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Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Light Bearer--- Teacher and Writer Phil Verhalen

One of the greatest gifts I have been given are opportunities to share time with and learn from men and women who have worked long and hard to fine tune their physical, emotional, spiritual, and creative gifts. This wonderful icon, which appears among so many beautiful images on the Trinity Stores website, suggests to me that the deeper we go into understanding our feelings, our confusions, our failures, our sorrows, and our joys, the more we shall have to engage others in conversations that are satisfying.

Thank you Phil for sharing these few minutes from your soon to be published book on living and loving with me and all who enjoy this post.

Sending Love To The Rainbow Planet

This album cover was lovingly painted by Jim's wonderful partner, Janice Wagner.

Chances are, if you grew up around the South Sound and have had kids go through our local schools, you know a wonderful man from the Rainbow Planet named Jim Valley. He has spent years delighting and encouraging kids with music, not only here but throughout the world. In his song-writing workshops kids learn about their planet and each other with music and laughter and deep connections are made in growing minds.

Well, our friend and neighbour Jim has just had some surgery (which went very well, he assures me) on his throat and has to rest his lovely voice for a while to get strong again. I send him lots of love and good healing vibes...and thought perhaps folks in the neighbourhood would like to leave their good wishes for him here, where he can check-in for good cheer. Jim Valley has dealt-out so many smiles; let's give him some back for good medicine!

You rest easy at the Rainbow Planet Jim and get better fast. The kids are waiting!

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Not to ruin Thanksgiving or anything and I know the advertisements help defray the costs for the TNT, but does this one just kind of grind at you like it does me? Ugh!!!!!


Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving Tacoma!

We have much to be thankful for. I know, times are hard for a lot of folks, but this is America and we are resilient. We will bounce back.

I'm especially thankful for those who must work this day to protect us from harm. From our military to law enforcement, our fire fighters, ER staffs and ambulance crews, I am grateful to you all.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Laid off - AGAIN

Yes, I am just devastated. I just can’t take all this pain and suffering. I have been waiting for 13 months (since I was laid off the first time) to see what unfolds. All that unfolded is pain and suffering. I have applied for over 100 jobs and have gone on 27 interviews only to be rejected 27 times. There are companies I will not do business with because they were so rude to me. I used the help of friends and relatives to get me into the door of businesses to get a job. All I had were doors slammed in my face.

After being home recovering from surgery during the last two weeks I returned to my part, part-time job on November 24th. At 4:30pm I was told I was being laid off because of budget cuts. Oh yes - and I am not supported to take anything personally or be upset. Are you kidding?????? This is MY person who you are laying off!!! I already was laid off another job 13 months ago - so now this has happened to me twice in 13 months.

I know this sounds very bleak – but it is how I feel.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pierce County, Get Included!

Think of this scenario: you are traveling trying to find the right place, the place you are supposed to be, and the place you want to be. But you don’t have a map, there’s no one to ask for directions, and you end up on this twisty, dark, unfamiliar dirt road. But you keep going anyway and still feel hopeful in the face of fear and uncertainty that you’ll find the place anyway. This scenario faces many Pierce County families and persons with disabilities; however, there’s great relief and lovely fellow travelers found in a terrific, long standing program offered right here in our county.

The Community Inclusion Program has been in existence for nearly two decades serving the community. With three geographic chapters (Westside Pierce County, Eastside Pierce County, and Peninsula) and monthly gatherings in convenient locations, the program is available for “self-advocates,” families, friends, neighbors, and community members to share support, resources, and fellowship. Different topics that are dedicated to fostering better understanding, support, leadership, and activism serve as the meeting themes. Activities for children and youth, childcare, and food are provided. Click HERE, check out, or call 1-800-572-7368 for more information on the Community Inclusion Program. After my first experience with CIP, I am eager for the next gathering.

