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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween from the Grittys!

Happy Halloween, Neighborhood, From Gritty and her Gritty Dog. Have fun!

The Hart of Poetry

Fellow blogonia Lorraine Hart will sing her own songs, but isn’t good at tooting her own horn so, drum roll please! It is with a great deal of pleasure that I bring to you dear reader a wonderful new blog The Poet’s Hart featuring the poetry of my dear blognian Lorraine Hart. Lorraine is a poetess, wise woman, photographer, writer, singer/song writer, expat-Brit who lives out on Key Peninsula at Home in Northwest Washington. I would like to add that she is my treasured friend. Check out her stuff!

Pumpking Carving

Monday was pumpkin carving night for our family. First we needed pumpkins so GrandDave took Grandson Gabriel and his Aunt Amy to Patterson’s Fruit & Vegetable stand to pick out pumpkins. It would have been cheaper for GrandDave to go to Fred Meyer, but that doesn’t have the cache of something closer to the farmer and Amy loves Patterson’s. She keeps track of the turning of the seasons by the state of this Gig Harbor institution. She knows they will close after Halloween until the day after Thanksgiving when they will open with Christmas trees and a Santa waving from the corner on weekends.

Had either Gabriel’s mother or Amy’s mother been the one taking them to get pumpkins there wouldn’t have been the tonnage that GrandDave took away from the stand, but we were grateful that he was off from work and could be in charge. Amy & Gabriel thought that everyone in the family needed their own personal pumpkin and that bigger was better. After they’d picked out huge ones and GrandDave had loaded them into the trunk of the car they celebrated with sandwiches at Subway and movies from Hollywood Video.

The actual pumpkin carving occurred at Josh & Jamie’s house in Tacoma following Gabriel’s and cousin Linda’s gymnastics classes. There plastic garbage bags were cut open and spread and the carving begun. We only got three carved, one for each grandchild, before we sat down to a wonderful supper of curried chicken and rice and salad. GrandDave escaped actual carving that night by keeping baby Lydia out of the pumpkin goo since everything she comes in contact with goes into her mouth, but he’s been working on getting the rest of the gourds carved. The clock says he’d better hurry!

Last night the elementary school near our home did “trunk or treat.” When my youngest was in elementary school they had a Halloween carnival put on by the students and parents. The Born Again Hypocrites have since pressured the school into ending this tradition so since we are a somewhat rural area where trick or treating can be a dark and dicey proposition some of the parents willing to brave the invocation of Satan came up with the “trunk or treat” that just doesn’t do it for us. Parading around a parking lot isn’t the same as going house to house. It may be less mess than the carnival, but isn’t as much fun. We are opting instead to go to Tacoma to the Proctor District where there are neighborhoods with real sidewalks and where they close a business district street just so the little ones can have a safe, yet fun Halloween experience.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Local Women Rally Together to Help Seattle Children’s Hospital Families

Her daughter Clare spent all four days of her life at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Surrounded by tender, loving, and superb care from the staff, who not only gave her baby the best medical care and comfort, but also provided those small moments of help and support beyond the medicine for baby and her family that made all the difference in the world. Her son Beckett came into the world and had a serious medical condition—he is currently and regularly being treated at Seattle Children’s Hospital with the same world class care and love Children’s is known for. Judy Gaffney (Clare’s mom) and Brooke Shumaker (Beckett’s mom), along with Hillary Lambert and Kim Montgomery wanted to give back to this hospital. So here’s the math: put four enthusiastic, high energy, and community loving women together with a plan and you get the Clare Beckett Guild For Children’s Hospital (named for the two precious aforementioned babies). Can it get any better than that?

Actually, yes.

When the Clare Beckett team put the call to action out to friends, family, and other community members, word spread rapidly and the response was phenomenal. Now the team, new to the process of starting up a charitable organization and having lots of eager response, faced the task of getting everything up and running. They are doing a wonderful job and serve to inspire other local women to get involved with their cause or to start groups of their own for their own causes. I had the privilege of chatting with one of the founders, Judy Gaffney, to explore the journey, mission, and vision of the guild.

What are the top goals for the guild's mission and vision?

