We agree on apocalypse

Cherry Odelberg, Photo Kevin Decker 2010, legwarmers Andrea Shellabarger, necklace Kelly Hayzlett

God bless the founding fathers and Abraham Lincoln for setting Thanksgiving AFTER general elections so that families can gather and be thankful for each other with some semblance of peace. I doubt the members of my immediate family would have stayed more than 10 minutes at the same table or under the same roof had there still been opportunity to alter the vote through information, debate or influence.

As it was, we shared a great meal with conversation dominated by stories of personal success or dreams.  Afterwards, we made music together with piano, organ, guitar and vibraharp. Mostly, the men listened and allowed my mother, my sister-in-law and me to dawdle about at the instruments and fumble with Christmas Carols.

For those of you unfamiliar with my family of origin, let me quickly clue you that my only sibling (a brother) is a cerebral, Phd toting geneticist who has done extensive stem cell research.  My parents are conservative, fundamental, salt of the earth representatives of the greatest generation; champions of the idea that the final answer may be obtained through keeping a simple list of ten or 12 things. These things were clearly interpreted in, say, 1940 or 50 and should always remain how they used to be. I forever and always have been and will be caught in the middle; moderate, compromising; trying to please everyone and thereby pleasing no one;  alternately shamed and scorned by both sides.

Friday evening found my brother, my sister-in-law and me at the movies – Lincoln, to be specific. During the after movie hot chocolate and discussion, my brother mentioned that there were two more movies he wants to see this season:  Chasing Ice (this is not a hockey movie, in case you were misled by the title) and Bidder #70 (I myself want to see Les Miserables but the topic at hand seemed to be global warming and the Bush administration not the effects of the French Revolution).

My brother is convinced that global warming is progressing at such a rate as to soon bring about a cataclysmic event. The astonishing thing is that everyone agrees on apocalypse.   The liberals believe it is coming as a result of global warming.  The biblical conservatives believe it through prophecy.  Writers proclaim it through speculative  fiction.  The younger generation lives breathes and thinks post apocalyptic. Over the decades, the Huxleys, Jenkinses and Collinses among us have written tomes on the theme.

Is that not a miracle?  We all agree on something:  Apocalypse is coming. Problem is, we disagree on how to approach it.

I voiced this thought to my daughter on the phone – she the Y generation Christian Anthropologist, rock and rage drummer through the week, sometimes youth and worship speaker and musician on the Sabbath.

Me:  Isn’t it strange how the liberals and Christians agree that apocalypse is coming?  The liberals are trying to stop it by curtailing global warming. The Christians are making every effort to stave it off by repentance and moral house cleaning.

She:  meanwhile the Jews are scurrying around rebuilding the temple…

Is there any question apocalypse is coming? Is the question merely; how?  or when?  Or is the issue “woe to him or her by whom it comes?”

Happy Thanksgiving Memories

Thanksgiving with Andrea and Philip, by Andrea 2012

Thanksgiving.  It’s hard holiday to beat for generosity and the mix of food, family, and fellowship.

There are some wise folks who choose Thanksgiving as their favorite holiday; and why not? An attitude of gratitude boosts everything about life to a higher level, positive and productive.

Oh, I know; particularly if you are a woman, you have spent the last week baking, planning, running to the grocery store – but, isn’t it wonderful to feel the wind in your face, to rise to the occasion – even to be thankful that you do not have to cook like this every day of the year?

As a child, I stood by and tried to help with the Thanksgiving Eve grinding of cranberries and stuffing of the turkey as promising aromas filled the kitchen. I learned how it must be done, by watching.  As a too young bride exiled to Germany, I was determined to keep up the tradition, though I bloodied my knuckled trying to grind cranberries on a cheese grater and had to remove all the racks in the apartment size oven just to roast a pint sized turkey in a two quart lasagna dish.

Later, I stood at a kitchen sink in Texas, flanked by my two younger children as we gathered and mixed all the necessary side dishes for meals shared with friends.  I not only enjoyed those years, I lived to write about them.

Over the years, we have feasted on small turkeys, large turkeys, smoked turkeys, bonus turkeys, food basket turkeys; turkeys roasted in a conventional oven, wood stove oven, motel oven, and even in a cast iron dutch oven over a campfire.

