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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Two Waters Arts Alliance "Members Art Show"

Just a quick note to let you know about a juried exhibition of some Two Waters Arts Alliance members' works at the Key Peninsula Branch Library, Key Center, April 1st through May 27th. Those of you familiar with this blog will know how all of us feel about supporting the Arts, in each of our neighbourhoods, and sharing the good news here in the Trib. 'hood.

A reception will be held for the show's opening at the library, April 1st, from 4-6pm, where you will have chance to meet artists and peruse their work, available for purchase. Well-known Tacoma Artist Lynn Di Nino will be present at the reception, and served as juror for this exhibition. Award-winners will be honoured and all visitors are welcome to cast their votes for "People's Choice Award," to be presented at exhibit's end.

"Two Waters Arts Alliance brings arts events, and arts education programs to the Key Peninsula community. We hope that visitors will enjoy the exhibit and support our local artists, whose unique visions encourage us to see in new ways and explore our own creativity," says TWAA President, Laurie Austin.

I look forward to going and supporting my friends:

Each one of these talented artists is a part of the heart on our Key between two waters. Each one a gift to the world. I thank them, Two Waters Arts Alliance, and our Key Center Library. See you folks there!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Human Beings Are Absolutely Wonderful

Went to a funeral in Longview, Washington Saturday. A friend's stepfather had died and I wanted to be there to support her. She did the supporting... from the moment I came in the church she was introducing me to members of her family. Her mother came up to me... I wanted to shake her hand... she gave me a very warm hug and thanked me for coming.

Usually I am up front by the altar at weddings and funerals and other worship services. I was glad I was out in the pew with the congregation.
... love, love... love... an older man kept quietly checking in with his wife to make sure she was ok; a woman in her forties kept wiping away her tears.. a man and two women were sitting three pews in front of me and the woman in the middle was crying, her female friend frequently gently rubbed her back; often she leaned her head on the man's shoulder... lots of tears and lots of support...

I had come with three friends and so I tried to stay close to them, not wanting to do anything but be there in a supportive role... but once again I was being introduced to various members of the deceased's family... I found them so warm and welcoming. I was amazed that they took the time to talk to me.

The eulogies by four members of the family, one brother, two sisters, one teenage granddaughter re-enforced what I was coming to recognize. The family members said they were very lucky to have had their step father come into their lives... he spent time with them; he was always there for the big moments in their lives.

One thing I have learned in my work at the hospital... patients who have had the strength and desire to love their families and friends have made a great different in their beloveds' lives.

Here is the poem that appeared on the deceased's memorial card:

I'd like the memory of me
to be a happy one.
I'd like to leave an after glow
of smiles when life is done.
I'd like to leave an echo
whispering softly down the ways,
Of happy times and laughing
times and bright and sunny days.
I'd like the tears of those who
grieve, to dry before the sun
of happy memories that I leave
when life is done.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

How Am I Going Pay For Parking In Downtown Tacoma?

I met up with family in downtown Tacoma on Pacific Avenue on Saturday. I parked my car in one of the angled parking spaces right on Pacific near the Harmon Brewery and did some shopping for a good 45 minutes. When I returned to my car, my sister-in-law pointed out, "Hey, did you remember to pay for parking?"


Parking? Pay? Here?

Oh, yeah that's right.

And sadly, the parking pay station was right in front of my car and I was completely oblivious. Walked right past it.

I've was born and raised here and have lived here many years as an adult. Paying for parking downtown is a foreign concept to me. I am not used to this. And when the news reported the change, I didn't honestly pay attention much. I just sort of ignored it. I assumed it would go away. Wrong.

So back to Saturday. We decided to stay a little longer on Pacific before heading to dinner.

I didn't put any money in the meter. I stared at the pay station and just didn't do it.

I was lucky. No ticket, no towing.

Am I the only one that is spacing out about this (and being mildly defiant) or have I completely lost my mind?