Our guild supports uncompensated care at Children’s, helping families who either have no insurance coverage, or whose insurance coverage has been exceeded. This year, Children’s will provide over $100M in uncompensated care and giving is down 25%. When I sent out a note to a small circle of friends to ask what they thought about me starting a guild, the response was tremendous. It seemed that everyone else felt the way I did… it was time to give back, but we didn’t know how. Three of these women, Hillary Lambert, Kim Montgomery and Brooke Shumaker (Beckett’s mom), joined me as founding members of the guild, with the idea that we could have a low-stress, flexible commitment model that would allow members to participate as they were able to and as much or as little time as they could, be involved. We really feel that if we each do a little, it makes a big difference.

What is (are) the current project(s) of the guild?

Just getting set up and going is the biggest goal right now. We are hoping that attendees to the November 12th info meeting will help us with our first drive, collecting Crayola brand crayons. We also hope that anyone looking to make a tax deductible charitable donation before the end of the year will do it through the Clare Beckett Guild!

What has the response been for obtaining members/volunteers?

We have been overwhelmed by the response. I thought I’d be lucky if 20 people were interested. We’ve invited 150 people to the information meeting and are getting lots of positive response. I think we’ve hit an untapped demographic in our area. Many of the responders are SAHM or working moms, who don’t have a lot of time, but want to do something. And as I mentioned earlier, we’ve been approached by people in Southwest Washington and in the San Juan Islands, who don’t have a lot of opportunity to attend meetings, but want to feel a part of something bigger. Nearly all of the people who have responded have either had children or know of children who have been treated at Children’s.

How can someone join this guild?

If anyone is interested in joining our guild, please send an email to We are having an informational meeting on November 12th in Issaquah. People from all over Western Washington have requested information… either a guild isn’t available in their area, or they had particular interest in ours because they know one of the founding members. As we get set up, we aren’t anticipating huge fund raisers, but rather, finding small ways in which to contribute.

What advice do you have for other women who would like to set something like this up for their own cause?

Seattle Children’s is making it really easy for us to get this going. The Guild Association at Children’s is the largest in the country. They are giving us a lot of support as we embark on this mission. I think the administrative start up is what prevents most people from getting something like this started. Setting up a charitable organization on your own is tough (I was part of one in response to Hurricane Katrina). I’m not sure I would’ve done this without the incredible support Children’s provides. If someone is interested in supporting a local hospital, they should contact the volunteer or guild office at that hospital.

I’ll keep readers posted on the guild as it progresses and how readers can help. Special thanks to Judy Gaffney for taking time out of her schedule to answer my questions and get us tuned into a wonderful cause.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Homecoming Star---Number 2

Here's another young Bellarmine student who was excited by Homecoming.

Enjoy her creative, joyful spirit.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Homecoming Star--- Number 1

Lots of hustle and bustle around Bellarmine these days. It's Homecoming Week. And I am enjoying seeing students and teachers setting inhibitions aside and letting their creative juices flow. The theme is Candyland.

When I asked this wonderful young lady to tell us what Homecoming means to her,she did not even blink before saying yes.

She is wonderful, isn't she?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Street Corner Poems on East Aloha and 20th on Capitol Hill

I am always excited to share blog spot I’ve “discovered” because I love to write and I love to read so here I am again. I would like to introduce to you a retired officer and gentleman who grew up across the street from my husband and eight blocks from me in Bellevue, WA. This blog spot is Street Corner Poems. I was friends with his older brother, but I’m happy to catch up with little brother Guy at an interesting time of his life.

Guy is a retired captain in the U.S. Navy who lives and writes in Seattle on Capitol Hill. Another brother gave me the heads up on what he’s up to all these years later. I am always in awe of poets because I haven’t the gift. If you’d like to see what a Puget Sound neighbor is writing click here.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Reshaping American History

Sunday, October 18, following the morning Masses at St. Therese in Seattle, members of the parish were offering various tasty tidbits for sale to cover the cost of the church's Christmas Filipino Celebration, Simbang Gabi. Here is a picture of two of the parishoners who were helping with this sale.

