Saturday, December 29, 2007


Many people are under the impression that Bahá'ís do not have an administrative branch to their religion. They think we get together, pray, and teach/preach. A few have asked how do people “rise through the ranks” when they hear that we have local, regional, national and international assemblies and some have asked what these bodies “do”.

“Politics” in the Bahá'í Faith are so far removed from politics as known in the USA it is hard to resolve the two, at least in my feeble mind. The administrative bodies are elected on a yearly basis on the local, regional, and national level and every five years at the international level. Locally all adult members of the faith vote for nine people that they feel best exemplify the qualities of devotion to the faith, humility, obedience to the laws, maturity, understanding, patience, love and wisdom. There is no nominating process, no electioneering, people discuss the qualities needed for the office. They discuss what qualifies someone to sit on the Assembly. They do not discuss the pros and cons of specific people. A Bahá'í will never, ever say that they are better suited then someone else to do a certain job in order to be elected to anything. A Bahá'í will not make a promise in order to be elected to anything.

The Assembly's job is to run the administrative affairs of the community, see that religious classes for all age groups are provided, devotional programs, teaching programs, social and economic programs as needed, as well as being the conduit of information regarding the Faith to the secular community. Depending on the laws of the country the Assembly is responsible for the education of children, the disbursement of estates, marriages, divorces, burial, care of the elderly, the indigent and orphans. The Assembly, in many countries, act in the same capacity as the clergy, with the same protection and obligations of confidentiality.

In the Faith the members of the Assembly are accountable to God. They cannot act independently of one another. They have no title, nor are they afforded any extra merits or position in the community. They host the community Feast each month, attended only by community members, to worship together, discuss community events and voice their concerns. Assembly meetings occur at least once between each Feast and are not open. In Assembly meetings the nine members discuss openly and frankly the matters on the agenda. Agendas are presented to the community and the conclusions are made known. No single person on the Assembly takes ownership of any idea. Once something is approved by an Assembly it is collectively owned by the Assembly as a whole. The Assembly never approves of anything until all nine come to an agreement. After an agreement is reached no member of the Assembly speaks disparagingly of the matter. Community members are encouraged at Feasts to frankly voice their opinions of the decisions of the Assembly.

How are these nine elected? In a city or county like ours, with 20 some Bahá'ís, it isn’t hard to know one another but in many communities, like Portland, Seattle, Eugene or Los Angeles, there are as many as 600-1,000 Bahá'ís to choose from. As already mentioned, there is no nominating process in the Faith. The electorate is expected to know one another well enough to vote for one another. Bahá'ís don’t just “go to church on Sunday” they are part of a community, participating in classes, in social and economic projects, working with one another. In this manner they know one another well enough to know if a position on the Assembly is a good fit for a particular person. Each year remedies can be made because we are humans and circumstances change. If someone is seen not to be attending meetings (the attendance record is published), if they stop serving on SED projects, stop going to Feast, if their attitude changes to one of dictatorial because of being on the Assembly, the friends quickly see who not to vote for the next year. Those serving on the Assembly must see themselves as in service 24/7 to all of the community, at all times. If they lose sight of that they will not be elected the following year. Or, if their circumstances change where they cannot be of service 24/7 they won't be elected. It isn't a popularity contest. It is a challenge in learning absolute humility and total servitude to a community, putting its needs above yours and your family's. There is no pay for this service.

Sitting in chamber, in an Assembly meeting, is an experience quite unlike anything else I have ever had. An idea put forth does not belong to the individual once it leaves your mouth, it belongs to the Assembly to be discussed fully and frankly, without reservation. When discussing who should be in charge of a project the pros and cons of the individual are discussed fully and frankly so that the best match can be made for the full success of the project. Because there is no need to advance the individual the full focus can be put on the project at hand, and frank discussion can revolve around available resources to make the project sustainable.

In small communities growth is slow, in large communities growth is faster. Growth matches the resources at hand, making each project sustainable. Social and economic development projects must be generated by the local community and must show itself to be needed and sustainable. Meaning, a group of well intentioned Bahá'ís cannot go off to a reservation and decide that the Indians need to learn how to make and sell hats. The impetus must come from the Indians themselves.

Elections “American” style have always been difficult for me to understand. Why would I vote for someone I don’t know? Debates on television mean nothing to me. They are scripted bunch of nonsense. Lawyerese meaning nothing. “I did not have sex with that woman.” “I am not the generating force.” “I am not a criminal.” So much double talk. A position is supposed to be non partisan but then the people in it are almost always part of a party. In the voters pamphlet it says the DA is a non partisan but he is listed as a Democratic precinct leader on their roles, so which one is truthful and how come he gets away with that? The Democrats recently advertised with their members for someone to run against one of the county commissioners. Supposedly that position is non partisan. All elective County offices shall be nonpartisan (Chap 1 Sec 5, Clatsop Co. Charter). That person will owe allegiance to that party, right? Why bother writing that into the charter if all someone has to do is declare themselves non partisan to run for commissioner? Don’t they still owe allegiance to a party or feel indebted to it?

Funny thing this American system is. With the parties so blended, the rhetoric so unbelievable so many seem dissatisfied with it. One wonders if the time is right for a change.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Oh, the weather outside is frightful

We got a white christmas after all! Thunder, lightening, rain, sleet, snow, hail, too. Ahhhhh, the Pacific Northwest rain forest where if you wait 10 minutes the weather can change 10 degrees and everything is dramatically altered, attitudes included!

Christmas season was hard to get into this year. As a Baha'i one celebrates with one's cultural heritage, freely, as one wishes to. I mean, if my cultural heritage were to severe body parts (i.e. little boy's who-who's because he'll look funny in the shower room if you don't) then I won't participate. However, if it is to celebrate family togetherness, acknowledging those family and friends that you may have overlooked during the year with special tokens of love and acts of kindness, that is something we take part in.

I don't go for the over commercialization of a holiday, any holiday. We don't buy into randomly mailing cards, if you send one to us we return the favor, sans newsletter. We spend few dollars on gifts, often they are homestitched, baked, canned, smoked or brewed. The kids know that Santa is a feeling/concept and not a physical person, and that special people get to "play" the role of Santa each year. It is better to give and watch the joy your gift bestowed on the recipient. In the same regard, be a gracious receiver, remember how much fun it is to watch someone truly enjoy the gift you carefully chose for them.

This year almost all of our decor was packed away, packed so well I haven't the foggiest which container I packed it in. No lights outdoors, nor old time honored ornaments for the tree. Up until the week before our house looked as if perhaps the Grinch had taken up residence. My grandson reminded us that we still had a heritage to share. He went to Fred Meyers and saw "Freddy's Christmas" and on TV and the movies we rented were various other, "Christmases," labeling each one with their own identities.

Only once did the concept of presents come into play, when we were watching the movie Santa Claus is coming to town (which I find very annoying, what's with that penguin?). When the miester burger took all of the children's toys away from the children my grandson actually cried! And when the Claus brought them their presents he was so happy.

The only way to teach our children our heritage is by example. So, our German tree came out, ornaments went up. Lights strewn about. My grandson sighed, "Christmas is here! This is my own Christmas!" We are a part of our cultural heritage. We did not leave it behind, but we do not accept it all. We celebrate the time of year that brings us together and recognizes the value each of us brings to the table. We like the idea of Santa but we do not say he alone is responsible to bring riches to children the world over. We are responsible for one another and the Santa we have today may or may not be the same Santa as next year. Santa is the name we choose to call him, it is his spirit we emulate, not his name, not his person.

While many we love celebrate this time of year as the birth of Jesus Christ, we do not. While we love Him wholeheartedly, we do not believe He was born in December. Nor do we believe that He would want His birth celebrated alone, when the Divinely eminating spirit that has manifested Itself repeatedly in many Divine Educators is recognized by so few.

We celebrate this time of year to acknowledge our culture, to be with family and friends, to eat great food, enjoy witty conversations, learn new stories about spouses from their siblings, take pictures of people dribbling food our of their mouths and making figure gestures at the photographer.

