Just Hiking with the Guys

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Life has become complicated lately. “Become.” I laugh as I write that, as if life is ever not complicated for anyone. Interesting though, that whatever you’re going through at whatever age or stage of life, you feel as if you are the first and only person to experience it…but then maybe you are. Only you can experience anything your way.

My sons are almost grown. One foot out the door, as they say. It’s a complicated feeling for me. I’ve spent the last 18 years being a Mom and not just any Mom, a hands-on (or, more precisely, hands-off) radically unschooling mom. I’ve attempted to be their supporter and experienced friend instead of an authoritarian and I feel like just when they’ve grown to the point of being great friends to have around, they are beginning to do what all young adults are born to do, drift away to find a place of their own.

It’s bitter sweet, both harsh and rewarding to see my life’s work come to fruition. And when my heart behaves itself, I can see how life will progress. They will establish themselves as free and independent adults, capable of handling life without a parent to support them, and then they’ll come back as strong equals. They’ll be better friends to me than they ever could be now.

It’ll be wonderful and I look forward to seeing the men they become. But transitions are complicated. It’s two steps forward and one step back. There are days when I’m amazed by them and days where I wonder where I went horribly wrong.

In the long run, I know where it will end up. Their Dad and I will be gone, and they will have families of their own to continue into the future. Life.

Down The Rabbit Hole

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“The hardest advice to listen to is your own.

No one to blame when it all turns to shit, right?!

But then it’s worked before. And usually gets the best results because I know my own heart, strength, and situation, best.

But…being responsible for my own actions just sucks sometimes.

How do you guys like listening to me talk to myself?”

My morning Facebook post, one line at a time. The first line was the post. Each following line was a comment as I thought of them over the course of an hour. I typically don’t post things like this. They are cryptic. People don’t know the situation I’m talking about and usually think I’m talking about them…which reminds me of song…

I try to limit my personal posts to what’s happening at our house and what I find interesting. You know, posts about what the kids are going (which are fewer and fewer since they are becoming grown and on their own), awesome things I find in the yard or around town, and cool articles and podcasts. Things people would be interested in. Things that might bring my friends to know me better, as if we are interacting in person instead of online. But then I thought, why wouldn’t my friends be interested in what I’m thinking? And I’ve been thinking a lot lately! So here it is. Use it if you like.

I won’t go into the details of who and what. I’ll just say that he hurt me with his words, but I know he lashed out because he’s hurting too. I had a part in why he’s lashing out. Much like when one of my kids has been pushed to the limit and lashes out in anger, I want to help. He’s a friend, a fellow traveler. But I also know that people need their space when they are hurting. They also need to know someone loves them and is waiting to love them more, but they need to be alone in their feelings until they reach out for help.

He said his piece, probably in frustration and anger. I tried to express my feelings of interest and friendship better. And now I have to leave it at that.

If you love someone, set them free. Right? But, to tell you the truth, I’m not very good at that. I loath so much to be misunderstood or to be on someone’s shit list that I push to have my heart known and sometimes that comes off as desparate or fake.

I do love every one of my online friends. It’s why I have them there. And I’ll always be there for any friend that reaches out, regardless of how many years it’s been or what has happened between us.

Morning Me

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In my spot on the couch in the morning. Every morning, I stumble out of my room and grab my book, a pencil, and my glasses as I pass through my study on my way to the kitchen for a cup of coffee. My husband is already up so the coffee is ready for me. I move to the livingroom, speak the lights on with “computer lights on”, and set myself down in my favorite spot on the couch to read for several hours. It’s my favorite spot because it’s close to the light, has a steady place for my coffee cup, and my warm blanket is there waiting to snuggle with me.

I’m wearing my long, heavy bathrobe. I got it last year on Amazon, not from a local store, because apparently, I’m one of the few people that want an all-cotton warm robe, not one made of acrylic fleece that gathers pet hair as I move through the house and causes static to build up and snap my fingers when I touch anything. It has a hood too, for those super cold mornings when I need to double down on warm clothes. And it’s plaid, my favorite pattern!

