Friday, December 26, 2008

For #4, sorry it took so long

Sorry, so busy sis. Here is a short video of one day of the snow here. I have three more videos of care drives to and through Astoria. The problem is impatience with downloading and my still not taking the time to learn to edit the videos and voice over w/music. Every time the camera fell over on one of the trips, mom would swear. Hehehe!

Check out the family pics over on my flickr page to see more snow and Christmas pictures. We had a lot of fun, wish you guys were here. All it is doing is raining now, maybe you'll be able to make it if the rains ever hit up north.

I am not sure if we should be happy that the PacNW finally has three seasons? Fall, winter and spring. I guess if the trade off is an equal amount of summer sun we can stand the late fall and early winter snow. If only it doesn't mean we have flooding next!

Love to P, and a "ciao" to sis #3, the lucky bum!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow Pics for the Fam

The whole outta state family is laughing at us as we close down schools, government and huddle indoors. What can we say? We did survive the first ever three day 125 mph sustainable wind storm, we just don't know what that white crap that keeps falling perpetually from the sky is doing accumulating on the ground.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bedtime ritual - Nasty

So every night, now, bedtime at our house is hell time. Somewhere along the recent way Eldest has read a book about puting a child down at a regular bedtime so we are all treated to an hour of hell. The amusing thing about it is that her and my mom act, each night, as if grandson's temper tantrum at being put to bed is new or different.

Eldest doesn't like the temper tantrum so she puts up with it for about 20 minutes and then leaves that part of the house to let him cry to himself. When she works late the task falls to my mother and she will read to him after arguing with him until he falls to sleep about an hour after it all starts.

Both of them swear the process takes about 20 minutes. They lie. Hubby and I refuse to take part in the process aside from a hug and kiss goodnight. Because the amusing thing is that Eldest doesn't get up in the morning with this child she has forced to go to bed at an hour he doesn't wish to. He comes in to OUR bedroom to get us up not only because he wants to see Papa right away in the morning but because she tells him she doesn't want to get up yet and to come to our bedroom!!!

Guess the book didn't cover who is supposed to get up with him. Needless to say, I am writing this as another round of tantrums, begging and wails for his 'Bika or Papa to save him are going off. This is probably the biggest bone of contention between the different raising styles. I never believed in "bedtime". Apparently, she found that to be something she wants to correct in my parenting style. I WANT my children to do better than me, but, of course, only when I was wrong. Why she would want to correct something I did right is beyond me.

So here is me, taking my bitch to the 'net. And you thought it was a different kind of nasty didn't you?!?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Oh, the weather outside is frightful!

UGH! Another storm hitting but this time on top of the wind we have high waves and a cold front followed by snow! We've done all that we can do at this point to prepare. We bought all of the pipe coverings which went over the electric warming tape we already had on the pipes in case we lose power. We have all of the propane tanks filled for heat and cooking (too bad no natural gas down our way but NW doesn't have enough gas to make it out to our area. So much for "there's no need").

We have twenty five gallons of gasoline in reserve plus the generator's filled. If we lose power we will be able to run for three days if we used it constantly and six if we used it half of the time. Thank goodness gasoline prices are below $2/gal right now. I filled my tank and 15 gallons in spare gas all for less than $36! WOW. Three months ago, in the red truck, I filled the tank and it cost me over $72!

We have all the flashlights ready, the battery operated lanterns as well as the propane lanterns, the kerosene lanterns, and the white fuel lanterns filled. Candles are stocked. All of the bathrooms have the tiny tap lights stuck on the wall right by the light switch so they are easy to find and down the hallway so Dad can find his way easily.

Just letting all the fam that is far away know that we are pretty well prepared for this storm so even if we lose our contact by cell phone you should know we have everything pretty well taken care of. Papa has all of his meds up to date and more than enough (they come via mail, in three month supplies). Grams and I just came back from a Costco shopping spree where we even got some cedar to decorate (yeah, we are surrounded by cedar but YOU climb up those trees and cut down their limbs)!

We have out the board games for later, right now we are Wii-ing. Books are stacked up. If cable goes out I also bought the seventh and final season of West Wing which Bart and I missed and are looking forward to watching. I actually bought it in January or February and have been picking up quite a few movies whenever they go on sale, preparing for a time when the power/cable goes out again. Its no big deal when it is for a few hours, like night before last when the power pole went down and we lost electricity from 6pm until 1 am. But when it is the second, third or fourth day the games are getting pretty old and movies are a nice respite.

We even remembered to get our five gallon water jugs refilled. With each winter storm we get a little bit better. Clatsop County's new Emergency Operations Center may get christianed with this storm. Bart is not looking forward to a repeat of last year's crisis on Hwy 26! I keep checking the ODOT camera to see if Seaside's flooding but even at the high tide when Youngs Bay came over the road at Linehan's corner the road in Seaside looked pretty clear. We will see what happens and hope Bart doesn't have to go out in this. If they open the EOC then I will take a run over to the media room and find out what is going on and post live from there to Remember to read there or KAST for updates on how this area is faring doing down here. If you can't get a hold of any of us leave a meassage on the comment section of NCO and we will try to respond there, too, as the satellite allows.

Also, if you read the article a couple of us pulled together on NCO, you can check out what's happening here by looking at the ODOT cameras and the Brevins cameras. Of course, you can't see our house in any of those shots but you can see different points across the county and get a general idea of what is happening around here.

I am puting this on time delay so it will post tomorrow morning. Hope you all are safe and warm. Keep the Jelly Bean happy and her mama (hmm, wonder what I am hoping for!), too. Love you all.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Welcome to our World, Jelly Bean

Welcoming into the family a new little tiny member. Jelly Bean was officially recognized by a medical technician so it is now safe to announce that Memers and her gentleman hubby are expecting! Due date July 19th! She actually DID learn something in Japan from all those newlyweds.

We are all very excited. Gentleman Hubby can't wipe the grin off of his face. Memers quit drinking coffee and is not to be tolerated in the early morn (anytime before noon) and has muscle spasms more often than morning sickness at this point.

We can't believe how much has changed in such a short time in our "little girl"'s life. I could be weepy that she is so far away (all of three hours, down in Salem) except for the fact that she is so darn happy it is hard to begrudge her even a moment of this precious time in her life. She deserves it, truly. They have picked names but I am not telling, quite yet. Simply put, I am honored, deeply. These two continue to surprise us in delightful and touching ways.

Getting ready for the holiday season as we also prepare the homefront, once again, for other various projects. Sigh, sigh, sigh. We will have a Christmas themed house, though and grandson is having a great time being strawboss and telling us where everything should go. We will be bursting at the seems with family (which I love) but missing dear daughters in Blaine and Alaska (which I abhor). Sis #4 will be down the day after Christmas which is great and we will see #3 sometime later.

So, here's to Jelly Bean, hear our thoughts of love to you and treat your brand new mama good. She's giving up her precious coffee for you and your new daddy can't wait to hold and cuddle you. Cousins K & D are waiting to show you all of the great hiding places in the woods and their newest tree fort. Cousin R hopes you are a girl so she can share her princess outfits with someone!

Rest well mama & daddy and enjoy one another for this very breif time of aloneness. By the time the kiddies leave home Bart & I will be just about the age to be moving in! HAHAHAHAHAHA!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Mulligans DO happen!

My baby came home the other day! I got a mulligan! I can hardly believe it. Hubby pulled off a miracle and the day before Thanksgiving I got my little malibu back. And then I went and filled the tank. WOW! I filled the tank for under $20 AND I am still running on that tank of gas. DOUBLE WOW!

Also in November I received a certificate for having completed the Love and Logic course along with my daughter and my mother. The course was facilitated by Ann Bales, with ESD, and funded by the Commission on Children and Families. Eldest Daughter (ED) had asked that we take the course with her so we could decide if it was a tool we wanted to use and then all be on the same page in dealing with grandson. It is an excellent tool, although personally I am not overly fond of the guys who developed the L&L concept. They do the videos that go along with the series and, for me, are just plain corny.

Ann Bales is a very good facilitator of the course. She said the class that we took was one of the largest she had ever had with about 30 starting and 22 completing the course. It takes six-eight weeks (giving time to make up any missed sessions) to go through the course. Ann is thorough but not once did we go over the 8 o'clock deadline she set at the beginning. We started at 6 pm and even received dinner! That was followed by discussion of the chapter in the book (very brief 4-6 pg chapters that were more like outlines) and videos giving examples of behaviors and practices of using the Love & Logic techniques.

