Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, OW! (ow, ow ....)

Last night I decided to finally decorate, because I thought my nephew was coming for Christmas. and Grandson kept asking where the Christmas tree was.  I go "upstairs" (aka, up the hill to our old house, which is a manufactured home sans kitchen that is now just a glorified storage unit) to search for the fake Christmas tree (no dry needles poking out of the carpet) and all the other decorations. Grandson comes with me. As I look for the decorations, he starts finding his old toys and comes across the megaphone (aka blow horn) that someone (Grams Jerry?) hid up there and begins playing with it, irritatingly LOUD.

He does get Hubby and Son's attention and they come over from Son's abode to bring a couple of boxes  of decorations "downstairs" for me, never to return for a second trip. I had driven the car up, because it was after dark and I knew there was a bunch of stuff to bring back "downstairs,". so I really wasn't all that upset that they hadn't stuck around. After they walk down the porch stairs, however, Hubby called back to me to be "very, very careful" because the porch stairs were slippery from rain and moss (aka sea weed?). He  cautions me "don't fall" when I leave and remember to use the handrail as I go down the stairs. "Yeah, yeah, yeah," I assure him. "I mean it!" he hollers as he and Son depart.

About fifteen minutes later I have collected the rest of what I want and close the door of the "upstairs" unit. I take one step off the porch, with my arms full of Christmas treasures, and just as I remember what Hubby said about slippery stairs my right leg slips backwards, going underneath the step, spilling me FORWARDS onto my face, and I tumble, face first, down five stairs, landing in a heap of shattered ornaments, lights, wrapping paper and dignity!

It happened so fast, yet it also seemed like slow motion. I threw as much stuff away from me as possible because I couldn't remember what I had and I didn't want anything stabbing me. I thought, "O MY GOD, I'm going to drill my teeth into my head!" So I quickly turned my head to one side and as I hit I thought, "shit, I just broke my jaw!" Then, I saw stars and my knee felt like I had popped the cap off of it and my face felt like it was on fire. I laid there for a moment and as the ringing subsided and my hearing returned, I heard Grandson on the blowhorn shrieking, "EMERGENCY! EMERGENCY! BABIKA JUST FELL DOWN THE STEPS! EMERGENCY! EMERGENCY! I THINK SHE'S DEAD!"

I let out a loud moan, so he would know I wasn't dead, and slowly rolled over, testing to see if anything was broken. As I am checking this out Grandson comes over, "You're not dead, 'Bika?"
"No," I croak out. Grandson looks disappointed.
"You ARE hurt though, right?" he questions.
"Yes," I whisper.

Oh, knock it off! He IS NOT a poor dear thing! He wanted to use the blow horn!  When I am finally able to discern that I have not broken any bones, nor am I leaking any fluids, nor is ANYONE listening to the "EMERGENCY WARNING SYSTEM" that keeps going off, I throw a rock at the kid and tell him to knock it off and come over and help me get up. He sighs, puts the blow horn down and comes over to me. He informs me that my mass it a bit too much for his little body to move. I look for a larger rock to throw.

After I am back on two feet Grandson helps me collect everything that has scattered, we load it into the car and drive back "downstairs" where we meet up with Hubby and Son driving in the driveway. They had gone for a quick drive to see how far down the road they could go and still see the new reflective markers Hubby had put out at the end of our driveway the night before. I groan as I get out of the car and hobble around to the other side to let Grandson out and get a few of the items collected from upstairs.

"What's your problem?" Son asks, motioning at my body's hunched appearance, and the new gimp in my step. I pull my hair back and he sees the long red welt on my face. Hubby says, "What happened to YOU? I tell him what happened and do you know what he said to me? Can you guess what this man, who SAYS he loves me, said to me, as I writhe in agony from FALLING ON MY FACE? He says to me, accusingly, mind you, as if I have committed an act of defiance, "I told you not to fall."

I'm looking for a lot bigger rock.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Shhh, don't bother me, I'm very busy

An alert came from all over that there is a storm gathering out over the Pacific and we should be prepared for gusts up to 90 miles per hour and sustained winds through Tuesday of 40-60 mph. I am giddy with happiness, as long as no one is hurt, no property damage, etc.... The generator's been primed and is full, 15 gallons in reserve. Propane for the backup heaters is ready. Food in the pantry, freezer stocked. Even an extra can of coffee bought. Ready as we ever will be to ride out another small gust up.

A storm that keeps all indoors and maybe knocks out the electricity and just sort of, you know, legitimately throws this little corner of the world off the grid for awhile, making it legitimate that I don't do a lick of work, don't answer the phone, don't think about editing a single article or fact check or write or or or ....

All I have to do is curl up with my book and read, read, read. Ironically, the book title is The Gathering Storm. Twelfth in the Wheel of Time series started by Robert Jordan (aka James Oliver Rigney, Jr). I hadn't even heard of the series until four years ago and didn't start reading until I had assured myself that the author was young enough to be writing for years to come. He was young enough, being born in 1948. Relieved that I would have books to read for decades to come I plunged into the series and was up to date by the second or third month.

Jordan's books average 700 pages with a couple dozen main characters and about 1500 bit part characters, fleshed out with towns, cities, states and countries along with unique cultures, politics, dialects and  even languages (of course translated so we can understand). Absolutely fascinating. Jordan rarely uses his words superfluously making reading each paragraph integral to some part of the whole. Also making rereading the books good reading because you are always finding something you skipped over too quickly the first or second time through as you devour the book to get to the character's story that has grabbed you at the moment.

Sadly, Robert Jordan died in 2007 of cardiac amyloidosis. He died before his Wheel of Time epic series was completed, leaving behind copious notes, according to his widow, along with taped interviews of how he wanted it to end and where he wanted each character to be at the end of the series. His widow chose Brandon Sanderson to finish the series and according to the reviews on the first of the three books that will finish the series Sanderson has done an outstanding job. I am just finishing re-reading book 11 (will quickly scanning 700+ pages of the book) and am anxiously trying to get to this newest book while trying to remember who all of the characters are and what they were up to when I last read about them. 

As the storm gathers outside I am treasuring the Gathering Storm inside. Now shush, everyone. Don't bother me. Find your own book, ride the storm out, then we will pick up the pieces together and go about life again.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Remembering the Supermarket Trinity: Haukes, Safeway, and Three Boys?

USS YMS-422, a 270-ton YMS-410 class auxiliary motor minesweeper, was built at Astoria, Oregon. Commissioned in September 1944

With all of the talk about "big box stores" putting "everything else" out of business I have been thinking about the evolution of grocery stores in the area and where they are now. Thinking back my first thoughts are of three main "supermarkets", stores where you could actually get dairy, produce, meat and dry goods all at one stop! What a concept! There was Safeway, Haukes and I think it was called Three Boys. But now more grocery stores suddenly crop up in my minds eye. Hmmmm....

Thinking waaaay back I can remember Haukes, when it was on the corner, across the street from what is now (was it always?) the ESD building, east end of town 32nd and Marine Drive-ish. Public Market was where Hunts is liquidating now. Safeway was where, as most of us now know it, the "Old Safeway Parking Lot" is. At the foot of the south slope was an ever changing store. We lived on 19th & Irving, went over the hill to Tapiola and I don't remember going to that store much. I remember it vaguely as an IGA, a Thirftway, Three Boys and finally as "The Other Hauke's Sentry Market".

