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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I'm Sticking To The Union

I fell in love with my husband because of his beautifully large and giving heart. Nearly twenty-five years later, he still impresses me with his "get up and do...get up and give" attitude in the community. I'd like to share a story, about him and other giving souls, with you today.

Matt is the Business Manager for Tacoma's Roofers Union Local #153. Back in February he received a call at work from Cecile Reider, looking for help for a friend of hers in University Place. It seems the friend had hired a non-union roofing contractor to tear-off her old roof and put on a new one. They entered into a signed agreement in November of 2008. The homeowner was asked to pay before work was started and did so.

The old roof was removed, along with the pipe boots and the metal wall flashings around the chimney. The roof deck was inspected for damage and the plywood sheathing (one sheet) was replaced. New felt paper was applied over the plywood decking and the contractor was to return for the installation of the new shingle roof and the other necessary material that had been removed.

When the roofing contractor returned, the old roofing material was cleaned-up and removed from the property. The homeowner asked when the new shingles would be applied...and was informed that the job was finished. Exit one contractor, leaving the homeowner to cover the exposed roof with tarps before the storms of the winter. The family residence took a beating, with extensive damage to the interior aggravating medical conditions.

After hearing the story, Matt called Pabco Roofing Industries and received a promise of donated shingles; Pioneer Building Supplies promised roofing accessories and Bosnick Roofing Inc. (a union roofing contractor) gave plywood sheathing and equipment. Matt put the word out to the union journeyman roofers and apprentices from Local #153...he needed their time and labour.

Gary Bruce, Paul Hoffer, John Reyes, Dennis Merritt, Jeff Haley, Greg Benson, Bob Smiley, Matt Stanglend, Laine Ruscin and Kili Eagletail volunteered to pitch-in. They removed all of the felt paper, re-inspected the roof deck and replaced several more sheets of damaged plywood before applying the new roofing material. The property was then cleaned and all the roofing debris removed by the volunteer crew.

Union roofers take pride in their professional work and pride in their community. A call went out in the neighbourhood and was answered. Now a family is safe in their home, with renewed faith in humanity. Cecile Reider is an incredible friend and neighbour who began the wave of good works. Good for you Cecile! A big thank you to all who worked so hard, with pride in their jobs and companies. Now this is a story (there's more to it) that should be picked up by the local news media.

Today my beloved husband is celebrating his 56th. birthday. Happy Birthday honey...I love you and I'm so proud of everyone involved. Here's to the Union Roofers, shops and supply companies...and to good neighbours. Bravo!

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Whole Lot Of Loving Was Going On

That's the only way to describe the wonderful time I had at the crab dinner I attended at St. Therese in Seattle Saturday evening. I sat with my friend who had graciously paid for my week trip to Israel. What a delight Helen has been and is to me.
I was delighted to have a chance to share hopes and dreams with a volunteer who helped set up, serve, and clean up after the dinner. She is a mother of a mixed race child--- she is white and her husband is black. She is delighted to have found a school where her son's gifts are being affirmed by his teachers and his behavior is being sensitively and sternly being attended to by faculty, administration, and staff. She had nothing but good to say about the black woman who prepares meals for the children and has a definite way of helping them decide it would be a very good behavior change for them if they decided to cooperate with their teachers.
Another conversation got me fired up... and I decided to do whatever I could to make sure public schools got the resources they needed. I enjoyed talking to an African American male who has taught fourth grade in public schools for twenty years. "I am getting too old and tired to keep dealing with big classes and limited resources," he said. I thanked him for hanging in with the kids all those tough, frustrating years.

The food was great. The company better. And the money earned was to be used for scholarships for kids. Did I have a good time...

As you can see from the video below... I and a whole lot of folks enjoyed talking and eating and learning together and just plain loving each other...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Point Ruston: vision and transformation

In 1976, I moved to Tacoma. It felt like home to me then, as if it reached out to me and took me in. I've never regretted the decision and have always been fascinated by seeing the grand, older homes from a bygone era. There were some real visionaries who settled here more than a hundred years ago.

Reflect for a moment on the blight of the landscape along premium waterfront land in Ruston and Tacoma where the old Asarco copper smelter had operated for so many years and resulted in the dubious designation of being on the list of EPA Super-Fund Clean-Up Sites... Asarco spent $100-Million Dollars on the clean-up including the dramatic demolition of the old smokestack years ago.

Most people would look at that site as it has been for so many years and say, "Why doesn't somebody do something?" At long last, somebody has stepped up with a determination that nothing is impossible, and has moved us all forward into the future of what can be...a grand era of renewal for Tacoma and Ruston.

Enter MC Construction Consultants... the modern day visionaries who have developed a comprehensive master plan that is transforming the blight, the eyesore along Ruston Way into a breathtaking destination location known as Point Ruston.

Today there is a project underway to reclaim and revitalize that entire piece of property into a planned community featuring 1,000 new condos and apartments including retirement and assisted living units plus select, sustainable retail stores, e.g. an organic foods market, entertainment and recreation facilities, professional offices, and more. For example, art installations, a 'waterwalk', bike paths... Even better? All of the Point Ruston development is being constructed implementing 'Built Green' to the highest energy efficiency and ecological/environmental standards.

A scale model of Point Ruston is on display in the floating sales center which, in an of itself, is a perfect example of the vision for the future that MC Construction. An old-time ferryboat that had served the Steilacoom/Anderson Island run was purchased, refurbished/remodeled into its newest incarnation as the floating sales center for Point Ruston complete with marble countertops, elegant woodwork, and multimedia presentations that explain in detail how the project is being implemented.