Some of the participants were there because of mandates from the court. They would mention visitations with CSD when relating how they were using a certain technique. Some were there because they were going through a divorce and had to show a parenting plan which included a parenting course. There were quite a few there from the different day cares in the area which use the Love & Logic techniques which was nice to hear and it was also nice for mom and I to hear what they charged (as we looked pointedly at my daughter) as well as some of their other techniques (like mandatory nap times for all toddlers four and under from 12:30-2:30 PM!!!) .

It is almost impossibly to get our three year old down at 8:30 pm we couldn't imagine how late he would stay up if he had a two hour nap in the middle of the day! ED questioned the daycare provider closely if ALL children HAD to take a nap. "No, but they have to stay on their mat and not make any noise for those two hours." A look of horror crossed her face. I kept thinking of the report I had recently read that said that the business industry was starving for factory workers and that was the next big push. Obviously the daycares had got that message.

For Thanksgving we had #4 and p come and spend four days with us which was wonderful. With her work schedule it is a rare occarance although she just lives up the freeway from us. Grandson and p really love each other and bonded tight during the summer's camping trip. It was great watching them together. Dr. Sis, (aka #3) was supposed to come over from Hawaii but she got tied up in prepping for finals and couldn't make it.

The newly weds did make it, though and looked as cute as could be with one another. We went down to the Seaside Christmas Parade and then some of us went on over to Ilwaco and saw a fantastic performance of Fiddler on the Roof put on by PAPA while others stayed at home for the Civil War, which played out in our living room as the trash talk on the television heightened the agitation at home! Three ducks and two beavers hollered for three insane hours. We only had to bear with an hour of it before we left. Yeah, beavers should have won for the Pac 10's best interests, but SWEEEEEEEEET that the ducks won at Reser's Stadium! Not that I was pulling for any side. Man, this mother-in-law stuff is HARD!

All in all, November was a pretty good month. Very busy with a dozen or four that I really don't have the time or inclination to go into. I really need more reporters in order to do this county justice in the news that they are currently not getting. Oh well, it will happen when it happens.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Another Road Trip Into Hell

Why do I get into a vehicle and travel down (or rather this time UP) the friggin freeway? And why call it FREE, it is NEVER free for me. This trip cost me over $525! What was my role? I was running my cousin to an appointment for his passport. He was to fly out to visit family in Japan. He hates driving in traffic. My mom volunteered to take him. My mom has no depth perception, no license, cannot drive, so guess who she has take my cousin?

Since her and I are both going to we must take grandson. YEAH! Three year old on a road trip to Seattle. Its supposed to be a "quick trip" so we are going to take off at 7:30 am which means no late night Thursday night for me (which is "my alone time to get my stuff done"). Early to bed, early to rise.

Up early and off only a half an hour late, which we had budgeted time for. We hit the coffee stand in Clatskanie right on schedule with half an hour to spare. Woohoo! We will be in Seattle about 30 minutes before the appointment, plenty of time to find the Federal building, taking into account noon rush hour.

We hit the Fort Lewis area and all of a sudden my dad's Jimmy loses power. I look down on the dash board and every idiot light is flashing. I am in the far left speed lane with VERY LITTLE SHOULDER and start frantically changing lanes to the right praying I have enough power to make it. I did and coast over to the ditch, as far over as I possibly can.

My cousin looks at me like I am nuts, "What the hell are you doing, we can't stop on the freeway! We don't have time to stop for anything!" I point to the dashboard, "We're not going anywhere." He looks over a covers his mouth so he can mumble words grandchild shouldn't repeat. I pick up the cell phone and call Triple A. The joy of crossing over the state line from Oregon to Washington with a Triple A card! WHY is it Oregon/Idaho on AAA but Washington is all by its lonesome? It is a lot easier than it used to be and the dispatcher we get is nice.

"Are you pulled over at a safe spot?" he asks? "Um, not really, if a semi-driver looks down at his map or spills his coffee we're toast," I reply. "Okay, you are on the freeway, that moves you up. Now, can you tell me where you are at?" I hate this question. My dad's a retired truck driver and my husband's a highway inspector for ODOT. They both constantly grill me on "being aware of my surroundings" when I am driving. What exit did I just pass? Which one am I coming up on? What mile marker am I nearest?

I tell the dispatcher, "I am somewhere near Fort Lewis and I can see a warehouse that says "Grand Prix" on it, and "Discount Something or Other," I reply. The dispatcher chuckles and starts typing into his computer. Then, grandson offers us his binoculars! Bonus! My cousin uses them to peer down the freeway and is able to see the next exit. I tell the dispatcher who then asks where we are towing it. Sigh, where does he recommend? My cousin says it looks like the alternator is out. The dispatcher recommends Tveten's Auto Clinic. I ask for their phone number and tell the dispatcher lets say that's the spot and I'll let the tow truck driver know when he gets there.

In the meantime, my mom is frantically dialing the federal building to change cousin's appointment to later in the day. She gets it changed only to one and half ours later! I get a hold of the auto center who will have the Budget rental car people waiting at their lot for us. The tow truck guy gets there 15 minutes after I initiated the call to AAA! WOW! Things are looking up! He hooks us up, we get the auto center, they will do a diagnostic for $49.50 and call to let me know for sure what's up before starting work. We jump in the Budget car and race over to that lot to sign paperwork, CHA-CHING!

Off to Seattle. We pull up the Federal building with five minutes to spare. I drop them and start circling for a parking spot. I finally found one and the ONLY bargain of the day. I plug a meter three times and end up paying only about $3 for roughly two hours. Then, I wait with a child who has been sooooo good up to that point that he now NEEDS to break free and let lose. BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, wah, wah, wah! Question, question, question, why, why, please, please, Anger, anger, pout, pout (okay, that was me) and then we spend some time glaring at one another. Suddenly I look down at my phone, thinking, "Why hasn't the auto center called me?" My cell phone is DEAD. It has four different colored bars running across the screen! CRIPES, craps nasty words and exclamation marks!!!

I turn it off and on, nothing. I take the battery out and put it back together, still the same four colored bars and nothing else. Blankity, blankity, blank, blank!!! Brand, friggin, blankity, new "verizon smartphone"!!!

I desperately look around and frantically dig through my purse and find that my mom's left her cell with us, whew! However, I don't have the auto center's phone number written down, it's in my cell phone. I call my cell number and pick up the messages. Yep, the auto center's left me TWO in the past hour. I call them back. The diagnosis is the alternator is dead and the belt's been chewed by wild animals that apparently live under the hood of the car when my dad isn't using it. Cost? $395, plus the $49.50 diagnostic. The good news is that they'll have it ready by the time we are back from Seattle. I tell them to give me about ten minutes and let me confirm that I have the funds available.

Now, I get to call hubby. I had told him last night, "I am running to Seattle to take cousin to his appointment for his passport." He looks at me and says, "That's nice of you. How come you are involved?" I reply with one word, "Mom." He says, "Oh, okay. How much is this costing us?" I say, "Nothing," and when he raises an eyebrow I add, "Really, nothing! Dad's letting us use his Jimmy, it's more comfortable for four to sit in and cousin's paying for the gas." He looks slightly amused and then slightly bemused. "Okay, but try not to spend too much. We really have quite a few coming for Thanksgiving this year. We aren't sure where things stand with finances quite yet, just be careful." I reply, "I will, you know me." He muttered something, I chose not to ask for a clarification.

Now the call to hubby. "Hi dear, did you catch anything?" He went out on a seafood expedition with some friends. "Yeah, 12 crab and we are headed out for clams pretty soon, how is your trip going?" I could hem and haw but this is like a band aid, you just got to rip it off fast and without thinking about it. I blab out the whole of the morning and the costs, so far, including the car rental. There was silence. "Who's card did this go on?" he softly asks. "I could tell you Kaden's but I don't think you'd go for that," I reply. The phone sighs, and sighs again and then again.

"Wait a minute and let me check to see if those prices are right." He calls back five minutes later. "Those prices for the parts and labor sound pretty close to what we would pay down here plus you'll have it done tonight, we'd have to wait about a week down here. Have it done." I thank him and my lucky stars. Call up the auto center and they start working on my dad's Jimmy.

An hour later cousin comes down without a passport. A child support debt that was supposedly all cleared up still has a stop order on his passport. No passport, even if he can possibly get a court document by next Monday showing that support is current, the passport office needs 10 days to clear. Cousin's non-refundable, non-transferable ticket is for the following Wednesday, five days from now. My head starts throbbing.

