Jonathan Haidt: Can a divided America heal?

I am trying to find things that help me make sense of what I am feeling and what I sense going on around me.  I have a lot to think about after listening to this, but maybe it will be thought provoking for someone else too.  Disgust as indelible ink …  If you don’t watch anything else, start watching at the 16:00 mark, but the entire talk is worth listening to …  “Deep questions about morality and human nature”

Not feeling very hopeful today …

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

1967 “Steeler Lecture,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The “Steeler Lecture” was one of five sermons published in a book called “Conscience for Change,” republished as “The Trumpet of Conscience” after King’s death.

(source:, retrieved 11/10/2016)


A momentous day …

Today marks a significant anniversary of a major milestone in my personal life. It was on this day, August 27th, exactly 20 years that I got into my Ford T-Bird, drugged Miss Boots to keep her somewhat calm for the long drive ahead, and left my home in Florida for the last time, headed to God-only-knows-what in the great North Star state of Minnesota. I had a lot of “You must be crazy – it doesn’t work that way, people move from Minnesota TO Florida, not the other way around” type of comments, but my heart and intuition told me there was something here for me that beckoned me to follow and I was compelled to listen to that prompting. I think you could say I found my destiny when I moved to Minnesota, considering all of the phenomenal and quotidian things that are now part of my everyday life, chief among which are my husband and my daughter, my fantastic MIL, FIL and SIL that I love more than I can put into words, and the whole Hall/Faber clan. But so much more was waiting for me too – the restoration of my soul and healing of an existential pain I could not name or voice, a fulfilling career at a wonderful company where I still work, new friends who have been tried and remain true, a society with a live-and-let-live attitude that is still refreshing to me 20 years later, my great passion for quilting that channeled creative energy in a much needed and useful way, finding my birth mother Barbara, discovering the brother and sister I always wished for as a child – the list just goes on and on. And I have come to feel, for many years now, that Minnesota is my true home. This state still inspires me on a daily basis with its natural beauty and majestic scenery. I feel so fortunate to live here. My heart felt like it was breaking when I drove away 20 years ago, because I was leaving my very best friend in the entire world, Nancy, behind in West Palm Beach and I cried for many months with an aching longing to be with her, but she is even more dear to me now than she was then. And especially Neil, who hopped in the U-Haul and drove with me for four days until we crossed the border into Minnesota, a generosity and kindness that earned my everlasting gratitude. I couldn’t have made it here, I don’t think, without the extreme kindness and love that the Christenson family poured out to me when I arrived. They took me in and helped me learn my way around and discover the best of what Minnesota had to offer and for all of them they will never know how much gratitude my heart holds for their presence and their warmth. To quote a favorite scripture “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you”.
Now, if only I could figure out how to convince everyone I love to move here too.

Why We’re Here

I read about this video in today’s StarTribune and looked it up when I got home tonight. I thought I would share it, especially for those far away who might wonder why I’m still here.

Why We’re Here: Twin Cities from Seven and Sixty Productions on Vimeo.

I have been here for 15 years now. Like the woman in the video, I can say that until I came to Minneapolis for the first time in 1995 I never, ever even thought about living here. To put it bluntly, the Twin Cities was never on my radar. But I fell in love with the city the first time I set foot on Minnesota soil, and now I can’t imagine living anywhere else. Well, OK, maybe I can *imagine* living somewhere else, but it’s not something I want to do. I love it here. I feel like I put down the roots I’ve always wanted to plant. Minnesota is my home. And that’s just the way it should be.


