Woe Me of Low Moral Standards

Us versus them.  Regardless of what the issue is.  We'll take a side because being undecided is anathema to most people.  Or so I have come to believe.

The office staff assistant attended the cross-state rival of my university.  He always rags me for my choice of colleges.  Last week I told him of a couple we know who are in a mixed marriage.  She went to the cross-state rival; he attended the neighboring state school, still in the same football-great conference.

"Not only that, they're also a mixed marriage because he's a Democrat and she's a Republican."

"I could never date a Democrat."

"Look at Mary Matalin and James Carville."

"But how could anyone date a Democrat?  Their moral standards are appalling.  They have no moral standards at all."

I thought to myself: 'Really?  Are you serious?  I call myself a moderate Democrat.  I've been married to one man, and only one, for 20 years.  I have three daughters.  We are all very active in our church, Girl Scouts, and the neighborhood.  I'm active in the Junior League, the Daughters of the American Revolution, and my sorority alumnae chapter.  Mr. Gaelic and I both served on the vestry at our church; I taught Sunday School; organized the teenage-equivalent of Vacation Bible School; Mr. G organized an overflow winter shelter for the homeless.  Oh, and I stayed home to raise my children rather than abdicate the role of mother to a childcare provider or the nearest relative.'

At this point in the conversation my tongue was bleeding, which it had to if I want to keep my job. 

I must be the most naive person on the face of the earth.  Or else I'm that rarest of all creatures, one that has rarely been spotted in the last twenty years, leading many people to assume our extinction.  I'm a person who will associate with both Jew and Gentile, Democrat and Republican, state college and cross-state college.  I'm a person who asks campaign workers on election day to convince me why I should vote for their candidate (only done when I can find representatives of all candidates in one place and has driven all over town to find them).  I'm a person who visited a mosque because I wanted to see firsthand what their worship is like.  I'm a person who rooted for the... oh, nevermind... I never rooted for the cross-state rival.  I'm not as independent as I thought I was.

It used to be that the word liberal meant open-minded.  Now it's a pejorative for anyone too far to the left.  Yet I know just as many left-of-center folks who are as stubbornly set in their ways as an equal number of right-of-center folks.  That, to me, is not being open-minded.  It's as closed-minded as the left considers the right.

So what are we rarest-of-the-rare independent creatures to do?  Those of us who consider the whole of the situation without letting our prejudices weigh us down.

Hello???  Is there anybody out there?  Is there anyone home?


Five of Thirteen

I'm Number 50!  I'm Number 50!  I'm Number 50!  And I'm proud of it!

Fifty out of 100.  As in, I'm average.  Or so I think I am.

I dislike extremes of just about everything -- from temperatures, to politics, to clothing, to religious beliefs.  In terms of religion, I'm about as middle-of-the-road as they come.  Part of a mainline Protestant denomination.  The mainline Protestant denominations are: Anglican (Episcopalian), American Baptist, Congregational (United Church of Christ), Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, United Methodist, and Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Recently, a Christianity Today journalist surveyed all the editions of the mainline Protestant hymnals and compiled a list of thirteen hymns that appear in all 28 hymnals.  The 13 most popular Protestant hymns (since they appear in all 28 hymnals, they're the most popular, right?) are:
  1. Abide with Me: Fast Falls the Eventide
  2. All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name
  3. Come, Ye Thankful People, Come
  4. Crown Him with Many Crowns
  5. Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken
  6. Guide Me, Oh Thou Great Jehovah
  7. Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty
  8. How Firm a Foundation, Ye Saints
  9. In the Cross of Christ I Glory
  10. Jesus Shall Reign Wher'er the Sun
  11. Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
  12. O Sacred Head, Now Wounded
  13. When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
Now, your turn.  What are your Top Five mainline Protestant Hymns of this list of thirteen?


To Promote the General Well-Being

Lou Gehrig said, "Today, I consider myself to be the luckiest man on the face of the earth."  What of the happiest person in America?  The New York Times knows.

