Wednesday, November 16, 2016

He is the Worst. Ever. #ISitBackAndReflect

Lately I have been seeing some conservative posts on Facebook that declare that President Obama is the absolute worst president.  Ever.  The arguing between friends is possibly as bad as the arguments were/are about Trump and Clinton.  Well, perhaps not quite, but it gets a bit heated.

So I am reading the multiple/diverse opinions and those voicing this opinion that Obama is the worst are so adamant about this claim that I thought perhaps I should check their conclusions based on comparisons to other presidents.  I decided to look into history a bit to see how the rankings of "worst president" come about.

It is easy to rate the best presidents.  I mean, political historians, history buffs, and population surveys all tend to agree.  Abraham Lincoln rates first or second, with George Washington alternating with him.  Both did remarkable jobs in the face of adversity.  Both showed incredible bravery.  To round out the top five best presidents according to scholarly surveys are FDR, Thomas Jefferson, and either Teddy Roosevelt or Andrew Jackson.

So yes, finding the top best presidents is not a difficult job.  But what about the worst presidents?  Much harder.  What is the criteria for a bad president?  Bad to whom?  Liberals?  Conservatives?  Political historians?  General population?  How do you rate, for example, President Nixon who had great world political savvy but brought the nation to shame from what has  been labeled the "greatest and most sensational scandal in the history of American politics."  Impeached.  VP impeached.  Henchmen sent to prison.  

So, finding the worst president throughout history isn't as easy as finding the best.  One thing is clear according to scholarly political historians, President Obama isn't generally seen the worst president in history.  Even Jimmy Carter isn't the worst.  Both rank somewhere in the far.

Here are the historical worst contenders:
James Buchanan--He was our 15th president.  He had a little problem standing up for ideals.  He refused to challenge the growing bloc of states that wanted to secede from the U.S.; therefore, becoming the Confederacy.  To his credit, he believed secession was illegal, but he also believed going to war to prevent it was illegal.  He also refused to stop the growth of slavery.  When asked of historians what he did well as president, not much is recalled.

Warren G. Harding--He was our 29th president.  At the time of his presidency his popularity was high but after his death all these ugly truths came out.  He was involved in the Teapot Dome, a scandal where his Secretary of the Interior was caught taking bribes from oil companies.  It is said that he was an indecisive president who played poker while his friends plundered the treasury.  He was also taken to task for his poor handling of the Great Railroad Strike of 1922, where at least ten people, most of them strikers or family members, were killed in connection with the strike.

Andrew Johnson--He was the 17th president, taking office after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.  He favored a quick restoration of the seceded states but in this, didn't protect former slaves.  He opposed the 14th amendment, which gave citizenship to former slaves.  He is often seen as one of the worst for his strong opposition of federally guaranteed rights for Blacks.  And yet, other historians admire Johnson for his strict constitutionalism. 

So you can see, ranking any president as The. Worst. Ever. isn't as easy as just making a taunt on the playground.  Opinions abound on all sides.  Justification seems true as we speak.  But let's compare our opinions to these bottom-possibly-worse-ever-feeders for a reality check.  And then smile, shake hands, remember we are all in this together.


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

What's On My Design Board?

Sewing curves is always interesting.  I decided to take class while I am down in Southern California to learn how to use a new curved ruler.  A few years ago I made a Drunkards Path quilt.  That's when I discovered how simple are curves.  So I had no doubt that the pattern with the class would be a good one as well.

The ruler is the Quick Curve Ruler by Sew Kind of Wonderful
The pattern is their Metro Rings.  

Okay, so I was sent the supply list for the quilt top.  I had decided to make it another Quilt of Valor, so I wanted red/white/blue fabric.  I needed a "jelly roll" (40 pieces of fabric, pre-cut pieces 2.5 x width of fabric) and a background and some highlight fabrics.  So of course I wanted my jelly roll to be red and blue, with the background white, with red and blue highlights.  I searched through the sets and finally found one roll that had blues and reds and whites, plus a couple greens.  I figured I could remove the greens and have a great QOV.

Day of the class I opened my jelly roll in order to start sewing the strips together and what a surprise!  The fabrics were Christmas fabrics!  Ahh well, still red white and blue...still a QOV.  Perhaps for someone who loves the holidays.

All pieces are cut and waiting to be sewn together.   Give me a few days...  What are you working on--quilting, sewing, painting...Eh?  What's up, Buttercup?