4th. Annual "Feast or Famine" Hunger Banquet

On Fat Tuesday this year (March 8th.) my husband and I were fortunate enough to attend the Longbranch Improvement Club's 4th. annual "Feast or Famine" Hunger Banquet, benefiting Key Peninsula Community Services Food Bank. Of course the theme was Mardi Gras, with purple, gold and green colour scheme throughout the Hall, styled by my dear friend, Trish Goodvin. As we entered we were each given an envelope, with instructions not to open them until given a signal at the appropriate time. There was a long head table in front of the stage, with lovely decorations and real tableware, real tablecloths. Smaller round tables filled the rest of the room, with pieces of newspaper as place mats, paper plates and plastic forks. This reflects the picture of global hunger, twenty percent with more than they need, eighty percent left wanting.

To understand roots of the event, I spoke to Carolyn Wiley, finding out it was she who first brought this idea to the Club. Didn't surprise me in the least. Carolyn is a properly transplanted Texan twister of energy and good works, who always leaves us younger yahoos gasping for breath in her dust. This, of course, means...she was a teacher before retirement! Back in the '70's, Carolyn took one of her classes to an Oxfam Hunger Banquet at the University of Washington. She was really impressed with a fundraiser that could educate people about world hunger and food distribution. Four years ago she brought the idea to Vicki Husted Biggs (another tireless advocate and powerhouse of organization, dedicated to our community) and "Feast or Famine" Longbranch-style was born. 2011's committee was made up of Carolyn Wiley, Arlyce Kretschman, and Penny Gazabat.

When all were assembled, Carolyn rang a bell and we opened our envelopes. Ooh-la...I won a seat at the head table! Oh, the bling of beaded necklaces and service waiting at our elbows, our every need seen to! The menu for us was to be salad, then a thick Flinstones-size slab of prime rib with baked potato and asparagus. Eighty percent of guests who didn't find their invitation so fortuitous were given a plate of rice and beans. Truthfully, this sized plate would be for a whole family in many countries. They let their resentment be known, which sparked both thought and discussion. By the time a protester brought his sign in front of us, and my hunka-hunka bleeding meat arrived, I gladly traded my plate with someone for rice and beans. Yes, a bleeding heart Liberal, I felt happy and humble, knowing I'd received so much love and soul-nourishment around my Amah's shared bowl of rice, growing up.

Keynote Speaker of the night was Stan Flemming, District 7, Pierce County Council member. Carolyn was impressed that this resident of University Place makes a concerted effort to come to the Key Peninsula, and surprised at his knowledge of the outer reaches of his district. Stan Flemming has been involved with many global humanitarian relief operations including Haiti, after the January 12th., 2010 7.0 earthquake, and was very qualified to speak to us about Haiti, Washington, and our own Key Pen.

There were simple stats like population, eighteen-thousand on this peninsula, six million in Washington State, and 9.9 million in Haiti. There were stats that stunned about Haiti's crisis...230,000 killed, and 1.3 million left homeless. Then there were some sobering, so-close-they're-home truths. He had our attention. There are 21,826 homeless students in Washington. Here in Pierce County 13.5 percent of residents have a median annual income of $25,000. On Key Peninsula, 13.5 percent receive community support. It was chilling to hear that our neighbourhood has a 5.3 percent infant-mortality rate...higher than the entire country of Vietnam. Seventy-four percent of our students receive free or reduced-fare lunches. We have many homeless and needy families that Key Peninsula Community Services help.

There was a full table of desserts to bid on, thanks to Oliver Coldeen and the Inn at Gig Harbor, wines from Bird Dog Wines, Stephanie Mann, muffin mixes from Longbranch Churches' "Ruth Circle." Gary Anderson of Lakebay Pottery and Matthew Hulse of Mountain thrown Pottery donated gorgeous pieces for silent auction. Elaine Quigley recruited Gail Kelly, from "Empty Bowls" and there were pottery bowls, plates and cups donated for sale. Dale and Claudia Loy of Sunnycrest Nursery in Key Center gave seed packets out to all, encouraging people to think of growing just a wee bit more veggies to donate to food banks this summer. I was so happy to buy a cup and bowl made by Elaine, another wonderful neighbour and fellow mermaid in our water aerobics class at Camp Easter Seals in Vaughn. Every time I use them, I'm reminded of Stan Flemming's talk and a night when members of my community came together to work the corner of our world that touches us, and learn more about the rest. The great news is that well over $2,000 was raised for our food bank!

