The News Tribune logo

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Four Questions

In these hard, hard days

Where can one find safety?

Where can one find peace

Where can one find pleasure?

Who Will Win... Good or Evil?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

TAM Offers Free Salute to "Dia de los Muertos" November 2 at Community Festival

What a thrill to discover that a full scale festival with all the trimmings shown here saluting "Dia de los Muertos" at the Tacoma Art Museum will be mounted this coming Sunday, November 2, from 12:00 noon to 6:00 p.m.

The FREE celebration is geared for family members of all ages and features live music, dancers, art, food and fun as a presentation by Centro Latino and the Tacoma Art Museum, with support from Proyecto MoLE-Movimiento Latino Estudiantil.

Above left: Tapete (sand painting) designed by Fulgencio Lazo in the lobby at Tacoma Art Museum sets the stage for the free festivities saluting "Dia de los Muertos". Photos copyright 2008 by Mizu Sugimura.

The simply gorgeous and compelling tapete (sand painting) by artist Fulgencio Lazo, multiple artist assistants and student volunteers which covers a good part of the main floor at the entry to the museum is a stunning and compelling labor of love.

The highly vibrant and radiant work meant to honor those friends and relatives who have died is usually created in the cemetery with donated sand brought in by loved ones.

The design is inscribed on a base of one inch of sand and then colored with powdered poster paint. Visitors are sure to be both impressed and touched by the clever and creative usage of ordinary materials.

In a period of economic downsizing, the displays serve not only as a different perspective of death but an equally eloquent and gentle reminder to those of us in the outside communities that it will not be the lavish spending which shows others our love for those who have passed.

But instead it's the caring energy that we living bring to salute their memory that enables them to stay alive within our minds and hearts.

Below: Partial view of memorial altars featured at the Tacoma Art Museum's exhibit honoring "Dia de los Muertos". Photo copyright 2008 by Mizu Sugimura.

Dear Politicians at Every Level:

Dear Politicians at Every Level:

I'm a regular guy with a regular house payment, a regular car payment, a regular credit card payment and a regular set of utility bills. I got kids and grandkids, one dog and two cats. I got a regular job with a regular company. I got a couple of regular hobbies and I like to do the kinds of things most law abiding regular guys like to do. In short, I'm just another regular working stiff. I ain't overly poor, but I sure as hell ain't rich and most of the time, because of government at all levels, this regular guy feels way over regulated and taxed!

I read this morning news and I feel broker than when I started my day. I'm wondering when it will end. Will it be when it all comes crashing around us or will it end when regular guys like me have had enough and start storming the Bastille? No, I'm not for armed revolt, but something has to give!

What I have to say has been said a billion times by millions of regular guys like me and even by most of you politicians. No one seems to care. A few are ringing the warning bells, but no one is listening!!!

New York says the have a 47 Billion dollar deficit! California says theirs is running at 18 Billion, Michigan's a mere Billion or so, and here in Washington, we are looking at almost 4 billion dollars. That's a lot of money for a regular guy like me to deal with!

Doing some rough calculations, I'm in the hole for about $650 for WA. That puts my family's share at about $3250. It's better than New York State. The average New Yorker's share of their state's deficit is about $2350.00! For a family of five, that's almost $12,000.00! This is, of course, over and above the taxes we already pay!

All that and I won't even attempt to tackle how much I'm on the hook for the federal deficit! Math is not my strong suit.

What are you people doing? You promise responsibility but deliver arrogance. You promise fixes, but your repairs are even worse than the problem. It's like taking my car to a mechanic for a flat tire and he not only ignores the tire, but changes my perfectly good engine for an even bigger one that doesn't even work. He then hands me a bill I have no hope of paying and arrogantly explains how he made it all better for me! You are that mechanic!

All you care about is keeping yourself in power and all of those lovely perquisites that go along with it. I can understand job security. We all want it, but you are as bad or worse then the corporate bigwigs you say you are trying to rein in.

I plan to vote for no incumbent this year. I will work to convince others of that in time for the next election. I may not be successful, but anything is better than watching my hard earned dollars be wasted day after day.

I want you to stop spreading the wealth! I want you to spend my money wisely as if it was your own. I want you to stop spending money as if there was no end.

I want you to be responsible!


Powered by ScribeFire.

Sinatra Show at Harbor Ridge School

If you’re too young to remember Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, if you’ve got a parent who does or if you just want to relive the hey day of Sinatra, Thursday, Nov. 6 plan to swing with vocalist Joey Jewell who will take guests back to Las Vegas, when Frank Sinatra was king of the strip, in a show at Harbor Ridge Middle School in Gig Harbor.

Jim Kerl’s Swing Session Big Band, which includes Harbor Ridge band director Sheryl Clark, will accompany Jewell with the music of the Count Basie Orchestra.

The concert, titled “Sinatra at the Sands,” will be performed one night only at the Harbor Ridge Middle School auditorium at 7 p.m. My delightful brother-in-law Dan Haeck is a member of Kerl's Swing Session Band and we were fortunate enough to attend a similar concert in Puyallup a couple of years ago. My only regret that night was that my mother was 150 miles away and missing the show!

It’s the second visit to Gig Harbor for the Vegas-style show, and a dance floor has been added this year to beckon attendees, along with raffle items from Anthony’s Restaurant, Water to Wine, Music Center, Inc., and more.

Jewell is recognized as a wonderful vocal stylist and entertainer in the tradition of the great shows of the Rat-Pack era, setting the stage for an unforgettable night of swinging big band music.

“The show is intended to raise money for the school’s music program,” my brother-in-law told me at a family gathering last weekend. Haeck, a music teacher in the Federal Way School District, plays trombone in the orchestra and will be featured in some swinging solos.
Last November a similar show raised $3,400.