Favorite store was Hauke's and the stamps. You filled a card and got a discount or something for free. Every five dollars you spent you got a stamp. And, as most locals know, Skip carried many a family through tough times running a tab. I don't know if he ever got stiffed (I imagine, now that I am older and more cynical, he must have) but from the stories I hear until the year he sold to Safeway, Skip was still helping out the fishing and logging families.

Hauke's had the first bakery and deli in their stores, too, if I remember correctly. Safeway was quite small but they introduced a new innovation. If you wanted to try a taste of something they would actually open whatever it was and allow you to taste it before buying it! At both stores most of the clerks knew you and while others bragged about "five finger discounts" I honestly never took anything from a store that I didn't pay for. Never even dawned on me to "pull one over" on these people who were often friends or even family.

The smaller stores in the area were Bob Overby's Astor Court up on Alameda, Peter Pan up on Niagara, Hunts Market out in Svensen and Maize's Market over in Warrenton. There's Mile's Grocery in Alderbrook and Mile's Corssing out in Jeffer's Garden along with Pete Peterson's Grocery and Gas. Lovvold's Grocery in East End (what is now Astoria Coffee Company). Lums market serving China Town and I'm sure I am missing a dozen of the old Finn, Nordic, etc., markets.

Bob's had been there for eons. My father tells of his gang of friends stealing beer from Bob and the neighbor seeing them and calling up Bob and telling him who took a couple cases of beer off the stack waiting to be carted into the store. Gossip beat the boys back to their party before they got there with the beer and they shamefacedly brought it back. Can you imagine what would happen nowadays? Hell, CSD would be involved along with Juvie, the boys would have criminal records.

For a time we had Prairie Market over at what is now the Coast Guard Exchange. Another new concept was introduced at this store. When you entered you picked up a wax marker and marked your own prices on the product based on the tag in front. You boxed or bagged your own groceries. The theory, "We use less labor and pass the savings on to you." Less employees. Can't remember how long that one lasted.

My mother reminds be I am forgetting Thrifty Market which is now the empty lot across from Grover's Ace Hardware store. Modern Cash, owned by Dick Aho, was downtown Astoria.  Another neighborhood store was on Grand around 27th, the Parker Place Store that was between Irving and Jerome on 14th street. Also, Clarks at Hilltop (8th & Madison) a candy and soda shop w/deli, bread and milk.

What happened to these markets? Safeway come in and wipe them all out in one fell swoop? Fred Meyer and Costco deliver the coup de gras? No, our culture changed. These markets filled a nitch, which several of them still do. They served mothers who didn't drive and could give the child twenty-five cents to run down to the store for milk, eggs or bread. They served a certain population that didn't speak English and went to the shops to converse in their own Finn, Norwegian, or Chinese and to get the specialty foods from the "homeland". We just recently are seeing these shops crop up again locally, this time with the Hispanic population. We still have a few of the neighborhood markets, like Svenson's Hunts, Jeffer's Garden's Miles Crossing, Niagara's Peter Pan, and once again Alameda's Astor Court (hmm, can't remember its new name, sorry).

Also, back in the day, our population was much bigger and, until very recently, much more diverse. We had the Navy, the Military Hospital and the Coast Guard all here with the Air Force right across the river.  We had Job Corp. The Coast Guard had so many people here all of Emerald Heights was their housing plus some. When we lost the Military Hospital contract to Madigan and the Coast Guard downgraded this area was hit hard. Bumble Bee moved out and Alumax didn't move in. Those opposed to it promised us something else. We got, I believe, according to Mr. Marquis, heroin and a culture of apathy and drugs until he moved in in the mid-1990s and "cleaned the area up."

I think that our area continues to change. The small markets that listen to their clientele will continue to flourish or "hang on" as long as there are people that want what they are providing. While I know there are many who like Fred Meyers I, for one, will be pleased to see it have some competition. It is sadly lacking in customer service. I will continue to shop at Grovers (Ace/Coast to Coast) for most of those items of "doodads" that have no name only descriptions that the women know exactly what you are talking about and can find within minutes. I will encourage new specialty shops that cater to special quirks: marbles, herbs, teas, candies, bakery goodies, etc.

I won't presume that all can afford to support what I chose to support. I won't pretend that spotted owls only nest in old growth just to get my way and keep a land owner from doing what he chooses with his land. I won't pretend that looking at a grove of weedy alders is more beautiful than looking at a manicured lot before a supermarket. I will enjoy the fact that the elk will more than likely cross through the lot in the evenings, if they so wish.

We are always changing. What drives us is us. Who drives us is who we allow to drive.  We can go backwards or forwards. I am shooting for forwards.

Monday, September 14, 2009

School Dazed

First Born Grandson starts pre-school tomorrow. Today we are setting schedules. Who picks up, who drops off. He also has swimming lessons and kinder music. He is very excited. His mom is very excited. 
Papa & 'Bika have been waiting for Kaden to "grow up" enough to be able to go on an extended camping trip which we had anticipated to be this October. We are being "allowed" to bring FBG with us but his mother is stressed because she must pay for pre-school whether or not he goes, plus he is missing those precious days of schooling.
Yes, those of you who know me, the lip is curled, the sneer is locked in. I literally gag at the thought of bells ringing, schedules of convenience and me "having" to be a part of it. I despise the school systems of today. Little regard for actual education, windows of opportunity for individual growth slammed shut, teaching a child what to learn not how to learn.
"So," Eldest shoots back at me, "whats the alternative? Where's the Montessori school you were going to start? He needs structure, he needs an education!"
I am at a loss. The five year plan was long ago abandoned. We were supposed to have had a school by now. I was supposed to have a teaching certificate. Life happens, school didn't happen, I went in another direction and now my FBG is going into "the system." Bleeeck. Training kids to become factory workers. Teaching them whatever they want them to learn. I read stories like the one about that teacher out in Jewell using his class to push his own political agenda and it makes me nauseous. 
While I know so many people who are teachers who are good, good people I know just as many who have no right having any influence on any child and yet once they have tenure there is no way to get them out unless they are actually caught with their hand in the cookie jar, and just pray to God your kid isn't the cookie jar.
Second Born Grandson is in a Montessori school up in north Washington. I am so happy about that. Lot of parent involvement, the curriculum is child driven not state mandate driven. Policies are not adopted to keep people in a job. So very different than "public" school.
While many have said that the educational system cannot be changed from without, it can only be changed from within, that was one fight I dropped out of a long, long time ago. Way too much is vested in the travesty of public education for the government to give up and admit they haven't a clue on how to make it work. Or, maybe it is working to a tee for them? They are getting obedient soldiers and factory workers, service workers, and people who will vote however they are told to. People easily swayed by charisma without learning a lick of logical thinking or common sense. 
The travesty of this last week, when institutes of higher learning and law institutes didn't have the common sense to question what the heck a school newspaper was doing being published and already available on the first day of school, has frightened me as to the direction that education overall is going. I don't want any of my grandchildren to be a part of it. Now, to act on what to do about it.
Or ... Maybe I will be pleasantly surprised and it will be completely different than when I or my children were in school. sigh.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Living, learning, dying and then some

Beautiful ceremony held for Erin today. Can't believe I am saying that, but it was. The new priest at St. Mary's is a humble and good man. The ceremony was done very well. Those of us not Catholic did not feel condemned to hell. It was nice to hear the voices come together to bid Erin farewell.

