Tuesday, July 31, 2012

O Pioneers!

When I tell people we were camping in Colorado last week, my mental transcript always adds irony quotes to the word "camping." Yes, technically we were camping (see yesterday's post about NO BATHROOM) but I'm guessing Lewis and Clark may have coped with the elements just a bit differently as they came across the Rockies.

This picture, for example, illustrates a few of the creature comforts Husband and I pack for a week in the wilderness. Oscillating fan for warm afternoons. Crockpot. Toaster. Table lamp because our eyes are getting old. Queen-sized mattresses (two) because our backs are accompanying the eyes. And, of course, a television/DVD player, because nothing says "roughing it" like a stack of 15 DVDs to watch during the week.

"You know," Husband remarked early in the week, "the folks who design these pop-ups obviously haven't been camping or they'd have put in more outlets."

Uh, right.

At least we weren't the most egregiously faux campers. We only ran the air conditioner once, and we do not have dish satellite television reception. In fact, we had no television reception at all; our TV was strictly for movie watching.

The early settlers would be so proud of us.

Monday, July 30, 2012

We're Baaaaack!

Hello, my friends! Have you missed me? I have missed you.

Truly! All of last week, every time I would do something incredibly stupid (see: dropping camper table on toe and subsequent whining and blackened toe) I would think, "Oh, I need to blog that." But then I would remember that I was on vacation, without internet access, and I would wonder how in the world people deal with the day-to-day irritations of the world when they don't have a blog to make these irritations worthwhile.

As it turns out, there are compensations for the lack of internet. There is, for example, the view from the bench where every day I waited for Husband to finish his shower. Mountains in the background, fluffy clouds, a cool breeze, no humidity. That's not even mentioning the slight piney scent of the air. Oh, and the chipmunks that brazenly ran under the bench.

(Rabbit trail story: Many, many years ago when the Boys were small we went camping in Indiana. I know! Indiana! It's the destination camping spot of the western world. Anyway, as we pulled into the campground a couple of deer crossed the road ahead of us. "Look, Boys! It's Bambi and his family!" we cried. Then we noticed that everyone else was kind of ignoring the wildlife. We couldn't believe that other campers were going about their business of camping when there were DEER right there beside us. Within an hour or so we realized that Brown State Park was lousy with deer. I mean, deer were coming up to the picnic table to grab salad off our plates. I thought of that this week when I was walking to the restroom and a fox ran across the road in front of me. A FOX! Carrying a chipmunk in its mouth. It was exciting until we later saw this same fox at least a dozen times, and decided it was the official Mueller State Park greeter. I'm surprised it didn't bring us a Welcome Wagon basket.)

Anyway, this was one of my favorite vacations ever. This was partly because camping has the wonderful advantage of allowing you to eat pretty much whatever you want to eat at any time. That's because every single time you want to go to the bathroom, you make this trek:

In case this graphic isn't clear, it means that you start from the camper, climb a slight hill, climb a really, really steep hill, level out for half a dozen gasping steps, then climb a final steep hill. Believe me, it makes you reconsider that second cup of coffee.

But the next time you go through town, you pass a McDonald's, and the thought of all those climbs goes through your mind, and yay!

Delicious dip cones are only $1.39! Which is fortunate, because when you get home, you discover that even though nights are cold in Colorado and you haven't sweat for five days, at 7 p.m. in Kansas this is the temperature:

By the time the trailer is empty you will offloaded enough fluid to completely compensate for the sweat-less week, but at least you don't have to walk a quarter mile to the shower.

I think I'm ready for another vacation.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Weeping for the Mothers

The post I had planned to write today was all about getting ready for next week's vacation. It was going to include self-deprecating descriptions of my ineptitude in packing, and a few jabs at the 10 books and 15 DVDs I'm packing.

But then I woke up and turned on the radio, and learned that the lives of dozens had changed irrevocably at 12:30 this morning. I heard that the first reaction of the mother of the suspected shooter had been, "You have the right person."

And with that I knew I could not write something lighthearted or funny, not when so many mothers' hearts are breaking.

Of course I weep for the mothers whose children died in the shooting. The mothers whose babies were hurt. The ones who will wonder, "What was I doing bringing a six-year-old to a midnight show?" and "Why didn't I leave my three-month-old with a sitter?"

I admit, for a split second I asked the same questions, too, but almost immediately I was ashamed of those thoughts.