The good news this year is that my mother happens to be in town and very excited about attending the show. She will be the envy of her “camp mates” at Manor Care and it will be a great way to celebrate her return to her own home on the coast the next day.

Tickets this year are $15 and available at McLain’s Music, 5500 Olympic Drive # D104, and AllStar Guitar, 3226 Harborview Drive #6.

A specially decorated VIP table that will seat six and include one reserved parking spot, preferential seating in front of the stage, beverage, dessert and table service is also available.

For more information, call Melanie at 253-514-8336.

Musings from a Veteran's Daughter

When my father died my step-mother made sure that I, as an only child, got all of his belongings. For two nights I slept with his leather aviation jacket and cried myself to sleep. Not wanting to become crazy Miss Havisham, eventually I gave my oldest son, who loved his Papa almost as much as I, the jacket and gave most of my father’s clothes to Goodwill. I kept a bulky oatmeal tweed sweater that I can put on when the Autumn days turn crisp, shove my hands in the pockets, and go for a walk or snuggle near the pellet stove. I cannot put it on without thinking about the man who is my hero.
Conrad Frieze, Pearl Harbor, 1941

Although the wound of my father’s loss is always with me to varying degrees, there are certain days when the memory of him is more vivid. There’s his birthday in the waning days of Winter and Father’s Day of course. There’s December 7th, when I remember his and my uncle’s days in 1941 at Pearl Harbor. And this time of year, Veteran’s Day.

My father’s ashes are scattered in the Missouri Ozarks he loved with a portion buried between his parents and grandparents in a circle of love. Since his marker, provided by the U.S. Navy, is there, a thousand miles from me, I built him a memorial garden where I can honor his memory and where I will place a flag next week.

The Greatest Generation is passing into history and their Boomer children becoming the old folks. I hope that young parents will take their children to visit their great-grandparents or to visit Tahoma Cemetery in Kent and tell them how ever since Lexington and Concord Americans have served and fought and died to keep them free.

It irritates me that Veteran’s Day has devolved into a day of shopping. Perhaps this year, with the economy teetering on the edge of a recession similar to the Great Depression that shaped my father’s childhood and the holiday being celebrated on the real day instead of attached to a long weekend, maybe people will stay home from the Veteran’s Day sales and turn their minds toward the Americans who are serving and have served our country and offered their lives for the freedom we will enjoy on November 4th.

Thank you to all the men and women who are serving and have served the United States and her Allies. I salute you.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bye-bye Little Holland: Mikey's makes way for wrecking ball

An era comes crashing to an end near Center and Orchard Street as demolition crews clear the land for new development. Only memories will remain of Mikey's and the Mikey Burger at The Little Holland Drive In.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

An Unfortunate Hazard of (Sub)urban Living

I was expecting a visitor who said he was going to drop by our family residence this evening. When I answered the door to greet the gentleman, he asked me if I noticed that my vehicle then parked on the front driveway now featured a smashed out front passenger-side window.

Unfortunately, this was all news to me. On the scale of world events petty vandalism like this is an everyday event. My local newspaper has mentioned more complaints by readers with just this sort of sad story.

Most recently, it was reported that the Federal Way Police Department had made it possible for local citizens to report non-emergency incidents on-line which I was able to check-out in person this very evening. Having read comments pro and con in local newspapers, I wondered if this system was easy to access and use.

While it was not a pleasure to have the occasion to use it, the system was as good as it has been billed. Many thanks to all who have involved. Credit where credit is due. In the next week or two I'll get a equal chance to explore the world of auto glass replacement.

The Glories of Autumn

I love this time of year. The pretty flowers of Spring and Summer are delightful and I enjoy the warmth of the sun. The opportunity to turn inward in Winter is a necessity for me, but my very favorite season is the joy of Autumn with its colors and harvest.

This picture was taken at Gig Harbor High School. Each Fall this courtyard is my favorite spot at work.

My favorite holiday is Halloween with its chance to play dress up and its opportunity to remember those who have gone on ahead. Last Saturday my husband, son, and I spent the day decorating for Halloween.

Here is my breakfront in my kitchen with my pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns.
Here's the witches in the dinning room with my son's considerable cobwebs!

On Sunday we rewarded ourselves with our annual Autumn drive. Last year it was Greenwater. This year we went on a crisp sunny drive over to Key Peninsula all the way to Penrose State Park and Far A Way. We’ve decided that Penrose will be a destination next summer with the children.

We took our dog Loki with us who enjoyed a long walk down a forest trail, away from a loud foursome who were sharing a picnic lunch and the echo the bowl of Penrose provides. They were not young people, but rather four retirees who haven't lost their sense of play, but didn't realize their antics were spoiling the silence of place.

My second favorite holiday is Thanksgiving when I can celebrate my family with a holiday that Hallmark has not been able to commercialize since Thanksgiving is about the emotion of thankfulness for all that we’ve been blessed with.

Here is our dear friend Jon cooking our turkey in Ilwaco last year. That bird was the best I’ve ever put into my mouth and he and his wife Jo are now our designated turkey cookers. They were already designated family.

Here we are last year sharing our Thanksgiving meal in Ilwaco.

This year we will have much to be thankful for. My mother has survived two bouts of infections and my husband has so far survived a work closure. And best of all we will have a new member of the family whose arrival will occur any day now!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Everyone is concerned that November 4th be representative of American democracy and not an embarrassment. Cheryl has written about the importance of making sure that you won’t be prevented from voting on that day.