We leave downtown Seattle, headed south, at 4 pm. Uh-huh, 4 pm on a Friday! We reach Lakewood at 5:45 pm. My knuckles are white, lips pinched, jaws clenched, new lines etched into my forehead. Are we having fun yet???

The Jimmy is ready when we get to it and is running great. We leave the rental there and I am DONE being in traffic. My cousin sees a steak house and we all decide we are hungry for steak. That was, literally, another 40 minute adventure as we tried circling that blankity-blank-blank block in the traffic, to find the right lane to get us into the parking lot and once there to find a parking space because it was connected to a cacino. USUALLY when an eatery is connected to a casino the meals are moderately priced. HAHAHA! I wanted to leave when we got our menus. My YOUNG cousin was too embarassed, my mom too hungry and grandson was NOT getting back in a vehicle without a good stretch for atleast an hour. We paid $135 for dinner, plus tip. SOB, sob, sob.

Finally, we leave Lakewood at 8:15 and only had two more stops for leg stretches, rest stops and gas. We got home at about 11:55 pm after witnessing two cars try to run one another off the road in the worst case of road rage I have ever been an eye witnesses to and had another car erupt in a black cloud of smoke right next to us. I dragged myself into the house and stared at the emails which had piled up during the last 12 hours.

Story after story waiting to be written. Next week's appointments nicely falling into place (yeah, some real nice luncheons with great people) and a few yeses for interviews. But all I can really think about is how much money I spent on this "quick jaunt" to Seatte for something that I wasn't even supposedly a part of. Sigh, I hate vehicles, and cell phones, but see computer, nothing nasty about you! I love you! You are a wonderful and reliable computer. Be nice to mama! Be nice!

Man, don't I have a great husband?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Oh October Oh 8, Oh my

Oh my gosh, this week has been a roller coaster. This beautiful woman is our little girl who all of a sudden turned into a lady, said "I love him" and walked away from our home into his arms. And he is an officer and a gentleman and it took us all, gaspingly, completely, by surprise.

I think you could pretty much ask just about anyone who knows our Memers if she is the type to do this and it would be a definative "No!" On the other hand if you asked any of us how she was going to fall in love or who she was going to fall in love with none of us would have an answer for you, either. Ryan is a perfect match for her. They are both very conservative, yet in different ways so they balance one another. They are both compassionate, yet over and about different things. They respect one another immensely. She loves the fact that he adores his mother. He loves the fact that she adores her family. We love that about both of them.

The day before their wedding he found out that the cabin at Camp Rilea where the wedding and reception was going to take place had been taken over for a generals' meeting and instead of getting into it at 10 am Sunday morning to decorate for the 2 pm wedding we wouldn't be able to get in until 12 or 12:30 pm!!! The first thing Ryan did was gently but firmly forbid anyone to tell Aimee about it. This was to be her day and NOTHING was to stress her out. Next, he started making phone calls, and kept calling until he made it perfectly clear that he didn't care who it was who was trying to cork him out of the cabin it was his, he had reserved it and he was moving his wedding party in at 10 AM to get ready for his wedding. Aimee didn't find out until Monday what had happened.

Of course, there wasn't much anyone could do about our aunty dying. Some, in the end, just were too emotionally drained to make it to Aimee's wedding. She was totally fine about it, because that is how she is. She doesn't see herself as being the center of the world or even a small peice of the world which is why seeing her as the center of Ryan's world is such a joy for those of us who love her. And seeing her light up when he looks at her is such a wonder. Something one takes for granted in others but had never, ever seen in our serious Memes. She never had even a casual boyfriend. Didn't believe in dating unless you were thinking of marrying. You "hung out" with a group unless you felt like the person was someone you wanted to consider for lifetime partner. If you thought of them that way you worked with them on projects you enjoyed, and some you didn't so much, to see how they handled themselves. And only then did you consider going on a "date" with them. You can guess how many didn't pass the first few prerequisites!

I am in meltdown mode right now. Between sobbing at memorial services and graveside ceremonies and tears of joy at the wedding and reception as well as preparations for all of everything and driving to Hood River and Portland and all points in between I am utterly exhausted mentally, physically and emotionally. The month started out with a convention being planned for 400 and only 100 showing up (but plans still had to be made accordingly) and ending with the wedding, a funeral and a vacation (ha) stuck in between and I am really and truly ready for a REAL vacation. Do I get one? Nope. I am, instead, filling out grant forms (yep, another project) and gearing up for the November-December season of madness.

I think, though, I have learned something with the passing of aunty. I think, this year, this season cards will be going out. A few written every day. She is not here to do that. We will all miss that so very, very much. Her little cards and notes that just said she cared. Oh, damn. Even with all of the joy of the wedding and the knowledge that she would have died a much more painful death if she had lived this next year out, it hurts to know she is really and truly gone.

Oh, October '08, one month we will remember in this family for many years to come.

Friday, October 17, 2008


It was so beautiful at Twin Lakes. Peacefully, blissfully, quiet. Our vacation together was supposed to have been for 10 days but life happens and we got exactly half that. Hubby got to finish out the trip here with his sister, brother and brother-in-law which was nice for him. He got some good fishing in and a lot of much needed rest after working a couple of 12 and 16 hour days on 5/7 and 6/7 weeks. We did not get to go out in the canoe which we had hoped to do on Monday. Instead, I was headed home on the Greyhound.

Its funny that we live in the woods, yet when we take a vacation we retreat further into the woods. Often, we have taken just sleeping bags and tents and gone as far in and away as one can go. There is something healing and refreshing about lying on the ground, gazing into a campfire or bobbing along in a stream. Crickets, frogs, various birds and the chirping of the chipmunks as they warn one and all that there's a blundering, big foot crashing through the underbrush.

I come home to a household in partial mourning for my mother's sister, partial chaos trying to pull together my middle daughter's wedding, and partially battling the flu -which everyone had neglected to tell me would be waiting to pounce the moment I was picked up from the Greyhound "station". Since when did they change the Greyhound Station from the convenient place of the Kelso trainstation to Longview's Holt's Market? My mom, dad and grandson are waiting at the train station to pick me up and I am waiting at Holt's Market to be picked up at 7:00 pm after riding the bus since 10:30 am. Fun city. How did we even handle that kind of crap before cell phones? Even with cells it's hectic enough.

After playing phone tag with my mother and then my father, FINALLY one of them answers their cell. Maybe my grandson showed them where the phone was. Why is it when you are in a small space with the dang thing you can't pin down where the ring is coming from? I have to frisk myself when my phone rings because I can't remember where I put it. The most convenient place for me to have it when my jacket pocket isn't available is, well yeah, its in my bra. However, it can be verrrrry embarassing for it to ring when it is there and you are talking to someone or, even worse, if you have forgotten you put it there and you are in the middle of an interview. Sigh.

So, I get back home to comfort my mother and, basically, take over the homefront so that she can be on the phone 24/7 to family all over the globe and I am assaulted with the flu bug. I thought that since I got home I would at least be able to do some articles for NCO, but nope. The most I have been able to do is post a couple of media releases before hacking up a lung and sneezing out a few more brain cells. I have two sweaters for two grandsons halfway knitted and have thrown myself five pity parties which have been attended by myself, my grandson and an assortment of his stuffed animals.

My head feels as if I have stuffed it full of cotton and my eyeballs feel like I have used the cotton to dry them off. Obviously I am not operating at my optimum and now is when my grandson choses to talk philosophy with me. "Who lives in those houses," he asks as we look at pictures hubby and I took when we were in Haifa. "Those aren't houses those are shrines," I tell him. "Does God live in that one?" he asks. "No," I tell him, "that's where 'Abdu'l-Baha is buried."

"What," he shouts, "He died? Does anybody know?" I start to laugh but see he is dead serious. "Yes, everyone knows, honey." He shakes his head, "I didn't know it. How come I talk to him if he's dead?" I tell him, "You can hear and understand more once your soul leaves your body so 'Abdu'l-Baha can hear everyone now that he doesn't have a body to restrict him." Thinking that by talking about things in a practical and adult like fashion he will grow bored and, basically, leave me alone so I can groan and sneeze. Instead, his eyes well up in tears, "My soul's going to leave my body and go away?" Not thinking I answer, "Well, yeah, everyone dies." And he let out such a howl I just about peed my pants!