The thing is, all of us mothers are doing the best we can. We take the baby to the midnight showing, telling ourselves she will sleep through the feature. We convince ourselves our six-year-old is exceptionally mature, and he won't be influenced by the PG-13 nature of the movie.

Usually we're right, because we know our children. That's why perhaps the most heartbroken mother of all is the one who said "You have the right person," and why I weep for her as well.

If the suspect who has been arrested is, indeed, the shooter, he is not be a confused teen or a societal outcast. This is a serious student, a Phi Beta Kappa scholar studying neuroscience in a medical school. No one achieves this without being smart, without working hard, without having others who help him his goals.

And still, his mother's first reaction? "You have the right person." Somehow she knew, and was unable to derail the avalanche of tragedy. She will be caught up in the endless media analysis of her son and the endlessly wondering what she could have done to make things come out...any way but this way. I can only imagine her second-guessing of every decision she's made during his life, from breastfeeding to video game limits to accelerated classes.

They were doing the best they could, and still their babies are involved in tragedies, as victims or as perpetrators.

My heart breaks for the mothers.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Introducing the Kittens

During my Peace Corps years I lived with a Costa Rican family that became as close to me as anyone in the world with whom I do not share DNA (Husband excepted, of course). They not only provided a bed and beans, they laughed at my first jokes in stumbling Spanish, nursed me through a vicious bout of the measles (really!), and kept me from destroying the friendly diplomatic relations our countries have shared for centuries. When my term was up, I left this family with tears and hugs and promises that I'd be back soon.

I was not back soon.

Twenty years went by between the time I got on the plane and when I walked back in the front door of the house where I'd spent so many wonderful hours drinking coffee and laughing with my darling Tica mama, Chena.  I wanted Husband and the Boys to experience this part of my life, but I also felt like a proud mother cat showing off her beautiful kittens for the first time. Chena baked a cake for Boy#1's in-country 15th birthday and exclaimed at how tall and blonde our children were.

I thought of that last Friday when Emily came to visit. Emily was our favorite babysitter when the boys were babies, a student in one of Husband's accounting classes who clearly had a gift for child care. Cheerful and quiet, she exuded a calm that settled our often chaotic home. The Boys loved to see her coming up the walk--I loved it even more. She read endless books, took walks, played with them in the yard, fed and bathed them, and let me leave the house for a few hours with total confidence in her competence.

We lost touch with Emily after she graduated from Small College, but through the miracle of Facebook we reconnected a few years ago. She's living in Idaho now with her husband and three daughters, and her vacation this year included a trip down memory lane to Small College. The darling girl who was our babysitter now has three darling girls of her own and she brought them back for us to meet.

During lunch we laughed and reminisced about those years in the late 1980s when E was part of the family.

"Your mom was the only one I really trusted with the Boys," I told her daughters. "She was the one who was there when Boy#2 fell and broke off his front two teeth, and she was taking care of Boy#3 when he had the bad reaction to his baby vaccinations."

Husband looked over at Emily and laughed. "You know, I'm beginning to wonder why we kept asking you back--you had some nasty experiences with our boys."

Emily, who is normally the most gentle of women, responded tartly.

"Maybe it's because you knew I absolutely loved your Boys."

That, right there, is why we loved her, then and now. It's impossible to not love someone who loves your children.

And in that moment I knew how Chena had felt when I brought Husband and the Boys to meet her. As we had known she would, Emily had become a lovely mother of delightful children of her own. My heart grew two sizes during Friday's lunch, as I saw that promise fulfilled. Emily and the girls left with hugs and promises that they'd be back soon.

These promises cannot always be kept, as my experience in Costa Rica proved, but my heart still is larger after that visit.

Emily, your kittens are beautiful.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

View From the Pit

The first time I played for a musical I was a sophomore in college and I was in the second violin section. The musical was Guys and Dolls, and to this day I can recite most of that show's lyrics at the drop of a tophat.

When you see a guy reach for stars in the sky, 
You can bet that he's doin' it for some doll...

I'd seen the big movie musicals--The Sound of Music. Mary Poppins. I'd set my vinyl LPs of Broadway soundtracks to repeat until the tracks wore out--Music Man. Showboat. But I'd never actually seen a live, on-stage musical until I saw it from that cramped, hot, sub-stage hole known as the pit. 

It was magical. The experience combined the adrenaline rush of a performance with the guilty pleasure of Broadway music, and that's a heady mix.

