Saturday, June 29, 2019

Parent Hold'Em

This summer, I've opted to teach my children poker, not because I want them to take up gambling, but because it's important to remind them that not everything under the sun involves a screen as a form of entertainment.  I'll concede being able to bluff your fifteen year old is it's own form of parental revenge. In addition, reminding all would be adolescents that Mom and Dad still can play and win is a serious plus. 

What do they learn?  Well I don't know, but I hope they learn that Mom and Dad pay attention to patterns.  We also bluff.  We will push things forward even if when we've got nothing, and fold when we know, to do otherwise would crush.  We will always ante up, and we'll try to help you keep track of the possibilities, even if it means you'll have a better chance of winning than us.  We're also quite willing to go all in if need be, and to provide loans so you can stay in the game if things have turned out badly. 

Why?  So after years of flopping in our house, after they're over twenty-one, they'll return, and we'll still have a full house with fuller hearts. 

Friday, June 28, 2019

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

The other night, I journeyed to DC to attend my cousin's concert.  Will Clark Green  takes his band on a big black bus all around the country and if you get a chance to go, it's a fun show.  I recommend listening to his songs ahead of time, so you can sing along with the crowd favorites: Ringling RoadRose Queen, and his most requested song and the grand finale, She Likes the Beatles.  If you don't know the other songs, it doesn't really matter, because he's having such a good time playing with the band, you will too. 

I've never been a big Country Western fan despite my Texas roots, but maybe because it's family, Will's songs pluck my heart harder than others.  I know the land he's singing about, and people who fit the stories. His songs bring me to Beaumont, to the swampy parts of life, of childhood that I don't often stop to recollect because there's so much life today that needs tending. 

My kids don't know that beach the way I knew it, because it isn't the same beach and won't be.  The beach house of my childhood lacked even one television, and no phone until 1984, and that made it a place to discover how not to be bored when you're bored. It meant you visited with cousins and brothers and fished and read and reread comics and played cards even when you'd played cards for hours.  It meant you asked what you could do to help, and took naps. It meant you found yourself staring at a fire until it wasn't, and found somewhere in that process, something warmer than the flames.   

Every place on Port Bolivar now has air condition and wi-fi, so the capacity to relate will have to compete with the temptation to distract. The beach I knew may be gone but Will's songs pull me back to a place I can't get elsewhere and to people I can only meet in prayer or memory this side of the veil. 

What sounds, smells, tastes and places will pierce my own children's hearts with a sense of belonging and longing that pulls them into the past to be with certain experiences and people if only for a moment? I worry it will be when they're trapped inside a mini-van in the back seat while someone else has control of the radio and thermostat while eating fast food. Except there's today, and today is an opportunity to imprint yet again on their hearts, something of the salt, sweet, warm and wonderful of life outside of what all the world offers.  I go back to my list. There's laundry, dishes, paperwork, IXL, summer reading.  So much that needs tending.  I put on the timer and scratch two off the list and add two more.  We're making BBQ and I'm taking them to the pool. 

To me, that's the purpose of music, of summer, to burn into hearts, memories of the more. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2019


By now, most people plugged into the news or the internet, know about the deplorable conditions of the "not concentration summer camps."

After reading about the investigation by the lawyers, the reports here, and here, and here, and the stories began to trend, the government acted. Reports are, many of the children have been removed from the facilities where they were in unsanitary and unsafe conditions, neglected, dirty and in need. They were taken to some other facility, possibly in El Paso...but the world does not know where or for that matter, if the conditions are better or worse. The problem with this situation is, the problems came to light, and now, the problem is gone not because the children are necessarily being better treated, but because we don't know how they are being treated or there's nothing to see because we don't know where to look. Want the source? Government moves over 300 children.

So where did the government move the children maltreated in an overcrowded government facility so that they would be not maltreated by the government? Transparency is only possible where there is access. We can't access what we don't know, and the more these children are moved around and shuffled about, the less we know, and the more opportujnity for abuse and neglect.

If past is prologue, remember when this was shocking? Miami Herald July, 2018. Prison or Summer Camp? What is ignored, gets worse, it's a simple reality of human nature. It's true in relationships, in health, in education, in hobbies and professions, in houses and in habits. It's true of governments too.

Several journalists wrote articles about what the ordinary person (rightly upset) can do.
and here: Where to Donate by Meghan Leonhardt But it does seem, not everything people rally to do, helps so use the resources cited in the above articles. Self intiiated rallies (like I'd thought might be cool), don't work: People want to donate diapers, they're being turned away.