My son and I attended our first meeting on November 20th at the Clover Park Student Center. We were not sure what to expect; however, we were warmly welcomed and felt comfortable. My son joined the other kids for play, discussion, activities, and snacks. This normally shy child had a blast and was delighted to meet two other boys “just like him.” The adults introduced ourselves and listened to fascinating discussion on “people first” language (“people first, disability second”). The discussion was lead by three community activists, one being a “self advocate.” What impressed me was the number of teachers who attended the meeting on their own time and the siblings there supporting their family member. I was also impressed with the older kids and teens and the friendships and bonds that they have created with each other over the years, just from these meetings.

Check out this fine organization—it’s worth it. And as an added bonus, I’ll leave you with two things. First, a website and writings created by writer and activist Kathie Snow(I learned about her and the website at CIP). Disability is Natural ( will blow your mind with inspiration and understanding. It’s a MUST see for anyone. Second, check out President-elect Obama’s Disability Fact Sheet, written in people first language (

Peace and Happy Thanksgiving, South Sound!

Monday, November 24, 2008

How Do We Help Part III: Sharing Stories

What if we looked at every other human being and saw there, ourselves? I have known privilege and I have known need. Everyone has stories

I cannot pass a red kettle and bell; warm memories wash me with such gratitude. In my transient, troubled youth I was fed, counseled and comforted by stalwart members of that army. When I was twenty and just weeks away from the birth of my son, I remember looking out the window to see a Salvation Army worker, who had become a good friend, walking up the block with a beautiful basket that was to be my baby’s first bed.

When I had two children, my (now ex) husband drank away our house before admitting to his alcoholism and signing himself into a detox center for the first time. A dear friend moved out of his home that Thanksgiving, staying with his grandmother, so the kids and I had a place to stay…and that same beautiful S.A. worker made sure my son and daughter had a Christmas.

My children are grown now and know the stories. They don’t walk past the kettles without stopping either. My daughter and I have a yearly tradition of carefully folding some money, exchanging our bills as a symbolic gift for one another with shining eyes, and then each slipping our cash into that red kettle.

For those who worry about giving spare change to panhandlers, allow me to share a suggestion given by a homeless man who told me his story. Make a peanut butter and jam (on whole wheat) sandwich to carry with you. A hungry person will be grateful and you won’t fear possibly contributing to an addiction.

What a fitting week to share some of our personal stories. I think Stephanie, VW and I hope that by sharing ours with you, there will be a little less judgment, a little more compassion. Everyone has a story. If we are fortunate enough to have our needs of food, clothing and shelter met, let us give thanks…give thanks for our physical and mental health, give thanks for our ability to work and job opportunity, give thanks for the kindness of others and for our change of fortune.

Sing us out Joan….

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Gifts Of The WorldWide Marriage Encounter Community

The leaders of WorldWide Marriage Encounter for Oregon, Washington, Montana, Alaska, and Idaho met at Bellarmine High School this weekend. And here are some of the ways
the Encounter Leaders are helping me to become a healthy, happy human being. First, the couples share many loving hours working to help family members, couples, and their local parishes become welcoming and loving communities. Here is one of those couples.

Couples who have worked for many tough, happy years in Marriage Encounter generously shared their experiences with the rest of us. This couple helped us work through our financial issues and our budget planning. God bless them!!!

The hours we spent working and sharing our sorrows and joys honestly and openly moved me to feel accepted, valued, and a contributing member of a community whose ideals I share. Aren't these folks precious?!

With hope and joy we joined in prayer frequently during the weekend. The prayer frequently focused on thanking God for calling us to work with other individuals and groups in renewing the church and changing the world.

Remember Skate King in Tacoma?

What’s shaky, slow, tentative, and ridiculously fun?

Me, on roller skates!

Yes, I laced up some awful beat up brown roller skates with orange wheels yesterday at a skating rink in Everett to celebrate my niece’s fifth birthday. I figured that skating would be like riding a bike after not riding for a long time—a little shaky, but quick to remember what to do. And yeah, it’s only been 30 YEARS since I last skated; but I was confident. How hard could it be?