There is another concern regarding absentee ballots. If you are voting by absentee ballot be sure to either take it to the Post Office or to one of the express absentee voters booths located around the area. Signed ballots can disappear out of mailboxes outside of your house. For a list of sites:

Thursday, October 23, 2008


In the film, The Strangers, Dollface (Gemma Ward) kept me hiding my eyes...
The Strangers brought all the gooseflesh bumps moving up and down my body... just likethe scarey movies I watched when I was a little boy in Texas kept me begging my mom to leave my door open and keep the light burning in the hall.
And on those rainy nights when the evening wind came whipping around my house and banging on my windows... I could not even get out a few fearful prayers asking my Guardian Angel to get working right now
Here's Dollface close up...

Thumping and bumping in the house... and then, if one tried hotfooting out into the woods... there's Dollface just waiting

Film over... I headed down the dark hall to get a drink of water

And... and... (if you want to get the goosebumps tip tip toeing up and down your body, then fill those bags with some really hot popcorn and, with some other really easy to get screaming adults, watch The Strangers!)
well... just come along with me.... IF YOU DARE

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Age/Sex/Location, a familiar term for those who were part of the internet boom. A clever few answered 18/yes, please/your place, while I stuck to the 16/f/WA. Who would have thought it was 11 yrs ago that I was part of the boom where AOL was the leader in all things chat. In the current day and age AOL is lucky to be an AIM and those still using AOL as their main provider may have dependency issues. Not pointing any fingers, dad.

In these times we still chat, but we are no longer sitting in a square box watching everyone’s names fly by. Now we are found chatting in game rooms. Oh how I love a good hand of poker. What I love more is meeting people from other countries. We all know our America is just plain boring and dreaming of visiting a foreign country is the in thing. Right now Lebanon is a place of interest for me. Not only do you get to meet these new and exciting people, but you get inspired to learn about their countries, lives, loves, and insecurities. It’s like a learning experience without the dirty looks from a teacher.

Growing up my screen name always represented my current personality. I changed my screen name more than I changed boyfriends. The very last screen name I created I made to empower myself. I wanted to create this confidant persona for everyone to see and for me to hide behind. To everyone I was known as Gorgeuzz. Deep down I could never see myself as Gorgeuzz. Not compared to all the other truly confident girls I met. With my name I used that false confidence to allow my true personality to come out. I truly am a loud mouthed, sarcastic diva, with a major need for an attitude adjustment. In public you would see me as a polite, “I will take your cart back.” butt kisser. Well, you would see me that way if you weren’t my closest friends and family. So not only is my confidence false in the cyber world, but my politeness is false in the real world. Odd.

I always thought I was a rare find. I thought females were the only hideaways in their internet personas. I learned that even males can have this need to hide their true sad feelings behind a false personality. Not all men are 50 yr olds pretending to be 18 and built. Some really are lonely and in the need of a friend they can truly talk to.

As my mother would say, “Don’t talk to strangers.” Mom they’re not strangers if I introduce myself. The internet can still be a weary place. Do be safe, but also try to meet some new friends in new places.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tuesday Surprises

I woke up this morning, just really, really needing to stay in bed for two weeks on my mind... but, ha that dream just dissapated when Rainier teasingly peeped through the early morning

And then that flirty old mountain just got me all flustered
when it dressed itself in fluffy white and grey feathers

Turned around in the afternoon and just boldly sang to all who had hearts to feel:
"I am strong, I am beautiful,
Come spend some time with me..."

But before I could go off to moan and groan (Oh, I have no way to join you... soon the sun will set and you will leave me so very, very quickly in the chilled darkness of a fall night... etc. etc. etc."), an absolutely wonderful young man came along, took time to put his frenetic schedule in the back pocket of his mind and shared his dreams and delight with me...
I Guess Beauty Is Only A Perceptive Eye Blink Away.....What do you think...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cars Don't Happen. People Do.

I am not the type to commit violence. I am not saying that I don’t have those thoughts zoom through my head. I am just saying I never act. So when I make a few calls to make sure I have someone to bail me out of jail. Well, then those violent thoughts are taking me over.

In Tacoma we regularly come across the driver who never signals, the driver who cuts you off, the driver who swerves, and just about every other bad driver there is. We adapt. We learn to be one step ahead of that predatory driver and we make due on our harsh Tacoma roads. Most of us pass this task with flying colors. Others are not so fortunate.

I tend to be a little more cautious when I drive. Growing up I never liked cars. I never liked the damage they cause. I have acquaintances that have ended up in accidents and I have taken their experiences and added them to my mental lesson book. Like “Never trust a signal”. I have a friend of a friend who was T-boned when she trusted a turn signal on a car. I have been rear-ended when another car was trying to go around me when I was turning left. Now, I make sure know one can fit around me especially when I am allowing others to cross the street.

So today when I was walking in a parking lot I watched all the cars I walked behind. Made sure it was safe to push the cart I had my daughter and groceries in. Unfortunately, I did not hear this one cars engine. It was not until I made it halfway behind the car that I realize it started moving and had no intention of stopping. I backed my cart up quickly and managed to get the part of the cart with my daughter in it out of the way. As for the rest of the cart, well it was hit. Not only was it hit, but the car kept moving. By the time to car stopped the cart was against the back door of the car. I was pissed. I was at the point of wanting to kick the car. All that anger was getting the best of me. The driver rolled down her window and tried to apologize, but I was not having it. If I was in a cartoon you would have seen steam coming out of my ears. Before she could finish I told her to move in the most impolite way and waved my hand around and kept myself from balling it up into a fist and hitting something. I made it home talked to my unofficial councilor and slowly came off my intense adrenalin rush. I almost lost all self control because one driver was not paying attention and could have done some harm to my eight month old daughter. On any other normal shopping trip my five year old daughter would be walking between the cart and the parked cars. Today I just happened to allow her to walk with a friend of mine to their car.