Family and friends adorned her coffin with messages, a tradition in their family. Notes of love, messages of hope, offerings of condolence. Hellos, good-byes, hold-my-place, pick a good spot! Please watch over us, guide our steps, be our angel, we will miss you, we do miss you, and one or two pleading, "come back". Through the tears, Erin stories told of a smiling girl with a heart of gold. She brought her family and friends much delight. She lived her life well. Even if it was short, she lived it well. Erin's motto: Live as if you will die tomorrow, learn as if you will live forever. Although Ghandi may have said it, Erin lived it.

For friends who knew Julie & Ed but couldn't be there: just wanted to let you know they are doing well. They were sad, of course, but looked at peace. For whatever blessing, they seemed to understand something. They could enjoy the eulogy, enjoy the pleasure their daughter brought to others as well as themselves. Surrounded by family and friends, they are okay for today. Please, remember to send cards in the weeks and months ahead. Any little note will do, just letting them know you are sharing the burden with them, even if for a moment.

Straight from the funeral reception I went to the special Port session. Hell's bells! Someone needs to be taken to the woodshed! Or maybe just a good old fashioned blanket party!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Not so fine

For NCO I edit stories coming over flash alert, sort of like a police scanner for the computer. One of the things I fear, as these stories come across, is seeing a tragic story of a loved one. Late last night Cowlitz County Sheriff's department posted a near drowning at Yale Lake, in the Cougar Campground. The victim appeared to be our cousins' daughter.

It was 12:45 am and not the time to be calling anyone so I went to facebook, first, to see if any family on that side were up. No one. Then I sent a text to closest sister-in-law who texts. Not expecting a reply until morning I was startled when a text came back asap. She asked for details and I gave her what had been released so far. She said she would check it out as soon as she could, but odds were it was cousin's child as age matched and she lived in Vancouver.

With this morning's update we learned our cousins lost their child. She was 24 years young. No one understands exactly what happened, yet. At the beginning of this month we celebrated our 30 year reunion with these cousins, last weekend it was their parent's 60th wedding anniversary and by the end of this month we come together, again, for a funeral.

This week was a bad one, for me, on looking at humanity. Lies wisp out of mouths, gathering like a plume of smoke, and then suddenly dissipate. Who told the lie? Where did it come from? Who knows? Sadly, I am pretty sure I do. Waiting for PIRs to come in. Small hope holding out, I may be wrong.

So much to report on this weekend. All the good that is going on in our community: Air Fair; Miss Virginia Walk; Miss Vivian Contest, Trap Door story telling; The Oney's BBQ and, yet. I just want to curl up in a ball and weep. News overload. No room left for anything more to enter.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Looking Fine Class of '79

WOW! What an evening. Blast from the past and all of that jazz. It was sooo good seeing so many friends, and catching up with people. Funny how people's perceptions of one another are so different than one's own perception.

I thought everyone looked great. A few had a lot less hair than I thought they would. Hubby and I behaved ourselves, didn't embarass one another with stories. I did let the one story slip. You know, the bowling story where I pinched him and he thought his good friend of 15 years had come out of the closet and pinched him in the bowling alley! But he wasn't annoyed with me, and I did ask permission first!

I was pleasantly surprised with some compliments and it was fun seeing hubby kibitz with his good friends and some gals flirt with him who weren't aware that we were together (or maybe they were and didn't care?). God, I love that man. He paid me a few compliments himself, and would look up and wink at me throughout the evening. It is so very nice when the man you are married to is just so much more than your husband. I am lucky and blessed.

So many of the gals in our class look darn good. Yeah, I know I am prejudiced, but it is hard to see that we are almost 50. But then again, often its just plain hard to see.

Eldest helped me to get ready tonight. She straightened my hair and then defoliated me. Yeah, I said that. She was intently staring at my face as she straightened my hair and then asked me if I knew that I had a tree growing out of my chin. I asked her to take a chainsaw to it. She used tweezers and derooted it, felt like she was pulling it out of my back teeth! "HOW did you miss that one, and that one, and O MY GOD, did you get any of them?" I thought I had got them ALL!

So, um, yeah, like I was saying everyone LOOKED great last night. And I am really looking forward to tonight.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Baby Blues

From Family
Our third grandchild and first granddaughter was born 7/8/09 at 1:17 am. The clock in the delivery room said 1:23:45 HOWEVER we found out that it was five minutes fast, supposedly. We were hoping for 12:34:56 on 7/8/9. What we should have been praying for is the one thing families have been praying for since recorded history has begun: health.

Asiya Lynn was taken to neo-natal care (infant icu) barely 24 hours after being born. She has some sort of infection, according to slides taken by Silverton Birthing Center shortly after her shallow breathing became apparent. She was transfered to Salem hospital on Friday after preliminary results on the culture grown from slides taken showed signs of bacterial growth. Jaundice set in, as well.

Baby girl was put under light therapy for jaundice as well as given IV drip with high dosages of antibiotics. News at the Salem hosp it that all blood workups show no sign of internal infection. X-rays showed fluid in the lungs and excellent response to antibiotics. Asiya is downing 40-60 ml of breast milk every two hours. Salem doctor told us Asiya will be going home Tuesday.

Then, other shoe drops, final results come back from Silverton slide culture. THOSE results show Group G strep! Salem says it MUST do spinal to ensure no internal infection. Little five day old precious baby girl is right now enduring spinal. I want to throw up.

We will hear results this evening, supposedly. However, at this point, until that little girl is safely at home it will be hard to believe any medical opinion.

We are all so tired we cannot imagine what Asiya's mommy & daddy are feeling right now.

Prayers, good thoughts, positive vibes, etc... deeply appreciated.

Monday, June 22, 2009

They grow out of you, and on you, and out again

"You cannot imagine the incredible person that comes out of your imperfections," a line from the movie Smother that I am watching with my father and my son right now.

That struck me as such a true statement. It was so incredible watching our children grow up. First, that these incredibly vulnerable, tiny creatures actually survive through all of our trials and errors! Then, after they have survived they still want us around to be a part of their adult lives! We are honored, amazingly and overwhelmingly, honored to be a part of our childrens' lives.

Of course there are times when we don't see eye to eye, but we don't always see eye to eye with each other, either. And there are other times when they make incredible blunders, that we did -of course- warn them about. But more often then not, we desire to spend our most special moments with them. After sharing a special day, award, idea or moment with each other the first thing we do is reach for the phone to call the kids and tell them about it.

A few acquaintances have said that they cannot wait for their children to turn eighteen and be out the door. These same acquaintances complain about so many of their kids' faults and traits without any consideration of where their kids picked up the bad qualities. They blame school, television, movies and society as a whole but not themselves.

Hubby and I know we are blessed, when the kids do something we aren't particularly happy about we both look back and know we are much luckier than our parents. While I am sure that we don't know the whole story about many events in our kids late teen and early twenties period we also know, for sure, that it is nothing compared to what either of us did (especially hubby, yah I said it) or where we went or who we were with when it all went down.

We tease one another that we are each other's punishment for "sins" that were committed. Hubby insists he was never so bad to deserve me. I say I am merely an example of God's mercy. Hubby grimaces!

We look forward to watching this next generation grow up. Watching as our children learn from the wonderment of these beautiful, awesome and awe inspiring creatures that were created from their imperfections. What a wonderful time to be alive.

Oh, the movie has ended with another good line. I think I will use it for today's adieu:

"You're a special person, and I don't mean the kind who wears a helmet."

