Teachers, fire and police, and state workers are not the money grabbers as portrayed by proponents of Issue 2. They have voluntarily given up over $1 billion in the last few years.
I slip into the water and it embraces me like cool satin sheets. We are old friends. Some of my earliest and fondest memories are of splashing around in a pool as a very young child.
After a brief warm up I begin my laps. Kick 2, 3, 4; kick 2, 3, 4. I begin churning through the water and start to relax as I slip into a semi trance. All athletes know about this and the runners even have a name for it. It is called a runner’s high. It is being in the zone, a place where the body automatically takes over and the breathing becomes labored but steady while the mind is on auto pilot. My arms begin to stretch and pull in rhythm as my legs continue the cadence of kick 2,3,4; kick 2,3,4.
I change my rhythm and go into the breast stroke—stretch, pull, and glide; stretch, pull, and glide. The black lane marker below me waves, shimmers, and ripples like a giant snake leading the way. I continue my rhythmic movements of stretch, pull, and glide. Suddenly the markers disappear and I am at the end of the lane. I repeat this process over and over until I have completed 25 laps and/or one hour, depending on how I feel that day.
My interests come naturally as my father was a champion swimmer in college. I am so thankful my parents encouraged me to learn to swim. My first official swimming lesson was at Scout camp in a cold water lake with a sandy shore and icky bottom coated with layers of slimy leaves that long ago gave up their hold on the trees above. I call it a lake but it wasn’t much bigger than an overgrown mud puddle. These conditions probably turned off many would-be-swimmers but I loved it. I looked forward to camp each year so I could continue my lessons. I finally completed all the Red Cross courses and even achieved my life guard patch.
Then it was my turn to introduce young campers to the water. By this time I was at a different camp but the conditions weren’t much better and in some ways were even worse. We shared the lake with what seemed like a thousand frogs. Have you ever tried teaching the dog paddle to screaming young girls avoiding jumping frogs? Truth is I wasn’t too crazy about them myself.
There is something spiritual about swimming, whether it is outside or indoors. You become one with nature and the water. The water supports you as you effortlessly float and move about. It cleanses your body and soul and refreshes you spirit. Many people are afraid of the water but if you relax and trust the water you will float. Keep in mind to kick your legs and keep your hands cupped to provide resistance through the water, then relax and remember to breathe—now you are swimming. Swimming is the closest we will ever come to flying.
Swimming is an excellent exercise because it doesn’t wear down the joints and can be done at any age. What other exercise can you do that is a complete workout for the body but does not leave you hot and sweaty?
This may seem like a strange time to write about a summer sport as we are now into the fall season but there are many pools at health clubs and Y’s across the nation. If you aren’t into swimming laps there are also water aerobics and water Pilates classes you can take.
While cleaning out some drawers recently I found an old postcard of the pool we frequented when I was just a tadpole. The pool was Dreamland swimming pool in Kenova, WV. I loved that place and it was the closest thing to heaven I knew. To me, it was even better than an amusement park. At the time it was built in 1925 it was the largest swimming pool east of the Mississippi River. Measuring 125 ft. by 250 ft. it was nearly the size of a football field. Two large circular concrete islands were in the center of the pool to provide a resting place for swimmers and sun worshipers. It gradually slopped from a few inches of water to 9 ft. At the deep end there were two platform diving boards, one 5 meters and the other 10 meters. I still bear the effects of an injury when I dove off the 10 meter board in college trying to show off for my boyfriend who later became my husband. I hit the water wrong and the force of the landing turned my legs backwards bending my back and causing a lifetime of back problems. I did this dive not once but twice. After failing a second time I gave up.
Dreamland pool also had two slides at one end. One was a big slide and one for smaller children. As a young kid I thought it was amazing to be able to fly down a slide and land in the water. Of course, it is nothing compared to today’s water parks, which I also love.
A large three-story pavilion ran along one side of the pool. My mother tells of attending dances there, while she was in college, with big name bands such as Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, and Louis Armstrong. I remember the dressing rooms were marked by large blue and white circular towers resembling art deco architecture. I can still remember the smells of chlorine, popcorn and candy. It truly was a magical place.
Over the approximately 20 year’s experience of sitting on boards, I have decided that the act of governing is a nasty business. Most boards are composed of what I call the 4 Ds—dreamers, doers, doubters, and downers. Each individual group, if gone unchecked, can cause ruin for the organization, but with each working together and compromising, I find a workable solution always appears.
