Tuesday, December 30, 2014

One Word for 2015: Today!

bing.com
It's time to think about the new year. Reflecting on my 2014 journal entries, I noted a negative pattern: too much emphasis on trying to manage my future.

Four months before the event, I fretted about summer vacation plans.







I catastrophized during an up and down business negotiation.



I dreamed about a teacher training that wouldn't happen for another two months!

But how to change it?



wikispaces.com
I don't believe resolutions work.   Newton told us a body at rest (or perchance an entrenched attitude) tends to remain in that state unless an external force causes it to change. And even then, the body at rest (me) exerts a counter-force, kick-back. So it doesn't look promising that I can expect to change myself by my will.

Instead, this year I'm going to try the "one word" approach.  I will focus on one word throughout the year, making it a constant prayer: Teach me to concentrate on today.



I have a plan. I'll study what other bloggers say about practicing being present. I'll read what the Bible has to say about this day, versus tomorrow and yesterday. Before bed I plan to review my waking hours and be grateful, instead of fretful. I thus hope to preempt my mental wandering through the future and the adrenaline-producing anxiety it causes.


The theory is that concentrating on a theme, like today, will heighten my awareness and begin a gentle process of change.

You know how it is when you hear about about a hot new book. Reviews show up in every newspaper and magazine you read. Or you look up an unfamiliar word and suddenly you hear it used everywhere.

I'm going to tune my antenna for a focus on the present, turning it toward the strongest signal, like the old metal contraptions that sat on our rooftops and had to be adjusted to bring in a good picture.







How would you like to be different next year? What one word would sum it up?



Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Grandma's Christmas Wish

Most any grandma will tell you all she wants for Christmas is time with her grandchildren.

This grandma (and grandpa) relished a visit to Washington, D.C. with one of ours. We crammed as many new experiences as we could into four days.
 
We were eye witnesses to Sam's first cab ride and time on the Metro. He licked his lips after his first crepe, nibbled at a buffalo burger. He piloted us through loop-de-loops in a flight simulator.





Together we were awed by the White House, hoping to spot an Obama family member. (Somebody left the White House in a short procession of black SUVs, but we don't know who.)  


We toured the Capitol building, and Ford's Theater. He listened carefully. He had his photo taken standing where MLK stood at the Lincoln memorial. 








Grandpa-the-historian fed Sam snippets of information and answered his questions.

I think bits of history now ricochet around his brain like balls on a pool table. Eventually he'll place them in the right contextual pockets. 

All of Sam's maturity, curiosity, energy, audacious auditory memory, and   mimicry were ours for those days. 

We are so blessed. Our adventure has woven our lives more tightly together.





 I wish all of you Nanas, PawPaws, Mimis and Gampys some of the same! 







Thursday, December 18, 2014

Tackier than chewed gum

I shouldn't be pointing any fingers on this one because I have mixed results as a decorator and crafter--mostly on the down side. 

My Christmas tree is not color-coordinated, does not have a theme, and some of the ornaments are 60 years old. At least. And cheap looking.

One year I tried to string the old fashioned giant bulbs around my front door frame and down the metal hand rail on the steps. 

From the sidewalk it looked like someone had thrown glowing red, green and yellow eggs at the front of the house. 

We stashed them back in the basement.

There was the time I shellacked chestnuts and glued them to a styrofoam Christmas tree form. It weighed about ten pounds, was out of balance, and kept tumbling over. I tossed it in the brush for the squirrels.

I'm relieved to have found proof that I am not the only member of the tackier-than-chewed-gum club. 

 I must applaud their effort because they are older and slower than I am.




But what were they thinkin'? 



Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Mixed messages at Christmas

Where do you stand in the cultural tug of war between secular and sacred winter observances?  

It's not a new phenomenon. I bet the Druids took sides when Christians slid Jesus' birth into a competing time slot with their mid-winter rituals.

The battles (County of Allegheny vs. ACLU, 1989) about who gets prime billing for the holidays isn't just a result of ornery humanists spotting a creche in a public place. Much of our society is schizophrenic about the significance of "Christmas."

Even here in the Bible belt the messages are mixed. Is this family
celebrating a holy day, or simply a holiday? 



Are we morphing towards a scene where Santa scooches between Mary and Joseph;  will Jesus get bumped right out of the picture? 

When "Silent Night" and "Here Comes Santa Claus" compete in my head I hear dissonance.

