New Year’s Observations

It’s 2015 and the last year is now just in the history books. It’s the time of year that people make their resolutions and start dieting, running, giving up smoking/drinking/wearing a purple monkey suit to work. Well, I don’t make resolutions, but I think I’d like to make some observations.

We moved from Northern Virginia to Eureka CA one year and two months ago. More than enough time to get settled in, find our land legs (so to speak) and get an idea of what we had gotten ourselves into with that cross-county change of address. There’s only so much you can learn from Internet research and there’s a lot of things that never make it to “meme” level.

The cold hard facts: Eureka is located 5 hours north of San Francisco, 7 hours south of Portland, nestled with its twin city, Arcata, along the shores of Humboldt Bay. With the mountains to the east and the ocean to the left, Eureka enjoys a moderate climate, referred to as “cool-summer Mediterranean”. It has a population of about 30,000 which swells to 45,000 during the business day. It is the only deep water harbor between SF and Coos Bay, WA. And apparently everybody within 3-4 hours comes here for July 4th.

And now, for your reading pleasure, observations I have made in this 14 month period, in no particular order:

In our first week here, we saw a man in a finely tailored green silk suit (steampunk style). He was wearing a matching hat, also made of green silk; a top hat with an exaggerated brim, not unlike the Mad Hatter’s. It was at least 3 feet tall and at least that wide.

The fireworks on July 4th would put any major city to shame: over 20 minutes long, lots of incredible bursts–and all hand fired. I also got to see Captain America doing the walk of shame the morning of July 5th. I’ve seen a man walking his turkey. I’ve seen enough dreadlocks and tie-dye to wonder if this is really 1967. I’ve seen more than one dog sitting quite happily in the trailer on his master’s bike as they roll down the road. I’ve seen our local grocery store clerk, wearing his steampunk top hat to work (regular size), with trimmings to coordinate with the holidays. I’ve seen parts of the kinetic sculpture parade.

I have also seen the ocean as often as we can get out to the beach. Each time is the same–but different. When we got here, there was a little spit at our part of the beach. Nine months and countless tides later, it’s moved about 300 feet north. And at the beach, we see (and watch AND watch for): pelicans, seagulls of all kind; various other unidentified sea birds–and a pair of ravens who have staked out this stretch of sand for their own. We have seen seals, but no whales. Yet. We’ve seen people surfing and people trying to surf. Crazy children in the water (cold water!!), and lots and lots of dogs.

As my Beloved would tell you, on the East Coast, when you go to the beach there is a billboard of “Thou Shalt Nots”–no glass, no animals, no tents, no no no no. And the beaches are still wall to wall of oiled bodies…but here? There are three rules: Beware of the riptide (and you can see the difference in water color where it is); don’t turn your back on the ocean and if you feel an earthquake, think tsunami and go to high ground. Oh, and no parking from 10 pm to 6 am. (To discourage people from sleeping there.)

So on our beach there are dogs, happy happy dogs, running, fetching, splashing, then running up on the blanket to shake off on everyone. I’ve seen dogs from “Are you sure that’s a dog? Looks more like a rat.” up to “Are you sure that’s a dog? Looks more like a horse.” and every size in between. Just so you know: dog poop on the beach dries out (probably makes a great fire starter) and looks like brown rocks. Be careful in your stone collecting.

We’ve seen horses and their riders, trotting happily on the sand–or just like you see it in the movies, in the front edge of the water, running fast enough to make the ocean spray rise up as they move along. And of course the steel horses: ATVs, SUVs and Jeeps all passing by. I’ve watched kites flying in the ever-present wind (really never gets below about 4 mph). Children of all sizes and colors, gender irrelevant in the joy of being at the beach. Playing in the water, running shrieking as the waves come rolling in, making sand castles and digging out moats.

The beach is a happy place for us even though we can’t get very far down the beach. (It’s not the walk *down*, it’s have to come back *up* the hill, exacerbated by the fact that it’s not a nice solid stone hill, but a sand dune. In the “winter”, when it’s too chilly, we sit in the van and watch from that warmth. In the summer, when it’s cool but the sun warms you up…we drag out folding chairs out a few feet from the front of the van, set up and watch. We might bring some donuts (the best I’ve ever had, made by Asians…who knew?), or a sandwich. We’ve been known to bring beer–and so do other people.

And yet…there is no trash, no broken glass. The only detritus is the ashes of a fire pit (yes, you can have FIRE on the beach–and in fact, there’s a guy who drops off old pallets, just stacks them on the beach for anyone to use)–and the aforementioned “brown rocks”. The day after 4th of July, there was a lot of firework waste…and a young man, with his lady friend, were walking along the beach, picking it up. They filled their car with trash and beer cases. They didn’t belong to the city’s sanitation department, they had no connection to the county waste program. Just two citizens, doing their part to keep things clean.

And that’s something I could not find on the Internet. People take personal responsibility for keeping things neat and cleaned up. There are trash cans–and recycling cans–all over town. And people use them! Even the children know which kind of trash goes where. And the citizenry is HOT on recycling. Most of the people I see at the grocery store have brought their own (reusable) bags–and not just because the store gives a nickel’s credit for each bag. The UU fellowship we attend has two buckets to scrape potluck leftovers into–one for compost, the other is meat and other non-compost-able items.

I know what the statistics say about Eureka, unemployment and homeless population. Yes, there is a much more visible homeless population than we had in NoVA. I think because there, the problem is swept out of sight. We don’t want to acknowledge that there are people who don’t have a place to sleep at night…so we turn away and don’t see them. It’s hard to do that here since it is not this city’s goal to hide the problem. Oh, they occasionally get told to “move along”, but by and large, as long as they’re not hassling anyone, fighting or breaking the law (in the same manner that you or I might, NOT “breaking the law” by being poor and homeless), the police leave them alone. They sleep in the cover of the bushes or move up into the hills for warm weather. They have backpacks or shopping bags, or some even have discarded baby strollers. No baby, just their stuff–or, maybe their dog.

A lot of our homeless have a dog. And while the man may look thin and undernourished, the dog never does. The most common breed? The American Staffordshire Terrier (or as we all call them, “pit bulls”). And they are friendly, well behaved and utterly devoted to their human. Remember, this is the breed that used to be known as the “nanny dog” because they look out for their people. I have never seen two dogs get nasty with each other when they’re passing…like the people, they are kind and polite to each other as well as to the humans. (Lots of opportunity for a major dog fight out on the beach quite often. It’s never happened.)

And I’ve seen enough homeless people to know that this is the opening wave of what may very well be a lot more homeless people if the world (and our economy) continues to ignore the fact that if you kill off all the “not rich” people, there is no one to do the work or buy your products. So I’ve seen men and women, adults only–haven’t seen any children who are obviously homeless, but they must exist. I’ve seen young and old, veterans and civilians; black and white and red and yellow; in wheelchairs or scooters. They know when they should congregate out back of the Department of Health and Human Services for the guy who brings a truck with hot coffee (and food).

The homeless in Eureka make “stone soup” every night. Each person brings what they have and they share with each other. There is a food pantry in town where they can get a box of food for the month–something from each of the types of food: protein, vegetables, fruit, grains, dairy. It may not be the best of things, but it’s food. I know, we get our box once a month, too. Never thought I’d be doing that, but when there’s no income for me and we’re living off of Beloved’s SSDI…you take what you can get.

And here’s another funny thing about the homeless people here: they are polite, friendly and do NOT scream profanity at you if you don’t have any money. Oh, and they just ask for “spare change”. If you can’t, then they say, “No worries, thanks man.” And they go on with their day.

It must be something in the water, or perhaps it comes from the ocean air. All of the people here are polite and kind. They are patient, happily waiting until you can clear the register, no one in a hurry and getting irate. If you ask a question and they don’t know the answer, they will find someone who does–or stand there, talking to you, to work it out. The grocery store clerks will very happily pack and then take your bags out to the car–and put them into the car. Without holding their hand out and there’s no sign posted about”No tipping” (like Wegman’s in NoVA).

This extends to their driving. Rush hour here is a joke, compared to the soul-searing hell of rush hour everywhere in NoVA. In Virginia, we measured distance in time: how long will it take you to get there. Problem with that is if you live 20 miles from work and can travel on roads that are 55 mph, you can get there in as little as 30-35 minutes (depending on the lights) BUT it can also take a couple of hours without an apparent reason for that. And you never know, until you’re on the road, which kind of a day it is: half an hour or 2 hours.

Here in Eureka, rush hour means a little slow down, letting more people turn onto and off of the main road and dealing with the lights. When we first got here and were using the GPS to find our way around, we were coming down the road and the GPS bonged. Then the nice lady voice said, “Traffic congestion ahead, 2 miles. Time of delay: 2 minutes.” Beloved almost crashed the car because he was laughing at that so hard. I was too…traffic congestion in VA is like miles and miles of parking lot, with a delay of hours, not minutes. Better have your book and a bottle of water to pass the time.

The 4th of July weekend had about double the normal amount of traffic–and you could tell who was from out of town, because they drove like maniacs. Natives just go with the flow, letting people in and not sweating getting to their destination 5 minutes after they thought they would.


Okay, so I suck at coming back and finishing up a blog article. It’s now the 17th of February. But I am just going to add this to what I had started because it says what I wanted to say then and I wouldn’t change it now. I’ll just write some more about what’s going on now.

I’ve had my follow up appointment with my PCP (finally!). He’s still all hot for me to go see a neurosurgeon because of the issues with my spine–but I’m gonna kind of take it slow and try some other forms of treatment before going under the knife. It’s not just that I’d have to go to San Francisco to have the surgery, but that arrangements would have to be made for my convalescence. I cannot come up the stairs and then lay in the bed for a month or 6 weeks while things heal up. My Beloved cannot take care of me with all the things I’d need.

Part of my delay for getting cut open began today with my in-take evaluation at the physical therapy place here in town. (Called “Vector”, which is how I’ll refer to it from here on.) I’ll be doing water therapy in a pool that is kept at 84 degrees, in a room that is kept at 80 degrees. If I do nothing else, I can at least get gravity off my spine for a while. Pain relief is the main goal for me, so we shall see how it goes. I have already made the request for a TENS unit–a little box of Heaven which I look forward to with great anticipation.  Beloved also goes and so we’ve got a handful of simultaneous appointments “in the pool” for the next month.

I start with 7 visits: 1 in-take eval, 5 therapy sessions (in the pool!) and a 2nd eval to see if the therapy is having any results. It’s stupid because obviously, this therapy should be like my Vicodin: ongoing and maintenance levels. Not “take it for a week and then you shouldn’t need it any more”. But the therapist says that the VA will probably then allow 12 visits, so that’s another couple of months at once or twice a week. One small step at a time.

I have also gotten a change in my anti-depression medication. As you may remember, I have been taking Venlafexine (Efexor) and had come to realize that it’s just not doing as good a job as one could hope for. So we (the psychiatrist and me) are sliding me off the Venlafexine and slowing building me up on Welbutrin. We’ll see if that works. I hope so, otherwise I get to do this process again with another (different) medication. But I am willing to do whatever it takes to stop having suicidal thoughts.

We are eagerly anticipating a 10 day visit from Beloved’s parents. They will be staying in a motel, as we have absolutely no room to put them up in our apartment–and we’ll be introducing them to all the good places we’ve found to eat. I think they are more than ready to get out of NoVA and they want to live close to their children, so this visit is almost a house-hunting, get familiar with the town sort of a trip. His sister is in IL, and she would then just come here for holidays and rest trips, being able to see all of the family in one go instead of having to fly to the East Coast and the West Coast. I hope that Eureka meets their expectations–and then exceeds them, same as it did for us.

Nothing much else going on. Still waiting for the LTD insurance company to decide if they’re going to reinstate my benefits. They want an independent evaluation and that may mean a trip of up to 150 miles (one way) to see a doctor who will accept the job. Fortunately the company is willing to provide transportation and lodging. I need to ask if they will also be willing to give us some $$ for food. But this evaluation means that a decision about yes or no isn’t going to happen within the next month, maybe even two or three. The anxiety about money is a big one and it’s not getting any better until LTD comes through or, miracle of miracles, SSDI gets approved. I’m not holding my breath for either of them because I’d be long dead if I did.

So that’s about it for me now. It’s mostly SSDD, but I do like to check in with you all on a somewhat regular basis. I still have fibro, life is still pretty stressful, but I’m still hanging on and hoping for good things to come along. Peace out!

Advertisements

The Lost Child

Start here: Miscarriage Stories

And then there’s this:

OrganDonorsandPregnantWomen

So the battle over women, their bodies, pregnancy and the rights of the unborn continues to rage.  You can’t use birth control.  You can’t have an abortion if it’s beyond a certain amount of time, or if you weren’t raped, or if the child is deformed or the product of incest.  You can have the child removed forcibly from your body without your consent (Forcible Cesarean) or if you suffer catastrophic illness, up to death (and resuscitation) and you end up in a coma, you can be kept on life support to be an incubator for your fetus (TX woman in coma) against your express wishes to not have your own life extended by artificial means.

But what about the women who desperately want a child?  Who are actively attempting to become pregnant and have every intention of carrying the child for 40 weeks to a safe delivery–and cannot?  The sheer numbers of women who are not able to maintain a pregnancy are staggering.  (Fertility Data )  A long time ago I heard that 1 in 9 couples are not able to have a child together (which includes male infertility as well).  That’s a lot of people.  It’s greater than 10% of the population–or to put it into more imaginable perspective: if you have a party and invite 10 couples over, at least one of those couples will not be able to have a child.  And most of us know at least 10 couples.

I was very, very blessed.  I have never had to go through the agony of a miscarriage; I got pregnant three times and I have three children.  But I know far too many women who have had to deal with this–and sometimes, more than once.  Even my own mother had infertility problems.  The fact that she and my father were married for two years before I was born (and no birth control during that time) and my brother is 7 years younger than I am indicates a less-than-optimal chance for pregnancy for her.  And she had a miscarriage between the two of us.

My father’s mother had a miscarriage between each of her 4 children.  My mother’s mother carried to full term a daughter with esophageal atresia  where  the esophagus does not grow down to the stomach correctly–and this was in the 1940’s.  So the surgery they do to correct this today was barely out of its own infancy at the time.  My grandmother comforted herself by thinking that perhaps my aunt’s surgery, even though it was not successful for her, gave the doctors greater knowledge and ability so that they could save other children.  

And when we visited the cemetery where my grandparents were eventually buried, we always went to look at my aunt’s tiny grave, in a row of children’s graves.

Of course I have also had friends who miscarried.  So I have been a bystander in the sorrow of losing the promise of child, the hope of a baby that you’ll never know.  I cannot imagine the feelings involved and I prefer not to try.  Once I had my own children, I couldn’t bear to even think of anything bad happening to them.  I would weep just from news stories or magazine articles that dealt with childhood traumas and accidents.

A friend share the article above and coupled with the photograph, set me to thinking about all the “stuff” that goes on around pregnancies.  I can understand why there is a hesitation about announcing a pregnancy until the child has settled in solidly (so to speak).  It begs the question of whether this generation of women is having more miscarriages than women did before all the industrial agricorp foods, with the myriad of chemicals added to everything, the state of our environment and the lack of pure, unadulterated drinking water.  I’m not even sure where to start that kind of research and find numbers to put in this blog.

Regardless of why it happens, there are many reasons for miscarriage–or what can also be accurately called “spontaneous abortion” because the body itself will expel a fertilized ovum when the zygote has no chance of survival out of the womb.  (One of the odd biology class facts I’ve retained since high school (back in the dark ages, haha) is that 80% of all conceptions end in spontaneous abortion. So the fact that we even can get pregnant and stay pregnant long enough to increase our population only attests to how much loving is going on.)  The reason for your miscarriage may be different than the reason for your friend’s–or maybe there’s no understandable or knowable reason at all.  The point is, miscarriage is a very common occurrence…but that doesn’t make it any easier for any woman who has to go through it.

I ask you, then: why are so many women silent about what has happened?  There is no shame in a miscarriage; no stigma in the loss.  Or did I miss something?  I seem to remember my mother, and her mother, talking about miscarriage in a normal tone of voice–not a hushed, secretive voice.  Someone had miscarried and while that was very sad, it wasn’t a rare or unknown event (sorry to say).  When did it go underground?  And assuming I’m not wrong about that, WHY did it go underground?