According to the annual Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, he is a tall, Asian-American, observant Jew who is at least 65 and married, has children, lives in Hawaii, runs his own business and has a household income of more than $120,000 a year.  And the New York Times tracked down someone who fit that description.  To top it off, they posted an interactive map online to compare the well-being of Americans by congressional district based on several criteria.

We Americans always love a great competition.  "My district is better than your district."  Ever noticed how everything devolves into winners and losers?  Such as chanting "U-S-A, U-S-A!" at presidential inaugurations.  Imagine folks chanting "U-K, U-K!" or "Deutsch-land, Deutsch-land!"  But that's a different blog and I digress.

After my initial curiosity of comparing my current district to my childhood district, my eyes opened to the real possibility of using the information on the map to my best advantage.  Mr. Gaelic and I want to retire to the mountains, preferably East Coast mountains rather than west of the Great Plains.  Our initial search for land is centered on eastern Tennessee, western North Carolina, and southwestern Virginia, the land of our forebears.  But should we be looking elsewhere?

Take a look at the clues on the map.  Those areas tend to have higher rates of depression, health problems, high cholesterol, diabetes, and smoking than my current district.  They also have less nighttime safety, dental visits, and health insurance than my current district.  That generally translates to less productive and active seniors, more police presence at the expense of taxpayers, and more morbidity for everyone. 

Time to expand the search for mountain property.


It Was Early Morning, Yes, Today

When the alarm went off, the radio station reported that it is going to be a gorgeous day today.  But where's the sun?  After showering and dressing to my shoes, the few steps outside for the newspaper revealed only a tinge of pink in the eastern sky.  If I was supposed to be up before the sun, I would be a farmer.  Is anyone else having a hard time adjusting to Daylight Saving Time?

Before my eyes were fully open, while still lying in bed, the radio station followed up the weather with a report on people who have difficulty adjusting to the time change.  The advice was to maintain the usual wake-up time on the weekends and not to sleep late.  Great.  So I should go to sleep at 8:00 instead of 9:00?  Since my job keeps me away from home for close to 60 hours a week, when am I supposed to get anything done around the house?

How does everyone else fit in a life with a demanding job?  Suggestions?


Don't Wanna Be an American Idiot

Movies can be entertaining, funny, serious, thought-provoking, cautionary, even edifying.  Rarely is there a movie that drains whatever intellect is left in the brain second by second until the last frame.  This one ranks in the so-bad-you-don't-want-to-miss-a-second-of-it category.  Let's see if there are enough brain cells still intact and not screaming out in an agonizingly slow death-by-Hollywood to write this blog.

Tonight's feature film was chosen based on an online exchange with some folks about the dumbing down of practically everything.  One person suggested that the movie "Idiocracy" should be viewed more as a cautionary science fiction tale than a "Porky's"-like farce.  Having never even heard of "Idiocracy" it went to the front of the Netflix queue. 

The opening shots of mountains of rubbish taller than buildings reminded me of the opening shots in "WALL-E".  I know WALL-E.  WALL-E was a friendly little movie.  And Idiocracy is no WALL-E.

Both movies have a protagonist that is "not one of us".  In both movies, tender sprouts play a major role.  In both movies, humans have gone soft.

In WALL-E, humans play a supporting role to the robots and machines.  It makes watching the movie much easier because we identify with the robots more than the humans.  We can pity the humans for what they allowed themselves to become.

In being a comedy, Idiocracy makes it difficult to pity the humans.  It's difficult to feel any connection with the humans because humans are the story.  We're left to wonder if too many episodes of Beavis and Butthead accelerated the decline of humans in the movie.  Ironic, when you remember that Idiocracy was brought to us by the same creative team behind Beavis and Butthead.