Are you repelled by the antithesis or have you resolved it?

Are you a purist--pure fantasy or pure Nativity ? Or have you created a "blended" family?  

Chime in. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

I Heard the Bells...




Bells are frequently incorporated into our Christmas decorating. 

During the Christmas season we hear the high jangle of the Salvation Army ringers, carols about bells (click on the link to hear a jazzy Carol of the Bells),  and musical arrangements that use bells. Some churches include hand bells during services. 

Our bells are more symbolic than essential. In Europe bells marked time, called people to hear news, bear arms, or come to worship.   

The few opportunities I've had to hear huge bronze bells have been thrilling. 

One hot summer day I climbed the steps of a large German church. I climbed out of the tower door onto the roof just as the bells rang out the hour  (motorized, no ringers necessary). The force of the sound was palpable.  I clapped cupped hands over my ears to muffle it and staggered in its path. The sound waves pulsed right through my body. 



Denver Catholic Register photo by R. Linn


 In 1993 the Pope visited Denver for a World Youth Day rally.  Blackhawk helicopters had been flying overhead for the week ferrying His Holiness from our local high school lawn to his appearances.  I was lucky enough to be in my backyard when he performed the mass at The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, about a mile away. The bells had been repaired for the occasion and pealed for over a minute. I only heard their magnificent call that once. 

What a thrill it would be to hear some like them on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Sometime I hope to make a trip to one of the several churches with bells in the southeast US (two in NC), or during visit to Denver.

I can't imagine another instrument with such a grand sound, worthy of announcing Emmanuel's birth. 







Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Advent: Decorating the Mailbox

Is your mailbox ready for Christmas? 


















 I can only speculate on the purpose for decking the box along with the halls. 


1) It's to cheer up the postal worker who has to deliver the abundant wish books (and earlier-than-usual seed catalogs.) 

My father in-law, a USPS rural carrier, groused about circulars and any holiday that generated more mail. The bright red bow wouldn't have turned his "Humbug" into "Ho-Ho-Ho." 

2) The homeowner hopes the gussied-up mailbox will make Christmas cards feel right at home. 

3)  It's a gimmick to make the neighbors think the inside of the house must be Pinterest perfect too.

4) All that greenery will take the sting out of the credit card bills that pour in after the shopping sprees. 

What's your theory? Why do you decorate your mailbox?




Thursday, December 4, 2014

Mouse in the house



zoom in to see it more clearly



My grandson Sam can now text me and he introduced me to emoticons. They are one of the "languages" on my keyboard.

Can you decipher the emoticon story above? 

The recent mouse encounter had a happy ending--for me.  

When the weather turned wintery we had a rodent refugee. We discovered its presence when some insulation from the sides of the dishwasher spilled onto the floor beneath it. We didn't even have to guess at the cause.

We first encountered mice in a very similar situation thirty years ago.

We were living in a rural area outside of Denver, Colorado. There, like here, our house was isolated and surrounded by open fields. When temperatures dropped the vermin squeezed their way into the warm house. We saw evidences of the unwelcome visitors and set traps, put out poison, and stuffed steel wool around the pipes coming up from under the house. We caught some, then caught some more, and then they got cheeky. I actually had one grey head pop up through the shallow metal pan under the stove burners!

One very cold night we turned on the seldom-used oven to prepare dinner. As it warmed emitted a nasty smell. We checked the diaper pail. (Back then we had to wash the cloth diapers). We checked the garbage. The oven neared the desired cooking temperature and the stench forced us to turn off the stove. But the odor had filled the small rooms and we opened the front door even though it was 20 degrees outside, to let in fresh air.

When the landlord came to check out the problem, he discovered numerous nests in the insulated side panels of the stove!

So this winter's sifting insulation tipped us off. A greedy little bugger, the mouse quickly followed his nose to the peanut butter baited trap.  As my story describes, the old man (my husband) caught the mouse. I ( the little old woman of emoticon language) was very happy.  We haven't seen any other mice since.


I hope you have a winter, with 



Share your skirmishes against the rodents.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Advent: the Tree

cut in Colorado
The day after Thanksgiving we join millions of others cutting their own Christmas tree. Last year we were with our kids in Colorado, and helped them cut their trees. 











a very locally grown tree




When we got home, I wanted my own tree. It was so late in the season I just sent Bill out because he had told me he'd seen " a hundred good ones". He was back in ten minutes. 10 minutes! 






locally grown, but sparse

This year, I had my heart set on something splendid, full, tall. We liked the idea of cutting something local and free. With our friend's permission we cut from his land, not quite a quarter of a mile from home. Most of the better trees were tall, and we'd have to cut off 4-5 feet of trunk. Bill rejected my first choice in favor of this.  