As alluded to in my posts from early October, last month was a time of sadness and grief in our family, as two visiting loved ones from Norway were tragically killed in a car accident on October 5. Then about 10 days ago, my own mother in Florida was hurt (but not critically) in a bad accident when she accidentally turned into oncoming traffic. Her car was totaled, but thank God she escaped serious injury. Along with the new month, things finally seem to be turning, however. Our routines are getting back to normal now and I’m looking forward to quiet time at home and getting some things done. And the Minneapolis Sewing Expo is coming next week, and I’ve always wanted to go, but never been. This year will be different. Not only am I going to go, I am going to try to take a class or two. It is simply unforgivable to have such a wonderful resource right here in my own back yard (literally minutes from where I live and work) and not take advantage of it. Sewing is my one true passion, the thing that has remained with me throughout the years and circumstances of my life. It is time I give more honor and attention to the one interest I love most. I’ve bought David Page Coffin’s book on shirtmaking and I am going to make myself, and them my dear love, a shirt. I think that is a good beginning project. And I’ve got two quilt tops to get quilted, another quilt at the quilter that should be finished soon, and two more quilts ready to get started (not to mention the projects I already have in various stages of completion). And I will get Harald’s sweater seamed and blocked soon, too, so he can wear it this winter. So much fiber, so little time …

There is a quote I have hanging up in my sewing studio. I’ll repost it for you here, as it seems apt:

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.

Indeed. Regardless of its source (read about the controversy here), the sentiment is exactly what I need.


Here is the paradox: At the point in my life in which I find the least time to indulge or express it, I find the impulse, the need, to create is stronger than it has ever been.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am keenly aware that the act of raising a child is a supremely creative one, contributing to the future of the world by advancing the next generation. And I truly enjoy every moment of my time with Juliette and I do not begrudge anything that she requires of me. But really, there isn’t much of any “me” time left any more. Maybe an hour or so after we put her to bed, if that isn’t taken up with bottles or cleaning the kitchen or finally getting a chance to check e-mail or what have you, or just simply laying down because I am too tired from a busy day. Let’s be honest – an inquisitive one-year-old on the verge of walking is a handful even for two people and requires “all hands on deck!” most of the time.

So why is it exactly this time (and over the past glorious year) that I have found my creativity welling up inside of me demanding an outlet. I was sure that I had lost my quilt mojo until I cleaned out my studio a few months ago and unpacked all my fabrics into shelving units. And I swear I could sit and knit for days on end if I but had the time. And my recent trip to the Minnesota Quilters annual convention in St. Cloud inspired me in ways that I didn’t expect and for which I was not prepared.

The other night, I must have woken at least a half-dozen times, and each time immediately thinking about a quilt I want to make or am in the process of making. And last night, after dinner, there was a part of me that felt like I was going to explode if I didn’t get into that studio and work on some quilt, any quilt, just sit and sew. I did manage to get a quilt pattern picked out for Juliette, the Crazy Eights pattern I have used before that calls for 8 fat quarters, and I got the first round of cutting completed, the strips that is. I have to cut those down into their various components to start piecing.

And when I was done with that, I put together a quilt sandwich of plain muslin to practice some of the stuff I was re-reading in the Easy Machine Quilting book I am reviewing. I convinced myself that I really do need the Easy Quilter frame I saw at the MQ show. That frame made it so much easier and faster to do graceful and smooth curves and so on. My head has been swimming recently with:

Voyager 17 –

Nolting FunQuilter –

Bailey Home Quilter –

Handi Quilter 16 –

Innova 18 –

Pfaff Grand Quilter 18.8 –

Prodigy –

Homesteader –

Quilt Easy frame –

SuperQuilter Proflex frame –

I wish I had both the money and the space to buy one of these. Honestly, what I really want is the Gammill Vision 18 or the APQS Lenni model, but I don’t have enough of space or money for either. A guy can dream, can’t he? In the meantime, I’ll do my best with the money and space I have to improve my own quilting skills so I can do more of my own quilting. I’ve always said that the was the part I didn’t like, so that is why I don’t do it. That’s only partially true. The reason I don’t like doing the quilting is because I’ve never found a way that I could do it sufficiently well enough to please myself. I’m hoping the Easy Quilter frame will go a long way in convincing me otherwise. I think it will. I can’t wait to find out for sure, but it will likely be several more weeks before I can get it. Oh, well, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Still, I’m something of an immediate gratification kinda guy.