Monday, November 14, 2016

And Then It Hit Me #allweneedislove

Lacey Peters' Early Education Class, New York
It was finally over.  The hate-filled mudslinging from both sides of the election.  It was hard to sit through the presidential debates, listening to both sides sling enough mud on the other to build that wall we kept hearing about.  But even harder for me was sitting through the lies and accusations and seeming hatred flinging past me on social media from my friends to other friends.  Disagree?  Think your side is better?  Then listen to me shout ugly words, post ugly memes, quote others on social media about you and your candidate.  I voted early in order to stop the ugliness in my line of vision.  Somehow this helped.

But then the election happened and it didn't stop.  The ugliness didn't stop.  The lies and memes and quotations didn't stop.  Protests against the election results broke out in major cities.  Portland was the most passionate, it seems.  Yeah, we like to keep things weird.  But it isn't just the unhappy losers spreading...the gloating winners have continued their own brand of ugliness.  Calling out to the Losers...whiners, babies, get over it bitch.  No one can claim gracefully winning or losing.

I was very disappointed with the results.  I had to go to bed early before I saw the final results.  Tummy ache.  Headache.  Sadness.  And I woke up determined to make the best of it.  I declared the day "Positive Energy Day" and made a quilt for someone out there who is cold and alone.  I kept saying, "Okay.  Our job is to continue to be a voice for the voiceless, continue to stand up for social justice, for safety for all."  I reminded people that these have always been our jobs, our responsibility.  We don't have the luxury to sit back on our laurels; we must be vigilant.  I tried to send out a positive message--I am pollyanna, after all.  I told people that we can survive anything because there are safeguards in place throughout the government.  Worry wasn't healthy.  I felt like I wasn't perhaps grieving properly when I talked with Clinton supporters and tried to ignore any politics with everyone, with Trump supporters.

My grandchild woke up sobbing the night of the election because Trump won.  He--he prefers the he/him pronoun--is struggling to find his place in the world, in his body, at 13.  He thought he had a safe place to grow and try and explore his gender.  Now he was afraid.  I thought I could comfort him with simple words of reason.  The system is in place.  We have had bad presidents in the past and the U.S.A. hasn't imploded.  We will get through this.  I knew it wasn't enough, wasn't what he needed to hear, but I had no idea what else to say.

Today I woke up very early, eyes open and wide awake.  I settled down to read up on what has been happening in the world around me.  Something that I read hit me in my heart. I knew I was a safe place for everyone but did they?  Did my wonderful glorious grandchild?

And then I read farther.  A teacher had posted a large poster in her classroom that she said would remain up as long as she taught students.  And then it hit me.  I started crying, great gulps loud wailing tears flowing.

Yes, we have always had to be a voice for the voiceless, to fight for social justice, be a safe place for those who are harassed abused.  Yes, racism/sexism/heteroism (did I make that one up?) has always been there, supported by the very government that accepts protests against it.  We have always had to fight hated and abuse.  But this is harder.  Looking at this poster and realizing that everything on here has been fought for hard and fairly.  Everyone listed on this poster is dear to my heart, has been fought by me and millions of others and we have have just slipped back 50 years...because we have to tell ourselves these things are true rather than accepting and moving on.  Fifty years of hard work and toil and labor...  Half of the population has said that things need to change...but these things?  Not the progress we have made for human rights.  No.  It breaks my heart.  So I cried.

I am not a worrier.  I don't want to spend my limited energy on things that maybe might be, but on things that are being.  But my grandchild woke up crying because he doesn't feel safe.  My son called upset and almost inconsolable because his health insurance may be gone.  How will he pay to see his oncologist?  His psychologist?  His dermatologist?  My sister, my mother's aides, my do I console them?  Console and continue to see my world as hopeful.


Saturday, September 17, 2016

When the Skin Grows and the Bones Stay

Dad used to say there were two times in life: when the bones grow and the skin stays; when the skin grows and the bones stay. 

My mother fought her weight all her life, as did my father in those middle and later years.  As has my sister and myself.  My sons, too... 

I'm sure many people can relate to the pattern.  Mom and Dad would lose, gain, lose, gain.  Dad could eat one of those really large chocolate bars on his way home from work every night.  Then he would stop eating much, quickly lose the weight, and gain it back.  This battle was especially difficult for Mom.  She tried many diets and would lose weight only to gain it back plus.  She would go on another diet and then eat a bag of barbecue chips in a sitting in the afternoons.  In about 1990, she joined Weight Watchers, reached goal, and stayed there for many years.  Slowly it crept back up again.

Mine has been the same struggle.  Lost weight in high school...gained weight when pregnant...lost weight after babies...gained weight...lost weight in my 40s.  Kept it off for a few years and gained it all plus another 75...apparently to even it out.  Whole numbers are better, right?  I have been maintaining a substantial loss for a couple of years, but still have a great deal of weight to lose to reach goal.