Five minutes of drilling holes and forcing limbs cut from other trees into the holes I gave up. 



fresh and full!


We ventured out and chose this one.

We're both pleased. 

Do you feel the same childlike excitement decorating the tree that you did fifty years ago? Why do you think that is?





Thursday, November 20, 2014

Squanto welcomes the Immigrants



The 400th anniversary of the feast at the Plymouth Plantation is just around the corner, chronologically speaking. 

It's not the first thanksgiving celebrated in the colonies, that would be 1607 in Jamestown. In fact, the 1621 feast was actually a harvest celebration, not a solemn day of thanksgiving to God and prayer. That happened in 1623. Presidents Washington, J. Adams, Madison and Lincoln issued proclamations of Thanksgiving, but it didn't become a national holiday until 1942.

Despite our inaccurate idea of the holiday's origin, we've latched onto the Pilgrim's event because the colonists had so much to be thankful for. Fifty of the original one hundred were still alive after a brutal first winter for which they were underprepared. They had a good crop to celebrate, thanks to the help of Squanto who taught them the best method for planting corn. 

He's one of the people I'd like to invite to one of those imaginary dinner parties!

He was captured to sell into slavery. He may have ended up in Spain, and one version of his story says Catholic monks bought him, and gave him a home with them. I try to imagine that. He was a young teen, absconded by evil Englishmen, stuck on a ship to cross an ocean so large he couldn't fathom it.  He learned Spanish, and about the Christian faith, and convinced the monks to help him get home. 

He went through England, where he worked for a shipbuilder, and learned English. When he finally got back his village was vacant and in ruins, but he stayed in the region and met the Pilgrims. 

Despite the limited original source material about Squanto, and conflicting stories, we know he lived. He did go to Europe and learn English. He did return to the very spot that desperate English men and women needed a guide to survive in their new home. 

He was able to communicate with them, and they must have been astounded. What could have been less likely? No wonder the Pilgrims saw Squanto as a miracle from God. 






Squanto, a children's version of the events,  emphasizes God's role in Squanto's life.
Through the friars, God protected Squanto from slavery. Eventually Squanto returned home. Although he must have been gravely disappointed to discover his family and village were extinguished by disease, he didn't retaliate against the Englishmen he found in their place. He was an agent of hope for them,  teaching essential lessons. He lived with the Pilgrims until his death. 

What a wonderful part of our national heritage. Where would the immigrant Pilgrims have been without him? 





Online resources:       
http://www.history.com/topics/thanksgiving
http://www.usconsulate.org.hk/pas/kids/td.htm



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sprigs: Fall Freebie

Last week I gleaned in my own back yard.  Dried grasses and beauty berry  made colorful arrangement. 




A fall freebie! 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thankful to Something or Someone?

Last week I asked you to "cook up" some gratitude. Let's play philosopher and dig a little deeper. 

It is my underlying belief that when we are thankful, we are thankful to Someone, not Something.


While as some folks, like Shirley MacLaine, thank the really big Something--the universe. Her Santa Fe ranch includes a stone spiral labyrinth.   It's her go-to spot when she  "had decisions to make, or I wanted to thank the universe for something." (WSJ, April 18, 2014) 

Photo by Widosu underCreative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 |Source



I tried to imagine that. Giving thanks assumes that the thanker acknowledges a benefit, a favor grated by the thank-ee.  What benefit does the universe grant to me? Dark holes? Stars? Galaxies I cannot imagine? Although a particle physicist might disagree, I don't think those things make any difference in my daily life. 

 While I concede the sun provides heat and light our planet depends upon, the sun didn't determine the placement of earth's orbit.

I can be glad that trees give shade and clean the air and produce medicines. But I can't really attribute my happiness to them.
A big tree on a hot day; I was grateful.



I won't thank the potatoes for their sacrifice on thanksgiving Day--that just seems weird. 












And thanksgiving isn't self-congratulatory. There are many blessings I haven't created for myself. I didn't create my innate intelligence (no matter its size) , or physical health. While I am responsible to develop my mind, and keep my body in some kind of useful shape,  I didn't gift myself with a brain that works pretty well, and a body that usually does what I need it to do.

