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Friday, February 27, 2009

Living Green in a Down Economy

KUOW's Ruby de Luna has been covering how people are living green in a down economy. Her interview with us aired yesterday and you can reach it here.

Back to our regularly scheduled program...

What up Republicans?

Alaska's Republican governor not only allows, but takes part in, hunting wolves from small planes...when a federal law was passed in 1972, banning all aerial hunting. Pro-life indeed.

Louisiana's Republican governor just admitted...he lied in his Republican Response to the President's speech to Congress.

These are your "rising stars" for 2012?

Puget Sound Grocery Bills Skyrocket

This morning I heard a report on KIRO 97.3 FM about soaring grocery prices in the Puget Sound area. Did you know that we pay 15% HIGHER for our groceries than many other cities/states in our country? Did you know it's CHEAPER to get groceries as a resident of San Francisco or Boston?

Break out the gardening gloves. Perhaps Stephanie can host us all for a "garden party" and we can all get growing!

Here's the link to the report: just click HERE.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Early Bird Catches The Sun

We shall arise and renew.

"Waking-up is the first miracle of the day." Dorothy Franklin

Special Needs Family Members and Governmental Agencies

This blog is for parents of special needs children of all ages. If you have a diagnosis of a physical or mental disability for your child that makes it difficult or impossible for them to function in the “normal” world there are things you need to do. If you are interested in my 38 year journey click here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Walk

Once upon a time, I would think nothing of jumping in a vehicle and taking a quick jaunt across the continent. It was always exciting to leave my footsteps on new and different ground, mentally clicking my odometer like an old Volkswagen bus. These days, my car sits more in the driveway and my traveling territory is the neighbourhood of Home. My companion for the daily journey is my daughter's pup, Rani, now six months old and just over sixty pounds of get-up-and-go.

Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer ( ) talks of the psychology of the pack-walk and how important this is in a dog's daily life, how it strengthens the bonds of the pack and drains anxiety from each member. I'm here to tell you...I've found a lot of truth to this philosophy. It's not been the easiest winter, dealing with my daughter's illness, advocating for others with Lyme, trying to educate the public about tick-borne infections (before our area becomes endemic) ministering, weathering storms, finances, aging parents and the state of the world. The daily, primal, heart-pumping walk of our territory has saved my sanity, while strengthening my body and resolve.

As the days, weeks and months go on, I begin to notice and sense more on our walks. Spring begins to whisper in the trees' rosy blush or turmeric tan, like a shy Hindu bride. Crocus, primrose and heather begin to add their purple, gold and butter yellow to the blossoming morning. Lily, iris, daffodil and narcissus are sprouting their greenery everywhere. Ivy carpets the woods and snakes up trees. Wind storms bring down branches and they lie on the grass like shed and forgotten antlers.

I don't have the sensitivity of a dog's nose but, with the daily walks, I can begin to smell and taste the weather on the wind as it dances up, down, or across the Sound. It mixes with the brine of the water and the sweet decay our rainforest feeds upon, for a new cycle of being. The rain gives a slightly metallic smell and the sun lifts the odor of my own skin and Rani's coat into the neighbourhood news of the day.

We often come across some of our deer population along the way, still in their greyish coats of winter. We acknowledge one another silently and all move on. We stop to say hello to some goats, horses, and donkeys on our route. As we pass fenced-in dogs we lift our heads a little higher, knowing the freedom we have as a pack, walking on and leaving their frustrated barking behind. Sometimes we come across dogs running on their own through the neighbourhood and it makes me sad. It's not responsible or respectful to cast your dog out alone in shared territory. It's also not responsible or respectful to tell me your dog is "okay" as it charges towards my on-leash and frightened pup in the road, while you stay on your lawn!

When we first started on our walks, the many 'earnious' (a word my son made up, meaning earnestly serious!) hills of Home were daunting. Now, I can take three good hills in one walk before my knees and hips remind me that I've been eaten by an old woman! I feel my heartbeat and, through the leash, Rani's heartbeat in steady working rhythm. There is beauty all around us. Whatever had been stewing in my brain leaves and there is only the peace of the pack, in harmony with the day...and the walk.
Tahoma from 9th. St. in Home.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Seattle, I Can QUIT you! And You Can Too! (Bonus: Awesome Rules!)