Now, my Grandfather Grey Wolf would always thank the food he was about to eat, knowing it would nourish him. He also taught that it was very important to thank the cook, so we thank the cooks who made the evening possible: Norma Iverson, Peg Bingham, Wally Johnson, and Sharon Gearhart. To all, thank you.


Update: Sorry to end on a bit of a down note...but...on the Monday following our Mardi Gras "Feast or Famine" fundraiser...the food bank's van was stolen. If anyone happens to have an old van to donate, please get in touch with me and I thank you for your consideration.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday... A Day Of Gifts

Sunday morning, forty five minutes before I headed for St. Joseph's Hospital. I expected to have some wonderful moments with patients. I expected to see some patients'rooms decorated with all kind of get well quick love... balloons, pictures, loved ones watching, talking with the patients, holding patients' hands...some teary eyed, others listening, perhaps smiling, or just sitting with their loved ones watching March madness.

I had a good seven hours of sleep. I was alert, attentive to detail, and, before I went up to see patients, putting together a plan where I would see the folks who first needed to be visited by a priest. I would be presiding at Mass at 11:30am and I hoped to be headed home by 12:15pm. So I needed to focus on who needed to see me.

Glasses off, list of people to be seen in front of me, music to help me focus and, relaxing, enjoy letting go of the energy needed to put togeter a way of getting around the hospital which would work for me.

I laughed and cried and teased and listened to patients, staff, and family members and, at 1:30 pm, put my jacket on and headed for my car. I had help listening to Dr. Jeffrey's brain wave music that helped me to sleep long and deeply.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A New Word for my Prayers

My friend and good neighbour, Jan, taught me a new word yesterday...Gaman. In Japanese, she told me, it means fortitude, perseverance...and something deeper, something deeper indeed. Generations still live who lost all as they knew life to be, blown away from underneath them, in funneling valleys from the blasts. They have seen sorrow irradiated, in what must have seemed like the near end of days. Gaman.

Those of us living around the Pacific Ocean's "Ring of Fire" know something about a heaving, living earth. But at this magnitude of devastation (more becoming apparent every day) madness would ensue in so many other countries, our own included; looting and lawlessness would be our shifting lay of the land, anger a mere scratch under the surface. In Japan they have Gaman, and a people persevere together.

I remember a story in the Tribune, after the Kyoto earthquake, in which a young woman was buried under rubble for eight days. When they found her she was in amazing shape, barely dehydrated. She spoke of a vision she had daily, in which a monk came to her and offered a bright green apple. Outside, rescuers kept digging stoically. Gaman.

Yesterday, in our water exercise class, we dedicated each movement in the water as a prayer for Japan. Water was a major part of this earthquake's destruction and is the slim hope against nuclear meltdown. Water is all over the world, a conductor even under the earth in all its channels. Each in our own way, we gave prayers, comfort, tears, and our love; feeling the water move in waves from our intent, through pool, Sound, and Ocean, to Japan. I hold the Darumas today, made by my friend and colleague Mizu. She taught me that a Daruma symbolizes perseverance; with rounded bottom, they can be pushed down seven times, to rise eight. Tomorrow we will swim our meditation again, while we search for other tangible ways to help. Tomorrow we will send our prayers and comfort through the water once more. But this time we can use just one word as our mantra.


Monday, March 14, 2011

What Drives Me Nuts About Seattle....

On early Sunday morning, I participated in a fun run in Seattle. I knew the race was going to have a large number of participants, so I left a little extra early to navigate traffic, find parking, and meet my friend.


