The sounds of spring have arrived or WAKE UP AND SMELL THE ROSES:

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The other morning a wonderful sound blessed my ears as I ventured out on to the porch to fetch some wood.  It was as if an orchestra was filling the air with the sound of spring.  This wonderful sound was bouncing through the hollow, announcing the resurgence of the morning sun and then stopping as if nature had waved a magic wand as the first rays of sunlight touched the crystal-clear stream of water making its way to the ocean. Yes, the Spring Peddlers are back and they are telling us to prepare for the retreat of Old Man Winter and the emergence of spring. This is my favorite time of year.  Every year I slog through the doldrums of winter waiting for the crocuses to push up through the soil.  This past winter was relatively mild but seemed long and unrelenting as the days moved slowly by.  Most people do not know that the sun is actually closer during the winter and farther away in the summer in the northern hemisphere, but thanks to an incident that occurred millions of years ago, our earth is tilted just enough to give us seasons, four wonderful seasons of which spring is my favorite.

One of my most favorite rituals during this time of year is to walk outside in the glorious sunshine and feel its warmth against my face.  When I do this, I feel a rebirth inside me like no other feeling in the world.  It is as if the warmth travels through my skin and deep into my core, warming up my most inner self.  An old saying that I believe has much relevance is, WAKE UP AND SMELL THE ROSES.  Step outside and see the clear blue sky, the trees coming to life, the grass becoming green and the glorious spring flowers covering much of the earth.

Every day, every minute, every second is a gift to each of us but springtime is an especially wonderful gift.  Enjoy it!

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A few more words Mr. President

Dear Mr. President:

There have been few times in my life that I have felt this strongly about a person in public office.  I watch daily as you fight the forces of evil that are so prevalent in our world.  I wonder how you manage to ever smile with the knowledge of what these people are trying to accomplish at the expense of the American people and the world.  Even with my limited knowledge of history, I know enough to understand that our world situation is a direct result of the greed of powerful individuals and corporate entities.  This is the second letter I have written to an American President and both have been to you.  Even though I do not suffer from the illusion that you read the millions of letters that are directed to your office, I feel that you and your staff are sufficiently interested in what we Americans are thinking.  As an educator for over 30 years, I know how important it is to be told once in a while that you are doing good things and making people’s lives a little more meaningful, even when the wind is directly in your face.  Few days pass when I do not watch you on the TV and see the determination in your eyes.  I also see the sadness that must come with the knowledge of our current national situation.  Some days your smile gives me the strength to smile back in hope that there is a better day on the horizon.  After all, hope is the eternal flame.

With that said, I would like to express my ideas on a few issues that I think many Americans agree on.

A vast majority of the public schools in this country are broken.  Children are graduating with poor basic skills.  Good teachers are leaving the classroom for less stressful and higher paying jobs. Testing children has become more important than teaching them.  Politics, rather than securing the good for children has become the bane of contemporary schools.  Many students move through grades never learning to read or do basic math.  This surely is not a problem that you or any recent president has created, but a result of a society lost in consumerism, self absorption and over indulgence.  Some say the fall began when teachers first became unionized.  I maintain that it began when school attendance became mandatory, with little thought as to where the education system needed to go.  Since we require all children to attend school, we need an arrangement that will meet the needs of all children.  We need a strong vocational component, grade competency tests and a salary scale that attracts good people into the field. If we begin today, it will take at least 20 years to fix the public school system, Mr. President, of all those who have held your position, I believe you are the most qualified to begin the process.

Immigration is another issue that currently weighs heavily on the American mind.  I believe that most Americans understand the need for immigration; after all we are a nation of immigrants.  The problem lies with the complex laws that are designed to control the rate of immigration into our country.  The solution seems so simple to me; go after, with reckless abandon, the people who hire illegal immigrants.

Despite the fact that many people get ridiculously rich from war and many Americans believe that war is a glorious and wonderful adventure, we need to not be at war.  Quite simply, Mr. President, we can no longer afford it!

Kudos Mr. President on the health care plan.  I think it is beginning to provide a safety-net for the millions of citizens who cannot afford the insane cost of medical care. I do not know if you read the recent article in Time Magazine about the state of the medical system, but I think the author hit the nail directly on the head. As usual, a group of powerful people, who believe there is no such thing as too much money or power in the hands of very few, is controlling the direction of health care policy.

Lastly, I understand that there are many very needy people in the world but I believe, that due to our current limited resources, we need to focus on fixing the multitude of problems we face as a nation before we try to save the world.  After all, if we continue our current descent as a world power, there will be no money to give!

Sincerely yours

Charlie Streisel