If  we wait until after that first trimester to announce our pregnancy, what do we do about the pregnancies that turn into miscarriages?  How do we honor the life that was lost? How do we acknowledge the miracle of a beloved (but unknown) soul that didn’t make it onto the Earth? How do we mourn, when there is no grave to visit? No pictures to look at, no memories of the face of our child?

Even a very early miscarriage, when it is really just a blob of cells, hardly identifiable as being something that will be a person some day…even that blob holds the hope of a child, OUR child.  Please note that I am NOT getting into the discussion of when life begins.  I have VERY strong views on that which contain such phrases as “viability” and “live outside the womb unaided” and most especially “quality of life”–for the mother AND the child.  But every act of sexual intercourse without birth control contains the idea, the dice throw of possibility, of the starting point for the creation of life, which culminates with the bringing a new person into this world, planned for or not.

It is an inalienable right for every woman to decide what she tells anyone at all about her body and its condition, and pregnancy certainly falls under that right.  So does miscarriage.  Letting them know and NOT letting them know are both good, solid options.

But silence about something this life-altering may not be the BEST choice.  And I mean both states of being: “pregnant” and then “not pregnant”.  I’m not going to discuss silence about being pregnant.  That’s for another blog someday.  So let’s move on to the silence that very often surrounds miscarriage.

There are many, many reasons not to talk about a miscarriage.  Like any other tragedy, having to repeat it endlessly keeps it fresh and dreadful in the mind and heart.  And to put it bluntly, there are just some people who don’t need to butt into your business and don’t need to be told.  Those Helpful Hannahs will talk your ear off about THEIR miscarriage, and how THEY felt when all you want to do is scream your anguish and throw china dishes at the wall.  They are worse than those whose eyes tear up and they hold you close and just keep saying, “I’m so sorry.  I’m so sorry.”  Sympathy can be tolerated; clueless nattering about their pain without so much as a “I feel ya” to acknowledge yours is beyond bearing.

There’s also a sense of following the old adage of  “Least said, soonest mended.”  It’s over and done with, why keep talking about it?  No point in going on and on.  Move on with your life.  It’s not like it was “real baby” anyways…  It was just a miscarriage, for goodness’ sake.  REALLY?  I don’t care if it was an accidental pregnancy and now you don’t have to pay for an abortion.  (But you will pay in guilt and remorse for feeling relieved…and that’s not necessary, either.)  I don’t care if the woman had a history of “female problems” and was told she’d never even GET pregnant, so what did you expect anyway?  (Try to have hope that the doctors were wrong, that you can have a child of your body with your beloved…and then lose that hope in a gush of blood and pain.)  I don’t care if this was a carefully planned, carefully thought out pregnancy that ended in miscarriage through nobody’s fault, it just happens that way (and more often than one might think.)

Whatever the reason for becoming pregnant and whatever the cause for the miscarriage, you are going to have strong, sustained feelings about it.  Trying to mash them into a box in the back corner of the attic of your mind only means that they will pop out, like a Jack in the box, at the single most inopportune time and place.  Promise.  That’s how mashed feelings are.  Doesn’t matter what they are: relief, pain, sorrow, anger, whatever.  You’ve got’em and they ain’t going away.

So you lock them down and go back to “life before the pregnancy”.  Except that you WERE pregnant and now you’re not and everything has changed.  It’s like losing an arm or a leg, or suddenly being struck blind.  The world is completely different than the one before sperm and egg combined.  You can’t hide from babies in strollers, toddlers on swings, children playing tag on the grass.  You can’t pretend that you don’t see the fathers and the mothers, all with their children, living their lives together.  You cannot completely fool yourself into thinking that you’re just fine and this has not changed you in the least.

You may think to yourself, “But I DON’T want to talk about it.”  And then you get into the company of  a (any) group of women and the topic comes up.  One by one, the stories come out.  And friends you’ve had for years admit that they have a Lost Child somewhere out in the Universe, a child whose face they never saw.  And you…can either tell them or not, but you know that you are a part of this category of women forever, the Women Who Have Had a Miscarriage.

I am not advocating the wholesale blurting this out to everyone you meet.  (Although I suspect that there are women who do indeed deal with their own miscarriage by doing precisely that.)  What I’m saying is that who you tell is up to you.  It may just be to the child’s father.  Or your mother.  Or your doctor.  Doesn’t matter.  But you need to talk to someone who will listen to you without interrupting, who can offer you comfort and support, who can help you grieve for what was lost and can never be recovered, only replaced.

There is an easing of pain in this sharing of miscarriage and loss.  Trouble shared is trouble halved, so the saying goes.  I don’t know about that, but I do know that finding out that you are not alone in your sorrow, that others KNOW what you are going through…makes it possible for you to go on.  Just knowing that someone else has climbed this mountain means that it can be climbed, that you can do it as well.  Sometimes, that’s all we need to make through another day, to keep on with living until the pain subsides to a dull roar and then a faint echo that only catches us occasionally instead of constantly.

With every tragedy there is also a lesson we learn, a strength we are given or a willingness to accept what is and find a way to live with that.  Your Lost Child may guide you, through their very absence, to an aspect of your own being that you did not know you had, or had not given enough attention to its formation and growth.  It may be a chance for someone in your life to become closer to you, love growing out of like and friendship into something more, in the common bond of the grieving.  It may strengthen the relationship with your significant other; if you can weather this dreadful a storm together, clinging to each other and coming through the other side more committed to each other…then you can face anything together and win.

I would also suggest that you talk frankly, and openly, with any siblings the Lost Child might have had, in an age appropriate manner of course.  Even if it’s a bit awkward for you, even if everyone cries…this is life, it’s not always like you see on TV.  Sometimes bad stuff happens and this is how our family deals with it–together and with love (and information!).  If you don’t, you do a disservice to your children.  If they are old enough to understand it (even if it’s only that something bad happened), they are old enough to talk about it, even in the most simple terms.

My son was five years old when my grandmother died–and we were at her bedside for that last weekend of her life.  She waited until everyone had left the room on Monday morning and then departed for the other side.  So we then had to go into action, getting the body out and preparing the funeral, etc.  He went out back and was sitting on the porch when the next door neighbor came out and asked what he was doing…he told her that Grandmom had died and he was sad.  She agreed that it was something to be sad about and later on, told me what had happened.

Talk about guilt.  He felt that he couldn’t come to me, because I was up to my eyeballs in stuff and I hadn’t even realized he was outside.  So the moral to this particular little story is that even a fairly young child can understand when something momentous occurs, good or bad.  And as their parent, it is up to you to help them absorb it and express the feelings it creates.  And it’s always good to let them know that you also have feelings about it, and what those feelings are.

There is so much that can be associated with this Lost Child of yours.  The Lost Child may not have ever had a name but you will carry them in your heart for the rest of your life.  The Lost Child is a dream, the best and most perfect child one could hope for.  The Lost Child is the one that would fulfill all of your plans for offspring, would have succeeded beyond measure, would be all that you were not or that your other children could not accomplish.  The Lost Child will tease your thoughts with “What would he/she have looked like?”  “What would she/he have accomplished, would they have been like me or my husband?”  All the “what ifs”, all the unknown events and all the uncelebrated milestones belong to that Lost Child.

I offer you this bit of solace for your Lost Child: wherever the Lost Child goes, whatever your beliefs about afterlife and souls…they are never alone.  They are with all the other Lost Children, playing and singing and occasionally, whispering in your ear to remind you that once upon a time, they were YOUR Lost Child.

We each handle things in our own way, for sure. But sometimes silence is not the answer and we need to share the pain to make it easier to bear. Blessings of comfort and peace to all who have had this happen to them; my sisters, we are here to offer whatever you need, if only to listen to the story of your Lost Child.

Namaste!

Japanese Minimalism in a Consumerist World

We did it!  We actually, honest to the gods, did it.  Through terror and anxiety, with the help of friends and family…we packed a few boxes that my father-in-law is going to send to us, but the rest of the household stuff either went to someone else’s house, to the Fauquier County thrift store, or into the trash.  I don’t even want to think of the dollar value of the things that were straight out trashed.  It’s over and done with, I don’t know what exactly it was and I won’t ever see it again, so no need to think about it or worry over it.  I didn’t even have to clean the house, as F-i-law also hired someone to help us who managed to clean it up for me.

Things were so off schedule that we went to the airport in the clothes we had been wearing for about 3 days as we had packed and pitched and so on–there was no time to shower or put on traveling clothes.  Oh well.  We got to the airport and through TSA (might I suggest going in a a wheelchair, as you move to the head of the line?) and were at the gate with about 30 minutes to spare before the scheduled loading time.  You note that I said “SCHEDULED” loading time.  The plane was delayed 3 hours.  So we sat and tried to decompress from the high pressures of the month of preparation for that moment.

And as another note, I will never fly anything but First Class again.  Should I ever fly anywhere again.  Before we’re even off the ground, the First Class stewardesses are handing out drinks–and I mean DRINKS.  We had gin and tonics.  Once we were off the ground, it was more drinks, warmed mixed nuts and then dinner.  (Very nice, reasonably good food)  Then more drinks if you wanted and the TV was free, so we could watch movies or whatever.  Mr. Technology watched the live feed of our flight, sort of like watching the GPS when you’re driving.

We arrived in Sacramento to find the nice young men with the wheelchairs at the airplane DOOR.  They took us through the terminal, got our bags and we loaded up into the hotel shuttle.  Off to the hotel, which was very nice, thanks to our friend E who had provided it for us.  SLEEP, blessed sleep.  Up and out in the morning, back over to the airport to pick up the rental car and up the state we drove.

Got to Eureka just in time for my beloved to keep his promise: we stood on the beach and watched the sun set into the ocean.  It was cold and windy, so no toesies in the water.  And mostly, I just stood there and cried.  If I had actually been able to put my toes in the water, I think the rest of me would have followed.  Then off to dinner at the Cambodian place I had found during my research; very good food, interesting combination of Thai, Cambodian and Vietnamese.

And then began our learning about Eureka.  When I had been on Craig’s List, looking at cars and rentals, it was before the plague of locusts had arrived, in the form of the HSU students, who had taken every possible rental and all the cheap (but drive-able) cars.  It took longer than we had hoped (and budgeted for) to find a place to live–but here we are, actually about 4 miles south of Eureka, in Fields Landing.  We had to settle for an upstairs apartment–but we have also discovered that the stairs here are built lower in rise–about 4-5 inches–instead of the 7 inches in VA.  So there’s more of them, but you don’t have to do a high step to climb them.

So…you come up the stairs, and turn to the right to our apartment.  You walk into the kitchen (which has brand new stove and refrigerator) and then it’s a right hand turn through what is ostensibly the living room, but that is our bedroom, because it’s then another right hand turn into the largest room of the apartment, which we are using as living space.  The bathroom is off of this room, with only a walk-in shower, no tub.  Oh well.  The room itself has two windows, which face west–and if I look carefully, I can see the bay.  So water is only about 3 blocks away.

The apartment has been just redone, repainted and repaired—and like I said, new appliances.  We have a year’s lease but will then go month to month.  So we have time to look around and find a ground floor place, maybe a house even.  The stove is gas, as is the heat.  People have been telling us that sometimes the PG&E (gas and electric combined utility) bill is “high”–as much as $50 or $60 dollars per month.  We fall out laughing, since we were paying about an average of $180 per month.  I think we can handle this.

We explored the natural food store I had found online–it’s okay, a bit disappointing and not quite what I had hoped–but nearby is the North Coast Co-op and I suspect that we will do the majority of our shopping there.  We always have Costco–and this one nearly specializes in organic foods, because of the high demand for them here.

We’ve done our bit to get into the various helpful systems here–been to Social Services, got me updated in the VA health system and talked to their extra services (none of which we are eligible for as long as my LTD will hold out).  We have also had to go to Verizon for our phones since our (old) Sprint phones had exactly 0% coverage in the new place.  Verizon has a new tower on the hill just behind our apartment.

Since we didn’t bring furniture, we’re having to add it as we can.  Thanks to the generosity of friends and family, we were able to buy the actual bed we wanted instead of the interim we had planned–and so we’re sleeping great.  We bought some fold-down tables and got me a folding chair from Costco–and figure that this will work for the long term as well.

We met the neighbors from the house next door–seems they got a piece of mail for us, and coincidences abound when they told us that they used to live in this apartment.  They have been very informative and friendly, so we’ve already got someone to hang out with!  They have given us a chair that they were getting rid of that so Beloved doesn’t have to sit on a suitcase or lay on the bed to use his computer.

We’ve also met the man who lives in the apartment across the hall–a student at the College of the Redwoods, but an older man.  He’s in the middle of finals week, so we’re only catching glimpses of him for now.

Everyone here is kind, polite and as helpful as they can be.  No matter if it’s someone on the phone, at the store, or in a restaurant, even just on the street.  There is definitely a slower pace of life here–and based on the people we’ve seen, this is the Bohemian/tie-dye capital of the US.  Lots of dreadlocks, even (or especially) on the white people.  Lots of flannel pajama bottoms instead of pants (on the college students, I think).

The town itself is like stepping back into the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s.  Victorian homes, Craftsman style, Cape Cods…and things that look like the slave runs on plantations–all in the same block.  And there’s no “good” part of town versus a “bad” part of town.  It all sort of runs together.  And there’s a lot of dichotomy here: tech savvy people, listening to iPods and using tablets, but most restaurants do not have a website or online menu.  And the working people (waiters/waitresses, store clerks, etc) wear…almost anything, a lot of gauged ears and piercings and tattoos–but are some of the most professional people I’ve met.  And they are more than willing to go the extra steps to get you what you want, including ordering items for the store that doesn’t currently carry that thing.

The kindness and generosity to the veteran population is overwhelming to me.  I am not used to it, but once people find out that I am a vet, we get discounts and stuff that I wouldn’t have thought of asking for.  Apparently there’s a sufficient population of veterans that it’s just a matter of habit here in Eureka.

I told people before we moved that if it only turned out to be 50% of as wonderful as we hoped, it would still be better than staying in VA.  Well, that’s turning out to be quite true.  There are some down sides.

The un-considered and un-planned delay in finding housing really ate into our budget.  Our last major thing is a car, and we may have to do the “$199 down, and a million dollars a month for the rest of your life” plan to get one.  Ok, not quite that bad, but you know what I mean.  And we MUST have a car, and one that my dear Beloved will both fit into and be comfortable driving.  We are hoping for a van, fingers crossed.

As we drive around, and as we talk to more locals, we are discovering just how incredibly economically depressed this area is.  The jobless rate was not something I factored in; we aren’t going to need/have a job, so I didn’t really look at the unemployment rate.  And there are jobs to be had, but there is a large and visible homeless population.  (I’m willing to bet that it’s really no bigger in relation to the general population than in VA, only that in VA, we sneer at them and either render them invisible because we will not see them, or we shame them into trying to appear as “normal” as possible.  That’s not done here.)  There is an ongoing fight against meth and meth makers / dealers / users.  In fact, the house on the corner across from us is boarded up–used to be a meth house, and very active all the time.  BUT they got them out of here.  Oh, I know, to go somewhere else, but at least it’s not on my front doorstep now.

Another sign of the general “poorness” of the area is all the thrift stores–and there are a lot of them.  The “stylish” ones are up near the college (HSU) and get their stuff from the kids when they leave, so we’ve already been told that the time to hit those is just before the start of the semester, when they are full and ready for the students to descend, or just after the end of the term, when the students dump all the stuff they’re not taking with them.  We had not realized just how much of an impact that college has on all of the little towns around it–and HSU is actually about 5 miles north of Eureka, in Arcata.

Most of the restaurants are small, family run businesses.  So far, we’ve had some really good meals, only one was “eh” and only one was “never going back”–and that one was for a weird reason–the food was fresh, well cooked and beautifully presented, but…all the sauces came out of a bottle.  And for Chinese food?  That’s a sin.  We’ve already found a better one, with homemade sauces that are off the hook.  There are chain restaurants–mostly fast food, but there is an Appleby’s in town.