When I used to leave our state, and my beloved South Sound, I said I was from "Seattle." Seattle is easy, big, and known. Tacoma (and my little enclave of University Place) were not known and would create a weird question, or two. So, I just used Seattle for ease of conversation.

On the Big Island, I have found South Sound love and knowledge. I met a woman from University Place, born and raised, graduated from Curtis High School. Her boys went to Wilson High School in Tacoma, not too far after me. Another gal at a shop asked me where I was from. I said, "Seattle." She responded, "Oh really? I have friends in Federal Way. Do you know Tacoma?" In past trips home, we met a lovely Hawaiian gentleman, who, it turns out, was our neighbor and lived about a mile away.

I quit you, Seattle! My island knows South Sound. And that's so totally cool. And interesting.

So I asked why.

Locals stated, it's the newer nonstop flights (Alaska Airlines) that brings the South Sound to the islands a lot more. There's a lot of us, to them. Gritizens, represent!

And for my final Hawaiian round up "paniolo" style (Hawaiian cowboy), check out Gritty City Woman for updates on my eyewitness account of the Hapuna Beach tragedy, amazing Hawaiian smells, and the Chinese Zodiac (Happy New Year). Click HERE to get all the action!

And, for my friends, readers, and bloggers, here are some rules that I had to share. Please read!
















---From Kahuna Harry Uhane Jim, "Wise Secrets of Aloha: Learn and Live The Sacred Art of Lomilomi"

Aloha, Peace, and Love,


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Reflection Inspired By President Obama's National African American History Month Proclamation

I would like to thank every African American writer-- poet, essayist, fiction and non fiction writer for your hard, lonely work. Without you I would not be alive today.
You have been my companion through the good days and the bad days. With you I have had the chance to bring a smile and a twinkle to the eye of many, many people. I shall do all I can, in these days and times, to be true to your vision, to live life honestly and courageously, to invite every person I meet, without regard for race, gender, or class, to consider an honest indepth study of our history... the German community here that was so persecuted following the Second World War, the Jewish community which continues to be slandered and ridiculed, the Native American community which is so often dismissed, the Spanish speaking communities which are being passed over and labelled hourly, the Italian community whose rich, rich heritage is seldom, if ever acknowledged--- all our communities who have given so much to my own life and who deserve to be celebrated continually and forthrightly...

After all... not one of our communities has not been abused; not one of our communities has not, at times, responded to angry, destructive ways to those who were different...

I can no longer afford to silently ignore the differences we have, our common humanity, and our need to understand, accept, and support one another. May the next, hard, demanding years be time when we choose to put each other first.

February 2, 2009

- - - - - - -


The history of African Americans is unique and rich, and one that has helped to define what it means to be an American. Arriving on ships on the shores of North America more than 300 years ago, recognized more as possessions than people, African Americans have come to know the freedoms fought for in establishing the United States and gained through the use of our founding principles of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to assembly, and due process of law. The ideals of the Founders became more real and more true for every citizen as African Americans pressed us to realize our full potential as a Nation and to uphold those ideals for all who enter into our borders and embrace the notion that we are all endowed with certain unalienable rights.

Since Carter G. Woodson first sought to illuminate the African American experience, each February we pause to reflect on the contributions of this community to our national identity. The history is one of struggle for the recognition of each person's humanity as well as an influence on the broader American culture. African Americans designed our beautiful Capital City, gave us the melodic rhythms of New Orleans Jazz, issued new discoveries in science and medicine, and forced us to examine ourselves in the pages of classic literature. This legacy has only added luster to the brand of the United States, which has drawn immigrants to our shores for centuries.

This year's theme, "The Quest for Black Citizenship in the Americas," is a chance to examine the evolution of our country and how African Americans helped draw us ever closer to becoming a more perfect union.