Cars are privileges not rights. If you cause enough harm you can have that taken away. Why can’t we just be responsible with our rights and not abuse them. I don’t drive recklessly, but that does not mean I am safe. On our Tacoma roads and our Tacoma parking lots we are never safe. So take this experience to heart and open your senses and eyes just a little more. Maybe you can save yourself or someone else slowing down to the speed limit. Maybe you can stop someone from hurting someone else by reporting them. Do not drive if you have been drinking. Do not drive if you are too tired. Do not speed in school zones. Just drive they way you would want your child’s friend to drive if your child was in their car.

Monday-- Now Dark, Now Bright, All Light

I did not want to get up this morning. It was cold and grey and I wanted nothing to do with the hustle and bustle of a chilly fall morning.

A shave and a shower and a hot, hot cup of coffee later I was willing at least to give the day a warm hello and see how life would surprise me this day.

Early afternoon Mother Nature came laughing and dancing into my life. Warm and Beaming and Bubbling Over With Glowing Energy.

What choice did I have... She wanted to stretch her beautiful limbs to the sky and just boldly display her afternoon finery...
choice??? to let her be herself...


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Anna's NPR Interview: A Thank You to Megan Sukys of KUOW

On Friday (Oct.17th.) we received a visitor at the Aerie. Her name is Megan Sukys, and she is Senior Host for “Sound Focus” on KUOW 94.9 on your FM dial. When I looked her up on their website, this following line stood out to me:

As Senior Host for Sound Focus, Megan explores the Northwest culture through conversation. She believes that the stories we tell guide our future actions.

I like that approach and I was thrilled when Megan contacted me, after the TNT (thank you!) ran my blog post on the first Seattle screening of Under Our Skin. She was interested in my daughter Anna’s story. After years of typing my wee fingers to nubs, someone in the west coast media was interested in talking to us about Lyme disease and Anna’s decade-long struggle for both respect and treatment in the State of Washington!

Megan pulled into our driveway in a very cool, funky beetle-bug that runs on alternate fuel. With her own flair she had a few, very tasteful, red and blue stripes with stars painted on the bug’s white background, going from stem to stern. She stepped out of her car and locked her eyes into mine as she introduced herself with a warm handshake. That gave her a second check-mark in my tally of esteem.

She was just a little early, so I had a chance to show her our wee corner of Northwest paradise and began telling her a bit about my twenty-seven year-old incredible daughter, before Anna came slowly walking down the hall to greet us. It was immediately apparent why Megan makes a good interviewer. She was warm and interested, without it being a media mask. When I looked-up her biography on the website, it told the story of a little girl who loved to talk and ask questions…so much so that her mother bought her a little tape-recorder and microphone! She is, as Joseph Campbell would say, following her bliss.

We set up comfortably in the living room, having tea and just talking for about an hour, all three of us. She explained that this segment of the program would be just over eighteen minutes. We knew she was more interested in the human story than the long, complicated story of Lyme disease and its surrounding politics, so I suggested she do the actual interview with just Anna. Time for Mum to be…mum! I can hear my fellow Blog-Squadders laughing, knowing how hard that might be for me.

I was amazed at the tiny piece of equipment she carried for recording, dwarfed by the microphone. The Digital Age is amazing. Megan (with that lovely broadcasting voice) led Anna gently through with her questions, stopping and starting as my daughter’s short-term memory, and abstract-thinking, waxed and waned with Lyme.

We’d like to thank Ms. Sukys for her time and interest in Anna’s story. We’d like to thank her for following her bliss and being excellent at her job, as well as being a warm and wonderful guest at the Aerie, our home. Thank you so much Megan!

If you would like to hear this interview, tune-in to Sound Focus this coming Tuesday, Oct. 21st., at 2pm. That’s KUOW 94.9FM…or you can tune-in through cyberspace….

Let’s hear it for National Public Radio!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Check your vote Thursday night!

November 4th is fast approaching -- are you registered to vote? No wait, are you SURE?

In an effort to ensure only eligible, registered voters cast a ballot in this election, some areas are purging their voter rolls of suspected duplicate or invalid registrations. In the process, some voters may be purged in error. Every eligible voter is encouraged to check your registration status well before the election, so that any mistakes might be resolved in time, especially if you've moved, changed your name, or haven't voted in a while. Washington State hasn't had as many problems with this as some other states have, but it never hurts to double-check!

Go to to check your status yourself. It's easy, and only takes a minute or two. Or, stop by the Antique Sandwich near Pt. Defiance this Thursday or next between 5 and 6:30 p.m. We'll be happy to verify your status on the spot and answer any questions you might have.

Questions? Call 253-507-9460.



Manor Care is Not Just Another Nursing Home

Manor Care is committed to helping their clients achieve their highest level of health and independence possible.

The Baby Boom is dealing with the aging of the Greatest Generation. I have already lost my father and am now dealing with the making of decisions for my aging mother.

Previously I posted about my mother’s illness and hospitalization in Ilwaco, WA and my decision to bring her to Manor Care in Gig Harbor to rehabilitate. I talked about how getting her packed to go was similar to getting a child ready for camp. The analogy has held up and my decision on Manor Care well rewarded.

Tucked amidst the Doug Firs behind Peninsula Library, St. Anthony’s Medical Center and the Merrill Gardens Retirement Center, Manor Care is more akin to a large beautiful home than nursing home or medical facility. Decorated in mauves and creams, it is filled with traditional furniture and dozens of caring staff. It smells like a home, not a nursing facility.

I cannot say enough good things about the staff at Manor Care. Each one seems to be a caring gentle person with the capacity to remain calm in the face of even the crankiest patient. When I arrived at Manor Care following the drive from Ilwaco and followed closely by the ambulance bringing my mother, the staff was welcoming and made my mother’s transition easy for both of us. They took my mother to her room while I signed the paperwork which had already been taken care of with faxes of her records from the hospital at the beach.