Eureka actually has TWO malls; there is a KMart, WalMart and a Target.  I, however, have already picked out about 27 things I want from the fair trade section (non-food items) in the Co-op.  Between Costco and the Co-op, I think I can manage most of our shopping.  Clothes…probably from online, until I am able to actually take the time to wander through the thrift stores and find all the Bohemian clothes I’ve wanted for years and couldn’t get…either because work wouldn’t let me or because I was used to was married to a very conservative, conventional man who would not have liked it.  The only thing Beloved has said is that he literally cannot stand tie-dye as it gives him a headache.  Patterns and patchwork don’t, so…it’s the gypsy life for me.

It’s interesting to see just how easy it is to live without all that stuff we used to have.  And that the desire to replace it has not surfaced.  There are some things we will need to get–cleaning products and the tools to use them (dust mop, etc).  We will be replacing the convection oven with a (slightly bigger and better) one because we used that a lot.  And we want a juicer, to get more of our vegetables in as close to nature as we can instead of taking a lot of supplements.  But generally, we aren’t going to buy a lot of “stuff”–and I don’t think either of us misses it.

Having to bring it up a flight of stairs adds another item on the checklist of “how necessary is this” so we can, I hope, live in the minimalist way we wanted when we chose to move and not return to being a candidate for “Hoarders”.  We look forward to spending time OUT of the house, which we were not doing in VA.  There’s a lot going on here: the beach, the coffee houses, and yes, the gaming.  We’ve been to North Coast Roleplaying and talked to the owner–who indicated a LARGE community of tabletop game players, including Pathfinders and ShadowRun.

So from this particular vantage point, I would say that we were right to move.  It has had unexpected events, both good and bad, as all things do.  Will it all be sunshine and rainbows?  I doubt it.  Will it be better than where we were, both physically and mentally?  Absolutely.  And we have already gone to one service at the local UU fellowship–and were completely overwhelmed by them.  They made a point of telling us way more than I can absorb about activities–in fact, we’re eating lunch with them at their after service “Soup and Salad” (although more soup because it’s a bit chilly) lunch that benefits a local charity tomorrow.  And we get to “sit at the captain’s table” which was a specific invitation to sit with the (new) minister.

Physically, we hope that the organic food and cleaner environment will help, as well as any benefits we might find from medicinal pot (still working on that one).  Mentally, the pace of life is slower, the worries and anxieties of life exist but not at the heightened levels of living near DC and we can handle the more gradual increase in costs of living as it is so much lower to begin with.  Spiritually, I have the ocean in front of me and Beloved needs only to turn to look behind us to see the mountains; these two areas are the most important ones to us individually and to find them in such close proximity that we are both able to be near what matters to us is life-saving and easing to the mind and spirit.  Having HUUF as sacred space only adds to that.  We are also able to be more open about our paths as there is not the ummmm abundant Christian/fundamental/Bible-thumping/ everyone else is wrong population as there was in VA.

Do we miss our families and friends from back East?  Of course, and that’s why the gods invented the Interwebs, Skype and cell phones.  And, in this case, my blog.  Our door is always open to those who want to come see us; there is always room around my table to feed anyone who shows up.  Will this save OUR lives, keep us sane (help maintain what little sanity we actually have, haha) and give us a better way of life that we can afford on a very fixed income?  ABSOLUTELY.

It’s not all that I (or we) thought it would be.  It’s more and it’s less.  Same as the rest of real life.

Namaste!

Family, Illness, Fear and Loathing in My Own Life

So this begins with a series of email my mother sent me, emails of political or religious nature; her views and mine do not agree and so after receiving “one more” emotionally inflammatory and incorrect email, I send this as part of my email to her: “If you do not know for yourself that what you send me is true, please don’t send it.  I have an Internet connection and in about 10 minutes, I will have checked it on snopes.com for blatant lies and then sought out reputable (and not paid for by the Koch Brothers or their ilk) sources for the questionable stuff.  You can thank my husband for my new political awareness but can only blame yourself for my inability to swallow horse manure.  Especially when it’s delivered in such grand, large portions.

Republicans AND Democrats will lie to the public.  I acknowledge this, which is why I get most of my news from the UK, Reuters or Al-Jazheera.  Most politicians no longer represent their constituency; they serve corporate masters.  Frankly, the Republicans win the prize for the most blatant disregard of the people they are supposed to be serving (See: OH, NC and TX, and their questionable actions in bringing in some of the most stringent, draconian anti-abortion laws, in direct challenge to Roe v. Wade).  And if you think Mr. Obama hasn’t done what he should have in 6 years, you can blame that on the intransigent, intractable, immovable Republicans in the Congress.  ”

We had reached the point at least a year prior where I had asked her to stop spamming (mass mailing) or particularly sending me religious posts.   So this email, pointing out the errors of her email and asking her to stop sending it is dated July 10.  Well, here’s what followed:

July 22 (hers is in black, my reply is in red.  Please note that I really try to get off these topics with her.)

YOU KNOW THIS WOULD PUT U S BACK IN THE BLACK BUT NO POLITICIAN WOULD DARE SUGGEST ANY OF THE CHANGES.  I LIKE IT  WHAT DO YOU THINK ?

“IF YOU CAN’T FIX IT WITH A HAMMER, YOU’VE GOT AN ELECTRICAL PROBLEM”

WRITTEN BY A 21 YEAR OLD FEMALE –  Wow, this girl has a great plan!  Love the last thing she would do the best.This was written by a 21 yr old female who gets it. It’s her future she’s worried about and this is how she feels about the social welfare big government state that she’s being forced to live in! These solutions are just common sense in her opinion.

This was in the Waco Tribune Herald, Waco , TX

PUT ME IN CHARGE . . .

Put me in charge of food stamps. I’d get rid of Lone Star cards; no cash for Ding Dongs or Ho Ho’s, just money for 50-pound bags of rice and beans, blocks of cheese and all the powdered milk you can haul away. If you want steak and frozen pizza, then get a job.

Rice, beans, cheese and powdered milk are NOT a balanced or healthy diet.  Poor people are fat because they have to buy the food they can afford, which is often carbohydrate intensive and lacking in basic nutrition.  This also leads to health issues like diabetes and heart disease, increasing their cost to the Government through Medicaid or Medicare.  I am very grateful that we receive food stamps and that I can shop for the food I eat, regardless of what other people think about my choices.  And I am not “wasting” that Government benefit when I buy not only steak, but grass fed, pastured beef steak.  I am buying the healthiest food possible and food stamps help us stretch our food budget and still have a healthy, balanced diet.  I shudder to think what we would look like if we lived on rice, beans, cheese and powdered milk.

Put me in charge of Medicaid. The first thing I’d do is to get women Norplant birth control implants or tubal legations. Then, we’ll test recipients for drugs, alcohol, and nicotine. If you want to reproduce or use drugs, alcohol, or smoke, then get a job. 

This is right up there with sterilizing the mentally retarded.  And Florida has already proven that testing the welfare recipients cost a lot more money than the two (yes, TWO) who failed the test are costing the system.  
I WISH I had had Medicaid for the 7 months I was without insurance and before the VA accepted my claim to health benefits.  I went to the free clinic and was able to actually get my fibromyalgia medication through them–or I would have had to do without, which means being untreated and therefore unable to do very much at all.  But WE paid for my pain medications because the free clinic does not dispense narcotics or opiates–you know, because of all those “drug addicts” who are abusing the system.  Oops, not in Fauquier County, they aren’t.

Now I have the interesting problem of getting almost all of my meds through the VA–except for one of my fibro med, arguably the most important, because it’s “not on their formulary”, so they don’t dispense it.  I have a prescription for it, so once again, we will have to pay for it if I am to take it.  Just one more item to come out of Beloved’s SSDI check, our only source of income at the moment.  And Beloved is now without health insurance until his Medicare kicks in, August 2014.  His head meds are paid for, through the free clinic.  But what about his pain meds, his gout meds, his high blood pressure pills?  His prescription acid reflux medication?  We will also be paying for those as we can, and hoping that the free clinic will be able to give us most of them.  But we’re not counting on it.

Incidentally, there are NO “Welfare Queens”, living off the system and laughing it up at taxpayer’s expense.  This is a fabrication, made up by people who think ANY government involvement in our lives is unacceptable–and these same people are usually benefiting in some way from a government program of some sort…ironic.
  
http://www.statisticbrain.com/welfare-statistics/

Yes, sometimes welfare recipients get more money than minimum wage workers.  That’s because the minimum wage is NOT a living wage, and welfare is at least trying to provide enough money to LIVE on.  So “getting a job” might actually mean a standard of living LOWER than being on welfare.  And that is called “poverty”, which nearly HALF of the citizens of this nation live in or at the ragged edge, due partly because minimum wage is NOT a living wage.  The average minimum wage earner must work a 67 hour work week in order to “afford” the necessities of life.

Put me in charge of government housing. Ever live in a military barracks? You will maintain our property in a clean and good state of repair. Your home” will be subject to inspections anytime and possessions will be inventoried.  If you want a plasma TV or Xbox 360, then get a job and your own place.

And here is where this “21 year old female” shows her complete lack of “real world” living.  First off, there is not enough military housing to accommodate the welfare recipients.  Secondly, this seems an awful lot like rounding up the “undesirables” and putting them into concentration camps.  Separate them, keep them from the rest of society.  Make sure they NEVER can integrate with the “rest of us”.  They don’t “deserve” it.  REALLY?  People do NOT choose to be on welfare; it’s simply NOT this program that allows you to live like royalty without some effort on your part.  Most people who have to use welfare are off of it within a year.  Whoopi Goldberg received welfare; J K Rowling also received the comparable British governmental payments before she wrote “Harry Potter”.  It’s not a “hand out”, it’s a “hand up” and it needs to be given with respect and dignity, to help those who need it and to guide them being able to “get a job” (that will pay a living wage; NOT a job at Wal-Mart where they will make about $8/hour AND receive training in how to apply for Social Services in their town.  EACH Wal-Mart store costs the government $900,000 in food stamps and other Social Services BECAUSE they refuse to pay their employees a LIVING wage.  And ALL of the Walton heirs are amongst the top 1% of the richest people in this nation.  How do they sleep at night?  Apparently very well, secure that they will have more money than they ever know what to do with… Incidentally, at least here in VA, Beloved and I are NOT eligible for welfare because we do not have any children.  And before you think that’s just more reason to sterilize welfare recipients, be aware that ONE IN FOUR — TWENTY-FIVE PERCENT — of the children in this nation go to bed hungry because their parents can’t feed them.  We are a Third World country, with a decimated “middle class” and the most unequal wealth distribution in history–and Fox News and their ilk will NOT report this, and the corporate propaganda machines will continue to churn out “Hooray USA” because they don’t want you to realize that everything that made this country great has gone to Hell in a hand basket.  All it takes is a little research and awareness of what is going on around you–look at the people you see in the grocery stores, at the mall…  Look at the people who are walking along the streets, go down to the Social Services offices and watch to see what kind of citizen goes in.  I know here, in our Social Services, it’s predominately white, but there’s young and old, male and female, married, with children or without, every demographic is well represented–except of course for the wealthy.  Why are more people applying to welfare?  Because so many employers have refused to pay a LIVING wage (different than the minimum wage, and the Koch Brothers are working to get rid of the minimum wage) that in order to feed their children, they must go on welfare.  They can’t afford childcare for the 67 hours they’d have to work to get enough money to live on.  And don’t say, “Well, they shouldn’t have had children.”  You did.  And what if, when Lowell was 3 or 4, Dad had lost his job and all he could get was something that paid, oh let’s say $3.75 per hour.  We couldn’t have lived on that–and like you, most of these people had their children when they had a job and thought they would be able to afford a family.  You don’t know the circumstances and to make a blanket statement about (essentially) sterilizing them and denying them the choice…is completely wrong.  Offer birth control, teach how family planning is the best way to take care of your family…but to mandate surgical procedures to get money?  Ummm, NO.

In addition, you will either present a check stub from a job each week or you will report to a “government” job. It may be cleaning the roadways of trash, painting and repairing public housing, whatever we find for you. We will sell your 22 inch rims and low profile tires and your blasting stereo and speakers and put that money toward the “common good..”

I actually have no problem with “workfare”–but I would also take it beyond just making them clean public buildings.  I would offer job training and help in job placement.  So why aren’t more of them getting jobs?  Oh that’s right, many of the jobs that used to be here in the US are now in China.  Or Malaysia, or some place else where labor is cheap and there aren’t things like governmental interference and mandated “minimum wages”.  We used to be a country that manufactured stuff…not any more.  We are a service economy which will inevitably fail.  And people on welfare are doing their best to put food on the table and cloths on their backs, trying to keep a roof over their heads.  They don’t have a lot of “free money” to purchase services.  And it’s not just people on welfare… it’s also those who are barely making ends meet, working longer and harder hours than anyone else in the so-called “First World”, who live in a world of revolving debt, trying to maintain some fiction of having money and those “services” the middle class can afford.  Except that our middle class is dying, squeezed to death by the corporations (“And aren’t you glad that you have a job in these tough economic times?”  — Beloved was asked this at work, so I’m not making it up…it really does get asked) and there’s no end in sight because “corporations are people”. 

Before you write that I’ve violated someone’s rights, realize that all of the above is voluntary. If you want our money, accept our rules  Before you say that this would be “demeaning” and ruin their “self esteem,” consider that it wasn’t that long ago that taking someone else’s money for doing absolutely nothing was demeaning and lowered self esteem. If we are expected to pay for other people’s mistakes we should at least attempt to make them learn from their bad choices. The current system rewards them for continuing to make bad choices.

Once again, the author shows her complete ignorance of why people are on welfare, need Medicaid, are using food stamps.  It’s not about mistakes…it’s about “shit happens” and sometimes you need help–that does NOT come from religious institutions or your neighbors and family.  While many religious groups do offer food pantries or some limited amount of money (a one time payment for rent, for example), they are not set up primarily to aid the poor and can require a certain agreement on the part of the recipients to also participate in their particular religious life.  In other words, you have to “be like us” to be given “our” help.  The same lack of consistent funds is true for family and neighbors–if you even know your neighbors and live close enough to your family to even make their care possible.  

Neither of us is in a position to help the other, for example–no matter how much we want to, our situations preclude any meaningful amount of help.  It’s not like we could move in with you, or you with us; our budgets do not include sending a check to the other.  And that’s okay, because there is a source of consistent and available income IF you qualify…and we have to re-qualify on a regular basis.  So the idea that we could be rich on welfare…doesn’t exist.  There are all kinds of checks and measures to ensure that no one can, simply because of the rumor of the “welfare queen”.  

Beloved and I have a friend who has received an SSDI check his entire life; he is not mentally capable of taking care of himself.  He gets a check for a whopping $400 PER MONTH.  That’s ALL he gets to live on.  He AND his mother get food stamps…$16 per month.  For both of them.  HE is the kind of person more likely to be on government subsistence and it’s not enough.  He can’t own too much, or they’ll take away some of that enormous check he gets. (Sarcasm!)  He has walked from Manassas to Richmond because of paperwork requirements for his “free government hand out”.  He’s been on this system for almost 20 years…and he will tell you that he has NEVER met that “welfare queen” –and he’s seen a LOT of welfare recipients.  If you know where that money is being handed out, let us know, because we’ll take him and go get some for ourselves.

AND While you are on Gov’t subsistence, you no longer can VOTE! Yes, that is correct. For you to vote would be a conflict of interest. You will voluntarily remove yourself from voting while you are receiving a Gov’t welfare check. If you want to vote, then get a job.

This part is particularly stupid and demeaning.  Voting is a RIGHT and unless you have been found guilty of breaking the law, with your rights suspended as a result of that verdict, NO ONE can just “remove” your rights.  Which is really what this girl is talking about: removing your right to have a family (“Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”); removing your right to live where you please, removing your right to elect the very people who are overseeing the programs that you count on and are a part of.  I would think that gives you an even stronger incentive to vote.  People on welfare are a part of our society, and we need adequate representation of EVERY person in the elections, not just angry, old, white men who seem determined to remove everyone else’s rights.  (And this young woman, who I am willing to be someone who has never had to worry about where her next meal was coming from, or that her employer wouldn’t pay her a living wage so that she could afford to live on her own–most of the apartments in this area are set up for a “housemates’ situation–because NO ONE can afford to live around here on their own.)