I’m in my happy place, surrounded by things and people I love. When I was a kid I dreamed of having my own library. In my picture behind me you can see a corner of my dream come true. Every room in my house has at least one large bookcase filled to the brim. This room has four. There are also family games we’ve been playing, my Dad’s W.C. Field’s lamp that he made when I was a baby and I inherited when he moved to smaller place recently, my son’s turntable he got when he found a bunch of old records in our storage room, and my other son’s telescope that he frequently takes out into the yard to watch the stars.

You can’t tell from the picture, but it’s early morning, just after the sun has peeked over the horizon. It’s my favorite time of day in any season, but in the winter, when this picture was taken, it’s special because the sun comes up farther southeast than ever and is hidden behind the one section of wall without windows. At this time of year, I’m not blinded by it as it rises above our patio. The side light it casts on the desert, its plants and rocks, is magical. Birds are starting to stir. Owls are going to bed. Coyotes run through the yard on their way back to their dens. A roadrunner sits on the fence flicking its tail, looking for a meal.

I took this random selfie because an old friend on the other side of the country, in another time zone, had messaged me that I was still pretty sexy for an old mom. Being the comedian that I am, I immediately snapped this picture and sent it. “Even like this?” Morning photos are always so sexy right? Ratty robe, messy hair, reading glasses, and a cup of coffee. Who wouldn’t want that?

My husband laughed as I took the picture and sent it. “What are you doing?” he asked. “Proving what a hot catch I am.” I said and forwarded him the picture. He smiled. “That’s my babe.”

Surprised by Media Bias

It’s amazing to me how many people will get upset about skewed and biased news media reports of an incident and then go on to believe the next one so easily. They spout the things they’ve learned about bias as if only that particular outlet does it. Their favorite one doesn’t. They’re honest.

The truth is every news outlet is biased one way or another. No one reports what happened. They all report what they see through there own lens. And that lens can be very warped for one reason or another. Every one of us will do the same. We don’t see anything from someone else’s point of view without a metric crap ton of effort that most of us just don’t have the time or energy for.

So what can you do? Remember that and not act on it, not react to reports. If you find yourself interested in the report, seek out other points of view from places opposite yours. Piece it together and you’ll get a better picture but remember that you’ll never get the whole picture regardless. Act in mercy and understanding regardless of what you find. You weren’t there. You don’t know those people.

Healing Hate

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“I imagine that one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, that they will be forced to deal with pain.”
From Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin

There are all kinds of hate and all of them cover up some kind of past pain, some hidden fear. It’s a primal instinct to push away and demonize that which may cause us pain, that which scares us. A friend asked how we can help people deal with it and I had to think about it. My first instinct is to think that you can’t help, but maybe you can.

When I sense that someone hates someone or something, I don’t insist that they not. I try to respect where they are and know in the back of my mind that they have some fear or pain they are working though. I let people have their opinions, let them speak them and feel them, hold space for them, even if I don’t agree with them.

There is a difference between hateful feelings and hateful actions, though. Making a law to ban certain people from places or activities, physically or verbally harassing someone because they are hated, etc., cannot be tolerated by anyone. But a person saying they hate certain people and don’t want to interact with them can be left alone. They are hurting no one but themselves.

If we allow people to have their hate, if we love them anyway, and respect their opinions, give them space to feel what they feel, we have the chance to open a dialog about where that hatred comes from. Hate is a natural, instinctive feeling, and it takes time to work through. When someone makes a statement about something they hate, I ask questions about it. I ask why and respect their answers, maybe give an opinion of my own. This gives people a chance to reflect on their feelings and possibly change them.

If we shut people down when they express hate, we cut off that dialog and let that feeling ferment in the darkness. In that quiet feedback of the mind, that hatred grows and turns into action.

Hate isn’t going anywhere. You can’t get rid of it, but we can minimize it and give it a shorter lifespan.