Manor Care is committed to helping their clients achieve their highest level of health and independence possible. Bi-weekly meetings of patients' "Care Team" of therapists and nurses reviews progress made and keeps the client's goal in mind. This is not a nursing home where individuals are left in bed or warehoused. These campers are kept busy all the time.

If my mother is not working out in the physical therapy room on various machines or practicing balancing on one foot, she’s in the occupational therapy room with a small group cooking or doing crafts. The Speech/Language Pathologist works with small groups of residents on memory. We are particularly fond of Stephena because she actually lives near Ilwaco in Clatskanie, Oregon. Familiar with the facilities in that part of the world she is most supportive of my decision to bring my mother to Manor Care. As a matter of fact, she confided that she’s told her husband that if she should need nursing care to bring her to Gig Harbor and Manor Care.

Manor Care offers entertainment regularly in their dining room and residents are encouraged to attend the concerts and shows. Just this week they've had an acustical guitarist one day and German dancers for an Oktoberfest celebration the next. A big screen television in the day room has been the focus on debate nights during the time my mother has been there.

Residents and their families meet with their “Care Team” of therapists and nurses every two weeks to access their progress and determine how best to continue treatment. It is comforting to meet all these caring people and to get their in-put on creating the future of a loved one. I am going to give my own husband the same advice the SLP gave hers, "If I need nursing care take me to Manor Care!"

If you have a loved one who needs a beautiful, safe, caring place to be, consider Manor Care of Gig Harbor, located at 3309 45th St. N.W., Gig Harbor, 253-858-8688.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Halloween Horror!

Disclaimer: Neighbours of this author who may consider a future run for office should probably distance themselves from said author now. She is dangerous and scary.

I have a confession to make. I am a serial-killer...

...of kettles.

*Cue psychotic laughter*

Next to our side-garden gate lies the gruesome graveyard...poor, innocent victims of my madness. Each time I swore, "Never again!" as I bought another. Just recently the latest fell, its handle melted and misshapen, and was added to the shameful, macabre exhibition in the October rain.

Everyone in the 'hood knows my Brit roots require constant dousing with tea...oh sweet nectar of the gods! Over the years I've made at least seven hundred and fifty-twelve billion cuppas with those old-fashioned, put-on-the-stove, kettles. It seemed the quick and cheap fix.

I'm also a multi-tasker (with a capital MUH!) and often make my tea on the fly while doing my Edith Bunker shuffle through the house and studio, seeing to the many projects and different jobs of the day. Blameless vessels have borne the weight of my feminism and floppy left-brain.

Whistling kettles you say? Well, here's today's Lyme lesson: When bacteria compromise the brain and Central Nervous System, all senses can be heightened to excruciating levels. Imagine feeling assaulted by sounds, touch, tastes, light and smells; that's a part of chronic Lyme disease.

It was time to admit I had a problem...before I burned the bloody house down! Shame-facedly I showed my husband the latest hideous corpse, it's handle in lopsided rigour-mortis. We both agreed something had to be done.

It was time to upgrade to the Cadillac of kettles.

Out of my bad deeds has come this "stainless-steel parachute" reward! Ooh, it's sleek and shiny, plugs into the wall, has a filter for the minerals, goes from chilled to 212 degrees in less time than I can feed the cat....AND...immediately shuts itself off at a good boil. Where have you been all my life, oh energy-efficient, life-saving marvel of technology? Purrrrrrrrr!

Let the gristly graveyard of kettles past be this Halloween's horror display.

I saw my responsibilities. I saw change...

...and change makes me relax with a damn fine cuppa tea, Joe.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Give Me A Clean Heart

I woke up Tuesday morning feeling old aging stiff and sore. Smiling, I thought to myself, "Well, dummy, what did you expect? Three hours of heart felt sharing with some absolutely special people. You got home at eleven, hit the pillow at twelve, and had to get moving by six... did you have a great time (yes), did you feel heard and accepted (yes), did you get caught up in some especially wonderful music (so wonderful, absolutely beautiful... yes, yes, yes!) So I decided to stop whining and share some moments, dear friends, that I had with singer, writer, and choir director extraordinaire, Tina Lombard Harris...
(let me get really manipulative here... Lorraine, wouldn't a night of your teaming with Tina be just absolutely beyond blog words, Nobel or Pulitzer prize writing words to even begin to imagine... here's a picture of Tina at the keyboard:

Here are the lyrics for the gospel song she sang Monday night and just enjoy this wonderful woman singing
Give me a clean heart
so I may serve Thee
Lord, fix my heart so that I may be used by Thee.
For I'm not worthy
of all these blessings.
Give me a clean heart and I'll follow Thee.

I am not asking for the riches of the land.
I' not asking for the proud to know my name.
Please give me, Lord, a clean heart, that I may follow Thee.
Give me a clean heart
a clean heart and I will follow tThee.

(repeat first verse)

Sometimes I am up and sometimes I am down.
Sometimes I am almost level to the ground.
Please give me, Lord, a clen heart, that I may follow Thee.
Give me a clean heart, a clean heart and I will follow Thee.

(repeat first verse)

Themed Chewing Gum Offers Spin On Political Change

Having been raised with an awareness of my occasional interest in politics....when my adult son saw a package of this brand of gum to the left on sale while out and about last week, he couldn't resist purchasing a package and bringing it by.

Ostensibly, the gum is packaged to promote the fortunes of whatever political party is printed on the label, as if I were to offer this package to a friend - I'd be also offering the suggestion that they vote Republican.

However it can be argued this product also offers a much needed anecdote for those including myself, who've been tempted to get out, register our opinions and on occasion bite-off (inadvertently or otherwise) the heads of equally enthusiastic fellow citizens out there espousing for the other side. Thanks to this clever marketing - we've a peaceful alternative. Instead of exercising our jaws on each other, we can chew on surrogates!