"Wait, wait don't cry, baby, its going to be in a real long time!" I say, as I snatch him up and cuddle him. He's not having any of that. He pushes against my chest, "But I don't want to EVER die." Thinking desperately through layers and layers of cotton balls I finally find what I am looking for. "Remember the story about the caterpillar?" I ask him. "Uh-huh," he whimpers. "He ated until his tummy hurt and then he made a 'coon and turned into a butterfly." It is one of his favorite books and we had even got a caterpillar which he has named "Johnson" (I've no idea why) so we can watch the process.

"Do you remember what happens, though, to the part that looks like a caterpillar?" I ask him. He stops sniffling to think. "The butterfly just came out of it, it just was gone." This time I watch him closely to see how much more I can say or should say. "Was the caterpillar dead or did he just become something more?" I ask. "He's something more," grandson said with a smile. "Now, he can fly and he's prettier and he can see more." Okay, this is good, he's not crying any more. "That's sort of like our souls. First we are in this body and then when it is time for us to fly we won't need this body anymore and we will leave it behind." Tears start to fall again.

"I don't want my soul to leave me," my grandson says. A little three year old who has listened to the Narnia series and Pullman's His Dark Materials along with his prayers and listening to his Papa read the children's version of the Dawn Breakers. Too deep for my muddled head. "Honey, you are your soul. Your soul cannot leave you. You are like the butterfly. You use your body. You will always be you." He stops crying and hugs me. We rock back and forth for a while. I think he's going to go to sleep. My headache is finally subsiding. It is finally quiet. "'Bicka?" he whisppers, "little kids never die, do they?" I wonder what hubby is doing right at that moment and long to retreat into the woods. I answer my grandson.

Sister-in-law Janice w/hubby Jim, out on the lake

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Penury for your thoughts

Poverty (also called penury) is deprivation of common necessities that determine the quality of life, including food, clothing, shelter and safe drinking water, and may also include the deprivation of opportunities to learn, to obtain better employment to escape poverty, and/or to enjoy the respect of fellow citizens. According to Mollie Orshansky who developed the poverty measurements used by the U.S. government, "to be poor is to be deprived of those goods and services and pleasures which others around us take for granted." This, according to wikipedia, is a pretty fair definition of poverty but one wonders how the way that definition looks may change in the near future.

Don't we assume that poverty in the United States means you can't provide for yourself and must have help to put a roof over your head or food on your table. Financially you are unable to to take care of yourself or your family. But is that really poverty? It is "poverty level" but don't most of us have the opportunity to learn so we can obtain better employment and "escape" poverty?

As our economy spirals downward worldwide, what will poverty look like? Will street after street of $500,000 homes stand empty as more of us turn to shopping carts as our only means of affordable housing and travel? Will "common necessity" no longer mean a roof over our heads but a shopping basket to keep our meager possessions in? Will an education protect our jobs? Find us new jobs when businesses go bankrupt?

Worldwide, approximately 25,000 people die every single day of starvation or other poverty related causes. In September 2000, the 189 countries of the United Nations unanimously agreed to “spare no effort to free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty,” specifically hunger and the “major diseases that afflict humanity.” They agreed to commit .7% of their national income. That's 7/10ths of one percent of each $100 that we make, world wide for a total of $195 billion a year. Of the 22 of the world’s wealthiest countries that agreed to commit to 7/10ths of one percent the United States is in last place towards accomplishing their commitment.

Norway, Sweden, Luxemborg, Denmark and the Netherlands have all reached their goals contributing over 80 cents per one hundred dollars of income. The United States is tied with Greece in contributing a total of 16 cents per 100 hundred dollars of income.

What will tomorrow bring? As we bail out institution after institution we watch as only the very rich are helped and still the stock markets fall lower and lower and no one on main street is being helped. I can't help but wonder if those who are our "leaders" are working for "us" or against "us." Maybe, I am the one that is confused? Maybe, I don't understand who "us" is.

Poverty. What it looks like today and what will it look like by the end of 2008? Who is truthfully telling us? Today is blog action day.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

On the Roof

Terrill Laura, front on the right. My mother, Jerry Roberta, front on left, Beryl Verdeen on the left in the back row and Dale Lemuel on the right, back row.

Our aunty died Sunday. I received a text message to call home, using the emergency code. Sadness enveloped the extended family, first in ripples starting before 5 am, and then in waves as each part of the planet woke up. Each and everyone of us sobbed, "Not Teri!" My vacation was over as I hopped a greyhound home.

At four am Sunday morning my aunt moaned and said to my uncle, "Oh Jim, I hurt so much," and then she died in his arms in their little beach house on the banks of the Necanicum River in Seaside. She was 66 years old, the longest living kidney transplant recipient in Oregon. My mother gave her one of her kidneys in 1980.

We just recently found out that the kidney my mother gave was beginning to fail, but no one expected her to die just yet. She had an appointment to see her doctor about when she would have to start dialysis. They think she died of an aneurysm or blood clot in her heart.

My mother drew the short straw to call my uncle in the DR. She called the only phone number in El Llano de las Pinas that she had. A neighbor's by the name of Mercedes, who ran joyfully down the street to tell Dale he had a phone call from the Americanos. My mother heard a houseful of joyful people calling to one another that Roberta, the Americano, was on the phone. My uncle came on, laughing and asking what was so important that my mother couldn't just email him "Its Terrill Laurel, she's gone, Dale, sister's gone." He wailed. My little uncle who thinks tears are silly, living in the land of hystrionics, wailed and all around him the Dominicans joined in as he told them in Spanglish why he grieved.

How we envy him. We, who sit here in the northern clime and let the tears run down our cheeks and silently brush them away. My mother said it was good to hear them howl and wail, they who hardly knew her sister but knew the sorrow of losing loved ones know how to grieve with all their heart. We let it out in little spurts and ask to be excused for our tears. "Pardon me, I've just lost a loved one" as tears stream down our face for no apparent reason as we stand in the grocery line. "I'm sorry, I have no idea what you just said, someone that I love has just died" we mumble, as we look blankly at the checker who is waiting expectantly for the debit card to be slid through the machine.

We press our lips tightly together, shake our heads and squeeze our eyes shut. We pat arms and tell one another that it will be alright. Why can't we be like the Dominicans? Why can't we be more Irish? We can't we just wail and wail and wail until all of our breath is gone? Just all sit down all together, all at once and let out a long howl? The waves continued, my sister calling a brother in Japan and another sister in Hawaii, my uncle called his son on a fishing boat out at sea. Calls inland as far as Indiana.

This was the aunty that encouraged us to skinny dip. She liked hinneys and taught us funny songs. She was the aunty that you called when you just needed to vent, but you never, ever, swore in front of. If she didn't like what you were doing she would tell you about it, but only you, she never, ever gossiped about you or anyone else. She was the peacemaker. If you ever called to complain to her she would listen but she would always ask that you look at it from the other person's point of view. She hated conflict, especially in the family. I think we all broke her heart at one time or another but she never held a grudge that I knew about.

She gave me a ring with a peridot in it for my high school graduation. I used that ring for a wedding ring the first time around and one day I looked down and the stone was gone. Shortly after that I knew my marriage was over. She also let me borrow her set of pearls which #4 stole from my jewelry box. Somehow or another aunty found out that I had lost them and #4 had them and #4 ended up with a pearl necklace out of the deal and aunty got her pearls back. I ended up with egg on my face! I am sure #4 will correct this version of the story :).

Aunty had two sons who she was very proud of and four grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Each of her sons knew they were her favorite just as each of us neices and nephews secretly knows, in our heart of hearts, that we were her favorite. She did that to us. You knew you mattered to her, that you were very special to her. You knew she missed you when you didn't call and not in that naggy way that you "owe" her a phone call but in that real missed way, like because she hasn't heard from you a little piece of her day/week/month wasn't quite complete because she loved you that much. Where she got that kind of energy I will never know.

Aunty and uncle were supposed to have gone over to visit with their friends, Jim and Diana, on Sunday and uncle had to call and cancel that appointment. He told Jim to find a way to break it to Diana gently. Jim hollered to Diana that Terrill had died and Diana began to wail. Uncle says it was actually the first time he got to chuckle because he thought, "Will, hell, I could have broke it to her like that!" But that is how each of us reacted to the news. With a wail, "Not Terrill, not Teri, not aunty!"

And this grand lady wants no services! She saw the costs that went out for her parents' funerals and she was appalled. She saw the grief of the funerals and thought by avoiding the funeral she could avoid the grief for us. She asked to be cremated and placed in the same plot as her mother-in-law with the absolute minimum expense. And we all wailed, again. This thoughtful, caring, kind and considerate person forgot one thing, this isn't really about her it is about us and how can we go on without stopping a moment to say good-bye? Without giving her due regard and a royal send off?

