Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day is a holiday that is filled with contradiction for me.  I have an appreciation of those who have died in wars defending our country.  I honor the farmers and merchants of the American Revolution who had adopted this land and were willing to stand up to the professional soldiers of King George to establish a country that was no more than a few words on a piece of parchment that many of them couldn’t even read.  I honor my family members who left their families and work to fight World War II. They were boys when they left and men when they returned.  They were men who carried the scars of those battles, inside and out, for the rest of their lives. 

But I also honor my Grandaddy Campbell, who was a conscientious objector in World War I.  He and others like him cooked for the soldiers, but refused to take up arms against the enemy.  What if all soldiers, in all times, did that?  What if we had a day to celebrate those who stood for peace?  What if our nation’s capital was full of memorials and monuments of peacemakers rather than of war heroes? 

The dilemma is this:  How do we honor our military, both alive and dead, without honoring, and thus perpetuating, the evil that is war? I know the arguments of the “just war” but where is the argument for “just peace?”  Today, as we remember our war dead, please give some thought to a day when we can also honor those who stand for peace.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Dang!  I just wrote a beautiful, poetic, inspiring piece about our last two days and then I (actually, Blogger) lost it!  I’m sure it won’t be as beautiful, poetic, and inspiring the second time around, but, here goes…

Can you hear me speaking in a British accent as you read this?  I’ve gotten pretty good at it.  We’ve been steeped like a tea-bag in history and culture for the last two days.   We got up early yesterday and caught a bus that took us to Leeds Castle, Dover, and Canterbury.  The castle is out in the middle of a lake and the land around the lake is gorgeous.  It was a home until the 1950’s and the décor in it now is what it was like then.  It was also owned by an American.   It actually looked quite warm and comfortable, but of course, we weren’t seeing the whole thing.  They were busy putting up Christmas decorations and they were working on some of the stone work.  Scaffolding was set up in the moat and the workers were boating around the scaffolding and climbing in and out of the boat to work on the walls.  Interesting juxtaposition of old world and new.

We just made a quick stop at Dover but the cliffs are beautiful.  There is an ancient castle there, too, but it is in ruin.  There were sheep grazing up around it.   I’ve decided my photos of it are allowed to go into my collection of photos of deserted houses.  House, castle, very little difference.

We then went on to Canterbury.  I think it would be a nice place to stay a couple days.  The area around the cathedral has quaint little local shops.

Then Canterbury Cathedral!  There was a memorial service happening in the crypt so the music was wafting up to us as we looked around.  It was pretty surreal.  They were also putting up Christmas decorations and changing light bulbs.  That has been surprising to me.  These grand churches I’ve heard of all my life, are also actual, working congregations.  A member dies and they have a memorial for them.  The lights go out and they change the bulbs.  The seasons change and they put up decorations.  A service has more people than expected and they pull out the rack of chairs stored in the transept.  They aren’t museums to a dead religion, they are real church families of local townspeople, just like Arlington Heights, UMC in Fort Worth.

We had lunch at a little café that served us from beautiful little tea cups and plates.  When school let out, the town was flooded with teenagers in ties and blazers heading home on bicycles and on the train.  After we got back to the flat, we began to hear a choir.  We looked out the window and a choir was caroling, carrying candles, with their priest dressed in his robes.  The whole day was so very British!

Today we rode a tour bus around the city and got a feel for where everything is.  We ended the day at Westminster Abby.  Again, there were worship services going on and every hour the priest asked everyone to stop where they were and say a prayer.  The most powerful thing there, to me, was that Queen Mary I (Bloody Mary) and Queen Elizabeth I, half- sisters and sworn enemies in life, are buried in the same tomb.  On the floor beside the tomb is a marker commemorating those who have given their lives for their faith, regardless of their faith.  Moral of the story:  love wins. Or at least:  hate loses.   The queens’ hatred of “the other” gave them no different final resting place.  I also found the office I want to work in.  In one of the hallways of Westminster Abby, I saw an office with a sign that said, “LIBRARIAN AND KEEPER OF THE MUNIMENTS”  I’m not sure what muniments are, but I want to keep them.