Now, if you have the guts – PASS IT ON…I WOULD REALLY LIKE TO GET THIS BACK, IF EVERYONE SENDS IT, I WILL GET OVER 220 BACK!!!  I WOULD KNOW YOU SENT IT ON!!!

Ummm NO.  I won’t, and not because I lack guts.  I sent it back to you with MY opinions–and cited evidence where necessary, didn’t I?  It reads easy, seems like a good answer to the problems (if “welfare queens” were real, anyways) and she appeals to the mob sentiment of “we” don’t need these programs, but “they” do, so we have to control “them” and limit what they might actually receive.  Well, I am a part of “them”.  I NEED food stamps and I wish I could have medical assurance that I would receive ALL the medications my doctor(s) think I need–and Beloved, too.  He is on SSDI, arguably a form of Social Security, but he has not paid into it his entire life–just the first 20 some years.  So odds are good that he will be paid more “out” than he put “in”.  And we NEED that money.  It’s all we have right now, and $1350 doesn’t go far when your rent is $800.  Part of the reason we’re moving to Eureka is the cost of living is 30-40% LOWER than here in VA.  So our limited and set income will cover more of our costs.  There is every indication that I will also be approved for SSDI–and I haven’t paid in very much at all, comparatively.  And when we get to Eureka, we will RE-apply for food stamps (indications are that we will have to wait a year, to establish residency)…and we may not need to if we find that we can get through that year without them.  When Peter was still in the military, we were VERY eligible for food stamps–but we chose not to get them because we knew that we could live on what he was making.  That’s not so true now, which is not just a shame, but a damned shame to say about active duty military people–like William and Maria.  

I would offer this suggestion: please stop sending me political propaganda of any sort, and I’ll stop correcting it with cited sources and sending it back.  Just so we’re clear on this, I voted for Mr. Obama; I don’t think he’s somehow infallible–he’s a politician and has his own failings–but I do think that he was a MUCH better choice than that man with an elevator for his cars and the idea that an income of $250,000 per year is “middle class”(Source for actual statistics of “middle class” is wikipedia, here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_middle_class where there is a table down the page comparing various demographs…and NO WHERE on that chart does the number 250,000 appear.  Talk about “out of touch” with the average American.)  
Mr. Obama may be “just a community leader” but we need community now, more than ever.  We have become so divisive, us versus them, no matter what the difference is that we’re talking about…

Regardless of your views on abortion, the very notion that a roomful of old white men should be making ANY decisions about a woman and her medical choices is outrageous–and dangerous.  This whole anti-choice program is merely the start to remove HUMAN rights, beginning with females.  We have already effectively lost many of our 4th Amendment rights thanks to the Patriot Act…which is somehow not very Patriotic but much more about taking away the citizens’ rights.  In the meantime, more and more rights are being handed to corporations–don’t even start me on Monsanto, which I consider to be the most evil thing in the Universe at this point in time.  Like our individual choices about religion, politics is an area that we will probably not agree on, so it’s just better to let it go. 

And then began the veritable flood of religious and political emails, as offensive as they could get:

(Picture)F R O G we all need one.
I do hope this returns to ME the sender! Isn’t the little green guy sort of cute?(Picture)

I was told a story about a lady in the hospital who was near death, when a Chaplain came to visit her.This Chaplain was a young female, with long blond hair. She listened to the lady who was ill and left her a small gift for comfort, a tiny ceramic frog.The next day a friend from church came to visit.The lady told her friend about the beautiful young Chaplain who had come to visit her. The friend was so impressed with the way her friend had improved and felt the need to talk to the young Chaplain. In her search to find the young girl, she was repeatedly reassured that their chaplains are never very young, and that there was never a girl that fit the description given.
Upon returning to her friend in the hospital, a visiting nurse entered the room and noticed the ceramic frog.The nurse made the comment “I see you have a guardian angel with you.” As she held the frog we asked why she made the comment and we were informed what the frog stood for:

“Forever Rely On God”

To The World You Might Be One Person;
But To One Person You Might Be the World.
You have been Tagged by the Froggy,

which means you are a great friend!!

You will BE BLESSED if you send this to more people.
Friends are quiet Angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly.
Hi Lord, it’s me. Things are getting bad here, gas prices are too high, too few jobs, too much disrespect and violence, food and heating costs too high. I know some have taken You out of our schools, government & even Christmas. But Lord I’m asking you to come back and re-bless America . We really need You.Thanks Lord, I love You!

IN GOD WE TRUST

The Lord says when 2 or more are gathered in My Name, there I will be also!!! Let’s see how far this goes. Please pass this on…

Please God… please Bless America again.

GOD BLESS AMERICA , PLEASE, HELP KEEP THIS COUNTRY FREE

Then this arrived:

Subject: A country Founded by Geniouses but Run by Idiots

Attributed to Jeff Foxworthy:

If you can get arrested for hunting or fishing without a license, but not for entering and remaining in the country illegally — you might live in a nation that …was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If you have to get your parents’ permission to go on a field trip or to take an aspirin in school, but not to get an abortion — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If you MUST show your identification to board an airplane, cash a check, buy liquor, or check out a library book and rent a video, but not to vote for who runs the government — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If the government wants to prevent stable, law-abiding citizens from owning gun magazines that hold more than ten rounds, but gives twenty F-16 fighter jets to the crazy new leaders in Egypt — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If, in the nation’s largest city, you can buy two 16-ounce sodas, but not one 24-ounce soda, because 24-ounces of a sugary drink might make you fat — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If an 80-year-old woman or a three-year-old girl who is confined to a wheelchair can be strip-searched by the TSA at the airport, but a woman in a burka or a hijab is only subject to having her neck and head searched — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If your government believes that the best way to eradicate trillions of dollars of debt is to spend trillions more — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If a seven-year-old boy can be thrown out of school for saying his teacher is “cute,” but hosting a sexual exploration or diversity class in grade school is perfectly acceptable — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If hard work and success are met with higher taxes and more government regulation and intrusion, while not working is rewarded with Food Stamps, WIC checks, Medicaid benefits, subsidized housing, and free cell phones — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If the government’s plan for getting people back to work is to provide incentives for not working, by granting 99 weeks of unemployment checks, without any requirement to prove that gainful employment was diligently sought, but couldn’t be found — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If you pay your mortgage faithfully, denying yourself the newest big-screen TV, while your neighbor buys iPhones, time shares, a wall-sized do-it-all plasma screen TV and new cars, and the government forgives his debt when he defaults on his mortgage — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If being stripped of your Constitutional right to defend yourself makes you more “safe” according to the government — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

What a country!

How about we give God a reason to continue blessing America!

Then I had to deal with this:

67 years later!

What happened to the radiation that lasts thousands of years?

HIROSHIMA  1945
We all know that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed in August 1945 after the explosion of atomic bombs.
However, we know little about the progress made by the people of that land during the past 67 years.
HIROSHIMA – 67 YEARS LATER

(Series of pictures, all modern and fabulous looking)DETROIT- 65 YEARS AFTER HIROSHIMA

(Series of Pictures, all decrepit and ruined)

What has caused more long term destruction – the A-bomb, or Government welfare programs created to buy the
votes of those who want someone to take care of them
?

Japan does not have a welfare system.  (That is an out and out lie: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welfare_in_Japan )
Work for it or do without.

These are possibly the 5 best (BIGGEST LIES) sentences you’ll ever read and all applicable to this experiment:

1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.
2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.
3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.
4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it!
5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.
Can you think of a reason for not sharing this? Neither could I.

Next, I had to read this:

OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  (Which I sincerely doubt my mother even knows what it means, since she does not “take the Lord’s name in vain”)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXNZFe63brY

THERE ARE NO SURPRISES HERE FOR THOSE OF US WHO SAW IT COMING–

Look who’s new in the white house!Arif Alikhan – Assistant Secretary for Policy Developmentfor the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

 Mohammed Elibiary – Homeland Security Adviser

Rashad Hussain – Special Envoy to the (OIC) Organization of the Islamic Conference

Salam al-Marayati – Obama Adviser -founder Muslim Public Affairs Council and its current executive director

Imam Mohamed Magid – Obama’s Sharia Czar – Islamic Society of North America

Eboo Patel – Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships

This is flat out scary!!!!   The foxes are now living in the hen house…Now ask me why I am concerned!!!

Then this, while interesting, not going to change my religious views:

Subject: God vs. Science–thought provoking! Read until the very surprise ending.

This one has been around many times but is still good.

Don’t give up on this one too soon – it does an about face.  🙂

 God vs. Science

“Let me explain the problem science has with religion.”The atheist professor of philosophy pauses before his class and then asks one of his new students to stand.‘You’re a Christian, aren’t you, son?’

‘Yes sir,’ the student says.

‘So you believe in God?’

‘Absolutely ‘

‘Is God good?

‘Sure! God’s good.’

‘Is God all-powerful? Can God do anything?’

‘Yes’

‘Are you good or evil?’
‘The Bible says I’m evil.’
The professor grins knowingly. ‘Aha! The Bible! He considers for a moment. ‘Here’s one for you. Let’s say there’s a sick person over here and you can cure him. You can do it. Would you help him? Would you try?’

‘Yes sir, I would.’
‘So you’re good…!’
‘I wouldn’t say that.’
‘But why not say that? You’d help a sick and maimed person if you could. Most of us would if we could. But God doesn’t.’
The student does not answer, so the professor continues. ‘He doesn’t, does he? My brother was a Christian who died of cancer, even though he prayed to Jesus to heal him. How is this Jesus good? Can you answer that one?’
The student remains silent. ‘No, you can’t, can you?’ the professor says. He takes a sip of water from a glass on his desk to give the student time to relax. ‘Let’s start again, young fella. Is God good?’
‘Er..yes,’ the student says.
‘Is Satan good?’
The student doesn’t hesitate on this one.. ‘No.’
‘Then where does Satan come from?’
The student falters. ‘From God’
‘That’s right. God made Satan, didn’t he? Tell me, son. Is there evil in this world?’
‘Yes, sir.’
‘Evil’s everywhere, isn’t it? And God did make everything, correct?’
‘Yes’
‘So who created evil?’ The professor continued, ‘If God created everything,then God created evil, since evil exists, and according to the principle that our works define who we are, then God is evil.’
Again, the student has no answer. ‘Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things, do they exist in this world?’
The student squirms on his feet. ‘Yes.’
‘So who created them ?’
The student does not answer again, so the professor repeats his question. ‘Who created them?’ There is still no answer. Suddenly the lecturer breaks away to pace in front of the classroom. The class is mesmerized. ‘Tell me,’ he continues onto another student. ‘Do you believe in Jesus Christ, son?’
The student’s voice betrays him and cracks. ‘Yes, professor, I do.’
The old man stops pacing. ‘Science says you have five senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Have you ever seen Jesus?’
‘No sir. I’ve never seen Him.’
‘Then tell us if you’ve ever heard your Jesus?’
‘No, sir, I have not.’
‘Have you ever felt your Jesus, tasted your Jesus or smelt your Jesus? Have you ever had any sensory perception of Jesus Christ, or God for that matter?’
‘No, sir, I’m afraid I haven’t.’
‘Yet you still believe in him?’
‘Yes’
‘According to the rules of empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, science says your God doesn’t exist… What do you say to that, son?’
‘Nothing,’ the student replies.. ‘I only have my faith.’
‘Yes, faith,’ the professor repeats. ‘And that is the problem science has with God. There is no evidence, only faith.’
The student stands quietly for a moment, before asking a question of His own. ‘Professor, is there such thing as heat? ‘
‘ Yes.
‘And is there such a thing as cold?’
‘Yes, son, there’s cold too.’
‘No sir, there isn’t.’
The professor turns to face the student, obviously interested. The room suddenly becomes very quiet. The student begins to explain. ‘You can have lots of heat, even more heat, super-heat, mega-heat, unlimited heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat, but we don’t have anything called ‘cold’. We can hit down to 458 degrees below zero, which is no heat, but we can’t go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold; otherwise we would be able to go colder than the lowest -458 degrees. Everybody or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (-458 F) is the total absence of heat. You see, sir, cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat we can measure in thermal units because heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.’
Silence across the room. A pen drops somewhere in the classroom, sounding like a hammer.
‘What about darkness, professor. Is there such a thing as darkness?’
‘Yes,’ the professor replies without hesitation. ‘What is night if it isn’t darkness?’
‘You’re wrong again, sir. Darkness is not something; it is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light, but if you have no light constantly you have nothing and it’s called darkness, isn’t it? That’s the meaning we use to define the word. In reality, darkness isn’t. If it were, you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn’t you?’
The professor begins to smile at the student in front of him. This will be a good semester. ‘So what point are you making, young man?’
‘Yes, professor. My point is, your philosophical premise is flawed to start with, and so your conclusion must also be flawed.’
The professor’s face cannot hide his surprise this time. ‘Flawed? Can you explain how?’
‘You are working on the premise of duality,’ the student explains. ‘You argue that there is life and then there’s death; a good God and a bad God. You are viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, science can’t even explain a thought.’ ‘It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life, just the absence of it.’ ‘Now tell me, professor. Do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?’
‘If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, young man, yes, of course I do.’
‘Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?’
The professor begins to shake his head, still smiling, as he realizes where the argument is going. A very good semester, indeed.
‘Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor, are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you now not a scientist, but a preacher?’
The class is in uproar. The student remains silent until the commotion has subsided. ‘To continue the point you were making earlier to the other student, let me give you an example of what I mean.’ The student looks around the room. ‘Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the professor’s brain?’ The class breaks out into laughter. ‘Is there anyone here who has ever heard the professor’s brain, felt the professor’s brain, touched or smelt the professor’s brain? No one appears to have done so… So, according to the established rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science says that you have no brain, with all due respect, sir.’ ‘So if science says you have no brain, how can we trust your lectures, sir?’
Now the room is silent. The professor just stares at the student, his face unreadable. Finally, after what seems an eternity, the old man answers. ‘I Guess you’ll have to take them on faith.’
‘Now, you accept that there is faith, and, in fact, faith exists with life,’ the student continues. ‘Now, sir, is there such a thing as evil?’ Now uncertain, the professor responds, ‘Of course, there is. We see it Everyday. It is in the daily example of man’s inhumanity to man. It is in The multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil.’
To this the student replied, ‘Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God’s love present in his heart. It’s like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light.’ 
The professor sat down.

If you read it all the way through and had a smile on your face when you finished, mail to your friends and family with the title ‘God vs. Science’
PS: The student was 
Albert Einstein.   Albert Einstein wrote a book titled ‘God vs. Science‘ in 1921…

And knowing that we are moving to Eureka CA in November, she sends this “joke”:

CALIFORNIA:

The Governor of California is jogging with his dog along a nature trail.

A coyote jumps out and attacks the Governor’s dog, then bites the Governor.

1.  The Governor starts to intervene, but reflects upon the movie “Bambi” and then realizes he should stop because the coyote is only doing what is natural.

2.  He calls animal control.  Animal Control captures the coyote and bills the State $200 testing it for diseases and $500 for relocating it.

3.  He calls a veterinarian.  The vet collects the dead dog and bills the State $200 testing it for diseases.

4.  The Governor goes to hospital and spends $3,500 getting checked for diseases from the coyote and on getting his bite wound bandaged.

5.  The running trail gets shut down for 6 months while Fish & Game conducts a $100,000 survey to make sure the area is now free of dangerous animals.

6.  The Governor spends $50,000 in state funds implementing a “coyote awareness program” for residents of the area.

7.  The State Legislature spends $2 million to study how to better treat rabies and how to permanently eradicate the disease throughout the world.

8.  The Governor’s security agent is fired for not stopping the attack.  The State spends $150,000 to hire and train a new agent with additional special training re: the nature of coyotes.

9. PETA protests the coyote’s relocation and files a $5 million suit against the State.

TEXAS:

The Governor of Texas is jogging with his dog along a nature trail.  A Coyote jumps out and attacks his dog.

1. The Governor shoots the coyote with his State-issued pistol and keeps jogging.  The Governor has spent $0.50 on a .45 ACP hollow point cartridge.

