Wednesday, October 29, 2008

After Nixon was elected in 1968 I became generally disenchanted with politics and caught in the delights of university life, meeting lifelong friends, falling in love.

Spring of 1969 I remember a mix of political experiences and related feelings. That was the era of anti Viet Nam War protests - which were large on the University of Texas campus. I remember a highlight was hearing John Kenneth Galbraith speak to a crowd on the Campus mall. Lowlight for me was the irresponsible behavior of fellow protestors, many of whom seemed to be using the protests to smoke grass in the daytime, shock their parents and cut class, I saw a lot of drug related problems because I worked the first aid station. The thing that really got to me though was that they didn;t pick up litter and made big messes. The only speech I made at the rally was about how we had to take ourselves seriously enough to pick up after ourselves if we wanted others to take our message seriously. I remember feeling afraid because of the students shot at Kent State, afraid of the stories told by people who had been beaten up by police at the Chicago Democratic Convention. I remember talking to my Dad on the phone about the line between civil liberty and treason.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Writing about the assassinations - the terrible season of assassinations - made me remember this song by Dion. I wonder if some of the rest of you remember it too. It always made me cry. Still does.

Abraham, Martin and John

Has anybody here seen my old friend Abraham?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
He freed a lot of people,
But it seems the good they die young.
You know, I just looked around and he's gone.

Anybody here seen my old friend John?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
He freed a lot of people,
But it seems the good they die young.
I just looked around and he's gone.

Anybody here seen my old friend Martin?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
He freed a lot of people,
But it seems the good they die young.
I just looked 'round and he's gone.

Didn't you love the things that they stood for?
Didn't they try to find some good for you and me?
And we'll be free
Some day soon, and it's a-gonna be one day ...

Anybody here seen my old friend Bobby?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
I thought I saw him walkin' up over the hill,
With Abraham, Martin and John.
1968 was the year when politics went wonky for me -maybe for many of us of my generation.

The Tet offensive in Viet Nam terrified us - maybe we couldn't win this war.THis war seemed to be terribly managed and hard to understand. All the guys my age were draft age, or almost, turning eighteen and getting letters from Uncle Sam. We talked constantly about enlistmant, reserves, deferments, going to Canada, who was or wasn't legitimately a consciencious objector. In winter, I sat in my Daddy's study on the floor, vacu cleaner forgotten beside me, reading the National Geographic article about Tet and crying, wondering who I knew would go and not come home.

Martin Luther King Jr was shot and killed in spring and hearts broke. It seemed unreal, too much. We put the flag at half mast at school - students did. The adults were too stunned to even think that we needed to do that. We stood in the courtyard and cried and sang "We Shall Overcome" - a bunch of privleged white kids who weren't real sure what we had to overcome but knew a great leader had been killed and violence was afoot that had to be stopped.

Bobby Kennedy visited Cezar Chavez and the farm workers, and ran for President, and we hoped he could win and make a difference. He won the California primary and we hoped, he was killed the night of the Primary - right down the road from my California home, in the kitchen of a hotel where I'd danced at wedding receptions. I remember walking the halls of my high school the next day crying, hugging people.

That summer I committed my only ever act of vandalism - pulling down a George Wallace for President sign in the small town where Uncle Rudy lived. That summer, too, I was shocked by the behavior of the police at the Chicago Democratic convention - and turned away from politics into my own life, starting college.
Jewish blessing to be said before voting - “Praised be the One who has called us to exalt our nation with righteousness, and taught us: ‘Seek the welfare of your community and pray on its behalf, so that all may share in its well-being.’”
[Proverbs 14:34, Jeremiah 29.7]

Sunday, October 26, 2008

One more political memory tonight - 1964, I remember learning about the John Birch Society on the school bus - and that some of my friends parents kept guns in their houses and belonged to the NRA and believed it was an important right to be able to keep guns. That felt alien to me. I remember ROnal Reagan in California politics - and our family didn't like him but I don't remember why. I liked Lyndon Johnson then. He was a Texan like my family and I knew where his ranch was and hoped he would be a good President. I remember the picture of him being sworn in on AIr Force One after Kennedy died - how sad he looked. I liked Lady Bird and her interest in Texas wild flowers. I knew most of the Texas wild flowers because my Grandma Anna had taught me their names.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I know I've posted this quote on this blog before, but since I was just writing about John Kennedy and his death, and since the election approaches this year, it feels right for tonight. More political memories tomorrow.