In Hood River she is known to hundreds of people as the hair stylist of the stars. She did the hair of many windsurfers as well as pro ball players and a few other well-knowns. Yet, she would treat one of the gals brought in from the local senior citizen centers as if they were from Hollywood. Many a person used her chair as a psychiatrist couch and some as a confessional. All of their secrets she kept and literally took to the grave with her. She loved her job because she loved people and her clientele reflected it. Hood River not give their prized hair dresser a send off? She had better think again!

Should we cry for days, weeks and months seperately and alone, trying to ignore our pain? Or, do we come together and give it one good cry with as many good memories shared that our pain naturally dissolves, tears of sadness mingling with tears of laughter? Although our aunty was right so often I think in this matter she was wrong. In her humbleness she probably had no idea what an impact she had on so many lives. She never retired, her drugs that she had to take to keep her kidney going cost so much money she had to keep working, as did my uncle. Her doctor told her that he wouldn't retire until she did and when my uncle called him on Sunday to tell him he could finally retire he wept. For Teri, he would have gladly worked for another twenty years.

To Aunty Bubbles, Aunty Teri, Terrill Laura, Trinket, Trinky our peacemaker, our cheerleader, the holder of the family silver and crystal punch bowl, our etiquett guide and moral compass, we salute you and will try to be proper when the situation calls for it and skinny dip when the opportunity affords it. We promise to sit down together at dinners as a family, and we know that whenever we buckle up in the car and start our round of car songs you will be with us, singing out loud and strong the silliest of car songs:

Oh, I wish I were a bottle of pop, bottle of pop. Oh, I wish I were a bottle of pop, bottle of pop. I'd go down with a slurp and come up with a burp oh I wish I were a bottle of pop, bottle of pop!
Oh, I wish I were a bar of soap, bar of soap. Oh, I wish I were a bar of soap, bar of soap. I'd go slipp'in and a slid'in down everyone's hinney oh I wish I were a bar of soap, bar of soap!
Oh, I wish I were a fishy in the brook, in the brook. Oh I wish I were a fishy in the brook, in the brook. I'd go swimming in my nudie without my bathing suity oh I wish I were a fishy in the brook, in the brook!

She joins her parents Roy & Beatrice Woods.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

No ticket, no island

My father and my grandson have such a unique relationship. It is quite amusing to watch. This 69 year old man and three year old man-to-be, both with vivid imaginations, fighting, intensely, over an imaginary object.

My father has introduced my grandson to "Doughboy land." I have no idea why we dubbed this patch of hemlock "Doughboy land" it is long lost in the annals of family lore. Maybe #4 can chime in with where the name came from. No matter how hard it rains it used to be dry in Doughboy land, the trees grew so close together. Last December's storm took many trees out, rain now hits the needled floor, new shrubs are growing, but for the most part it is still a haven for play even during a rain storm.

Great grandson and great-grandfather take their daily walk through this grove as we watch through the drizzle from the safety of the gazeebo. They stop and consult. Grandson hands Grandfather something, pinching the fingers of his right hand together and cupping his left hand underneath. Grandfather receives the object in the same manner, taking the object by pinching the fingers of his right hand together and cupping his hands underneath. They both appear to have the object now. Grandson asks a question, Grandfather shakes his head no. Grandson nods his head, violently. Grandfather shakes his head no, violently. Grandson yanks on the object, hard. Grandfather yanks back. Grandson falls forward a little because Grandfather has yanked so hard. Grandson frowns and yanks harder. Grandfather lets go and grandson almost topples over. Grandson then throws the object on the ground. Grandfather reaches down and picks the object up and starts to put them on his feet, one by one. We cannot see the object. The object only exists in their imaginations!

They were "fighting" over a pair of lava boots! Grandson insisted that Grandfather didn't have any and had to agree to certain conditions before he could get his! Grandfather had refused the deal so Grandson threw the boots down in disgust. I asked my dad why he didn't just go to the fake store and buy himself a new pair of fake lava boots? He said the stor wasn't opened.

Yesterday they took another walk in the woods. It was a very short trip. Grandfather came back first, laughing. This time, he said, Grandson pushed past him and ran to the mound in the middle of the grove and then told Grandfather to wait.

Grandson, "You need a ticket to come here. No ticket, no island! "
Grandfather, searching through pockets and then producing an imaginary ticket, "Here you go!"
Grandson, taking imaginary ticket examines first one side, then flips it over and looks at the other side, "I'm sorry, this is not a ticket to this island."
Grandfather, "It isn't? What is it a ticket for, then?"
Grandson, handing imaginary ticket back to Grandfather, "I have no idea, I've never seen anything like it in my life!"
Grandfather, taking imaginary ticket, "It doesn't go to any of these islands?"
Grandson, "Nope, none of them. I've never seen a ticket like that one. Sorry, you just can't use it here. Bye!"

Grandfather put it in his pocket. He actually reached into his pocket to pull the ticket out so that he could tell me the story!

Sometimes, I worry about the two of them.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Helpful forms everyone should have

I do like organization, even though I do not always subscribe to it myself. I like the IDEA that there is a spot for everything and everything should be in its place. I like the idea that I should have a personal secretary and a maid, as well. What I do have is my mother. What my children have is me. We all have the same complaint. Our personal secretaries and maids are flippant, talk back, rarely do as asked and always change where we want our things to be. As a consequence we are super organized in the field.

The organizations we chose to work for and volunteer for have their files referenced and cross referenced. We have everything in notebooks, on file cards and in zip lock baggies. We can find anything and everything has been archived. We can tell you where the receipt for the pens bought for the convention in 1999 can be found or where the template for the signs for the marathon in 2003 is kept. Ask us when our middle child's birthday is? Our mind is blank. We really and actually do have a friend of the family who keeps all important dates for us. She knows all of our birthdays, has all of our addresses and phone numbers. We call her when we need to know something about our family. I think she is one of the top people we all pray for every day and probably the only birthday we all remember!

In keeping with organizing the world around us I feel it incumbent that I should remind everyone that they should be keeping a health notebook near their phone, or some other convenient location. If something should happen to a family member you should be able to grab this notebook on the fly and head to the ER room.

While these forms were made by Parkinson's Center of Oregon, they can be adapted for anyone. There are emergency contact forms, medication forms, event forms (any recent falls, etc.), health concern forms, as well as forms for medical releases, advanced directives, and medical power of attorney. These are things you don't want to be making a decision on in the midst of a medical crisis. No matter whether you are in a huge family surrounded by parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, or just you and a significant other, the more documentation you have completed ahead of time and the smoother the administrative side is , leaves you with more energy to deal with the real crisis.

The contact form is for the information of the individual. It also has a place for the primary doctor's name, any specialists that can/should be contacted, primary and secondary insurances (remember to photocopy your insurance card and put it in a sheet protector here with this page). Also on this form is room for contact information regarding who else should be contacted in cases of emergency: your medical power of attorney, a parent or guardian, a grandparent, lawyer, etc.

fill this out for each member of your family! So many are in second marriages and children may have different primary and secondary insurances. It is nice, if in the midst of an emergency, you can just whip out that piece of paper with all of the correct info on it. Also, if your child has an ongoing childcare situation a copy of a waiver giving that person specific rights for medical emergencies should be located in this notebook.

The medical history form is a handy one to have extra copies of that you can just hand out when going to a new doctor. It is also a good form for the emergency room so that an ER doctor or nurse knows what condition the patient was in before the incident. When updated periodically it can give you an idea of how you are doing overall, especially if you are dealing with a chronic health concern.

A current medication list is very important on any trip to a medical facility or even the pharmacy. You want to make sure that everything being taken is working together, and especially that no toxic combinations are occurring. Many herbal, mineral and even vitamins should not be taken with one another and many can not be taken at the same time that certain synthetic drugs are taken. Doing so can either cause the drug to be ineffective or even have an adverse effect. A complete list of all meds and supplements is crucial to a doctor and a pharmacist.

Also, a prescription diary is important for chronic health concerns so that you can chart how the medication is making you feel. Whether it be a simple case of determining whether or not to use hormone therapy or use herbal supplements, going on anecdotal memories of how you felt two months ago when using synthetic drugs compared to how you feel now using an herbal/mineral combination is not really the best way to determine something as important as your health and emotional well-being. Much more so when you are comparing different types of synthetics or trying to determine the proper dosages.