Good morning

A good morning to you all.  And I mean it.

I woke up this morning with a sense that the darkest clouds had passed.  I finished re-reading Rabbi Kushner’s book yesterday afternoon and sat down and had a good cry (again).  And the tears felt like they cleaned out the corners of my soul that were still hurting.  But you know what, I cannot maintain any animosity toward Jennifer.  Oh, trust me, I have tried to work up a good head of steam – to get good and angry and go on an emotional tear, but it just isn’t coming. Mostly, I think, because I feel so sad for her.   Is it any wonder she didn’t want to go through it all alone?  Maybe Harald was right.  Maybe our job was to be Jennifer’s parents for five months, not the parent to her baby.  I have no doubt that she never consciously intended to end this the way it did, but I also think didn’t or couldn’t know what she herself was feeling and wanting, and so there was no way she could be honest with others if she couldn’t be honest with herself.  And I think “How can you practice or teach what you have never known?” I feel great pity for the little girl we thought would be ours.  I hope Jennifer is able to make some immediate and miraculous changes, but in my heart I only have a  prayer of blessing for both of them.

No one can ever take away the good things that happened to us over the past five months.  Those times of immense joy, hopeful expectation – those were all very real and they remain with us.  And although we knew we were cared for and loved, perhaps the greatest gift we have experienced is the genuine and extraordinary outpouring of care and affection and true love that we have seen demonstrated for us again and again and again.  That our friends, neighbors and loved ones have grieved along side us has kept us from feeling alone.  And far from being tested, my faith has been strong, because I have felt the indwelling presence of the Spirit so much the past five days.  I have no doubt that God sent the Great Comforter to be with us, and that has given my soul such a feeling of respite.

This morning I went to the Mercy Hospital maternity web site so see if there were pictures of Savannah (Jennifer’s chosen name) and there were, under Jennifer’s name and the birth date of April 2nd.  And it was really OK looking at them.  I downloaded all the birth day pictures from my camera and ordered them sent to Jennifer from the Target site.  Those pictures don’t belong to us any more.  I unpacked my hospital bag and put everything away.  It felt good to do all these things.  I feel like washing clothes, and cleaning off my desk of accumulated mail, and just getting our home back in order.  And I think I will take Beulah for a walk today.  It is far too nice to stay cooped up inside all day.

I know I will never be the same after what has happened.  How could I be?  But I am not immobilized.  I can move again.  I can put one foot in front of another and do the things that need to be done. I am very much alive.  And I belong here.  This is the poem that has been ruminating in my gut for days:

Wild Geese
by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Today’s Thought

Where there is sorrow, there is holy ground.”  –  Oscar Wilde

Today, I sit with my pointy sticks, taking stitch after stitch – the clicking is a blessed distraction and activity.  And I think of Melpomene, the muse of tragedy, and hope she will once again comfort me and bring my soul to the point of song.  It was episode 21, Secret Water, of Brenda Dayne’s podcast last year that helped me so much when we experienced the prior adoption loss and today I am grateful I already knew about it.  Perhaps one day soon I can sing this hymn and mean it:


My life flows on in endless song
Above earth’s lamentation.
I hear the real, thought far off hymn
That hails the new creation
Above the tumult and the strife,
I hear the music ringing;
It sounds an echo in my soul
How can I keep from singing?

What through the tempest loudly roars,
I hear the truth, it liveth.
What through the darkness round me close,
Songs in the night it giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that rock I’m clinging.
Since love is lord of Heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?

When tyrants tremble, sick with fear,
And hear their death-knell ringing,
When friends rejoice both far and near,
How can I keep from singing?
In prison cell and dungeon vile
Our thoughts to them are winging.
When friends by shame are undefiled,
How can I keep from singing?