If by a 'Liberal' they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a 'Liberal' then I'm proud to say I'm a 'Liberal.'
John F. Kennedy

Friday, October 24, 2008

Here's a political, ethical view from right now - a commentary poem I love (thank you Peggy.)

Words Matter

I used to think words didn't matter
as long as you knew in your heart
what you meant. But I was wrong.
Words can change what people think.
Police officer
Person with schizophrenia
Person with a disability
Words do matter
Everyone should be able to marry
the partners they choose.

Peggy Goetz, October 23, 2008
The assassination of John Kennedy wasn't politics, exactly, but history, and it was soon enough after his election that it had echoes of politics for me. I thought assassination was something that only happened in history - that people were more civilized now. I had a lot to learn about how civilized we aren't. I remember I was going to lunch - seventh grade, Ladera Vista Jr. High, ad David Speak, on whom I had a horrible long lasting unrequited crush, called out across the courtyard that the President had been shot. I remember sitting stunned in sewing class after that, with the TV on, trying to make sense of what had happened. At home, in the days that followed, the TV stayed on. Daddy didn't shave, didn't go to work and we just sat there and watched and watched on the olive green day bed in the den until the funeral was over. Then we picked up pieces and went back to life. I saved the Life magazines with the shots in the limousine and of John John (not dignified but the way we thought of him then) saluting the funeral procession. think it would have been way too awful then to imagine that more assassinations would follow.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

1960 Presidential election was exciting. I was ten then, and we had television by then. I remember the debates people saying Kennedy was handsome and Nixon wasn't and not understanding that visually. I did like Jackie Kennedy's hats. I remember my parents talking about Kennedy being Catholic and how people said that the Pope would be able to tell a Catholic President what to do, and that my parents didn't think it would be an issue at all. I remember the voting lines were so long both parents stood for hour to vote. I remember Daddy took me out to supper at Alfred's Delicatessen while Mama was voting and then took me to his office at Shell Oil, the only time I remember being there. I fell asleep in front of the election returns for the first time that night, beginning a long tradition.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

You can't leave them up to God when God has left them up to us.
Orson Scott Dard

I've been thinking about elections, of course, as has my writer's group. A prompt was to write a poem about a first election memory. I hope to add other political action memory poems over the next couple of weeks.

Citizenship Lesson

1956 -so I was almost six.
Big flag flew outside polling
place, red white and blue.
Daddy held me up to see
the voting booth, kissed me,
gave me a little flag on a stick,
fluttering stars and stripes.
Both parents were excited,
confused me by saying they
were voting for the donkey
because he was a statesman
not a soldier, and America
needed a statesman after
so much war - They wanted
Stephenson not Eisenhauer,
but after the elephant won
they told me it would be all right.
The people had decided - democracy.
Mama explained voting was a right,
a responsibility I should hold dear,
and I do to this day. Lesson learned.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Poor Bob just locked himself and Lobo out of the Corpus apartment - something I would have done a dozen times a school year and something he usually manages not to do. I hope they get in the back door or call the landlady successfully - too late to be stuck outside with dog - and I think the school is locked so he can't even go there and sleep on the floor. Poor Bob!

UPDATE- Bob managed to get back in through his back door. HOORAY!