Also, we celebrate because we love to celebrate! In reality, it's for the hot cocoa, krumkaka, pupmpkin pie and games. Let it snow, rain, sleet or hail, we will sing in the new year, bringing with it the good we acquired while tossing out the bad we learned we didn't need.

To our friends, old and newly acquired, I wish you a holiday season filled with delight and may all of your challenges in the new year be one's you accept with radiant acquiescence, determined to learnwhat needs to be learned and successfully pass all tests with flying colors!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I'm baaaaack!

I cannot believe how long it has taken to get back online! Talked to TH weeks ago and hearing about people with and without online capabilities. Being primary care team leader for Parkinson's parent and grandson left me little time to run to town and find a WiFi hotspot. I made it into town once and paid my online bills. Anxious that once the electricity, cable and cell finally came on the lack of payment would immediately turn them off!

TH had assured me of quite a few hotspots for WiFi but I couldn't find the one at Shilo, nor the one that AT&T said would be open for those paying bills, nor UPS' for paying bills. I tried at Starbucks, also, no luck. Obviously, this was on a shopping run to Freddy's. On another day I finally found an opening downtown Astoria but kept loosing it. I paid bills quickly and my husband had a heart attack that I had left our accounts vulnerable. We do use Mozilla and the connection kept breaking up so at least there is a little comfort there.

All of this is small potatoes compared to the devastation so many experienced. Flooding and slides surrounded us to the north, south and east. To the west is the ocean, waiting to claim back what it has always felt is rightfully its own. How many Indian villages lie at the bottom of sea? How soon before Astoria joins them?

Barometric pressure drops and my pain sky rockets. As the relief washes over me that in our small world we have survived with only a few scratches I am assessing what we could have done to help more, groan less, be better neighbors. Since it appears that we have a category 2 hurricane and should be prepared for more of these to hit our area as our globe experiences some sort of climate change, there are quite a few things to contemplate this holiday season.

As soon as I can wrestle the camera away from Eldest I will post some of the pics we took. TH has the best photos, by far, but we got a few more. By the way, TH, whose forest did you get a snapshot of that had been devastated by the storm.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Every once in awhile everything seems to come together. At these moments the best thing to do is treasure it. Savor the moment like a perfect cup of coffee, a nice soak in the tub, a gorgeous sunset/sunrise. You don't know what the next moment is going to be like. You don't know if everything that's going right is going to fall apart. You can't be bothered by that. You just have to savor the moment, happy that everything, for just this time, fell in to place and marvel at that.

When I woke up this morning I didn't know it was going to be one of those days. I thought it was going to be one of "those" days. The ominous "those" days. I said my morning prayer, and an added one. The toilets were backed up. The sink was backing up. My grandson announced that there was a "mess" in the bath tub! He said, "I think Aunty Aimee did it!" which I found amusing. Aunty Aimee did not. My husband had called to say that we were to expect the windstorm of all windstorms on Monday, 90 mile an hour winds. Half of our home gets quite cold because when the garage was converted a decade ago they didn't upgrade the electric heating.

So, it looked like it was going to be one of "those" days. I started calling all of the septic places. No one answered. Just great. I left messages and proceeded on to project two. Went online to find the price of generators. Found one at Home Depot. Called Longview. They had one left and even though they aren't supposed to reserve items since we were coming from Astoria they would. Now, before there is hollering we are totally tapped out cash wise and ONLY had Dad's Home Depot card to fall back on. We usually shop local from Grover's, however with a freezer of food and eight people (one being a baby and one with Parkinson's) I was tired of playing RussianRoulette with our power.

Project three called as we were preparing to leave. A friend of my sister's was coming to look at her dog. My father had been dog watching for seven months. A pure bred, English box-head lab, two years old and HUGE. Casey Ty thinks he's a lapdog to make matters worse. And sheds, and labs stink. Seventy pound labs who are supposed to love water but hate warm sudsy water especially stink. It was time for sis to come and get her dog but she didn't have room, yet, either. So she was having a friend come and take a look see as to whether or not he wanted to add Casey Ty to his family. Joy of joy, he did! Project three was completed first.

Dad and I jumped into his jimmy and raced up to Longview, on the way Ed's Septic called and he wedged us into his tight schedule. Project one on track to be completed. Our son Matthew called and said that he dug out the lid of the septic tank and had paid the waterbill on his way to work! Wow, a project not even on the list taken care of. Then my daughter called to say that she had put a ventless propane gas stove on her home depot charge as an early Christmas gift to the family so we should look at propane tanks while we are up there in Longview. Teamwork! Yeah!

When we got up to Longview we got the last generator the store had and it was also on sale for $200 less then what they had quoted on the phone! It is a Coleman Powermate, 5000 watt, w/a 10 hp subaru engine. For the first time ever in HD we got customer service. The generator was reserved as promised and we even got to talk to someone who actually had one of the ventless propane stoves in her home. She has a 1500 sq. ft. home and it heats the whole thing on one fill of the 100 gal tank for the whole winter! I think that costs about $600. We have a 1940 sq. ft. home and I don't expect it to heat the other half of the house but if it can cut our heat bill in half and keep the mold out of the back half of the house I will be happy, happy, happy!

We also got batteries and a 25 gallon propane tank. We will need to check specs for putting in a ventless propane stove, as well as get the line and connectors locally, but should the storm hit and we lose power we will be prepared.

Came home from Longview, answered emails. Added comments to a slide presentation for our cluster meeting for Sunday. Read comments from friendly guy. Peeked in on a few blogs and forums. Filled out paperwork that had been waiting patiently. Talked to up north sister to make sure she was just as ready for the storm, she has her generator all ready, too (she was out of power for 10 days last year).

Eldest remembered to get me my library book and I get to try out Susanna Clark's talents in Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell later after watching Perfect Stranger . I like children, today, and grandchildren, and parents and spouses.

Tonight it is with a contented feeling I wrap up the evening. We are ready for the storm. Our home is secure. There are a few more things to do but the major things are taken care of. Our septic tank is cleaned out, our power is taken care of, we have jugs of water, our hatches will be battened down. We are, almost, ready for winter.

For a day that started out, literally, in the crapper it sure ended up pretty darn good.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Word Power

I was in Costco the other day with the grandson, we were having a screaming contest. Actually, the contest was whether he could scream and run w/o me catching him in the actual act of screaming. As we rounded a corner we came upon a family in a cloud of red, almost literally. It was Mot and 33 and their children. I commented to my grandson about the "funny looking family of red people" without thinking how that sounded.

Mot looked up and laughed and waved. She was examining one of the sample tables with one of the cherubs while 33 had another and one more was in between. Costco's wide aisles, with people stopping at the tasting tables, give plenty of room for chatting and looking for whatever it was you thought you needed a case of. My grandson smiled at the children, and then took off at a high pitched squeal.

When I got up to the front of the store we were standing in line and a woman stood behind us. She was quite prim and proper, elegantly dressed, bejeweled and bedecked and not smiling. My grandson looked at her and commented, "Look, 'nother red person." She, indeed, was sporting a head of red hair. She stared, hard, at us. My grandson gave her his brightest smile and for once, it wasn't returned. She continued to stare.

My grandson shrugged, I shrugged, and we chatted on about whatever it was that had held our attention before the red lady had caught his attention. I knew the woman. She was the mother of one of my daughters' classmates, back in the day when our children attended public school. She had never been friendly, even though our daughters had spent time at one another's homes, overnights and everything. I had always been puzzled by the complete and total rebuff. The hard stare had always been there. If others were present she would talk to the air above my head, acting as if we were having a conversation, but we had never actually had one.

I wonder, now, if she thought I had in some way coaxed my grandson into calling her a red person? I wonder if I ever could coax my grandson into something like that? Highly doubtful. Children never, ever perform on schedule and usually wait to put on their "shows" at the least opportune moments (exactly what they say about us when they are in their teens and twenties).
It also got me thinking about the way I talk. I honestly don't want the woman to be hurt or think I was encouraging my grandson to be offensive. Earlier, too, what did that woman at the tasting table think? In the Baha'i faith there is a saying that the effects of a word can last one hundred words. When you think of the power of suggestion, and what it does when you tell a child they are bad (not their actions, but they, themselves, are bad) you can understand the power of a word.