My Filipino friends have helped me through many a dark place over the years... work frustrations, career setbacks, deaths of friends and family members... and I have come to appreciate just a little bit some of my friends hopes and hurts.
Like so many other communities, the story of the American Filipino community has not become part of the ongoing education of every American citizen. These stories need to be told honestly and completely and to become part of our ongoing national convesation if we are to be ready to be sincere and creative members of our own country and the world.

So I asked one of the organizers to share her hopes and dreams with us. Here is what she said.

Autumn In Home

There is no prettier place to be than Home in the Autumn for this little shorebird. I leave the ships to their captains, for I am content with the rhythm of the bay's tide. This is time for reflection and the gathering-in beside the hearth fire for the stories. If we walk between the trees in the misty morning, the wind will let them whisper to us what they have seen; open portals and frame our memories, if we greet them bravely.

Contrast, instead of conflict, in the world of Nature. Colours blend...and fall, as comrades in the experience. Wild is the Garden, yes. For something to live, something must die, in eternal cycle. We could learn a lot about grace from the trees as they let go their colours and fly. Oh, for the acceptance of the standing ones!

Rajani, our ebony princess, runs through the leaves and lens. She is pure joy on four legs. It seems like yesterday she was as small as Kim's Kona and now she's fourteen months! Just under ninety pounds of unconditional love and service for Anna, in a red wee grandogger.

Autumn is coloured with the red of fire, spirit, and honour. There are many good people who work hard for a better world every day, just in their being and doing. Often they're not heard, like small leaves that seem to disappear at the feet of trees, into the forest floor. I gather my friends in the Fall and appreciate their stories. Pictures flow in of Autumn around the world...and topsy-turvy Spring down under.

Red is a blaze of glory, an open heart and flame. Red prayer-ties hang with red berries in bushes and all roads are lined with henna rusted from cedars, like Mendhi drawn on a bride. Red on the right for for blood, the sap of you and me.

Red is both grace and sorrow, passion and peace. The Autumn sun back-lights a maple, dressed for the moment, reaching for the wind and their next dance.

Time to light the hearth-fires in Home. Time for last gifts from the gardens of friends. Time to prepare for the gatherings of remembrance and giving of thanks. Time to store the cupboards...and cup the stories, sharing all in our neighbourwoods.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Federal Way Strong Mayor Campaign Is Only One Of A Proliferation Around The Country

Supporters of a campaign to change the form of city governance and install a Strong Mayor in Federal Way, WA are breathing deeply of a whiff of fresh air that appears to be blanketing communities across the United States.

Local voters who heretofore have been under the erroneous impression this election ballot was merely a honest local reaction and frustration to particular set of decisions and policies in our city by current and former sets of elected council representatives may be relieved to know that groups of equal adamant and vocal parties have been popping up in communities around the nation!

During a relatively brief informal search dealing with of the topic on the Internet of either discussing the pros and cons of a strong mayor, establishing a strong mayor form of government, amending a city charter to later allow for a strong mayor or the introduction of strong mayor type legislation such as Federal Way's own ballot initiative or debates over a previous installation or attempts to roll back a strong mayor has yielded a full basket filled with items from Columbia, SC; Sacramento, CA; Spokane, WA; Pueblo, CO; Miami, FL; Sarasota, FL; Seminole County, Fl; Muskogee, WI; Toledo, OH; Vallejo, CA; San Diego, CA and Dallas, TX to name merely a few.

The bursting sentiment is so trendy that I'm extending a personal invitation to anyone who desires to see for themselves to do so. Click up
your favorite Internet search engine and expand from there!

Extra money and sentiments appear to be right there.Even during this anbiguious period of economic restructuring elections are being held almost right and left. Federal Way supporters have placed the issue on the ballot twice in as little a space as one year. Who or whom has so much money to spend?

I'm quite mystified by the apparent willingness of so many cash strapped communities to spend what money and resources need to fund such elections while large cuts are being made to previously existing programs in all over the nation. But it seems reasonable then to conclude that the rewards for letting this change be diverted must certainly be good enough to let this cash go. When extra taxpayers funds are expended to finance these various amendments and elections - what are we the voters buying and whom are we purchasing it for?