The narrative of the African American pursuit of full citizenship with all of the rights and privileges afforded others in this country is also the story of a maturing young Nation. The voices and examples of the African American people worked collectively to remove the boulders of systemic racism and discrimination that pervaded our laws and our public consciousness for decades. Through the work of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver, Martin Luther King and Thurgood Marshall, the African American community has steadily made progress toward the dreams within its grasp and the promise of our Nation. Meanwhile, the belief that those dreams might one day be realized by all of our citizens gave African American men and women the same sense of duty and love of country that led them to shed blood in every war we have ever fought, to invest hard-earned resources in their communities with the hope of self empowerment, and to pass the ideals of this great land down to their children and grandchildren.

As we mark National African American History Month, we should take note of this special moment in our Nation's history and the actors who worked so diligently to deliver us to this place. One such organization is the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People -- the NAACP -- which this year will witness 100 years of service to the Nation on February 12. Because of their work, including the contributions of those luminaries on the front lines and great advocates behind the scenes, we as a Nation were able to take the dramatic steps we have in recent history.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim February 2009 as National African American History Month. I call upon public officials, educators, librarians, and all the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs that raise awareness and appreciation of African American history.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this
second day of February, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Urban Archeology

You just never know what story lies behind something or where it will lead you. A penchant for old things discovered in garage sales and thrift stores has led me to cross paths with things tell a story or at least sparked my imagination. If you’re interested in where my artifacts have led me click here.

Getting Started on Our Victory Garden

Making Do in Hard Times
Yesterday my husband Dave and I tried to get prepared for our visit from Ruby de Luna of KUOW. She had phoned and asked if she could be present when we began to create our Victory Over the Recession vegetable garden. Although the recession made us commit to growing vegetables this year, it is something that we’d talked about for years. We even had a bit of a foundation lain in the form of a shallow box of two by sixes that a previous owner had used in the exact place we chose. Our yard is shaded by many Doug firs, but the unused space behind the garage gets lots of sun in the summer. Ruby wanted sounds and I wanted a deeper box so we went to Home Depot and purchased cedar two by sixes to double the depth of our box.

Ruby arrived at 11:30 AM. KUOW is going in multiple rooms of our house all day every day so I feel as though the staff members are friends and have developed pictures in my mind of how each looks. Ruby is as beautiful as her name and more beautiful than I pictured in my mind and is shown here at work. She isn’t bigger than a minute, but refused help with her equipment. We chatted a bit while she set up her equipment and discovered that she knows my brother Tim Haeck of KIRO radio.

While Dave measured and sawed the pieces of wood Ruby captured the sounds of his work and our grandson Gabriel helping GrandDave attach the new wood to the existing frame. When the box was completed we took Ruby in the house to warm up and she interviewed us about how the recession is impacting our family of six.

In all honesty, we know that there are people who are suffering much more than we are. So far ours is more the anxiety of what the future holds than what is happening now. We are a thrifty lot by nature and so far the recession has only effected us in theory since Dave will likely lose his job at Seattle Flight Service sometime in the next year and lay-offs in the Peninsula School District are likely. I am not likely to be laid-off, but my job may look different next year because of the potential loss of 50-75 clerical staff and who knows how many certified.

So we continue to save money however we can, always happy to learn new ways to do that. You can bet that anything I discover will be shared here!

Did You Know...?

The adult chimp that was just shot to death by police yesterday, in Stamford Connecticut, after seriously mauling a woman...had Lyme disease.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Expression of love at Merrill Gardens ~ Gig Harbor

Debra Nesseth of Merrill Gardens ~ Gig Harbor (retirement and assisted living community) is shown in these photos with expressions of her love for the residents of Merrill Gardens.

Officially, Debra is the lead housekeeper at Merrill Gardens. Unofficially, she has a seemingly boundless natural gift for showcasing her design talents and creativity as she creates holiday and seasonal displays in a special lighted cabinet at Merrill Gardens.

Currently, Debra has combined photos of residents and past residents in a stunning arrangement on each shelf of the cabinet as a celebration of love between the couples intermixed with cherished knick-knacks, lace, and frills. Debra's merry spirit and cheerfulness plus her design talents make her beloved among the Merrill Gardens team members and residents.