Oh. My. God. It was hard. I was pretty awful but I stayed upright. No falls! I went really slowly near the wall (just in case). The scary part wasn’t about toppling over, but getting smacked down by these little daredevil kids that could out skate me ten times over. At least I made it around the rink without any collisions.

And that rink! Disco ball glittering from the ceiling in the center of the rink, strobe lights, loud music, carpeted benches, and the stench of cheap pizza, stale popcorn, spilled pop, and sweat. It brought me back to my old skating days at Tacoma’s Skate King in James Center back.

I brought my own bright white, orange wheeled skates to Skate King, THE coveted childhood gift from Santa. I remember skating backwards, doing the speed skate, and the infamous slow skate with the lights dimmed, a cheesy love song (think Journey) and skating hand and hand with a boy. We did the “duck” move (inspired by the song “Disco Duck”) and the Hokey Pokey on skates. I remember my wheels getting tangled up in my overly long wide legged jeans. Ah, the memories.

Anyone else wanna share?

Kim, The Skate Queen

Saturday, November 22, 2008

How Do You Help II: Do What You Can

(Note: I was going to leave this as a comment to Stephanie's piece on How Do You Help, but decided to post it as a "part II" in the series.)

I've been poor. There was a time in my life that I couldn't afford a turkey sandwich, let alone a turkey dinner. During that time, a man I know offered to let me sell Christmas trees for him at a lot he set up. I was to manage the lot, sell the trees and my cut was half of the gross.

I kept scrupulous records. At the end of the run, I gave him the money less my cut. I figured he only broke even on that lot. He had several others in the Parkland-Spanaway area that had better traffic and consequently made better money. He also had one at his house on South 96th that he ran himself.

He would also take his troop of Boy Scouts and he would use those boys to help distribute free trees to people he knew in the community that were poor and couldn't afford a one.

We closed the lot on Dec 23. He took the few remaining trees to one of his other locations. The money I earned wasn't much, but it helped get me through that month. The next day, he showed up at my door on Christmas Eve and said I'd made a mistake in my figures. I was shocked, because I knew I kept really good records and accounted for every tree. I thought he meant that I shorted him or something. He then handed me a 50 dollar bill and told me I miscounted. He said "Merry Christmas" and left.

I learned a lesson from him that I'll never forget. He wasn't a rich man. He earned a living making dentures for dentists and had a small tree farm out in Tenino. That lesson was simply this: Do what you can.

Since then, my circumstances have improved considerably. Every year, we try and find some family to help anonymously. We give to organizations that we know make a difference - usually the Salvation Army during the holidays. We also give and work through our own church and their resources. This year, my wife organized a coat drive in our church for Associated Ministries. In essence we give to our church and to organizations set up to help people in need such as the SA and Lutheran World Relief. We can't possibly give to everyone, but we try to help others though a few organizations we know that are trying to make a difference.

In today's world, I think giving through religious organizations gives a better bang for your buck. They have the established resources to reach more people than one person could just on their own.

Happy Thanksgiving all and remember to give thanks in all of your giving that you have the means to help - even if it's just a little.


How Do You Help?

Donna has raised a very timely question. As we enter both a recession and the holidays, how do we make decisions as to whom to help and in what form should that help come? The red kettles are out and the bells are ringing and that is certainly one way of giving and receiving a blessing.

Several years ago, as my husband and I walked to “First Night” in downtown Tacoma, a fellow approached us with a map in hand, asking if we knew where he might find an agency to help him get his family home to Portland. He said that they’d come to celebrate Christmas with relatives and now their car had broken down. I gave him a little money and my husband chuckled as we walked on. “You don’t really believe the thing about the car and the family, do you?” A few years later I was approached by the same man with the same map, although it was dirty and worn, with the same story except it was not Christmas and I was in the parkinglot of Safeway on 6th Ave. I did not give him money that time.

I am admittedly a soft touch. Perhaps it is because when I was little I loved reading the Old Testament stories and the one in Hebrews, about entertaining angels unawares, has always stuck with me. And maybe it has something to do with the fact that I’ve been on the receiving end of charity when my children and I were homeless.