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Ranting I will go (High-ho-the derry-o)

I am really tired of products that don't work as described, "freebies" that cost, "fringe benefits" that have very little fringe about them and are hardly beneficial! I despise Dell at the present moment. Justify Full

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Say whatever you want about the computer only being as smart as the person who programs it but the fact of the matter is that when you order these things they come fully programmed. When I got it, it came loaded with that horrid, horrid, Vista. I just couldn't get it to work, and most of the sites that I needed to work out of couldn't/wouldn't work with Vista.

I call Dell and order (of course for $200 more) the Windows XP and when it comes our friendly techs in India guide me through the process of installing it. In the process I lose my Media Direct, which causes untold hours, days, weeks, months of frustration and tears as I try application after application to replace it.

Then, one day, the thing quits on me. Nie on blows up. Smoke was either coming off the key boards or out of my ears, I really don't know which. I lost EVERYTHING! Thank God, a dear friend of ours found it all and cleaned up ,to the best of his ability, the mess that was created. I was left looking hither and yon for files and articles and research notes and sticking them back in their appropriate folders. Yes, computers have hithers and yons. I know, I have been there and seen them. They are not pretty sites.

Since that fateful day this piece of excrement has frozen on me, at the minimum, four times a day. Right in the middle of typing a story and BOOOMB frozen. What that does to a train of thought is, it FREEZES it as well! It takes 40 EFFFING minutes to start the computer back up again and back online. I do have everything backed up and what I must do is just dump everything, absolutely everything, and start all over again with a clean, BLANK computer (I type this, secretly hoping the computer will see what is being typed and, being horrified at the thought of losing its memory, will start behaving. Sick, twisted thoughts to have towards an inanimate object. Yes, hear that, you are an inanimate OBJECT, thats it, nothing more. Don't you go all sticky keyed on me! I'll give you what for!)

This was NOT a cheapy laptop. While it isn't a $4,000 dollar one, it was just slightly less than $2,000. It should last longer than $1000 per year!!! I am SOOOO frustrated.

I recently received a gift of a Coby MP3 player. Along with it was a gift card for 50 "free" tunes at eMusic and one "free" audio book. Guess what? I go to the eMusic site and register, per instructions on the card. When I sign in it says I MUST give them a debit card or PayPal in order that, after the trial period, should you continue to like eMusic you will be charged the low price of $11.99 per month for 30 tunes and $9.99 for ONE audio book.

I much prefer Amie Street for music, great music, new finds, best prices. I like Downloadaudiobooksonline much more than eMusic's selection. While eMusic does only charge $9.99 for a book that DownLoad is charging $16 for, eMusic has only one price. It doesn't carry as many books as DownLoad has nor does it have all of the $2 books DownLoad offers.

When I contacted eMusic about not receiving the 50 "free" tunes and being charged the subscription rate so quickly. Apparently I didn't read the tiny writing which informed me, "very clearly" that I had 10 days to get my 50 tunes ordered and cancel my subscription or I would LOSE the 50 tunes (as NO they don't roll over) AND I would have the honor of being bilked, er, I mean billed for the next month.

In conclusion, don't buy Dell. Along with its customer support and its Vista programs (I won't even mention the hell I go through each time I boot up and every program is frantically racing to get online first and upgrade itself) it isn't worth the price, even if it is only the $300 'netbook.

IF you get a Coby MP3 player DO NOT use that card to engage eMusic until you have your 50 (yes all 50) tunes picked out. Sign up, use PayPal (if eMusic somehow does end up charging you once PayPal allows you to refuse to pay specific merchants again. Download your 50 tunes and then CANCEL, immediately.

If you don't HAVE to sign up to eMusic, DON'T DO IT! Or, if you like freebie stuff, do it but order all of your tunes RIGHT then and even if you don't use up all 30, cancel your account ASAP. If you wait, YOU WILL FORGET. They are "banking" on it.

Have I said it enough times so that anyone googling Dell for customer complaints wondering what people's opinions are on crappy functioning Inspiron E1505 Laptops or eMusic wondering if it is a ripoff for MP3 or iTune downloads will see see this post? Good! I tried working with both, and as anyone can see by reading posts here I have rarely called out a specific product or company.

In these economic times companies need to know, "you must treat the customer well. "If you are incapable of doing that, you deserve to be called on it, for both the crappy product you are foisting on us and the crappy service you are giving.

(It has almost let me post this. When you don't hear from me for days on end, don't blame me. I have been typing to you, this ... this ... THING just refuses to POST it!)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Charter is more dead than "live"

I get the notification through email that I have "earned" Charter "Live it" points, or some such nonsense. I can "redeem" these points for discounts and "unbelievable" rewards.

When I click on the link it takes me to the redemption center where everything is "sold out". My email is dated may 11, 2009 and here it is the 12th and all of the prizes are "sold out". Riiiiight. I sure do believe those items were all available in the first place.

In the second place, the "unbelievable" rewards? They are BOGUS! I have accumulated 4,666 points by spending $113 a month for cable and internet. We do NOT have any movie channels as part of this deal! We do not "bundle" our phone in because we get TWO lines from Vonnage for the same price that Charter is charging for one. Yeah, we need two for a variety of reasons. But if we were only getting one line it would be 17.99 from Vonnage and it is $35 from Charter ($25 for the first six months, but even then when I talked to Charter about that supposed special it was only for new Charter customers NOT pre-existing ones).

With my 4,666 accumulated points I look through the redemption pages of "sold out" items and they are asking for 24,800 points for a Wilson BASKETBALL!! They want 11,000 points for a barbeque set (a pair of tongs and a spatula)! Riiiight, sold out! How many did they have at the beginning, four? I actually find it hard to believe that someone has saved up a year's worth of points to spend them on a barbeque set that you can buy at Deals Only (or any dollar store or Walmart) for $9.99, maximum.

I shunned the ridiculous and went for the ludicrous. I spent my points on the supposed entries into the sweepstakes. I should have seen how many points each was first. As it was I saw three sweepstakes and when the first one said that it would cost 1,000 points assumed the others were the same and redeemed for one, a chance to win "32GB iPod® Touch, Bose® SoundDock® portable music system, and $200 iTunes gift card."

For 2,000 points I could go for either the " Panasonic Plasma HDTV, one (1) Phillips Home Theater System, and one (1) Sony Playstation 3 with Motorstorm and Wireless Controllers" or One day of surfing lessons for two at Billabong Surf Camp in Manhattan Beach, CA; Round-trip coach air transportation for two to Los Angeles from a major metropolitan airport in the continental U.S. (travel June 12-14, 2009); two nights hotel accommodations; $250 American Express® gift card. I went for the home entertainment center.

I really don't like Charter. I wish we had more choices for internet and cable. We have either Charter or Satellite. Having tried both, Charter is only slightly better and that is only because we live in a bit of a dip of land which makes finding a good line of sight for the sattelite difficult on rainy days when there is cloud cover. Our friends on Green Mountain have had NO difficulties getting their internet off the satellite, although they have had problems with bandwidth.

Bah, humbug on Charter.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

19th Street ~ And so it begins

Can you recall exactly when a story has begun? Can you say, "This story begun here!" and go forward without any explanation necessary of where various parts came into play? As I read the book my eldest daughter compiled for me (and avoid the phone messages and emails from the attorney general's office, lawyers giving me their opinion, emails denying any knowledge, messages of "no comment" etc...) I laugh as I know, "the rest of the story" or the "real story" or sometimes wonder, "what the heck?" on stories I don't know about at all!

Each of them weave in and out of others so I am unsure of how to tell the rest of the story, answering questions asked and half told tales. All I can say is that for now, this is how I will try to do it. I am sure I will hear from you if you are not satisfied. Remember, you asked and you know you are a part of it so you cannot complain that I am, "telling tales out of school" as Grandma Bea would complain.