Applaud the Mike Cohen family and their team who comprise MC Construction Consultants on not only their vision, but their willingness to take on the arduous task of developing Point Ruston despite its seemingly insurmountable obstacles to transform the Tacoma and Ruston waterfront into a superb destination location that we can all be so proud of when showing off our community.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Steal Away

Steal Away---that's the name of the spiritual which ends this brief story. The story highlights various moments (gifted moments) I have shared with others these last two days. Each moment offered me an opportunity to reflect on what dying means to me.
Yesterday a close friend and I shared our thinking about these two questions: are you afraid of dying; what do you think happens to you after death. She was surprised to hear that there are moments when I get the cold shivers.
Cold shivers...that is the way I felt when I was told the historian, John Hope Franklin had died. For many years he has been one of those folks I read over and over again as I tried to reach that point where I understood our country, accepted us for who we were and are, and forgave myself for not attending with more vigor to the needs of people who had been and are abused in our country.
My friend and I admitted that, deep inside, in our hearts, we had a very strong sense of God's loving presence and that we were convinced that the bond we had with God was real and would last forever.
"That's pretty much what I have going for me," I said. She nodded and we promised each other that we would take time over the next few months to share stories about how that loving presence enlightened and strengthened us.
Next Saturday, April 4, 2009, will be the forty first anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination. He changed me forever... daily I read some section from one of his sermons. Next Monday a close friend of mine and I shall begin discussing this question, "what does it mean to be anointed by God," and we shall be using the Doctor's sermon, "Guidelines for a Constructive Church," which sermon can be found at this web address:
This morning I went to the chapel at St. Joseph's Hospital and I spent a few moments reflection on what the death of Jesus meant to me. More and more I am finding that He died because He chose to be an open, honest, and loving person.I have seen so many people who have these wonderful virtues mocked, ridiculed, and abused. It seems that so many of us are frightened when we meet human beings who are actively seeking to understand others, share themselves and their resources with others, and act in this way without expecting anything in return.
I spent a little time with a patient today who is very tired. She asked her daughter to take care of her father. "I just want to go," she said.
These last two days have given me a great, great deal to think about.

One of the spiritual's original intents was to let the slaves know that tonight was the night when a group of them was going to leave the plantation and head for either Canada or the North. It also moves me to realize how many people, like I, hunger so much to be joined with God and other people in leading happy and loving lives forever.

Show Mother Earth some love this weekend!

Yesterday I was walking down my street, and there with its engine running was an SUV. The smoke billowing from the tailpipe was so thick and acrid that I couldn't help but ask the man working on it whether it was on fire. No, he informed me, just a blown gasket. It appalled me to see all those noxious fumes being released into the air, but what could I do? I just hoped they got it fixed real quick!

Lately I've grown more and more convinced that our world must shift to clean, renewable energy or perish. And I've tried to live out that commitment in my own habits, but it isn't always easy. When I moved to my current home last year, I had big dreams for things like solar panels, a windmill, a geothermal heat pump, in-floor radiant heat, etc. But alas, due to cost or feasibility, none of those dreams came true. When I bought my car almost three years ago, I really wanted a hybrid, but couldn't afford it. Still, I try to conserve energy -- I keep my thermostats low and turn off the heat at night; I've switched to all CFL's in my light fixtures; and I walk, carpool, or take public transportation whenever possible.

How about you? Do you want to live a "greener" lifestyle, but find it too costly or difficult right now? Well, there is something you can do to help make clean energy an affordable, viable option for everybody, but it's going to take a concerted effort. Your local MoveOn council is hosting a free, open-to-the-public PowerUp campaign kickoff event this Sunday afternoon, March 29. This is our chance to meet likeminded folks and join forces; get involved in concrete ways to pressure our local, state, and national leaders to support clean energy initiatives; see which local candidates are already committed to this cause and pledge to support them; and enjoy a few munchies at the same time!

Please RSVP and show your support for this vital cause. And even if you can't make it Sunday but still want to help, just reply in a comment, and we will link you with a task force that will be working on specific projects.

One more way to help Mother Earth this weekend: participate in Earth Hour! It's simple -- just turn off your lights from 8:30-9:30 p.m. tomorrow night. People will be doing that all over the world, and it's pretty spectacular. You might even invite your neighbors over for a candlelit Earth Hour party!

Show Mother Earth some love this weekend -- after all, look at everything she's given us!


Is anyone experiencing trouble with posting pictures today? Blogspot keeps telling me I can't. Grrrrr!

Kitsap Lyme, April 4th. 2009

The other night Anna and I took our Lyme "kit" (pamphlets, tick tools, and slips of paper with the addresses for our online support group) to yet another local screening of Mr. Wilson's riveting documentary, Under Our Skin. We came to support the folks looking for help and hope. We came to support education and advocacy.

You have heard me talk of the arrogance of an IDSA (Infectious Disease Society of America) fourteen-member panel who deny the scope and devastation of tick-borne infections. If they are one extreme...well...the nurse who gave the "lecture," before screening the film that evening, was the opposite extreme...just as dangerous and damaging as the other, in my opinion. The host of the night was unaware, organising the event in good faith with a medical professional.

We got there early, though some had already gathered and were having informal conversations. I had spoken with the host on the phone and she had asked us to come and speak also. We introduced ourselves around, my senses picking up an attitude from the nurse when we began answering some people's questions and handing-out our supplies. Then the host asked Anna to speak first...and I saw the storm clouds gather on the RN's face.

Less than two minutes into Anna's talk, the nurse told her she'd had enough sit down because it was now her turn to speak. We thought it a little rude...but we were invited guests and she was running the pre-show education. We moved off to stand at the side, neither one of us being able to sit comfortably. One young woman who had been to the Bastyr screening came over to talk quietly to Anna. They were both told (like schoolgirls) to move away because they were making "too much noise," though I couldn't hear their conversation from three feet away. Then the nurse's lecture began.

