In the Beginning…

Today began with uplifting news for a change. I learned that the Edith Kanakaʻole Quarter is now in circulation, a continuation in the American Women QuartersTM Program. Not only did I learn about the new quarter, I learned a little about “Aunty Edith” and the reason she is so admired in her native Hawaii and beyond.

I learned that Dev Shah won the 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee (and its $50,000 prize), after competing in two of the events, previously. And I learned that Marie C. Bolden, a Black girl, won the first national spelling bee 115 years ago, in 1908.

News that the Senate passed a bill to raise the debt ceiling boosted my mood temporarily too. I like having a bit more confidence that I will continue receiving my Social Security payments and that my retirement funds probably will not lose massive amounts of their value in the aftermath of an economic bloodbath.

Though encountering uplifting news certainly is a good thing, discovering that the good news is tinged with disheartening information or realization is not surprising. In Aunty Edith’s case, the mere fact that a Hawaiian woman’s selection merits special attention verifies that bias, bigotry, racism, and a host of other unpleasant attributes require ongoing efforts to erase them.

The racist reactions to Marie Bolden’s 1908 spelling bee win amplified and shone a light on the brutal verbal attacks that being Black called forth—and continues to do so today. I know nothing about Dev Shah’s parents or grandparents, but I suspect Dev’s cultural ancestry is Indian or Pakistani. I have noticed many recent National Spelling Bees have been won by people whose names suggest (to me, at least) they are of Asian descent.  That observation suggests to me either that Asian parents tend to be more supportive of their childrens’ intellectual development or non-Asian parents are under-supportive. There could be many other reasons, of course, related not to support or intellect but to cultural differences…or other factors. I would like to know, with some confidence, what causes…wait, I seem to have great acumen at snatching negativity from the jaws of joy.


Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.

~ Marcel Proust ~


Finally, a deal to raise the debt ceiling. I will worry, even after Senate approval, until Biden signs the bill. And then I will grind my teeth as I think of the fact that the deal is yet another temporary “compromise” to temporarily solving a problem that should be eliminated. Philosophical differences must be confronted, acknowledged, and addressed if this Congress and those in the future are to effectively solve ANY problem. Compromise usually necessitates give and take on both sides of an issue. Everyone might have to swallow a bitter pill in order to reach a satisfactory resolution to problems that look very different, depending on one’s perspective.

The outrage at the debt ceiling compromise by those on the left and those on the right tells me the problems will not be solved until some grown-up leaders get involved at both ends of the political spectrum. Adults who hold strong positions that conflict with the positions of other adults realize they either must concede some of their ideals or risk dying in bloody battles. But lately I have seen evidence that too many people may be willing to die for meaningless ideals. “I will not accept apple pie for dessert. It’s either cherry pie or we fight to our deaths.” Moronicatude is a neologism I coined for such idiocy.


The good news continues, though. When I look outside at my back deck and into the forest beyond, I feel a wave of satisfaction wash over me. The new deck furniture—two swivel rockers, a loveseat, and a coffee table—is comfortable. The newly washed and sealed wood of the deck looks well-used but is solid. The hanging ferns and wind chimes and various other decorations are pretty. The stained glass windows we hung from the end of the deck add something beautiful that words cannot describe. It’s a place where I feel good. I can sit there, sipping coffee or a soda or just water, and feel in touch with the universe around me. Sometime soon, I will buy another notebook computer to replace the one that threatens to crash and burn at any moment (and which I replaced with a desktop computer); then, I will be able to write my blog while outdoors, rather than inside, looking out a window. Mi novia has suggested I do that—more than once. Perhaps I should react more quickly to her ideas, inasmuch that many of them are quite good ones.  Oh, I should say this…looking out the window is not at all bad…but feeling the early morning air touch my skin and smelling the forest and hearing the birds sing fills me with appreciation.


Yesterday afternoon, I attacked a sinus headache with acetaminophen and a nap. My timing was not good, in that I was asleep during a time when a friend might have come by to share cake and conversation. Today, I will preempt the sinus headache with an allergy tablet and large volumes of water. I hope yesterday’s wished-for event will take place today. This paragraph is, obviously, a message to my friend. 😉


And there you go. It’s just ten minutes after 6 and I’ve finished my post for the day, I’ve emptied my coffee cup, and I’ve managed to maintain a reasonably positive outlook for the first two hours of the day. Life is good. And you are, too. Yes, you. And You. And so on.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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