It's the action, not the fruit of the action, that's important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there'll be any fruit. But that doesn't mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Quiet day off here - so quiet I don't have much to say. It's starry out - sweet fall night. I have all my Halloween decorations out- raven and owls sitting on candlesticks. Bright pumpkins and hanging bats. The kids helped me decorate. I had at least as much fun as they did. This part of the holiday cycle is clearly my favorite - all warm colors and scents. The sunset glowed apricot and hazy.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no "brief candle" to me. It is a sort of splendid torch that I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.
George Bernard Shaw

Happy Sunday night here. The grand kids were here all weekend - delightful. I took them back to mass and Sunday school for the first time this school year. Sunday school has just started up. They are so happy and warmly received in their church community and so am I. I like having more than one spiritual tradition in my life. Today after mass the church had an international feast in a number of rooms with foods and parishioners in dress from all over the world - and music and dress too. I restrained myself with the food but enjoyed the atmosphere and watching the kids enjoy the food.

We had the best in ordinary time this weekend, cooking, eating, talking, doing homework, decorating for Halloween, K.K. and I helping Bob grade student work. So much in my life is so good- bright treasure.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mirror - Fifty -seven

I face the woman in the mirror,
tired around the eyes, strong.
Skin shows years of sun, emotion.
Body bore two children, shows it.
Hair hangs loose, no longer flame.
I face the woman in the mirror
and refuse to see her faded,
diminished, anything but beautiful.
I know who I am, embrace power
I couldn't imagine at thirty-seven.
Time may be short but the woman
in the mirror has work left to do.

Victoria Hendricks - October 15, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Rainy day here, so muggy before the rain started. I walked to the bank and was hotter than I've been on 100 degree summer days. There was no movement in the air - just sat on my skin like a solid. Now it is quick and cool out - so different. I found an old pair of jeans in a box and they are loose - always a good feeling. I don't remember where they came from or when I wore them - but loose jeans and cool temperatures, especially after a muggy afternoon bring a smile.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Mary Jean Iron : Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return.
It rained today - good wet rain and towers of pink cloud at dusk. I'm about to goout and walk Lobo in the moonlight. I had a good work day, rewarding. Bob and I actually talked about retirement this weekend - the first time it felt real, like something about us - really - something we might actually eventually do. He could retire with full benefits from teacher retirement at 65 (six more school years) and might work an extra year to keep insurance untio I'm Medicare eligible. I can imagine going to part time then - maybe working out of the house - traveling more (maybe actually retiring completely myself but that still feels alien) - but cutting back - traveling more - could be good. It is a relief to understand when a practical time for Bob to retire would be.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Today was a different kind of Monday because Bob was home. He had a routine physical this morning and is healthy - a relief always. We walked Town Lake (Lady Bird Lake now) with the kids this afternoon - and the kids, in turn, used the bright green camera Bob is testing for his photo club. It passed the test. It was fun to watch the kids choosing shots and each being careful of the camera. Ruth and CHris came by for a short visit and to use our oven on the way to a potluck. I feel a little tired, but happy, moving into the work week.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

We just got back from the traveling show from the "So You Think You Can Dance" TV show. It was fun - great dancing and a warm, bonded ensemble of young dancers. I sat next to K.K., who said she would rather be onstage than in the audience. Me too, if I'm honest, in a younger body incarnation.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Bob and I just got back fron a moonlit walk at McKinney Falls - beautiful clear evening with deer running away from us and we saw a rabbit hop away too.

Friday, October 10, 2008

I'm tired at the end of a long work day and hungry but don't want to cook - even heat anything up. That's one of the biggest disadvantages of our lifestyle - hard to cook for just me sometimes, but I do and I will tonight. Food has really been good this fall and I'm very happy with my weight loss so far. I resisted Weight Watchers for decades, probably because I'm too much of an introvert for meetings, but with the online recipes and hints it's a great program for me.