She began with paranoia, serving fear as an appetizer...and false facts as a main course. You want to talk storm clouds? Mine were roiling in from the minute she opened with the conspiracy theory...the government intentionally releasing pathogens to do their own people in. She stoked the fear with authority. I wondered if she had even watched the film when she declared that, "Lyme is definitely transmitted sexually," when the documentary states that has yet to be proved. She went on to tell us about a lab tech who contracted Lyme when a rat peed in a small cut on his hand. Now I was fuming...and noticing more people leaving their chairs.

At this point I took our host aside and began to tell her that this woman was doing a disservice...and, point-by-point, showed her where. Again I will say, this extreme is as bad as the other. It makes the Lyme community (fighting for their lives) look like the paranoid malingerers the IDSA panel would have you believe. It makes the folks who come looking for validation, help and hope...terrified! They were leaving their chairs to go towards the hope that my daughter spoke about, before she was stopped for this one-whacked-woman show. It was a show that went on for over forty minutes, the film seemingly forgotten.

I saw my daughter tiring and, truthfully, had we stayed any longer I would have lost it and told this woman exactly what I thought she was full of...and it wasn't information. We had given out the pamphlets, the tick tools and the slips of paper with the address of the online support group for Washington. We were done and leaving. That address?

Now, let me leave you with the positive. We talked and planned all the way home. Since Anna's interviews (paper and radio) we have been contacted by many in this area suffering from Lyme and co-infections. We're pleased to announce the formation of Kitsap Lyme, a face-to-face support group. Meetings will be held the first Saturday of every month, starting April 4th., from 3pm to 5pm, at the Key Center Library. Families dealing with, or suspecting, tick-borne infections are welcome. Together we will deal with the truth. Together we will fight the good fight.

A Spring Gift for Birdbrains!

Need a cool, unique, and inexpensive gift for a special kiddo or even an artsy and/or bird loving adult? Check out the new Alex Home Tweet Home kit! It's this darling unpainted birdhouse with this sweet and sturdy rattan roof and little windows and a door. It's just the right size for chickadees or wrens. What's neat about this kit is that it comes with WEATHERPROOF paints of all kinds of colors and some cool bird and birdhouse facts. I got one for my seven year old daughter and she LOVED painting her birdhouse. It turned out great. I think this would be a fun project for adults too! (Word of warning: these paints have the ability to do some staining, so use an appropriate work site to do these creations). To see a product picture, click HERE.

Now of course, you could order this online from Amazon; however, I recommend to shop local and visit one of my favorite stores in Tacoma, Teaching Toys and Books. Located in the historic and groovy Proctor District, this shop boasts wonderful and creative toys, books, and games, a friendly and knowledgeable staff, and FREE gift wrapping! Better yet, for those of you across the bridge, Teaching Toys and Books is opening up another location next month in Gig Harbor's Uptown Shopping Center.

On a final note, my daughter was so excited to see a couple of wrens check out the her newly designed digs! My son was watching too and said, "Hey, Mom! A bird and it's realtor are checking out Erin's house!"

Too fun!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Throw Away or Repair?

Can this microwave be saved?
U.S. landfills are reporting a drop of 30% in discards. Maybe people are getting things fixed instead of consigning them to the rubbish heap. I’ve got a microwave that I’d like to get fixed and am wondering if anyone in the Neighborhood knows of a trustworthy repair shop that works on microwaves. It used to be that rather than tossing appliances, shoes, clothes, etc. people took them somewhere to be repaired. The current economic situation is reminding people that their parents got things fixed. The problem is that a lot of repair shops are gone due to retirement or lack of customers.

Two summers ago our grandson microwaved a sponge into ashes in our old Litton microwave. I loved that microwave. I’d had it since 1985 and it had done yeoman duty, being repaired along the way and surviving my mother actually catching a potato on fire in it. We were out of state at the time or what happened next could have been averted. Because the burned sponge made a terrible odor my children thought the microwave was not salvageable. They took it to Goodwill.

When they called and told me what had happened and what they’d done I was terribly upset. I told them that if they were going to replace it they had to get another Litton because Litton made the very best microwaves. That’s when we discovered that Littons are no longer made. Apparently they were too well made. The children replaced my microwave with a cute little white job with a childproof lock. The problem is that in Littons it is the microwaves that revolve, not the food. There’s no plate which makes for easy clean up and best of all it will hold a 9X13 pan of whatever you like. The new microwave holds a 9X13 pan just fine, but it can’t rotate. The pan just bangs on the inside of the door.

I had one more avenue. My best friend’s mother had owned a Litton. When she died her husband fell heir to it and my friend let him know that if he decided to move or otherwise get rid of the Litton to let her know that I wanted it. After a year and a half the day arrived. Unfortunately the microwave is not operating. It just won’t turn on. Step-father had moved it to the garage when my friend found it and saved it from a fate like mine. Now it sits in my garage awaiting my finding the proper repair shop to take a look and see if it can be repaired. If anyone knows of a good repair shop in Tacoma, let me know as I would like to give this old Litton another chance at life.

As a nation I hope we cease being a throw-away society. I hope that there will be a place for people who like to tinker to repair items that still have some life left in them.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Maybe I’m just a cranky old woman, but I cannot believe that another parent left their small children alone in a car with the motor running. Why didn't they expect the car to be taken? There’s a reason that it’s against the law to leave children under 12 alone in a car. Actually, it's against the law to leave a car running unattended. This is the second such incident in the area in a week! Where was this guy when a tearful, remorseful mother begged parents to learn from her mistake? Fortunately all the children in both incidents were returned to their frantic parents. Next time it might not end as well.

