Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The butter dish

Good Lord (or name of deity of your choice used in a manner not deemed to be offensive) it's been a week since I last posted. So, okay, the thing is this; I have more time now. Where has it gone? I took early retirement, and my last day of work was last Saturday. I had a number of things to take care of, and Monday was the first day in which I could just goof off a bit, even though I did try to be productive for a good portion of the day. Same thing for yesterday. Ran errands, stopped by the radio station on Monday as I'd left my clipboard there, stopped by the radio station on Tuesday as we were rewiring our dsl and phone line, read a bit of the new Archer Mayor book, "Paradise City", which has to go back to the library in a few days, that sort of thing.

Now, over the last couple of weeks I had run into a small problem. I'd purchased pumpkin spice English muffins (which were delicious, by the way), and a week later a loaf of oat bread. I don't often buy these things. The slight problem (if one can even realistically call this a 'problem') was a simple one - the butter was not soft enough to spread, even after the bread product was toasted. Once again, I wondered what ever happened to my old, well loved (and well used), neon fiesta-ware style cobalt blue butter dish, the one whose top I used to use to burn incense during my Nichiren Shoshu Buddhist phase? I miss that dish.

antimacassars on a
 wing back chair

Thoughts of that simple little piece of utilitarian porcelain passed though my mind on Monday. Monday was November 12th, the day in 1955 that Marty McFly messed with the space time continuum by returning to the future but leaving something rather important behind. Realizing this, the data bank that is my memory suddenly brought forth images of heavy thick chairs with foliage print slipcovers and antimacassars, "I like Ike" buttons on the table in the bay window in the dining room (Oh, my Lord [or deity... etc.] dining rooms!), the -was it three?- doorbell chimes hanging on the wall near the staircase to the 2nd floor, Aunt Lorraine standing at the kitchen sink, her hair in a long ponytail... and a glass butter dish which fit neatly into the Frigidaire.

So, I decided to take a look on this internet thing. Amazon has lots of butter dishes. One in particular that caught my eye was a delightfully tacky little piece of whimsy whose cover was a porcelain rendering of a cow. It is sold through an intermediary company, with a "dollar off" sale price of $16.95. Considering the symbiotic relationship of cows and Vermont, and that it wasn't tarted up with paint, I kind of liked it. If I had a large kitchen or a dining room, I might even consider purchasing it. 

As I searched further to see what other kinds of butter dishes were out there to be had, I found what appears to be the same butter dish sold through a different intermediary company, with a price of  $26.99. Needless to say, it was not on sale. I was also amused to note that the higher priced version was, well, more white. Higher more unrealistic cost, white. This made me think of the Republican Party and the election of 2012. 

Anyone who has even attempted to read the news on the internet in the past week has had to have noticed that there has been great wailing and gnashing of teeth amongst the Republicans over the outcome of the election, all gleefully reported by columnists and hordes of bloggers. I almost typed "whores" of bloggers. There has also been a great deal of analysis (root word "anal"?) regarding the reasons for the "surprise" Republican defeat.

Heck, I can answer that fairly easily. You can blame Karl Rove, better Democratic get out the vote tactics, or what have you all you want, but all that does is assign blame. The real problem is that the Grand Old Party was taken over by a bunch of religious right wing zealots who gave the word "conservative" a repulsive connotation. Even worse, the people in charge of that party created an alternate reality which many bought as gospel truth. This isn't anything new - its most recent incarnation goes back to the days in which Ronald Reagan put the brakes on the social and political changes started in the 1960s which was given expression in the taste the freedom excesses of the 1970's (reference the end of WWI and the Jazz Age, flappers, etc.). The problem, as I see it, is that the meaning of what it is to be a conservative has been co-opted and changed.

To my mind, a real conservative would seek to preserve our environment and our national parkland instead of selling it out to the highest bidder who wants to drill or mine there (and not pay a fee for the oil or minerals they take - which are the property of the American People, after all).  A real conservative would insist on people having their rights, period - not their rights as dictated by someone else's religious beliefs. The right to be properly educated and not fed a bunch of malarkey, for instance. The right to be treated the same as everyone else - regardless of financial status, race, creed, sexuality or any other qualifier. And, yes, this means the right to have an abortion. 

Morality is a touchy issue, and let's face it, people have lived their lives for eons in ways that are opposed to the religious and moral beliefs they profess. This is/was reasonably easy for people with money, who didn't give a hoot about what they were "supposed" to do. The middle, working, and  lower classes had a tougher time of it.  In the 1950's, if a teenage girl or unmarried woman got pregnant, there were few options for dealing with reality. They might go away for awhile on a cruise, or to visit that maiden aunt no one remembered the family as having, or go into a sanitarium for a rest cure, or have a risky illegal abortion. Now let me be clear here, I have very mixed feelings about abortion. I dislike it as a method of birth control. I do think the father should be involved in any decision. But I would not force my doubts or views on someone else. It would seem to me that the (Christian) thing to do would be to make sure that there is proper education about sexuality and that birth control be available as part of healthcare (even if these are in spite of a young person's parental objections - this is necessary information which should not be held hostage), and that safe abortions be available. I remember when my office in NYC was in front of another building with an abortion clinic in it. That clinic had constant harassment of those seeking its services, had constant bomb threats, and was in fact bombed twice in just a couple of years. That wasn't Christian in my book. To my way of thinking, a true conservative would want to preserve and protect these freedoms.

I could go on, but I've been trying to write this all day in between phone calls, messages, emails, a visit from my landlord to see the new water heater, etc. and I think I've made a portion of my point by now. The current Republican party has lost its way - many people no longer support it because it doesn't support them - it supports big business and religious bigots. This isn't an image sold by the opposing party. The recent Republican candidates made this clear, however inadvertently.  Times have changed, but the folks running the current version of the Republican party haven't. The majority of the population has moved past what the party now represents. If the Republicans truly want to understand why they lost, they need to take off the 1950's Hollywood movie and tv show moral blinders and deal with the reality of people, the reality of government being there to help people meet their needs instead of meeting big business' needs, and the reality of those needs today. They need to remember an older Republican party which used to stand for, and believe in, and act upon the equality and fairness they espoused.  This country has been trying to live up to the ideals which have been expressed to us all our lives as being the ideals upon which our government was founded. After all, they are good ideals, and we really do believe in them. Just like dealing with the hurricane, we need to stop and understand the problems we the people face today and try to address them together, and not stage photo ops of us doing good without actually doing good. And then maybe I can go back to peacefully dealing with reality and looking at butter dishes, wistfully remembering well made furniture which we protected with antimacassars, and contemplating messing around with the space time continuum.