With this spirit in mind, my son bought me the GOP version of the product to share with friends. For those who lean right, a Democratic version of the product is available. It's a winning ticket we can all rally behind! Even our candidates!

So come out America. The time has come. It's time for a change. It's time for chewing gum!
I'm Mizu Sugimura and I approved this message.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Dear Ignorant American

I have a McCain/Palin sign in my front room window.

A couple of weeks ago, I found a note stuck on my front gate:

Side one

Side two

The note reads:
Dear Ignorant American,

You only have the right to choose when you're informed.

Or unless you want four more years of war, high gas prices, no middle class and bad relations with other countries.

I don't know who left the note, although it appears it was written with a young feminine hand. The heart is also a clue as to the gender and age of the author. It's a guess, but probably a good one.

Last summer, the back window of my car was spray painted black and the Bush stickers on the window were gouged.

It's apparent that one or more of my neighbors are not happy with my political choices. I'm on pretty good terms with most folks on my street. Some are Obama supporters, some aren't. We usually don't discuss politics, mostly about things more in common. Neighbor stuff. So I have no idea who is behind the shenanigans.

I'm thinking about removing the sign from my window. I'm afraid one of my smarter neighbors might see it as a target for a handy rock.

It saddens me that there are petty people that feel they have to express their political feelings by vandalizing other people property or leaving insulting little notes. I'm sure that some idiots from my side have done similar.

Obviously, I don't condone such behavior from either side and will have nothing to do with anyone who acts in such a patently un-American manner


Recycle Your Dead Computer

Do you have an old computer that’s gone to its last reward—your garage? Although marvelous machines, computers are filled with things that are bad for the landfill, but can be taken apart and recycled.

Currently Discovery Elementary in Gig Harbor is recycling old computers. If you’ve got one taking up space in the garage bring it to Discovery at 9405 Rosedale Street. For more information contact the school at 253-530-1200.

EnviroCorps Keeping the Community Clean

Saturday morning Vernon Young, who is 72, stopped by our house in unincorporated Pierce County, to tell us about an organization he founded called EnviroCorps. Vernon started out by picking up litter along a route my husband and I used to pick up back when we first moved to the neighborhood in 1990 and before I went to work. We may have seen Vernon out and about all those years ago.

Vernon told me that he knows he won’t always be able to keep our little corner of the world picked up and that is why he formed EnviroCorps. It will be his legacy to the community when he can no longer keep us looking spiffy. But we are all a part of the community and EnviroCorps needs help in the form of donations and volunteers.

It only takes 15 businesses or individuals who are willing to donate $10 or more on a regular monthly basis to keep a two-mile section of road free of litter. EnviroCorps coordinates the actual litter pick up while Pierce County and the City of Gig Harbor donate collection bags and deal with disposal of them.

Making an on-going donation during our current economic situation may not sound like an option to individuals, but there are volunteer opportunities are available and the way our family is going to go. EnviroCorps supplies safety gear and littler pick-up tools as well as supervision of volunteers and temporary employees while they pick up litter.

EnviroCorps has no paid administrative staff, aggressively seeks grants and have partnered with LaborWorks, a west coast based temporary labor provider which has agreed to provide temporary labor at their cost to help maintain litter free communities.

EnviroCorps will gladly help coordinate volunteer opportunities for students, scouts, church groups and others looking to fulfill a public service requirement or to make a difference in the community.

You can register on-line to become a volunteer or pledge recurring on-line donations.
Visit the website at or call Vernon at 253-265-6162

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Mountain Top

It was a very foggy early morning trip I was envisioning. The meeting I wanted to attend would be starting at 8:30am. The meeting takes place every Saturday on the Hilltop and, at that meeting, I feel very much at home... men and women are there, all ready to tell stories, the hard ones and the inspiring ones, frightening or sad or hope filled and joyful... I frequently come to those meetings unfocused and weary but I always left renewed... so I was ready to cautiously make my way to the meeting that morning

I decided to try the side roads because whether raining, snowing, or hailing, folks will get on 19th and start barreling downtown or streaking home in the early evening or late night on 19th. So I decided to go to Cedar, turn left, and head on downtown by the side roads. A recreational vehicle came flying off one of the streets to my left and almost hit me. (My language would not have been fit for anyone's ears. In fact I felt my own ears turning blue with a number of words I had learned at the feet of my truck driving stepfather). But I managed to get to the meeting safely.

The meeting was wonderful... focusing on the needs of our children... quality education, safe streets, productive and fulfilling jobs, futures full of promise.
At times I felt sad; other times I clapped my hands merrily; frequently I nodded when I was presented with an idea that was insightful and stimulating. And after that meeting I went to the Family Y and had an hour discussion with a close friend about prayer and service and God. By then the sun was shining.

I let myself enjoy the warm afternoon sunshine, knowing that I had had the opportunity to meet some absolutely wonderful people, that I was feeling refreshed and renewed, and that it was time for me to get back to enjoying being alive, learning with other people, and working with them to make our world a good world for all.

I had a wonderful morning and early afternoon experience... a mountain top experience---frightening, challenging, exhilirating, just plain sweet-beautiful--As I thought about writing this post, I heard Martin King speaking within me... he spoke of serving and living and dying... he spoke of the vision he had had... where he had been to the Mountain Top... and how all he really wanted to do with the rest of his life was to love God by serving others... I wish each one of you wonderful friends, stimulating conversations, the over riding desire to support others in leading healthy, safe, and emotionally-spiritually fruitful lives...
Any Mountain Top Experiences you would like to share... Hopes and Dreams for all of us

Apple Cider Time In The Neighborhood

I love walking around my neighborhood. It's probably one of the best in the city. It has it's share of problems, but the people are wonderful and it's a great neighborood to walk through.