Parents, I know that unbuckling the complicated harnesses and seatbelts on child seats takes a college education and is a pain in the butt. I’ve gotten mine wet plenty of times getting a small one into or out of the car in the rain or worked up a sweat on a hot day, but I love them too much to leave them alone in a locked car much less one with the motor running for heaven’s sake! I know that once you get those sweet children out of the car, keeping them corralled long enough to buy the milk or juice or bread or whatever it is that you need to “just run in and get” can be hard so take them home, leave them with someone else and go do your shopping if you can’t handle them in the store. Otherwise get a clue and get the kids out of the car.

Making Sense of Darfur

In times like these it is easy to get focused in our own day-to-day difficulties and forget that there are those whose struggle is much greater than ours. The situation in Darfur goes largely ignored by the American public amidst the economy, the environment, Iraq and Afghanistan. It is confusing as to who is being targeted for extermination and why. On Wednesday, March 25th, Gig Harbor High School will be hosting a lecture about Darfur with a special presentation by Lola Toloba and her adopted Sudanese children in the school library at 7 PM. Admission is free so come and learn. Gig Harbor High School is located at 5101 Rosedale St. NW in Gig Harbor.


Yesterday I received a call from Kristin Stern in the Tacoma office of the Social Security Administration. It seemed that Patty Murray’s inquiry into my situation of needing to re-qualify my daughter who has Down’s Syndrome had reached her desk. She was very nice. Nicer than anyone I have ever had to deal with at the SSA. To recap our problem, my nearly 38 year old daughter has Down’s Syndrome, something that doesn’t magically go away. In 1987 I spent seven months without her benefits while attempting to prove to the SSA she’d not undergone a miracle. When I received papers early this month wanting to do it again I was smarter than in 1987. I contacted our congressional delegation and immediately heard back from Senator Patty Murray who sent a release form so her office to look into the matter. It seems to have been effective.

Allegedly the purpose of this re-evaluation was to make sure Amy hasn’t been working which would affect the amount of her SSI or end it altogether. In 1987 my daughter was 16 so I’ve no idea what their excuse was then. To be fair, that was the Astoria Oregon office of the SSA. “Exactly how much would my daughter [who has not worked in over 10 years] have to make to end her benefits,” I asked Ms. Stern. “$875 per month,” she replied. I laughed. The most Amy was ever able to work as nine minimum wage hours per week. “I’d love to know how many people with Down’s Syndrome make that much per month, but the bottom line is that Down’s Syndrome doesn’t get better. If you want to check up and make sure she’s still alive, since people with Down’s Syndrome have a shorter life expectancy, I don’t have a problem. Just don’t make me keep proving she’s disabled.” Ms. Stern replied that the worker who is processing Amy’s file is going to code it so that we will not be doing this again in the future. I cannot help but feel that had Senator Murray’s office not contacted the SSA we would have been doing this again in three years. Families with a loved one who has a congenital disability ought not to have to keep proving that the individual is still disabled.

If you take anything away from our experience let it be this, ask for help. Be a good self-advocate especially if you have an offspring or family member with a disability. I wish I would have sat down with a piece of notebook paper (because that was all I had back then) and written to our congressional delegation back in 1987. It might have made a big difference in the life of my family. PAVE in Tacoma is another good resource for finding out your rights and responsibilities. When you run into a bump in the road, don’t just think that’s how the system works. It may be that the system needs fixing or that there’s a way around it. Now I must get busy writing Sen. Murray a nice thank you note.

They Can't Handle The Truth!

Apparently, Washington state Democrats do not want to be told that the effects of their tax and regulate ideology is not good for business. Not only do they dislike it, they intend to make it illegal for a lobbyist to tell them if they pass a stupid bill that the company may move.

From House Bill 2316:

A person required to register as a lobbyist under this chapter
shall also have the following obligations, the violation of which shall
constitute cause for revocation of his registration, and may subject
such person, and such person's employer, if such employer aids, abets,
ratifies, or confirms any such act, to other civil liabilities, as
provided by this chapter:

(g) Threaten any legislator, or any government official, with the relocation of manufacturing jobs including, but not limited to, jobs involving commercial airplane manufacturing, based upon the outcome of any pending or proposed legislation.

I've seen the result of hostile laws to manufacturers. Pontiac, MI all but ran GM out of town. Every Pontiac car on the road came out of that old factory between Baldwin and Joslyn Avenues. It's been years since even one car has rolled out of there. I think the last one was the Fiero. Pontiac told the city to lay off or they would shut it down - they warned them and the city persisted. They closed it down and moved out of town.

It's common knowledge that the Big B (the only airplane manufacturer around hereabouts) has threatened to move out of the state. They moved their headquarters to Chicago a few years back. I suspect it's only a matter of time until they do if WA keeps beating on them.


Hat Tip: Sound Politics

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Some Thoughts on Creativity and the Economy

Above: Cozy interior of theatre space at Vashon Island's Blue Heron Art Center managed by Vashon Allied Arts prior to yesterday's performance by playwright Jude Narita. Photo by Mizu Sugimura.

I was treated to a riveting performance of Asian-American playwright Jude Narita's one woman show "From The Heart" at Vashon Island's Blue Heron Art Center last night. When one is surrounded by such powerful creativity, it is more than likely that inspiration can be absorbed by breathing such rarefied air.

No. I didn't come home with ideas of how to write my own one woman show. But the whole experience made possible by the hard work and effort of talented folks with Vashon Allied Arts ("Warm thanks for a GREAT evening!") managed to ignite a few thoughts on our present economic dilemma.