There are brethren who fall through the cracks of our society and organized social care. How do we help them survive? There are people who cannot and ought not to work largely due to mental illness of one variety or another. Sadly, I do not stop and give change to every homeless person I come across, but I do sometimes. We will be coming across more and more of them and as we do, we have less and less to give. It is hard to know how and whom to help.

In high school my son volunteered at the Tacoma Rescue Mission. With permission he took a black and white picture of a resident looking out of a window as an assignment for his photography class. I framed that picture and hung it where it can remind me to do unto others as has been done unto me. I do not reproach myself for giving that man money that New Year’s Eve. I like myself better for looking for the good in people than if I were to become frightened and cynical. Having received help, I do not mind giving a bit back whether it is through an organized charity like the Salvation Army or a bit of change on a street corner. Besides, I don’t know when I may be entertaining angels unwares.

Happy Thanksgiving, Neighborhood!

Friday, November 21, 2008

A time for crime.

In our neighborhood we are surrounded by the big, the bad, and the ugly. Recently the gang violence, the break ins, and the door to door panhandling have increased. What can we do about it? Well, as of now we keep our eyes open, our phones close, and a safety precautions on high alert. Also, you can join your neighborhood crime watch meetings.

I live on a fairly busy street. It is a main road for most emergency vehicles, so the traffic is rather heavy. I ignore the traffic and take precaution exiting my driveway. I have had an accident within a block of my house due to a local bad driver. I have seen my fair share of accidents on this street due to congestion.

Our street leads to a local grocery store. The carts are frequently abandoned in our yards, the beer cans dropped on our lawns, and the intoxicated pedestrians wake us up at night. We clean our yards, call in the carts, and use our pillow to block out the drunken dumb-dumbs.

Now I am starting to draw the line at the soliciting. How many times can a person tell you 'no' before you get a clue? I am not looking for a new religion, I can not afford to trust a check with a stranger, and I do not want to give you my spare change. I have a yearly panhandler that comes to my door like a stray dog. My husband gave into him once and now he feels he can keep coming back. My husband is too nice. I am not. I regularly turn him down. It is one thing to be asked in a parking lot. It is a whole new thing when they come to your door step.

Ten days ago I had a transient come to my door with a ladder. He wanted to sell me this old ladder. Normally, I would decline nicely, but not that day. On that day the guy showed up at my doorstep at 11:55 pm. I informed him of the time, I closed the door in his face, and I reported him to the police. I am assuming they never found him or they never looked because he was back today. Today he was wearing the same clothes when I first saw him and he wasn’t carrying anything. When he came back a second time today he was in a different coat and he was trying to sell hand tools. Drills to be exact. So naturally I reported him to the police again, because today I recognized him as a transient that was living in the alley behind my house. I got a bit of grief from the lady who answered the call, but who is to say this guy isn’t breaking into our homes. Recently the break-ins have been frequent in our neighborhood.

My sister-in-law regularly asks me, “Why don’t you sell your house and move near me?”. I always answer the same, “There is crime everywhere. Why move when I know what is going on here and I know what to expect.” besides who really wants to live near their in-laws?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sharing Family Stories

My family has a blog. It's a private blog and you need to know the user name and password in order to view it. The purpose of our family blog is to share stories of our family.

It's been up now for a couple of years and every so often, someone submits a story to be posted. My oldest younger sister and I are the ones who run it. The picture banner is taken from a wedding photo of my Mom and Dad. The blog is not on a Blogger platform, we pay for it, but Blogger has an option to create a private blog.

Our family is diverse and spread from Okinawa, Japan to Michigan. My children never really got a chance to interact with my parents. They were out here in WA and my parents lived in Michigan.

Mom passed away in 1989 and Dad passed just this last August. We got our Dad to write about some of his life and we posted it here. I still have a some things of his to post. Me and my three siblings have all shared stories as well. We do it for our children and grandchildren so that they might get a better sense of who they are and where they came from. It's away my part of the family can know my parents and my siblings' families and vice versa. All the family has access to it.