On nice days, I often take my granddaughter Aiyanna (or Ya-Ya as everyone calls her) on a little bike ride. She pedals her trike along as I walk close behind. We always seem to have a little adventure. We watch the squirrels run and gather acorns and seeds. We tell stories and imagine all kinds of things.

Today as we were out, we passed by the Epworth-Lesourd United Methodist Church and there were several peo
ple out front makeing apple cider. Ya-Ya and I decided to take a closer look.

The Apples get ground up in big chunks before pressing.

A little video of grinding up the apples.

And once enough apples have been ground up, they press the juice out of them!

We never know what we will encounter when we leave the house and venture out into our neighborhood.


Blogging And Me

In the past, we've had a few partisan discussions and the result was a touch of unintended bad feelings in the comments. Wisdom ensued and we kept away from it for the most part. I decided that I would take as my example Father Joseph's posting style. His thoughts and adventures are always interesting and inspiring. It seemed to me that was the approach to take here and I decided I wouldn't get sucked in to another political argument. Unfortunately, I allowed myself to do it again and I blame no one but myself.

There are lots of political blogs out there for the partisan attacks. I don't think this is the place for it and I intend not to get sucked in again. I will, from here on out, leave politics out of it unless it is something germane to Tacoma and my neighborhood.

It's obvious that there is a huge political difference between some of us and none of us are probably going to change anyone's minds. That doesn't mean we can't get along and even be friends. I actually would like to meet you, my fellow bloggers, in person. After all, we are neighbors, aren't we?

So, back to my regular posting and I wish you all the best. And Father Joseph, thank you for your inspiration. I should have mentioned it before.


John McCain, Put a Choke Chain on the Pit Bull!

Okay, am I the only one who sees that the emperor has no clothes? It is shameful that John McCain has allowed Sarah Palin to whip up racial hatred and fear amongst the Reactionary Right. One of my own fears regarding the nomination of Barak Obama has been the possibility of his meeting an untimely end due to just such fervor. It only takes one Booth or Oswald.

John McCain has gradually lost my regard over the last year, but his choice of Palin for a running mate absolutely horrifies me and his failure to rein her in is shameful. I am offended that McCain believed that he would receive my vote simply because Palin is a woman.

Palin, although worth more than a million dollars, purports to be “of the people,” referring to herself as a “hockey mom” and “Joe Six Pack.” The election of the President of the United States is supposed to be the election of the best of us, not Joe Six Pack next door. Certainly the last eight years has demonstrated that ANYONE with enough money can be elected regardless of ability, but can we not aspire to better?

If this concerns you, read the rest on my View From My Broom.

Friday, October 10, 2008

What A Day--A Mountain--A Man

Friday was just spilling over with surprises for me... I had found myself:
a. facing some of my greatest fears at work and surviving them
b. seeing doors open for a friend in ways that I can only say were wonderful and mysterious
c. going home and meeting a man who can best be described as a gifted teacher,
a wonderful story teller, and a lover of life
Here is a picture of that gifted man!

He caught my (already ready to just dance my way all the way to the moon)attention when he enthusiastically pointed out the beauty of our wonderful Mount Rainier. I stopped, listened to him, went out on to our balcony, and gratefully welcomed into my soul the beauty of all I saw there.

The story teller had made my day

Time for a Homestead Mindset

Making Do in Hard Times
As the United States slips into a deepening recession with the potential to become a depression Americans are looking for ways to stretch their budget for everyday expenses and the coming holidays. Our family is holding its breath as we wait for Lockheed Martin to announce whether or not they will be closing Seattle Flight Service where my husband works. He could be out of a job at the end of the month, the end of this year or the end of the next one.

I have been searching the Internet for ideas on making the most of our grocery dollars, the only segment of our budget that I feel I truly have control over. Whether it is a well stocked pantry, recipes that make large dinners for few dollars, or homemade household cleaning products I’m interested in learning what others are doing to keep their money in their wallets.

An interesting website I’ve found is The Dollar Stretcher. There are articles not just on shopping, but borrowing money, selling your house, getting a mortgage. There are blogs on the site where people share their experiences and tips.

Since the oil crisis of the 1970s I have believed that the best market in which to invest during a shaky economy is the corner market. Putting my money in toilet paper seems to make more sense than giving it to the bank or Wall Street. On the Dollar Stretcher website I found two articles that speak to this idea.

“Donna,” of the Dollar Stretcher blog refers to keeping a six to eight month pantry “The Homestead Mindset Anywhere.” One needn’t live on a farm in a rural area to benefit from the money saved by planning ahead and keeping a well stocked larder. Even if you live in a small urban home or apartment you can get creative regarding where to store extra food and dry goods. It could be under the bed, in the garage or basement (depending on whether or not the items being stored are moisture resistant), or the top shelf of the coat closet. We have a small pantry the builder put in our kitchen when built, but to that we’ve added a closet in the family room and shelving in the garage. Another interest site I discovered is The Left Over Queen blog site run by a freelance food and travel writer. There are ideas about kitchen organization and pantry creation worth checking out.

A well stocked pantry is a safety blanket that the Mormon Church has long understood. In these times we can all be Economic Mormons. I found a link to a site that calculates what your family would need for a year for nonperishables based on the number and ages of the members of your family. There are items our family would not probably eat in the amounts suggested and I doubt if we could find space for a year’s worth, but the site is interesting because it gives you an idea of amounts of things like cooking oil, peanut butter, dry milk, etc.

The Mormon calculator does not calculate frozen items such as meat which will depend on lifestyle and ability to store not to mention the possibility of an extended power outage although many homeowner’s insurance policies will pay for the loss of food during a natural disaster. Last year Southwest Washington was slammed by a storm that left folks in the dark from three to seven days and the State of Washington gave $168 per person for loss of food.

