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!"