If I had thought about it, I would have recorded my dad's voice telling a story or two, but alas, I didn't think about it until after he was gone.

With the Holidays coming up and with many families spread out across the country and the world, this might be a way for you to share generational stories.


We Are Not Alone

The tea that I purchase has little sayings and nuggets of wisdom on the little piece of paper that attaches to the string that holds the tea bag. After a recent and brutally stressful day, as I was attempting to relax with my cup of tea, I noticed the paper tag and it said this: “Recognize that you are the truth.” It was in that split second, in my solitude, that I said the words out loud to myself for the first time ever.

“I am the parent of a learning disabled child.”

The words aren’t easy to say because this truth can hurt. My son has been subjected to human cruelty and misunderstanding. As his parent, I’ve endured stares, pity, been the subject of gossip, and criticized. And the amount of personal and familial stress can be extreme. Yet this truth also brings out the best of humanity with kindness, caring, patience, and acceptance; and this is where the organization Pierce County Parent to Parent has given me more truth to my parental and personal life.

Pierce County Parent to Parent is a non-profit organization and is a program of Washington PAVE (Parents Are Vital in Education). The organization provides emotional support and information for parents who have a child with disabilities or a chronic health need. Personal support from another organization trained volunteer parent who has a child with similar needs is beyond a blessing. My parent helper was kind, supportive, interested, and wealth of information. Most of all though, she just “gets it.” Singing to the choir is a beautiful song indeed, especially when you feel like a lonely soloist who is wandering about aimlessly to find a group to make sense of the music. Through my phone conversations, an excellent packet of written and online information/support groups to help parents grieve, accept, and cope, and the hope of other events to come (like this Thursday night’s Community Inclusion Program for families like mine—check it out by clicking HERE), gives people like me empowerment and connections.

If you are like me:

I urge you to check out this group if you haven’t already. The clickable links above will take you where you need to go. Stay strong and hopeful in the face of the truth. It’s hard to do, but it can be done. Remember the old adage, there is power in numbers. Trust me: there are more of us out there then you think.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Preserving Memories

Many of us grew up with parents, particularly fathers, who owned cameras of one variety or another and who documented our childhoods in 8 or 16 mm film or 35 mm slides. For Baby Boomers parents are passing away and the films are aging. If not preserved someday a piece of American history, that of the Cold War Era, will pass away, too.

If you have aging film and slides that you want to preserve on DVD for your children and grandchildren I highly recommend that you deal with someone local. What seemed like an answer to a prayer when I found Florida Home Movies, turned into a bit of a nightmare because I could not go to the business and find out how things were going.

If you are interested in my experience check it out on The View From My Broom.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Poverty Unit

For those of us who were raising families during the 1970s Oil Crisis and recession, the current economic crisis is like a trip down memory lane although maybe more frightening. Back then we learned how to make a penny scream from our parents and grandparents who had weathered the Great Depression which Grandma and Grandpa Frieze called Hard Times.

While mulling over how to make our pay checks reach the end of this month and have Thanksgiving, I wondered whether or not the young people who will be graduating from high school this year into the American economic recession and those who were raised in the more comfortable ‘90s will be able to cope. What real world skills do our educational institutions teach young people?

If you are interested in the lessons I learned from a special teacher, read on at The View From My Broom as I fly back to 1969--not quite as far as this picture.

Making Cinnamon Ornaments

Daughter-in-law Ana came home excited. During a trip to Ace Hardware she’d found cookie cutters in the shape of a musical note and a violin. Because our grandson Gabriel takes violin lessons she wanted to make Christmas ornaments for him to give to his teacher.

For several years our family friend Jo has given each of us cinnamon scented ornaments for Christmas, Halloween, and birthdays so when she and her husband stopped by our place on Veteran’s Day, Ana asked Jo if she’d teach her how to make them. Jo was delighted and Thursday afternoon was set for Ana, Gabriel, my daughter Amy and I to go to Jo’s for our lesson on making cinnamon scented ornaments.