I was the eldest of five siblings, now the eldest of four. We lost one soul to drugs. Her body remains to plague us at the oddest times but the soul we loved is long gone, leaving behind a crazed being who has the memories of the playmate we grew up with but uses them in vile ways to pounce when we are often at our most vulnerable.

Living next door to us was my mother's younger sister who had four children and the nine of us made up a pack who ran (or so it seemed to us) 19th street on Irving. All the neighbors knew us by name, and they were all Mrs. this or Mr. that, no first names used.

Our dearest neighbors were the Gilleses. Mr. Gilles was the "head custodian" of Central School and later the Junior High School where our grandfather worked, after retiring from 25 years in the Coast Guard. Mrs. Gilles had polio and sat forever in a wheel chair. They both had nothing but kind words for us children. Their daughter, Pam and Gale, were (on the rare occassions that our parents went out) our babysitters. Mr. Gilles took great care of Mrs. Gilles and would always bring her outside on sunny days. Their home sat at the very top of 19th street, up a very steep driveway. His yard was straight down and he would use a rope to mow it, lowering the mower down and pulling it back up with the rope.

We had a HUGE apple tree in our yard which gave us the best apples. Small and crunchy, mostly sweet but just enough bitter to make the taste last a bit longer. In the corner of our picketed yard was a tall, tall, yew tree. In the winter time it would freeze and the top would droop over from the weight of the frost until it looked like a question mark.

A spring ran through our side yard and down into our basement, which was partially cement and partially mud until my father "finished it". Our house started out one floor, one bedroom, with an unfinished basement and an attic. When we moved, almost a dozen years later, the house was two stories with a finished basement, five bedrooms, a dining room, t.v. room and living room. We have all said, many times, that the stupidest thing we ever did was sell that house.

It was built in 1924ish, we found a newspaper in the attic once which had a date of the '20s on it. Long gone now. It was bigger on the inside than it looked on the out. You know those kinds of houses. The kind of house that you lived in when you were young and was so very big but when you go back now it is so very tiny.

The inside of our house contained pirates' ships and wonderlands. Wherever our children's imaginations fell short our father filled in for us most adeptly. The three-toe man waited fiendishly every night to chomp off two of our toes if we left feet dangling out of the bed. Witchie Poo was in the closet, waiting to fly around the room. And in the basement lived the cat with the razor blade in its mouth!

For years we only had three bedrooms. One bedroom for mom and dad. One bedroom for me and d with the other three sharing. As we grew the configurations would change. Mom and Dad gave up the master bedroom for the four girls, the lone boy had the middle room (which the stairs came up into and there was no privacy, with mom and dad taking the much smaller end room.

In the summer time the upstairs was hot and humid. There were only two windows in the whole of it and the doors would have to left open of the master bedroom and the small bedroom in order for a cross breeze to get through. In the winter we had heat from the wood stove in the basement. A real wood stove. The kind with a tinder box, an oven, hotplates on top that you lifted up with a tool. It made the best chili and corn bread. We knew it was the woodstove because our mother, um, well, she lacked necessary time it took to properly cook on an electric stove (that must be it, she still likes to cook "cajun").

Our yard seemed so very HUGE. In the back was a HUGE fence and when we climbed it to peak over was a deep gully between our home and the homes down on Irving. The fence was lined with morning glories, which made the best "squash bombs" a kid could want. Much better than water balloons, you never had to ask if you could have a squash bomb fight, it "just happened".

Along the fence neighboring the McDonalds (a strange, recluse, couple who we rarely saw but heard on occassion when she was yelling at him as he departed hastily from the home), was a thick laurel hedge, which we refered to as money trees. The leaves financed our "stores" and were our "loot" in our bank and train robberies. We also used the leaves as tacos, plates, hats and a variety of other foods. No matter how many leaves we picked those bushes never went bare.

Our apple tree was our constant companion. It's limbs were low enough for even the smallest of us to start up it, yet at the top it was even with our roof. It was out pirate's ship when the wind blew or it was an exotic tree in the tropics when we played Tarzan. We hung rope swings from its boughs and had small platforms for temporary tree forts. Because it was a fruit bearing tree we didn't put nails into it or weaken its limbs (much, just 14-20 kids clambering all over it, jumping, hopping and leaping).

Also in our yard was a whirli-bird, a swings set and slide with a glider, a sand box which (when covered) could also act as a stage, a camillia bush, various flower gardens (trampled), sometimes vegetable gardens, dogs, cats, rabbits, stray hamsters, deer, moles, possum, raccoons, and children, more children and then some more children. Oh yes, and bikes and balls. Every sort of sport equipment that was possible to have in the sixties. Skateboards, mitts, footballs, baseballs, basketballs, hoops, ping-pong tables, those little shorty pool tables, anything and everything.

We were surrounded by woods. Neither the Mean People, nor the Nice People had built their homes yet and all that land was woods. Our neighbors were the Riggs, the Pattersons and the Grahams (aside from the McDonalds and our aunt). After the Riggs moved the Vetriceks moved in and after them Perry and his chows. And for now, I will leave it at that.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The swinging doors of life

I sat and cried for over an hour looking at my mother's day gift this year. I have never been more shocked, honored, pleased, humbled, and truly amazed in my life. You all pulled this one off in SPECTACULAR style! And I thank-you, most humbly, thank-you!

This was going to be a smart ass post. I was going to give the "correct" [i.e. MY] version of stories that were told, finish the half-stories, add my own but today I just can't. Each time I open the book I am overwhelmed at the labor of love it took to pull this together, the love notes from old friends, family, and my children's friends. It takes my breath away. And yes, I am crying AGAIN.

Eldest rounded up old friends and asked them for memories they have of childhood with me. Then she asked for family to contribute stories from our childhood, and then stories from her and her siblings friends of me. She posted the last on her facebook.

The response she got was incredible. The people were such a diverse group from all walks and different chapters of my life and to see them all unfold in one place took my breathe away. While I can see how I have changed over the (mumble, mumble) years, it is amazing to see how much of the essence of me was there from the very start.

Always in the lead, always looking for adventure, always directing the "action", always wanting everyone to "be involved" (whether or not participants wanted to be), always planning (some might call it plotting), always worrying, always caring, always finding a 'cause' and an 'adventure', leading more than one down the wrong path only to end up in the right place safe and sound (okay, slightly bruised and a little late but we arrived and inevitably saved the day - okay - okay - suffered consequences -whatever)!

Over the last few years we have prepared more than a few funerals and Eldest said that it is sad that people have to wait until they are dead to hear good things about themselves. She wondered what it would do if people heard these things while they were still alive. Although she has said this on more than one occassion I never had the slightest clue that I was to be the first "victim" of her idea. I cannot express in words how delighted I am to have been the "victim" of this act.

And so I thank you, one and all, old friends who contributed to this marvelous book. Eldest bound it in hard cover, and filled it with the pictures you gave her. To all of the dear friends of the children who replied I thank-you for allowing me to be a part of your lives. I never knew but you have inspired me to thank those who maybe have never known what they meant to me and how much they influenced MY life. We each chose whose shoulders to stand on, I am honored you chose to stand on mine.

For those who have no idea what I am writing about, over the next few weeks I hope to be blogging about many memories this book has dredged up. For those who hate trips down memory lanes, don't check back for a couple of months! For those who want to hear about the TRUE stories of witchy-poo, the adventures of the blue gremlin, the lost children of the Irving Forests, stay tuned. And, if the statute of limitations hasn't run out yet in your family you'd better email me so I can use a pseudonym for your name!