2. The Buzzards eat the dead coyote.

And that, my friends, is why California is broke (NOT TRUE) and Texas is not. (BUT TAKING ALL OF THE FEDERAL MONEY IT CAN; PROBABLY THE MOST GRABBY OF ALL THE STATES)

Stupid Email that only shows racism and disrespect/hatred of Mr. Obama:

Subject: Let’s Move to Mexico

Dear President Obama:

I’m planning to move my family and extended family into Mexico for my health, and I would like to ask you to assist me.  We’re planning to simply walk across the border from the U.S. into Mexico , and we’ll need your help to make a few arrangements.  We plan to skip all the legal stuff like visas, passports, immigration quotas and laws.   I’m sure they handle those things the same way you do here. So, would you mind telling your buddy, President Pena Nieto, that I’m on my way over?
Please let him know that I will be expecting the following:

1. Free medical care for my entire family.
2. English-speaking government bureaucrats for all services I might need, whether I use them or not.
3. Please print all Mexican Government forms in English.
4. I want my grandkids to be taught Spanish by English-speaking (bi-lingual) teachers.
5. Tell their schools they need to include classes on American culture and history.
6. I want my grandkids to see the American flag on one of the flag poles at their school.
7. Please plan to feed my grandkids at school for both breakfast and lunch.
8. I will need a local Mexican driver’s license so I can get easy access to government services.
9. I do plan to get a car and drive in Mexico , but I don’t plan to purchase car insurance, and I probably won’t make any special effort to learn local traffic laws.
10. In case one of the Mexican police officers does not get the memo from their president to leave me alone, please be sure that every patrol car has at least one English-speaking officer.
11. I plan to fly the U.S. flag from my housetop, put U S. flag decals on my car, and have a gigantic celebration on July 4th. I do not want any complaints or negative comments from the locals.
12. I would also like to have a nice job without paying any taxes, or have any labor or tax laws enforced on any business I may start.
13. Please have the president tell all the Mexican people to be extremely nice and never say critical things about me or my family, or about the strain we might place on their economy.
14. I want to receive free food stamps.
15. Naturally, I’ll expect free rent subsidies.

16. I’ll need income tax credits so that although I don’t pay Mexican taxes, I’ll receive money from the government.
17. Please arrange it so that the Mexican Government pays $4,500.00 to help me buy a new car.
18. Oh yes, I almost forgot, please enroll me free into the Mexican Social Security program so that I’ll get a monthly income in retirement.
I know this is an easy request because you already do all these things for all his people who walk over to the U.S. from Mexico . I am sure that President Nieto won’t mind returning the favor if you ask him nicely.

Thank you so much for your kind help.  You’re the man!!!

And then her best, most offensive and disgusting email arrived.  SO many lies and half-truths, so much vitriol and hatred towards LGBT community….I could barely read the first part before I had to just send her another email, slightly less polite.

Brilliance in Three Parts

Part I

A. Back off and let those men who want to marry men, marry men.

B. Allow those women who want to marry women, marry women.

C. Allow those folks who want to abort their babies, abort their babies.

D. In three generations, there will be no Democrats.

I love it when a plan comes together!

Part II

10 Poorest Cities in America and how did it happen?

City, State, % of People Below the Poverty Level

1. Detroit , MI 32.5%

2. Buffalo , NY 29.9%

3. Cincinnati , OH 27.8%

4. Cleveland , OH 27.0%

5. Miami , FL 26.9%

5. St. Louis , MO 26.8%

7. El Paso , TX 26.4%

8. Milwaukee , WI 26.2%

9. Philadelphia , PA 25.1%

10. Newark , NJ 24.2%

What do the top ten cities (over 250,000) with the highest poverty rate all have in common?

Detroit , MI (1st on the poverty rate list) hasn’t elected a Republican mayor since 1961

Buffalo , NY (2nd) hasn’t elected one since 1954

Cincinnati , OH – (3rd) since 1984

Cleveland , OH – (4th) since 1989

Miami , FL – (5th) has never had a Republican mayor

St. Louis , MO – (6th) since 1949

El Paso , TX – (7th) has never had a Republican mayor

Milwaukee , WI – (8th) since 1908

Philadelphia , PA – (9th) since 1952

Newark , NJ – (10th) since 1907

Einstein once said, ‘The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.’

It is the poor who habitually elect Democrats . . . yet they are still POOR.

Part III A MESSAGE TO PRESIDENT OBAMA—FROM ANOTHER PRESIDENT.

“You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.

You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.

You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.

You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down.

You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.

You cannot build character and courage by taking away people’s initiative and independence.

You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves.”

. . . . Abraham Lincoln

“I’ve tried to ask nicely.  Now I am telling you.  DO NOT SEND ME THIS KIND OF STUFF.    I have tried to point out to you that I do not hold the same political views and that I find this offensive–and having told you that, I find this not only offensive, but incredibly, thoughtlessly, purposefully offensive.  I consider sending me stuff like this the same as sending me the nastiest dirtiest porn you can find–and frankly, I’d prefer that.  

I lack the energy to deal with continual assaults on my beliefs–religious, political or otherwise, especially when those attacks consist of biased opinion, slanted evaluations and unthinking bigotry, fear, hate, xenophobia, and religious zealotry.  And I will stop reading emails that affect me this way.  Which means that I will stop reading YOUR emails if they contain that kind of material.  And if I can’t tell from the subject line and open them to find it, well then I will have to stop reading ALL of your emails.  

I really don’t want to have to do this, but as I said, I have tried asking nicely.

Send me emails that talk about what you and Dad are doing, what you made for dinner, who you had over for lunch.  Tell me about what’s going on in the neighborhood, your health…in fact, talk about ANYTHING but politics and religion. “

Called to let them know that Beloved was in hospital: Aug 4.  Got a dressing-down (chastisement) from my FATHER about how I had talked (written) to my MOTHER.  NOT A WORD ABOUT BELOVED: NO INQUIRIES ABOUT HIS HEALTH, HOW I WAS HOLDING UP, NOTHING.  Just an old fashioned “talking to”.

So on Aug 5 I sent this email to my mother:
Just letting you that Beloved is in surgery for an endoscopy and they are looking for both growths and lesions.Then it’s probably real surgery to remove the gall bladder because he also has a 3cm gallstone. 
I called and told Dad but getting a lecture about how I had spoken to you was both insensitive and not appropriate at that time. I am an adult now and frankly, I spoke to you as I would have to anyone who persisted in sending me the emails that you had. I am not a child to be reprimanded for not agreeing with you.  If this is a problem for you, then it is your problem not mine. So how much we communicate is up to you.
And right now, I am dealing with my husband being in the hospital and am having all my support being friends and HIS family. It’s up to you.  K  (And it’s now the 8th and I haven’t heard a word from her.)

I really could have gone my whole life not knowing that my parents were so wrapped up in their religious and political views that they have lost all emotional and sympathetic connections to other people.  I have said for years that my parents shouldn’t have had children, as they really don’t like them…but I did not understand that the dislike went this deep.  Coming on top of a week of my dearly Beloved being so ill was devastating.

I had a friend who might have been more than a friend but we never had the chance to find out because he died of stomach cancer 8 or 9 months after we met.  His last words to me were “I love you”.  Having worked in the medical field as a nurse’s aide for 5 years, “looking for growths” has a fuller, more dreadful meaning to me: looking for cancer is the true explanation.  I was terrified I’d come back to find Beloved diagnosed with that cancer and I’d lose him.

I did not need to deal with the psychology of parents who couldn’t even offer sympathy…on the other hand, it cuts that frayed cord just that much more.  I haven’t seen them in almost 4 years; we talk barely once a month.  We are polite strangers and the truth is now easier to face than it was and it really boils down to this: if you weren’t related to this person, would you tolerate their behavior?  (Answer: No, I would not.)

All that matters now is that my sweet Beloved is home, getting better and preparing for outpatient gall bladder removal.  He wants to mount the 3 cm gall stone (that really is the size of a golf ball, you know) and beneath the stone have a plaque that reads “That’s no space station, that’s a gall stone!”  And we’re still going to Eureka, especially now that my stupid LTD insurance has FINALLY kicked in…oh, guess we were wrong, we’ll reverse the decision and pay it out–and since Fibro is no longer a ‘self-diagnosed’ disease, that means a pay out of not just 2 years…but 5.  Suck that!

I have what truly matters: a man who loves me as much as I love him; friends and my chosen family that are concerned and have been so kind and eager to help this week; and 3 months to get ready to move.  Thanks to all for the good thoughts and positive, healing energy.  Let’s keep that up for his surgery.  And blessings to those who understand the whole blessing process.

Namaste!!

UPDATE:  I am seriously going through the Kubler-Ross steps of grieving: Anger, depression, denial, bargaining and acceptance.  My parents, in their own way, have made this easier if I just go with the fact that they are old, and therefore, treat them as if they had died–and in their own way, they have died to me.

Makes it REAL easy to get rid of MORE things before moving, as I no longer have to acknowledge possession of this item or that and I feel no remorse or pain in getting rid of “heirloom” items.  Indeed, I will see just how much money I can get for them.  I do not need them any more to remind me of the fantasy I’ve been holding onto.  I don’t need to justify getting rid of family heirlooms, I don’t need to apologize for not keeping all of the various bits of stuff they have sent me.  My birth stone is peridot; I truly hate it.  Now I can get rid of every piece of jewelry that has it, that they gave me, without a qualm.  I will keep the things that mean something deep and personal to me: my grandmother’s amethyst ring, and HER mother’s amethyst ring.  The Goddess necklaces that my dear friends bought the parts and made just for me.  The diamond hugs and kisses tennis bracelet that my beloved husband put on my arm when we married.

Anyone want a peridot pendat?  A rather elaborate ruby ring?  I am keeping my great-grandmother’s quilt.  Just saying.  But there’s going to be a lot of other things that no longer have any indecision about keeping or getting rid of.  And I look forward to creating my own beloved family once we move to Eureka (I found it!) CA.

August 19:  Still not a word to be heard from my parents.  Beloved had his gall bladder removed, but pathology wouldn’t let him have the stone, so he has to live without it–and without the gall bladder either.  He tolerated the surgery well, but still has intractable vomiting and is not holding down much of anything.  Basically, he’s not eaten for almost a month now.  Every time he could get a saline IV going, it helped and he began to improve–and that was the orders from his surgeon.  Unfortunately, every time his surgeon’s associate GI doctor came on duty, he pulled the IV and Beloved regressed AGAIN.  Last Saturday (2 days ago), I came home to shower and get some clean clothes–having packed for what should have been an overnight stay and had been two weeks, I needed both–and my dearest Beloved called me and said, “Come and get me, they are putting me out.”  They waited until I had left the hospital (considering I had been at his bedside 24 x 7); then they gave him delaudid (making him heavily medicated and legally incapacitated, ie, not able to sign himself out of the hospital) and then told him he was being discharged.

I went and got him and brought him home.  In 24 hours, the only liquid he was able to hold down was about 6 ounces of local whole milk (pasteurized but NOT homogenized, as close to fresh out of the cow’s teat as a person can get around here!).  He did void over 1500cc of urine, which is good, sort of…and in 18 hours, slept about 14, which he desperately needed, having been awakened at least every 2 hours for the prior 3 weeks.  That’s called sleep deprivation and is a form of torture because you never reach REM stage of sleep–it’s really bad for you.  So almost a month later, several forms of what could be considered torture (lack of sleep, unnecessary procedures, lack of IV hydration for appropriate amounts of time), he’s just as sick, possibly sicker and still throwing up.

All the people at Fauquier hospital (And yes, I am naming names, because that’s where he was for all that time and that’s where all this bull shit went on–to the point where I can barely refrain from calling it the “FuckYouHere Hospital”–hereafter referred to as FYH Hospital) kept telling him that he needed to see a GI doctor.  They had two, whom he had seen–and they were soooooo fascinated by his lapband (a form of weight loss, Google it because I’m not going to try to explain it here)…and they both wanted to remove it, even though THEIR procedure of contrast imagery proved it was right were it belonged, in textbook location.  So “see a GI doctor” got changed ever so slightly to “see YOUR GI doctor” and a light went on in his head!  He had had a wonderful GI doctor, back when before having the lapband inserted, a doctor that he trusted and would be thrilled to return to his care.

EXCEPT…that meant going to Centreville to the doctor’s office, or (and this was the end result and more likely option anyways), going to Fair Oaks Hospital–both of which are farther and farther away from our house, harder to get to with a car that is ummmm about as sick as Beloved.  But anyway…Sunday evening, I called the doctor’s number, got the answering service with the name and number of the doctor who was covering for him.  Called THAT doctor; explained what was going on.  His immediate orders?  Go to the hospital and get on an IV!  And he told me that Beloved’s GI Doctor (who has a super hero name: Lance Lasner) would be in the office Monday morning.

I tried to find someone who could come to our door and take Beloved up to Manassas, to his parents house, so that they would then take him to the hospital.  No luck, so I ended up driving him up there…and feeling such guilt at not going with him–but I am so worn out, so exhausted from the past 3 weeks–I haven’t really slept more than a couple of hours at a go either…  I was worried about my driving that far, in the dark (which I have problems with anyways) and thank the gods, my husband is a most understanding man and did not hold it against me, and in fact, ordered me home to sleep, perchance to dream.

And then we found out this morning that our superhero doctor is on vacation through the end of this week.  Oops.  SOOOOO there’s another doctor covering for him and I contacted his office and spoke to his nurse/receptionist? and poured out the story to her.  She was so kind and so efficient.  “We will get the record from the other hospital and I will let Dr. Substitute know that he has a consultation at the hospital this morning.”

Needless to say, I have been in contact most of the day with Beloved.  (Mostly because I was smart enough to look for his phone when I came home to shower so he has it again.)  They have put him on an IV, cranked it open wide (drip rate is much higher than usual rate of flow) and are giving him IV meds where they can–to include Valium!  YAY! Get that pain level down, down, down.  The nurses and doctors at Fair Oaks have been expressing disbelief at the methods and actions of their ahem so-called colleagues at FYH Hospital and bluntly, I already have the name and contact information for a good malpractice lawyer.

Beloved is a little concerned that the doctors at Fair Oaks are also enthralled by the lapband and seem to want to take it out–but they do insist on running the (same) test to ensure that it is still in the place it’s supposed to be and not moved, since his vomiting has been…energetic.  So he’s supposed to have some sort of contrast imagery done this evening.  They have already begun the paperwork to see how much money Medicaid can throw at this–instead of throwing forms at us and leaving, as they did in the other hospital.  And they aren’t treating him differently because he doesn’t have money, which it seems like that particular issue DID make a difference at FYH Hospital.

And somewhere in all of that medical stuff, my Beloved managed to arrange for our friend, Little Miss (LM) to come over here tonight, stay the night and then drive me up to Fair Oaks tomorrow.  I can take all of his meds (which hopefully, he’ll be able to take by mouth and keep down then).  Since she’s off of work, it’s not costing her anything but time–and I will more than happy to fill the gas tank and feed her.  I will also be glad to see her.  I am weepy and angry and find myself talking out loud to myself–in a lovely British accent, I might add.  I also have lost 5 more pounds in the past 3 weeks.  It’s a great diet, other than the side effects of having your most Beloved love in the hospital and no one can figure out why.  I can only imagine how much weight he’s lost.

I am terrified that he’s going to die, that this will kill him before they can figure out what the hell is going on.  He insists that he will not die, that he’s too stubborn and not that sick…  I can only hope that he is right and that I am completely wrong because I don’t want to be right, not at all.  My feelings of terror and hopelessness are lessened by the growing assurance that he is finally in the right place, with the right medical people around him–and if nothing else, our superhero GI doctor will be back next week.  We can certainly hold on that long!  And Beloved would tell you that no one knows his gut like Dr. L!

So that’s where things stand now.  I could keep writing, but it begins to repeat and just be all morose and stuff, so I’ll stop here and hope, hope, hope that my next update will be a happy one!  Blessings and Namaste until then!

Father’s Day 2013 (Updated on Jun 28)

So I scrolled through my Facebook feed this morning, reading status after status of Father’s Day greetings.  Some were for fathers who have died but are still being acknowledged for the influence they had on their children.  Some were for the fathers of their children, even if they aren’t still a husband–and the fact that, once you have kids, you are connected to this man forever, no matter what you think or feel about him.