Assuming you have a moment or two handy, check out my blog.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Mama's Calendar

The sky is misty and pale on this first morning of Spring, ornamented by a pretty crescent moon hanging over the silhouetted tree-line. Mother Nature, laughing, has sprinkled everything with sparkly frost to celebrate. She pays attention to a deeper rhythm than our blocked-out calendars and usually knows just what she's doing, even if we don't.

Thin streaks of clouds begin to colour with the rising sun and the sky turns baby-blue between them. Sweet little flying jewels, the hummingbirds, are orbiting and doing their fandango face-offs around the feeder. Everywhere, the chorus of birds sing a new day into our being. Perhaps they would sing to us of patience, if we'd get still enough to listen.

Yes, we're Winter-weary and we'd like to nudge the warmth and sprouting colours. We hurry along our lives this way...and then wonder where it all went to. We humans are often so busy regretting the past, or wishing and worrying for the future, that we forget to enjoy and be grateful for the chance to be here, now. We forget our own ceremony and sacrament, putting all that in specific, blocked-out calendar pages, filed away from our daily lives.

The rime begins to steam off the house as the sun's rays flame-on, and turns to diamond-dewdrops on the blades of grass, the scotch broom, tree branches and blackberry bushes. Cars speed up the highway towards the busy human world, sounding like the rhythmic rush of waves towards the least in my imagination. Later, I'll join that flow and head into Tacoma for our Waldorf School Benefit at the Temple Theatre. For now, I joyfully succumb to Spring Fever and give thanks for the stirring that's been going on for weeks in The Mama's Calendar.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Healing Moments At St. Anthony's

There were so many moments at St. Anthony's hospital Saturday and Sunday when celebrations took place prior to its opening where all I could do was stop, look, and let the beauty of what I was seeing just fill my whole being. Here are three such moments:
Standing in the back of the chapel before the Eucharistic celebration began.

Looking at the great rocks and the water flowing in the healing garden.

Listening to the musicians preparing for the Eucharistic celebration.

Times like these are occasions for my being very, very grateful to be alive.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Little Good News

To piggyback on Kim’s good news post I would like to give a little update on my struggle with the Social Security Administration. Right after I put up that post I emailed our entire Congressional Delegation asking that Congress look into the SSA’s policy of asking families to re-qualify disabled loved ones who have conditions for which there is no hope of recovery. Although I only heard back from one, the response was immediate. I emailed on a Thursday and by Saturday I had a letter from Senator Patty Murray asking me to sign a release form so that her office could look into the matter. I was blown away by the quick turnaround.

Needless to say, my response was quick as well. I filled out the release form which both my daughter and I signed and sent all the particulars regarding our experience with the SSA and my daughter’s Down’s Syndrome. I sent the envelope certified mail. Now I have received another letter from Patty Murray saying that they are looking into the matter and giving me the name and number of a contact in her Seattle office if I have more problems. I’m impressed.

I sent the SSA all the information I had at hand that proved that my daughter had not “recovered” from her Down’s Syndrome and heard nothing back from them. I’d like to assume that this has put the matter to rest for a while, but I am still nervous when I go to the PO Box. What I hope is that Murray’s inquiry into the matter will shed some light on a flaw in the SSA system so that other families will not have to repeatedly prove that their loved one has not been the recipient of a miracle. It’s nice to know that Patty Murray is responsive to the concerns of her constituents and she really has made me feel less alone than I did in 1987 when it took them seven months to figure it out.

AIG Bonuses - Who Let It Happen and How?

Who's at fault?

I know some of you folks don't like Fox News, but if you think Shep Smith is wrong here, I challenge you to come with specifics where he's wrong.

Even the White house was complicit in this deal. Better turn them pitchforks and torches around and head in toward the real culprits.


Here's What's Working: A Food Bank Discovery

"I get nervous in Stockholm...everything works..."

--Man In Strange Glasses (played by Lou Reed), Blue In The Face.

Well, this ain't Stockholm, this is America and not everything works here. But I love my local community, I love it when I find something that is working, and I love talking about it.

So, after doing some recent pre-Spring cleaning, I discovered an enormous amount of new and packaged bar soap. More than we can ever use (a Costco double mistake on our part). My son and I decided donate the soap to our local food bank, the University Place Food Bank (connected with FISH Food Banks and Families Unlimited Network).

We have donated to this local organization before through the schools, however, we have never been there in person before. Going in person was the best thing we could have done.

We went to the wrong door with our donation and was directed to the right spot behind the building by a cheery volunteer. The food bank was currently open for business (Tuesdays and Saturdays: please see the website noted below for specific hours). We went into the "guest" entrance in error and the rooms were filled. We redirected ourselves (with help from the greeter) to the right place and saw that the volunteers were getting ready, coming, and going. When we arrived at the "store" I was blown away.

Fresh and beautiful fruits and vegetables were artfully displayed outside, much like a little outdoor farmer's market. Pretty spring flower bouquets were available, too and lined the path into the "store" filled with canned and dry goods, breads, even meat, eggs, and dairy. Volunteer workers were scattered about working quickly and efficiently. Smiles and soft laughter filled the room. We dropped off our donation and were greeted with a hearty thanks.

But I was the one that was thankful to see this place. Serving Pierce County for over 20 years, and a partnership with community, local business, and faith based organizations, this food bank is one of the few that offer fresh fruits and veggies, dairy, eggs, and meat. The goal is to have a lovely and dignified environment to shop for a supply of food to help folks in tough times in Pierce County. In partnership with additional programs in the center, there is tutoring help for kids and other family services serving the local community (zip codes 98466 and 98467 for these programs, the food bank is open to Pierce County residents). Interested in learning more or reading about how you can help? Please check out their website at or by clicking HERE.

Here's in celebration to the small things that work!

More to come, South Sound. More to come.