No matter how distant the locale from our own Federal Way or how individual the regional issues are at hand supporters somehow manage to pluck the same set of slogans and reasoning to sell their message. There's music in the air. And it's echoed again and again in corners around the country. It plays in my ears as a symphonic exhortation drifting outward from the same tall and frustrating dusty hallway mirror. From state to city to town, the closely resembling list of charges and thinking points is so alike it's hard to say that they sprung from the mind of totally different souls.

After completing my search, I rose from my computer to take a little break from all of it. I felt as if I'd been listening to an orchestra.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Reverie In Grey

It was one of those I do not know how to manage days for me... quiet day at the hospital... most patients just wanted a few moments of time with me for prayer and then they needed to rest.And I was puttering through my brain trying to drain up old memories that would help me to answer questions like; who are you, why do you do what you do; do you know the impact you have on other people. Lots of questions. Answers? Hah!

The workday over, I headed out to my car. Windy, cool, rainy... I just wanted to get to the car, go home, and close my eyes for a while. Before I started across the street I looked down and saw that the shoelaces on my right foot had come undone. I was not about to take the time to stop and tie them right there. I headed down the block and, of course, there was a polite young man standing on the grass next to a car to my right and he just had to say, "Excuse me, your shoe is untied."
"Thank you," I replied, and kept walking, block done, I walked across a fairly quiet Martin King Way street.And all the time I kept saying, "why can't people mind their own business." The good side of me kept reminding me that the young man was trying to be helpful. The other side kept muttering words which definitely do not have to be repeated here.
I got to my car, fumbled around for a few minutes trying to find my carkeys. I really tried to keep my blood from reaching the boiling point. The rain and wet kept me cool on the outside... inside????

When I got home to Bellarmine and got out of my warm, wonderful car, I had enough energy to smile and shake my head. Coaches and the football squad... sunshine, rain, snow... there they were and this old dog had to admit that they brought my whining to a halt... Thanks, guys, ffor helping me to learn a little bit more how to be real...


Part 2: Are Local Strong Mayor-Council Drives Grassroots?

In the instance of Federal Way, a California-based organization by the name of Strong Mayor-Council Institute headed up by its president, Adrian Kwiatkowski, lists the city as one of many of whom they have had experience offering a full bank of services including: government structure research, charter amendment drafting, charter review process support, research and analysis, advocacy and public strategy, community and public relations and campaign consulting.

Kwiatkowski is also currently, director, government and public affairs for The Monger Company of San Diego, CA which boldly touts on its website that it is "a strategic advocacy firm that helps companies, organizations, and individuals win government and public support for their projects."

Monger's site shares with web visitors the firms acknowledged visibility and prominence on the political radar stating they've been "stirring up San Diego politics and businesses" since the mid-nineties. Monger takes credit for work on behalf of advocates for the passage of a Strong Mayor Charter City amendment in San Diego during 2004 - a movement which had been unsuccessfully sought by prior citizens for a quarter of a century. After the company personnel stepped in to educate voters those lists of desired changes could then be set in motion. Other successes the company has enjoyed in San Diego include the passage in March 2002 of the Taxpayer Protection Act (Proposition E) which the website proudly declares was accomplished despite sound opposition by city leaders, community organizers and ordinary citizens.

While enlisting, hiring or receiving advice from professional communication firms such as The Monger Company is day to day ordinary business when utilized and applied by individual citizens, candidates, governments and various business and social interest groups running democratic campaigns - in the interest of transparency alone there ought to be equal insistence the electorate be offered give such information in order to assist them to make a truly informed and educated decision on full merits of local initiatives appearing on the ballot such as the Strong Mayor-Council initiative.

If the definition of politics passed on to me back in seventh grade holds true - that politics can be defined by who gets what, when, where and why. What are the linkages if there are any between individuals holding memberships in local organizations who represent themselves to their fellow voters as purely hometown neighbors of modest means and resources reacting with fiery indignation against improper and unjust local policies wielded by entrenched and ill-defined elites and the agenda of larger less locally connected, regional, state, national and international groups? Exactly who and what are we actually voting for?