Laundry Magic

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“Clothes don’t clean themselves, you know!” I heard my mother’s exasperated voice make that statement more than once growing up. She was always so despondent about it and I could never understand why. I mean, seriously, what is so difficult about gathering laundry, throwing it in the washing machine, and then getting it out again? Then I had children.

Laundry is best done daily. That is a plain and simple fact. In a family of six people, if you let a day or two go between loads, you’ll never get on top of it again. Imagine a lumberjack walking a log in a river and you’ll get the picture. One wrong step and the log rolls out from under you. Splash!

It starts with gathering the clothes. You’d think that would be the easy part, but children seem to love a good game of “Hide the Socks” or “Stuff the Favorite Sweatshirt in a Corner.” And the good Lord help you if she manages to put her best jeans in the laundry and they aren’t out of the dryer before her date.

Every morning, I pull my trusty pop-up laundry basket from under my bed, push out the bottom so that it’s fully extended and make my rounds gathering the load of the day. I start in the kitchen with the damp towels, cloth napkins, and wash cloths from the day before. Nothing smells worse than damp towels in a laundry hamper, so I have kept them out on purpose. I make a quick glance around the livingroom as I pass by just in case a pair of wet socks or soaked jacket was left by the fireplace to dry.

The kids’ bedrooms are next on the agenda. A pair of jeans, a piece of a work uniform, or sweaty gym shorts may be hiding from me in there. I grab them up and throw them into my basket. Sheets and bath towels will be gathered another day.

There is a laundry hamper in their bathroom. Thankfully most of their clothes are in there. They all share a bathroom and usually throw their clothes in the hamper after they shower. I reach in and pull out the items I’m going to wash that day. Dark cottons, white socks and shirts, blue jeans, or uniforms, get tossed into my basket depending on the day.

Last on my list is our hamper. My husband and I have our own bathroom and it has plenty of room for a nice big hamper with partitions for sorting laundry as we change our clothes, that is if my husband thinks of it as he gets ready for bed. I frequently find a white sock in the dark cotton bin and wet towels from a garage project stuffed in with the jeans. Ahh…the life.

With my rounds done, my basket full, I make my way out the laundry room. The laundry room for our house seems to have been added on to the back of the detached garage as an afterthought. City water and power didn’t come to our rural area until the 80’s. This house was built as a small cabin in the 60’s. It has been added on to over the years and I can just see the previous owner and his wife’s conversation.

“Wilma, the county is going to run a water line to our property next year. What do you say about adding a bathroom and a kitchen to that house and living there full time?”

“Sounds wonderful Fred, but I’m not going unless there is a washer and dryer indoors like our house in the city!”

A year later, he leads his lovely wife into the upgraded house. The kitchen is small but lovely. The bathrooms are functional and stylish for the era. She searches the house for the laundry room he promised and can’t find it.

“Fred, what did you do?”

“Right back here, dear! You said indoors!”

She follows him as he excitedly leads her out the back porch door, across the driveway, and around to the back of the garage, pushes the door open in front of her and says, “Surprise!”

It’s a bit of a walk but this is the desert and rarely is there ever any bad weather. I doubt that’s what she meant when she said “indoor laundry room” but he’s so proud. How can she be anything but excited?

I make that trek across the driveway and around the garage myself several times a day. I start my daily load of laundry early in the morning after my shower. I open the sliding glass door with my laundry basket on my hip and head out. Cottontail bunnies that have found the tufts of grass growing around my drain scatter as I walk by.

The laundry room runs across the entire back of my two-car garage. It’s an impressive laundry room. It doubles as a storage room. When you walk in you see the wall to the left of the door covered with built in storage cabinets filled with my holiday decorations, old files, and boxes of unwanted toys that my kids just can bear to part with. Fishing poles and tackle boxes, extra chairs, and an old dresser filled with wrapping paper line the wall to my right. And at the end stand my lovely bright aqua colored front-loading washer and dryer.