Obama Breaks Trust With Wounded Veterans

While your attention was focused on the AIG bonuses, Obama is quietly trying to change the law to make wounded veterans pay for their service related problems out of private insurance.

From CBS News:
An Obama administration proposal to bill veterans' private insurance companies for treatment of combat-related injuries has prompted veterans groups to condemn the idea as unethical and powerful lawmakers on Capitol Hill to promise their opposition.

Nevertheless, the White House confirmed yesterday that the idea remains under consideration, and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and leaders of veterans groups are scheduled to meet tomorrow to discuss it further.

The proposal -- intended to save the Department of Veterans Affairs $530 million a year -- would authorize VA to bill private insurance companies for the treatment of injuries and medical conditions related to military service, such as amputations, post-traumatic stress disorder and other battle wounds. VA already pursues such third-party billing for conditions that are not service-related.
This is outrageous!! Obama and his cronies are violating a a sacred trust with our military. I don't care whether you supported the war or if you didn't. That's not the issue. We are obligated to care for our wounded and disabled veterans.

It will not save that much money. If they can get a job with that hanging over their head, few insurance companies will want to cover a pre-existing condition such as war wounds. If they do, they will raise premniums dramatically which will either cause an employer to cut back on the amount of coverage or be forced to pass along the extra charge to the other employees. Either way, the disabled or wounded vet loses. They will become untouchable.

How are veteran's groups liking this proposal?
"It became apparent during our discussion today that the President intends to move forward with this unreasonable plan," said Commander David K. Rehbein of The American Legion. "He says he is looking to generate $540-million by this method, but refused to hear arguments about the moral and government-avowed obligations that would be compromised by it."

The Commander, clearly angered as he emerged from the session said, "This reimbursement plan would be inconsistent with the mandate ' to care for him who shall have borne the battle' given that the United States government sent members of the armed forces into harm's way, and not private insurance companies. I say again that The American Legion does not and will not support any plan that seeks to bill a veteran for treatment of a service connected disability at the very agency that was created to treat the unique need of America's veterans!"

I hope Congress doesn't allow this to happen. I'm hoping even most Democrats will sink this obviously idiotic suggestion from the now Commander-in-Cheap!

Veterans - this should be your call to action to start now to rid the White House that is obviously anti-military.

Hope and Change - I sure HOPE we can Change Presidents in 2012! The one we have now is an abysmal failure.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Musical Moment From The Gala Celebrating The Opening of St. Anthony's Hospital

I had the opportunity to participate in various activities celebrating the opening of St. Anthony's Hospital in Gig Harbor, Washington. I cannot begin to put my head around the meaning of that... this wonderful institution, St. Anthony's, with its doctors, nurses, and staff, will serve so many people for years to come. And I was there at its opening... I cannot begin to put into words how much "being there" means to me.
Lots of very happy people came. And I had a chance to sit and listen to the talented
Rob Rigoni.

I think you will like his wonderful work.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Grab Your Pitchfork

American workers are being laid off, taking time off and/or pay cuts just to keep businesses and governmental offices open. Schools may be moving to a four day week. Not everyone seems to be feeling the pinch however. Some are actually getting bonuses.

Last fall we were told that if we didn’t give AIG 180 billion dollars life as we know it would cease to exist. The money was given with too few strings attached and now some of the people responsible for AIG’s failure are receiving big bonuses for being either idiots or criminals. How can AIG have the nerve to honor bonuses for bad work when the American public now owns 80% of their company? What are they thinking and how much longer will be reward stupidity? I don’t approve of mob mentality, but it seems that we've created a Frankinstein monster and feels like it’s time to get the torches and pitchforks.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

2009 Gig Harbor Fire and Safety Expo

Today was the 2009 Gig Harbor Fire and Safety Expo at their training headquarters. Hats and helmets off to Fire Chief Paul Berlin and his staff including Kathleen Fogle who hosted the event showcasing an array of health care providers and screenings, which were all free of charge to the visitors.

Screening tests included blood sugar, cholesterol and other lipids, breast exams, vision and hearing tests, chiropractic, massage, and more.

The organizational precision of the entire event and the hospitality shown to all of the vendors and exhibitors (myself included as Community Relations Director representing Merrill Gardens, Gig Harbor) was top-notch. Lunch was even catered for exhibitors and volunteers by Panda Express.

From move-in and setup early this morning throughout the hours of the expo's pack up and move-out was as smooth as could be. It was a pleasure to have a part in this community-wide annual event that draws an enthusiastic turnout from residents rain and shine; despite today's relentless downpour, attendance was excellent.

The camaraderie and cooperation among exhibitors was noteworthy. At the end of the day, Kathy Fogle was already taking registrations for the 2010 Gig Harbor Fire & Safety Expo.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Tyler Perry's "the family that preys" gave me one big hug and just kept squeezing me until the credits were finished. Talk about an outstanding cast: can you imagine for even a few moments before your mind would just come to one like a deer caught in the headlights screeching (tear making, loud guffaw occasioning)stop when you even begin talking about the possibility that Kathy Bates, Alfre Woodward and Robin Givens would be in the same film

Bates plays the fast stepping, take no prisoners, country dancing head of a corporation. Bates and Woodward are traveling buddies... One possible title for this film... Country Western Meets Urban Gospel... Alfre Woodward plays her very close friend and the mother of two daughters who just cannot stand one another.

Robin Givens is the corporate administrator who smiles coldly as she tells it like it was, is, and will be!

It moves towards its inevitable conclusion at just the right pace...As it ended I could not decide whether I wanted to stand up and applaud or just sit in my overstuffed chair and cry.