These messages were, almost 100%, positive and affirming, thanking men who had great influence on lives beyond merely donating genetic material for their lives.  Many posters changed their profile picture to one of their father, or of their father and them.  Several talked about the continued interaction they have with their fathers, even being adults themselves, and how this continues to make their lives more meaningful.

I guess you can tell that we’re not going to have that kind of conversation here.

I’ve blogged before about my father ( My Daddy ) so I won’t go into long details about my childhood here.  But I got to thinking, as I was reading my friends’ comments, that while I love my father, I feel no particular connection to him.  I may not even call him today because frankly, he’s getting old, he doesn’t hear well, he’s hard to understand on the phone–and he wants to talk about health issues and what I should be doing about mine.  There’s not much left for us to talk about; computers, how my car is doing, health.  When I do call, if he answers, once he realizes it’s me, he hands the phone over to my mom almost immediately.

I haven’t seen my father in almost 4 years; the last time I saw him (and my mother) was when they came to Baltimore to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary with me, my children, my brother and his family.  We tried to make the trip as pleasant as possible and they both just complained about everything.  (Minor side not here: choosing the restaurant for the anniversary dinner was horrendous.  Suggestion after suggestion was made, internet research was done and menus were compared.  It finally came down to my father telling my mother, “ML, just pick one because you’re not going to like it anyways.”  Prophetic words.  They both groused about it later, how the food wasn’t that good and so on.  I thought it was really good and so did everyone else at the table.  Sigh.)

It is entirely possible that I will never see either parent again.  And when they die, I am not going to TX to the funeral(s).  I cannot afford it and I see no reason to go visit someone if they don’t know I’m there.  Hmmm visits.  I got to counting how many times I’ve seen my father after I left home to go into the AF (1980).  He visited MY house exactly ONE time.  I think the total is 8.  And one of those is actually the 3 month period when I lived with my grandmother (who lived just 5 minutes walking from my mother, her daughter).

So in my adult life I continued the pattern of my childhood–my father loves me, provides what he can, whether it be advice or material things, but he’s just not around.  My father is NOT my friend.  And I don’t mean that in a nasty way.  But you hang out with friends, you see them and call them regularly, you know what each other likes and dislikes.  I don’t do any of that with the man whose genetic information I carry.  I look like my father.  I cannot tell you what his favorite color, food, band or TV show is.  I don’t know what size he wears, or what kind of shirt he prefers.  In fact, there’s an awful lot about my dad that I don’t know.  And that’s true the other way around: he doesn’t know an awful lot about me.

So there’s no connection beyond that DNA thing.  Not really.  We might pretend that there is.  We can talk about “remember when” from a history of 18 years together–but I don’t remember the first 3 or 4 real well and to be blunt, he wasn’t there for a great deal of the other 14 years.  Not until I was in high school was he truly a routine part of my routine.  And folks, it’s been 34 years since that time existed.  We’ve all forgotten a lot about it, so there’s a few highlights that get mentioned whenever we’re talking about the good old days.  We don’t have any current congruent events to discuss.  And no upcoming common events to plan.  So no connection of the normal social interaction that defines friendship and family.  (You can have lots of family that has NO common DNA with you–it’s the family that you’ve chosen rather than the one you were born into.  And generally, these are better and more assured places for support, resources and emotional bonds.)

He IS my father.  As I said, I look like him.  Even with him being gone so much of my childhood, my mother has told me that in many ways, I act like him.  I believe that personality has at least 50% of its basis in your DNA; you are born with a personality framework that is in your genes.  THEN your environment either brings out or suppresses various parts of the personality.  So I can act like him without knowing how he acts.  He has many characteristics that I respect; he has done many great things in his life.  He has had an interesting and exciting life (and while it’s not over, I suspect that the drama factor has dropped substantially.  The biggest event now is driving up to San Antonio for his doctor’s appointments.  LOL).  But I do not have a bond with this man whose genetic traits I carry.

Father’s Day.  I honor my father for all that he has given me, for all that he has taught me, for the example he has been to me and my brother.  I respect him for the life he has led, even though I cannot tell you most of it.  I love him in a way that I will never love another man, but in many ways, he is still a stranger to me.  And all I can tell you for sure is that he is my father.

So I scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed, reading about fathers and feeling sad about these truths I hold about my father when I read my daughter’s status.  Like many others, she mentioned her biological father as well as the father of her children.  I read that status a couple of times and while I would have loved to click the “Like” button on this status as I had on so many others, I just could not.

Here’s why.  She could have mentioned a third man, honoring him for being another person in her life who loves her and is a resource for her–emotionally, physically, financially.  Someone who is there to talk to, who visits and who also loves her children.  Someone who has no children of his own, will have no grandchildren that look “just like grammpa!”.  A man who wanted nothing more than to be a part of my family–my husband.  It’s not that there is a nasty scene with high drama that explains why she didn’t mention him.  She CHOSE to preclude him from the status of “step dad” of her own free will and without any cause from him.  And this makes me both incredibly angry and terribly sad.

It affects me because it affects him.  I talked about this in my earlier blog, “Changes, Choices and Chagrin” and obviously, nothing has changed since then.  Today’s status was just another emotional slap in the face and frankly, I am not in a condition to deal with it.  Which is why I’m writing it here.  If I can write it down, share it with you, perhaps I can let it go out of my heart and not continue to cry about it.  He never wanted nor meant to replace her “real” father in her life.  And I truly believe that we can never have too many people who love us.  So it always makes me sad when people choose to refuse offers of genuine love and support.

I was told that it would get confusing to the granddaughter to have all these grandparents, that the biological father’s wife wasn’t being called “grandma” either, so my husband didn’t have to feel that he was being singled out.  Well, guess what?  No child can have too many people to love them, either.  And just exactly WHAT do you call the husband of your grandmother or the wife of your grandfather?  I was initially told that the title also could not be used because we weren’t married.  And the impression I got was that there was this conga line of men going through my life, and it WOULD get confusing if Grandmom had a new grandfather with her every time she visited.  Not sure where that impression was based, because Beloved was the first man I had dated in several years, and the first man I moved in and was living with since a relationship that had died in 2002.  We’re not talking conga line.  We’re barely talking MEN plural.  And regardless of that, we ARE married now.  Have been for quite a while.

And it’s not confusing to the kids if you say “Grandmom Lisa and Granddad John are coming over.” And then there’s Granddad Bill and his wife, Grandmom Julie.  And considering that my daughter’s quasi-in-laws are also divorced and there’s 4 of them as well…it’s just the way things are, and there’s a lot of families that are having to use this same kind of naming system because divorce occurs so often.  This doesn’t even begin to include the “greats”–the still living parents of the grandparents.  Or the dear, dear family friend who is too old to be “Auntie” or “Unk”.  And when a small child is referring to this one as a grandparent, do they call the spouse by their first name?  Unless said spouse has indicated that’s the preferred method of naming, it’s kinda rude.

“The child will pick their own name for the (not) step-grandparent.”  Really?  Then we’re in real trouble, especially considering that my Froggy calls his other grandmother “Nut Nut”.  And my granddaughter calls her (not) step-grandmother “Poopie”.  No thanks.  I’d like SOME control over what I’m going to hear out my beloved grandchildren’s mouths for the next oh 18 years.  Truthfully, I’m not caught up in the title part.  I really am okay with my grandchildren calling me by my name.  It’s short, it’s easy, even a child can say it without too much problem: Kate.  But that denies the social nicety, almost necessity of that title, which defines my relationship to the child.  Which is why I’m peeved that my husband is going to have to be explained–and the explanation comes down to, “This man is my grandmother’s husband, but he’s NOT my grandfather.”  Fuck that shit.

And up a generation, the introduction sounds like this: “This is my mother’s husband, but he’s NOT my father.”  Wow.  Really?  What’s wrong with, “This is Jim, my stepdad.”  Because there are step-parents who are as bad (or worse) than your biological ones.  It’s a title, it explains the relationship between the two people without having to make someone feel bad because you talk around the connection.  Oh connection.  That’s right, it has been chosen to refuse that connection.  And in refusing to make *that* connection, the grandchildren are also denied the connection.  It could not be made any clearer that my Beloved, MY husband, is not a part of my family.

My family, that I have loved and thought was strong, my children who I also call my friends.  Seems like I was wrong and I’m not sure where I lost that.  But it’s gone.  I have to acknowledge that while we have a different relationship than if we were just parent and child, we really aren’t friends any more, for the reasons listed above about why my father and I aren’t friends.  Same reasons, same results.  And if I have to choose between my children, who are grown and have children (and lives) of their own–and my husband, there’s no choice.  Why should I give up my happiness and my love to sit at home and wait for my children to visit me at their convenience?  They have lives of their own, it is not their responsibility to take care of me nor to be at my beck and call–or even to be a regular part of my life, given the geographical distances there are between us.

I expect them to be smart enough to know that the last sentence works both directions.  I have a life of my own, with my own Beloved and this is the life that I choose.  I do NOT choose to exclude my genetic offspring.  I would prefer to see them often, to have time together…but it’s just not the reality of our lives.  I have offspring by choice–young people who do seek me out, that I spend time with, who are my friends.  I consider them family just as much as the 3 I pushed out of my body and into the world.  That genetic bond will always, always be there; I do and will always love the children of my body dearly and would do anything I could for them if they needed it–BUT I will also live my own life, with my love, with the family of my choosing.  I hope that I will choose wisely and always welcome into my life the people who will love me, support me, be a resource and a help to me.  I know that people will come and go; there is a tide to who is in the family just as sure as the tides of the ocean.  Being related means that you get first dibs, but you don’t get the only dibs.  And if you don’t maintain the other relationship ties, the genetic tie can end up not being enough to say that you are family any more.

I say this even as I acknowledge that I have both a mother and a father, still living.  I have a brother (who has his own family).  Are the original four members of the first family I ever knew still a family?  No.  Not really.  Being family requires effort, it’s a relationship, same as being in love, or being married, or being friends.  It requires the expenditure of time definitely and money possibly.  It requires commitment…and I am feeling very unhappy that my daughter and her love, the parents of my granddaughters, will not accept my commitment to my husband nor do they welcome the chance for a new commitment to someone who would be another person to love them–and their children.  I feel very unhappy that my son apparently has some of the same hesitations, although our interactions with him have not been as strained or requiring as much conversation as I have had with my daughter.

I cannot tell if this is just a part of their concern for me.  The rapidity with which my Beloved and I went from meeting to married was…well, whirlwind.  (See “The Case of the Disappearing Queen“)  I can’t tell if the timing of my decline in health and our being together has seemed too coincidental and therefore, it’s *his* fault.  Which it’s not–and apparently, no one has considered where I would be health-wise if I did not have him with me.  I shudder to think what state I’d be in, physically and mentally, if I did not have him to help me, to care for me when I need it and to have been a financial resource when I couldn’t work.  OMG, I’d probably have a dreadful life of work and sleep with no ability to do anything else–and I would not be diagnosed, so I’d be getting sicker and sicker, taking more and more OTC drugs to try and handle the pain…don’t want to think about it.

What began as a routine Sunday has been changed into a long rant about fathers, family and what constitutes both–and what doesn’t.  I think I feel a bit better, although sadly resigned to the way things are in my life, both in the direction of my father as well as in the direction of my children.  I am going to be posting another blog pretty quickly behind this one, as things have been happening and I haven’t been telling you about them, but they are separate from this one.  Thank you for listening, maybe this has started some introspection of your own about your father and your family.  As I told Beloved, the best definition for enlightenment is probably this: Learning something you really didn’t want to know, but knowing that it’s true.  Sigh.

Namaste, and Happy Father’s Day!  (We all have one, no matter what!)

***************************************************************************************************

UPDATE:

So.  Things have happened, conversations have occurred and I need to make an update to this blog.

I owe some apologies to people who were mentioned earlier.  First, for “airing dirty laundry” in public, “all over Facebook”.  Even though I don’t use names, if you know me, you know who I mean when I talk about my family.  So it’s not as discrete as perhaps it should be.  On the other hand, this is MY blog and while the link gets posted in FB, I find it really hard to believe that EVERYONE reads it.  If they do, then I have a larger audience than I ever imagined.  

Second, I apologize to everyone that I “pushed” my husband on.  In my love and enthusiasm, I wanted everyone who knew me to love him as much and accept him as someone with a greater claim to association than perhaps they felt comfortable with at first meeting.  He was also enthusiastic about having instant relationships, again, simply by association to being with me.  He is a generous man, who believes that if he has it, does not need but you do, will then give said item(s) to you for your benefit.  It may be something as simple as sharing the names of his favorite sci fi authors, or the information he has gained about organic foods.  It can also include physical things, from a shared meal that you don’t have to pay for, to a book that he thinks you will enjoy, even up to expensive electronics that are on “permanent loan” until it can be paid back over time–and the cost is always at a loss to him.  

Unfortunately, his bipolar disorder causes some behaviors that may not be understood by others.  He loves to talk about his gaming, or military history…and when he knows about a topic, he KNOWS about a topic.  And the more enthused he gets, the louder he gets.  (Doesn’t help that he’s got moderately severe hearing loss in both ears.)  He is also particularly susceptible to emotional swings (he’s bipolar, remember?) and a casual remark that seems slighting to him can push him into depression faster than Superman changes his clothes.  If he were diabetic, I’d warn people not to give him sugary things.  There’s no nice or easy way to warn them about the various manifestations of his disease–which is mostly controlled by his meds, but the stress anxiety disorder rears its head up and makes some visits with people really interesting.  Let’s just say that he needs ALL that he can take for stress before going to see his mother…a major source of anxiety every time we go.  

So he’s not “normal”, does not react to things the same way as you or I.  He was thrilled to think of my family as suddenly being “his” family too.  Neither of us considered that relationships don’t spring into being…and we should have.  We’re not around children very often…and even though he would love to have a child, it’s obvious that we’re not going to.  So he lacks some of the social skills for interacting with the little ones.  Watching him hold a newborn was amusing because it was very apparent that he felt like he was holding a piece of dainty china!  I also suspect that his size can be a bit intimidating to the little people, and as a person they’ve just met, or met before but not seen very often, they may not initiate interaction with him–and he has no idea how to start up playing with them.  He has really very little experience with anyone younger than about 15-16 years old.  But he does enjoy contact when it occurs; he tries to be welcoming to them and having a good time with them. And children are much more accepting than adults.  

Having said that, it is important to tell you that it was never meant for him to supplant an already present family member.  NEVER.  But he is not considered to be a part of the family at all.  He’s just “my husband”.  It’s apparently irrelevant that by being “my husband”, he is MY family.  He and I are related, by love and by law.  

I think that my biggest problem with this, even as I understand the reluctance to give him not even the same, but similar name, to other family members is that I never hesitated to consider various other people who came into our lives over the years as family members…I have a “son by another mother” and a couple of daughters that I did not give birth to.  I’ve had sisters by another mister…and even some older friends who felt like aunts, uncles or even grandparents.  An insistence that only people related by blood and DNA can be given familial titles is something that I find extremely limiting.  And in limiting them by title, you do the relationship an injustice–and can end up not realizing just how much like a “true” family member they are.

You are related to some people by blood and DNA.  And they may not be good for you; they may be abusive, or neglectful (its own sort of abuse) or they may simply just not want the very best for you and are nothing but a negative influence in your life.  They may be leeches, in subtle ways as they wear you out emotionally, or in more obvious ways as they live off of your efforts, including your money.  They may have all sorts of bad, unpleasant or obnoxious behaviors–and if they weren’t related to you by blood and DNA, you would have NOTHING to do with them.  So why do you accept behavior you find deplorable from someone, just because they are “related” to you?  You don’t have to.

And other the hand, there are people that you meet–in the grocery store, at the library, in a bar; you might meet them by being introduced to them by a friend or your blood relative.  And the Universe has put them into your path because they can help you, they can be a resource for wisdom–or money; they can be a sounding board for your new ideas because you know that they will give fair assessments and plausible suggestions to make those dreams come true.  Sometimes, they do end up replacing a “real” relative who has died because they have taken on the role that relative was for you.  

