I usually start the new year with some reflection and corresponding blog posts. But here it is February, and this is my first blog post of 2017.
I suppose my hesitancy has been a result of being more down than usual over the holidays and into the new year. The holidays are always rather bittersweet, but this year a friend died just before Thanksgiving. Then, memories of Mom and Dad—who have both been gone now for years—were more intense this year. The rains have also come this year finally, making for some welcomed but dreary days.
Of course, my malaise is most directly related to my dismay over the election results and worry about the future of America. Living in a Trump-led America is disheartening. From what I can tell, President Trump is still acting as arrogant and impulsive as ever, still using tweets to bully anyone who seems to oppose him, and still not fully breaking his business ventures from government duties. He is expanding his circle of advisors with those who seem not very qualified, open-minded or humane. He is advancing his promised executive orders, but they do not seem to be supported by critical thinking that would generate helpful implementation procedures and anticipate and mitigate against wide-reaching consequences. Fake news and alternative facts should not be part of American society.
But it is February. In fact, today is National Homemade Soup Day. I am celebrating by making a batch of my vegetable soup with a decidedly Mexican flare. It contains the usual—any veggies you have on hand!—but also jalapenos and some black beans. And then—when served—it is completed with some cheese and tortillas. Yummy. It would be nice to share a meal with Mom and Dad, at least in spirit.
While the soup is simmering, it seems like a good time to reflect on things I am grateful for right now.
First, I am grateful for America’s resilient spirit, including the growing visible resistance to Trump’s actions. The election itself gave voice to those in the country who felt unheard for quite some time. They represent about half of the country. The other half—who may have been rather complacent about government actions and policies over the years—now seem to be awaking to political activism as well. I do not support the violent actions on either side of any issue, but peaceful marches and demonstrations and local and state political engagements are all good steps to help people stay involved in fighting for what they feel will keep America great. I know I am more engaged than ever to support environmental protections, free press, women’s health issues, and fair and equitable treatment of all in our society. Maybe—with time—the varying sides of the government will actually start working together again. I can be hopeful about that.
I am thankful for the rain that has been falling and falling and falling in California this year. Thus far, 2017 has been wetter than expected, even wetter than what was expected for last year’s El Nino. Although the rains can bring problems like mudslides, the drought is being beaten back. And the rains should help produce some wondrous wildflowers this spring. I can be hopeful about that.
This year, I am also thankful for my personal goals that focus on action and projects. I officially retired from my part-time online teaching, so I now have more time to tackle projects around the house. My first project is sorting through the vinyl records that have been in storage for more than 20 years. In fact, when I started pulling the boxed records out to sort, I was surprised how many there were. The records are 45s, 78s, and 33s.
I am having fun sorting, cataloging, cleaning and playing them. Eventually, I will see if I can find a collector who might be interested in some of these gems. For now, I am just enjoying myself. I remember playing the 78s from Oklahoma as a kid, but I do not remember Kate Smith Songs of Erin. I bet Grandma sang along with those Irish tunes! The 45s include Elvis singing “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” I had never heard the B-side “I Gotta Know” until now. I do remember Red Skeleton’s recitation and explication of “The Pledge of Allegiance” from his show in 1969. I am hopeful that projects like these will keep me entertained all year—there’s a lot of stuff stored away in my closets.
Finally, as usual, I am grateful for Nature and the solace and rejuvenation it offers. I will be planning some longer trips in addition to the short jaunts to see local wildflowers when they are in bloom. I’m not sure where I am heading this year. Maybe Mt. Rushmore. Wherever I go, I am sure the Nature will be dazzling. Until then, I have photos from past trips that I still want to post. About time I get back to those plans. I am hopeful I will continue to share the wonder of Nature with my readers.
What Are You Hopeful about for 2017?
What Paths Will You Be Following into 2017?