Given the swift plunge and decline of national and international financial markets and what were thought to be bedrock institutions only last fall, it's entirely reasonable that we whether in our roles as independent citizens or members of a larger society, whether liberal, middle-of-the-road, conservative, indifferent or abstaining have a greater charge and responsibility to look more keenly beyond the outer packaging of all products and ideas asking for our attention and support

Are Local Strong Mayor-Council Drives Truly Grassroots?

The approximate distance between the City of Federal Way and the City of Sea-Tac, Washington is somewhere in the general neighborhood of fifteen miles. There are times when the two cities feel much closer as during this period before upcoming elections.

In this respect the issues in fall campaigns in Federal Way and Sea-Tac more closely resemble a set of fraternal twins, fully distinct siblings at the surface, but familiar temperaments under all. Both cities call King County home and formally incorporated during the same year (1990). Both began lives with administration designed upon a City Council and City Manager mode of operation. Today, each city finds a group of vocal supporters loudly advocating at their front doors for initiatives which would result in a dramatic change in the style of community governance to one based on a Strong Mayor-Council format.

That both pro-measure websites and correspondence posted by adherents resemble each other in regards to slogans, sentence patterns and exhortations may well be linked to regional concerns or purely coincidental. However, it must be said while the issue appeared previously on the ballot in Federal Way only last year, a quick read of the letters circulated in Sea-Tac reveals such close sentiments that it's quite understandable how statements recorded in one locale might be easily compared or confused with the other.

What if much the same observation could be made for somewhat parallel if not identical like-minded campaigns now playing out in Columbia, SC and Sacramento, CA which came up on a simple Internet search.

(Go to part 2 for the rest of the story.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Turning of Seasons, Elections, Brings Memories of Crisp Days And Thick Blanketing Fog

Above: Local initiative campaign sign. Photo copyright 2009 by Mizu Sugimura.

Like many adults of my generation, I spent far more childhood hours trying to occupy those extended time periods my parents and their contemporaries believed it was necessary for young people to play outside.

While half memories are not as precise as studiously gathered and recorded data, since I was a little girl I've connected the arrival of cooler mornings in fall and winter with a wave of nostalgia for those foggy mornings when swathes of frosty gray and white mist obscured the most familiar landmarks and signpost on the street that led to my elementary school.

Regular exposure to nature and the outdoors serves as an excellent reminder that a good part of our lives unravel daily in unexpected ways whether we are firmly focused upon these changes or not. During the upcoming election voters in the City of Federal Way are being solicited by backers of an initiative to change the format of city government to take back the theft of none less than their Constitutional rights and directly elect a strong mayor.

Do initiatives posing as timely topics purely generated by local citizens take on a different dimension? Would you want to be aware just how and why an organization with few if any personal ties to your community was more than willing to provide time, support and assistance to a vocal few?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Tacoma Rocks Pink Martini

Last night at the Pantages theater in Tacoma, I got to sip (along with a SOLD OUT crowd) Portland's eclectic, modern, jazzy, 50's inspired band, Pink Martini. It was delicious. The vocals and musicians were truly spectacular often translating their toe tappin' music into a world affair. Songs were sung in Italian, Spanish, French, and even Turkish. The joint was jumping and it was exciting to see downtown so alive and moving.

Here are a couple of samples of their music. I dare you NOT to move to the beat. And to think, this band is from these parts, the Great Northwest! So cool. Way to kick off the 2009-2010 theater season, Broadway Center of the Performing Arts!

What Were They Thinking?

I cannot believe that the Nobel Prize committee chose Barak Obama to receive this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. I thought you actually had to do something to get the prize. What are they thinking? They think he’s changed the tone of foreign relations?? They should have given the prize to the American people for electing someone who professes an interest in creating peace in the world, not to him for what he might do. Lord knows we could use the money.

