One-Liner Wednesday: US census

People living in the United States, whatever your immigration status, please safely and confidentially complete the census form here: https://my2020census.gov/ if you have not already done so.

This US public service announcement is brought to you through Linda’s One-Liner Wednesday. Join us! Find out how here: https://lindaghill.com/2020/08/05/one-liner-wednesday-august-5th-do-you-ever/

SoCS: 2019/2020

Some years stand out in memory as more difficult than others.

For me, 2005 was one of those years. Within a few months that year, I lost a close friend and my father-in-law to cancer. At the same time, our long-time parish disintegrated, just at the time when we needed spiritual comfort the most.

2019 has also been one of those years.

We dealt with the final months of my mom’s struggle with congestive heart failure and her death in May. Then, there were the many facets of dealing with her death for me and our family, the practical things like funeral arrangements and mounds of paperwork and the personal things, learning to navigate in a world without her.

This year also saw the bittersweet re-location of daughter E and granddaughter ABC to the UK after E’s spousal visa finally came through. We love that they are finally able to live together full-time as a family, but miss having them here on this side of the pond. It was a privilege being here to watch ABC grow from a tiny newborn into a rambunctious, talkative two-year-old. We appreciate being able to visit London in person and to videochat, but it is still a big re-adjustment.

With the losses, celebrating the holidays has been difficult for me. We made lasagna for Christmas using a recipe from Nana and used one of her relish dishes for serving olives. There are ornaments that came from both sides of our family on the tree, as well as some baby’s first Christmas ornaments commemorating ABC’s birth in 2017. We appreciate our memories of Christmas celebrations with Nana and Paco (my parents) and Grandma and Grandpa (B’s parents). I smile thinking about the year that L proposed to E on Christmas morning while visiting here. I remember how, last year, the lower half of our tree was all unbreakable ornaments in deference to ABC who was then 18 months old. Now, there are fragile ornaments scattered throughout all the branches. Christmas this year was very quiet, with just Paco, B, T, and I here for the lasagna and Christmas cookies, which has been our tradition since the years when E and T were young and participating in Christmas morning liturgy for children and families at church. Lasagna was great because you could prep it the night before and bake after church to have dinner at midday.

Of course, all of the personal struggles come at a time of great upheaval, socially and politically, in both the US and the UK. We are all living in a world struggling to deal with present and future climate change and trying to marshall personal and political will to make the changes needed to addresses the causes and effects as best we can.

I know that some people feel a lot of positive energy when we enter a new year and a new decade. I admit that I am not generally one of those people, seeing January first as the day that follows December 31st and not as some shiny new beginning. I don’t know if this change of year will feel different or not. I certainly am feeling the need now to try to take stock and re-arrange the way I use my days, perhaps managing to be more deliberate, now that there are not quite so many factors in my life that require changes of plan and quick reactions to shifting circumstances and priorities.

Perhaps, what I really need is time to rest and take stock, like a sabbatical or a year of Jubilee as it is described in the Hebrew Scriptures. Or maybe not a whole year, but a few months. I will have to ponder…

Sometimes, writing stream of consciousness stays in its own little stories. Today, though, it feels more like travelling.

As we draw close to the beginning of 2020, I wish that the year will take each of you where you most need to go.
*****
Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “year.” Please join us! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2019/12/27/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-dec-28-19

2019-2020 SoCS Badge by Shelley! https://www.quaintrevival.com/

Thanksgiving

The fourth Thursday of November is celebrated as Thanksgiving Day in the United States.

With so many changes in our family in the past few months, our Thanksgiving was quiet, with just spouse B, daughter T, and my dad Paco here for dinner. B did all the cooking – turkey, two kinds of dressing, mashed potatoes, rutabaga, acorn squash wedges, baked onions, and cranberry orange relish, with apple and pumpkin pies for dessert. It was a lot of food for four people, but we all enjoy having the leftovers. We are in the process of making turkey stock with the carcass and vegetables, something I learned from Nana growing up which has recently come back into food-fashion.