Making Do in Hard Times

My husband frequently clips interesting articles and cartoons from newspapers and magazines. He generally leaves the cartoons on the refrigerator and the articles on the banister on the catwalk that runs between his den and our bedroom. Last night, because I was still awake when he came home from work he brought a little snippet from Time Magazine into the bedroom and placed it on my computer table. I was too engrossed in "Blazing Saddles" to pay close attention, but this morning took the time to check out the scrap he’d given me.

The little nugget that my husband had clipped from the magazine was a small sidebar of information on websites for penny pinchers like me. There were three listed with brief descriptions. is a group blog with the slogan “Living large on a small budget.” They share advice from their own lives and link to penny-conscious personal finance advice around the Web. centered on making the hard choices of finances. “Spend less than you make,” he writes, “save money for a rainy day; live debt-free.”

I’ve saved my favorite for last. When I arrived I went to the section on couponing. I’ve written before about my penchant for couponing and am always looking for tips to do better. If you’re new to couponing there’s a wealth of information that took me years to figure out and I suggest giving the tips a look-see. What got my spendthrift juices running was a link to organic coupons. It is hard to buy organic in these economic times and seldom are there coupons for organic products in the Sunday newspaper. I was excited to find links to print products from Organic Valley, Hain, Brown Cow, and many more.

Whether or not you are attempting to live organic or green during this recession, Frugal Living is well worth the time to see what tips they have for making those pennies scream.

Finally, we are preparing to put in a small Victory over the Recession Garden this year. Every year we’ve said we were going to do it and every year our tendency for procrastination has let another growing season slip away with the area behind our garage left barren. This year we have a stick poking us in the backside. On whim I answered an email from KUOW about a new feature of their website called “Insight.” Readers well know my predisposition for giving my opinion so I signed up and answered a few questions. When it came to the section about what we were doing to make it during the recession I mentioned our intention to put in a vegetable garden. Lo and behold I received a phone call from Ruby de Luna! Could she come and interview us while we put in our garden? Gulp. Time for us to put our money—er shovel—where our/my mouth was.

When I told my husband he rolled his eyes and said, “Now why would she want to do that? Does she know we don’t know what we’re doing?”

“Yes,” I said. "I think that’s kind of the point. She wants to get the sound of you building the garden boxes and me telling you what to do.” More eye rolling.

“When she coming?”


So we are off to get more lumber to make our garden box deeper. Stay tuned for an account with our brush with fame.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Lorraine's Op-Ed Picture Blog

The most honourable Mr. Peanut would like to chat personally with some folks down in Georgia, after the peanut top-hat reputation is reduced to uber-goober-greed. He stands softly waiting...with a big stick.

Some cowpokes in DC are still out-to-lunch and playing the same tune.

There's just something fishy about Dick Cheney moving all his own boxes from the White House...innit?

"Whaddya mean, no fat-cat CEO bonus?!"
Key Peninsula Middle School photography class is being honored again. This class has been featured on the Internet and South Sound magaine in the past. There are 28 framed, large format, photos on display in the beautiful Gig Harbor City Hall building, 3510 Grandview Street. If you get a chance stop in and take a peek. Teacher Michael Hunziker says, “You will be quite impressed... professional quality work from the extraordinary 7th and 8th grade photographers at Key Peninsula Middle School.” The photographs will be on display through March 4th. Work will also be on display in the Tacoma Art Museum in May and once again in Gig Harbor City Hall in June.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Great (Hawaiian) American Way

Here's the Hawaiian take on our new President!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

2000-Word Essay, done on Mon. Feb. 9th.

Sometimes 'tis enough to be between the sun and the moon.

Pictures taken by Lorraine Hart, Monday, Feb. 9th, 2009

Hapuna Drowning: Reflections, Revelations, and Respect

Dear Friends, Readers, and Bloggers.

As I am home now, my family and I experienced a terrible local tragedy. In the end though, much was learned and much more is loved. Please join me on this journey by going to my blog, "Gritty City Woman" as time allows you. Please click HERE to get you there. I opted to do my post there because of the post length and subject matter.