It could be that in the future President Obama will achieve great things. He’s off to s slow start, but we can hope, but right now he does not deserve to be in the company of previous winners such as the Dahlia Lama, Martin Luther King, Jimmy Carter, and Al Gore. The Nobel Committee has cheapened their prize in my opinion. I don’t think Obama deserves the prize just for not being George Bush as laudable as that accomplishment is.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Local Dogs Get Ready to Howl

On another recent visit to Positive Approach Dog Training and Daycare in Tacoma for a workshop with my four month old Border Collie, Kona, I discovered something that's way too cool and way too fun for South Sound canines. Positive Approach is hosting their 5th Annual Howl-O'ween Hop just for pups. Doggies come to the center from 9 AM to 5 PM (in costume if you'd prefer!) for a day of howling fun. Owners drop off their pups to romp and do the following activities:

1. Ghost Tennis Balls
2. Graveyard Stomp
3. Bobbing for Fingers
4. Candy Corn
5. Fried Worms
6. Ghost Hunting
7. Smashing Pumpkins

I am serious.

And they get a cool photo taken and do paw paintings! And while doggie's family takes a little break from pup, if they REALLY want to see the all the hijinks, they can watch via Positive Approach's doggie webcam.

Yes, again, I am serious.

Too darn cute! And these folks LOVE dogs. Really, really love them. These are a wonderful group of people (we loved our trainer for the "Leave It" workshop, which by the way, Kona totally rocked in!).

I was guaranteed that this will tire a dog out from all the fun for DAYS.

So, I signed up Kona immediately. Her costume? Why she'll be dressing as a convict of course in the obligatory jailbird stripes.

Cost is $35.00. Because space is limited, please contact Positive Approach at 627-4275 or visit their website highlighted on their name above.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Calling the Sammamish High School Class of '69

This is a shout out to any Pierce County residents of Bellevue’s Sammamish High School, class of 1969. We didn’t find everyone for the summer reunion, but we’re not giving up and we’re still looking for the lost class members. If you attended Sammamish High School with the class of ’69 please contact me.

There is a class of 1970 & 1969 pizza party scheduled for Saturday, November 14th at California Pizza in Bellevue at 3:30.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Right On Jaynie

Ten minutes after I read your blog, Jaynie, I headed out on this bright, warm Monday afternoone for the Happy Bean. I absolutely love it. Bernie is a warm, positive person. And here is the motto she and her two friends have chosen for the shop...

Definitely I felt warm and welcome there. I enjoyed watching the smiles and conversation that went on as Cedar Medical Center nurses came in.
Bernie said she wanted to create a warm, safe place where nurses and folks who had come in for checkups could sit and relax. And folks like me could stop by and chat, enjoy the view, and the wonderful food and drinks. I enjoyed being there.

Readers, meet Bernie:

Uwajimaya to The Happy Bean Deli and Coffee Shop

The Happy Bean Deli and Coffee Shop has recently opened at South 19th & Cedar Street, in Tacoma. It's located inside the lobby of the Cedar Medical Center in the space formerly occupied by the pharmacy.

The new owners, James and Bernie Capell, came to Tacoma from Oregon stepping out on their very own business venture in an area brand new to them. Their lovely daughter is also working with them in the deli. It is an all-around family effort in pursuit of a dream.

Bernie comes to Tacoma from more than ten years as the Special Events Coordinator for Uwajimaya, in Beaverton, Oregon. Her background in marketing gives her an edge in launching a startup business that will be successful.

As new residents of Tacoma, the Capell's look forward to becoming involved in community events such as health fairs and ethnic music festivals to bring people of all cultures closer together.

The Happy Bean Deli and Coffee Shop has been remodeled into a bright, cheerful, attractive place to stop and chat, grab a bite to eat, or just a cup of coffee on the go. Fresh baked goods are available daily, plus deli sandwiches, veggie burgers, nutritious, colorful salads, and espresso drinks. Free samples of the coffees are available to enjoy and 'try before you buy.' The coffee is outstanding. It's so good it would be worth a drive across town to have a cup; so are the sandwiches, banana bread, muffins, and bagels.

Stop by and introduce yourself, and you'll immediately be made to feel like you're old friends. If you have any questions, call The Happy Bean Deli at 253.627.4515.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Blog Writing Contest

Blogonias, listen up, Michelle Mitchell of the blog Scribbit has organized a writing contest around the seasonal theme of fear. Check it out here.