When you are having an incredibly bad day, and it seems that everything is going wrong, the effect that one person looking at you and saying, "You look lovely" or "Damn you look good" how that seems to change your day. Did magic happen? Of course not, many would say. It is just how you look at things changed. The same amount of sunshine seeps through the clouds, but you seem to see more of it. The same amount of raining is falling, but because you are so intent on looking for the sunshine you are unaware of it.

And this isn't magic?

There are those who say we are just getting too politically correct, but I don't think so. I think when someone says a word hurts them, the potential that it will hurt for one hundred years is as great as the threat of contaminating another spot with a dumping site with no thought of who will clean it up in the future. That voice must be heard, no matter the source, and evaluated, for the future.

There are enough contaminated dumping sites in the world, there is plenty of room for more magic.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Fabric of families

Of the nicest gifts I have received in recent years are two from my son-in-law, Theo Sery. I treasure both. One of them is a book from Sherman Alexie, that Theo had inscribed for me, with a rather amusing comment. And another is a message he left on my cell phone, left after a Christmas holiday, two years ago. I keep saving it. I should record it to my laptop as one of these days I am going to accidentally press 7 instead of 9 and it will be gone.

As I have said before, our family is a very passionate one. We love with our whole being, anger with the torrent of a storm, languish in despairs that would match VanGogh or Hemmingway, (natch that we had their talent), laugh and quip until whole classrooms would be made to stay in study halls for our misbehavior, pranksters to the point that hmmmm, well I shouldn't go there. Not sure about statutes and all of that.

I treasure the small love notes that I keep and as I packed (and then unpacked, then repacked and now unpack again) I found so many that I wonder how this family has stood the test we strain on one another. What is this fabric that was woven around us that it stretches so far? Should it not be torn to shreds by now? Should someone have not caught it aflame and blown its ashes to the wind?

Friends, family and the fabric that weaves in and out and through it all. The power that sustains us. Is this love? This thing that hurts so much one moment, making us feel as if nothing we do is ever enough yet in the next breath fills us with so much courage nothing can hold us from our goal?

I do not know. If, however, governments were able to find this fabric and weave it, I think we should begin to find the way to really live with one another. To thrive in one another's presence, to dream to be better societies, better people, just better. I do not know. But I think it would be worth trying.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Films, family and friends

Sunday night was spent in front of the king size duvet cover we use as a wide screen for the projector and I watched two foreign films. I just craved the sound of foreign languages. Foreign streets. Foreign lands. Hmmm, wonder if I wanted to escape?

The first film was the Iranian film "Offside." Really a good one. It is great how emotional people all around the world get and amazing how reserved we are. Quite often my family really embarrasses our friends because we are very, very European in our emotions. We WAIL at funerals. My aunt threw herself on my grandfather's coffin at the grave. That even shocked us. It was great though, and my father has made it a requirement for part of his funeral. We are looking to hire for the occasion. At a court case this same aunt jumped up and shouted she was going to "choka you neck" at someone who was lying on the stand. She was escorted out to calm down.

Anyhow, this film had so much emotion. At the end when the soccer team won grown adults were dancing in the streets. Wouldn't that have been something on November 6th? To see dancing in the street? Instead we get a pissy review in the local rag about a woman confronting a frumpy reporter and since the pen is mightier than the sword the poor woman sounded bent and the reporter the hero. After a half year of emotion we, the county, deserved a street dance a la Drew Cary!

Bollywood, Eastside-Westside, some sort of extravaganza. Fireworks and a banner floating down from the bridge. Instead, the proper handshake, hug, and carefully crafted fist shaking in the following morning paper.

Give me Iran. Give me Europe, give me Africa. Where people fight tooth and nail for their freedoms and celebrate it to the hilt when they are allowed to exercise it.

The second film was French "My Best Friend." Friends. I gotta tell you, I have the very, very, very best friends. I do not deserve the friends that I have. When people wonder why I do what I do, for the most part, it is for them. Mes amis, ceci est pour vous. Je vous remercie. Merci beaucoup, mes petites têtes de chou.

Friday, November 09, 2007

A little too ironic

Uh, guys? Some help or we are out of here. Really. No more time. End of the line and all that.

Monday, November 05, 2007

When the swords flash, go forward! When the shafts fly, press onward!


Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit. We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.

Harriet Beecher Stowe:

All serious daring starts from within.

Helen Keller:

I long to accomplish a great and noble tasks, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.

Helen Keller:

We could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world.

Dorothy Thompson:

Courage, it would seem, is nothing less than the power to overcome danger, misfortune, fear, injustice, while continuing to affirm inwardly that life with all its sorrows is good; that everything is meaningful even if in a sense beyond our understanding; and that there is always tomorrow.

Margaret Chase Smith:

Moral cowardice that keeps us from speaking our minds is as dangerous to this country as irresponsible talk. The right way is not always the popular and easy way. Standing for right when it is unpopular is a true test of moral character.

Robert Coles:

Abraham Lincoln did not go to Gettysburg having commissioned a poll to find out what would sell in Gettysburg. There were no people with percentages for him, cautioning him about this group or that group or what they found in exit polls a year earlier. When will we have the courage of Lincoln?

Susan B. Anthony:

Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, never can bring about a reform. Those who are really in earnest must be willing to be anything or nothing in the world's estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathy with despised and persecuted ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences.

Theodore Roosevelt:

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows achievement and who at the worst if he fails at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

Winston Churchill:

Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.

Theodore H. White:

To go against the dominant thinking of your friends, of most of the people you see every day, is perhaps the most difficult act of heroism you can perform.

As I read the forums and see my name pulled through the gutters and sometimes watch in sadness when someone drags my religion along as well I am reminded that oftentimes there is nothing one can do when unbalanced, irrational, hatred is involved. So many people the world over have suffered so much more just for the opportunity to vote, for the opportunity to voice opposition, that a few names slung at me by an anonymous person shouldn't even hurt for a moment. This is a story that we learn in our teens. Possibly, some of us, younger, depending on where we live and how we must prepare for our lives as Baha'is.

An Austrian officer, Captain Von Goumoens, in the employ of the Sháh at that time, was, it is reliably stated, so horrified at the cruelties he was compelled to witness that he tendered his resignation. "Follow me, my friend," is the Captain's own testimony in a letter he wrote two weeks after the attempt in question, which was published in the "Soldatenfreund," "you who lay claim to a heart and European ethics, follow me to the unhappy ones who, with gouged-out eyes, must eat, on the scene of the deed, without any sauce, their own amputated ears; or whose teeth are torn out with inhuman violence by the hand of the executioner; or whose bare skulls are simply crushed by blows from a hammer; or where the bazaar is illuminated with unhappy victims, because on right and left the people dig deep holes in their breasts and shoulders, and insert burning wicks in the wounds. I saw some dragged in chains through the bazaar, preceded by a military band, in whom these wicks had burned so deep that now the fat flickered convulsively in the wound like a newly extinguished lamp. Not seldom it happens that the unwearying ingenuity of the Oriental leads to fresh tortures. They will skin the soles of the Bábí's feet, soak the wounds in boiling oil, shoe the foot like the hoof of a horse, and compel the victim to run. No cry escaped from the victim's breast; the torment is endured in dark silence by the numbed sensation of the fanatic; now he must run; the body cannot endure what the soul has endured; he falls. Give him the coup de grâce! Put him out of his pain! No! The executioner swings the whip, and--I myself have had to witness it--the unhappy victim of hundredfold tortures runs! This is the beginning of the end. As for the end itself, they hang the scorched and perforated bodies by their hands and feet to a tree head downwards, and now every Persian may try his marksmanship to his heart's content from a fixed but not too proximate distance on the noble quarry placed at his disposal. I saw corpses torn by nearly one hundred and fifty bullets." "When I read over again," he continues, "what I have written, I am overcome by the thought that those who are with you in our dearly beloved Austria may doubt the full truth of the picture, and accuse me of exaggeration. Would to God that I had not lived to see it! But by the duties of my profession I was unhappily often, only too often, a witness of these abominations. At present I never leave my house, in order not to meet with fresh scenes of horror... Since my whole soul revolts against such infamy ... I will no longer maintain my connection with the scene of such crimes." Little wonder that a man as far-famed as Renan should, in his "Les Apôtres" have characterized the hideous butchery perpetrated in a single day, during the great massacre of Tihrán, as "a day perhaps unparalleled in the history of the world!"