We ate midday here and, at almost the same time, daughter E was eating a Thanksgiving dinner, five time zones away, in London. She had made turkey and trimmings and pies for her daughter ABC, spouse L, and his parents with whom they are making their home. It’s nice that E and L want to keep some United States traditions to pass on to ABC, along with British ones. She is a dual citizen, at least until adulthood. It will depend on the rules in place when she turns 18, whether she will have to renounce her US citizenship to remain in the UK.

Still, she will always be able to celebrate Thanksgiving and remember the Thanksgiving celebrations of her childhood.

silver linings

There are some silver linings of not having a 2-year-old in the house.

  • Not crashing into the gate at the bottom of the stairs while trying to navigate at night
  • Being able to open cabinets without fiddling with a latch
  • Fewer smudges on the windows
  • Not having to juggle vehicles to make sure one with a car seat was available at home for outings
  • Cutting back on energy usage with fewer laundry loads, lights, electronics, etc.
  • Not having to wrestle with doorknob guards on the basement and linen closet doors – they were hard for little hands to open but also for my petite grown-up hands
  • The opportunity to sleep more, although this is only theoretical
  • More flexibility to travel, write, exercise, etc., although this, too, is theoretical
  • A break from watching some part of Moana, which ABC called “Ocean”, and/or Frozen, which ABC called “Snowman”, every day, although I might sneak a peek at them now and then because I appreciate the theme of love of family, especially grandmother/granddaughter and sisters

Of course, I would trade it all in a moment, if I could, although I know ABC is where she needs to be, settling in with her mom and dad and London grandparents and enjoying the amenities that only a big, historic city can provide. We had a chance to videochat with E and ABC over the weekend and to make arrangements to visit in December. It will be exciting to see everyone and all the places they go! It might be a bit too exciting, though, as we will be there for the election on the 12th…

 

What’s missing?

There are a lot of things I miss about our two-year-old granddaughter ABC not living with us anymore. Here are a few:

  • Her imagination. She would jump up and down, usually on the couch, pretending she was splashing in puddles. She would accompany this by saying (loudly) “Muddy puddles!” over and over, but the sound of the letter P is sometimes hard to get out, so it would sound like “Muddy cuddles!” Or she would stand behind the ottoman and say (loudly) “Ding, Ding! Ice cream!” She would then ask everyone in the room what kind of ice cream they wanted, repeat whatever we told her – it was fun naming exotic flavors – and pretend to hand it to us, saying, “Thank you!”
  • The extra trips to the ice cream stand, because she and the rest of us were often thinking about ice cream.
  • Having someone handy to sing to or with. I would sing hymns or folk songs to her as she was trying to fall asleep. We would do long renditions of “Old MacDonald” with all the farm animals and some more unusual animals thrown in. Sesame Street songs and “The Wheels on the Bus” and the alphabet and nursery rhymes. I even learned a new song, “Sleeping Bunnies.” She would act it out, starting out pretend-sleeping, with snoring added in for good measure, and then wake up and hop. The song does end with “hop and stop” so she didn’t hop forever, although she would ask for several renditions in a row.
  • Unexpected dance breaks: She was fond of the theme from “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” and, for some reason, the music they play on the local news while they show the stock market report. Most of the television we watch is recorded on our DVR and we would often back up and watch the stock report multiple times to allow for dancing. Okay, we would be watching the dancing more than the stocks.
  • Toy nostalgia: When E and T were little, they played with Little Tikes toys. Little Tikes no longer makes small toys, so it was nice see ABC playing with and loving the ones we had stored away. Her favorite was the school bus, which, like most US school buses, is yellow. She would get excited when she would see a school bus driving by, although she called every bus a school bus, whether it was or not. On the first videochat we did with them in London after the move, ABC was playing with a new, red, double-decker bus. London doesn’t have school buses; students walk or take public transport. I wonder how long it will take for “school bus” to drop out of ABC’s vocabulary.
  • ABC’s hugs and cuddles. Curling up on the couch with her for naptime, even when she would only sleep if she was lying on top of you, pinning you to the couch for the duration of the nap.
  • Perhaps what I miss most is having ABC’s mom, our daughter E, living here with us. She is great to talk with, as well as being thoughtful and knowledgeable. I would often ask her about current trends and understanding of words, so that I wouldn’t use words in a way that would be considered disrespectful by young adults. I learned about up-to-date baby and child care. E was able to take over a lot of the meal planning and preparing when I was needing to be with my parents over the months of Nana’s illness and was then busy with all the tasks that follow when someone passes away. I probably should have had her teach me to use the Instant Pot before she left, though…

