Monday, June 02, 2008


DENVER, COLORADO -- This trip is not an adventure. I came to Denver to visit my family. My younger sister, Katy, was married to Bruce Walters this Saturday in a simple backyard ceremony with both families attending. Friends came over later for a reception. The weather was perfect -- nice and sunny, but not too hot. My sister has three grandchildren and I enjoyed playing with them. Bruce comes from Iowa and his folks drove out for the occasion -- his Mom and Dad, in their late eighties, his two sisters and their husbands. Not being a first marriage for either Katy or Bruce, their children, his two and her two, were a part of the ceremony.

Lots of farm talk. Earl Walters, the Dad, ran a farm in Iowa for many years, after he finished his service in World War II, but he said he was glad to be out of it now. They are selling the old home and moving into a retirement place. Bruce will inherit his Dad's pickup truck -- but he has to go back to Iowa to get it.

Iowa farming is all about corn and soy beans. The Walters kids grew up on the farm and put in long hours helping their folks, but they have not pursued that profession. They asked me about farms in the Skagit Valley and I told them how different it was there -- being smaller farms and much more diversified into vegetable and berries.

Bruce's brother-in-law manages a hydraulic hose factory in Iowa. He reported that the factory is working around the clock seven days a week, because new farm implements need a lot of hydraulic hoses, and the high commodity prices, for both corn and soy beans, have enabled Midwestern farmers to buy new equipment.

But Bruce's sister works in another factory, right near the hydraulic place, only this business manufactures windows and other housing fixtures. Needless to say, the window factory is laying people off because of the housing slump.

So it's a mixed picture in Iowa -- some good and some bad. But the old folks are downsizing and moving into the retirement home and time passes on.

POLITICS. I used to know what I thought about the "great issues of the day" but lately I have been shedding opinions like so many old feathers. I have decided that this is good thing and I will just strip it all the way down and take a fresh look at things.

I still like Obama and feel that he has been right about the invasion of Iraq. Otherwise, I don't expect miracles from him. The kids may get excited about a young black man overtaking the White House. Enthusiasm is good. And our role as elders is to resist the enthusiasm of young people, so that it can be formed into something good.

I am not alarmed by the outspoken comments of various preachers. I heard Rev. Hagee -- McCain's man -- condemn the Gay Pride Parade in New Orleans and he said the wrath of God brought on Hurricane Katrina. Hagee is welcome to his own interpretation. Likewise, whoever mounts the pulpit at Obama's Trinity church in Chicago may speak as plainly and as bluntly as they wish -- it will not ruffle my feathers.

Denunciations are ridiculous. Both candidates have been associated with perfect fools, at one time or another. So what. How would you like to be responsible for the sayings and doings of everybody you have ever worked with or been friends with? It's an impossible standard.

Apologies are worse. McCain and Obama can't get a moment's peace. Sooner or later, one of them will say something stupid -- Obama prefers the term "bone-headed." When a candidate says something stupid, he should be issued a Take Back, like a friendly game of checkers.

And we need to stop whining. Gas is over $4 per gallon and you think the world is coming to an end, the way some people talk. Get over it. I predict that gas will level off around $5 per gallon and remain at that price for some years. Don't complain, adjust. It's time for America to become resourceful. Use your brain -- figure out a better way.

I will fly back to Seattle on Wednesday and return to my job at the hospital on Thursday. Getting away like this will make me feel glad to get back to work.

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