I do not thank an impersonal Cause, electrical spark in primordial ooze or Big Bang, for the everyday wonders around me.

When the Pilgrims gave thanks nearly 400 years ago, and when I give thanks today, tomorrow, and November 27th, it will be to the God who made it all--me, tree, potato and universe. 








Tuesday, November 11, 2014

sprigs: Red leaf thou dost betray me



Red leaf thou dost betray me,
Summer’s pleasures now are o’er
For me no cheery fire waits
or steeping pot of tea.

I must be south for months to pass
where stronger sun will warm me
with seasons' cycle I'll return,
to flowers, heat, and grass.















































I get downright poetic out in the yard sometimes. 








Thursday, November 6, 2014

Recipe for Giving Thanks


last Thanksgiving with family

Thanksgiving is in four weeks. Before you ready the menu, shopping list, and call the guests, prepare yourself for the holiday.



Recipe for Giving Thanks

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: Ready instantly, but improves if simmered all day.
Number of Servings: The more you share it, the more there is.



Ingredients:

solitude
paper
pencil
a handful of memories from 2014 
cup of tea or coffee 




Instructions:

1. Sit down in your favorite chair. 
2. Close your eyes and think back on some highlights from the year. Don't forget celebrations, difficulties endured, travel, problems solved, favorite relationships.
3. Jot down short details from each: names of people, places, events, laughter.
4. Keep working until you have 5-10. The longer the list, the more you have to be grateful for!
5. Read the list quietly to yourself. Recapture the feelings: joy, relief, satisfaction. 
6. Give thanks out loud. 



anticipation, worry, relief

 awe, 17" snow












laughter and friends

travel: Whidbey Island



summer adventures in Washington












summer adventures here in NC


the jellyfish 









Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Grace and Sharp Corners

The military service for my father was dignified and respectful.

I was sitting very close to the Marines who unfolded the US flag, then refolded it with great precision: straighten the edges, tug, fold diagonally, crease, tug, fold, crease, continue until the end, tuck in the hem.

While I watched the resulting triangle flip over and over along it edges, I flashed back to another folding ceremony.




My father supervised as my sister and I each knelt over one end of a faded cotton sleeping bag. I guess he was tired of sloppy bundles that fell apart when he lifted them onto the upper shelves in the garage. We were going to learn the "right" way to roll and tie it. 

So we practiced folding the bag in half lengthwise, bringing the edges together evenly. The developing cylinder would only hold together well if we started at the open end. At the same time, we had to exert enough pressure to keep it tight and tidy. Once we'd reached the foot of the bag, we straddled it and tied the cord around the middle. Then we carefully wrapped its cover around it, snapped it in place, and pulled the draw strings together at the sides. It was like calf roping, only it was a fat green tootsie roll. 

I never did care about the sleeping bags, but the lesson stuck. 

My first summer job required I make beds in a nursing home. At that time, both sheets were flat, not fitted. I had to position the sheet, wrap it under  the mattress top and bottom. Then I made sharp, 45 degree angles and tucked the tails around the side corder, like wrapping a gift. If the sheet wasn't taut, it would get sloppy, and wriggle uncomfortably under the sleeper.
Six corners per bed, repeated over the course of the summer, I got pretty good at it. 

Since then, I've expected every bed I sleep in to meet that standard. That's okay for beds, but unfortunately, I also think people should meet my  standards. Inflexible expectations cause more relationship wrinkles than a slack sheet and more restless nights, too. 

It's proper to be persnickety about the flag.

But people can't be folded, tugged, and creased into perfection. People need
to be handled gently.

People need  grace. 





 


Friday, October 31, 2014

Sprigs: Autumn Chores

While I wait for everything to just go ahead and die so I can pull it up, I've been looking around for some productive time outside. 

Recently I cleaned half of our shed, tossing trash and sorting the hazardous waste to take to the county's special collection day. I reorganized the tools on the peg board. Then I swept the floor.

I came across the scrap of chicken wire I'd been saving and seized the opportunity. In wet weather the ramp on my potting shed gets slippery and I don't want to risk a fall. With my handy heavy-duty stapler I attached the wire to the bottom half.  

Thank you, Martha Stewart, for a great idea. 


 I've been meaning to do this for two years, and it only took 15 minutes.