That set is a story in and of itself. When we moved here the house didn’t come with a washer and dryer, so we drove down into town to the big box hardware store to see what they had. There were boring white and silver sets, but the aqua one was so beautiful. I had to have it. My husband loves me very much, even if I do get a tad over excited about colorful appliances.

I drop my loaded basket to the floor in front of the washer and start throwing in the clothes, double checking for any forgotten change, papers, and pens left behind in pockets. I slam the door shut and open the soap drawer at the top. I have my liquid laundry soap container conveniently located on top of the washer right above the soap drawer. All I need to do is open the drawer and push the button to fill the cup the suggested “serving” of soap line inside the drawer. I slide the drawer shut, set the washer dial to “Perm. Press” and the water temperature to “cold” and press the start button.

Before I leave, I wait just a minute to be sure I hear the door lock and the water start to run before I head back into the house. My washer takes about one hour to run through its wash cycle, so I have some time to get a few things done before it’s time to come back out. I plant myself down on the couch with my book and a cup of coffee. It’s still early and there are no children up yet to beg for a tasty breakfast or ask me to help them construct a wild project in the back yard.

An hour later, the alarm on my phone starts to ring and I shut my book and head back out to the laundry room. The bunnies haven’t come back but a roadrunner flicks his tail and flies up into a Joshua Tree as I pass by.

The washer isn’t quite done with its spin cycle, so I take a seat on a folding chair next to the window and watch the desert as a quiet meditation as I wait. My washer’s sweet musical notes startle me when the cycle ends. I must have been deep in thought, but most likely I just dozed off for a moment.

I open the washer door and transfer the wet clothes into the waiting dryer that stands open and waiting. Damn. I missed an ID card that was in my son’s pocket. Luckily it’s hard plastic and unharmed by the washer. I slip into my back pocket and finish putting the load in the dryer.

I slam the dryer door shut and spin the selector at the top to a timed dryer cycle, “60 minutes” and “low.” The dryer has so many different settings for every kind of clothing you might have. It looks like the cockpit of an airplane with all its dials, settings, and buttons. They’ve never been used by me. I’m a simple girl!

Once I press “go,” I’ve got another hour before these clothes need my attention. I head into the house as I set the timer on my phone again. I always set the timer. If I don’t the laundry will never get done. I’m notorious for losing track of time. My children are constantly on me about how long things take when I’m in control. They’ve heard “It’ll only take a minute. Come on!” and “I’ll be home in an hour.” a thousand times. They know how I operate and usually add on another hour to however long I say it will take.

I take the long way around the garage and through the front yard to the front door this time and enter the house through the kitchen. While the laundry is drying, I’ll wash the dishes and listen to a podcast, and then make everyone breakfast. Pancakes sound perfect for a day like this!

The alarm goes off on my phone and my youngest follows me out the laundry room to help. We move the basket to the front of the dryer and he pulls all the socks and underwear out into the basket while I pull out the shirts and lay them neatly across the top of dryer so they don’t get wrinkled. Once the dryer is empty, my son pulls out the lint trap and taps the piled up lint into the trash can waiting beside the dryer. He has trouble putting it back in but gets after a bit of work. I lay the shirts across the top of the basket and lift it up to my hip. My son gets the door and we walk back to the house to fold and put away our clean stuff.

My sons love to sort out the socks when I bring in a clean load of laundry. I get the shirts off the top of the basket, lay them out on the bed, and get some hangers from the closet. While I hang them up, they dump out the rest of the basket and grab up their own socks, match them up, and take them to their rooms along with the underwear.

An empty basket sits on my bed, so I flip it over and collapse it upon itself, drop it to the floor and slide it under my bed. Another morning load of laundry in the books. Let’s get a cookie!