Friday, October 26, 2007

Passing Tests

It is funny how family's hear something and all of a sudden it becomes the family "saying" of the moment. Watching this week's drama play out in the daily online, for free, has been quite amusing. So many quotes to chose from. My gosh, josh, just begs to be quoted, however, "Lies, lies, lies," can only play out so many times.

Richard Lee has had some great quotes this week, but too long to be family sayings. Plus, his have been a little too specific and you have to be in the right frame of mind to give (and take) them. Sam Patrick's repertoire has been honed to his smug smile that he gives when he doesn't vote but Richard ignores his childish behavior at the BOCC meetings. Really not much for a family to appreciate there.

So, what does that leave us with? This week the winnnnnner is, "That just doesn't pass the smell test." Did you remember to drop the Netflix off in the mailbox? Oh, no, the line in front of the mailbox was too long. That just doesn't pass the smell test.

Did you remember to feed the dog? We're out of dog food, and I couldn't find anything that wasn't covered with something fuzzy in the frig. That just doesn't pass the smell test, and its your turn to clean the frig.

The phone rings. "Hi there! This is Marge I am calling from Sunshine Corp for the Daily Astorian, your hometown newspaper, and did you know you can get the Daily Astorian at the all time low price of just $7.40 delivered right to your door? You can get all the local coverage, keep up on local events, find out the scores of your favorite local teams and get the Weekend Round Up! Can I just get the name of what city you live in and we can start your delivery tomorrow!"

I loved telling her, "No thank-you. The Daily Astorian just doesn't pass the smell test!"

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Strikes Rescinded

When my children were teenagers they had a variety of friends. Since we homeschooled you would think we had a little bit more control over who they "associated" or were "affiliated" with. Yeah, right! What we found is that we had more control over the friends than we did over our children.

Friends can be sent home. Your own children can pout for days, teenagers can pout for years. Half the time you don't even know what they're pouting about. How can you win? Through their friends. If the friend is the one that wants the fun thing to happen (the camping trip during school days, the trip to Portland, the sleepovers so they use your widescreen dvd projector and eat your food) they're the ones that will keep your kids in line.

We told the friends they got three strikes. On the third strike they were OUT! Out of our home for six months. And we followed through. Never once did one of the friends get a third strike and get leniency because of who they were or any special tie to the family. Eldest's best friend (who later became our fifth child) got a third strike and we didn't see her for six months. We still hear about that!

You could only get a third strike for one thing. Deception. You were not allowed to deceive us. If you said you all were going to the movies but you went to a friends house and no phone call was made everyone in the group got a strike. WOW! The kids all were told to call us and FAST when plans were changed. We would even get calls from guys saying they weren't sure if any of the girls had remembered to call but they had decided to go over to John's house instead of Steven's and they were next-door neighbors!

Those were the days! All too soon the girls (mind you we had four all the same age) were meeting guys who weren't so cooperative and the last thing they cared about were camping trips with the family and movies on the widescreen. Lovable TH was the bane of our existence with Hubby making at least one early morning call down a muddy farm lane to yank two daughters out of a house. TH - Your strikes were MUCHO! And you wondered where your months of banishment came from?

One of the girls friends recently told us that she had two strikes on her and it still fills her with fear at what would have happened to her if she had received that third one. Her eyes actually welled up! Now, mine do too. I told her, all you had to do was "don't lie"! She said, "That's just not as easy as you say, especially when you're a teenager!" But, she's still afraid!

To one of our daughters' dearest friends: You did something today for me and only you know how great it really was! You are the only one of our children's friends who has ever told us how dear those strikes were to you. You are in control of your life now and forever. For the first time in the history of the family I decree, "Your strikes have all been rescinded." Don't let our strikes be your guide, let your conscience. We love you, trust you, believe in you. Believe in yourself.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Hard wind blowing

WOW! What a blow Thursday and Friday! Hard winds, blow hards outdoors and indoors. The weather such a mixture of rain, sleet, hail, thunder and lightening. The heavens wept, almost as if it were making its own displeasure known.

This wasn't a Chinook Wind blowing, the warm wet winds we learn to love. The winds blowing these past two days were the chilling ones full of foreboding, cold is coming sooner than any of us were fully ready for, without fully understanding how deep into the season we already are. Winds warning of oppressive times when thick blankets piled high and deep and heads buried deeper is the only way to ride out the impending stormy season. Or so some would have us think.

Others of the local native breed confront this type of season head on, no matter how foolhardy others think they are. They look at this time as a time of challenge, a time to face what is known as bad and find the good, eschew the safe path and confront the danger and with one hand stretched towards the angels and the other in a fist shaken at the devils, they laugh into the wind and know they are alive.

Time enough for the thick blankets, roaring fires, hot cocoa and a good book after the day is over. However, hatches must be battened down, the woodpile must be stocked full, the neighbor's pantry must be as full as yours, their blankets must be as thick and they must feel as safe as you do or does it matter how hard the wind blows? Do you have a right to bury your head?

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Re: Your Pharmacy Invoice # 0512913700 xSXPU Don't be aware of fraud! We are certified by VISA, VeriSign and provide secure and confidential purchase!

Too funny! Does this actually steer people to their site? Have you EVER clicked on one of these links? I must have had a least a dozen of these in my spam file today. Do they share them? Forward them? How do they get credit for being the one that finally gets a curious lookie loo like me to take a look?

And notice the italicized words. Don't be aware of fraud! Is this a real crook telling you ahead of time not to be aware of fraud? Was that a subliminal message? What kind of crook is this? How often do you see that, a word slipped in that changes the whole meaning of the sentence or the paragraph?

If I am really bored I will go to the dot com place but I never click on the link because my hubby has warned me of the dire consequences of doing so. Internet hell happens. The household becomes open to hostile attacks of hackers waiting in breathless anticipation. These faceless predators, apparently, have been waiting for almost a decade to get over the firewalls that my husband has been building with all of the care and persistence that his forbearers built their stockades around the citadel.

With one careless stroke of my finger I could cause a tear that would rip asunder the world as we know it! My finger waivers ever so often. Especially after a skirmish in which he is still chanting, “I win, no rule changes” like the adults that we are. Instead I reach up and tilt one of the pictures on the wall out of alignment and then another, and then another. It still drives him nuts and doesn’t threaten the “safety of our world as we know it.”

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


After a day like today I miss Haifa with all my heart and soul. If I were there I would miss here, I know I would, but dear God, some moments I would like the opportunity to miss here in trade for being there.

My mind was blown today by finding out that because I love my county, love keeping those things local which should stay local, love justice and truth that I have a "pathological hatred" of the district attorney. His words, not mine. That frightens me.

Does he have a "pathological hatred" when he walks into the courtroom to defend our state's statutes and constitution? Doesn't he defend them out of love? Why would he assign hatred to me? I am so confused by this accusation. I perform best when I love hardest, not when I hate. Doesn't he do the same? Does he walk into the courtroom filled with hatred for the accused or love for truth and justice? Doesn't he want those two things to prevail? I know I do.

Thank goodness for grandchildren to keep things in perspective. I had three phones going today and my grandson underfoot. " 'Bika, you okay?" "'Bika kin I have some juice, pweaze?" "'Bika, you need shockolat? Let's have shockolat, it makes you feel better." Gotta love the kid, he knows what life's about.

