Birthdays and Families


One thing you frequently miss as a full time RV’er is family birthdays. This year we lucked out by being in town on the day of Michael’s birthday (our Son-in-law) and a fun time was had by all. Kathryn made Lasagna (a family favorite even though Michael’s lactose intolerant) and his parents were there so we had a chance to catch up with them — it was just a wonderful Sunday!

It’s interesting as we move about the country that not only do other nations do things differently, so do other parts of one’s own country. For example, it seems that “Sweetest Day” is more of a Midwestern thing than a national thing. Then there’s the role of family in family life… for sure when we have been in areas with strong Mexican-American populations we realized that “family” for them is a larger thing than “family” for my family.  We did lots of things together but our family was always much smaller than a lot of the hispanic families we’ve known — and the numbers sitting around a table were huge compared to our small gathering.  How great is that.  There was a time when my grandparents had family gatherings and we’d number 17 or 18 — but now with smaller families the table is set for far fewer.

“A wise traveler never despises his own country.”
– Pamela Goldoni

I truly love this country.  It truly is an amazing place.  Not without problems, mind you, but an amazing place none the less.  That the founding fathers conceived an idea to welcome the strays and castoffs from other nations is idealistic in the extreme and never ceases to amaze me.

What does amaze me is that the current residents of this country expect the nation to be something it never pretended to be.  And so many seem surprised that after 200+ years the ideas espoused in out constitution have matured into something that no one ever imagined.  That is the reality of life.  You either grow and mature or you die.  That is what happened to the great world powers before us; they all had their periods of ascendency, maturity and decline.  We too are going through a life cycle.  That’s not a ‘bad’ thing — it’s just life.

“Travel has a way of
stretching the mind.
The stretch comes not
from travel’s immediate rewards,
the inevitable myriad new sights,
smells and sounds,
but with experiencing firsthand
how others do differently
what we believed to be
the right and only way.”
– Ralph Crawshaw

In my ‘real life’ — i.e., not the online one — I have been known to be pretty outspoken about Capitalism.  Capitalism has given us a lot of good over the past couple hundred years; but the natural and inevitable outworking of a Capitalist society are also seen to be doing a lot of harm — now, as our society has matured and the natural outworking of the wheels within wheels we have set in motion decades ago have their impact on society.

A lot of people seem to think that the way we have chosen to do things (as a nation) is the only way.  But obviously that is not the case.  Nations around the world do things very differently; a great many things, and a great deal differently.  One thing travel does — even if you are only traveling in this one country — is to show you that there ARE different ways, for different people, for different climates, for different economies, for different ages, etc., etc., etc..

2014012603210677I have been thinking lately about marriage.  In December we’ll be crossing over the end of 47 years together; in 2016 our Daughter will be celebrating her 25th year of marriage, and our Grand-daughter is, as of this moment, still not making wedding plans.  Such different stages in life.

Over the past 4 years of our retirement Peg and I are hardly ever out of one another’s sight.  By choice.  That is what we waited a working-lifetime for — to be together; that is the way we like it.  But because we are very close in age (2 years) we are going through very similar stages in life.  Similar things ache, similar things get forgotten, our strengths aren’t quite as as strong and our weaknesses are gaining on us.  There is no problem for us to understand each other;  we are going through the same sort of things — even though there are differences.

Our nation isn’t in quite the same place.  All of it’s citizens are not at similar stages in life; nor in culture; nor in economy.  This country is having growing pains that may be unprecedented in it’s history — and in some ways perhaps, even in the world.  There have been great powers before us, but at times in history when wealth wasn’t as rich and power wasn’t as strong.  I have no idea how it will all work out and chances are the struggles will be going on a lot longer than Peg and I are around — even if we live out good long lives.  These simply aren’t growing pains that will go away easily.

I wish more people could learn from their travels, instead of just traveling.  Perhaps I’m still caught up in the aftermath of our visit to the Leopold center and I’m wishing that people could see where we stand on this puny little planet earth and realize that there are more important things going on than what some celebrity is doing, or whether someone unknowinly said something to insult them.  I guess I want to think that this country should be behaving like adults instead of spoiled children — after all we’ve had a couple hundred years to mature.  But…. we don’t, we aren’t, we haven’t, and we won’t.

So, instead, I’ll go back to being happy with my family.  They know how to respect each other’s differences, they care about each other, and they are nice to be around.

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

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14 Comments

      1. That’s good. I have yet to make myself lasagne since I discovered my gluten allergy three years ago. Barilla makes an awesome corn/rice pasta, and I may attempt it soon…..REAL soon. Off to the store!