Tomorrow will start with the British Library.  If I see any books that need to be shelved, I’m doing it!



Monday, November 25, 2013

What an amazing two days!  The flight was fine.  No real problems.  I got a beautiful shot of the sunset from the plane.  Leslie and I didn't get to sit by each other but the plane was dark and we were expected to sleep, so it was probably for the best that we weren't beside each other.

We got to the flat and pretty quickly went to eat and ended the day with Holy Communion at St. Paul's Cathedral.

We got up early today and had a lovely breakfast.  Glenda, the early riser, had walked to the grocery store and had cooked a great breakfast.  Then we went to The Tower of London for the day.  Absolutely amazing!!  Parts of it are from the original Roman settlement of London!  We're talking about year 100(ish)!!!  Then the main parts were built in the early 1000's.   Yes, I wrote 1000's.  More of it in the late 1260's.   Then other parts at other times through the years.  I was standing drying my hands in the public ladies' room thinking, "these walls were built in 1070 and I'm drying my hands with an electric dryer!"  It was a weird juxtaposition.

We came back to our neighborhood and Glenda and I ran some errands and went to the Middle of the Millenium  Bridge to take some pictures.  This comment requires some information about our "neighborhood."  We rented a flat that is a few blocks from St. Paul's Cathedral.  We are also a few blocks from the Thames.  The flat is in a Victorian building and is darling.  So much better than a hotel.  After resting for a few minutes, Leslie and I walked a couple blocks to a fish & chips spot and got take out for supper.  The shop is in the same place as a shop mentioned by Dickens in the Pickwick Papers.  That has been my take-away for the day.  Stuctures don't have to be torn down every 25 years.  Structures can stand for hundreds of years and they can be modified and adapted.  The trick is, building something worth standing for hundreds of years.

It is now 7:30 p.m. on Monday and the jet lag is hitting.  I'll sleep well tonight and tomorrow we have an adventure to Leeds, Canterbury, and Dover.   So many sights, so little time!!!  


Friday, November 22, 2013

I haven’t blogged in a long time.  I could blame that on busy-ness, writer’s block, having nothing worthwhile to say.  Mostly it is out of laziness.  I heard Anne Lamott speak recently.  She said that if you are able to do something, like write, and you don’t do it, you are wasting God’s gift.  I don’t know that it is a gift I’m wasting, but I know I’m wasting time.  So I’m going to try to blog for the next week because I know I’ll have something to write about.  Hopefully, it will get me in a habit of writing and I can continue putting my butt in the seat and writing so I’ll quit wasting God’s gift – or time – or whatever.  We shall see. 

I know I’ll have something to write about because I’m leaving tomorrow to go to London with my sisters, Royce, Leslie, and Glenda.  I’ll blog about the trip and post some pictures.  I’m very, very excited.  I’ll try to figure out how to blog with a British accent so readers can get the full effect.  I’ll include in each post a quote about England or from an Englishman.  Let’s start with a great one,

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Practice What I Preach

Angie, my 20 year old daughter, is spending this semester in Spain. She created a blog before she left and has posted to it a few times through the semester. I've nagged her all semester to post more often. We want to hear about her everyday life and challenges. She counters by saying she doesn't want to post unless she has something profound and significant to say. I grumble at her and say, "Just write a blog post! No matter what you write, readers will enjoy it and learn something and you'll be better for having done some writing."

OK, Mom, what about you? When was the last time you posted to YOUR blog? Don't you have anything to say? You'll be better for having done some writing.

So, I am committing myself to post to my blog every week for at least 6 weeks and try to maintain the habit. Now, for those of you who maintain multiple blogs and post daily, this is small potatoes, but for me it is a pretty significant committement. Here goes...