“Home is the place that when you go there, they have to take you in.”  And home is not a specific building, just to be clear.  There are plenty of folk who have been kicked out the home they thought they had, told never to come back.  Or when they need to return because their life hasn’t gone well, they are grudgingly allowed back, and served up a litany of how rotten they are, what a loser they are… So sometimes being blood related ain’t worth shit.

Which is why I have said, over and over again, that you have family that you are related to, but don’t HAVE to endure…and you have the family that you choose.  These are the people that you KNOW have your back, that will welcome you into their home no matter what time of day, to let you stay as long as you need to.  They will give you money, food, clothes and their car without question.  They will comfort you when things get bad, and cheer you when good stuff happens.  And in this family that you’ve made, there might actually be several “moms”, a “dad” or two…some uncles, some sisters, some whatevers…it’s just about having a group of people that love you, just as you are.  They are a resource and a refuge whenever you need them.  And it’s always a joy (and generally lots of fun) to be with them.

Frankly, I do not understand why anyone would want to limit this chosen family, to keep the familial titles for those who share DNA–even when those DNA sharers aren’t worth the time of day.  I don’t, and won’t.  So I guess I tend to forget that not everyone wants to just add people in, willy nilly.  So I apologize for that as well.

I never meant to make anyone feel unhappy or uncomfortable at any point since meeting my Beloved.  I can only point to my enthusiasm for finding the love of my life as the reason for wanting to include him at every level with my family, related and chosen.  I failed with both and now there’s just him and me.  Which may be sad, but perhaps as it was supposed to be, so that the move to CA would not be as heartbreaking, having to leave everyone behind.  Even the ones I thought might be going with us will not be going at the same time…and things can change, so we shall have to wait and see.  

I hope that we can continue to communicate with those we leave behind–yay for the Interwebs, Skype and FB. And maybe, just maybe…people will at least come to visit?

Namaste once again, my friends–and my family.

VAGINA VAGINA VAGINA

Yes I said it.  Vagina.  Should have no more impact than saying nose or eyebrow or knee.  But apparently it does have more impact in Michigan.  Please tell me that you are following the –not just war, but extermination nearly–on women in that state.  That you know how the Speaker of the House silenced a female Representative with his gavel for saying, and I quote, “I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina.  But no means no.”  Really?  Are you effing kidding me?  If a man had said “I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my penis.  But no means no.”, he would have been applauded.  Standing ovation.

Vagina.  I am frightened by the depth of vitriol from those who would put women locked back into the 1950’s mold: Donna Reed, Harriet Nelson–always immaculately groomed, with a sparkling clean home and a nice hot dinner waiting for the husband to return from work.  No other choice but motherhood (if the good Lord blesses you with offspring and if “He” doesn’t, well, it’s somehow your failure) and wife.  No degree but that “MRS” is worthy–or attainable.  No wonder their houses were ungodly clean and they had their hair done…there was nothing else for them to do.  What a monumental waste of intelligence!  What a slap in the face to women who are just as capable, just as ambitious for a chance to do “more” with their lives as any male.

Vagina.  Why are men so frightened by a woman who can change her own flat tire (or her own oil, for that matter) or a woman who holds a degree and the job that goes with that schooling?  What does it cost them to permit a woman to have the same opportunities?  Apparently more than they can stand.

Vagina.  As women, as females in this society, we have fought too hard and for too long to let anyone (let me say it again: ANYONE) to strip away those hard earned RIGHTS–things that should have been ours the moment the Constitution was signed.  The right to vote.  The right to our own bodies.  YES, the right TO OUR OWN BODIES–the SAME as men have.  Can you imagine the maelstrom if we limited men the same way they are trying to limit us?  We see some of this with the addenda to (anti-abortion) bills that seek to require men to have a physical evaluation and an EKG before being given Viagra–which is not about abortion or fetus’ rights AT ALL.  Men have sex for fun, more or less completely.  They can do it without birth control, with anyone they please and *say* that they are trying to create a child–but since they are not the ones who carry it, it doesn’t matter to them if a child results from their sexual activity or not.  And it doesn’t impede their sexual activity at all.  They can use condoms because it’s to protect against disease, not to prevent a pregnancy, right?  They can get their Viagra prescriptions and penile enhancements (read hydraulic support for a penis that can no longer get it up alone) without any restriction.  Fellows, I have news for you: if your John Thomas refuses to rise for the occasion, that’s your body’s way of saying you’re not in physical condition to create a child.  NO SEX FOR YOU!

Vagina.  Even those men who have religious beliefs that limit them to procreative sexual congress only…probably masturbate.  Oh dear gods, that opens up a whole new line of logical illogic.  If you can only have sex to create a child, masturbation for MEN is a crime.  (Women of course can continue to masturbate all they want because it doesn’t have anything to do with procreation.  Hooray for multiple orgasms!)  Men who masturbate are denying some egg somewhere the chance to join up and make a zygote.  And no matter how much you’d like it to be so, a zygote has ZERO chance of living outside of the protection of the womb.  Same thing with a fetus, until about 6th or 7th month–and babies born that early have a myriad of health issues.  There’s a reason that incubation time is 9 months; it takes that long for the sperm and egg mixture to reach a level where it could survive outside of the mother’s body.  Technically, that cluster of cells, from the sperm and egg colliding up through “baby”,  inside of that womb is a parasite, taking what it needs from the mother’s body in order to mature to a point where it can leave and then function on its own.  If it comes early, medicine should do what it can to ensure its continued survival, with humanitarian limits.  Don’t force a body too weak to survive to linger on, have some respect for the soul that is within that weakened or malformed shape and if it is to travel on, let it go with dignity and peace.  (This is also true of the elderly members of our society.)

Vagina.  The other questions I keep asking are these: why would any man want a brainless, useless uterus with legs to be his wife, his help-meet, his PARTNER in life? If you have to pull in a paired harness and only one of you is capable of pulling, the other is an impediment to forward motion.  Why would an intelligent man want to spend his life with someone who cannot carry on a meaningful conversation and understand his work?  Why would he want someone he has to tell what to do because she’s not able to make decisions on her own?  The concept of the gorgeous, busty stupid sex slave, who exists to serve “only you, my master” makes for great porn but not so great real life.

Vagina.  I read Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaiden’s Tale” and thought it an interesting science fiction book.  Now I think about and consider it a prediction–it seems that it’s where we headed, with women not being taught to read or write, just to recognize the icons for each type of store so that she can shop.  In the book, the government was a theocracy, which is also where we seem headed–except that we are not ALL Christians, so a great portion of the population is going to be stripped of their freedom of religion or face persecution.  And the catch to that theocracy?  Is that the MEN in charge led a double life–the public, prim and proper God-fearing, “good” life and then the other, the almost more real and true persona, the hedonistic, “sinning” and doing what they said was wrong  for everyone else life.  Not unlike those today who say one thing and do another.  When words and actions do not match, trust the actions to be true.

Vagina.  And right now, the words and actions of the Republican Party DO NOT MATCH.  They spout rhetoric about the sanctity of life (for fetuses only, apparently) and the “Christian” way of life but I firmly believe that if that carpenter from Nazareth walked into any legislative building in this nation, particularly the one in MI, there would be a repeat episode of his casting the money changers out of the temple.  There would also be a great deal of surprise when they all waved and said, “Hi Jesus, it’s me” and he said, “I do not know you. You have not followed my teachings or my examples.”

Vagina.  This obsession with legislating women’s reproductive rights also has great potential to lead to other medical dilemmas–in fact, Michigan (once again!) is leading the way to allowing people’s religion to determine what they will (or will not do) in a medical situation–and they cannot be legally held responsible if they object on religious grounds.  That means that MY (NON-Christian) body could be denied life-saving medicine or narcotic pain management…and their religious right are state-mandated and mine are not.  OOPS, against the Constitution.  The First Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ….” and Article VI specifies that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”  In other words, your religion has NOTHING to do with your job–and if it does, find another freaking job.  Consider it a handicap and adjust accordingly.

Vagina.  This is not just about physical medicine.  We’re also talking mental health here–and I saw a post that said, “Some counseling centers hire all Christian employees–and you are sent there by the state and cannot leave.  All day long, from everyone there, you get “You are a sinner, you have sinned, you must accept Christ as your savior”–with no reprieve from this and probably not the best nor most unbiased assessment of your mental state.  They really would not like me–I identify as a Tibetan Zen Buddhist and do not believe in the need to accept anyone as “my savior” because I believe in reincarnation.  My life is just the way it is supposed to be, thank you very much.  I guess I’d never get to go home because I would not, could not accept Christianity.  Believe me, I tried–but they just could not answer my questions.  And they really don’t want you to ask questions, just do what the pastor says.  (Not all Christians are like this, and I know that–but the ones that are championing these absurd laws are so sure that they are right and that God is on their side that there is NO compromise.)

Vagina.  And that is the issue, really.  No compromise from someone who is so dead set sure they have the ONLY way to live a “good life”–which a lot of them do not follow themselves–and when you KNOW something, that’s when you stop learning.  As my beloved says, Michigan is their proving ground, their model of how the US is going to be if they get their way.  And THAT scares the shit out of me because I’m WAY too mouthy to put up with the Pharisee’s disease,  (“Look at me, God, see how good I am, I’m so much better than *that* man over there”) and will not step away from my spiritual path for anything that does not hold the truth for me.  Christianity has failed to offer me truths that allow me to live a life that is peaceful, filled with loving kindness and honoring all that is sacred.  I also absolutely do NOT believe in telling other people how to live their lives, what to believe–and what they can and cannot do with their own bodies.

Vagina.  Let’s talk about what’s going on behind the curtain (“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” ~Wizard of Oz)….out front, it looks like a war on women–and make no mistake, it is.  It really is.  But in the background…there’s a lot of money being moved around, people get paid off, politicians being outright bought to vote according to corporate agendas instead of voting as their constituents would want.  Did you know that Congress can actually use insider trading to make money?  Everyone else (not just “anyone else”) would go to jail for that.  The Koch brothers are paying for lots and lots of what they want–and considering how much money they are worth, it really is a case of buying whatever you desire.  Not quite sure what their end game is except to keep what they have while increasing it.  But really, how much money can one person spend without getting into the stupid level of rich, where you own a solid silver Mercedes Benz that cannot be driven (one of the sheiks in the Middle East has one) …or you have a wedding that cost millions of dollars and then get a divorce within days?  Such a waste, such an obscene waste of money that could have been spent on providing food for the hungry, clothes for the naked and housing for those who are living on the street or in slums.  Money that could have been spent supporting innovation and invention, which our country has lost.  Oh we can improve and upgrade, but there’s not a lot of really NEW ideas coming along.  A trip to the movies proves that when everything is either based on an old movie, an old TV show, or comic books.  It’s a sin to have so much money that if you spent a million dollars a day, it would still last you the rest of your life.  Remember, it’s not that money is the root of all evil, it’s the LOVE OF MONEY that is root of all evil–and those One Percenters LOVE their money.

Vagina.  “We the people” is how it was written.  NOT “We the men, oh and I guess the women as well”.  “We the people” need to get ourselves involved in what’s going on in politics.  If you do NOTHING else, you need to VOTE.   Register, keep the info updated and go to the polls when it’s time to cast your ballot–local, statewide or national!  Attend the local council meetings.  Ask questions, make them explain the legislation in plain fricking English, not in the legalese bullshit that most laws are written in–so that you can hardly tell exactly what they are about.  Twenty years ago, I visited a friend living in AZ–and her job was to read the bills that were being voted on and write a synopsis in plain English so that the representatives knew what they were voting on.  If our elected officials can’t understand it, how can we–and why aren’t the laws being written in plain English?  I can tell you why–to obfuscate all the nasty little add-ons that make what was a good, even great law into something that chips away at this right or that piece of national park or lets oil companies frack us up.

Vagina.  So there is a war on women, on women’s rights, on women’s choices for themselves.  Believe it.  Believe it and fight it on every level that you can.  Spread the word, share this with anyone you think will agree and benefit from reading it.  Refuse to be silenced.  Be a SLUT that ROCKS the Vote (Rock the Slut Vote) — be proud to be a SLUT because it’s what those men really want to get rid of.  Let’s put this into perspective: what is the difference between a whore, a slut, and a bitch?  A whore is a woman who has sex with anyone for money; a slut is a woman who has sex with anyone (but it’s her choice, know what I mean?)…and a bitch?  Is a woman who has sex with anyone EXCEPT you.   Once you stop laughing, you’ll realize that being a SLUT means that you choose who you’re going to have sexual relations with and whether you want to make a child with them.  Oh wait, that requires birth control.  But if you’ve got it, then your choices continue to be myriad–you can get a job, go to college, have a career…or have a child and any of the prior…or get married and have a child and any of the first choices…but it is ALWAYS YOUR CHOICE.  And these old white men, and the few women and younger men they’ve convinced to agree with them, want to take that away from you.

Vagina.  I have a vagina; my daughters each have a vagina and my granddaughter has a vagina; my daughter-in-law has a vagina.  And I don’t want them to be denied any choice that they want to make.  I want them to have the same freedoms, the same RIGHTS as the penis people.  And I am so adamant in that belief that I am becoming a political person–me, the most NON-political person you’d ever meet.  I will not sit down and be quiet like a good little girl.  I will not be silenced for stating the obvious truth that legislators are obscenely overly interested in my vagina and what I do with it–and that they need to get a life.  I will vote this November to ensure that my rights continue to be protected, that our country does NOT become a Christian theocracy (which is all show and no real substance, no real living like Christ and doing as he taught).  I will continue to post blogs and statuses on my various pages that will keep this war up front, out there with our breasts, reminding everyone that has a vagina that we need to become a huge vagina fellowship–to be united in our desire to keep everyone else out of our vaginas (unless WE invite them to discover the wonder that is a vagina), to WIN this war that is being waged against us.

V is for VOTE, which you need to do–register if you haven’t!
A is for Anger, that someone else wants to control your body
G is for Gathering–getting all women to realize that we must stand together and fight this
I is for Information, telling all the women you know about this, keeping yourself informed
N is for Networking, using the Internet and social media (FB and Twitter) to spread the word
A is for Achieving VICTORY at the polls this November!

VAGINA.  I have one and I’m going to keep it safe from stupid laws.  You do the same, okay?

VAGINA!

Your Mother Wears Combat Boots!

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day.  All across the nation, kids are going to burn the toast and undercook the scrambled eggs, both of which Mom will eat with a smile.  Dads will take the family out and the restaurant business will boom so that Mom doesn’t have to cook at least one meal this year.  The florists and Hallmark will also rake in big money.  By the way, this is the phone companies’ biggest day.

As a country, we still sort of have a Donna Reed/Harriet Nelson view of Mother’s Day…wonderful sentiment but does not address the fact this can be a day that causes pain for many, many women.  Motherhood can be a wonderful thing or it can be a nightmare, from both sides–mom or child.

What does Mother’s Day mean to the population of mothers who have to visit their children…incarcerated in prisons, institutionalized in psych wards or living in a state run home?  Or worse yet, have to make a trip to the cemetery because their child is no longer living?  Or have a child that was given up for adoption because they could not raise it, for whatever reason?  What does Mother’s Day mean to the population of women who either cannot conceive or carry a pregnancy to term?  Who have had a miscarriage (or more than one)?  Who gave birth to a stillborn child?  Or because of their own health issues, were never able to even try for a child of their own?  What does Mother’s Day mean to the population of women who became mothers through marriage?  They have had to learn how to combine the honeymoon period of a new husband with instant children that they did not give birth to but must mother (nurture and care) for?  And who resent her and remind her frequently that she is not their “real” mother and cannot replace her?

So this is a Mother’s Day blog for all women, trying to acknowledge all of the facets of this most feminine of roles.  If you’re not a mother, you had one.  She may have been Donna Reed or she may have been the bitch from hell, but you had a mom.  She has a lot of names: Mom, Mother, Mommy, Mama, Ma…and lots of other interesting names that are as individual as the person to whom they refer.  Erma Bombeck had a wonderful description of mothers that included such tidbits as “she was the only person in the house who knew how to replace the toilet paper on the spindle” and “she lived on coffee and leftovers”.  What else is particular to moms?