I have served every position on boards except treasurer (I’m a words person not a numbers person) from president to non-voting advisor. I have also served on various types of boards from church boards to professional organizations to non-profit organizations. The board is elected by the general membership to run the daily business of the organization (from maintaining the physical plant and staff to paying bills) to charting the future and setting goals for the organization.
Many times while sitting at a board table I have pictured the organization as a boat with rowers on both sides—the dreamers and doers on one side and the doubters and downers on the other. In order for the boat to move ahead each side must work hard applying equal energy so the boat moves forward in a straight line. I am always amazed watching debates on the boards as each side energetically argues its position until someone in the middle suggests a compromise that encompasses both views.
This is true democracy in action where people come together and speak freely until a solution is found. Ideally, our federal government is an extension of this metaphor only on a grander scale. I must admit I am not the first to come up with this metaphor as Plato wrote about it and so did Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his immortal poem “O Ship of State” but my views aren’t as grandiose as Plato and Longfellow because I see the working mechanics where they were talking about the state itself.
This form of governing has worked well for thousands of years until now. Now we have a new party in our governmental mix known as the Tea Party. Don’t get me wrong, I have been in favor of a third party for years to break up the gridlock in Washington but I was hoping that third party would be composed of intelligent people who would listen to both the Democrats and Republicans and be the ones to work out a compromise between the two. However, it seems what we have is a bunch of not-so-intelligent people determined to hold their own line in the sand and not bend either way. In other words, we have a road block that only complicates the gridlock in Washington. I admire people who stand on principle and I have done so many times, myself, even to the detriment of me or my reputation. However, I have never done so when it meant the total collapse or downfall of the organization I was representing. Something each elected representative should keep in mind is he or she is there for the good of the whole. The Tea Party has not acted responsibly for the good of the whole nation. They have brought us to the brink of collapse standing on principle of a few regardless of what is good for the nation. There always comes a time in a debate where both sides need to recognize the merits of the opposing view and work to find a middle meeting point. As much as I dislike certain elements of both the Democrats and Republicans they have always eventually compromised, shook hands, and continued to the next problem like civilized citizens. I’m afraid I can’t say the same for the roadblock in the middle called the Tea Party.
While serving on both professional and non-profit boards there was always a certain professionalism that pervaded the atmosphere with unspoken rules in effect where each recognized the importance of the work we had to do. Everyone also recognized that a business does not operate the same as a family unit and a business or organizational budget and financial responsibilities were not exactly the same as a family budget. Serving on a church board that is composed of professionals, homemakers, entrepreneurs, laborers, and both educated and uneducated has always been a challenge because not everyone has the business background needed for running an organization. During one intense debate over the church’s budget a woman with no business experience was resisting paying the staff and couldn’t understand why we needed to pay a choir director. She asked why someone in the choir couldn’t stand in front and wave his arms. Others felt that all staff members including the minister, secretary, custodian, etc. should serve on a volunteer basis. Still others didn’t understand that electric and gas bills needed to be paid. Some never understood the concept of “the cost of doing business”.
I fear people with this same mentality are making up the Tea Party. They are so far behind in basic knowledge of how government operates and what is expected of them that they are holding up progress. They are feeling empowered from their limited success in the last election and are boldly taking advantage of that power. This is a democracy and everyone has the right to be heard. They have been heard but now it is time to either become a player or step aside so the business of governing can continue. We sent our representatives to Washington to do a job so, in the words of Larry the Cable Guy, “Get-r-done!”
Hi Friends! No, nothing is wrong with your computer, I have been busy with other things and haven’t added to my blog in way too long. Today I’m doing a quick update just to let you know I’m still alive and well. However, don’t worry, I have been busy collecting information on more topics of interests and promise to inform you and make you think in the near future. I have also taken some beautiful pictures of summer and will add them very soon.
I received a beautiful note from my neighbor, Shaheena Arthur, who I wrote about recently when she became an American citizen. She writes:
Thanks for this wonderful blog on July 4th. Thankful to Martha,
Jim, Sheila, Phyllis, Judith, Bill and neighbors for the get
together, to mark the occassion of me becoming US citizen. It is this
kind of welcome and acceptance that makes the immigrants like us to feel at
home here in USA. I am from Pakistan and moved to USA in 2003
after the marriage. America proved to be land of opportunity for us in
every sense. Like most immigrants, I miss the country I am
from. At the same time, I am very proud of being a US citizen.