SoCS: dress

Our granddaughter, ABC, who just moved to London, has lots of cute dresses. Well, she has had many sets of cute dresses in a variety of sizes. She often wears them with leggings, which were not available when her mom was little.

When E (ABC’s mom) was little, she didn’t wear dresses often as an infant. For her first birthday, though, she wore a white and lavender striped dress. She had just recently started walking on her own. She walked into the dining room and sat herself down on the carpet, spreading her dress around her, as though she was setting herself up for a photo op for her parents and grandparents.

Beth's first birthday

Thanks for the prompt, Linda, which brought back this sweet memory, just as my firstborn child and her firstborn are settling into their new life on the other side of the Atlantic.
*****
Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “dress.” Join us! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2019/10/25/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-oct-26-19/

2019-2020 SoCS Badge by Shelley!
https://www.quaintrevival.com/

SoCS: when words fail

Today, daughter E and granddaughter ABC arrived in London. E’s spousal visa finally came through, so this was a one-way trip. We are happy that E, L, and ABC will finally be able to live together as a family full-time, but, oh, words can’t adequately express how much we are going to miss having them here with us!
*****
Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “oh.” Join us! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2019/10/18/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-oct-19-19/

SoCS badge by Pamela, at https://achronicalofhope.com/

a royal rescue?

As many of you know, my daughter E and granddaughter ABC will soon be relocating from our home in the US to the UK, when E’s spousal visa comes through. Unfortunately, the UK government, like the US, is mired in dysfunction.

It is difficult to project what will be happening regarding Brexit, the prime minister, Parliament, and the EU. Even seasoned political analysts can’t guess what will happen. There are fears of shortages of fresh foods and medications if/when the UK leaves the EU. With so much uncertainty, this is not an optimal time for E and ABC to move, but there is only a small travel window once the visa arrives.

Lately, I have been fantasizing that the queen will come to the rescue! Britain’s monarch has little power, but, can still dissolve Parliament and call for new elections. She can also accept or reject the choice of prime minister. The prime minister is supposed to “command the confidence of the House of Commons.” [source:  https://www.royal.uk/queen-and-government] Given that PM Johnson has been pretty spectacular in his inability to get bills he favors passed, and that a number of members of his party have left, giving him less than majority support, one could reasonably argue that he does not command confidence.

The monarch is not supposed to be political but she has a duty to “encourage and warn” the government ministers. She is supposed to be a source of national unity. I realize it would be unprecedented, but I think she should point out that leaving the EU will likely cause Scotland, and perhaps Northern Ireland, to leave the United Kingdom. She could also point out that in a constitutional monarchy, issues are decided by her government, not by popular vote. The vote itself may not even represent the true will of the people, given that it was subject to Russian influence and much fear-mongering and lying from the domestic proponents of leaving the European Union. If she made these remarks publicly, perhaps in an address to Parliament, it would cause a stir, but it seems that she would be protecting her subjects and seeking to keep the United Kingdom intact.

Of course, none of this is likely to happen. I am dreaming, though, of a stable place for my daughter and her family to live and thrive.

A place less contentious and divided than the United States would be nice.