When Kids Misquote the Joke

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My brother and I grew up in apartment complexes in Southern California in the ‘70’s. Most them look the same. Four long, two-story buildings set in a square, a parking lot outside the square at one end. In the center of that square was usually a courtyard with a big swimming pool. The first one I can remember was very much like that except that it was more rectangular than square and had a fenced concrete pool at one end and walkways with grass and trees on each side at the other end. There were brown pebble embedded concrete stairs up the second floor apartments. When we were short enough to stretch out across a whole step, we would lay out and warm ourselves in the sun, one kid to a step, waiting for the inevitable adult to come by and scatter us.

Kids ran around that courtyard all day when school was out. You could hear mothers admonishing kids to “stay in the courtyard” and out of the parking lot. If you were bored, you could go outside and probably find other kids to chase. If not, they’d soon see you and come out. It was before the age where you were discerning about who you hung out with, every kid was your friend and just about everyone you met was invited to your birthday party.

I don’t remember much about those kids but I remember one very clearly. I don’t remember what he looked like. Probably the usual lanky kid with brown hair, brown corduroy pants and a striped gold and white polo shirt of the late ‘70’s. Wherever he went he sang “Lucy in the sky with diamonds!” at the top of his voice, not the whole song, just that one line over and over again.

One afternoon my mother told me to keep an eye on my little brother out in the courtyard and to “stay out of the parking lot.” He was two years younger than me. In my imagination, he was the instigator back then, always roughhousing with other boys and making me chase him all over the apartment complex to keep him out of trouble. It seems like I wasn’t in school yet, so that would make him three or four. Thinking about it, I’m imagining a five and three-year-old playing in the courtyard of an apartment complex without an adult in sight today. Someone would have called the police!

The singer, as we called him, came storming up to my brother and I as we played beneath a large tree. We were “catching rabbits,” a game where we laid very still beneath the tree and near the bushes and watched for any imaginary rabbits that may come out since they wouldn’t know we were there. The singer came running up and my brother and I were angry that he had scared the rabbits away. That boy got right in our face and said, “You want to hear a joke?!” He was so loud! He straightened up real tall and showed us a piece of paper in his hand. “I’m a policeman. Never never!” and then he threw the piece of paper over his shoulder and ran off laughing manically.

We stood there staring after him in wonder. My brother looked at me and quickly picked up the piece of paper and repeated what the singer had done and laughed. Of course, I followed suit and repeated the “joke” again. I remember hearing the singer loudly repeating the joke to someone else he found in the courtyard and giggling to myself as we went back to the “catching rabbits” game.

Later that evening, when our mother called us in for dinner, I remember my brother repeating the joke to her. She just stared at us as we laughed in childish hysterics. How could she not find that funny? Old people! She just shook her head and told us to wash up and get ready for dinner.

It was around 1978 and “Keep America Beautiful” was at its height that year. Iron Eyes Cody made us all feel so bad about how we trashed our neighborhoods. There were school programs now to clean up the neighborhoods and constant reminders to “never litter.” It took me years to realize that our neighborhood friend probably misspoke a joke he heard on TV or from his parents, maybe an older brother. He was only six years old too! Now I can see it, someone thought they’d be hilariously ironic and pretend to be a police officer that litters and tell you not to. Our young friend heard the joke, loved the laughter, and tried to recreate it for the kids in the courtyard. I wonder if he wondered why the joke didn’t go over as well as when he first heard it.

Journal Entry

My brain is a whirl of activity this morning. I have so many ideas that I THINK I want to write about thanks to a book my friend Sherry recommended, “Writing the Memoir.” It’s like a floodgate of ideas has been opened. I guess I just didn’t realize that “memoir” was such a big market and that people read these stories all the time. I always figured it was only famous people that wrote them, but then I think of all the times we’ve said, “Wouldn’t it be cool to hear the journals and thoughts of a regular person of that time? Why don’t TV shows ever focus on that?” Apparently, there are millions of books about it! Mine could be one of them.

Not only am I getting encouragement about publishing my arrest story, I’m getting ideas for other books as well. What if I wrote about my childhood, the people I knew, the places I went and lived, our vacations. And then my young adult life, Disney, college, Knott’s, etc. And my children, homeschooling. Hmm…there’s just so much there.

