go to early church, and then take Jesus with me to the marketplace, and spread a little joy/sunshine to all customers and fellow employees.

Funny: just today at lunch we were wondering if I should plan to start doing this every week. I did Sundays and Mondays for years, but as a part-time worker, when the economy went bust, I was one of the first ones to become 'dispensable'.
I am not really so opposed to working on Sunday:
1.)Preachers do it all the time!
2.)It gives me a little pocket change, jingle for the occasional trip to TacoBell.
3.)I want to be at home on Sunday: in my place with a smile on my face at 9:00.
4.)Sunday work won't disrupt all the travelling I schedule during the week!