Saturday, February 2, 2008

Happy Birthday, Jackie! And More...

Today is Jackie's birthday. (Jackie is my younger sister, for those of you new to this blog.) She and I had to celebrate it yesterday because she's on her way to a memorial service in Oregon this morning and may not be back until tomorrow sometime. We went to Red Lobster for lunch and had a good time. Then I went to her house and bathed her two wee dogs for her and washed their bedding, to take that task off her plate for the weekend. She said that was the best present of all!

It's cold outside but Pierce County has largely escaped all the snowing and blowing that has been in the news lately. Snoqualmie Pass across the Cascade mountain range has received national attention for its record snowfall over the past six days. It has been closed to through traffic since Tuesday except for six hours, when yet another avalanche put the kibosh on any more travel.

I used to live just on the other side of Snoqualmie Pass. in Cle Elum (klee-ell-um), Washington. Rarely does it need to be shut down. It's a major artery so many of our food supplies come across it. Even the alternate routes across the Cascades were blocked by heavy snows and avalanche danger much of the week, so if vehicles needed to get across, they had to go south and travel along the Columbia River (between Washington and Oregon) to do it. The problem with that was that at 60 cents per mile in gas for the big rigs, it was a route too far and would have caused carriers to lose money instead of making it, so most drivers elected to sit tight and wait for the highways to become passable again... No one could tell, from hour to hour, whether or if the roads would be safe again, so it had to be really frustrating for drivers.

Here in the Tacoma area it's cold and occasionally a little wet, but I've been able to walk outside the past two days. The exercise is keeping me from going stir-crazy while I apply for jobs left and right. That's a good thing!

Jackie promises to be back in town by the time Super Bowl starts. She is the official "game house" for Super Bowl every year. Wendy is taking on the responsibility of gathering the party goods, since Jackie isn't here to do it.

I always go over for Super Bowl Sunday but never watch the game. We gals gather in another room (unless the Seahawks are playing) to talk or do crafts or play with the kidlets. The men are glued to the TV set watching every play and nuance as though the fate of the world rested on what happens there. It always cracks me up -- more than a little. I would run in and say, "Hello! It's just a game!" but fear assassination..

I wish people were as focused on the upcoming election of a new President -- it has far greater consequences -- but that isn't exactly a "team sport" unless the house is filled with like-minded people, and believe me, Jackie's isn't. We're all over the map as far as who should lead us for the next four to eight years, so we steer clear of that topic for the most part (except that I got Jackie an Obama-based birthday card yesterday -- she scowled and then laughed).

It's sad to realize that the issues that most affect us -- our religion and politics -- are two topics most people don't bring up in "polite company." One reason I'm not crazy about one-on-one conversation is that it's nearly always excruciatingly (to me) superficial; no one wants to carefully or seriously discuss (meaning listening carefully as well as talking convincingly) the issues and the feelings we have about candidates, God or anything else that's of such a personal nature. We're fearful of causing someone else to become self-conscious or self-righteous or in any way seriously impassioned, so we don't discuss much at all! That has always bothered me. I remember nights as a teenager when we ONLY discussed the most important things in life as we lay on sleeping bags gazing up at the trillion and one stars in the sky. No one castigated anyone else for believing anything, whatever it was. It was all on the table... we could wonder and compel others to wonder "What if ---" right along with us.

I am compelled right now to wonder what our nation would be like with another President Clinton, with a President Obama, with a President McCain.

My heart utterly sings when I think of Obama as President. The notion makes me feel completely peaceful, as though I'll be able to take a complete breath and feel good about government and getting involved again.

My heart is not as happy (although it's content) contemplating a President Clinton -- not because I don't think she'll do a good job, but because she comes with so much baggage that half of the nation despises her -- quite unfairly, in my opinion. The spin meisters have spun such a web of gossip and innuendo about her that her actual shape and intentions are completely obliterated. That's shameful. It's barbaric. And frankly, it stinks!

But my heart almost stops considering a President McCain. He's thoughtful, caring, and fully capable of presiding over this nation -- as are the other front-runners on both sides. I just sense that he's not on the same page as the rest of the country and that he's dedicated to seeing to it that we "win at all costs" in Iraq. I don't think we'll head in the direction we should, as fast as we should, if McCain wins this election. He's a military man in an increasingly military world. I'm glad he's on our side, but I'm not sure we can afford more militarism at a time when it's so easy to steal, buy, sell and dispense weapons of mass destruction on all sides. I know we need a strong military -- perhaps now more than ever -- but other methods need to take to the forefront if we're ever going to get other nations to stop rattling sabers and hating us. We're viewed (I think incorrectly) as imperialists even by our own allies! America needs to do as much listening as we do talking (and dictating) to others.

I'm just not sure McCain is the man for the hour we're now in. I honor him as a human being and as a war hero. I like him. We need him in this struggle. He provides balance and wisdom and substance. But the perceived "imbalance of imperialism" at the moment can, in my view, only be off-set by someone with fewer ties to the old regime, to the earlier thought processes that brought us to where we are now: as a nation under a cloud of suspicion across the globe. Much of the suspicion, I hope and pray, will clear when Bush goes, but it will still take some doing to remove the tarnish from our nation's honor. We're a good country, one that shows people that living together despite differences is not just a dream, but a quantifiable reality.

I think we need a peacemaker, a diplomat, someone who will get America back on track with our original purpose and direction.

I think Barack Obama is that man.

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