I read where 'Abdu'l-Baha encouraged the children of his household to learn their prayers with encouraging rewards of sweets, dates, sugar chips, etc. I have sugarless chocolates for my tense moments (and those special womanly needs, you know) but I have taken to sharing my stash with my grandson in exchange for learning a line from a prayer. With his invite that "shockolate" would make us both feel better I took out a piece for us each. He received his and solemnly said, "Greater is God than every great one," and popped it into his mouth. I said, "Oh, good job and popped mine into my mouth. "'Bika!" he squealed, "say a prayer" as 'shockolate' juice ran down his chin. I quickly said, "I bear witness O my God, that thou hast created me to know Thee and to worship Thee." He nodded in satisfaction and said, "Good job, Beek!"

An appraisal by a disgruntled district attorney, an appraisal by a two and a half year old grandson. One of hatred, one of love. Hmmmmm, which one shall I accept? I guess I'll stay around for awhile longer.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Blah, blah, blah ....

I shouldn't even be doing this because I have sooooo many important assignments due asap but I can't seem to focus. I hate deadlines and mine is for, like, 8 am tomorrow morning so what am I doing at 2 am the night before? Watching dippy cartoons and reading other people's blogs. SO many good local writers! I am envious.

I am soooo tired of the issue of this campaign, honestly. And I am frustrated with people not getting it and then I am frustrated with myself for trying to convince people with closed minds about anything. Forty years of training you'd think I'd understand closed minds, but I can't conceive of a mind that doesn't look at logic and come to the logical conclusion. (grin)

I do have to admit that phone calls from reporters have been fun but the down side is trying to remember what was said afterwards. I keep thinking I need a tape recorder so I know what points I was trying to make and what actually came out of my mouth. I swear my mouth and my brain are not connected at times. I also have a terrible habit of speaking to the person in whatever accent they are using. It embarrasses my children horribly and I am completely unaware that I am doing it! How does crap like that happen?

From the ballot measure experience what I would like to do is consult. The biggest break down in this issue was goodwill from the parties involved. This is critical in the relationship between county administrators and local state offices. You see this type of break down a lot between the different law enforcement agencies. Maybe the DA is a residual effect from that? So sad to see our community suffer as a result.

No cute stories that I can tell this week. I will keep my eyes open, though. I will make a goodwill effort to post more often and with much more interesting posts. Rallly I will. Where'd that come from? Oh, I see what's on television! (chuckle)

Friday, October 05, 2007

Mind Blogging

While it appears I have been lazy, lately, I actually have been blogging, its just not making it to the keyboard. Let me tell you, they have been some awesome posts, too! Probably the best I've never wrote.

Like last week when I went hunting for the first time in a few years. I used to go hunting all of the time. Its what you did that told you fall was here. When I went back to college I got out of the habit, just not enough time. This year I decided even if I only went out a couple half dozen times (what do statements like that even mean) all I needed was one bullet and one clear shot, right? The three bucks we saw were just as impressed with my logic, too. It was as fun as I remembered. Cold, wet, tired, hungry and after being awe struck with the beauty of the back eighty it got boring. Trudge, listen, point. Trudge, listen, point. Point gun down, bring up binos, balance gun and binos. Glare at chipmunk doing crazy mania chirp in the tree to your right. Jump a jazillion feet in the air when the three bucks jump straight up into the air one hundred feet in front of you. Drop binos, yell at hubby, "Buck, buck, buck, shoot, shoot, shoot!" Quarrel with hubby over whose shot it was. Track buck, buck, buck for five more hours through wet underbrush. Think about warm house, hot coffee, computer. Blog in mind. Blog about beauty of forest in mind. Blog about beauty of wildlife in mind. Blog about cold, wet, stinky, rain forest in mind. Blog about loud, obnoxious chipmunks in mind. Blog about backstrap frying over fire in mind. Blog about obstinate husband tracking deer that could be in Knappa by now in mind. Think about hot tub, think about warm woolly socks, think about flannel nightgown. Isn't hunting fun?

Mind blogging about the grandson, who is always underfoot, usually in a good sort of way. This week he is being a terrible, terrible two year old. Look Babika, look at this, its disgusting. "This" is my ink cartridge that he's taken out of the office garbage can, running the inky bottom along the arm of the couch and leaving a permanent trail. Mind blogging how cute he looked as his nose wrinkled up and mouth askew reminded me of his mother doing the same thing and the horror as I remembered that I would now have to throw out yet another couch cover and this house is supposed to be ready to sell at a moments notice. Look 'Bika, look at me, I'm prettier now. "Now" being that he has taken the permanent marker to make lines around his eyes either like his mom or, as his uncle insists, a football player. I think he was going for the Johnny Depp, ala Jack Sparrow, look myself. He does want one to know he is a permanent part of their lives. Blogging in my minds eye, this kid could make us mucho dinero if we could just get him on television (how original, no grandparent has ever thought that).

Mind blogging the father who has had a horrendous week with his meds. He keeps forgetting to take them, even when he's called, so he doubles up and takes anything left over at the end of the day. This led to hallucinations. Bad and freaky until we figured out what was going on. Blogged in my mind's eye an imaginary scene complete with a police blotter report of my father as a fugitive because he thought his house had been broken into and was now out on a vigilante quest, his joking stories of being a purple barrett suddenly springing to life!

Mind blogging the campaign? AAAACCCKK, no! Too much angst, even for a Harry Potter book.

Search through the fog bank now rolling in. Where were those really great ideas? The funny things you saw, you did, you wished you'd done? Think, think, think! I think I need a PDA for when I'm in the woods. Why bother living in the moment when I should be blogging about it, right?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Lazy Blogging

Wow, this old cartoon brings back memories. I remember watching it when I was, mumble mumble. Of course the memory is hazy, and very vague! Such a violent cartoon!

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Sometimes, it pays to plagiarize. Good idea, Guy.

Monday, September 10, 2007


When I was in the sixth grade my sister and I were walking home from Astor School. It was late fall or early spring. Either way, it was unseasonably warm. I remember this because I was carrying my big faux fur coat which I would later use to beat my sister, soundly, all the way home because, well, you'll see ... it was all her fault that I made an utter ass of myself.

We were living on Irving at the time and had made it just past Londa's house, about half way over the little corner bridge (another hysterical story about hubby showing off and slamming into a tree, later) when I noticed a woman going up the stone steps to the house overlooking the road. On this bright, sunny, day I decided to be a bit talkative, outgoing, adult like and give a holler out, "Well, hello there! Imagine seeing you here!"

My sister, two years younger and very afraid of everything (literally thought our dog would tattle on us) squeaked out, "What are you doing?" I patted her arm to sush her, "Its okay, I know the lady." She looked at me like I was crazy, "No, duh, but what are you doing?" I gave her the "big-sister-knows-best" look, chuckled and shook my head. I continued on with my "adult" tête-à-tête.

"So, what have you been up to lately?" I politely inquired. The woman looked at me vaguely bemused and vaguely perplexed. "Oh, not much. Just taking care of my children and now visiting a friend. How was school?" she responded, trying to keep up her end of this conversation that seemed to amuse as much as it puzzled her. "Schools great!" I enthusiastically responded, "I saw your daughter last week at band rehearsals." The woman looked startled at this. I grinned, she didn't know her daughter and I would be playing together? How fun to be able to tell her. "Band rehearsals? You saw my daughter at YOUR band rehearsals? Are you sure it was my little girl?"

Now it was my turn to be a bit bemused. Little? My friend's mom still called her a "little" girl. Oh brother! "Yeah, I'm sure I saw Cindy, we talked for quite a bit. We hadn't seen each other for ages." The woman shook her head, "Dear, my daughter's name is Annie." Did I give up? Did I pause and say to myself, "Self, evaluate the situation. The woman is looking at you funny. Your sister is tugging on your arm. The woman just told you her daughter's name is Annie. Think about this!" Did I say any of this to myself? Oh, heck no! Where's the fun in life if you've got a rational censor like that working when your eleven?

I soldier on, "Annie? Oh well, we call her Cindy at school. Isn't that funny how kids change their names when they're in school?" The woman looked intently at me. "My Annie, my little Annie you saw at band rehearsals and call her Cindy?" I replied with certainty, "Yes, we do. And she likes the name because she always responds to it," I added, fearful that the woman might think we were calling her something she didn't want to be called.