Before piling into Ana’s car we’d gone through my huge shortbread tin that contains my own cookie cutters, letting Amy and Gabriel choose what shapes they wanted to make. Gabriel, whose favorite holiday is Halloween and who had a Dracula birthday party in April, was lured by bats and witches. Our angel Amy chose more traditional shapes…like angels and stars.

When we arrived at Jo’s house it smelled like the holidays. Jo had lit candles all over her living and family rooms, but the overriding smell was cinnamon. The darkening afternoon took on a warm magical atmosphere.

Jo had already prepared a batch of dough. As any dough can be, it was being temperamental. Jo added more cinnamon and Ana mushed it in the bowl. Then the fun began. Jo provided us with several boards upon which to roll out the dough and we began rolling and cutting and lifting to drying racks where we carefully poked a hole through which ribbon or yarn would be strung for hanging.

When we’d emptied the bowl we cleaned up the table, washed our hands which still showed the stain and smell of spices (I was reminded of the movie Mistress of Spices) and sat down to pots of hot tea, salmon cream cheese sandwiches and salad.

The dough hadn’t been overly cooperative and many of our ornaments were thick which was going to require extensive drying, but with luck Jo can bring them along to Ilwaco at Thanksgiving and we can have a painting party at our house which will be accompanied by more tea and Thanksgiving leftovers.

If this project interests you here’s the recipe. Jo says that drug stores are the best place to get inexpensive spices. Costco, Cash & Carry or Grocery Outlet would probably be other sources. The coarsness of the spices seems to make a difference and she recommends the more finely ground ones, but each batch of dough behaves differently.

Scented Cinnamon Ornaments
1 C. or 4 oz can of cinnamon
1 T ground cloves
1 T nutmeg
¾ cup applesauce
2 T white glue
Ribbon, raffia, yarn, etc for hanging.
Combine dry ingredients. Add glue & applesauce. Work with hands until smooth and totally mixed up. Divide into 4 parts. Roll each out to ¼ inch thick or a workable thickness. Cut with cookies cutters. Deep metal cookie cutters work best. Make a small hole near the top with the straw. Place on wire racks and allow to dry at room temperature. This may take up to two weeks, though usually less. Turn over every few days until dry and hard. Sand lightly, wipe off, then paint.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Marriage Encounter Magic Moments with Joseph McG

Last week I was in Houston attending a wonderful session on Leading Through Relationship. The presenters were just making one heavy, heavy point when...
(that's right) the fire alarm went off. Out the door I went... and stood out in the warm eighty two degree sunshine for about five minutes. No fire engines... no one said come on in. People just started going back in. Best I heard about this: the fire alarm (in a non-smoking hotel) went off near the WOMEN'S RESTROOM!!!

Two weeks before my trip to Houston I had gotten so excited about what Marriage Encounter can do for couples in good marriages who wanted their marriages to be even better. I grabbed my buddy, Ann, one fine fall morning and asked her to video me while I busted loose... and here's my love rap... (for children, teenagers, young adults, and seniors only)


Do We Bail Out American Automakers?

I find it frustrating that American citizens, who are partly to blame for the current economic situation to be sure, are being asked to become financially responsible by first funding the salvation of Wall Street and now the American auto manufacturers who have been loathe to move into the 21st Century by producing fuel efficient automobiles. The Democrats want to bail out the Big 3, saying that if they do not we will be plunged into another Great Depression. While average Americans are tightening their belts and clipping coupons, these companies want them to save their backsides.

Any bail out of the American auto manufacturers needs to be accompanied by strict regulations about how it’s spent and how the industry shifts its paradigm to one of fuel efficiency and well built cars that last and away from the use of oil. Congress rushed to hand over $700 billion to Wall Street. I would like to see more time taken over any further bailouts.

