Friday, November 17, 2006

The American Flag

There was an article in yesterday's issue of USA Today that caught my eye -- “‘Old Glory’ is the Flag to Fly in Pahrump.”

Mark Memmott wrote about banning foreign flags in Pahrump, Nevada, a small community west of Las Vegas. The town board voted this week to make it illegal to hang a foreign nation’s flag by itself or higher than the American flag. The city will issue $50 fines and require thirty hours of community service to individuals guilty of being non compliant with the statute. The approval (3-2) of the ordinance drew a standing ovation at the city council meeting.

I know I will get a little hate mail by saying this, but I do not care about that. I have as much freedom of speech as the next guy, so I will say it anyway.

Good for you, Pahrump!

First - let me say that I do understand that the First Amendment guarantees everyone in this country the right of free speech. And I am exercising that right as I type. I also realize that I may not like what others are saying or doing and that our Constitution defends other's rights to do that which I may find most offensive. (ok, so I took this line from Michael Douglas in "The American President" but I agree with him.) I know that our American Constitution protects freedom of speech and expression without consideration of the person's country of origin or nationality.

But I also know that our Republic is being inundated by foreigners who come to this country and refuse to learn the language or accept our patriotic love of flag and country.

I believe that the primary flag of this country should be the U.S. flag. And I have said this before, if someone feels so attached to their country and flag - what the heck are they doing here? Go home! I knew some foreign (not from Mexico) students while at Porterville College who hated the American flag and hated everything "American." It drove me insane to listen to them. If it was up to me, I would have deported them all. And I told them so. We were friends, so they would laugh and sometimes I think they did it just to get to me. But I had no problem telling them to leave. We do not need people like that here.

I have no problem if people feel adamant about displaying a different flag. (I do not care for it, but I can live with it) But I do have a problem if they disrespect our flag in the process. Flying a foreign flag above ours would bother me. (As flying the flag upside down. I often travel to the local Indian reservation and it really bothers me to see the flag flying like that in a couple of places. That is a sign of distress. They are simply doing it as some kind of protest or to make a point. I do not like it. I find it disrespectful.) The same holds true with flying a foreign flag higher than the American flag - it diminishes (mainly in their eyes) the patriotic standing of our country.

I am proud of the little town in Nevada. By taking a stand against foreign encroachment, this one small community has spoken out with what (I hope) the majority of Americans believe but are too timid - or too frightened from being politically incorrect - to say.

On death and dying

I attended a colleague's funeral this week. He was my age - only 47 - definitely too young to die. I sat quietly through the Catholic service at St. Mary's. Though not Catholic, I love their services. I find them interesting. I always feel peace in there. The singing (? not sure if it is called singing or chanting) is kind of haunting but a good haunting - I love it.

Nick was one of my first friends at the newspaper. He always waved when I saw him outside or he would stop by my desk on his way in, to see how I was. I remember he always had a smile for everyone. Sometimes we would chat for a minute before he would continue on to his own desk on the other side of the building.

I could not stop thinking of how young he was. One should not die at that age. But I guess it should not surprise me. I mean, I have lost many loved ones at young ages. My father was only 56 when he died. My oldest brother was 53. Nothing is certain....

At the graveside, I glanced around. Finally we had a cooler day. The leaves had started turning and were falling off the trees. This may sound strange, but it was a perfect funeral day. When I die, I want it to be fall -- it is my favorite time of the year and just seems right for a funeral. I would be more perfect if it rained. I love rain and there is something about standing at a graveside under black umbrellas seems right. Not that I want everything to be gloomy, that is so not it. It is just that I love fall and I love rain - so why would I not want that? (But then again, I love cemeteries, especially old ones or foreign ones - like Pere Lachaise in Paris - I can literally spend hours there.)

Sadly, Nick's passing has really brought Albert to mind lately. Albert was actually my brother-in-law but I was so close to him. I loved him dearly and my children adored him. He lived with us off and on through the years and thought the world of my kids. Albert was a free-spirit type of guy. He kind of came and went. He was an artist and died while photographing the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge a couple of years ago. He loved photographing it and painting it. A huge wave came out of nowhere and knocked him off a rock, camera and all.

I still remember the screams from my children when he died. I think that scene will haunt me forever. Marisa still cries for him. But he left behind some awesome work. I have several windows painted by Albert in my home. For Jennifer, he painted "Winnie The Pooh" on her bedroom window (she was only 3 at the time) and for Catherine, "Hello Kitty." Marisa picked Brian, who she was crazy about at the time - from the Back Street Boys. Brian is wearing a cap with Marisa's name on it. Those paintings are precious to me. For my window, I just asked for a vine, small yellow flowers and small birds - which he did for me. And since I love cats, he put a small kitty on one window. But my front two windows have Christmas paintings on them -- a snowman on one and Bambi on the other. I can still see Albert's handiwork here and at several businesses in Porterville -- he designed and painted several signs. But he was mainly known for his Christmas windows around town during the holidays - he did everything in 3D. Amazing stuff.

Anyway, when Nick died, I started thinking of Albert. Albert was only 45 when he died - like Nick, way too young. I especially miss Albert during the holidays, because he would always come stay with us during that time. I know this holiday season will be really hard for Nick's family -- I guess there is no such thing as a good time to die...

Friday, November 03, 2006

My blog was reviewed....

What a nice surprise I got yesterday when I woke up. I had an email informing me that my blog had been reviewed.

Not having any idea what to expect, I held my breath as I nervously skipped over to Cobwebs of the Mind -- a site by (author of several books) Ted William Gross of Jerusalem.

But it was pretty cool. I was not disappointed and I almost forgot I was reading about myself. Ted gave me a very nice review. He called my accomplishments "awesome and intimidating" -- it certainly made me smile. That never would have crossed my mind.

I'm not used to praise and I'm sure I was blushing as I read about myself. But even so, heck - admit it - we all love reading wonderful things about ourselves.

I won't go into the entire review here, but Ted did write:

There is something very uplifting about "Midnight Writings", Esther's blog (and there is an accompanying web site and something that we should all learn from. There is a quiet, serene osmosis between an individual and her profession. Esther is not just a woman who happens to be a journalist. She is a woman who part of her being is being a journalist. Sometimes, yes, she must write dry facts (though they don't appear in her blog for the most part). Mostly you can see her own thoughts and feelings within the posts on her blog. This allows for the mother, the individual and the professional to all merge as one into a coherent, though certainly emotional and deeply feeling individual.

And after talking about several of my posts, Ted ended by saying:

"Midnight Writings" is not just a blog. It is the heart of a woman, mother, journalist. It is a journey from time to time into the soul of the woman who always smiles, names Esther Avila. Her writing friends at AW know her as "September Skies". And thus when I always think of her I think of a clear blue sky in the heavens on a warm, breezy day. It is always a day that brings a smile to one's face. Esther's heart and soul, with the hope that she portrays in her blog, leaves us with such a smile.
Read "
Midnight Writings". Visit "Midnight Writings". You will not be disappointed.

Now, isn't that the sweetest review? If you can, and you have not visited there yet, do take a detour to Ted's Cobwebs of the Mind site and check out the review. And, please....leave him a comment. He didn't have to do the review and I just feel honored that he did.