Several summers ago Small Town began producing family musicals, a combination of fundraiser for a local theatre renovation and an opportunity to get kids involved in singing and dancing. That year the production was Seussical: The Musical, and they were desperate to find a piano player. The rest of the hometown musicians were really good and I was only willing semi-competent, but I had a great time and this morning I smiled when I heard the Cat in the Hat on my playlist:

When your life's going wrong, when the fates are unkind,
When you're limping along and get kicked from behind,
Tell yourself how lucky you are!

Then came Peter Pan. And Assassins. 

Musicals at Small College needed to be accompanied, and the late hours and repetition were a small price to pay for hearing great music sung by kids I know personally, and for the feeling that comes from being part of a team effort.

That's why, when the director of Small College's summer musical e-mailed me in panic a week ago because the second keyboard player had bailed, I said I'd be glad to join the Willy Wonka crew. Even though I knew how busy my week was shaping up to be (it turned out to be even busier than I had predicted) and even though I should have been using that time to dust or cook or water my tomatoes.

I'm so glad I did.

The second keyboard bench in the pit is the best seat in the house, perfect for watching my friend's granddaughter stomp in as an Oompa-Loompa, and Boy#3's pal nail the Grandpa George role. I was in exactly the right spot to marvel that the Candy Man's soft-shoe routine was really good, and to hear that actor's mom applauding her son with "That's my boy!" vigor.

Halfway through last week, as I was trying to juggle schedules and make everything come out even, Husband asked me about a logistical detail that had slipped my mind. I threw up my hands in defeat.

"I know! I should have told the Wonka folks I couldn't do it."

Now that it's over, I rescind that statement. Everything worked out, and I have another set of lyrics running through my mind.

I want the world, I want the whole world, 
I want to lock it all up in my pocket,
It's my bar of chocolate!

Wonderful earworms are just a bonus of the view from the pit.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Surfing the Zen

You know last week's apprehension when I managed to schedule a complete summer's worth of activities into a single weekend because each and every one of them sounded like a ton of fun? And my surprising calmness about the logistics involved, which included feeding three concurrent sets of house guests while accompanying the college musical every night? Not to mention that I had decided cleaning wasn't going to happen and knew I would wince every time I couldn't avoid seeing the protective covering of dust I've allowed to develop over the entire House on the Corner? 

I mentioned to a friend that I was feeling unexpectedly Zen about my dirty, dirty house.

"Well, then surf the Zen," she told me. "Surf the Zen."

So I'm sharing the following because I am so excited about the results that I'm ignoring the chaos that surrounds the triumph: I have a new kitchen faucet!

The faucet in the kitchen sink has been pretty much a pain for the entire quarter century we've lived in the HotC. In spite of repeated replacements of the center cartridge (did you know the turning-on lever mechanism was called a cartridge? I did not, pre-faucet problems) getting water from this faucet was a mysterious process for visitors.

"Just grab that center post and shimmy it up until the water comes on, then when you want to turn it off, hit the top with the heel of your hand," I'd tell friends who offered to help wash dishes or peel potatoes.

I didn't even realize how irritating this faucet had become until the wonderful brother-in-law who was visiting over the weekend offered to replace it: My shrieks of acceptance may have permanently damaged his hearing. 

Anyway, it started out like this, although brother-in-law had already started to scrub under the fixture:

Ignore the surrounding chaos. Zen, baby. 

Brother-in-law's hand.
Then it was this, and then--this!

This is my faucet!
Do you hear the angels singing? This is the faucet of which dreams are made. Not only does it dispense a lovely stream of water at the touch of the tap (witness the first picture in this long, long post), it also does this:
It sprays!
And this!
The head of the faucet pulls out and it keeps spraying! You know the turkey roasters that won't fit into the sink? Now they'll be sprayed. And the big cookie sheets? Also sprayable.

And while I am so happy with this new faucet that I won't even mention that it has a BUILT-IN SOAP DISPENSER (oh, yes, it does) I have to admit that this Cadillac of faucets wouldn't have been a good idea while we still had Boys at home. I'm fairly certain the mobile nature of the faucet head would have turned our kitchen into this.

Cute? Yes. But surfing the Zen while my sons were dousing my cabinets? Nope, wouldn't have happened.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Direct Correlation

(Transcript of instant message with Boy#2 this morning. This post is a placeholder that lets you know I'm alive and survived my weekend. I'll have tales of the weekend later. I'm sure you are breathless with anticipation.)

Boy#2: OK, do you ever make a meal and it turns out to be a lot of work and isn't very good?

