Saturday, May 26, 2012

Memorial Day

I received an email the other day, forwarded to me and many others in the sender’s contact list.

This one was about veterans and Memorial Day, illustrated with poignant pictures.

The idea presented was that (military) veterans have GIVEN us our freedoms. What annoys me is not the idea of honoring those who’ve defended and protected our country, often with huge personal sacrifice. What annoys me is the wording.

I’m going to take each assertion and try to rephrase it.

It is the VETERAN, not the preacher, who has given us freedom of religion.

Rewording: it is the Veteran who has protected and defended our freedom to worship, a freedom guaranteed under Amendment I to our Constitution (the first of our Bill of Rights).

It is the VETERAN, not the campus organizer, who has given us freedom to assemble.

Rewording: Amendment I to our Constitution guarantees the right to assemble peacefully. The campus organizer keeps fresh our appreciation of that right. The veteran has protected and defended the Constitution.

It is the VETERAN, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial.

Rewording: Amendment VI to our Constitution grants us the right to a ‘speedy and public trial.’ Our veterans have protected and defended the Constitution.

It is the VETERAN, not the politician, who has given us the right to vote.

Rewording: Our Constitution initially awarded this right only to non-slave and non-Native males. We engaged in a bloody civil war before all men were ‘allowed’ to vote (Amendments XIII, XIV and XV). Acceptance and enforcement of those amendments evolved slowly.

And, hey, I’m a woman. My foremothers fought in the political/legal arena for that right (Amendent XIX) and I thank them every time I sign my ballot.

It is the VETERAN who salutes the Flag.

Rewording: All citizens may salute the flag our veterans have protected and defended. When I place my hand over my heart, it is a salute.

It is the VETERAN who serves under the Flag.

Yes. And many others, also. So, thank you, veterans for protecting and defending the rights and responsibilities our Constitution bestows on all citizens. And we can all honor the amazing Statesmen who gave birth to our nation with their words as well as their actions.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Book Tour

I’m back from my book tour. Well, not ‘Book Tour’ with capital letters. More of a Library Donation Excursion.

On May 17th, with a four-day space in my calendar, I threw some clothes in a bag, slipped into a pair of shoes and headed to the Southern Oregon Coast. My mission? Deliver copies of my novel, Just Out of Reach, to libraries in the area.

I took Oregon Highway 38. It runs through Drain and Elkton and meanders along the Umpqua River to Reedsport. Along the way, lambs and cattle grazed on new-growth-green grass or lazed in spring sunshine. An elk herd hung out at the east end of their reservation, out of sight from the viewing area. I know the route well, yet am always enchanted.

I cruised to the Coos Bay library where Ellen accepted two of my books, promising to send one to the North Bend branch. We chatted as she looked over my information and discovered we are both UO graduates. She asked if I would be interested in doing a talk at the library sometime in the fall.

“Sure,” I said, “I’d be honored.”

I had given a presentation at the Eugene Library in January and it was well-received. I’m over the jitters about such things. And I know the subject—both book and author!

Feeling elated, I trundled on down the road to Bandon, the scene of the crime as it were. There, too, the book was accepted with enthusiasm.

Then I stopped at the bookstore in Old Town. Last fall the owner bought one copy of my book. I wondered whether it had sold. No, still on the shelf.

Disappointed, I booked a room for the night at the Bandon Inn above Old Town, the inspiration for much of my story.

Since I planned to continue south for the afternoon, I called my friend Stan who lives near Gold Beach. He was home; I would get to meet his new wife.

I hustled the thirty miles to Port Orford. In the library parking lot, I grabbed a book from the back seat and stepped around a sign pointing to bike parking. Inside, the volunteer readily agreed to pass my book to the acquisitions desk.

As I returned to my car, I nearly tripped over the bike sign. Not just bike parking, but Bike and Dog Parking!

Giggling at the image of parking spaces for dogs, I exchanged my regular glasses for sunglasses and drove off in search of a quick lunch. Not finding an obvious spot, I turned back to Ray’s Market next to the library. That’s when I realized my regular glasses were missing. Panicked, I ran over to the bike/dog sign, thinking I had dropped them there. Nope. I raced into the library. No, I hadn’t left them there either.

Frustrated—and unnerved at my forgetfulness—I marched back to my car, opened the passenger side and tossed my sweater inside. Out fell the glasses, protected by the case I’d put them in. I looked up and shook my finger at the sky. “Not funny,” I said, looking around to be sure nobody heard.

Stan and Lynda live on a straight stretch of coastline, their house above the highway with a clear view of the ocean. I lolled in the sun on their deck, feet stretched out while Lynda explained the circuitous path she’d followed getting to Gold Beach. I took a couple of photos of the two of them, to show to mutual friends later.

It wasn’t until I was back in Bandon walking up the steps to the motel, that I looked at my feet. Not only had I thought my glasses lost, but also, in my rush to leave Eugene that morning, I had grabbed a pair of shoes from the rack. But not a pair: One blue shoe, one brown.

“This getting old stuff is getting really old,” I muttered aloud with a snort.

“At least they were on the right feet. And my socks match,” I chortled, changing into the beach shoes I keep in the car.

I remembered a small photo album my mother carried in her purse. It had SOG with PIP printed on the front. Silly Old Grandmother with Pictures In Purse.

Guess that makes me a Silly Old Woman with UnMatched Feet! SOW with UMF. Hmm. Doesn’t sound so bad. I can always use some UMF.

The next morning, in the warmth of sun filtered through a thin veil of clouds, I made my last stop at the library in Coquille. I gave the librarian my book with the promo and review information. The librarian’s daughter, no older than seven, piped up. “I like your earrings,” she said.

“Thank you. They’re my favorites,” I replied. I pointed to the ring on my left hand. “And I had to go all the way to Spain to get this ring,” I told her. “It’s very special.”

She nodded, wide-eyed, and repeated, “I like your earrings.”

Her mother and I exchanged amused smiles, ending my Book Tour on a happy note. I stopped for ice cream at Rice Hill to celebrate.