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      2. Mike’s problem not being gluten, but lactose intoleance, means that she resorts to alternative cheeses and a small quantity of real cheese I believe.

        Barilla makes a lot of really good products and we often pick up their regular pasta.

        Me — I’m a cheese / pasta glutton. I’ve never met the pasta I don’t love (except for those heavy with garlic, which is my own achilles heel).

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      3. Funny about marinara… I eat it and then I crave ice cream. I’m sure there’s either a really good reason why that might be a chain reaction or a figment of my imagination but I think it’s always a good excuse for Ice Cream. 🙂

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  1. Seems you and I have been having similar thoughts on our minds. One of the biggest traps I see with getting old is the assumption that your way of life is the right way, doesn’t matter what that was exactly, just that it was what was familiar to you.

    I too, see the changes in viewpoint with the younger generations and wonder about the future…from their viewpoint and I don’t think they see it as dimly as our generation. I’ve begun to think that this is a typical cycle that older and younger generations experience, though I think the differences stand out so much because the advances and changes in technology are simply changing faster than we can assimilate them. Computers are a perfect example. I grew up in the computer age, learning as they were being built. But now the technology changes so fast and so different, I can’t keep up. I knew I was falling behind when tweeting became a popular activity, one I still don’t know how to do. And then with the emergence of apps…well, there is only so many I can wrap my head around and so I choose to be selective and only use those apps which are beneficial to my lifestyle. But, I’m gradually settling into the idea that change isn’t necessarily a horrible thing as long as one understands it.

    On another note, I just found out what Sweetest Day was this very week. Never heard of it before until I saw cards sitting on the table while visiting one of my clients…she’s from Michigan, so I guess it is a mid-west thing. 😀

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    1. Ah, yet, the assumption of right… On a personal level it seems to right, and on a social level it is so wrong.

      Recently I have been coming to terms with the concept of White Privilege which (honestly, honestly) I haven’t heard about in my entire life until recently. I don’t know if it’s one of those trending expressions or whether it’s been discussed in some circles for hundreds of years — but it’s still new to me. Anyway… I get the idea. But then I also know numerous people of color who ignored both white privilege and their own supposed discrimination and made fantastic lives for themselves. I really don’t know how to feel about that. On some levels it seems an excuse for failure to blame those who had privilege; and on other levels I see merit in the argument.

      As for getting older and seeing impending doom all around — I think that tends to happen with every generation. We don’t like to see the world we grew up in change — whether for good or bad — I think that is just human and predictable.

      I wonder, however, if there is a break-point beyond which recovery or sustainability is impossible. For example, that Passenger Pigeon I mentioned in the comment about Aldo Leopold… There was a time when migrating pigeons could block out the sun in the Metro area of Toronto for THREE FULL DAYS as billions of pigeons made their annual trip North/South — and yet in 100 years we wiped them off the earth and the last Passenger Pigeon died in a zoo in 1904 (If I remember the date right).

      The number of changes don’t seem to be anything to be concerned about. The RATE of change however seems to be something that is more threatening. How much can we adapt to? And at what point do we find ourselves no longer to cope with the natural world if something happens to our engineered world. Peg has family living in Houston and Galveston where they Hurricane Patricia projected rainfall this weekend is 15” — and events like Katrina remind us what happens when modern societies collide with Mother Nature. when it happens in a single place — like Katrina along the Gulf Coast — we eventually adapt and rebuild. But with a new generation facing something like impending global warming I wonder if a world grown dependent upon technology is able/will be able to cope with a world without technology when systems break due to conditions we never planned for and never anticipated, or denied vehemently. I dunno. It will be interesting to watch and I doubt either of us will be around to see how it plays out, say…. 100 years from now.

      All I know is that I want to stay as young at heart as I can. Staying young in body may not be so easy, I’m coming to understand, I have my problems of which I have been totally ignorant. But I want to keep my attitude flexible and try to stay WILLING to live through change.

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      1. I don’t know if you ever saw the movie Matrix or not but some times movies hold more truth than we want to believe. I believe the world is headed for a Matrix type lifestyle. Where reality is not really real but only an appearance of it and what’s really real is that the people of Earth are plugged in and controlled by an exterior entity…the machine. And only a handful know the truth and are fighting to wake the rest of the world up.

        Sounds a bit far off but look how much closer we have come toward that direction since the movie came out. The real trap of it all is that people think they are living in a different universe and are quite happy about things, unwilling to see that desperate measures need to be taken. This is not a world I want to grow up in, fortunately there are people who think future and are looking for sustainability on other planets. It amazes me to think that I may see a manned spaceship to another planet in my lifetime. Let’s just hope they think smarter the next time around.

