Sunday, July 3, 2011

When you know you are in the "good stuff."

There's much cynicism in America today.  There's the constant woodpecking about needing "fundamental change."  Youth sometimes seemed soaked in the suck.

When you want to talk about America's history, there's always some sour-tongued pedant to complain about the treatment of the Native Americans.  To complain about the period of slavery.  To complain about civil rights.  To talk about dropping bombs on Japan.

As much as folks claim they are "progressive"...they seem to dwell an awful lot on the past.

I know our history and everyone should.  We need to know all of it.  We also need to know that ... compared to other countries, we have self-corrected the grievances in a remarkably short period and we've often led the path that other (much older) nations decided to follow.

The beauty of America is the beauty of life.  No person is perfect and no nation is.  Every person will make mistakes and learn and grow.   And when people have made mistakes and corrected them, they deserve to be forgiven.  It is only through forgiveness and understanding that people AND nations can grow and thrive.

America is big and mighty.  We know it.  It is brash and bold and shiny and colorful and diverse...and it's NEW.  It's a new thing.  Speaking in relation to the world ...  America's an infant.

Do not mistake my appreciation for my land of birth to be some kind of disrespect for other countries.  I have lived and seen many great places.  I remember my great-grandfather, Axel Anderson.  He came here from Sweden and I traveled to see his place of birth and stood inside the church he attended there when he was just a boy.

There are terrific countries in the world and all sorts of fascinating cultures.

This holiday weekend I got to spend time with the family.  The GO TO tradition is grilling out and my brother was perfecting his ribs.  See, ribs are an American thing.  We take the part of the animal that no one wants and we turn it into manna from Heaven.  Oh, my brother had the good rub and had expended the effort to bake the ribs and then was slowly smoking them in his grill as I pulled up into the driveway.

I had stopped at the fireworks tent to buy a packet of legal Illinois fireworks.  My six-year old great-niece needed to experience the tradition of lighting a fuse on something.  I had no idea WHAT to buy because I was under the impression that they would all suck ... so I just got the "Carnival Pack."

The family gathered, chattering, around the table and feasted on the delicious pig flesh and salads.  It's impossible to shut my great-niece up and, personally, I like that quality in her.  I believe she takes after my dad.  My grandmother tells me that my dad used to talk all through dinner and sit there and finish his plate after everyone was done.  This certainly happened yesterday, but the great-niece ripped through her food in record time when I told her I was going outside to light smoke bombs.

After all had eaten we congregated outside for the fireworks show.  We started with the small stuff in the pack.   The minor child enjoyed the sparklers, especially when I gave her two at a time.  I don't care who you are, it's fun to see someone scream, "Wheeeeeeeee" and mean it!  There were these things in the pack, about twelve of them...that looked about the size of a AA battery and when you lit the fuse, they spun around and made different color displays.

There was domestic tranquility with arm chairs and the neighbor's cat lying peacefully on the grass until one of the things I lit decided to emit a high-pitched scream.  The feline, like a bullet, flew behind the garage.  I have to say I was surprised by some of these legal Illinois fireworks.  They were shooting colored sparks and exploding and squealing.  A couple gave me a good bang for my buck.  All in all, they really DIDN'T suck.

And of course,


After the fireworks were done, we stayed in the back yard and invented some game that eventually involved three balls and kicking and throwing and even a hula hoop.  Good times.

Finally, it was dusk and perfect for watermelon.  My brother invited the neighbor, a nice widow lady, over.  It turned out to be a pink, sweet, juicy and cool melon that would require my great-niece to be hosed off before she went back inside.

As it was getting late ... I headed home.  I reflected on a day full of the good stuff.

I remembered good times when *I* was a kid and thought about sitting on the back porch of my great-grandpa's house.  He called me Svenska flikka and he would put me on his lap in a wooden rocking chair he made and we'd listen to THIS!

Thank you Axel.  The good stuff is still here.

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