Here's a tantalizing take on the story..."Working class Alice (Academy Award nominee Alfre Woodward) and wealthy Charlotte (Academy Award winner Kathy Bates) are friends and mothers who have supported each other through all that their families have gone through over the years.But now their families are embroiled in new turmoil-with each other. Can the two women save their children from the dark secrets and dirty deeds that threaten to destroy them all?"


To The Boat Ramp At Dawn

Yes, this morning I was determined to get some dawn shots from the boat ramp near the mouth of Joe's Bay. Seeing the sky was so beautifully clear, I came down to the water via 10th. St. and caught the silhouette of Tahoma and the Cascades. This summer will mark our 13th. year of being transplanted mossbacks...and still I'm thrilled for the privilege of filling my eyes with views so wild and wonderful.

The public boat ramp on A St. had no early morning launches. Only waves and wind welcomed my ears at first, but soon I heard the eagle's call. Three were playing in the currents above the bay's opposite point and one was having breakfast on a floating platform, just a bit too far to be anything other than a fuzzy outline with my camera. What company to greet the day!

Can there be a bad sunrise shot? I don't think so! I let out a little "whoop!" of glee, really thankful that my work allows me to take this time of the day, just for me. Sometimes it means very short nights, but that's a price I'll gladly pay to carve the refilling times of a little one-on-one with the universe.

The earth turns,
the day begins,
sun rises and
the light comes in.

It's a new day!
Let me start it
in the right way,
face the sun,
face myself and
start again.

Couldn't resist a last look back, going up 7th., the sun a molten trail across the Sound. I may not be done with the road yet, but I'm so glad to have found Home.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Not Your Ordinary Gritizen's Pesto

I am a "Real Simple" magazine subscriber and typically have had fairly good success with their recipes. In the current March edition, the magazine covered recipes on how to get the most out of warehouse staples. I was intrigued, because, though I like Costco, I struggle there (we are afraid of being wasteful, and regretfully, this has happened and we kick ourselves). One of the recipes caught my eye and I just tried it (and the tips on what to do with leftover ingredients was great too). Totally awesome and tasty! Plus, it's cheap, easy, fast, and healthy. Can't beat that with a stick!

Here it is (taken from, March 2009):


* 1 pound fettuccine
* 1/4 cup walnuts
* 2 cloves garlic
* 1/2 pound baby spinach (about 10 cups)
* 1/3 cup olive oil
* 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
* Kosher salt and black pepper
* 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest


Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and return it to the pot.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse the walnuts and garlic until chopped. Add the spinach, oil, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Puree until smooth, scraping down the sides of the processor bowl as necessary.

Add the pesto to the pasta and toss to combine. Sprinkle with the lemon zest and the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan before serving.

Kim's notes: I skipped the walnuts, kicked up the garlic, and used lemon pepper instead of regular pepper. It was delicious (though my kids wouldn't touch it). Whatever. All the more for me I suppose!

So, readers and bloggers, I am looking for some creative new ideas for spring asparagus and artichokes (preferably meatless). Oh do share, South Sound! Thanks in advance.

Did You Know?

The man in Illinois who went on a rampage and killed the pastor was suffering from Lyme disease. Dr. Eugene Shapiro, one of the IDSA (Infectious Disease Society of America) panel members who wrote the disastrous Nov. 2006 Lyme Guidelines stated, "Lyme disease does not cause people to shoot other people."

The Gang of Fourteen, in these guidelines, deny the existence of chronic Lyme...and yet you see society beginning to pay the price of denying chronic neuro borreliosis. We're talking about bacteria (possibly multiple, with co-infections) eating the brain. Dr. Shapiro has personally spear-headed witch-hunts for doctors who believe, and treat, chronic Lyme.

Why, you wonder...why? Perhaps Dr. Shapiro can tell the Pastor's congregation not to take it's only business. Here's a small explanation from the Lyme documentary, "Under Our Skin."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The 21st Century American Family

A Return to the Past?

Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see.” Our family tries to live by our principles and constantly strives to do better. We try to be the change even in a down economy.

Recently NBC Evening News did a feature on the changing dynamics of the American family during this recession. More and more nuclear families are returning to the extended model either with grandparents moving in with children or vice versa or grandparents helping out with childcare to alleviate expensive daycare costs while still living in their own home. We are doing some of all of the above and apparently are not alone.

My husband and I had planned to be retiring about now, but instead we have half the children living at home. I’ve written about Amy, my adult daughter who has Down’s Syndrome. We’ve chosen to keep her at home because we can’t imagine having her anyplace else. Her personal care provider money helps to off-set the extra money for a tutor and water aerobics classes. My middle son, who is a teacher, his wife and a very nearly five-year-old grandson live with us. It allows our daughter-in-law to be home with our grandson and saves childcare. She helps take care of her sister-in-law, too. The children pay rent which will become a nest egg for them when we finally do sell our house.

My oldest son is a graphic designer who’s struggling to make a living. Two and a half years ago he quit his job for an advertizing company and began to work from an office at home, but the jobs are drying up. In the past he’s made extra money selling thrift store and auction finds on eBay and has gone back to that, although things aren’t selling as easily as before the recession. My daughter-in-law has had to take more days of work as a court reporter, but they can’t afford the daycare for their four-year-old to allow her to get her transcripts typed and rock a four month old baby. Enter yours truly, Grammy, and I now I get to hang out with our granddaughters twice a week. I’m not a fan of daycare anyway and I’m happy to be able to spend time helping to raise our grandchildren.

My youngest son is twenty-five and currently living with his father. His dad travels a great deal, but we are glad he has a job and our son house sits when he’s not at his own job at a yogurt stand, which he was very lucky to get in this economy. He's looking for a better job, but we are not holding our breath.