Maholo and much aloha to you all.

Monday, February 9, 2009

My Journey

I am headed to Tacoma General's Sleep Center Tuesday evening. I found out six years ago that I had sleep apnea... during the time we fall asleep, the brain stops stimulating the muscles in our throats, the airspace behind our palates and tongues get smaller. Some of us end up with our airways beomcing too small, our bodies lose their ability to breathe properly, we become strangled or suffocated from the inside.

Heart attacks, strokes, death can follow. We go through our days tired, irritable, incapable of focusing, feeling lousy. For more very important details, check out the website where my doctor, Daniel Clerc, M.D., is highlighted--

After my conversation with Doctor Clerc Monday, I am very grateful to: my mentors, supervisor and coworkers at St. Joseph's Hospital, my primary physician at Allenmore, my friends in Marriage Encounter, those wonderful folks who have stuck with me for many, many years, and our Loving God, who never fails to watch out for me...

because I have finally gotten past that, "well, I'm ok, I'll leave the doctors alone until I really feel I need them," attitude... (thanks B H D for driving me to the hospital tomorrow evening and bringing me home early, early,
early Wednesday morning-- World Healing Day!!!---)

I feel comfortable and I look forward to getting great care. Look forward to regular posts following this one... I think my way of approaching life is about to take a new, important twist. I am honored to be able to share it with you. Here's some quick video info on sleep apnea...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Young Talent Blooms At Asia Pacific Cultural Center's New Year Fete

Even at the close of the day, the enthusiasm generated by dancers at the yesterday's Asia Pacific Cultural Center's New Year Celebration at Exhibition Hall at the Tacoma Dome was most likely as energetic and spirited as at the beginning if these dancers (shown to the left) are any indication.

Photo copyright 2009 by Mizu Sugimura.

A warm and appreciative audience was on hand to salute their efforts and at the annual gathering and cultural salute of Pierce County's diverse population who desire to share and celebrate their Asian-Pacific heritage.

Meanwhile, a slightly younger crowd of dancers showed that the next generation not only has the talent (see below center) but has already begin training in earnest ensuring that the rich cultural of these communities will not soon be forgotten.

Photo copyright 2009 by Mizu Sugimura.

Discover what fun and interesting events are forthcoming at the center at 934 Broadway, Suite 5 & 6, in Tacoma is planning in future months click this link.

Friday, February 6, 2009

What's Love Got To Do With It

If there is one place where love shows itself, it is at a hospital. I smile so often as I walk the halls, watching two future parents walking up and down the hallways--
soon to be mom so very, very obviously pregnant...soon to be dad so very, very lovingly attentive) slowly, oh so slowly and caringly walking those hallways.

The nurses and the doctors are so gentle... asking questions--- are you sleeping ok, are you eating enough, do you need some water-- checking monitors and various tubes, listening to one's heart beat, attentive to lumps and rashes... a caring, compassionate conversation focused on the patient's needs is always going on.

I recall one patient buying flowers for the nurses who were helping him just a few weeks ago. "You are taking such care of me and other people here," he said, "I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your work."

And those couples... patient in bed, spouse sitting next to her/him. Conversations frequently go like this... we have been married twenty, thirty years or more (with the quiet taking of each other's hand, the eyes fixed on the eyes of the other, and the smile. Love, love, love...the greatest gift we can give each other!

I leave my work just a little bit more human and definitely smiling more sincerely after being permitted to be with loving people. Often people will ask me how I am doing.

I know this does not make any literal sense... but here is the best I do so often in responding. I'll say "I am so happy I am thinking about declaring myself to be a national monument." People get me smiling so much and so intensely I begin to imagine myself on a high, high mountain, just looking at folks and beaming warm, precious light from my eyes on them.

What's love got to do with living... (in my humble opinion) EVERYTHING.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

There Is No Magic Pill

The Congress is about to pass this so called Stimulus Act ( or as some are calling it, "The Generational Theft Act" or "Zimbabwe II - the US Version"). It will cost us, when all is said and done, well over one trillion dollars or $1,000,000,000,000. That's a lot of zeros in that number.