With that the poor woman had apparently had enough of trying to prod my memory delicately, "Dear, do you know who I am?" "Of course I do," I responded, "You are Mrs. Nelson, Cindy, er, Annie's or Cindy-Anne's mom?" I heard my sister breath in a sharp breath and let out something between a bark and a squawk. She swore she wasn't laughing.

The reply left me completely and totally shocked. "No dear, I am not Mrs. Nelson, whoever that is. I am your next door neighbor, Mrs. Stryker, Annie's mother. Annie, the five year old that you girls come over and play with once in awhile?" I think implied was "used to come over before I found out your nuts!" My mouth fell open. I was stunned. My neighbor? My living two houses down from me for the past seven years neighbor? "I am so sorry," I mumbled, "you look just like Mrs. Nelson." "That's okay dear, we all make mistakes. See you back in the neighborhood." And she hurried up the steps.

I rounded on my sister and slugged her in the arm. "WHY did you LET me do that?" I hissed at her. "WHY didn't you SAY something?" She wailed, "I did ask you what you were doing. I wondered why you were talking to her like you hadn't seen her forever and we just saw her a couple days ago." "Then why didn't you just say that?" I shrieked back. She frantically replied, "We watched a film today in school and I thought maybe you had something like that marijuana madness that teenagers can get," then she added in a staged and obviously copied whispered, "or even children as young as eleven or twelve!" and she nodded significantly at me.

I beat her with my heavy faux fur coat from 28th street to 19th street. Believe me, for all the hell she would eventually be putting me through, I am happy I got my licks in while I could.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Belly Laughs

A few years, okay quite a few years, ago my husband and I were on a doubles bowling team with another couple. The man had been hubby's friend for about 15 years and had recently become a shirttail relative when his brother married hubby's sister. These two guys were close. You'd think they were close enough and knew one another well enough to make the following almost impossible to happen.

All evening long hubby had been giving me unwanted and unasked for "tips" on how to bowl. Don't take so many steps, don't take such short steps, fully extend your arm, keep your elbow in. I gave him "the look" which he ignored and kept up his "helpful" hints. With each hint I'd bowl a little worse which sent him into peals of laughter. "Honey, stay focused. Think about what your doing." I would glare at him and through gritted teeth say, "Thanks dear! Thanks ever so much!"

He acted oblivious to my dagger looks and would just write down the score. This was back in the day where we wrote the score down ourselves, no machines. Sometimes the women would claim the the two front seats but most often the guys would, so they could "help" us with their "helpful" hints.

"Good try hun," my husband chuckled as I walked past him to sulk, after I bowled right in between a 7-10 split. As I leaned against the counter and watched him shake his head back and forth, bemused by my lack of ability, I got a little ticked. He was leaning forward resting his face in his hands with both elbows up on the table. Bowling balls were crashing around throughout the lanes and if I wanted to get his attention so I could give him a good, mouthed, word or two, I would have to do something aside from yell.

I walked up behind him, reached under his arm and pinched him right on the tit and backed up, waiting for him to quickly turn around. Not a movement. I was puzzled. I knew I had given him a good, hard pinch. What the heck? I started forward again when all of a sudden I heard hubby say, "Ya' weirdo!" The guy sitting next to him, his friend for nigh onto fifteen years says, "What?" My hubby replies, "You heard me, I called you a weirdo."

Oh my god! This is better then I could have ever planned. I take a step back, holding my hand over my mouth. Tears already springing to my eyes.

Friend: What are you talking about?
Hubby: Didn't you, well, did you just touch me?
Friend: What in the hell are you talking about?

About now I can't hold it in. I have to breath and I gasp out loud. Friend's wife is coming off the lane and asks what's happening? I can't talk. My husband whips his head around and says, "It was YOU, you touched me?" In reply I only laugh harder and harder. Friend looks puzzled back and forth between us.

Friend: What's going on? What are you talking about?
Hubby: Welllll, um, see, someone pinched me.
Friend: So?
Hubby: Well, your the only one sitting here.
Friend: Pinched you? Pinched you where?
Hubby: Well, um, I guess maybe on the tit?
Friend: WHAT? WHAT? Why would you think it was ME?
Hubby: Your the only one sitting here! And I wasn't even going to say anything, but then I thought you'd think I liked it, and then you might pinch me again, and then you'd wonder why I hadn't said anything the first time but got all bothered the second time. So, finally, I decided to say something just to let you know I didn't appreciate the pinch. See?
Friend: No, I don't see. You thought I was gay? After all these years you thought I was gay? IF I were gay, IF I was coming out of the closet, WHY would I choose the bowling alley in front of our wives to make a pass at you? WHY?
Hubby: I don't know, that thought sort of ran through my mind, too. But hey, I'm not gay and I don't know what happens when someone decides to come out.

At this point he turns on me. I am laughing so hard I am rocking back and forth on the floor. I know I will have to do the peepee dance all the way to the ladies' room. "I hope you pee your pants and I hope it happens RIGHT NOW," he announces. The teams in the next lane over were asking us what had happened. Friend's wife was laughing pretty hard by now but she was able to gasp out what had happened. The story trickled down the lanes. Kissy noises soon floated back.

My husband glared at me, "Happy now?" Yes, very, very happy! He and friend turned back in their seats, facing the bowling lanes. Casually they leaned away from one another with one choosing to relax leaning back with with his hands clasped behind his head. They take turns doing this posture so that they are not sitting at the same angle at the same time. After a little while when they returned from their turn bowling they casually picked other spots to sit at, choosing not to sit at the score table, together, for the rest of the evening. Nor, I am sure, the rest of the season. The "helpful" hints? They were gone for a time, as well. Whenever he started to tell me how to bowl I'd look at him and make a pinching motion with my fingers. He stopped talking about how to make me a bowler in his image.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Dinner 'n a Movie!

Blades of Glory showed up today in the mailbox. Thank-you Netflix! Nachos w/deer burgers and a movie tonight with the family, that's a great way to spend the evening! Will Ferrell is very, very funny and teamed up with Jon Heder the two just have me in stitches the whole way through. It had to be a hoot to be on set with these two and the sight gags just make you weep they are so dang funny. To even imagine such an out of condition body on the ice making those graceful moves that Ferrell is supposedly doing as Chazz Michael Michaels, the bad boy of ice skating, is really one of the key pieces of making this film so enjoyable for me. My grandson really got into the rock music Michaels is supposedly skating to. Heder is exquisite as Jimmy MacElroy, the perfect skating artist who doesn't know what real life is. In the opening scene, where it shows MacElroy skating as a four year old, my grandson pipes up, "Oh, that's big boy (his name for himself) having fun!" Sappy maybe but it added to the good time.

Went to Ratatouille at the Columbian Sunday night with the eldest, the middle, the boy and the hubby and laughed the evening away. I like the set up at the Columbian and you can't beat the price for a night out. The movie was cute and funny and one I'll probably end up buying for the home archives. Saturday I bought Whale Rider, a great movie about a Maori girl who must ride a whale to prove to her grandfather she is the rightful next chief. It is done almost, but not quite, documentary style with a mix-in of oral tradition.

Last night's in house movie was Shooter which was good but depressing. I want to stay naive and feeling like that sort of thing doesn't happen. Oswald acted alone, no one is left behind in battles, we don't fight wars for oil and politicians only run for office because they want to contribute back to their community.

Friday night Bart and I went to Coaster Theater to see Wally's Cafe. While the "reviews" promised a lot of laughs we only had a chuckle or two. Darn it! We really like the theater, too and loved See How They Run. This cast just didn't seem to be enjoying their roles, or it just wasn't meshing together for me. Maybe my imagination was just off but I couldn't get past the feeling that they were just actors acting in roles. In See How They Run you forgot they were actors, or at least I did. Wally's Cafe and River Theater's 12th Night both just seemed forced (although Patrick Webb does make you forget he is anything but Malvolio).

And that's what our week in the movies has been! Who needs stinking movie channels? I know we don't!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Double messages

I was reading a catalog that I got through the mail. As I took a closer look at the cover I was amused at the two stickers on the front. One said, "You were specially picked to receive this catalog." Having a degree in Business Admin I've picked up the habit of looking at advertising. This one was supposed to give me a feeling that I was special, a part of an elite group of people. Then the second sticker, "Last chance, this may be your final catalog if we don't receive an order from you soon." Smaller print went on to say they didn't want to bother me with catalogs that I wasn't going to use.