Yesterday's Yom Kippur service occured in the Unitarian Universalist church where Kerry and I were married. Our congregation has all of it's High Holy Days services in that church and I usually don't think about our marriage there - not a wedding really, just a marriage on a cold December morning with Kerry, me, the minister, and our two best friends. Yesterday I walked into the kitchen during a break between prayers, and remembered pacing in that kitchen on the morning of that marriage, wondering if I had what it took to be a good wife. I know myself much better now. I don't even feel sad that things changed so much for hte young couple who married in that church - or only partly sad. It would have been a good life if he had lived to old age and he declared it a good life the day he died young. It's been a good life for me too, before his death and since. Nothing, no loss, no change is ever as big a deal as it seems at the time, no triumph either.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Yom Kippur is over and was a wonderful highly holy expeience, great to share it with Ruth and Chris (and Sprout). I was struck by the acrostic prayers in the litugy and made my own with one of my favorite sayings.

Love Not Ego

Loss, gain, pride, shame.
Only confuse and confound
Value flows from intention.
Each choice bends fate.

No gift or affliction exempts.
Outside, inside, hurt or whole,
Truth unites us, soul to soul.

Each can follow. Each must lead.
Give, question, ask, receive
Open, then seal, compassion's gate.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Yom Kippur - Day of Atonement - If I were clasically observant I would not be on the computer at all, but, for me, writing thoughtfully sems more observant than not writing at all. I don't feel full of wise thoughts - trying to empty out, not just physically with the fast, but spiritually and emotionally, to just hold the quiet and know that my actions and choices do make a difference.Interesting that the rabbil tonight talked of God by two names - Love and Truth - different lenses for sure.

It is up to us
to hallow Creation
to respond to Life
with the fullness of our lives.
It is up to us
to meet the WOrld
to embrace the Whole
even as we wrestle with its parts.
It is up to us
to repair the World
and bind our lives to Truth.

Therefore we bend the knee
and shake off the stiffness that keeps us
from the subtle
graces of Life
and the supple
gestures of Love.
With reverence
and thanksgiving
we accept our destiny
and set for ourselves
the task of redemption.

Rami M Shapiro

Monday, October 06, 2008


Skill has always
been easier than truth.
Wisdom demands both.

Victoria Hendricks - 10-6-2008
“How vain it is to sit down to write ...
... when you have not stood up to live."

-Henry David Thoreau
I walked up to the grocery store a little while ago and watched a couple - younger than me (mid forties?) She was in a wheel chair and he was pushing, very tender, reaching down a couple of times to stroke her cheek or talk to her quietly. There was absolutely love in their interaction and, I thought, protectiveness on his side. She had hair but looked too think with a look of pain about her - but of course I could be completely wrong. Maybe she just has an injury and will be fine - but I thought about having short time as a couple seeing them together and I triggered on something Bob said yesterday, that sometimes someone who really loves a spouse might choose to suffer greatly in grief, to become dysfunctional, to show how much he or she loved the partner who was ill or had died. That really scares me. I don't think anyone could love more than I loved Kerry and I didn't do that. Don't do that, Bob, if I die suddenly, now, or otherwise before you. Please use your love for me to make the rest of your life strong and to create beauty, strength, healing in the world in my name, in the name of our love. Please, please, nobody ever shut down in grief for me (I mean I know you will have your feelings and tears and will miss me, but don't let the grief make you less for more than a very short time - please) Use the energy to create and heal. That's important to me. When I die, make an altar of your actions, as I wrote the other day.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

This was a good weekend for our family - Rosh Hoshannah meal here with dipping of apples in honey for blessings and hours of good family talk. I cooked all the food this year and it was mostly good, except that thesalmon loaf was unexpectedly salty and I have no idea why - very odd. I'm the only one it really bothered. I fixed the first pumpkin pies of the season, a real treat for Ruth who would live on pumpkin pies if she had access and would let herself. The deep levels of conversation and thought have been in keeping with the sense of the holiday. Every year as the season turns I find myself working to shed still another skin of bad habits, old ways of thinking, traits and processes that no longer serve me. This year I'm letting go a little more of my tendency to want others to change first (since of course they have more to change than I do! (not).