The minute I exited that freeway, it was traffic and parking chaos.  So bad, that I literally got to the starting line minutes before my race (and I was exhausted and stressed out before I even ran). Could I have planned better and left earlier? Of course.

I don't want to though! (Insert whiny voice).

Here in Tacoma, while we have big events too, I CAN park and I don't have to drive like I'm in a war zone. We don't get the seas of people (okay, a concert at the Tacoma Dome would be a big exception).

Don't get me wrong! I LOVE Seattle. I spent many years living there. I love the people, the vibe, the sights, the sounds, and all the stuff there is to do there.

But I DON'T miss the battle of getting around. Sure I can take public transportation (which I did and biked when I lived there), but sometimes, it's just not possible from here. And in order for me to get there,  it's plotting and planning and just plain work to get around.

Am I being a grump about this? Unfair? Unrealistic? A big old stick in the mud? Readers, what say you?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sittin' On the Dock of the Bay....

Where have I been, dear neighbours? Sittin' here restin' my bones, here in the Aerie above Joe's Bay...watchin' the tide roll away, as that sweet song goes. Tide and sky slide in and out of my view with oh, such constant soothing movement; medicine to balance eyes, mind and heart. Storms have challenged us, screaming winds playing pick-up sticks with trees across roads and power lines. Auntie Moon came so very close, bringing icy tide heaving into Home's cove as if giant beasts undulated, just below surface of the water. It has been a time of retreat, of spiraling memories as my mother slips into dementia, three-thousand miles (not to mention a whole passport) away...and this loneliness won't leave me alone, sings Otis.

We are now in the thirteenth year of my daughter's fight with Lyme disease and co-infections. She has suffered as patient, but still tries to gather information and advocate for others, when she is able. It took eight years of searching and struggle before Anna could get on a proper treatment protocol and here, in the thirteenth Fall and Winter, had to come understanding and acceptance that she is in the fifteen percentile who will not get better, without major medical breakthroughs, because it took so long to be properly diagnosed in yet another state that ignores tick-borne infections. Our tears mixed with stormy weather in December, as she turned thirty and let go her dream of bringing children into the world, though she still reaches for the future with Hena, her sponsored child in Calcutta, India. Hena's letters pour like sunshine through thick grey days.

Despite sputters from old Winter Woman, our garden sprouts daffies, snowdrops, crocus and lilies, while trees gently blush their hope. Spring may seem far away, but I have watched eagles and red tail hawks circle right above me, singing to one another and touching talons in tentative new hope. Rainbows and Sundogs abound between clouds, Equinox just ten days away now. Salish Sea and silver skies seem more real and reliable in their help than endless officials on phones, who could care less that tick-borne infections are now estimated at FOUR TIMES the numbers of HIV/AIDS cases in North America.

It's impossible not to feel the heaviness of this year, ten years since 2001...ten years since we lost the heart of Gotham, our old and beloved home, due to terrorism...ten years since we lost our life-savings and our home on Crescent Lake in Gig Harbor, due to our naivete about septic systems and crooks who would kill a lake for profit...and ten years since I drove Anna to British Columbia, to Dr. Ernie Murakami, now Canada's leading Lyme specialist, who clinically diagnosed her with Lyme disease and co-infections, though it would be two more years before inadequate testing would finally show positive and Anna would be officially counted as a Lyme disease case in Washington, number three.

Spring is coming, dear neighbours. I know we're not done with storms, hold onto your hats, hold onto your truth, and hold onto friends strong enough to face it all with you...sittin' on the dock of the bay...watchin' the tide roll away....

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

South Sound Wine Lovers Rejoice: Wine Shop at Home With Jackie

I just discovered a local new business that wine lovers will just rejoice about. A couple of words: fun and easy. Yep.

If you like A. wine   B. ease  C. fun you must come and meet Jackie. Then,  you must read about Wine Shop at Home. Then, well, I suspect you are going to do something about it.

Gritty City Woman has the inside scoop on this. Visit the site right HERE. I'll leave you with a neat-o picture to inspire y'all.