Irrespective of the current economic downturn, We are incredibly
optimistic about America’s prospects and our life here in this great
I also have a mystery on my hands. A neighbor gave me some flowers to transplant in my garden and this spring a huge flower began growing. No one knows what it is but my next door neighbor calls it the Jack in the Beanstalk flower. The neighbor who so generously gave me her transplanted flowers has been out-of-town this summer and is not around to ask if the mystery flower is one of hers or just a weed that sprang up. So I am hoping one of my readers can identify this strange flower. It is about 8 ft. tall and still growing. It develops a long green spike and small yellow flowers appear along the new growth. Can anyone please solve this mystery for me–What the heck is it???
We celebrate our country’s Independence Day with parades and picnics; flags, family, and fireworks.
With the name Spielberg attached to it, one can’t help but make comparisons to his big hit of the 80’s, ET. Although both movies are about young people and aliens that is where the similarities stop. This alien isn’t nearly as endearing and lovable as ET. There is one scene where the alien appears to make an emotional connection with the young hero but that moment is only in passing.
It is good to see Kyle Chandler (or Coach Taylor for Friday Night Lights fans) take on a leading role. He is excellent portraying macho gruffness hiding a hurt and vulnerable human being. He is so preoccupied with running the town in the unexplained absence of the sheriff and coping with growing hysteria that he doesn’t notice his son is sneaking out at nights to participate in the making of a home movie about zombies. While filming a night scene for an amateur movie contest, they capture a train wreck by lucky coincidence. The repercussions of the wreck and its mysterious cargo will keep you on the edge of your seat the rest of the movie.
But, the real heroes of the movie are the young teens with little or no acting experience behind them. It is a testament to Abrams and Spielberg’s genius that they are able to build a whole movie around such inexperienced actors. The only one of the young actors with much experience is Elle Fanning (sister of Dakota Fanning) who plays the innocent heroine of the zombie movie.
I usually hate horror and monster movies because I don’t like blood, gore, and slime; and things that jump out at me. This movie does not rely on those cheap tricks but actually has a good story behind it. The alien is only seen as a quick movement on screen leaving more to the imagination until the climax of the movie when we finally see the arachnid species. The two masters of super natural intrigue have teamed up to write and produce what I predict will become a classic. How can you miss with Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams, one of the creators of Lost, behind it? Super 8 is written and directed by Abrams and produced by Spielberg and has all of the sci-fi mystery and nostalgia associated with both men.
I predict big things for this movie in the future. I give it an A.
Finally, a politician who sees the light. He actually seems to understand what teachers have been saying about the problems with standardized testing.
All of these images are associated with St. Patrick’s Day but, curiously, Patrick was known for a particular shade of blue. He is depicted wearing blue vestments and military men wore “St. Patrick’s Blue” in their uniforms. It is not known exactly how or when green became associated with St. Patrick’s Day; however, in Irish folklore green symbolized new life and crop growth and was worn by fairies and immortals. Also, green is associated with the country itself due to the prominence of bright green fields giving it the name of The Emerald Isle.
That is just one of several misconceptions surrounding the popular day for the Irish. For starters, Patrick was not Irish but was born in 385 in Kilpatrick, England, which is now part of Scotland, making the patron saint of Ireland Scottish. His parents were wealthy Romans living in Britain in charge of the colonies. His name was Maewyn Succat, however, he took the name Patricius or Patrick when he was ordained.
When he was between 14 and 16 (sources vary) he was kidnapped by a raiding party from Ireland and taken as a slave to herd and tend sheep. While there he learned the language and the ways of the Druids and pagans. He was lonely and frightened and turned to God and prayer for comfort. After six years he escaped and was guided by visions and dreams to safety.
He studied for the priesthood and after being ordained he was sent back to Ireland. He arrived in Ireland March 25, 433 at Slane. One legend tells that he met a chieftain who tried to kill him. Patrick converted him after the chieftain was unable to move his arm until he befriended Patrick. Patrick and his disciples preached throughout Ireland for 40 years converting most of the people. This is perhaps the source of the legend of St. Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland. There were no snakes in Ireland when Patrick arrived but, through his work converting the pagans and Druids and establishing schools, churches, and monasteries, the legend of the snakes symbolizes the disappearance of other beliefs when Patrick planted the seeds of Christianity.