These are wonderfully busy days. A lot is going on at work. There are church activities galore. Amy is graduating in a couple weeks. Angie is coming home soon. Addie is either at an activity or at the computer doing homework every minute. Jack is working hard and caring for his Mom faithfully and lovingly. Many of the Klemm Clan is coming here for Christmas. It's a Wonderful Life.

And then the phone call. The BIG C. Pull out the pink ribbons. Jack's sister Linda has breast cancer. I want to fall apart and cancel everything and drive to Las Cruces and hug her and play Nursemaid and Good Aunt and Spiritual Advisor. But in typical Klemm fashion, Linda convinces me this is just another bump in the road. She's logical and optimistic and comforting. She's comforting me!

I have always seen Linda as the matriarch of the family. Even when her dad was alive and her mom was healthy, she ran the family gatherings. She is the quintessential mother. She sent my girls Advent Calendars with a little wrapped gift for every day of Advent when they were little. She has planned two life-changing vacations for our family - one to hike the Grand Canyon and one to Monterey Mexico. We would never have made those trips without her encouragement and involvement. She is smart and efficient and organized. Occasionally, some in the family add the adjective bossy, but usually that adjective is reserved for me.

But best of all, she is fun. She has a great sense of humor and is quick to laugh. She goes to Las Vegas with her grown children. She goes to the beach with her grandchildren. This year she was going to spend Christmas Day freezing her butt at a Green Bay Packers game because she knew it would be fun for her husband. She thinks of fun things to do and helps everyone have fun with her.

The next several months won't be fun. They'll be hard work and pain and frustration. But all of us for whom Linda is special will be with her. We'll encourage her and pray for her and love her just like she's done for us for us in the past.

We love you Auntie Linda!!!


Friday, October 14, 2011

What I Shudda Said Wuz...

It is 1:37 a.m. and I am still up. I am replaying conversations over in my head and weighing the options of how I would act and react if I had the chance to relive the day. Why is it that some people do this and others don't? I know people who, from the time they were old enough to be conscious of the world around them, they are confident that every decision they make and every word they utter is absolutely righteous and correct. From what people should wear to what countries to invade, they have no doubt what is best for the rest of us. I, on the other hand, allow myself to be chastised and guiltridden for getting in the express lane with 12 items instead of 10. Am I more studid than they are? Am I selfish and thoughtless? Am I just immature?

My mother used to say, "The rest of the world must be right sometimes." Well, I am thinking, "I must be right sometimes. I must be!"

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What is it about going to the movies that make people act a fool? Is that once we’ve paid $9.00 for a ticket and $4.50 for a Coke we think we own the place? Or is it that we’ve gotten so used to renting and downloading movies at home that we forget we need to use another set of manners when we are at the movie theater? Jack and girls were watching the last Harry Potter in a theater with a dad who had 4 children from 2 to 12 who talked out loud and ran around the entire movie until an usher asked them to leave. This weekend, at The Help, a woman who was sitting ON THE END OF THE ROW got very angry with me because I had to go by her to get to my seat before the movie even started. She thought by sitting on the end of the row she owned it. She told me to go to the other end of the row, where, by the way, I had to crawl over 8 people!

How do we restore civility to a society? You can’t dictate it or legislate it. I will admit, I did not handle the situation well with the woman in the movie. I got angry and was sharp with her. I needed to have taken a deep breath and gently explained how the movie theater works. All seats are available and each ticketholder is only in control of where they sit, not where anyone else sits. I needed to do this kindly and gently. She was probably in her late sixties and may have just been a crotchety old lady who gripes about everything. She is probably someone’s grandmother. I should have given her that respect.

So as I worked through the last paragraph, I kind of answered my own question about restoring civility. If we respond to rudeness by pointing it out with kindness, unfailingly, every time, then civility may follow. We shouldn’t tolerate inappropriate behavior, but we shouldn’t respond with our own brand of inappropriateness.

This takes work. It takes thinking about it all the time. It takes pausing before you speak and thinking “Is what I am about to say or do KIND?” Help me to do this and our little corner of the world will be a more pleasant place to live – and to go to the movies.