Do you think we have that kind of petty cash laying around the old treasury just gathering dust? Do you imagine some vault in the basement of some government building in D.C. with piles of hundred dollar bills just waiting to be spent? Is there some big bank account where all of this is deposited where some mousy, bespectacled clerk anxiously awaits for Mr. Geithner to pop in and make a withdrawal?

The answer is obviously no. We don't have the money laying around in a room or an account somewhere. We will have to borrow it and some of the people we will have to borrow it from are not people we think of as having our best interests at heart.

It would be one thing if all of this money were to be spent upfront, within one year for infrastructure only. That might help a little. The problem is that most of this money does not go for infrastructure and most of what does is scheduled for two or more years out.

We are about to mortgage our grandchildren's and great-grandchildren's future for a plethora of pork! A big part of what got us to this point is the profligate spending by our legislatures and compliant chief executives at every level and party affiliation.

At some point, in the not too distant future, the bill for all of this will come due. The piper will demand his payment and we will have no choice but to raise taxes. The government will have to pay this back and they only have two sources to get the money. The first is from us. The second is just to print more money.

The amount of taxes that will have to be raised to pay this back will cripple America. Any small benefit we might get (and it's not even guaranteed there will even be a benefit) from this bill will quickly evaporate. Taxes for all Americans, not just the mythical rich, will have to be significantly raised to pay the bill. The more money we are forced to pay in taxes is less money we will have for us and our families. The more money that must be paid to service our debt is money that is not available for the social programs many seem to think we need. It also means that as employers are forced to pay more in taxes, there will be less for salaries, hiring, research and development and investment in new facilities. You will have less money to buy a house, buy a car, go on vacation or even pay your electric bill. Your ability to provide more than just necessities will be significantly impaired.

Add to the fact that this bill also sets up more entitlement spending that will also have to be funded, beyond what it will cost to pay back this huge loan, only makes the outlook that much more grim.

The other alternative is to just print more money. Easy enough, but there is a price to pay for that as well. It will cause our money to be even worth less than it is now and the amount of money required would probably propel us into hyper-inflation. For an example of this kind of monetary policy, one need only look to Zimbabwe where it takes trillions and trillions of Zimbabwe Dollars to buy a loaf of bread - if you can find one.

There is no magic pill for the economy and spending hundreds of billions of dollars that we don't have is certainly not going to help us or the economy in any way shape or form. No pork-laden government spending bill will fix this mess.

The bill will come due. The party will be over and the hangover will probably never end. The American dream will be finished.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Fern Hill Economic Recovery Meeting

Every day we see the news: financial institutions and major industries failing, unemployment rising, home foreclosures mounting, banks not lending. We don't have to travel far in this town to witness the stark evidence. Some of my favorite places to shop, like PC Club on 38th, CompUSA, and Circuit City, are all shuttered now. My neighbor has been laid off his job since December and grows more and more discouraged by the day, with his wife out of work as well. The VA's homeless facilities are filled to capacity, and are now resorting to putting veterans back out on the street with nowhere to go. We can't go on much longer like this.

The current administration has a plan to deal with our economic stress. It has been both praised and criticized from both sides of the aisle. But the Obama White House doesn't just want to hear what the politicians have to say about his bill -- he wants to hear from you and me, those who are struggling under the pressure of burdens we never anticipated in better times gone by.

That's why he's asked us to organize community meetings, right here in our own neighborhood, to talk about the stimulus plan and what it means to us personally. You can submit your question beforehand, and maybe it will be featured in the video that's to be distributed and shown at the meetings.

Go to "Organizing for America" to view event background and details, submit your question, and find a neighborhood meeting. We're having one in the Fern Hill area -- please RSVP if you'd like to come!

"The same tide lifts all boats." Let's be the change we've been waiting for!


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Memphis in Seattle

In trying to manage our money (and our lives) one area we knew we could cut down on was entertainment, but recently we splurged—if you can call it splurging—and availed ourselves of the discount the 5th Avenue Theater gives to educators and took our daughter to see Memphis. What a wonderful treat that I could consume again and again!

