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Monday, November 21, 2016

Adventures in San Antonio

This Society of Biblical Literature convention is the 43rd one for Jim.  I have accompanied him for the last several years.  It is always fun to stay in a nice hotel and explore a new city.  It is possibly our last SBL convention.  Jim had some facial pain (possible RA flare-up?) and we almost cancelled.  He no longer has to sit through hours of possible Notre Dame appointment interviews; he rarely presents; and he is trying to resign from some of the boards he is on.  Can he give up a 43 year habit?  We shall see!

We are in the Hilton Palacio del Rio.  It was constructed in 1968 in a record 202 days in a modular fashion.  It looks like it from the outside--a big, boxy hotel.  However, it has the trendiest, most efficient elevators we have ever encountered.  You program it outside the elevator bank and are told which one to access.   There is virtually no wait but you do have to resist the impulse to push some button when you get in.

Saturday morning Google Map led me on a very lonely walk through an industrial part of town to the San Antonio Museum of Art.  I very much enjoyed the Latin American emphasis and then chose a more picturesque walk back along the Riverwalk.

We spent Saturday afternoon watching Notre Dame's football team lose a 17 point lead to Virginia Tech.

Sunday morning I heard Justin Strong, a graduate student in our church group,  give his paper on Lazarus and the Dogs.  I was the woman in the back row grinning with pride.  On the way back, I stopped in at mass in St. Joseph's Church, built in the mid-19th century by German-American settlers.

In the afternoon, Jim and I enjoyed a stroll through Hemisfair Park following a branch of the Riverwalk.  The Notre Dame reception in the evening is always a good chance to meet former students but the crowded, hot and noisy conditions are exhausting.

We have eaten well here!  Schilo's Deli with its ample pours of wine and great bread pudding, Guadalajara Grill with a beauitful margarita, and Rosario's with pollo con mole--plus the bountiful free breakfast buffets because we are loyal to the Hilton brand--we need to get those 10,000 steps a day and we have done that plus more.

The weather has been beautiful--sunny and warm enough during the day with cooler nights.  We've had meals with the Reas, the Schreibers, Kindy DeLong and Dan Machiela.

Later this afternoon, Jim will attend a memorial service for Peter Flint, a former student, who passed away this month at age 65.

And then, tomorrow it's a long trip home.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Thoughts While Raking Leaves on Election Day

The trees are almost bare.  Every day I try to rake and fill five wheelbarrows to take to the curb for pickup.  Today I did 9 or 10.  I lost track while thinking about the election and memories of other elections.

My first memory is of driving to school with my childhood friend and learning that her parents were Democrats!  They were voting for Adlai Stevenson and not Dwight Eisenhower.  As everyone else I knew including my parents said "I Like Ike," I was quite horrified.

Then it was John Kennedy and Richard Nixon.  Some in our community were worried that Kennedy would do whatever the Pope said.  We suspected my dad, in his secret ballot, may have voted for Kennedy because he said he was a very smart man.

In 1968 I walked to our voting place in Grand Rapids with a good friend, also a spouse of a seminarian.  She voted for Humphrey; I voted for Nixon.  We left feeling amused that we had cancelled each other out.

My next vote was in Massachusetts when I voted for McGovern and we were the only state to do so.  Not so long after that Nixon had to resign.

A few years later it was North Carolina where I campaigned with baby Dan on my back for James Hunt in his race against "Senator No," Jesse Helms. It was a cold and wet day.   Hunt lost and Dan got sick.  I also campaigned for the Equal Rights Amendment and had a great t-shirt that said "Men of quality are for women of equality."  I stopped wearing it when the men at our local ABC store (liquor) were too eager to read the words on my bosom.

I have split my ticket on occasion but have voted for a Democrat at the head of the ticket ever since that first election.  I don't remember being as concerned about winning or losing before--with the exception of my fear of Sarah Palin being a heartbeat away from the Presidency--as I am this year. I cannot imagine Donald Trump with his vindictiveness, mockery of others, and foul mouth being President.  He has preyed on the misogyny and racism of far too many in our country.

  I have been angry at relatives who have posted untruths on Facebook, sometimes from fake news sites that have not been checked.  I have been saddened about those who vote one issue--abortion--and those who use the phrase "pro-abortion" instead of "pro-choice."   I  told a phone interviewer that I was "pro-life" and voting for Clinton.  She ended the call politely but abruptly.   I fight the urge to argue on Facebook and have sent a couple private messages asking relatives to check their sources.  I got no responses to those requests.

Yesterday, the young lady I am tutoring was wondering if she could read well enough to read a ballot.  We talked about voting and she asked for reassurance, "Now, the Repulicans, they are the Christians, right?"  She said that was what she had always been taught and was eager for me to tell her why I thought Democrats could be Christians too.  We had a good chat. I don't know if she voted or if she did, who she voted for.  Her perspective made me despair. I was in tears driving home.

In several hours, we may know who will be our next President.  I hope it will be a clear decision. I am hoping and praying it will be Hillary Clinton.  I am also hoping and praying that if it is Clinton, Donald Trump's supporters will not object with violence as some have threatened.

God help us.  Christ have mercy on us.

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Advantages of Aging

It is too easy to think about the things we are giving up as we age--and there are a few.  Last week on our road trip Jim and I decided to list some of the positive aspects of aging.

1.  Vacationing in mid-October and having lovely trails and inns almost to yourself.

2.  Getting the senior discount for coffee at McDonalds without  requesting  it.

3.  Your host offers to help with luggage when you are at the bottom of a steep staircase (an upstairs room in Pepin Mansion, New Albany.)

4.  Passers-by offer to help when you look a bit bewildered (French Lick Resort with its 430 rooms and three wings.)

5.  Being able to sing along with the Madison, Indiana church chimes on "The Little Brown Church in the Wildwood" even if you can't remember the names of the new people sitting in the pew in front of you in your own church.

6.  Breaking up longer days of travel with more stops--even over-night stops.

And then a few not related to last week's trip:

7.  Happily and confidently, letting the young folks at church be the "elders" this time around.

8.  Golfing with friends who don't mind spotting the ball for you and sometimes, not always, using the senior tees.  (Jim!)

9.  Having your daughter plan and book a family vacation for next summer.

10.  Hiring outside help for cleaning and home maintenance without guilt.

11.  Defying convention and buying the skinny jeans Stitch-Fix sent in their personal styling package.  It does help that they also sent a long cardigan to go over them.  (Mary!)

12.  Having the luxury of leisure time and being able to make choices of how to use it--including more visits to see family 700 miles away.

Over the years when I looked at my hands on the table and compared them with the younger hands of the student I was helping, I was very aware of aging even then.   My skin is wrinkled, the veins stand out, and the fingers are bent. But these hands can still type a blog, play the organ, cook a meal, and send an email, and for that I am very grateful.

I just used the word "still."  We are quite aware of its use in our aging lives when folks ask, "Are you still working?"  At least they are not yet asking, "Are you still in your own home?  or Are you still driving?"  Those days may come and I may have to blog about that too!