What little chore have you tackled that yielded an extra measure of satisfaction? 





Thursday, October 16, 2014

Art as Holiness

I had a professor who walked into the bare room, sat at the front table, unbuttoned his suit jacket, folded his hands, and asked our English literature class when we'd last had an aesthetic experience. 

Perhaps that was the moment I began marking my intimate encounters with art:


An exhibit of Van Gogh's paintings revealed his passion in the thick texture of the paint.

Aaron Copland conducted his composition Fanfare for the Common Man.

Mikhail Baryshnikov danced with strength and agility.

Temple University Anthropology Lab

Nineteenth century Native Americans bartered for cheap glass beads, and transformed them into vibrant floral designs.






Dave Brubeck played the jazz piano in his Christmas cantata, La Posada, and I was part of the small orchestra which accompanied him.

Those memories shine brightly.

Recently, I heard Yo Yo Ma perform with the Winston Salem Symphony Orchestra. My thrill-o-meter spun sharply to the right into the "awestruck" range.  

The music was superb and watching Mr. Ma dazzled me.  

Although he may be  the premier living musician, he was a democrat. (Small "d", he behaved as an equal, not a superior.) He played as one of twelve, not a soloist, in a cello-only piece. ( Bachianas Brasileiras No. 1)  In orchestras, etiquette requires the subordinate musician of any pair to turn the pages of sheet music. That allows the superior instrumentalist to continue playing and not interrupt the flow. In his pair of cellists, Mr. Ma turned the pages.

He never postured to draw attention to himself. Waiting for his musical entrances, he concentrated, still smiling, eyes closed. His body and cello swayed as if they danced.  He gently lifted his left arm, getting ready to place his fingers in exactly the right place on the cello's long fingerboard, and poised there until ready to join the orchestra.

His body language serenaded the other musicians, appreciating their contribution to the whole. When the violins introduced a section of the Dvorak Concerto, he turned his body toward them, and his face beamed, celebrating the beauty. When he and the first violinist shared a short duet, they were seated closely enough to lean towards one another. Musically speaking, he flirted. And her face shone in response.

 Playing or listening, his face expressed glee and wonder. I imagine he thought "Listen to the miracle of the beauty we create together!" 

The concert, particularly his solo with the orchestra, was forty minutes of intense joy. Joy for him, for me, for the orchestra, for the audience. 

We clapped until our palms were red, and Mr. Ma practically skipped back and forth from the wings of the stage. And he always shared our adulation with the musicians and conductor.

When he announced his encore the audience sighed in anticipation. 

The arts, executed superlatively, have enriched my soul. What a privilege it is to have the opportunities to enjoy them deeply. 

Frederick Buechner says " Literature, painting, music--the most basic lesson that all art teaches us is to stop, look, and listen to life on this planet, including our own lives, as a vastly richer deeper, more mysterious business than most of the time it ever occurs to us to suspect as we bumble along from day to day on automatic pilot. In a world that for the most part steers clear of the whole idea of holiness, art is one of the few places left where we can speak to each other of holy things."

Yo Yo Ma's performance felt holy. 




  

   












Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sprigs: Fall at my Front Door

Fall crouches at my front door. 

The small stone-bound container off my porch overflows with its energy. The once scrawny nasturtiums that suffered through the summer now fill the space left by other plants past their prime. The potato vine sprawls in all directions  and its neon color pops next to the orange of the pumpkin. 




It won't be long before frost nips them all back, but in the meantime they shout out "success!" every time I pass by. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Sprigs: Last harvest


This is my last harvest. 



Saturday I went out to the garden before a potential frost. I hoped there might be a few peppers large enough to pick.  Once again I was surprised and blessed by the bounty. 




Thursday, September 25, 2014

Sprigs: NC Passion Flower

This exotic blossom is growing in a hedge of weeds along my country road.  Doesn't it look like an escapee from a tropical forest? 






Coincidentally I was in Winston (at a charming garden/gift/foodie shop called the Li'l Briar Patch) and noticed an arbor covered with a plant with smooth green fruit, but no flowers in bloom.  My friend said it was a passion flower.

Something clicked in my head. (Remember the synapse.) Was mine a passion flower?