Okay, you’ve located a place or places to put your stores. How do you go about stocking up? What you don’t do is to take the numbers from the LDS calculator and run to the store. Here’s a list of rules from Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy of the Dollar Stretcher website:

Rule #1: Buy only what the family will use. Filling a pantry with items that family members may not like or things that may never be used defeats the purpose of building a stockpile of food.

Rule#2: Stock up with sale items. Don't rush out to buy six cans of spaghetti sauce or four boxes of macaroni and cheese. Wait for a sale. Most supermarkets put out a weekly sale ad so watch for favorite products and brands to go on sale. In addition, some markets offer in-store savings on select items so be a savvy shopper and search the shelves for bargains. When the spaghetti sauce is at a low sale price, that is the time to stock up with several to store on the shelf.

Rule #3: Use coupons. Many Sunday newspapers offer coupon inserts and other coupons are in many publications. Online sites like Coupon Cabin, Cool, and Coupon Craze can also provide coupons that match products. Often, manufacturers put out coupon savings at about the same time as their products go on sale at the supermarket, providing a chance for even greater savings. Better yet, find a supermarket that offers double coupons or even triple coupon events to increase the savings!

Rule #4: Prepare the space for your pantry. Whether it is an empty kitchen cabinet, a freestanding shelf, a hutch, or basement shelves, utilize any open space for food storage. My basement came equipped with many shelves and bonus kitchen cabinets, installed by a former owner. Remember that any space used as a pantry should be cool and dry. Most garages and outside storage buildings get too hot or cold to serve as safe storage space for food.

Rule #5: Once you have a pantry established, remember to rotate. Put the newest items in the back and use the first one in line. This is easier to do if you organize the food on the pantry shelves, like item with like item. I keep condiments like ketchup, mustard, and salad dressings together with each item in a row of its own.

Rule #6: Don't buy more than you can ever use. Once into the routine of planning and stocking a pantry, it is easy to get carried away, but don't buy more than can be used within a reasonable amount of time. Keep track of use-by dates on products, plan ahead, and if more than three squeeze bottles of mustard won't be used by that time, don't buy more.

A well stocked pantry is built over time by purchasing in bulk when you find a good deal on items. Oh, and the spaghetti sauce? Fred Meyer has Hunt’s for a dollar a can right now, so if your family likes spaghetti you might want to start with the spaghetti sauce after all.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Rant On, Rant Off

Rant On:

My son and I were in front of our U.P. home recently. I was collecting the mail and my son was riding his bike. Two adolescent boys were walking down the street (I suspect that they were from the local middle school that just had school dismissal). These boys yelled to my young son, right in front of me, "Hey Fatty, pedal faster! Maybe then you'll lose some weight!" Then they cackled and ran off. Now, this would be horrifying for ANY person (adult or child), but my child has learning disabilities and this was pure DEVASTATION. Way to go kiddos! Way to use your words. Way to bully; what a great lesson in human cruelty.

Neighborhood, let's discuss. Perhaps readers and bloggers, you can restore my faith in humankind.

Now back to your regularly scheduled local lore.

Rant Off.

America, Shut Up and Sit Down

An acquaintance of mine and I recently discussed how we’ve observed how a lot of folks we encountered in our day to day lives had a strange summer. People felt like life was moving faster than normal and it was hard to keep up. I can totally get that—I felt the same way, too.

As fall begins, I am getting that sense of being overwhelmed again. Now, I’ve been weathering a family crisis recently, so I am extra raw, I’ll grant that. But despite my life happenings, I am not alone.

With the swift moving, depressing, and intense national financial news, heated and fast paced national and local elections, and wars going on, it’s no wonder that we get weighed down. In fact, I was an insomniac this morning so I turned on KIRO News Radio and listened to an in-depth report of how many Americans are stressed out, so much so, that many are turning to therapy and other support groups to get help (that is, if they can afford it). The report offered tips on managing stress (good food, rest, exercise, fellowship, thinking positively, and doing things you like). Okay, that’s great.

But what about just shutting up?

Seriously. Maybe we should stop talking for a second and take in the silence and really listen to it. We won’t hear the answers blowin’ in the wind, but I think there’s great value in staring out the window and doing positively nothing. Thinking.

I remember watching a “Curb Your Enthusiasm” episode where the main character Larry and his agent Jeff were taking an airplane trip to the East Coast. Larry was getting agitated because Jeff was just sitting there doing nothing. Larry put down his magazine and asked Jeff, “Aren’t you going to do anything?” Jeff replied, “No, I am just going to sit.”

I think that’s a plan America. Sit, think, SLOW DOWN, reflect. We don't always have to keep moving 24 hours a day.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Happening

The film, The Happening, left me with this question: how would I respond to strangers during a time of crisis.The character I identified with was Mrs. Jones (Betty Buckley), who, like me, tended to shut down and isolate myself during hard times, responds to the three people who come to her door seeking help, Elliot Moore (Mark Walberg), the hero, his wife, Alma Moore (Zooey Deschanel), and Jess (Ashyln Sanchez) the little girl they are trying to protect, in a number of different ways, fearfully, then civilly. Then she becomes frightened, angry, hostile, and finally verbally and physically abusive.

Mrs. Jones does not know that something… poisoned gas, pollution in the air or water, some mysterious force of nature…something has forced these three people to leave all they knew and cared about and seek shelter where ever they could find it. And always this force seems to be just right behind them.

Mrs. Jones had many years ago cut off all communication with other people.
Then when needy people came to her, she was not prepared to do anything for them but chase them off her property by any means necessary

The Happening was written, produced, and directed by that new master of horror, M. Night Shyamalan. The acting is solid, the story, at its heart, is a wonderfully well worked out love story, and the conclusion will offer adults a lot to think about. Check out The Happening!