Still, some people are trying to raise donations to address the basic needs.  

From a Facebook post:
NWF is about to launch another campaign to get supplies to families at the border. Let us know if you’d like to be a part of this one. All you would need to do it share the campaign and we will take care of the rest. We will collect the donations, purchase the supplies, and take them to the families getting out of detainment.
They desperately need our help right now and this should be a team effort. If you’re interested in having your org listed as a sponsor please shoot me a DM!
We will be headed to the border on July 13th.
UPDATE: Y’all are amazing. If your group is in, send me a pic of your logo. I’m gonna start working on the flier now and want to get as many groups listed as possible before we share it on NWF!
Also, we are currently working to get connected to an actual detainment center, but as of right now they’re turning away donations. Hopefully we will get an in, but either way we will also be taking supplies to the respite centers that these families are processed through after they’re released from the detainment centers.
 Reach out to Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa and New Wave Feminist if you want to help. 

Anyone who considers themselves Catholic, must act. Anyone who considers themselves Pro-life, must act.  Anyone who recognizes, we are each of us, our brother’s keeper, must act or we’ll be part of that group saying “Lord, Lord, when did we see you hungry?” 

Excellent write up of the theology that puts God’s law above national law:

People rallied, they demanded action, they're protesting, there are articles and calls to action but the children themselves, the pawns in all of this,can't be protected from anything when no one other than the ones who moved them, know where they are. So now we have an invisible crisis we can't assess. Where are they? It feels a bit like the arc of the covenant being studied by "Top men."

It doesn't matter whether you are pro or anti our existing inconsistent hap-hazard immigration policy, anyone who professes the innate dignity of everyone, must want our government to safeguard these children, who cannot advocate for themselves or escape. The level of care must exceed what we would want for our own children if they were ever separated from us in a foriegn land. Anything else is a figleaf excuse. Where are they?
Remember when not yet President Ronald Reagan said the scariest words in the world are, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help?" I do. They aren't funny anymore. Call your representative, and ask them, "Where are the children?" Ask until we know. Find your representative here and your Senators too. Call your local paper. Call your Archdiocese. We need everyone asking, everyone looking, and everyone understanding, these people will be forgotten unless we refuse to allow it.

Oh, I reached out the Archdiocese of El Paso and am waiting to hear back on what they're trying to do. 

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Over at the Register

After a long dry spell, I have one that was inspired by someone else's take on Saint Thomas the Apostle, in a writing room I help moderate.   I happen to love Saint Thomas, in part because he shows that it's okay to question God, to talk about hard questions to God, and to expect answers. 

Anyway, here's my piece: Saint Thomas said to Jesus, "My Lord and my God."

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Good Omens and Bad Parodies....

For those who don't know, Amazon Prime has a series based on the unlikely friendship between a fussy angel and a relaxed demon, carved from the pages of the book Good Omens by Terri Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.  Some folks lacking the capacity to discern the difference between imaginative satire and theology, created a petition asking for the six hour series to be removed from Netflix.  The problem for those poor unfortunate souls is, it's on Amazon, not Netflix.  Now the producer, Neil Gaiman asked that people not inform those petitioners of their error. 

My own take on the matter is, watch if you wish. It's not perfect, and I suspect the book is far funnier, but satire is always difficult to translate. I watched it. I enjoyed it, the same way I might enjoy a regular soda. It was tastey, but I wouldn't want a steady diet.  That being said, my own response to the nonsense is as follows...

Oh the Demon and the Angel can be friends....oh the Demon and the Angel can be friends. 
They both wait for the Anti-Christ 
in a three card Monty Baby Heist 
oh the Demon and the Angel can be friends....

I'd like to say a few words for Demon Crowley. 
He drives a 1926 Black Bentley. 
His Cat Eyes are serene
as he blasts his vintage Queen 
and keeps a secret stash of water holy. 

Oh the Demon and the Angel can be friends
Until the petitioners at Netflix bring about their end
Some who scream blasphemy
and the witchfinder commits adultery
but the Angel and the Demon, they are friends. 

I'd like to say a few words about Aziraphale the angel
issued a flaming sword and a body, 
His book shop went up in flames
Along the river Thames 
but kept Heaven and Hell from being shoddy...





10) Where are you?  If you have a phone, we pay for the phone. We gave you phone so you could tell us, where you are going, who with, and when you'll be back.  E.T.  Phone home. (If you don't know the reference, google...or be home this weekend because we're showing the movie this Friday).   