The double message here amused me. Am I part of an elite group of ne'er do wells? We almost are appreciated but not quite? Its up to me whether I want to be part of an elite group again and receive another catalog, specially picked for me? Is this a catalog from Saks? Oh-no! Its from Seventh Avenue, how many steps up is that from Finger Hut?

It seems to me we get so many double messages and we turn around and give them to our kids who probably turn around and give them to the hamsters. "Don't hit!" we admonish as we paddle their bottoms. "Say please when you want something," we demand and don't follow our own counsel. "Shut up," we screech! Then we kvetch with our friends about where the teens get their addictions as we down our third latte, beer, wine or light up.

Will we ever get over this obsession we seem to have with giving out double messages? Don't look at me. I'm still waiting for my husband to tell me if these jeans make my butt look big.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

One month later ...

When I was nine years old my father taught me to play chess. He noticed a rather impatient child, eager to get on with life, eager to stay ahead of the pack (four siblings, four cousins living next door and a neighborhood full of kids) and thought learning patience would be a good thing.

My father also loved to plot. All the way to the end I would think I was winning and suddenly I would be blindsided as a triumphant, "Checkmate" was whispered in my ear. These games would start after dinner and often run to bed time and carry over to the next evening and even the evening after that. When I won it was a true win, my father never, ever, "let" us kids win at anything. I became well schooled in looking at the board from all angles, from thinking like my opponent and not only looking at what my own moves were but what were his probable responses, what were the logical responses and what would be the "hail mary" responses?

As I became better he wasn't past moving pieces during the night so I would have to memorize the board. There were no policemen to cry out "Cheater!" to, no judges to appeal to, no higher authority than him. I had to figure out on my own what to do, how to counter his maneuvers, how to retaliate. He would chuckle to find the pieces back to their original spot after he had moved them (or sometimes removed them) and was surprised and finally laughed when I moved them myself (I think I expected a bolt of lightening from the chess gods to hit). I learned to read his face for grimaces and then to read it for fake grimaces. I learned to trust my own gut instincts. I learned how to plot a strategy but even more valuable I learned how to change that strategy mid-stream when it was apparent that my strategy wasn't working.

What else I learned is that I could get too enmeshed in what was, after all, just a game. I would dream the game, plot moves during school, daydream about what the board looked like on the bus ride home and check it frequently until my dad got home and dinner was over. I learned to like silence and to listen to one thought fall in line with another, but it was like all my other thoughts fell away and total focus was on one thing.

Soon, thank goodness, winter was over and spring brought about softball, the outdoors and the allure of the woods. Even so, I would find myself mulling over a move my father had tricked me with during his last win, wondering if a different strategy would have saved me from hearing the whispered, "Checkmate"?

When my ex-husband and I had nothing left of our marriage we still had chess. We would literally play from the time I put the children into bed at 7 pm until they woke at 6 or 7 am the next morning, often having to call it a draw. Games standing didn't stay upright to babies crawling and we didn't often have two nights in a row we wanted to stay in the same room together, even for chess.

My husband, my love, my best friend and I have never played chess. He chuckled when I asked him if he wanted to play the game with me. Having seen me play softball he said he couldn't imagine how but he was sure I could turn it into a painful contact sport for him!

It has occurred to me over this past month that the training I received at my father's knee has not been wasted. It is a resource I draw on repeatedly without even realizing it, a second nature. I'm not quite sure if it is a tournament I have entered or one long game but it is a challenge I have been trained to meet. It is one more thing to thank him for.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Documents Everyone should have

Learning the hard way what documents to have on hand can make a traumatic situation pure hell. Luckily, because my dad and I are co-facilitators for the Parkinson's Resources support group for the Lower Columbia Region we had begun to keep a journal of his medical history with pages and forms provided by the Parkinson's Center of Oregon through Parkinson's Resources.

These forms help keep medicines straight, journal incidents and events to discuss with the doctor. Adverse drug reactions or interactions as well as diet and exercise. Also, a durable Medical Power of Attorney and a legal document called Critical Information that should be notarized. It contains "critical information" concerning where your advanced directive is, if you have a medical power of attorney, who should be contacted in case your incapacitated (and who shouldn't be!), where to find legal documents, who your attorney is, if you have made funeral arrangements, etc...

All of this is kept in "The Notebook". Also in "The Notebook" is copies of my dad's dd214 (discharge papers, every once in awhile I have to reaffirm with the VA hospital that he really was in the Navy) as well as a copy of his social sercurity card, his driver's license, his VA card, his Medicare and his supplemental insurance as well as prescription cards. Copies, because hospitals just need copies of copies.

The medicine page is kept up to date and his most recent trip to the doctor's office is in there as well. I don't do very well keeping up on the incident journal (almost tripped today, having vivid dreams, etc...).

Its a real comfort when you head out the door with a sick one in tow to God only knows what to be able to grab up that Notebook and have everything there at your fingertips. When your feeling fine is the best time to get one started. Especially when deciding the hard stuff: Advanced directives; Medical Power of Attorney; Funeral Arrangements. For some forms to help keep a medical journal to help you survive the "event" visit the OHSU Parkinson's center and use their forms. Just remember to white out the word Parkinson's where ever you see it (unless, of course, you have Parkinson's).

On that same page is a link to Critical Information for Caring for the Parkinson's Patient . That form can be adapted to most diseases or chronic illnesses. Don't hesitate to use it, just remember to substitute the correct disease name in.

And, on a slightly cheerier note, you can now pick out your own casket at a low, low price from, yep, Costco! Ride through eternity with "Kirkland" embossed silkiness likeness nestled next to your cheek! Actually, they're not that bad looking and really save quite a bit of money. I am just wondering where to keep it until its needed!

Oh, stop looking so worried, Dad. I told you the tests came back and your fine, just fine. Now, which coffin did you say you liked?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Hospital Hell

The last few weeks have been hell.

My dad had a heart attack. He's 67 and has Parkinsons. With my husband, he forms my base. Two rocks that are hard, firm and something you can anchor yourself to when storms blow.

The whole time I was growing up he was never sick. One time the dock roof at City Transfer, back when Forrest Vaughn owned it, fell on his head. He got stitches and took one day off. His dad was a longshoreman. My dad and mom had four girls before little boy blue was born, on dad's birthday. We played flag football with the little squirt since we were old enough to form a "defensive squad". We played so hard it turned him into quite the tough football player. Small and not a great runner during practice but get his adrenalin going and not much could stop him. We often got his adrenalin going. Four older sisters making life hell. And a father who's only other outlet than family was coaching little league.

Mr. B is what Brian Tarabochia of Salmon for All tagged him with eons ago and Mr. B he has been for generations of kids. People I didn't even know would come up to me and tell me what a great coach he was. He loved teaching kids the dynamics of baseball. He loved basketball too, and often helped me with my basketball teams.

Sister Daintry was the best known athlete of the family. She was the last baby Dr. Fowler ever delivered so my mom let him name her. With that name it was decided no middle was needed. She has a PhD now and is in administration for the State of Hawaii working with the mentally challenged.

Of us kids, though, my sister Sarah was the "natural". If she wasn't so shy she could have gone to college on a sports scholarship. Absolutely anything she put (and still puts) her mind to do she accomplished with what seemed to be utter ease.

But, back to me. This is my blog not theirs (love you #3 & #4)! #1 and the one to stay home, man the home fires, and watch my father struggle as his body goes in different directions than his mind wants it to.

The day before his heart attack we were clearing shrubbery and finding that which was covered. A true nightmare of what can happen in the woods when sticker bushes find your discarded items that will "eventually" make it to the dump. He picked up TWO ceramic toilets, tanks intact, and put them on the wheel barrow. Shortly thereafter he said he wasn't feeling well. He had been having spells of tiredness for the past two months and when we told the parkinson's doctor at the VA hospital/clinic we were just told Dad had to either start exercising more or submit to the loss of muscle usage and give in to the tiredness.