Me: Indeed. Let me tell you about cheesy shrimp grits.

Boy#2: Haha... Well, you were warned. I think the inclusion of the word "grits" should have been enough.

Me: What did you make?

Boy#2: Oh, nothing this time.This time I made something really, really easy that turned to be delicious. I was most proud of myself.

Me: Yay!

Boy#2: But there have definitely been times when it's been a lot of work that turned out to be not very good.

Me: Was it a new recipe?

Boy#2: Yeah, it was.

Boy#2: BTW, I really hate my smoke detector.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Everyone's a Critic


Usually my iPhone applauds the completion of my morning exercise with phrases such as "Great job!" or "You're terrific!" Apparently, though, it's noticed that the weather in the middle of the country is just a tad on the hot-slash-humid side and that my cool-down lap around the block isn't helping me much.

In fairness, this assessment is not inaccurate.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Problems of the Over-Blessed

We had just left the city limits last week when my phone beeped with an urgent message from Small College's theatre department. The second keyboard player for this week's musical had to cancel and they were desperate--could I play for three rehearsals and three performances this week? I knew a favorite brother-in-law was coming in to town for a few days, but he's a self-reliant guy so in keeping with my policy of willing semi-competence, I agreed to be a pit musician. Rehearsals every night this week have started soon after work and lasted until an hour past my usual bedtime.

Then Boy#4 got a text--a college friend had a few days free and would like to check out the best state in the Union. Is the guest room open this week?

This morning we found out that brother-in-law's wife was able to untangle the schedule that had been keeping her from visiting Small Town, so she'll be here for the weekend as well.

When I visited my tomato plants this morning I discovered the vines had grown so huge and tangled that they'd pulled their cages over.

Up until a few years ago this confluence of the unexpected would have thrown me for a loop. I would have fretted about the house that will be covered with dust when family arrives. I would have worried that Four's friend will think I can't cook because I haven't had time to make cookies or special meals. I would have stressed about the imperfection of the insufficiently-practiced Willy Wonka second keyboard part.

These, my friends, are the First World Problems of the over-blessed. I married into a wonderful family that cares more about laughter and conversation than perfect housekeeping, and we have plenty of beds (with clean sheets) for everyone. My sons have friends who visit them from other states and the fresh fruit bowl is full. I am a dynamite sight-reader and will be able to keep my part going even if every note isn't perfect. The world's most expensive tomato plants are incredibly productive and I'm eating grape tomatoes as if they were candy.

Oh, yeah, you can go ahead and pity me now. I'm one miserable, sad sack of a woman.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Don't Do This

If you have had a perfectly lovely morning and are fixing your oatmeal-and-yogurt breakfast when you remember that it's trash day and the left-over oil from the once-per-decade chicken frying is still sitting on the kitchen counter in a recycling jar that didn't have its original lid but which is topped by a somewhat loose-fitting lid and some Saran wrap, and you realize that you could just carefully place that jar in the garbage can and voila! no more quandary of how to dispose of the oil, because it's been used for frying chicken and you don't plan to do that again until 2022, and you may think you can carefully lift that jar by the edges of lid so that you don't get chicken-greasy oil on your fingers and not spill the entire quart of oil across your kitchen countertop, under the television set and food scales, around the crocks full of utensils, and over a pile of clean dishtowels?

Don't do it.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Nothing Halfway

My Uncle Ed is the world's best story-teller, and his profession as a large animal veterinarian was the perfect fodder for his after-supper tales. Pushing back from the table, he'd cross his long legs, curl an index finger around his pipe stem, look toward the ceiling and close his eyes against the smoke. Then he'd begin.

"I got a call from this old fellow over by Mechanicsville," he'd say. "Said he had a calf that didn't look quite right." And off he went, painting a word picture that enthralled his listeners.

Most of his stories ended with him covered in mud and manure--doctoring large animals in Iowa is not the white-coated experience network television would lead you to expect--but the path leading through the mud was usually funny, occasionally poignant, and always entertaining.

Uncle Ed and his wife were married 60 years ago, just two weeks after his younger sister and my father were married, and over the next decade the two couples had their children in a way designed to maximize the amount of fun cousins could have: My sister and their oldest son were born the next year; the following year my second cousin and I were born, and this pattern continued until nine kids sat around the table listening to Uncle Ed's stories. We grew up believing that the most magical days of summer involved trips to Iowa and playing with these cousins from the cool of early morning to mosquito-bitten bedtime.