This event diary is important as well. You may not be conscious of how often you or a loved one is having small, minor, events. Once you start recording them you may well see a pattern that will help you prevent a major accident from happening. You may see that small events center on a certain period of the day which could mean medication is wearing off and a shift in when meds are taken needs to take place. Or events happen in a certain area of the house and extra safety cautions need to be taken there. Extra lights need to be added, a handrail needs to be put in or rugs taken out. Suddenly, things become easier around the house.

This is an advanced directive. Read the whole document. You can chose which parts you want to sign. It also has a place to appoint a health care representative. You do not have to have an advanced directive, but if you have a chronic illness that may hospitalize you in the final stages you may wish to consider one. Also, a grim reality is that we never know when any of us will be in an accident that renders us in need of one of these. You should have a copy of this in your notebook, give one to your attorney and your hospital and primary doctor should also have a copy.

This medical power of attorney is similar to the form contained in the advanced directive for an appointment of a health care representative. You can be very specific on this form as to the power you are giving the person. If you do not understand it, or any document which has to do with your rights, take it to an attorney.

It is really too bad that in Oregon paralegals do not have a legal right to help us with simple things such as the above.

Many of the above forms can be found at the Parkinson's Center of Oregon's helpful forms page.

Dang! Stupid Ducks just lost to stupid Boise State Broncos. Great, guess the dinner conversation here!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Busy, busy, busy

SO much to do and little time to do it in!

Convention in three weeks. We have most of the details mapped out. In between doing convention work I have been helping to plan the wedding for our third youngest daughter with the same people who are helping to plan the convention. I truly hope we are not confusing any details!

On top of that I am planning something else. A truly awesome something else that is making my heart thump so fast I think I am having a heart attack and makes me think I am insane, but at the same time is thrilling.

And then there is actually doing some reporting, investigating, researching and coming upon some astonishing finds all the while ignoring the pressing interviews that I have been promising to get to when life will just slow down a little tiny bit so that I can get to them.

Each thing that I am doing is so utterly fascinating that I get a bit annoyed when another facet of my life encroaches in on it. I love convention. I love the time of year it is as it prepares us for the holiday season that for my family stretches from Oct 20th to May. Literally every month has a holiday in it, October on out. October starts with convention. When we don't host it, we can go and come back. This year, we run it. Then the rest of the month. October 20th the Birth of the Bab, a big celebration for us and then Halloween, minor but we already have a of decorations for it. Nov 12, Birth of Baha'u'llah, another big one. Then, Thanksgiving followed by the Day of the Covenant and the Ascension of 'Abdu'l-Baha, all in November. December, in our family we acknowledge the celebration of Christmas and decorate for Chanuka and Kwanza as well. We have Christmas Eve with friends and a potluck and a rousing game of "Alliance White Elephant" gift exchange.

In January we do New Years and with the sports fanatics here I have to admit they do "celebrate" Super Bowl Sunday. February sees the beginning of Ayyam-i-Ha and March brings in the Fast and ends it with Naw Ruz, our New Years. April has two Holy days, the First and Third days of Ridvan, and May has three, the Third day of Ridvan, the Declaration of the Bab and the Ascension of Baha'u'llah. And then, nothing until July.

Whenever I am sitting "still" I am knitting, for gifts, for the various holidays and holy days. Forget birthdays and anniversaries, at least I always do as my husband so kindly reminds me. Interspersed with all of this is the monthly Parkinson's support group meetings, the monthly Spiritual Assembly meetings, the quarterly Cluster Coordinator meetings, the weekly study circles, and I do believe that at sometime my husband and I instituted a mandatory "date night". I think we forgot to state that it must be with one another, alone, with no discussion of work, children or community affairs because I can't remember when we did just that.

In a few weeks hubby and I are to spend 10 glorious days in the "wild" of eastern Oregon. Not alone. In a one room cabin. With his sister and her hubby. And his brother and his son in an RV parked near by. But, we will have bikes and a canoe. And we will have the outdoors. And we will not have children. And I won't believe it until the fifth day we are there.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Coffee beans on conferences!

I am on the planning committee for our electoral unit convention. I love convention. I loved it when it was one statewide weekend long convention but now we have grown too large and are broken down into smaller units of approx 450-500 Baha'is per unit. Which means the Portland area has about three or four units and we, who used to be a part of Washington County North's unit 162, are now part of unit 159 which is comprised of Clatsop, Tillamook, Marion, Benton, Linn, Deschutes, Crook, Jefferson, and Polk counties. Sort of a large, wide "v" or inverted "j".

In looking for a central location for our convention the concern is fuel costs. Who is going to travel how far for this convention? In asking for prices for rentals on convention spaces one of the most galling things to me is how many require to you to use their catering service and the price that is charged for coffee! All we want are coffee and tea urns set up at the back of the conference room so people can fill their own cups as the meeting goes on. So far, thats a no-no! Each conference center wants to put carafes on the table and charge $8 per carafe that provides 6-8 servings! At a conference that will have probably 150 (maybe 200 at best) in attendance! After the initial charge of $1200 for the facility!

This is aggravating! I am talking about such venues as Chemeketa Community College, the State Fairgrounds, County fairgrounds, as well as hotels/motels! At least with the hotels/motels we can get a cut price on the rooms and people start off with a continental breakfast. Here is an ideal way for a community college to make extra money in rooms sitting empty on the weekend, yet they are locked in with a catering contract. And forget about a snack with that coffee! Eighty-five cents per COOKIE! Absolutely NO outside food allowed!

We are not running on panic mode, yet. Just aggravation mode. I am simply appalled at what should be nominal charges, or even a part of the package, that one can get dinged for. The state fairgrounds have excellent rental fees on the facilities. Then they charge $30 per outlet used, $1.25 per chair used and $10 per table used plus require a $200 set-up fee and you are not allowed to set-up yourself.

It is almost like opening up your phone bill. There's the nominal $14.99 fee for your phone line and then .... when they get done your bill is $35.00 and you don't have a single additional benefit. Forget the cable bill.

Sigh, back to internet conference shopping!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Tenuous Connections of humanity

According to an August 3, 2008, article in the UK Guardian the theory regarding six degrees of separation away from any other person on the planet has been proven true, almost. In actuality it is closer to seven, with the precise number being 6.6 after researchers at Microsoft studied records of 30 billion electronic conversations among 180 million people in various countries.

"Eric Horvitz and fellow researcher Jure Leskovec considered two people to be acquaintances if they had sent one another a message. They looked at the minimum chain lengths it would take to connect 180 billion different pairs of users in the database. They found that the average length was 6.6 hops, and that 78 per cent of the pairs could be connected in seven steps or fewer. But some were separated by as many as 29 steps."

So much for privacy, but that wasn't guaranteed by Microsoft's Messenger™ was it?

It makes me chuckle at last year's big headline in a local paper where they took five degrees to connect a local county commissioner (that the paper's owner/editor had taken a dislike against) to someone who contributed $4,000 to a campaign and the commissioner had said he didn't know the person. The contributor ended up being his second wife's daughter's second husband's oldest brother's (older by 17 years) either girl friend or tenant. The same paper later didn't print the fact that the same county commissioner's first wife had been the godmother of a person they supported for a seat on the commission, a mere one degree of separation but the paper couldn't seem to find that connection!

So how important are these connections? Don't businesses thrive on networking? Aren't employees encouraged to extend their networks, isn't a good portion of the spam we receive promising to help our home businesses grow by expanding our networks? What is Facebook™ all about? Without looking, can you name all the people in your address book? Would you be able to point them out in a line up? Do you know what is happening in their lives right this moment?

Why does it take a tragedy to make us realize how close we are? A plane crashes in Gearhart, and everyone reaches out to one another. Gearhart draws closer together, feuds, slights and hurt feelings forgotten as the realization that something can literally fall out of the sky and end anyone's tomorrow. The December storm, where each leader of each nook and cranny of the county not only stepped up to the plate but actually stepped back from the microphone and allowed one voice to speak for (and to) everyone, while they quietly went about doing their jobs. No horn tooting, no "look at me", no grandstanding by the locals. A few out of the areas politico s showed up later for their media shots but locally we stood by one another. That was amazing. We held hands.

All too soon it was over.

What leaves me perplexed is how can we allow war? Famine? Poverty? If everyone on the planet is just six steps away from us how can we turn our backs on one another? But we will and we do.