How about the fact that it is assumed she will handle all of the nasty parts of the little people?  She deals with vomit, blood, snot, urine and feces on an appallingly regular basis.  She cleans up spit out and spattered deposits of refused food…that strained spinach, the butternut squash.  She also deals with the anticipated results of attempting to blow a raspberry with a mouthful of pureed beets.  She gets used to wearing shirts that had permanent “spit up” stains on the shoulders.  She learns how to remove a dry pea from a child’s ear using common household implements and to overcome the normal childhood fears of being flushed down the toilet or going down the drain with the bath water.

Another Mom trait is the ability to see from the eyes in the back of her head…and arms that stretch to pop a smart mouthed kid where it counts–from across the room.  Moms know if you’re lying, the fact that you sneaked in late and that your best friend is actually a thug…a thing that you will agree with in about a month.  Moms stay up late with the crying babes which gives them the experience they need to sit up and watch for your return by curfew when you’re a teenager.  Moms get by with just a couple of hours of sleep for like years…and you wonder why they are crazy.  Sleep deprivation is a bad thing…

Moms yell the loudest at the basketball games, cheer the most when you make the winning touchdown and never say a word when you’ve lost other than “You played a good game”.  Moms let you get that pet turtle and then help you bury it because you forgot to feed it.  And then let you get another turtle.  (Which she secretly feeds so that she doesn’t have to dig another hole in her flower beds because Raphael just didn’t make it.  But this time you’re feeding it too…so it dies, the fattest turtle ever seen, of undiagnosed turtle diabetes and heart attack…sigh)

And I know at this point, some of you are going, “Yeah right.  MY mom wasn’t like that at all.”  I know.  There are moms who yell at the kids more than at those basketball games.  Who are self-medicating their own pains with alcohol or drugs which obviously interferes with their ability to nurture.  There are mothers who really don’t want to be moms…and if they are forced to keep the baby, take out their frustration on the child.  There are mothers who inflict pain, mental or physical, on their children for a variety of reasons, none of them good even if the reason is perhaps understandable.

It may come as a shock to you, but (and I’m warning you, this is going to very shocking!)….mothers are human, too.  (Please don’t tell anyone I let the secret out.)  So if your mom was not a good mom, it’s okay to say that out loud.  And to learn from her mistakes to be a good mom to your own children, if you choose to have them.  (Even good moms drive their kids insane with their weirdness…especially from a teenagers’ point of view.)  And it’s okay to NOT call your mother on Mother’s Day if she is toxic to your well being and undermines your life with her negativity.  As my friends have heard me say often enough: Just because you share DNA with someone doesn’t give them the right to treat you worse than they treat a stranger off the street.  You are allowed to let go of those people who have common chromosomes to choose a family of your own–the people who support you and want the best for you.  If it cannot be someone who is related by biology, it can be someone who is related by love.

I am a mother with three children.  My eldest, a girl, I have seen exactly twice in her life–when she was born and 29 years later, when she came to visit me.  I also have a son, who is 4th generation military service with a wife and son–who looks just like him and acts just like him as well.  Look out, world!  My youngest, also a daughter, has a daughter of her own and already informed me, with some acidity, that the Mother’s Curse works.  (“May you have a child JUST LIKE YOU!”)  If I do nothing, absolutely nothing else of any worth in my life, I have given 3 amazing contributions to this world each of whom I hope will make a difference to those around them.  They are all intelligent, witty and achieving things in their lives.  I am insanely proud of each of them and proud to call them “friends” as well as “my kids”.  Like most other mothers, I did the best I knew how–in the case of the oldest, in choosing to give her up for adoption rather than trying to be a single mom in the military, across the country from my family and with no real support for such an undertaking.  With the other two, I raised them, as I have always said, without repeating my mother’s mistakes.  I made plenty enough of my own, new ones!

I take no credit for child #1; her adoptive parents gave her many opportunities I could never have.  She is a skilled musician (plays piano and bass (in an orchestra, not a bass guitar) and sings); she is currently a rather senior marketing and events coordination person for the MS society in CA.  She is getting married to the love of her life this month and I am so happy for her.  I have dealt for years with the consequences of voluntarily letting go of a child but I consider it to have been the absolutely right choice and still is through today.

My other two were wonderful additions to my life.  I was fortunate enough to be able to stay at home with them until the younger was about 10.  I got to see the “firsts”–first step, first words, first day of school.  We had a lot of good times, doing nothing of great importance.  Playing video games together.  Making popcorn and watch Warner Brothers cartoons for hours.  I got introduce them to all sorts of things: new foods, new ideas, new ways of thinking about something.  I taught them that the most important question is “why” and worth looking for the answer.  I encouraged them to be who they were, without apology or excuse.  I gave advice and (I’d like to think) even knew when to be silent and let them learn it themselves.  I truly enjoyed every phase of their growing up and it has all passed so quickly that I’m not sure where the years went–and then I look into the eyes of my grandchildren and see myself peeking out.  I have loved and still love being a mother, being their mother.  (Although I am glad that the intensive “hands on” portion is done.)

So on this Mother’s Day, I’d like to honor all mothers, stepmothers, “real” mothers and those who gave up their chance for mothering to someone else; the women who want to be mothers but can’t, and yes, to the dads who are moms too.  To the moms who stay at home and those who do all the work at home while holding down a 9 to 5 “out of the house” job (or two).  To the moms who try each day to gently lead their children from being unsociable wild animals into people who eat with forks, say “please” and help old ladies across the street.  To the moms who stand back, chewing on their knuckles and let their children learn some new (dangerous!) thing like riding a bike without interfering.  To the moms who mother without smothering.  To the moms who let their kids mess up the kitchen, the basement or the house with their first attempts at cooking, blanket forts and sleepovers.  To the moms who let their kids get away with stuff without ever letting on that she knew.  To the moms who kissed all the boo-boos, made peanut butter and jelly sammiches “just right!” and made the house a home.  To the moms who wore skirts and high heels to work and the ones who wore jeans and sneakers.  To all the other moms who also encouraged her kids to ask “why”? but didn’t pretend that she had all the answers.  (That’s why there is Google.)

And  on this Mother’s Day, I want to especially honor the moms who wear camouflage and combat boots, work half a world away from home and are serving our country rather than being at home with their children.  Theirs is a special commitment to patriotism that supersedes motherhood–or in a way, ensures that our country will continue to be a place to have and raise children.  They give up something that cannot ever be replaced and I hope that their children will understand the reason and honor their mom for that choice.

A salute, a toast to moms, all moms everywhere.

Oh and a quick history lesson of the title I chose:

“Your mother wears combat (army) boots!”

A Dictionary of Catch Phrases (1986) by Eric Partridge has an entry for the expression, which says that “your mother wears army boots” was first used in the US during World War Two and was originally “very derisive, then jocularly derisive.” No speculation on the origin of the term is given, but the article quotes from a source which gives the following as variants: “your mother drives a tank,” “your mother eats K rations,” “your mother works in a dime store,” and “ah, yer mother wears cotton drawers.”

Generally used as a schoolyard taunt, like the phrase “go jump in a lake” or “go soak your head” and what we used to say to insult someone else before the phrase “fuck you” was invented. (Not really.  The word “fuck” has been around longer than “your mother wears combat boots”. LOL)  My kids rapidly figured out it couldn’t be that dreadful a thing since their mother did, indeed, wear combat boots.

Namaste!

Upsetting the World View

I wanted my Facebook profile to show my employment as this: “Works at Upsetting the World View”…but FB wouldn’t let me do it because that was not a “real” company or business.

So…I started creating the FB page for this “business” just to have it as a list-able place.  The questions that were asked required answers, so I did.  And in the process, ended up starting my own business.  Sort of.  I now have an official site for what I’ve been doing all along: ministering to those who need an ear to listen and someone to ask the questions that will help them find their answers.  Or need healing from a non-Western medical viewpoint.  My REAL job on this planet is to minister, to heal, to teach.  And suddenly, without prior thought or planning, I have essentially put out my shingle.  I don’t have a tax number, I haven’t gotten a “doing business as” paperwork from the commonwealth, I in fact have not consulted a single “legal” place or municipality about doing this.  Might be a problem somewhere down the road, but in the meantime…I will just do what I’ve been doing anyways, and maybe, just maybe find a little income from it.

Income.  That’s an interesting concept about this whole thing.  I don’t feel right taking money for using my gifts, things I do without conscious thought or effort.  Doesn’t require special equipment (usually) and I’m not paying off school loans for some degree…since I don’t have diplomas for this either.  I realize that from a certain point of view, this could be viewed as trying to sell snake oil off a traveling wagon…but I’m not offering miracle cures.  Actually I’m not even offering any cures, just whatever help I can give–which is more about the state of mind and beliefs of the person seeking the help than anything I am or do.  But if someone wants to repay me, well…I take $ but I’ll also take barter and “in trade”.

My take on how this happened?  I think all I’ve done is made myself available to a wider spectrum of people who might benefit from contact with me.  No promises there, just a willingness to help where I can.  Some of what I do can actually be done “long distance”, over the internet and through messaging or emails.  I am more than able to be a silent and listening person who will act as a sounding board for others to hear themselves out loud, so to speak, and perhaps offer a different point of view that helps them find their answers.

I was a little surprised at how fast this all went together, how easy it was to get the page created and the continued ease with which I have updated the site and the things I’m finding that are appropriate to share.  I have found that when things go this easily in my life, it’s where I was supposed to be and doing what I was supposed to do.  I do not decline to accept this challenge and hope that the page will grow as it needs to, that it will be as useful a ministry as I could hope for.  This may be the thing that I was destined for when I first stepped back from other ministerial duties for my sabbatical.  Which lasted way longer than I planned, but I am waking up and starting to be in a physical shape that will allow this while also finding myself in a spiritual place that almost longs for this.  I have missed my ministering.

It has continued, to a certain extent, even while I’ve been dealing with my physical health.  I still have the wandering souls show up at my doorstep…so perhaps this is just an escalation of effort, not something entirely new.  Which brings me back to the new Facebook page…I have, in full glorious meaning of the phrase, “hung my shingle out” to a global community.  Exciting times ahead.  And it’s something that I am actively looking forward to.

Let me upset your world view, because as Doug Adams wrote, “….was amazed at how different things looked from a perspective just three feet to the left”.

Namaste!

Bright Blessed Day / Dark Sacred Night

And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

Yes it is.  Dealing with my fibromyalgia for the past 12-18 months has taken so much of my attention and time that I feel I have stopped paying attention to my spiritual path.  I had stepped back from my responsibilities as a leader for my group to have a spiritual retreat, a time of in-looking and thoughtful pursuit of my own spiritual needs and ideas.  I was supposed to be on a journey for my soul…and instead, it’s been a journey of pain and doctor visits.  I’ve seen my physician more in the past 18 months than I’ve seen a doctor the rest of my life, including 3 pregnancies.  It’s hard to focus on anything else except the body when the body is not healthy.

As I think back over the time, I find moments both small and large where I was able to live a sacred life even with fibro.  The big ones: Paul and I helped a friend out of an abusive marriage, held her hand and were there as friends as she started a new life with her teenage daughter.  He and I also helped to give a co-worker, also an abused (now ex) wife and her children a Christmas to remember with the assistance of his parents and sister.  It wasn’t about the presents, it was the fact that there were any at all for them, and in a setting of love and family togetherness.  When the cost of a bra is a major household expenditure, even dollar store gifts are awesome.  And when they are GIFTS, not the things you “need” because you’re managing that, but purely luxury items that you couldn’t afford….well, the rest of us didn’t need the presents we got.  The joy of their holiday was gift enough.

The “small” moments aren’t small, really…just the opportunities for them are so much greater than the “large” that I divide them into these groups.  My small moments of sacred life?  Looking into the eyes of my 2 month old grandson for the first time.  Spending the day with my daughter, doing nothing momentous but sharing a deeply satisfying day together.  Being able to reach out and hug my husband and have him hug me back.  (And with the new meds, it no longer hurts! – which I had put up with in order to hold him.  Worth the price of the pain.)  Seeing my son holding his son and the love that shines like a fire between them.  Watching the sunset and as always in awe of the fact that even if no one ever looked, that glorious display would occur every day anyhow.  Enjoying the far vista of smoky mountains and the gentle ripple of countryside on a car drive.  Sharing a bite of a good meal with someone I love.

Even through all of the health issues (his and mine), we have managed to continue to do the ministry together that we had been doing separately: the willing ear to listen to the troubles of a wounded soul; the (hopefully) wise words to help someone find their way; letting all those who need a quiet space to just breathe into our home without question.  But my capacity for this sacred work has been at an all time low and sometimes, I’ve only been able to just sit and hold their hand.

And now that I am properly medicated and my endurance is returning, I find myself turning more and more back to those spiritual things I wanted to explore.  The fact that I can write this blog is a major accomplishment compared to the writing I wanted to do, that got lost in days of inability to type, my mental fog so pervasive that major chunks of time are missing.  And yet I cannot regret that time.  As I said in “The Zen of Fibromyalgia”, I was given time to sit still and know that I am sacred.  To learn to identify the parts of the body in a new way, to have forced limitations so that I learned to be more thoughtful about my actions, to plan my activity with the knowledge that I must do it in a way that did not waste my ability to do it.  To learn that just sitting, sitting as the Buddha sat, can be sacred action and spiritual learning.

As a Buddhist, it is my goal to live each moment and not only that, but to recognize and honor the sacred within each moment as I experience it.  To then let go of the moment and accept the next in its turn.  I try to always seek the sacred in all that I encounter (which is a fine ambition, but like I said, I TRY) and to honor the sacred wherever I find it.  I’m human.  I get angry, I get bitchy, I can be unpleasant.  I fail, time after time.  And yet I also let go of *those* moments as well, to try and not let the residual emotions and negativity linger into the next moment, to stop the ripple effect.  Or to let the ripple move past me, and like Frank Herbert’s (Dune) “Litany Against Fear”, I let it go over and through me and when it has gone past me, I will turn and look and only I will remain.

(Inserted note regarding that literary allusion.  The litany reads as follows:
“I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.”

This will find its way into a new blog about fear at some time in the future.  I can feel it congealing as thought that will desire written expression eventually.  We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.  Sorry for the interruption.)

Where was I?  Oh yes.  Living in the moment.  Finding the sacred in each moment.  Letting go of bad things (internal and external).  Trying to understand why I have had to go through what I have been going through and trying to find that sacred purpose in all of this being sick stuff.  And listening to Louis Armstrong singing about what a wonderful world, the words I’ve used as my title really stuck out.  I have always liked them, but they really hit home today.  The bright, blessed day.  The time when I was up and around, able to minister, able to live a “normal” life, do the things I wanted to do.  The dark, sacred night.  This is the time I have been living in.  In the dark, when the activities are not so visible, they are even (gasp) occult!  (Which only means “hidden”, really…nothing more).  In the night, which is a time for rest.  I needed to step back and take a breather from my ministry, needed the “sleep” from doing to find recuperation for my own sacred spaces.  To rejuvenate and replace that spiritual energy.  To dream, without a defined ending, of what might be and what I could do.  To be literally “in the dark” about where I was going, what I was doing.  Certainly seems that way.

And since everything is a circle and all cycles come back around to their starting point, I once again am having the dawning of another bright, blessed day.

Namaste, and a bright, BLESSED day to you as well.

Just Letting You Know

I have finally added a bunch of the Pages I had been wanting to…these are older essays that I wrote some time back but still wanted to share with others.  They represent my point of view at the time.  I don’t promise that I STILL hold them to be completely accurate for me, as I have walked a path from Wicca to Tibetan Zen Buddhist, but I believe that they are a good starting point for lively discussions.

I have also added the first 31 chapters of my murder mystery that I am writing.  Please enjoy it thus far…and when I actually finish it, I’ll let you know where you can buy it to find out “who dunnit”.  LOL

Once I can get my hands on my external hard drive that has the files I want, I will be adding some more Pages of various writings and stuff I want to share.  So come back and check it out!  And of course, there will be some more postings…

And thank you for reading ANYTHING I write.  It’s nice to be able to share my thoughts with you and I welcome your comments.  I do view this as a dialogue, not just a Kitty Karnival of Kookiness and K-noweldge.

Looking forward to our conversations, and Namaste!