Love you all so very much ~ cb

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Sushi in the Kremlin

What color is God's skin? What color is God's skin? Is it Black, Brown, Yellow or White? Everything is equal in the good Lord's sight.

Consultation is finding out, what everyone else is thinking about. You listen to them, they listen to you, then you do what MOST want to do.

I speak English, Hans speaks Dutch, we don't get together much. Everyone should learn one way, to say the things they want to say.

A plea for one world, is heard in many different lands, this is a plea from a world that is hungry for peas (one reason that we should learn to annunciation better).

Red Grammer songs (we were sooo excited to see him on Sesame Street). Listen can you hear the sound. Hearts beating, all the world around. Down in the valley, out in the plain. Everywhere around the world, a heartbeat sounds the same. Black or white, red or tan, its the heart of the family of man. Oh oh, beating away. Oh oh, beating away. Oh oh, beating away.

Baha, Jalal, Jamal,'Azamat,, Nur, Rahmat, Kalimat, Kamal, & Asma, Izzt, Mashiyyat, Ilm. Qudrat, Qawl, Masail, Sharaf, Sultan, Mulk, Ala. Splendour, Glory, Beauty, Grandeur, Light and Mercy, Words, Perfection and Names, Might and Will and Knowledge, Power, Speech, Questions and Honour, Sovereignty, Dominion and Loftiness. Sovereignty, Dominion and Loftiness. These are the names of our months! Yah!

Car songs of Baha'i families.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Rumminations on Ruhi

Wow, what a month has zipped by!

Ruhi Book 7 was completed and was FANTASTIC, from the presenters point of view, at least. I have so much fun giving a class or seminar with hubby. I love it when we are in-sync with one another and it seems, of late, we see each other so seldom that we don't have time to be in or out of sync so five weeks of having two day six hour seminars was grand.

On the last day we had a facilitator gathering for the last two hours, with everyone in Clatsop & Tillamook Counties who had completed book 7 invited for a potluck dinner first. We then went into a half hour devotional and then discussion on the Ridvan message and The American Baha'i, reading about growth in many communities and how that pertains to our communities in Tillamook and Clatsop Counties.

We then had a fifteen minute break during which hubby and I quickly set up the projector, netbook and cd player. Everyone was asked to adjourn to the outdoors for five minutes so they couldn't see what else we were up to. They were told that when they entered the house they should do so by the front door and quietly take their seats, remaining silent, read section 7 of the third unit of book 7. Those who have taken the course know that this is the dramatization section on the Seven Martyrs of Tehran.

One of components of the RUHI curriculum is appreciation of the arts, to make all art forms an integral part of community life, from devotionals to Feast, and in all parts of Baha'i culture look for the beauty and that which creates a sense of awe, joy, and upliftment of senses. We are asked to take story telling to the next level, not merely reading from a book, but to try to evoke a spiritual connection to these Dawn Breakers.

This particular part of Baha'i history is quite bloody, with the Babis being tortured in heinous ways for, basicaly, daring to challenge traditional thought. The Seven Martyrs of Tehran stand out, amongst the 20,000 Babis that were killed, because of their devout steadfastness and public declaration of refusing to recant their faith, even with the executioners blade hanging over them. Most of the 20,000 were not given a chance to recant, with many being killed and/or literally ripped apart by mobs.

As each of our guests entered the home after the break, we greeted them at the door with a urn of rose scented water where they washed their hands as it was poured into a bowl. We then dried their hands and dabbed on attar of rose. This would have been done had they entered the home of a Babi or Baha'i in Persia 100+ years ago. After everyone had entered and took their seats the lights were dimmed and we played the presentation. Afterwards we discussed how using the arts sets an atmosphere, bonding those present, making consultation more conducive to a focused and holistic outcome.

We read that during the Sassanid dynasty before a weighty desicion had to be made the greatest musician at that time, Barbod, would be called to play music to set the tone for the consultation and talked about how consultation would change if we were to listen to music before we consulted (or if congress had to listen before voting on legislative matters) how different the outcome may be. Many made the observance of how teens always say they study better when listening to music, and that we often say we use music to "set the mood".

Here is the presentation we found on You Tube. It played well blown up via the projector onto a screen, but lost the quality for sound. Luckily, we have Grant Hidin Miller's cd Songs for the Martyrs so played the song straight from the disc while playing the You Tube video.

I recommend turning off the annotations. While informative, they can be a distraction, especially the first time listening and seeing these photos and drawings. I had not seen many of these before. Some are graphic in depicting what was done to Babis. Some are actual photographs of Babis and Baha'is in chains.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Seminars, Toyota Trucks and Together Time but oh so busy

Sorry sis, I have been a baaaad blogger. I have been very, very busy non-blogging, however. It has been an incredible beginning to our new year (um, for those just dropping by our new year began March 21st) and we have hardly been able to catch a breath hopping, leaping and jogging from project to project.

Some how or another I am on a planning committee for our (mumble-mumble) class reunion. We have decided it is our last one. After this we will just gate crash the class reunions of those who graduated BEFORE we did, then we will always look younger. We thought it was a pretty good idea. I hope we stick to it!

Of course there is always NCO and all the changes there. Working out the bugs, learning new ad programs, lightly marketing (don't want to get too many orders until we get the ad software worked out - er understood - er okay the manual partially read and some sort of comprehension on what goes where when without calling support every half hour). On top of that, actually doing the writing that I wanted to do which was the reason to get involved in the first place. We need more writers!

I attended a Parkinson's seminar/conference with my father this past weekend in Eugene. It was really a good conference with a lot of information. Dr. Langston with the Parkinson Institute was the keynote speaker giving a presentation on the current state of Parkinson research. He said that although stem cell research has been approved by Obama it is almost obsolete, already.

A technique that scientists have come upon uses an adult's own cells to create adult stem cells which, because they come from the person's own body, work better within the body. He also discussed new research that may reveal where Parkinson's comes from. Langston's own belief is that it is not caused genetically but environmentally and like many diseases everyone has a different way in which they are succeptible to the disease. I am trying to pull all the info we learned together for a presentation to the support group. We meet again on the 13th. There's so much, tho, that I think we will have to spread it out over two or three meetings.

One odd thing that happened in Eugene, someone stole the NCO car magnets from both sides of the car. They may have blown off but that doesn't seem plausible. They made it all the way down there, and it was really, really bad weather on the way down but they were on the doors when we got there. When we stopped in Lake Oswego they were gone. Sigh.

Hubby and I are giving a semi-intensive training for facilitators of the RUHI curriculum. Thursdays and Fridays all the month of April (as well as the last week of March) from 2 pm to 8 pm. Yes, long days but envigorating and we love the curriculum so it makes the time fly by. That still means preparing for 12 hours worth of curriculum/lessons each week, and that part can be difficult, finding time we are both home to get it done. Hubby has been taking trainings out of town all spring, anywhere from 2-5 days. It is very nice to finally get to spend some time with him on this semi-intensive. We do work well together and love it. Now, if we can only get a field trip to New York thrown in our class would be perfect!

Talking about hubby, he finally jumped off the deep end and bought himself a truck that cost more than the price of gasoline for a year. A Toyota Tundra. He studied, read carfax, Kelley's Blue Book, Craig's List and drooled over all the online ads for over six months. We were getting daily phone calls from Lum's and Crest Auto. And then he waited for me to go out of town for the weekend and finally cracked and bought it out at Lum's.

