30 September 2008

Beyond the Voices

I told you that I'm embracing my swing voter status, but, until recently, it hasn't been all that easy. My conservative leanings relentlessly prod me toward McCain, but, to be honest, I'm not excited about him. At all. Not even with Palin, and partly because of her. My conservative side is saying don't get wrapped up in the drama of Obama. He's charismatic, compelling, resonating, but he still employs age-old liberal ideas (with a liberal voting record to prove it) that have not always been of benefit to our country. The conservative side of me says remember, remember. But my newly emerged, liberal nodding, independent side is saying forget, forget. Forget your old ways and embrace the new. Forget any sense of party allegiance, consider what is imperative for today, and for once in your political life, let your heart take over your head (it's hard for me to even write that). And the commanding, overarching, God-breathed whole of me is saying you are beholden to no party, candidate, president or nation. You play by a different set of rules altogether. Be shrewd. Be wise.

But now, the battle is behind me, and for the most part, the voices have been silenced, except for the last. I hear only the freedom (and responsibility) to seriously consider both candidates and vote for a leader fit to meet the challenges of today.
The permission I have given myself to do this is liberating, and, unlike before, I'm ready to take on the next 35 days.

I'm back in the presidential race.

22 September 2008

A Weekend of Plenty

In these times of economic uncertainty, it is good to pause and give thanks. While there are times when we enact some creative financial strategies (read: "borrow" from our meager savings) to carry us through to the next paycheck, Andrew and I do not want for anything. If there is any reason we would like to make some more moola, it would be to become more generous stewards, to extend the reaches of our hospitality, always ready and equipped to help. But, of course, the lesson here is to be good stewards of what we already have. Ah yes... we are learning. In any case, this weekend was a reminder of provision, of the harvest. We are coming to a close of the CSA season with just a few weeks left of organic deliveries. I will miss the anticipation of discovering our bounty and the cooking possibilities that ensued. Pictured below is what we received yesterday: delicata squash, swiss chard, tomatoes, peppers, arugula, basil, sage and endive frisee. Pretty, huh?

Our weekend also brought us to All Season Orchard for apple picking in celebration of Alli's birthday. The amusing irony in this trip is we had to walk through the annual Lincoln Square Apple Festival outside our door to drive out to Woodstock, Illinois to pick our own fruit (not to mention the fact that I hail from Londonderry, NH, home to 5 apple orchards)! But, as I've said before, any chance to venture outside the city and breathe some fresh air is a welcomed event. And so, our weekend of plenty was increased by a 1/4 bushel of apples (Gala, Senshu and Cortland), and even more importantly, by good friends, generosity, laughter... and juggling.

18 September 2008

On the Fence Independence

Ok, here we go. It's taken me a year and a half to even broach this subject. Sure, I've touched on political topics here and there, but I've never really come out and said what I'm actually thinking. Why in the world would I want to do that?! After all, there is a chance, a very slight chance, that you just might disagree with me. (Gasp!) But I'm going to risk it. I think we all need to risk it. I think we need to lay our cards on the table, assert our opinions/wonderings/musings/questions/concerns/values and then humble ourselves to others. How else do we expect to grow into (or out of or around) ourselves and with each other?

If I had to give a brief summary of my political journey along the Liberal to Conservative spectrum, it would go something like this: unaware of the spectrum, unconcerned with the spectrum, what's the spectrum again?, ok, I think I get the spectrum, concerned with the spectrum, a little to the left, a little to the right, more in the middle. Hope that clears things up.

I'm realizing that my childhood was relatively politics-free, in the sense that we didn't really talk about it, nor did it have apparent influence on my daily life. My parents never used "God" and "County" in the same sentence and I did not grow up in a location with a rich, unwavering devotion to Red or Blue. After all, I grew up in New Hampshire: Live Free or Die. I lived in blissful ignorance of the journey ahead and I avoided a lot of political baggage that could have (and probably would've) strongarmed my future perspectives.

So, when college rolled around and I decided to get my degree in politics (of all things), you can imagine the process that was before me: How do I make sense of all this, get off the fence, and believe in something? College introduced me to the Other, in all senses of the word, as it related to my politics, but even more overarching, as it related to my faith. The Left seemed to stand for the Other. I was on board and off the fence. Post-college introduced me to hard-working people, removed from the luxury of collegiate idealism, who outlined for me values of the Right (and when I say Right, please do not assume the Religious Right), such as freedom, responsibility, and pragmatism, all values that would still compel and enable me to care for the Other. I was won over and still off the fence.*

And now, I'm thinking that on the fence is not a bad place to be.
I do think we need to know where we stand on individual issues, events, values and ideals, but I think we should embrace the freedom and responsibility to think outside of our two political parties, to straddle the aisle at times and take the good from both. We need both Left and Right, and to accept one in totality while completely rejecting the other is to limit our own thoughts and our nation's possibilities. In this election season, we have heard of the incalculable importance of the "swing voters", the Independents. And to be an Independent is to commit to sorting it out for ourselves, free from blind devotions and scripted answers. That's a fence I don't mind being on.

*Disclaimer: I know this paragraph oversimplifies the values/platforms of the Left and Right. I know it's not that black and white and that these values can overlap.

More to come...

13 September 2008

At the Close

Over Labor Day weekend, we opted for one of those newly touted "staycations" and paid a visit to Milwaukee and then to St. Joseph, Michigan. We had been to neither and it proved to be just right for making the most of our long weekend. Our first stop in Milwaukee was the Miller Brewery, which, other than the free beer, left much to be desired. Actually, it was pretty embarrassing compared to other brewery tours I've experienced. I'm chalking it up to an "off day". In any case, at least Andrew got some good photos.

Michigan was our final hurrah of summer. Beaches. Sunburns. Swimming. Reading. Picnics. Perfect.

We bid Summer adieu, and while I will miss the long, warm days, Fall is my season and I beckon it with anticipation. I recently read a reflection by someone who thought Fall should mark the New Year. I couldn't agree more. There is a newness in the crisp air... a chance to start over... again.

09 September 2008


I was subscribing to The New York Times in the fall of 2001 as part of a class requirement. So you can imagine that on September 12, I eagerly retrieved my copy of the newspaper and cherished it ever since. After all, this was history and I had it in print from one of the most, if not the most, esteemed newspapers in the country. It was surreal. There's something about a real, ink-stained newspaper that can't ever be replaced: the feel, the smell, the black fingers. I read most of my news online now, but I wish I had more memories of getting "All the News That Was Fit to Print" in... well... print. I came across this new feature from The New York Times, and looking at the headlines evokes in me that same surreal feeling. These are the headlines that have measured the pulse of our world.

TimesMachine allows you to explore the archives of The New York Times from September 18, 1851 (the very first issue of The New-York Daily Times) to December 30, 1922.
You must be a home delivery subscriber to have access to each and every issue; however, anyone can have a look at some sample pages from major events in history.