Too many citizens fail to take responsibility for their decisions and actions. How can we expect our youth to step up and live with the results of bad decisions if parents are always bailing them out? This bail out feels like junior’s coming to mom and dad, looking for a handout because he’s had his head stuck in the past, refusing to hear the 20th Century calling. Much as I don’t want thousands of highly paid factory workers out of work maybe Detroit’s time has come and gone. Instead of funding the automobile companies, maybe we need to be funding retraining for their workers.

How does the South Sound Neighborhood feel about a possible bailout of American auto makers?

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month

The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month 1918. The Armistice between the Allied nations and the Kaiser’s Germany was signed on a train in France. There and at Versailles the groundwork was laid for WWII, but for now it was the end of hostilities in the War to End All Wars.

Armistice Day, the celebration of the end of war, became Veterans’ Day in 1954 when we’d acknowledged that war had not been abolished and many had died in another war which was the greatest mobilization of men and materials in history. And today the tradition of war continues in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This summer we built a little garden to honor my father and his brothers who all served in the Navy during WWII. The fall has taken the leaves from the roses and allowed the weeds to creep in. Perhaps it is fitting that Veteran’s Day occurs in the Fall. The grayness of the day as I left flags next to their plaques seemed appropriate for acknowledging the existence of war in the world and honoring those who have served to protect us. It suited my mood since I miss them very much.

As I drove away from Ilwaco and my garden, KMUN’s “Lost Highway” program was playing “Pray for Peace” by Joe Paquin. “The way it is, is the way it was back then. The way it was is the way it is again.” Perhaps someday we can lay our burden down and study war no more.

Miriam Makeba---Great Artist, Courageous Human Being

Miriam Makeba,
the "Mama Africa" whose sultry voice gave South Africans hope when the country was gripped by apartheid, died early Monday of a heart attack after collapsing on stage in Italy. She was 76.

In her dazzling career, Makeba performed with musical legends from around the world — jazz maestros Nina Simone and Dizzy Gillespie, Harry Belafonte, Paul Simon — and sang for world leaders such as John F. Kennedy and Nelson Mandela.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Hood is Large

Sometimes I forget how large our Neighborhood is. Today I heard from Michael Glynn, Patti Page’s manager, regarding my post about looking for a companion for a special someone. Ms. Page has rerecorded “How Much is that Doggie in the Window?” for the Humane Society. Here’s the link. Ms. Page is working to reduce the cruelty of puppy mills and encourage people to adopt from the Humane Society.

On that note, I'd like to make a shout out for the no-kill shelter in Long Beach, WA. In an economically distressed area, these men and women work tirelessly to find homes for abandoned animals on the Long Beach Peninsula. Take a peek at their animals pictures.

The View from My Windy Porch

I don’t know what the weather is in the South Sound as I am on the blustery coast enjoying one of my favorite pastimes, a storm off the ocean. The view from my porch this morning, after a night of howling wind, is sheets of rain across the highway and a whipping American flag on the telephone pole. I got up in the night and lit candles just in case as the wind howled around the eves of our old house.

There’s laundry to do, which requires braving the weather between the house and the barn, and cleaning for Thanksgiving, but just now I’m going to make a cup of tea, take a book and get toasty beside the pellet stove before officially starting my day.

A New Family Member

Our family grew last Sunday when Lydia Austin Casey was born on her due date. She weighed in at 7 lbs, 14 oz and was 19 in long. She is a very amiable baby, only crying when hungry or without clothes which makes her quite the opposite of her proud sister Linda! Here she is being admired by her Aunt Amy and GrandDave.

'Tis the Seaon

Here we are again, headed for the holidays with all their warmth, love, colors, flavors and stress. Last year the ‘Hood discussed ways to celebrate the holidays. Some of us like to go to the mall and share our hard earned money with manufacturers and run up credit debt. It is the American way. Some of us are forced to be more creative and resourceful, shopping at Goodwill, thrift stores, and garage sales. Many of us just plain like seeing what a delightful holiday can be created without contributing to Black Friday and by buying locally. Our family goes so far in our not participating in Black Friday that we actually celebrate Thanksgiving on that day instead of Thursday. It will be interesting to see how well businesses do on this year the day after Thanksgiving.