It is a nice truck, with a sun roof that rolls back and a back window that rolls down and a sound system that rocks. When I got home we took it for a cruise through Astoria, windows down and music up. I giggled imagining all the people on the neighborhood watches flinging back their curtains in disgust at the loud bass shaking their homes, knowing they were going to catch some "hooligan" teens and instead watching a couple almost 50s just enjoying their new truck (and come off it for pete's sake, it wasn't even 9 pm!).

We have the yearly elections for LSA coming up on the 21st as well as the nine day Ridvan Festival. Right after that is Declaration of the Bab and Ascension of Baha'u'llah.

No rest for the ... um ... righteous? Hahahaha! I'd never make it as a comedian, I laugh too much at my own jokes.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

mmmBye-bye, Love you!

For the longest time I was a "homemaker" in the very literal sense of the word. I made the home. Certainly not on my own and definitely with the help of others, but that was my job and was what I did. My life evolved around my home, my children, my husband, those who lived with us and my faith.

As a consequence of this I rarely spoke to people outside of my world. Every once in awhile I would run into someone I had gone to school with downtown and they would ask me where I was living now. When I answered, "Here, Astoria." They looked at me in disbelief. Where had I been? Were hubby and I still married? I was always a little amused that I could be living in the same small county with my friends from school, yet see them more often in Portland than around "home".

As I said, I rarely spoke to people outside of my world. When I did get out and about it was almost in desperation that I would yak away to another adult that I wasn't related to. Discussing things that didn't have anything to do with raising teenagers, constructing curriculum, figuring out agendas, answering letters, it was bliss for me. For the other person, YIKES!

Face to face was okay. You can see the person and know how to gauge yourself. If they looked pained I was talking too loud, or too passionate, or about something that was uncomfortable for them. Pre-teens pretty much talk about anything, adults - not so much. Ending conversations was always hard, too. They were always done and ready to be on their way loooong before I was. Which was awkward for both of us. My inner voice would be telling me, "Just say GOOD-BYE, let the person go," but on and on my mouth would babble.

I recognize the illness when I see certain people coming towards me who have pre-teens and teens, now. I chuckle and take my lumps and let them talk. Some people were nice enough to let me babble on and really saved a kid's life when it was much too early for me to have to go back home!

All that said, sometimes when I am tired or weary I find myself slipping back into those old habits where I spent so many years of my life. Those years when the only ones I talked to on the phone for weeks and weeks at a time were family. Thats right, no one else. Not even a bill collector! Just family.

We are in the middle of our fast now, the period of time when Baha'is the world over contemplate the spirtitual and from sunup until sundown refrain from food or liquids. By about 4 pmish, my brain is pretty much mush. I cannot gulp enough coffee before the sun comes up to sustain me for the day. And even though I "do" vitamins and eat good protein breakfasts 4 o'clock comes and my brain goes away, and I am on automatic pilot.

Do I know this, for sure? Ummmm, yeah, I do. Yesterday I finished a phone call with a business associate. A very important business associate. After I hung up my mother asked me who I was talking to, I asked why? She said, "Was it someone in the family?" I replied no, going over the conversation in my head I couldn't see how anything she would have overheard would have given her that impression. I was very definately talking business.

"Why would you think it was a family member?" I asked her. "The fact that you said, 'mmmBye-bye, love you' at the end sort of indicated it was family," she replied.

NO! NO! NO! I did NOT say that!

YES! YES! YES! You did, she replied.

Why would she tell me? I had obviously said it and couldn't take it back. Why tell me now, so I can writhe in agony at what the person thought when I concluded our business talk with, with, THAT!

I sat in appalled silence for a solid five minutes. And then came to the conclusion that I can either jump off a bridge or pretend like it didn't happen. I hate hieghts and would be giving too many people satisfaction if I jumped so I am pretending like it didn't happen. And if YOU are reading this, I'd appreciate it if you pretended it didn't happen, too!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

We all want to be beautiful

This is really an awesome "transformation" and one I intend on using in one of the pre-youth group sessions. With so much emphasis on looks young girls can see how those "beauties" in the magazines don't really exist at all.

The more we can illuminate the young, to see with their own eyes, hear with their own ears, think with their own minds, the less of an effect the "leaders" of any type of organization will have unless their message is true and their intent is for the betterment of humanity, not one small isolated part of it.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Some Questions Answered

I am so weary right now, but the good kind of weary. Half-way through a second weekend 20 hour intensive (yes, that is 10 hours of study today and 10 again tomorrow, did the same last weekend). It is excellent material regarding the spiritual development of junior youth (12-14 yrs old, approx). Unique in that we are learning to be "animators". Not teachers, not facilitators, "animators".

Animator: One that provides or imparts life, interest, spirit, or vitality.

Yeah, that is what we were learning how to do! Essential to the course is acknowledging the innate qualities of junior youth.

Could ye apprehend with what wonders of My munificence and bounty I have willed to entrust your souls, ye would, of a truth, rid yourselves of attachment to all created things, and would gain a true knowledge of your own selves -- a knowledge which is the same as the comprehension of Mine own Being. Ye would find yourselves independent of all else but Me, and would perceive, with your inner and outer eye, and as manifest as the revelation of My effulgent Name, the seas of My loving-kindness and bounty moving within you. (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 326)

I must repeat this. Essential to the course is acknowledgment of the innate qualities of pre-youth. Can you imagine what our educational system would be like if teachers acknowledged who it was they were teaching? What they were teaching?

We learned, studied and talked. About these precious souls who are our tomorrow and how they are being lost to apathy and materialism due to the influence of the adults they are surrounded by. We blame "society" but who makes up "society"? We blame advertising and the movies, yet who provides the profits for both of these to go forward. We talked about how many want "laws" to cover so many things individual freedom is completely stifled, yet the overall human condition still does not improve. Life gets "better" for a few at the oppression of many.

Another important concept we focused on was that we were helping to create junior youth groups but they owned them. It was a "group" and not a "class". We weren't there to lecture or moralize. We were there to guide allowing them to own their behaviors which mean they owned their accomplishments as well as their failures. Modeling behavior that showed them mistakes were an accepted part of growth. Looking for opportunities to serve the community in meaningful ways (do not be the 20th canned food drive through the neighborhood, unless it is directly helping their neighborhood and they thought of and are implementing it).

Service is another core area of the junior youth group. Showing them that they are capable of being the catalyst for change in their environment is one of the most empowering things we will be able to impart to them. Through a recognition of their innate abilities, learning to cultivate those abilities for the betterment of humanity, they can learn that there is more to life than just survival, more to life than just self gratification, more to life than having what or more than the neighbor has.

As I said, very exciting, but so much to cram into 10 hours. And the past week has been so very hectic. It seems like all the news happens in one week, people to interview, phone calls to make, meetings to go to. All top of that I have diligently been dodging doctors for the last two years so this last week was crammed with appointments of the sorts that people my age are supposed to have done yearly, and people with my "condition" (Fibro) are supposed to have attended to every three months, and people having "survived" what I did (cancer) are supposed to really take serious at the 20 year mark (which was 2 years ago). Who has time for that? I had to make time for it under threats from hubby and family. Hours at the doctors, hours at the hospital waiting for this test and that mri. Could they try to make that drink more disgusting, please?