Sure enough, wikipedia confirmed I'd found a passion flower. I went back out to "my" specimen. It had the vine and fruit. Today I'm going back out with a shovel and moving the North Carolina native to my yard where it will get an appreciative audience. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Imperfect Love: Strings and Baggage

Fadzly Mubin flickr
Relationships can be very hard work. They can go amiss with a misspoken word. My assumptions about the other person may lead me to "hear" an attitude or motive that isn't really there.  My "love" comes with invisible strings attached.  I'm weighted down with an airline-sized cart of phantom baggage.  




Twice recently I've been painfully reminded of how  my flawed love can damage the connections between me and others.

When the grandchildren came to visit this summer my smile dimmed in inverse proportion to their clamor and commotion. I realized that I expected  the kids would do as I asked the first time I asked. They would eat what I cooked. They would go to bed earlier than I did. 





 I didn't respond calmly.  I over-reacted about wasted food. My fuzzy, warm feelings evaporated faster than the soap suds creeping over the edge of the tub.  I risked spoiling our time together. My "love" had a lot of strings attached. 



The second instance was a call from a family member. We have a distant and fractured relationship. The conversation was upsetting, and afterwards I chafed. In my mind I justified the actions which had so annoyed her.  I took offense at her "tone" as well as her words. 

My first reaction was to cut off further contact with her. I decided the baggage from our childhood was too serious to ignore, too heavy to cast off, too broken to repair. 


But I read a book that gave me a sliver of hope. Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions (by Lysa TerKeurst) perfectly described how some of us fly off the handle and feel ashamed later.  How unchangeable the pattern seems. (Have you ever had the feeling someone was writing about YOU?)

Then she formulated concrete steps to handle my unpleasant feelings. She gave me a how-to NOT become unglued, but how to get a grip. (She sought God's help, and I am too, since I'm not doing very well by myself.) 

The book helped me plan a response that will be truthful and gracious.  I have a face to face meeting with the relative next month. I have hope that this time I will make a wiser choice when I feel attacked.


My love is still imperfect. But I think I've untied some of the strings, and unloaded some of the rocks out of my emotional suitcase. 



etsy

 How do you handle disagreeable relationships?












Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sprigs: Carolina Coffee Plant





















Last year I went to Guatemala. While I toured the coffee plantation I picked a few coffee beans. I gave them to one of the gardeners in our group and she planted them. When the plant was about 8" tall, she gave one to me. 



I tended it, put it outside in the shade this summer, and look at it now! 
If I can find a spot for it to thrive in the house, I might even get flowers, and eventually more beans!


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Zionism in North Carolina

Nothing changes much in my neck of the woods. We haven't had a new house built on the road in 14 years. Nobody's swapped cattle for llamas. Therefore a small change at the neighbor's house puzzled me.



Speeding past his flag pole I caught a glimpse of blue and white cloth hanging below the Stars and Stripes. It was the right blue for University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, aka Carolina, but I didn't spot the familiar logo.

As I drove my brain registered a second possibility. Was it the flag of Israel?  

Why here and why now? Surry County doesn't  have enough Jewish men for the quorum required for public worship. According to MyJewishLearning.com there have to be ten men (or women) over the age of thirteen. "Only in a group of ten or more is there sufficient sanctity to recite certain public prayers." 





 I doubt my neighbor is a new convert boasting his holiness.  Given current events,  I think he has gone to extraordinary measures to publicly side with the state of Israel. 

More commonly people with strong opinions write letters to the editor, or to their elected officials. Bumper stickers proclaim a driver's persuasion. And of course, the long-dead Confederacy's Stars and Bars do flutter in some local yards. But sporting a foreign power's 
standard is rare outside of a diplomat's embassy.

While I thought Afghanistan was justified in killing Taliban terrorists, but I didn't hang their flag out my window.  

And I've never heard that Americans hung the Union Jack under the American flag before we entered the fighting in World War II. 

No. 

My neighbor's identification with a country 6,000 miles from here is probably tied to the Christian Zionism movement, which to over-simplify, believes that war in the Middle East will usher in Jesus' second coming. They also believe that a promise in Genesis still holds that those who bless Abraham (and his descendants) will be blessed by God. 




My reading tells me that many non-Christian Israelis think it suspicious that American Christians are aligning themselves with Israel. This is logical given America's track record of discrimination against American Jews. And then there is the sorry story of the many who were denied safety in the US after fleeing the Nazi's pogroms in Europe. 

If I were Israeli, I'd think it strange that a small town farmer wanted to fly my flag. 

I do too.