Friday, October 03, 2008

Autumn Return

Autumn reminds us return
to basic apples, simple honey,
familiar faces around table
older, each of us, changed.
Every autumn, we rise and fall,
together and separately
turning, toward one another
away, toward, and back again.
Who will be absent next year?
Who will be new? To be present,
one more cycle, to turn and return
again is blessing enough. Sufficient.

Victoria Hendricks October 3, 2008
I'm in a very bright, happy mood tonight - for no particular reason. I laid in groceries in preparation for cooking for the family tomorrow. I even bought flowers, something I haven't done in a year or more. I felt useful at work today. A great horned owl hooted at me when I was walking home at dusk yesterday. The waxing crescent moon was setting orange in an indigo sky and the temperature was mild. Next week we will dip into the fifties - probably my favorite temperature decade) though I prefer it when the highs, not the lows are in the fifties)decade. I know the economic news is terrible and many people I know are suffering for many reasons - and still, tonight I sit at my table with the windows open and smile.

I just finished the book My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor, and between that and the introspection of the High Holy Days, I'm probably more aware of mood than usual. Dr. Taylor is a neuroanatomist who suffered and recovered from a severe stroke, and she writes about the locus of emotions and attitudes in the brain, the amount of power she learned to have over her emotional reactions as a result of the experience of losing access to her left - story- teller - critic brain after the stroke. So much of what she writes is what I believe and teach in the wise person work I do for myself and with my clients. She gives scientific, physical backing what I believe and experience and what many spiritual traditions teach about the destructive power of attaching to emotions . I never would have read this book without my book group (Thank you book group) and I am inspired and excited (cheered actually) by it.

I also love a quote which Dr. Taylor uses as her email tagline.

"I must be willing to give up what I am in order to become what I will be."

Albert Einstein

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Lest this post alarm anybody, I'm fine, mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually - just introspective as Yom Kippur approaches and one of the prompts for my writing group was " Day of the dead altars".


When I die, speak me simple,
speak me true. Make my altar
out of action. Hold your tongue
or use it in wisdom, in kindness.
Dance, sing, paint, hike, cook, eat,
Love, cry, laugh, tell stories, hope
Nurture, teach, learn, receive, give
savor, enrich each moment you live.
Victoria Hendricks, October 2, 2008
My partner Kent and I led a group at work tonight - first gorup I've started in maybe seven years. I was both VERY nervous about being competent and helpful in that setting and thrilled with the level of participation, courage, and honesty. There is such power in shared stories and shared healing. I won't me nearly as nervous whne we meet again in two weeks.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The details make life holy. If you want a little happiness in life don’t forget to look at the little things. It is a poet’s work to see the incidental, pluck it, place an appropriate silence around both sides and see the profound in what passes for a passing moment. It is an artist’s job to as much discover art as create it. Prayer is a way of making the common profound by pausing, tying knots around a moment, turning our life into a string of pearls.
Noah Ben Shea
For Rosh Hoshanna, we Jews traditionally dip apples in honey to commemorate the sweetiness of ife. Tonight the eden image combined in my sleepy brain with this custo and I put toghether a poem that feels very true to me - my second Rosh Hoshanna reflecion for this year.


Fruit of the knowledge of good and evil,
bears seeds of doomsday destruction,.
bears seeds of creation, love, salvation,
Seeds of hope, and despair, begin neutral,
apple seeds undistinguishable, innocent, same.

Human choice, our knowledge of good or evil,
determine if we plant doomsday destruction.
determine if we pant creation, love, salvation.
I will dip my apple in honey, bestow sweetness,
Chosen seeds will grow in wholeness, shalom.

Victoriea Hendricks - September 30, 2008