This next week is crammed, again! More testing on Monday, off to Beaverton on Tuesday to sign final estate paperwork. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are three different seminars that I am reporting on and right now I am so tired I can't remember what on. I know one of them is FERC related, another is climate but for the life of me I can't remember the third. Man, I hope I remembered to put it on my cell phone calendar.

And now to top it off I come home so late and find NCO is "littered" with so much off topic garbage I want to weep. With it now being picked up by Capitol Clips (legislator news service in Salem) we really can't afford to have the junk that one in particular seems to collect remaining on the site. Then I get to bare the brunt of his wrath when it is erased. Ah well, that's what I get the big bucks for, eh?

I should run a column like Ann does and call it Some Questions Answered.

"The big bucks you accuse me of being paid? I am paid less than a county commissioner."

"No, I do not participate in partisan politics, I do try to present a point of view that appears is not being presented anywhere else."

"No big corporation, or small corporation, or anyone else monetarily supports We get by on side jobs that the editor (Tryan Hartill) and myself take on. Such as building websites, or working 16 hours a day at a smokehouse. At this time we feel that by not accepting advertising dollars we can provide a point of view that is beholden to no one. We lose nothing, nor do we gain anything, dependent upon the news we choose to run or how we choose to run it."

Because we are freer to run articles unfettered by financial ties we feel honor bound to present those views that are less seen, are being marginalized, silenced or refused in other media.

What I find revealing is that some people appear to complain more about something they receive for free more then something they have paid for.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

We Wii all the day at home

For the last year our support group has been discussing the benefits of Wii and the various games, especially Wii fit, in helping with balance issues as well as overall workouts, especially in bad weather.

I finally broke down and bought one, for my father of course. And, given the expense, for the rest of the family, too. Honestly, I didn't think we would use it all that much. However, the last time the "family" had a game system my son was my grandson's age. My father does use it, and it has been a lot of fun watching him ski down the slopes. The first few times he attempted the ski jump he did a perfect snowball. We all laughed so hard at the look on his face!

My mom and grandson race one another on Mario racecar. Round and round and round? Umm, not so much. Mom's eyesight is slightly askew since the tumor on her optical nerve a while back and Grandson is three. At the beginninng, half of the time they are both going in the opposite direction. Now, they both are pretty good. Mom's eyesight, of course, hasn't gotten any better but she adapts well. Grandson does better each time he plays but he isn't real big on sharing, the big baby.

Eldest and our son, of course, do the best and we use their car licenses since they have opened up more of the race courses. To even try to race either of them is a practice in frustration. They just plain cheat, shooting turtle shells at you if you get ahead of them flipping bananas at you when you are right behind them. Stupid show offing cheaters.

Yeah, Wii teaches a lot about sportsmanship and family unity! One of the fun family games, actually, is the bowling one. As competitive as our family can be we actually play WITH one another when we bowl and not AGAINST one another. High fives, coaching (ya' weirdo's notwithstanding), cheers and an occassional toppling over of the screen since we connect the Wii up to the projector and show it on the "big" screen. Ah, yes, good times!

I, actually, have to monitor myself and I dread getting an actual fantasy game because I would really lose myself in it. With the amount of research I do (and you just wouldn't believe the amount I do on an article) sometimes I have cranial overload. A mindless game on the Wii is perfect to just let me vegetate out while I am sorting through all of the info I recently downloaded. The problem being all of a sudden two hours has gone by instead of twenty minutes! ACK!!! Thank goodness for the shrill voice of the Grandson whining, "Its MY TURN 'Bika! Yer, supposta share!" Or, "I'm telling!"

I look around in bemusement. We are all sitting here staring at the screen, who's he going to run off and tell?

PS> Ask Hubby how well he does on the game! Heeheeeheeee! Kaden can at least someone!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Wading in the Shallow End of Humanity

Sometimes, the shallowness of my own self appalls me. I really wanted to be emotional about this inauguration. It is a big deal. It is a historic moment. It does mean things have dramatically changed and whether or not one agrees or disagrees that this was the man to do it, we have finally progressed to the point where a black man in the white house is a reality.

Saying that does bring a sense of awe to my mind. And I think, later, after many years go by, this will have been an historic moment. Yet, watching it unfold on Tuesday I could only feel a glimpse of it here and there. I saw a child of about nine or ten in the crowd along the parade route suddenly overcome with emotion and bury his head in his hands. A sob of pride?

Of course, we were watching it via ESPN, so it was sports announcers giving commentary and one of the sport people they were interviewing said that when he was going to school a white teacher would say, "You live in America, you know how great that is? You can be anything, even the president." And he thought, "not us!" and how that is now changed. Black children can really believe they can be anything.

Hearing that story I felt something, but when the camera would flash back to the live action I felt nothing. A part of me was anxious. I did fear that a shot was going to ring out. The trust Obama has in the men in black is something I don't have. The fanfare was so remote, almost the way Christmas felt this year. As if it was something one just had to do to get on to something else. You wanted it to be good, and people to enjoy it and be happy but you didn't feel connected to it.

Grandson K loves his new president. Calls him "Rocko Bama". He knows Rocko's wife's name but not his daughters. "That's okay, their kinda old" he said. "I probably won't see them at school". Ya' think?

What startled me the most, and here shows me swimming in the shallowest pools of humanity, in all of the hallaballoo over Obama, in keeping NCO updated and doing my own research, the thing that rocked my boat was coming across the evidence that .....

I am older than the President of the United States of America. WHAT? When? How? Why? Someone younger than me is making decisions regarding the fate of, virtually, the entire world??? If he pushes "that" button, that could be it! I look at my hubby, and God love him for all of his virtues, but he is a pup! And he has seen a lot of the world and done a lot of stupid things and learned a lot from his mistakes but you and I both know he's going to be making a whole heck of a lot more. And Obama? Has he made enough MISTAKES to have learned well from them?

I mean, I am kinda old, but not really. When someone is in the drivers seat of the world, don't you want them to be experienced, don't you want the testing "why don't we try this?" "what the hell!" phase to be over? I think I am hyperventillating. What were people thinking about? They want CHANGE? Constant change or consistent change? AAACK!

I am older than the president! Maybe that is a good thing? Maybe, suddenly, youth have gotten smarter? Or is middle age just older? He still has children in grade school, for cripes sake! Okay, several friends of ours still have children in grade schoool. But, can you make rational decisions when the teacher is griping at you that your spending more time with the pentagon than with your daughter on her math homework and therefore she probably is going to hate science when she hits high school and its all your fault? Or will Michelle take the hit for all of that? And, honestly, do I care?

Random thought: I wonder what would have happened had Michelle announced she would prefer to homeschool? Crap, I'm older than the first lady, too.

Is there anyone old around these people? Whew, there's Hilary, and Biden is almost 20 years older. No, not much age but a lot of travel. His team of advisers has travelled the globe, many of them raised outside of the United States. Their view of how the world sees the US definately shaped from the outside in. Will it be enough?

Will how you lived be enough instead of how long you've lived? Will learning from others mistakes be enough, rather than learning from your own? Will taking responsibility for others actions be acceptable and will you have enough room to be able to take the blame for your own actions as well?

And all the while that I watched and think all of these thoughts I am still so shallow and vain. I would never have thought forty-eight hours would mean so much.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Goodbye, Kathy Grammer

Devon Gundry's tribute to Kathy Grammer

Red Grammer singing Kathy's song See Me Beautiful on the Great Wall of China

Thank-you for your songs and, with your husband Red, bringing so much joy to our children, our lives and our car trips. Rest well and then have a blast. May you be called on often.