9) This is not DENNY'S.   It's not 24-7 what'll it be?   We do not have a menu. We have meals.  They are served at 8 am, 12:30 pm and 6.  There is a snack provided at 3:30.   If you eat outside of those times, you MUST clean up after your feast. 

8) This is not Grubhub either.  Some of you think, it's not a summer day unless you've spent money buying pre-prepared food.   MEMO: we spent money. We bought the food. Some of it is microwavable.  It's still summer.  Enjoy.   You can live a lot longer without constant fries as a side. 

7) Go outside.   The air is warm. The sky is bright.  There is a whole world outside of the screen.  The world has better graphics I promise, and no one is going to jump out of the sky and start wailing on you. (Which is nice because you also don't regenerate). 

6) There is no maid.  Your room is yours to may decorate as you wish, but it must be clean...that is, there are no pit-piles. If you've become blind to such things, call a sibling. They'll be happy to reveal what you're missing. 

5) Mom is not an Uber.   "I'm bored." is not a reason for Mom to drive. Dad is not an ATM.
We have a list of to-dos.  They come with cash options and possible car rides. 

4) There are down hours.  They are from 10:30 pm to 7 am on weekdays, and 11:30 pm to 8 am weekends.  You can be up, but don't keep the rest of us from resting.

3) There are up hours.  After 9 am, noise in the house is expected.  No sympathy because you wanted to sleep until noon. 

2) Read.  Your brain needs to jog around the park.   You'll like it afterwards. Trust me.

1) Vegetables and fruits, like sleep and exercise are your friends. If you're hungry --and all indications are, you always are, try them. 

Last reminder: Summer is short. Challenge yourself so you remember something other than I played video games and watched movies come September.   We love you. 

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Summer Reading

For the past three years, I've worked as an English Composition Assistant at a local high school.  |

This past March, I found one of my students in a class, hand writing the lines of Dante's Inferno, first canto from a pdf on the computer.   He explained that poetry was easier than prose.  He suffers from severe reading disabilities, but persists.  When material is presented with video and audio, he does well.  He gives strong thoughtful answers. When tested without these supports, he struggles. 

Last Christmas, my oldest gave me a copy of Dante's Divine Comedy.  I hadn't read it in years despite loving the Epic in all its forms. We got to the last week of school, and I decided to lend him my copy for the summer. "Someone who tries that hard, should have a chance to keep at it." I thought, and lent him the book."Here's your summer reading. Nice light stuff." 

Normally, when I hand out books, there's the "Aw, why do we have to read this?" and sometimes, a few choice words about books in general, or the one in particular.  This time, was different.  His face broke into an epic smile. "Thank you."  You would have thought I'd given him a million bucks, giving him a three inch thick book of 14,233 lines of poetry.  "I will read this."  he said. 

Something in the simplicity of the words told me he would. 

Now the thing about summer reading is, a staff or faculty has to read the text too. 

So guess what I'm doing. 
My reaction was far less promising.   

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Over At the Register

Back in April, I toured the Museum of the Bible. I have to say, it was a lovely experience.   Here's the link to it over at the Register: The History of The Bible Comes to Washington DC.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Over at the Register

Hello. It's been a while, and I'm fighting to get back on the riding horse of 500 words a day no matter what...when I can't do that, I write poetry, but that's stuff I don't publish because much of it is, I think too trite.   It is just a way of chasing my brain into a corner and making it write. 

Here's today's piece over at the Register. 
Beginning the thaw.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

The Plane Flight West*

*My husband took our youngest out to Yellowstone.  He wrote about it.

Boundless energy, never at rest. Does she not realize that she got up at 3:15 a.m.? She does not. Everything is either interesting, or a source of polite impatience. "Flight attendant?"  She asks as each one passes by, hoping to catch their ear to ask for a drink. "They will  come when it is our turn." I reply.  More than once. "How far away are they?" Inspecting the in flight menu and determining biscotti and Minute Maid Apple Juice is what she will get. "All flight attendants seem very nice" as the cart arrives. "What would you like peanut?" asks the solicitous Renee. "Dad, what would you do with a billion thousand dollars?" "That would be about 100 trillion"  I reply. "I would give it to the poor and homeless and sick and keep a quarter of it for our selves. "We probably wouldn't need that much money." "Then one - sixth." "What are you doing dad?" "Keeping a log of our trip."  Her face lights up with joy when she realizes herself in the description. "You are the best dad ever."  Before launching into:  "What does taxiing mean?" as she reviews every feature of the safety manual.  I wouldn't miss this for the world.

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