        The saddest thing about this mess is that it really is one beautiful planet we live on and so many have inhabited it for a really long time. But progress came along with consequences which could not be envisioned. And when they were visible, denial set in so hard that the death spiral took it’s course and the life is diminishing at such a rapid rate that I really am not sure it will ever recover. If so, it’s a job for the next generation and like all good fairy tales I do believe in heroes and one man can make a difference. So maybe a Hail Mary pass is yet to come. I plan to enjoy it while I’m here, alive and kicking.

        Now, White, what did you call it? Yes, White Privilege. I don’t buy it. I’ve heard the term and it simply isn’t true. I grew up during the height of Affirmative Action…just as I was entering the working world. I ran into not being able to get certain jobs because I was not a minority and they needed to hire more minorities. I eventually left the normal working world and for the next 30 years worked in an environment where your profession was based on your interest, ambition, integrity and quality of product. I liked that system just fine. Race was never a factor for employment or advancement. After that stretch I went back to normal work but had developed such a strong work ethic that I was offered a management position that I had not applied for…without even consulting my past employers. My address at the time was the local shelter. The HR person knew the address, knew that none of my references could be called and offered me the job anyway. Fast forward a couple years when I move to Florida. When I could actually speak to someone about employment, or in doing electronic applications two questions were most important…was
        I a racial minority? and did I have a criminal background? You see, there is federal funding for hiring these two categories and my little whit ass just didn’t fit either one. Being white, straight and ethical just isn’t a commodity these days…and I was now OLD on top of everything else. So survival notions kicked in and I started doing house cleaning for really privileged families. I laugh because two of my clients are not white and earned their privilege in different ways. One through culture (meaning he had to go to school and become a doctor), lots of schooling and hard work and the other was a minority who took advantage of opportunities made available to her. She did a job I could easily do in my sleep, one that I would never have been offered because I am white. Was I jealous? You bet! She worked from home, traveled light occasionally and made over 100K doing it. But, in the end choosing to clean houses was the best thing for me. I get to wear shorts and flip flops, work part time and play the rest. I have four wonderful clients that adore me and are quite like family to me. The idea of going back to corporate and dressing up for work every day makes me shudder.

        Does White Privilege exist? There have been so many programs developed to equalize the work force over the past 50 years and there really is no excuse to claim one race as being supreme over another in that regard. But the idea or lack of it does still exist in the minds of others. I did have a job for one week in which I worked with an all minority group and their immediate assumption was that I was going to be their new boss…because I was white. Their boss was on maternity leave and they were right. It was the intention that I would replace her eventually but I came in to the job as just another worker with entry level pay.

        I think the real issue is that so many programs for so many years has created in our society a foundation of people who feel entitled to something because they want it. The concept of earning a right or privilege is completely foreign. I blame it on the government in creating this freebie mentality with all their programs. Like many policies, what once was issued with good intentions has been corrupted in the highest sense and we are paying for it in the fall out. The same could be said of labor unions and child labor laws. But that’s a whole different subject.

        So, there you have done it again…got me all spilling my gut philosophic. 😀 Have a great weekend, my friend! 😀 😀

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      2. I’m not sure I’m willing to buy matrix-like, but I agree completely on a handful knowing and fighting to awaken the rest. That has been the history of the pre-matrix world and I see no change. Power/wealth has always kept the poor in the dark. Nothing new about that.

        I’m at a point in time when I am attempting (not very successfully) to say ‘I don’t care’ and to insulate myself a little from some of the news that aggravate me most. I just don’t need it. But without a doubt the direction we are in requires voices to be raised. I accept that I’m tired but on a macro level I’m not sure that’s a good enough ‘excuse’ for inactivity. sigh.

        I see my grand-kid involved with exploring sewer drains and abandoned buildings, they have an old monorail car on a property in rural Wisconsin where they go with other Millennials and do target practice and build tunnels and caves. To me, it’s weird; to them it’s life. The coming generations ARE seeing the world differently. But with their different views come with a cost — the fact that they do see the world differently means that they will not value the things we do and life for seniors will surely be different as their attitudes become reflected in public policy.

        There surely is a disconnect between what reality and perception. We’ll get to see how some of it unravels, for sure.

        Like I said — the white privilege thing is something I’m ambivalent about — at the gut level I am convinced it’s (if I may) one of those Matrix ideas that obscure the truth from most. It’s an escape valve for angry people — which is an issue in and of itself — there is SO much anger out there today. Anger never results in rational solutions….

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