He was on Metoprolol for an unspecified, unusual but untraceable EKG. When he was in Japan for my brother's wedding something happened which they thought could have been a heart attack however the EKG kept giving different readings and when they did an angiogram nothing unusual showed except that he had an unusually thick heart wall (what?).

The Parkinson's doctor did not question whether his unusual fatigue was due to his heart. He increased his Sinemet and Mirapex and said exercise more. We exercised him more. Walked more often and asked him to help more around the house getting it ready for sale.

He was life flighted to St. Vincents in Portland. Watching your father flown off in a helicopter to a hospital towards God knows what is really surreal. I couldn't believe it was happening. I was the one to drive him to the ER room at 4 am because of his arm going numb and chest feeling like an iron band was squeezing it. The VA hospital refused to take him if an ambulance brought him. I had been told that by a nurse before. If at all possible we needed to bring him in ourselves because they won't refuse you then but they ALWAYS refuse if another hospital calls.

Bart drove and I called everyone on my cell that I was supposed to. My mom and my son called their lists of people they were responsible for. In our family whoever you call first you are responsible to keep updated. I still owe phone calls. And I am so tired of the horror story that follows.

DO NOT EVER allow a loved one to go to the hospital alone. DO NOT EVER allow a loved one to go to the hospital alone. My father lost his dignity and his pride at St. Vincents by a sadistic nurse and one I should have known not to leave him alone with. 20-20 hindsight.

Another day, maybe? Am I really going to finish this here. This is long enough and I am sick at heart. I have spent the last few days filling out forms, writing letters, trying to get records transfered, checking on all of his meds, consulting with the pharmisist to see which ones conflict. Reading to see when to take which for the best effect. Parkinson's meds can't be taken with protein or they bind to the food and flush right out without taking effect in the body. His heart pills must be taken with food or they will make him nauseous.

When he left that ward he walked out. They didn't even offer him a wheel chair. The night before they had had security guards in his room because they thought they might have to take him to the psych ward because the nurse said he was having delusions! My father said he had peed on himself and the nurse refused to give him a clean gown. He peed on himself because the plastic urinal was full. The nurse was pissed that he couldn't hold it until he got to him and asked him if he liked laying in his own piss. My dad told me he wished my brother was there. He knows he would have punched him. I feel sorrow I didn't stay that night.

I was tired, so tired and went over to the guest house even though the nurse bugged me, sneered when my mother tried to joke with him and barely nodded when we left. The one saving grace was that I told him I was worried that my father's Parkinson's meds weren't being ministered on time and he seemed disorientated. If there were any problems, even if it was 2 am I was to be called, no restraints or other drastic measures were to be taken.

Did he treat my father like that because he could get away with saying he was delusional? I understand delusions in the hospital. I was there with both my grandparents through numerous operations and understand how narcotics can play havoc with the mind. In this CCU ward it is supposed to be one on one care. The nurse had three patients. When my father was wheeled out of surgery I was the one that held the compress on his groin where the angioplasty had been incerted for 45 minutes because the nurse had to prep another patient for a "very tough surgery" and she also had another patient to check on. She didn't want to use the belt because it is painful. She kept on gritting her teeth and barking at my father to "stop shaking your leg, your going to rip open your incision". And no matter how many times I told her he had Parkinsons AND restless leg she would just say, "he has to try harder"!!!

OH! I am so angry. His VA clinic GP NEVER, EVER returned any phone calls. Still hasn't. And dad is supposed to be going to see him sometime next week, according to hospital discharge papers, for a follow up. In another week he is supposed to go back to the heart surgeons. He said it will be a cold day in hell before he steps through the doors of St. Vincents again.

When I got called to his room at 2 am and got him calmed down I went out to talk to the nurse. I was calm, he was all sweetness and light. Didn't know what came over my father, he just went off! I said that he had mentioned that two of his meds were refused him. The nurse said, "Oh, it was just his Parkinson's meds and it was just his 10 oclock night time one and his midnight one". May I please have them, thanks. Going back to my father's room I felt so cold. If he was right about the meds, how much of the rest of the horror story was delusion and how much was real? How would we ever know? I know this man gave me the creeps when he came on and I told my mom, "I'm too tired to break in another nurse and this one looks like a real prick. Do you think dad will sleep through the night?" She said we can hope so and leave our names with the nurse. You aren't supposed to sleep in the room or be in the room after 9:30 PM each night but we stretched as long as we could to keep him from being agitated.

The tears are burning down my face now. I don't like hospitals. I know, I know. I know it all, the pluses the whys and the wherefores. My sister-in-laws are hospital administrators, nurses, and my daughter is studying to be a nurse. It probably just means I know that much more to keep me scared and sad. If he has another attack he says he won't go in. I don't know what I am going to do.

Two arteries to his heart were completely blocked. He had stints put in. One person coming through doing some sort of paperwork asked if we knew why they waited two days before doing surgery on my father. We said what? With this type of blockage, shortly after the sonogram shows the problem, apparently, they usually do the "procedure" (no longer known as surgery). Did we know why there was a two day delay. No, we just thought they were stabilizing him.

What was that about?

If you've stuck around this long, thank-you for "listening". Here's to a brighter tomorrow and a prayer that no more trips to a hospital will be needed. Ever.

Friday, July 13, 2007

You are always somebody's child

I have written about this before and will again and again. Living multi-generationally has its pluses and its, um, detractions. My twenty-five year old has been heard to wail, on more than one occassion, "I am an adult, I shouldn't have to report where I am going." To the people who are watching her child while she is out "going" wherever it is she is going to.

I do understand. I SOOOOO understand. She was hollering, blindly, over her shoulder at her brother and her grandmother, and probably a parting shot at me. When I leave I am talking to my husband, my son, my mother, my father and my grandson who is frantically pulling on shoes saying, "I come with you 'Bika?" I say, " I am heading to the store, anyone want anything?" and then one of them, inevetably says, "So and so just came from the store, why are you going now?" BECAUSE I WANT TO! My mind screams. My mouth mutters, "Because I forgot to mention the soap and toilet paper we were out of." To shut the men up I usually mention a feminine product. Immediately their eyes go out of focus and you can see hair grow inwards in their ears.

My mother is on loan to me from my sister as we prepare parts of the property for sale, mainly the house. She is an energy dynamo, who also has taken over duties with my father, her ex-husband, with whom I think there is still a good relationship. I say "think" because sometimes I wonder if they are going to kill one another. My mother has taken it upon herself to lay out all of his medication each night. She follows the list that we made. Together we made that list. All three of us. So, all three of us should be able to read it the same, correct? Oh, hell no! I write "one dose" meaning the dose it say on the bottle. She reads it as one tablet . Luckily this only happened one day so we were able to straighten it out pretty promptly. The child proof bottles supposedly aren't a problem since they use tools to pry them off. I guess the VA pharmacy doesn't give a choice on the type of bottle tops.

While they get the bottle tops off and discuss the correct dosages my mother throws out any meds she feels are outdated. The problem being NONE should be since my father is on all prescription meds and they come at the correct time through the mail so what the hell is she throwing away which pisses my father off. Plus, my mother is partially blind. But she's the one reading the meds to see which ones are outdated. One of these days I am going to walk over to my dad's house and find them both dead. Scenario: He killed her and then died from eating the wrong pills or they stabbed each other when trying to open the damn pill bottles with dull paring knives and box cutters. Lucky for me I haven't pissed anyone off in a high office or I might get myself framed for a murder!

The other day I tool ALL the pills away and bought seven pill dispenser, one for each day. I fill them once a week with the correct dosage and give my father his new, corrected list with a picture of the pill and correct dosage to be taking at each interval. Neither of my parents were impressed or happy about this change of events. I didn't discuss it with them, I just did it.

I mean, dammit, I am not a little kid anymore. I am not, I emmit, I emmit! And if I am going to be held responsible at some point by my own siblings for whether or not pills are being taken or our blind mother is wielding sharp objects to open things I have to put my foot down. Over and over and over again, if that's what it takes!