What I need to work on right now is focus. I need to make time to write and stop allowing myself to be distracted. Turn the phone off, don’t look at Facebook (it switches my focus), plan time to be at my computer every single day at a certain time. It can be done and I will do it.

Yesterday…was beautiful. Dan and I went on a date together. We took a picnic lunch out to Old Dale and spent a couple hours walking and sitting on top of our hill staring at the desert. It was raining when we left the house but not windy or overly cold. When we got to Dale it was cloudy, clouds so low they tripped over the hills to the south of us and spread out across the basin, dropping a fine mist of water as they went.

Dale was amazingly green for the desert in January. I imagined all the tiny green plants at my feet exploding into colorful flowers at the first sign of warm sunny days. I’m making plans to go back out as soon as that happens to catch them with my camera.

I took pictures of the water drops collecting on the leaves. The smell of the wet desert was delicious. I’m not sure what it is, the smell of small, wet leaves that usually see no rain for months at a time, sighing in the quenching drizzle.

This was the first time we have ever been to our family camping spot without the kids. We parked in the spot we usually camp, got our water and made our way up the hill where we placed a “monument” years ago. From that high place you can see the whole basin spread below. From the hills of Old Dale in the south to the ragged peaks above Wonder Valley to the North. Amboy road works its way up and over the pass in a straight line, at night you can watch the headlights of car after car coming down it. Where are those people coming from? We can see all the way west into Twentynine Palms and the road east into Arizona. It’s big and peaceful.

Up on the hill, we checked our box to see if we’d had any visitors since we visited last spring. Years ago, when the boys were little, we placed that box there as a monument for us to leave messages each time we came up. When I discovered “Letterboxing” we wrote detailed directions on how to find it and put them up on their website. It evolved into a Geocache a few years later. The notebook that is up there now is nearly ten years old and half full of notes left by people who have found it through the app or stumbled across it while exploring the area.

I love looking through that notebook and adding my own message. There are some weird ones, some poetry, some sad messages about how lonely they are, thanks for sharing the view, etc. This time someone wrote, “Made the trek up to Mt. Huelle again.” And now that is what I will call it.

We sat on the rocks at the top, side by side, holding hands and listening to the gentle rain. Amazing. I love this man so much. Amazing what we’ve been through, how much we’ve changed and how much we still enjoy each other’s company, each other’s touch.

This date was intentional. Earlier this week I was reminded of what we were missing, intention. We’d stopped going places and doing things unless it were necessary or something we intended on experiencing. We’d stopped going places just to spend time together. Our time as parents is quickly closing, soon it will just be us every day. What will we do on weekends when there are no races to go to, no events to attend? We’ve decided to start dating again. This was a perfect start.

We walked back to the truck the long way, stopping to look at interesting rocks and plants, to wonder what might be just beneath the surface. What if we brought the metal detector out here? The rain makes everything look so different. Rocks are darker, red, black, gray, and deep green.

We talked about future plans, things we’d like to do together. At the truck we spread the picnic blanket on the tailgate and had lunch while we talked more and watched the clouds move across the desert, the sun peaking through at one end.

It got cold when we weren’t walking. Shivering in our light, now damp, jackets, we packed up and headed back home. It was an afternoon I’ll never forget.

What’s Your Family Culture?

I’ve been thinking about cultural customs and communication a lot lately. I’m wondering how much of what we do or don’t like about a person initially is more about how they communicate or the manners they learned growing up in their own family/national culture and less about who they are or how they behave.

What is culture? It’s the way a group of people living in close proximity have learned to communicate through words, actions, and behaviors. The family I grew up in had its own developed culture. And the state and country I grew up in had its own wider culture. Your culture teaches you what to expect from the people around you and what they expect from you. It makes people comfortable and able to focus on bigger things. When I walk in a room at a party, I know that if I make eye contact, smile, and talk in a familiar friendly way, people will accept me as part of the group and I can move forward with making closer friendships. That is what culture is.