Like a rubber-necker who can't turn away from the sight of a horrific and deadly crash scene, my eyes were glued to the screen until the after-credits scene.  My mouth may have been hanging open due to the badness (and not in a good sense) of the movie.  Afterwards it felt like I needed a shower.  And not just to shower off the dirt.  A mental shower to help wash out the trash and replenish some modicum of intelligence. 

My brain cells were begging for "American Masters", a good ballet, or Harry Connick Jr. singing old standards.  When did being smart or liking ballet and opera become a joke?  Does knowing O Fortuna at the first two notes make me an elitist?  If so, send me to Siberia or put me to work in the rice patties. 


And Now For the Rest of the Story...

A died almost three years ago.  She had skin cancer.  She was married to our priest, O.

J died 16 months ago.  He had stomach cancer.  He attended a different Episcopal church but his wife's godfather was our priest's former boss.

While sick with cancer, J needed people to stay with him during the day while M was at work.  While spending a day with him, J asked me to tell him about O.  He wasn't terribly interested in A's illness but rather in how O was coping without his wife, the mother of his children, his best friend.  Without saying it, it was clear he was asking because he knew he wouldn't get better and wanted some sort of reassurance that his wife M would be okay.

Several weeks after J's funeral there was an email exchange with M offering to tell her about "something that J said when I was sitting with him once".  M never took me up on it.  Until tonight.

In making plans for her daughter to stay with us for the weekend while she's away, M added a P.S. to her email suggesting that we get together for coffee and that she was ready to hear what J told me.  How does one tell a friend that her husband, while dying of cancer, was more concerned about her well-being than his own?  Even the thought of telling her makes tears roll down my cheeks.

That's the kind of love we all hope to have.  Not that someone will love us that much, but that we are lucky enough to find someone to love.  Unselfish, undying love.  J was a lucky man indeed.


Ya Gotta Taste This

There are more than three senses.  Yet there are only three sensory blogs on my list of non-Bucket-List lists.  Sight, sound, and smell have been covered already.  Time now for the all-important taste factor.  No, this will not be a Fear Factor-type list of tastes.  Just things to taste before I die.
  • The best cup of coffee.  Check.  Already done.  At a breakfast shack in Destin, FL, on the last day of a girls' weekend.
  • Champagne at my daughters' weddings.
  • Perfectly sautéed soft-shell crabs.  Check.  That was the main course at a dinner party at chez Gaelic.
  • Blood pudding in Scotland.  Haggis can be quite good if made by someone who knows how.  Unfortunately, on our holiday in Scotland, our innkeepers didn't serve blood pudding.
  • The fruits of my gardening labor.  Last year's garden produced: beets, carrots, onions, leeks, spinach, tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins, corn, strawberries, and figs.  For this year, add to that okra, eggplant, watermelon, raspberries, potatoes, garlic, zucchini, and three types of winter squash.
  • Acacia honey with bread at an inn on Lake Como.
  • Sauteed fiddlehead ferns.
  • Blinis and caviar after touring the Hermitage.
  • The perfect crème brûlée.  It's all in how the sugar is burnt.
  • S'mores dark chocolate pudding.  Check.  This was the dessert for a private Valentine's Day dinner at chez Gaelic.
Guessing at things to taste before I die is difficult.  How does one know about all the different flavors in the world until one is exposed to them?  My eyes, and mouth, will be open for new taste adventures.  But no shots of horse semen.


Shoe Lust with Imelda Gaelic

There were some gorgeous, let me be clear, gorgeous shoes on the catwalks recently during the Fall 2011 shows.  Some of my favorites:

3.1 Phillip Lim strappy blue heels

Alexander Wang metallic tassel pumps

Proenza Schouler high back heels

Proenza Schouler pony hair high back heels

Thakoon red velvet heels

Although for that last pair, it's probably the Tiffany-blue nail polish that sets my heart aflutter.  Do you think there's Filipino in my ancestry anywhere?


Question of the Day

Who has the least grip on reality, Muammar Gaddafi or Charlie Sheen?