Since Mom has been in nursing care, she has lost over 25 pounds.  A year previous to her stroke, she fell and had lost another maybe 20 pounds over the next year.  So since she has been semi-now-totally disabled, she has lost nearly 50 pounds.  According to Weight Watchers, her goal weight is 155.  She now weighs about 120--up a couple and everyone gets all excited; lose a couple and the worry comes out.

I recently told her that she could now return to Weight Watchers for free (Lifetime members, if they stay no more than 2 pounds over goal, do not pay for meetings).  The joke was when she was a bit heavier than goal, she said she had not wanted to return until she lost her weight again.  I laughed.  Now she could, if she could :)

The day I learned she had lost more weight and was down so low, she had not eaten lunch.  She said she wasn't hungry, too tired to eat.  We were sitting in her room, she had been laid back into bed, and I watched her so tired and weak, not hungry, not caring about things, drifting off. 

I said to her, "You have fought your weight all your life and now you are skin and bones, sadly underweight, people worried about your weight loss."  She nodded.  "Just seems like all that angst and worry, all that struggle to lose, maintain weight...all that battle was for nothing."  She nodded.

I left that day just not caring about weight issues.  I left that day realizing that life is ironic, a cruel joke sometimes.  I watched all my nursing home friends as I walked down the hallway to my car and no longer saw my friends.  I saw old people just waiting...waiting.

I looked at myself in the mirror and thought that this weight struggle was not worth my energy.  Life was too precious to waste time worrying about this stress and struggle.  I am healthy.  Blood pressure is low.  Cholesterol--good and bad--are fine. Heart rate is good.  I exercise every day and move.  All it has to do with is looking good?  Who cares?

I stayed with this attitude for maybe three weeks.  I continued to attend Weight Watcher meetings, but I just didn't care anymore.  One of the leaders asked why did I initially join (she asked everyone at the meeting, not just me, although it is really all about me, right?) and I remembered my goal for joining.  Of course ultimately to lose weight, but I wanted to lose weight in order to be able to move better.  And I was moving better since I had lost 50 pounds.  I still have movement issues, but am much better. Perhaps I was not wasting my time, but reaching toward the real goal--better movement.

Mom is 25 years older than I am; she will be 91 in a couple weeks.  She is simply waiting...waiting.  I am a robust 66 years old.  I am not waiting but living.  When I get to be 91 and waiting, I might remember to reevaluate the battle.  But for now, I'm back in the game.


Sunday, July 10, 2016

That Kid Who Frequently Came Asking for Support

Friends of Children
He started coming to my house when he was just a tyke, asking for donations that would help him travel to different schools for debate contests.  He was maybe junior high.  Cute kid; at the house representing his program, Friends of Children.  He told me he was a kid "at risk" and this program invited him in to help him.  He loved to argue and started in their Forensic program.  He, along with his team, traveled throughout Oregon and other near-by states to participate in debates.

Friends of Children is a unique mentoring program for kids at risk--poverty or lack of education or parents too young.  All races, genders.  It has a unique approach to helping at-risk youth.  From their website, "We commit to every child for the long term, from kindergarten through high school graduation. 12 ½ years. No matter what."  Their model:
Each child gets a dedicated, one-on-one Friend who spends a minimum of 16 intentional hours per month with them. We develop a road map for each child and design activities to build life skills. We create meaningful experiences to explore each child’s unique talents and interests.

On hot summer days, I would offer our young man something to drink.  If I had just baked something, I would offer him a treat.  Sometimes I had to ask him to return a different day because we had no cash on hand.  He always had a smile.  This great sweet smile.  Once in a while he would bring along a friend he said he was mentoring.  Always polite.  Always respectful.

During the school year, he would come every other month.  They were going to University of Washington.  They were going to Eastern Oregon.  They were going to University of Oregon.  I watched him through four years of high school.  I watched him grow, change, become a handsome intelligent soft-spoken young man.

Today he came by just to say hello.  His last debate will be in August.  Then he is going to take a trip to Las Vegas with friends.  Then he will begin college.  He is going to move to eastern Oregon to attend the university there.  He wants to get out of the city and try new things.

I feel like he is one of my kids in a way and I am so proud of him.  I told him this today.  He beamed.  I laughed and as we were parting, I shook his hand and told him of how much he did for himself all these year...and I didn't even know his name.

He grinned and softly said, "I'm JaySean."  I gave him a hug and he strutted away, off to meet the world.  Good on you, JaySean.  Good on you.