For me, when people ask "How can you believe in a God who allows such and such to happen" it is because of this. Even in celebration we rarely come together as we do when there is tragedy. Until we can learn how to come together in celebration as strongly as we come together in tragedy we will need the sadness of it. We are not, merely, a different species of animal that occasionally collides with one another. The orangutan in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia is never going to worry about the bonobos in the Democratic Republic of Congo. As wonderful as these unique creatures are, we are distinctly different. We are human, and that should mean something.

Two friends have brought me food for thought recently. Actually, four. I shared one the other day and today, the other three. We are all so very connected. Celebrating life should be done together as much as drawing on one another's strength in the time of tragedy. We should mourn for one another, but we should also remember one another in our moments of anger. It takes a strong person to remember that there is still a human being standing before them, in an argument, then painting devil horns on everyone who disagrees.

I look at the upcoming months with trepidation. Not for the outcome, but for what it will do to those determined to get their way no matter which connection is severed. I think that our community will be dramatically changed. I can but only hope, eventually, for the better. I fear not.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Random thoughts on 08-08-08

Eight-eight-oh eight, Beijing is celebrating, others are protesting. China chose this day on purpose, supposedly, because it is a lucky number. Having no superstition about numbers, merely a fondness for nine, I don't understand what the significance is behind eight. However, apparently , numerology has been around forever, and quite a few use it to plan their lives. Here are a few who do.

I do not fully understand gravitation and yet I do not pooh-pooh it, so I can not totally disdain numerology. I do think, however, that much like gravity, we do not understand it. We play at "interpreting" the numbers, but I always wonder at what point do, or did, the numbers start? Whose calendar are we using? It makes no sense to me to apply biblical prophecy to our calendar. Unless, just by doing so we are creating the climate in which the prophecy has no choice but to manifest itself.

If we are going to have self-fulfilling prophecies, why don't we create good ones? On 08-08-08 I am going to wake up and find that all is right in my world. I have paid all the bills on time, my vehicle is running well and full of fuel, my family members are all agreeing with one another and most importantly, of course, with me. My home will be clean, every person I speak to about an assignment I am on will answer me, fully and honestly. I will be thankful for the day.

That just reminded me of an email I received earlier today from someone whose friendship just snuck up on me. One of those where you put someone in one catagory and all of a sudden, in a delighted surprise, you notice they've slipped over to another and you don't even realize when it happened!

As I have written earlier, I am not overly fond of forwards or chains, however, those friends who do bother to send me one I don't grouse. I accept, read, sometimes delete. Sometimes I google and write back a warning that it is a complete hoax and don't bother becoming alarmed about snakes coming out of the toilet or spiders living in your ears. And sometimes, not so often, but sometimes, an email takes me off guard and can take my breath away.

While I had heard it before, quite awhile ago, it must have been time to hear it again. Once, for this one, isn't quite "enough." And I love it.

In a country of over consumption, in an age of let-me-have-it-now, when we all believe we deserve the most and the best as often as we desire it, I do believe we can considered ourselves blessed if we have "enough."

"I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish enough "Hello's" to get you through the final "Goodbye."

[Bob Perks, in Chicken Soup For the Grieving Soul]

I wish you one and all, family and friends who take the time to stop on by, enough.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My first real rant

You would think I would come back from vacation all rested and ready to work, but alas, not so. The sun out and who wants to be inside? I have discovered Nettle tablets worked so much better than any other hayfever drug out there, this time around, so no medicine head and I can be outdoors!

You would also think that being in the sunshine would not cause one to go on a rant, but I am ranting today. A real rant Guy & Auntie. Okay.

I am sick and tired of getting promotions in the mail that aren't intended for me. The ones from Charter Cable that say if you just start with them now you can have "the bundle" (phone, internet and cable) for $59.99 but all you losers who are already with us, you're paying $99, minimum. I wanted to add the phone to our existing cable and internet, I am on Vonnage now. I was told by customer service that it would be an additional $19.99 if I signed up now and that would be good for the next six months. Then it would go to the regular price of $35.99/month. I told the person Vonnage was $24.99 and was told Vonnage wasn't available in my area. I told them I was already on it. Dead silence.

An existing customer doesn't get any breaks.

I got a phone call from "unavailable" and answered it only because one or two state people call me and they always have "unavailable". It was a solicitor. And it irked me because they knew my name. It was on my cell phone. "I see that you are still using QWEST and wanted to let you know that ..." I interrupted, "Excuse me, I don't use QWEST, haven't for years." Dead silence. "We think we can offer you savings on your home phone."

My cell and home are listed on the registry of "Do not call" for solicitors. Sometimes when I am in a particularly ornery mood and my grandson is looking for new friends I put it on speaker phone and give it to him to talk to them. There's usually a short battle of, "Put your mother on, please, little boy," with him lisping, "Its not my mom, its my 'Bika" and the other end saying, "What, what?" and him repeating himself until one of them get bored and hanging up.

It boggles the mind how much junk mail comes with seven adults living in the same home, especially when we are also the mailing address for assorted relatives living out of the country, children who haven't changed their mailing addresses from home even after four or five years, friends of the family who live at sea and need a home base, etc. Most of my mail goes to my PO Box and even there Charter sends me invitations that don't apply to me.

"We finance anyone" no you don't. I know dozens of people you don't finance. WaMu's advertising, right after they screwed my father by losing his escrow account and two of his payments, "Move over to us, we care about our customers" this one not addressed to "occupant" but actually addressed to me. Jeeeez. Don't you at least have a computer program that says, "We screwed this family, maybe lay off sending them ads for a couple of months."

When I look at the postage on this junk mail it really drives me nuts. We will literally receive 7 advertisements from Citibank to our home and another three in the PO box in one day! How much money is going into that, how much waste! All of it goes into the trash, or the burn barrel. Waste!

Did I rant enough Auntie? Guy? My list could be longer, but it would be watered down. And of course, I have sat down for 15 minutes and suddenly everyone is surrounding me and talking to me. Why is it when men sit down for a few minutes no one bugs them. Women sit down and its like an open invitation for everyone to sit down and gripe, beg, bug, nudge, talk loudly, argue, fuss, whine, and poke you until you snap. Then its, "Gee whiz, what crawled up your ...? What's your problem? I haven't talked to you all day! Don't you have a even a minute for me?"

Whew! Will, what do you know, I did have one more rant in me. Now, I have to finish cleaning my bedroom. It has been so long since I have seen the bedroom floor I have forgotten what color the carpet is. Does it have a carpet? And there is black mold behind the dresser! Gross. Oh, yeah, let me tell you about living in the woods! Being in touch with nature is just so wonderful ...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Any woman's a lady who behaves that way

I saw this elegant, elderly, woman the other day. Beautifully flowing hair cut shoulder length, clipped back with gorgeous barrettes that matched her green eyes. I sighed. When will I grow up? When will I be a lady? With no scabs on my knees or elbows from hopping off counters because I can't reach the top shelf and bang a knee or elbow on the way down? No scrape marks on my razored shins from hastily shaved legs? No bright red cheeks from forgotten rouge not rubbed in? Eyebrow half plucked because it hurt too much? When does one "become" a lady?

Yesterday, I went to the Warrenton City Council meeting. It was long because they had to read an ordinance, complete with findings, as part of a process for LUBA. The rest of the reporters left, Jeff w/KAST having asked his questions during breaks but I wanted to ask a few questions of the city manager and a couple of the commissioners so I stuck around. The reading was already part of the packet so I got up to stretch my legs and went into the "ladies" room.

I washed my hands and fixed my hair and tossed the paper towel towards the trash can, which was lined with a black plastic bag billowing over the top, and missed by a hair. I went over to the trash can and hastily bent forward to snatch it up and "slam dunk" it but instead cracked my face on the steel can, splitting my lip open. Yeah, the plastic bag wasn't "billowing" over the top, it was right on the sharp, steel, edge.

I saw stars. Ran to the sink and blood was pooling. I pressed the toilet paper to my lip and sighed. Then started laughing until the tears ran, which of course turned my eyes black, which made me laugh all the harder. I fixed myself up as best I could and refused to look into the mirror again. Not that I am vain (although I am) nor think I am the center of attention, however at this point there are only three people in the audience. The city council would be blind not to notice that I was gone for fifteen minutes and came back with a fat lip and blackened eyes!

Okay, I am pretty sure I got the eyes under control, but the lip was puffing. I tried not to fidget with it. When the meeting was over and I talked to the city manager and the councilmen no one SEEMED to stare at my swelling lip. I honestly forgot about it as I was involved with the answers to my questions, leading to more questions and so forth. Then I got into "my" truck and took a quick peek into the mirror. WTF? What's the matter with my lip? An allergic reaction? I always have coughing and sneezing fits at council meetings but this is ridiculous! OOOH yeah! Crap! I hit my face.