This Joe DiPietro and David Bryan (Bon Jovi keyboardist and founding member) musical is loosely based on the life of Memphis DJ Dewy Phillips, one of the first white disc jockeys to play African American or “race” music for his white listeners around the same time that Elvis was being influenced by it. But Memphis is about more than the birth of rock ‘n roll.

This fast paced, energetic musical is about not only the birth of rock ‘n roll, but about the birth of hope and change. It is timely that it is being performed now. I got goose bumps listening to the beautiful voices of a wonderful cast sing about hope and change. Although all original music, it could well have been written in the 1950s. The costumes are accurate and the sets remarkable. It seemed like there were about 30 set changes, but they went so quickly and smoothly that you could have been watching a movie. The miking was perfect so you could actually understand the words the cast was saying and singing.

I cannot say enough good things about this musical and predict that eventually it will be one that high schools will perform with relish. If you can squeeze some live theater out of the budget or are an employee of a school take a trip to Memphis. You won’t be sorry.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Despite doom, gloom and spiraling economy with crayons and paper in hand, President Obama and all of us can draw changes that will transform nation

Above center: Enlargement of smaller sign displayed on a bulletin board included during last year's exhibit entitled "Tacoma's Civil Rights Struggle - African Americans Leading The Way" at the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma.

n light of last November's election of Barack Obama, the word change on the smaller chocolate brown sign on the bulletin board in photos that accompany this blog at a recently concluded exhibit at the Washington State History Museum entitled Tacoma's Civil Rights Struggle - African Americans Leading The Way may be viewed a bit differently.

The highly fascinating and relevant aforementioned exhibit which closed in December offered local citizens a chance to look back at the past, become informed and celebrate the kind of faith, hard work and determination in this area and others that paved the way for the elevation of the nation's first president of African-American heritage.

Below: Photo of full bulletin board display at the civil rights exhibit at Washington State History Museum.

Pre-election, change was a call for something to happen in this case the election of a new president, the adoption of a new outlook and government to go with it all.

Post-election, change can possibly be viewed directly in a more personal and intimate way. Change is now what can we do to help our President, our government and leadership in cities, towns and rural areas around the country particularly in light of each day's passing and review of what seems even more rapid and dramatic changes in the economy some of whose full and possibly overwhelming effects are only beginning to be understood and absorbed as they trickle their way across the land.

Most of us - if asked suddenly, bluntly and off the cuff to contribute a concrete answer into a reporter's microphone in a neatly tied sound bite, may quite honestly have no ready reply in hand. Some of us are good talkers. Some of us are more skilled with the written word.

(As an example on this blog In Your Neighborhood local writers Stephanie Frieze's pieces on economizing within your own family (Being Cents-able, Making Do In Hard Times/Anytime) are a great start, as Joseph McGowan's sentiments (Good Time At The Monarch Hotel) on the value of building a positive mind set model thoughtful written ideas about changes to name just two.)

Yet rather than leave for another umpteenth time the sole responsibility and singular formation of answers to our government, previously identified policy makers, community leaders and others who have made up the vast majority of the writers and talkers allowed to make decisions such as these in our land, it may be increasingly clear that change for the better may truly be dependent upon just "U" and "I".

Furthermore when given crayons, paper and a charge to draw a picture of what this sort of change would look like, even the smallest elementary pupil and a few celebrity animals among us might become equal peers with full-fledged adults should we limited the compositions to stick-figures only.

What if all those who make-up Tacoma or South Puget Sound or Western Washington were asked in mass to take a box of crayons in hand, draw and hand-in just one picture of a change they'd really like to see? And what if all these pictures (or even a sampling) found their way onto the desks and attention spans of those men and women with whom we eventually rely to make and implement the kinds of changes which are required?

In my view putting one's vision of positive change down from a place tucked inside your brain. pulls it outside to air. Your creativity can breathe and enjoy the bright light of day. Committing it to paper and looking at it is like opening every window in a closed house (assuming you still have one) and shouting to your neighbors (assuming they haven't lost their mortgages) and all who come by (assuming any jobs are left to be had ) in a universal language.