Life goes on, though, and with each high school graduation another child would disappear from this communal life. We kept up with family news through our parents, but decades went by when we didn't see each other. When my mother died my cousin K brought Ed and Lenora to the funeral and we wept together, knowing that this probably would be the first of four similar meetings.

This weekend, though, Husband and I picked up Boy#1 and headed to Iowa where we met Much Older Sister and her husband, as well as my father and the Lovely Widow. We remarked on the landscape, which looked as if it had been styled by the Iowa Tourist Board, and I hummed Iowa Stubborn on a repeating loop. Then we walked into the church where Ed and Lenora stood, and 40 years dropped away in a flurry of shrieks and hugs. We're older, more wrinkled, less mobile, and exactly the same.

Later we gathered in the same living room where we had gathered as children. Even though he hasn't smoked in years and his hands were crooked over the head of his cane rather than the stem of his pipe, we fell silent when Uncle Ed looked toward the ceiling and closed his eyes.

"I remember  the time Dr. Frith loaned me his brass speculum, and the calf swallowed it," he started out.

Time is funny. It stretches to accommodate our absence from each other, then with a SNAP! it brings us back together again, ready for another story, and to continue the one that began so long ago.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Perfect Day

This post is for all the mothers who are loving having kids and terrified that the empty nest will be the end of their lives as they know them.

If you are one of those mothers, you're right about parts of that statement. You do love being a mom, and the empty nest certainly is different from your life as you know it. But don't be terrified. Many, many days of this new life are even better than your old life.

Take the Fourth of July, for example.

During your child-rearing years you will spend July 4 with cranky, heat-rashed babies who will be unable to go to sleep because the ruffians down the block are shooting off fireworks. Later you will spend Independence Day with manic, fireworks-crazy toddlers who will cry because their mean daddy won't let them hold the fireworks in their hands. Even later the holiday will be a day you'll be surrounded by manic, fireworks-crazy-and-with-money-in-their-pockets-to-buy-fireworks teenagers.

You, of course, have hated fireworks since the day when you were seven and accidentally threw a firecracker at your cousin Anita and got yelled at by, well, by every adult in the yard, even though it was an ACCIDENT and you were afraid your hand was going to get blown off  if that firecracker didn't leave it immediately, and hey, adults in the yard, what were you doing letting a seven-year-old light a firecracker IN HER HAND anyway?

Ahem. Anyway, you have always hated fireworks but the men in your life have that extra chromosome that makes fireworks the equivalent of pure meth to law-abiding sorts so you have spent your child-rearing years ooooh-ing and aaaaah-ing as if you enjoyed sitting out in the heat with the mosquitoes having a holiday feast on that spot of your calf that wasn't properly Off-ed.

Now that the kids are gone? You'll wake up and help your husband paint the garage, which is an amazingly gratifying task since it has a beginning and an end and makes a noticeable difference in how the House on the Corrner looks. Then you'll pick tomatoes! Woooo! Enough tomatoes that you can pop as many as you want, still warm from the vine, straight into your tomato-loving mouth.

You'll give the dog a bath, even though the dog despises water, and you won't mind when she returns the favor and bathes you with her first drying-off shake because it's hot outside and that doggy-smelling spray actually feels kind of good.

Then you'll use your new-to-you cast iron skillets to fry a chicken and make cornbread. Yes, you will. You will fry chicken instead of buying it at the deli. It will be delicious, even if it's a little burned, because you will add potato salad from your mother's recipe and some watermelon.

While everyone else in town is sitting out in the blazing heat ooooh-ing and aaaaah-ing and fighting mosquitoes you'll be eating blueberry pie with the Boys who are at home and laughing at Boy#3's experiences as a lake ranger, especially the story of the people who brought the hot tub to the lake.

Then, just before you go to bed, you'll sew up this little gem.

Know what it is? Here's a hint.

Yes! It's a tiny little origami bag to carry around the purse project knitting. It will look completely spiffy with the purse it was designed to accessorize.

You will not believe me when I say it took me longer to pick out the fabric than to sew this stylin' bag, but would I lie on the Fourth of July? I would not.

And then you'll go to bed, grinning at what a nice day it was, and knowing that the noise made as the ruffians down the street shoot off their (illegal) fireworks is not waking up anyone in the house who will need to be soothed back to sleep.

There are days when I miss the full nest. The Fourth of July is not one of those days.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

I Love This Country. And You.