I’ve already written about our garden and our attempts to continue as organic as possible of a lifestyle and our commitment to supporting local producers. My oldest son and his family are also putting in a garden this year and both households are following in the footsteps of my youngest who had a garden last year. By shopping Costco and dividing up bulk items between households we get the benefit of buying in bulk without the actual bulk.

Extended family ties provide important social and economic advantages in terms of shared labor, socialization of children, and support. It would seem that many families, whether through choice or necessity, are returning to an extended model and rediscovering the benefits of multiple hands and hearts.

I was raised an only child who felt a great longing for a big family so our situation, the lack of money notwithstanding, suits me fine. We were already an extended family when the stockmarket took a nose dive. Our grandchildren are being raised around their grandparents with bushels and bushels of love and attention. Our children may be struggling a bit, but so far it’s only character building, not a disaster, and they know that they have many arms to catch them. As my daughter-in-law said when she first heard about my husband’s impending loss of job, “We have each other. We’ll be all right.”

Pour A Little Sunshine...

Brrrr....still in a cold snap...but was happy to see a little colour begin over the eastern ridge this morning. It's wonderful to have the treeline as a measuring stick for the wobble of our world. By the Spring Equinox I will be able to show you our movement. My goal is take pictures of different dawns for a year, which began on the Winter Solstice in 2008. Funny how we often don't notice the natural rhythm around us all the time.

By the time we reach the Equinox, less than two weeks away, I think I may have to run down to A Street to get the shots! Oh, but the colours are definitely worth the early morning outing. Most of the year, I'm lucky to be able to sip my tea in comfort and take the pictures from the back balcony box-seat to Mother Nature's glorious show.

The early coral and pink give way, quickly, to the gold of molten light. As tea warms my insides, the day begins to warm the inside of our Aerie. Anna sleeps and Rani the pup joins me for a bit of breakfast and quick outside loo-run. Her nan needs to think about long-johns for the morning walk, methinks!

This cloud looked like a magical genie, reaching to pull the golden orb over the ridge. The beams begin to reach for the water in Joe's Bay and my morning calling to the Seven Directions weaves between.

There's lots of work to do today...but there's always time for greeting and gratitude in my world. The rest of the day flows from there. Blessings upon your day, dear readers.

Monday, March 9, 2009

March Madness in Home!

I saw no dawn this morning, just a lifting of night's curtain...and this drama behind it!! Oh's snoooooow in Joe's Bay...what kind of madness is this?

Oh...but not to worry, the sun has melted the clouds' dandruff into the sweet moisture that slakes the thirst of the stirring plants. There's not even patches in the shade under the trees anymore.

I'm sure it caused a few pickles in this morning's commute...but time marches ever onward to Spring. I can handle the Lion when I know the Lamb is on its way...and I don't have to drive anywhere! I do, however, have to go for a walk. See you later neighbours.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Spring-Flinging With Two Waters Arts Alliance

Ooh-la, it was chilly last night...but, inside the Key Civic Centre, it was warm and wonderful with something for all the senses. As usual, we all come out of our winter dens and happily greet one another for a new, creative year. In my first picture, you can see the physical set-up for the night with lovely tables, flower-arrangements, the bar in the back and artwork all around. The room soon filled with friends. Of course, by that time, I was working and could no longer man the camera!
After setting-up my musical equipment, I took a quick tour to share some of the night's talent with you. This mask caught my eye...and fingers! How I love to touch carved wood. I also ran my hands over Tommy Morgan's beautiful rhythm-staffs...walking sticks with percussive bits attached. I have my very own, that I treasure, from Mr. Morgan. What a delight when he joined us onstage with one of these staffs during the song, "Sitting In Limbo" by Jimmy Cliff!
Reni Moriarity always pulls me right into her beautiful paintings. "Moonsnails" filled my heart with light and peace. I love the colours, the gentle curves of the shells and the suggestion of moonlight on both beach and water. For those with a budget like mine, reproductions of some of the artwork are also available as cards. One doesn't have to have art-dealer-type finances to help support your local Arts. Oh, if I did though...this painting would be hanging in my bedroom now!

Last year I featured a portrait by Chris Bronstad and, this year, he amazes me again with the subtlety of black, white and grey to bring personalities to life. Oh, the stories held in this Elder's eyes! The headdress and beadwork are incredibly detailed; the sacred pipe given a simple glow of reverence. How I would love this on the wall of my office. If you were looking for a meaningful investment for your family, a portrait by Chris would be my suggestion.

Bev Pederson always greets me with one of the brightest smiles this side of the sun and laughter that's medicine. Honestly, if you'd seen her bring the "groupie pack" up to the edge of the stage...gazing adoringly (leaning on their hands, no less!) at my bass-player...ooh-la! In this beautiful silk scarf, Bev's personality flutters out in colour and movement. Kim, I definitely see you in one of these! She also has your favourite colour of red. I'll let you know when the Art Barn Sale is coming, during the Summer.

With 2009 sort of becoming the year of diggin' the dogs, I couldn't resist sharing this painting and its sheer exuberance. Look at this joyful pup who dares us to jump in the water. Ah, to fly for a moment with the trust and unconditional love of our faithful four-legged companions. This one brought my heart right up to my smile. The artist is Robin Peterson, who designed this year's poster.

By the end of the evening (and our first gig of this year) I was exhausted. Anna was past exhausted, so we had to get straight home after finishing our program. We did get a chance to visit with folks in-between sets and we were so heartened to have lots of people talk to us about the interview we did with Colleen Slater, for the Key Pen News. Our community is now talking about Lyme disease! We cannot thank all of them enough for their support of our family and the message we bring. We love our community and we love the Arts. When the two are combined for an early Spring Fling (I've pulled the blinds, studiously ignoring that silly stuff that's falling from the sky right now) there's a stirring of life anew.