I went home and stood in front of my husband. "Hi!" he casually glanced over, "Hi hon, home late?"
"Yeah" I just stare at him. He finally got the hint and looks at me. "What happened? Someone take a swing at you? Who did you interview, [so and so]?" I answer, "A garbage can."

'He hit you with a garbage can?" he asks in bemusement. No outrage, just curiosity. "You didn't tell him I was going to hit him back did you?" Okay, ONE TIME I told someone my husband was going to hit him, and it wasn't for me it was because the bully was picking on someone else AND my husband was standing nearby AND the bully was a biker wearing chains and sure wasn't taking me seriously. My husband had just come off work, was in his logging clothes and was standing with his logging buddies. I thought it was a smart threat. It obviously was because the biker quit picking on the person and bought my husband and his friends a round of drinks.

When I explained to my loving companion for life what had happened his lips twitched, eyes danced but mouth said, "I am so sorry! Man that must have hurt. I hardly noticed though, so probably no one else did." Yes, this is why I love him.

In January, 1907, the New York times ran an article with the headlines, "Any Woman's a Lady Who Behaves That Way". It went on to describe the problems that women dining alone had encountered in the nicer establishments of those times. The Waldorf said that it had always entertained "real" ladies. The Times reporter asked what criteria the Waldorf used to determine if a woman was a lady? Was it by dress, manner or accent? The management of Waldorf simply answered, "A lady, my good fellow, is a-um- a lady, hey?"

Delmonico's management said that one could tell a lady by the way she sat and the way she ordered. The manager of Knickerbocker said a lady, when she finds herself alone in a public establishment, immediately sits up and says to herself, "Hm! This is a place where I've got to behave myself!" Hehehehe! That one gets me. Like the women back then were running around crazy but suddenly pulled themselves together and "behaved" at proper moments and places only to go crazy again when the time or place afforded itself.

Sherry's said they received ladies who looked well and behaved well. Rectors said they allowed ladies but refused to define a lady. It is the Irish who came off the best. "Well, far be it from a man to discuss such a delicate matter. But when a lady comes in here, it is not for an Irishman to treat her otherwise."

Maybe I won't "become" a lady. Maybe, ladies are born and just "are." Maybe, some ladies have scabs on their knees or elbows. Maybe, some ladies are far sighted and should wear their pince-nez. Maybe, there are only ladies when there are gentlemen, and vice-versa, and that is as it should be.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


I broked my car. The idiot light came on as I drove up dump rode. I registered that fact. I filed it under, "Things to do, TODAY, get oil." And then, I closed the file drawer! Before completing the task! I didn't just slide the drawer closed, I slammed it so that it jammed. No way was that message going to come out again for at least a week, when the engine started going, "tic tic tic" and then I went, "sht, sht, sht!" and the car went hisssssssssssss hisssssssssss hissssssssssssss and it was all over. It quit. Died.

TJ's auto said, "$5400, new engine installed includes a warranty." I choked back a sob, not very effectively. We just paid the car off. No more full coverage. One less payment bogging us down. Where was I headed in such a hurry that I couldn't put in a quart of oil? Which meeting? Which interview? Who knows? Double rassinfrassin friggin crappinchippers.

My pretty little, gas efficient chevy malibu. Dead. I want a mulligan. I want that trip back up dump rode. Who invented stuuuupid cars in ways? I want a horse and buggy. Maybe just a cart and billy goat. DAMNIT. Now I am driving the farm truck that I can barely leap up into. My husband's, filled with half empty oil cans, crunchy bags of dried bait, what the heck is that green stuff behind the seat and of course I am not smoking in your precious baby. No honey, I am not making fun of your truck.

Yes dear, I am grateful I have a vehicle to drive. No, I am not annoyed that it sucks down gasoline faster than I drink a vanilla latte. It is lovely that it now costs me $8 for a round trip to a Jewell school board meeting, divine that a trip to Warrenton is a $5 adventure. I know you are sacrificing for my stupidity by bike riding to work and I love you for it. Why am I gritting my teeth? Because its the third time you have told me that this hour, dear heart, and my head hurts from where I keep banging it against the wall.

I do so very badly want a mulligan.

Anyone out there hear my scream?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sixth degree related to me?

With the chatter "again" about who is related to whom I must make a confession. I haven't the FOGGIEST idea who I am related to in Clatsop County, really, especially depending on how you count a relation. For that matter, even if you are only counting "blood" relations.

I remember in grade school coming home and telling my mother that a little girl named Anna Helmerson told me that we were cousins. My mother confirmed we were. On my father's side, through his first cousin's, my second cousin, marriage. Huh? How come I've never seen her before? Where's eight years' worth of Christmas and birthday gifts? Another kid told me we were cousins and his mom, who worked in the school cafeteria confirmed it! Who were these people? And where were all the missing gifts?

We had five kids in our family, I think we were one of the first families tossed off everyone's lists back in the sixties. My mother's sister, Dixie, had four kids (Owens) and those were the only cousins I really knew about. My dad's sister, Susan, had two kids that were six and eight years older than me (Orrs) and too old to play with so didn't quite count. The closest other cousins that lived in town (so I thought) were the Justin twins and they were older than the Orrs so they really didn't enter into my life until I was much older, and one other Bartoldus who was even older than them. Funny, I have older children than them all, and I have grandchildren first, too. Ummm. They got college educations first and had children in their thirties and I had children in my twenties and then completed my college education.

Anyhow, our other first cousins were out of towners (Stassens which were Seaside but moved to Hood River, Castles in Indiana, Woods lived in Dominican Republic came back to Astoria went back to DR but do now live back here, mostly) and second cousins by the scores. My mom's other siblings had children that we saw on occasion but they weren't locals so it wasn't like they started showing up out of the woodwork unexpectedly like those sneaky Bartoldus relatives. Plus, mom's family were Coasties. They moved here in the late forties/early fifties. They weren't locals.

Dad's family came in the 1860s, but they were Prussians. Not a drop of Scandinavian. Then I found out there were drops of Irish. And drops of English. And then drops of other a whole lot of other stuff!!! Cousins I had never heard of kept informing me, at school, that we were related! Grandma's had last names before they married grandpas, apparently, and no one had told me their stories! We were related to Faieres and Scruggs and Hardies and Helmersons and Heckards and Canarises but wait Mom's family were Coasties and not from around here! Oh, her mom's family were actually from Westport, and had moved over to Cathlamet and down to Long Beach and Ilwaco and over to Astoria and back up to Aberdeen and met up with the Woods.

And then in Astoria the Woods had met with the Owens who had met up with just about everyone in Astoria at one time or another and more than half of the time didn't marry them, and the Canarises weren't so keen on marraiges either, and that wasn't just recently but as early as the early 1900s!!! With the Owens came the Van Horns and a Bradley or two and so many more why start when you can't stop?

In high school one day my math lab partner and I were bored doing tic tac toe games, and we sure as heck didn't understand the algebra Mr. Scott had up on the board, so we were telling where our favorite places to camp were. I was telling about a spot which is now about fifty feet from where I presently live. I told him, "You go across the metal bridge and past the Bogh's house and then past the next house which is where," and just as I was going to say, "my grandma Mel lives," he says, "My uncle Cecil lives!" We both just looked at each other. "I am related to Larsons?" I questioned. "Mom never said we were related to Bartolduses" said Jim. I still have no idea how many came in on the Moberg deal.

So, who are you? Are you sure we aren't related? Where do you hail from? Are you a Satterwhite or a Rainey? Are you a Moberg, Reick or a Tenny? A Rummell or a LaFerrier, Tonnis, Haines, Detricks, or Miller? A Morrell, a Padgett, a Westerholme, or Ornellas? A Smith? A Jones? Forget about it, we are related. We told our children, do not date here. Do not think about a spouse if they have a relation here. Really, you should have a blood test done if they have a grandparent here or a great-aunt, we are related. Somehow, somewhere, sometime, some place, someone did it with someone else and we are related. Thank the good Lord the law only extends to first cousins or there would be a lot of people in big trouble in this county. And when you think about all the "free love" of the seventies (yeah, we were a decade behind around here) there probably is still a lot of people that could be in trouble!!!

Oh, calm down, fog bounders, I'm jist joshing you! Hardly any of us are related .... very much.