I dithered for a long time before I went live with yesterday's post about my puzzlement concerning the Affordable Care Act. Then I muttered a quick prayer, took a deep breath, and hit "publish." Twelve hours later, my deepest beliefs had been confirmed: I have the most wonderful, compassionate, and thoughtful readers of any blog on the internet, and that includes all the readers of those heart-warming sagas of turning empty toilet paper rolls into wall decor.

The answers I received to my question of how we, as Americans, could oppose universal health care coverage made me say "Aha! Now I understand why you think that way."

One of the responses, for example, wasn't published as a comment but made an incredible amount of sense from a logical standpoint. It came from my very favorite Republican, the one who loves me even when I'm speaking my mind publicly and oppositionally. (Hi, Honey!)

"I don't think I've ever heard any Republicans say that there are segments of the population that should not have health care, but opposing ObamaCare doesn't mean one opposes health care for all," Husband wrote. "In my case, opposing ObamaCare has to do with the erroneous assumptions behind it, the fact it was forced down our country's throats in a partisan process (both parties get credit for that), that the true costs of it will eventually bankrupt the country since we'll get to the point that Medicare and healthcare will take 100% of the federal budget, and the creation of a government bureaucracy that will not improve our overall healthcare. Other than that and a number of other weaknesses, it's a dandy law. It will keep the accountants busy (can't imagine the work it'll create for lawyers) since we need to advise clients to start restructuring their investments to avoid the 3.8% tax on investment income, which was in an article in the Wall Street Journal today."

Perhaps the most gracious response came from the pastor whose comments prompted my own diatribe. This man (one of the most purely good people I know, and one with an unparalleled love for for the greatest Healer) commented on yesterday's post--go back there and read it--and the lightbulb finally went on in my brain.

In my post I blew off the abortion issue as a minor concern, but it is not. Not to my pastor, and not to millions of others. Pastor S didn't use this analogy, but it occurred to me that my saying "Except for the abortion issue, I don't see the problem," would be like 1930s-era Germans saying, "Well, except for the concentration camp issue, Hitler's on the right track." It is not an inconsequential concern, and I was wrong to dismiss it as that. "Take this provision out of the healthcare act and I would be more open to it, but I would still think it to be unwise, as it is so costly and will send our country down the tubes financially," S added.

So there you are. We have discussed the issue like grown-up human beings, and respected the views of others, and perhaps gotten some insight into other perspectives, and we've done it without shouting or calling names. Has anyone changed an opinion? Probably not, but I hope we at least see the faces across the political divide.

The timing of this is coincidental, but what a Fourth of July testimony to what is perhaps our nation's greatest strength: Open debate, without recrimination and without censorship.

I love this country.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Please, Explain

I live in a red state, generally vote Republican, and am a theologically conservative Christian. But I was shocked when yesterday's sermon began with a 10-minute diatribe against the Affordable Health Care act, and against the government's increasing presence in our lives.

I didn't get it.

The college's telephone guy just stopped in to set up a time for a minor office re-route. I don't even remember what precipitated it, but as he was leaving he made a joke about Obamacare. He wasn't prepared for my puzzled reaction.

I still don't get it.

I have the most wonderful group of friends and family, of all political persuasions, and these people are smart and loving and compassionate, and as divided on this issue as on any issue I've ever seen.

Please, explain it to me. Explain it in a way that makes me say "Oh, I get it! That makes sense now."

How can Christians so vehemently oppose this bill, when the One they follow was a healer? When He was the one who sent His disciples (even before sending them on mission trips) to heal the sick? Who told them "you have been treated generously, so live generously"? (Matthew 10:5-8)  I get that the new health care bill pays for abortions, and while I personally oppose abortion, I weigh that against the children who now will have decent health care and can't bring myself to sacrifice the actual breathing human beings who will benefit.

Is it the creeping government interference in our lives, as the telephone guy indicated, or the additional cost? The government "interferes" in our lives already every time we obey the speed limit, or send our children to public school, or give equal opportunity in hiring to different races and genders. And the use of emergency rooms as primary care is already being shared by everyone who has insurance; migrating these patients to less expensive options can only be a positive move.

I realize the can of worms I am opening here, on a corner of the internet where you expect to find nothing weightier than the latest report on my tomatoes, but I know I have thoughtful, intelligent, compassionate readers. Please, in a way that respects all involved, tell me what I'm missing that is causing my big-hearted friends and family to oppose this new law so passionately.

I don't get it.