The world is a big place with so many different cultures and communication styles. We used to only interact with a few on a daily basis. In the course of a regular work week, we’d interact with our own family’s culture and that of our physical location. It was easy. In a lifetime, the only time you’d deal with another would be if you traveled or if a foreigner came to your area. In those instances, you’d have to learn about what was expected of you as you traveled or that your new neighbor from China communicated respect in way different than you.

With the internet and social media, the world suddenly seems so much smaller. We deal with vastly different cultures on a daily basis. The pictures we see, the articles, the comments, all reflect a myriad of cultures that are so foreign to our own even from people inside our own country. We react to what we see from our own perspective, assuming that the person on the other end is posting from the same point of view when in fact he most likely is not. We end up taking offense and being angry, wondering what in the world has gone so completely wrong these days.

You’d think making it possible to see and communicate with people from around the world for free would make us immediately more understanding and sympathetic to others, but no. It’s made us angry and distrustful. Of course, it has! People say human is human and “a smile means friendship to everyone” but that just isn’t true.

The internet is opening up a whole new era of communication. In my opinion, it’s the equivalent of discovering fire, inventing language, and developing farming. It’s going to take a long time to re-invent the rules of behavior. Our new culture may be very different than any previous one. It may need to be based on a broader understanding of human nature, braver communication techniques, and a penchant for really wanting to connect. It remains to be seen if the human race is up to it.

Two New Books

I started two new books this week. The first one, “Democracy for Realists,” was recommended by Mark Manson on New Years Eve. It’s fascinating, but a long and more difficult read for me. I can only stay focused on it for about an hour before my brain starts to get tired!

I’ve had the same idea, that elections really don’t mean anything, for a long time but couldn’t really defend it. This book is giving me some great insight to my intuition. I’ve run across a few things I don’t agree with though. Government, federal and state, has gotten into the habit of micro-managing the people and the people have learned to depend on it instead of taking care of themselves and their own families privately.  The election process we have resembles a professional sport now, with one team against another and no principles to speak of. This book gets into why that is.

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Because I can only read this book for about an hour before my brain gets buzzy, and I my goal this year is to read for an average of three hours per day, I picked up another book to read at the same time. It’s called “Snow Falling on Cedars” by David Guterson.

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I found it at the thrift store for a dollar a few months ago and was intriqued by the cover. Yep, that’s how I find books sometimes, especially if they are a dollar. If I don’t like it right away, I stop reading it and drop it back at the thrift store so they can sell it to someone else. I’m only out a dollar.

This book is turning out great! World War II, Japanese immigrants being sent to Manzanar. It’s historical fiction and one of my favorite eras. I’ve been to Manzanar with my family and read a few other books about what happened. One was called “Nisei Daughter” by Monica Sone. What I already know is blending into this story so well.

One thing I found so strange when I first started reading about the Japanese Internment was how quick we all were to “evacuate” these people. The more I read, the more I understand.

It wasn’t like we all just turned on them. We were already wary of them. Japanese culture is very different from Western culture. Many behaviors that the Japanese consider respectful and honorable, we see as rude and suspicious. It was difficult for Westerners to accept them into society and the many immigrants did not want to assimilate either. They wanted to live thier own way and be left alone. When Pearl Harbor was bombed, it was easy for us to villify the Japanese immigrants and our government was happy to comply with our wishes.

I’m really fascinated about cultural differences and how they affect people’s perception of others. Don’t think we have outgrown our wariness of strangers!

There was a lot more going on at the time, especially on the west coast of the United States. It’s a interesting topic. Since I’ve read a bit about it in the past, this story’s setting is very clear to me and a fictional account of a love triangle and forbidden relationships in the midst of World War II is icing on that cake.

I think it’ll take me awhile to read “Democracy for Realists.” It’s long and involved, but I’ll write more about it as I read. I’m already more than halfway done with “Snow Falling on Cedars.” It’s that engaging!