Last year Andrea was with me for Thanksgiving break.  Together we knocked out the pumpkin pies and then toted them to Grandma’s house and Kevin’s house for the feast.

For the past few years, I have been the spare tire, the single who brings a side-dish and  is welcome at the table anyway. My house is small and my work schedule changeable, so I greatly appreciate the hospitality. I will never forget the Thanksgiving in 2010 when I worked the register at Safeway until late afternoon. Throwing on my coat and rushing out the door to catch the bus, I was hailed in the parking lot by my cousin who tucked me into the jeep with his mother and took me home for a feast.

This year, the Thanksgiving spirit has been pervasive.  Facebook is littered daily with the confetti of thankfulness. Shoppers and store clerks alike seem to have entered into the spirit of the season.  Yesterday the bank teller transacted my deposit with a look of happy anticipation, “Are you cooking?”  she asked.  “Not this year.  Going home to Mama’s, “  I replied.  “And you?” “Yes, for twelve people,” she confided with delight. “I’ve got it all planned.  Happy Thanksgiving!”

Blessings on your day.  I’ve gotta run. I am expected across town with my sweet potato casserole.

I am mildly disappointed in The Hunger Games

Cherry Odelberg, photo credit Kevin Decker 2010

I have just finished reading The Hunger Games.  It was a great book. I am mildly dissatisfied with the conclusion.  Before I proceed to analyze why, I am sure you have one of two possible reactions which must be dealt with before you can concentrate on what I have to say.

1. Why are you just now getting around to reading this book?


2. What is a 58 year old woman doing reading a YA fiction book?

The simple answer to both questions is: I am a writer, mother, grandmother and I hold down job(s) in the real world.

The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins, 2008), is more than a dawning of love between vampires or fidelity and character among institutional witches and it is worth a thorough read.

The overall narrative initially and consistently reminded me of Animal Farm or Brave New World, a couple of futuristic stories in the junior great books anthologies, and some ancient myth.  It is a book to entertain, to take you on adventure, to make you think. And thinking is what I did as I turned pages – faster and faster into the wee hours.

My first disappointment came with Peeta. I wanted him to be less passive, more warrior.  But he is only sixteen.  How much can you expect of a 16 year old, a grasp of all the virtues and character traits including Love?  These are issues I yet ponder at my age and I am a voracious reader in part due to my endless search for the ideal. Peeta certainly grasps the essence of unconditional and enduring love. Also, it is hard to find fault with his determined philosophy to not let the competition change who he is.  Why do I have trouble with his inactivity and passivity, do I not truly believe all you need is love?

My lingering disappointment has to do with the ending. She took the fruit and gave some to him – but they didn’t eat it, not really, they only pretended to. They outsmarted the gamekeepers and the Capitol, but, in so doing, did they compromise who they were? What if they had taken the fruit and swallowed it? Might rebellion have broken out  in the districts immediately?

Perhaps a Romeo and Juliet suicide is not the proper death to glamorize as an example to the YA of today. We have been aware of a high suicide rate among the young ever since I was in high school. Publishers, gatekeepers, vocal Christians and psychologists alike would frown on a dual suicide ending. No, besides ending the writer’s opportunity for a Katniss and Peeta sequel, a suicide ending too, would have been disappointing.

So, for the sake of honor.  For the sake of everything good and right and true and heroic.  I would have a true martyr’s ending. It would have been impossible not to cry. As it was, my only tears while reading the book were brought on by the district 11 bread parachute.

In my ending, Peeta flung his knife. Katniss laid down her bow. They were shot instantly for their rebellion and disobedience. Rebellion in districts 12 and 11 broke out and was widely imitated in other districts. Were their families in danger?  Of course. Family is always in danger. It is simply a matter of drawing a line in the sand sooner. In this way, Peeta’s integrity remains intact as does Katniss’s courageous honor. As it was, she took the fruit and gave some also to Adam, I mean Peeta, and the ideal took a step backwards.  But, they were only 16 after all. How could they know that the integrity of their controlled Universe rested on one decision; that all hell would later break loose; that they would live only to fight again?