He was successful because he knew the language and used traditional customs, symbols, and rituals already familiar to the people in teaching Christianity. He used bonfires to celebrate Easter since this was a way the Irish normally honored their gods. He also superimposed a sun, a powerful Irish symbol, onto the Christian cross to create what is now called the Celtic cross. This made the symbol more natural to the Irish.
Another traditional symbol is the shamrock or as the Celts called it the “seamroy”. It was a sacred plant in ancient Ireland and symbolized the rebirth of spring. Patrick used the three leafed clover to explain the trinity of the father, son, and Holy Spirit in one. By the seventeenth century the shamrock became a symbol of emerging Irish nationalism. As the English seized Irish lands and made laws forbidding use of the Irish language, its music, and practice of Catholicism, many began wearing the shamrock as a symbol of pride in their heritage and their displeasure with English rule. Queen Elizabeth I even decreed that all artists and pipers were to be arrested and hanged on the spot.
And what about the little men in green suits called leprechauns? The Celts believed in fairies who could use their magical powers to serve good or evil. In Celtic folklore, leprechauns were known as cranky souls who mended the fairies’ shoes. They were also known for their trickery used in protecting their treasures.
Finally, the day Patrick died, March 17, has long been observed as a religious feast day—not an excuse for a day long drinking orgy. (Although the Irish have been known to put away a pint or two.) He died at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland in 461 where he built the first church. In Ireland March 17 was a religious day and all pubs were closed until the 1970s when laws were finally passed allowing the pubs to remain open on that day. The tradition of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the U.S. began with a military parade marching through New York City on March 17, 1762. Led by bagpipes and drums, these parades flourished over the next 35 years sponsored by several Irish Aid societies. Each society held its own parade until 1848 when several New York Irish Aid societies decided to unite their parades to form one New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Today, that parade is the world’s oldest civilian parade.
The Irish have known their share of discrimination. During the great potato famine beginning in 1845, nearly a million poor and uneducated Irish Catholics came to America to escape starvation. The American Protestant majority hated them for their religion and funny accents and put signs in the windows saying “No Irish Need Apply.” It was hard for them to find even menial jobs and newspapers portrayed them in cartoons as drunk and violent monkeys. However, they began to realize that their great numbers gave them political power. They started to organize and their voting block, known as the “green machine,” became an important swing vote for politicians. In 1948 President Truman attended New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day parade which was a proud time for those Irish whose ancestors had to fight stereotypes and racial prejudice to find acceptance and work in America.
How times have changed. Today everyone is Irish, even if for only one day. Almost everyone wears green on March 17, many eat the traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner with Irish soda bread, and quite a few enjoy downing a pint or two of green beer or Guinness. Irish is the nation’s second most frequently reported ancestry with the Germans ranking first. There are 36.0 million Americans with Irish roots which is eight times the population of Ireland itself.
My own family claims Irish roots with my father’s family going back to 1774 when our ancestor came here with the British army as one of the king’s soldiers in an Irish regiment. He was a “pressed” soldier from Ireland which is roughly the equivalent of a drafted soldier in today’s military. Fortunately, according to family legend, he became a turncoat and fought for the colonists. My mother’s family is unable to accurately trace its roots since her ancestor came here during the potato famine as a stowaway on a boat and entered the country illegally.
So whether you are officially Irish or Irish for the day, take a moment to reflect on the life of a man who changed a nation by being true to his faith. Erin Go Bragh (Gaelic for Ireland Forever).
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
–A Traditional Irish Blessing
- Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day (jsroemer.wordpress.com)
A couple of people sent me e-mails regarding my rant about Charlie Sheen (see GO AWAY, CHARLIE SHEEN). I thought they were interesting and I would like to share them here.
The first one is from Anne. She writes:
Couldn’t agree more- with all the problems in the United States, and now the news leads off with his crisis. A sad situation, but he can afford professional help if he would only remove himself from denial.
The second one is from Jerry who adds his thoughts about TV in general:
Now Shiela….how do you really feel about this guy???
You’re going to have to learn to be more outgoing when you feel strongly about something..
Oh yea, I have a solution…it’s called an on/off knob…that’s what we do around here.. but Mr. Sheen isn’t the
reason for why I choose that route….as I always say….there is the good news and the bad news….GOOD NEWS>…we now have 500 channels to watch on TV (as opposed to three when I was growing up), but the BAD NEWS>…there isn’t a damn thing …worth my taking time to watch any of the 500…
Thanks guys for your feedback. I always love hearing from my readers.