At the very least, a request for a crayon drawing from the entire population may launch, encourage or yet discover the regional talent whether young or old who may subsequently travel the same road as modeled by one of my personal favorites, the Seattle Post Intelligencer's brilliant and award-winning artist David Horsey.

Should individuals such as Horsey be uncovered considerably more interesting change will be almost certainly assured if these heretofore unknown individuals should furthermore boldly step - drum roll please, into one of the most essential roles aside from say President Obama that any free progressive, creative and respectable nation has to offer the flexible lycra horizons of a social and political cartoonist!

Good Timing At The Monarch Hotel

Just got back last night from Portland, Oregon. Learned a lot---how to accept myself more, how to focus on my strengths and weaknesses more clearly, how to let people share themselves with me and how to share myself with others with more depth, how to just have a whole lot of fun. It could get chilly at night, warmed up some during the day, and, in this picture, you can see how the wonderful mountains are starting to dry out, just a little bit, we hope...

This was a "get down time." The presenters, Gil and Rose Apodaca, from Beaumonth California, and Fr. Tom Griffith, Divine Word Priest, from Duxbury, Massachusetts (one cool dude, let's give a shout out for cool Catholic priests!"
In this picture, from the right are the presenters, Father Tom Griffith,SVD, Rose and Gill Apodaca, the coordinators for the program (the hard workers), LaVonne and John Doherty, from Portland, and yours truly (who was a long distance encourager and got in this picture because, first, I look pretty (just telling it like it is), and second, along with the coordinators, I am a member of the executive team for the region...

The theme: well, Marvin Gaye would sum it up this way, "Let's Get It On." Behind the words and movement of that wonderful artist would be affirmation of love, of one's need for touch, affection, understanding, and passion, of the beauty of giving oneself to one's beloved. And I was so happy to deepen my appreciation of love, affection, passion, and of self-giving. Check out these two, they were witnesses to our deliberations... sitting on the presenters' table and appearing in various locations over the weekend to remind us that the greatest gift we can give to each other is unconditional love.

I enjoyed getting outside and clowning. Some folks who were getting in a smoke before the next section suggested taking a picture of me in front of the recycling bin would be instructive. Were they focusing on various possible metaphors... (and I added the swagger and moves of a rapper to make the metaphors melt)... a.. this brother is getting too old and plump and needs to be recycled; b... this brother is crazy, be careful... c. this brother is running for governor of Illinois, RUN AWAY!

Well, my brother (by love community, not by birth, ok...or am I belaboring the obvious) got me on videotape. I have left out his name and phone number to protect the silly.

I really enjoyed this enrichment... and I had a great time... thanks John and LaVonne and Gil and Rose and Fr. Tom... you are making a real difference in my life

Check out the music and the folks coming in before one of the presentations... cool, cool people!!!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

South Sound, In Your FACE!

Well, in your Facebook that is!

And hey, with Facebook I resisted. I really did. I shall NOT do Facebook, I shall NOT do Facebook, I shall NOT do Facebook.

So, I joined.

And I love it. It's fun. It's easy. It's FREE. It's a quick way to keep in touch with friends and find old friends. However, one thing it can do is promote our lovely local businesses, causes, people, and places. Here's how.

You can search or have pop up Facebook groups to join or to become a "fan" of a certain entity, person, or place. For me personally, I have become a "fan" of Tacoma's fab, "The Hub" restaurant and Point Defiance Park. I joined a Tacoma lovers group, the Tacoma Vegetarians group, and a Wilson Rams Alumni group. I supported causes for Tacoma schools. All online, Facebook style. Easy. FREE. And you can see other names and/or profiles of other South Sound locals who dig the same groovy things you do! And you can easily click on these groups you've joined and get the latest and greatest information. And if you really ambitious, you can start your own thing. It's just a click away. What's even better is that my friends see all of my local ties on Facebook and they go check 'em out too. It's a wonderful way to highlight our community.

Readers, Bloggers, check out Facebook if you are so inclined. And, as an added bonus, I'd love your help brainstorming other local ties, passions, causes, places, and people that I could highlight using this medium.

Have fun and let your imagination soar!