 

a lament

While I have been concentrating on family issues these last few months – and watching less news on television as the now-two-year-old ABC is more often alert in the evenings – there is always the undercurrent of disturbing news around me.

One of the worst of these issues is the inhumane treatment of asylum seekers, refugees, and immigrants by the Trump administration. Under U.S. and international law, people have the right to cross the border to ask for asylum. The administration has set up barriers to this, including restrictions at ports of entry, that have resulted in desperate attempts to cross rivers and/or deserts that have caused deaths.

Those who do manage to cross the border have been detained for long periods in overcrowded facilities without access to proper food, clothing, shelter, sanitation, communication, and legal aid. The most scandalous part of this has been the continuing separation of children from adult family members, resulting in thousands of so-called “unaccompanied minors”, some who are still infants and toddlers, who are only unaccompanied because they have been taken away from family members who brought them to the US and aren’t able to contact them or other adult family members already in the country. As if that weren’t bad enough, these children are being kept for extended periods of time in horrible conditions without proper care. This is in flagrant disregard of court orders, international law, and human decency.

These sorts of things are not supposed to happen under the rule of law and, if they do, the attorney general, as head of the justice department, should take legal action to ensure that these abuses stop and never happen again. However, this is not happening. Some judges have issued court orders, but they can’t make the Department of Homeland Security carry them out. Meanwhile, the president is holding rallies touting his tough stance at our southern border.

It’s all sickening.

I don’t know how this will end. I am hoping for the sake of the people being held that something will work to free them and care for them, now rather than later. My fear is that this disregard for our laws and for basic human rights will persist until there is a new president and cabinet. That will take much too long, though, with more suffering, deaths, and trauma inflicted on thousands and thousands of people in the meantime. It’s possible that the US could be sanctioned by the United Nations or an international court, but I doubt that would have any greater effect than the court orders of US judges.

There is no good way to end this post, other than to thank all the lawyers, social service agencies, faith communities, and local governments who are doing all they can to care for those being detained, for those who are released with no means to care for themselves or to travel, for those who are sick or hungry or thirsty, and for those who are frightened and confused and separated from their families while surrounded by people who do not speak their language. May their example of love, compassion, and human decency move those who are in power to change their ways.

Update:  I wrote this yesterday evening and woke up to see this post being shared on Facebook. It is very disturbing information about one of the for-profit companies running detention centers using US tax dollars; it lists sources.

the end of Just Jot It January 2019

Linda gave the final prompt for this last day of Just Jot It January: “your favorite thing/part/blog post of last year or last month.” I thought I would write two brief responses.

My favorite blog thing for the last month is that I actually managed to post every day this month. Given that my posting has been so sporadic for so long, this feels like an accomplishment. Bonus: It means that I am writing again, which had definitely fallen by the wayside over the last couple of years. I even have managed to write a few poems recently. Can I keep it up? Probably not the posting every day part, but I’m hoping to carve out some writing/revising time on a regular basis.

My favorite in-person thing of the last month was the return of daughter E and granddaughter ABC from their four week visit with our son-in-law L in London UK . Sometimes in the past when ABC travelled, she would not immediately want to come to us, but this time she broke into a big smile, called out to us, and wanted hugs and kisses. This gives me hope that, when she and E re-locate permanently to the UK later this year, we will be able to keep our relationship alive via videochat. I knew this was possible if chats happened on a daily basis; ABC definitely knows that L is her daddy when they videochat. I doubt we will be able to orchestrate daily calls once they are all together in London, but it seems that weekly ones may be enough to keep us in ABC’s memory bank.

Thanks to Linda for Just Jot It January and thanks to all the other participants! Write on!
*****
Join us for Just Jot It January! Today’s pingback link is here:  https://lindaghill.com/2019/01/31/jusjojan-2019-daily-prompt-jan-31st/
More information and prompts here: https://lindaghill.com/2018/12/31/what-is-just-jot-it-january-2019-rules/