Have you started your holiday shopping? Will the current American economic situation impact the amount you spend? As a nation we started conserving gas and the price came down. We have become a nation of consumers, consuming 25% of the world’s resources and goods while we are only 5% of the planet. Maybe if we start buying less and giving more of our time to each other we can discover some of the spirit that was original to our country. But then I’ve been accused of being un-American and attempting to destroy the American economy by my thrift.

If this discussion interests you, read more on "The View from My Broom."

Friday, November 7, 2008

I Am In Houston

Saturday night, 11:54 pm, Texas time. I am intending a workshop that is sponsored by World Wide Marriage Encounter and the title of the workshop is Leading Through Relationship (LTR). The first two sessions are done. And I am feeling grateful.
I have felt this way before when I have had a teacher who had the ability to help me discover the answers to questions that I had been searching for a long time.
The question I am focused on is how can I support other people in confidently using their gifts (values, creativity, other skills, personal presence) in helping other people share their presence and their talents.
When I was in college I tried to order people to do this and to do that and they quickly disappeared... I remember this one group that elected me its chairperson... twenty people came to the first meeting; two came to the second. That experience comes to mind every time I start choosing to order people around or talk too much.
I have tried being cordial, positive, and listening. I have tried poking holes in what I considered illogical thinking, writing, and speaking. And the results I have had are not impressive.
But I do know this... people have so very much to offer one another, just by listening, understanding, and hanging in there with other folks.
And it is too early to know what I shall learn at this workshop. I know that I really like the priests and the couples at the table where I am sitting. And I think that part of what I shall learn is that I have to patiently reach out to others and come to understand them, accept them as they are, and support them in being themselves.
But that is what years of hoping and crying and failing and succeeding have taught me... Now I have a chance to learn from folks who have taken the time to study
leadership, think about the ups and downs of their own lives, and to share honestly and humbly what they have discovered.
Wow... I feel very, very grateful.

Wanted: A Faithful Friend.

How Much is that Doggie in the Window?

Dear Santa,

You may remember the Patti Page recording of “How Much is that Doggie in the Window?” It was popular when I was very small, but I remember it well. It was filled with longing for me and now I’m longing to find another doggie as my Christmas Wish for someone very special.

The doggie I am looking for must be intelligent, housebroken and not needing immediate veterinarian attention. This doggie must be capable of being a companion for in individual recovering from serious illness and large enough to offer a little stability for faltering steps. The doggie I am looking for must be well behaved and not too young.

And finally, Santa, the doggie must not cost a lot as we haven’t a lot to give except a canyon filled with love. If you know of such a pooch who would like a loving home for Christmas, please let me know.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Rembering the Tuba Man

This evening, when I stopped at Bank of America in Gig Harbor to deposit some checks, my husband appeared at my elbow and asked the clerk if he could contribute to the Ed McMichael fund. The young woman in her early twenties stared blankly.

Ed McMichael, 53, was a Seattle institution, but any South Sounder who’s attended a sporting or theatrical event in our big sister city has probably passed by the tuba playing busker outside sporting venues, McCaw Hall or the Opera House.

On October 25th McMichael was set upon by five young hooligans, savagely beaten and robbed near a bus stop in the 500 block of Mercer Street around midnight. Two of the youths, fifteen were caught and three more are being sought.

This gentle musician who chose to make is living playing for tips in the open air was treated in the hospital for three days and released. He died sometime Sunday night or early Monday morning as a result of his wounds. He was discovered by his landlady when his brother arrived to take him to a doctor’s appointment.

An informal grassroots memorial to McMichael will be held Saturday at 11 AM outside McCaw Hall. Interested musicians are invited to come and play in his memory.

A memorial fund has been set up to defray funeral expenses for McMichael’s burial. Any balance left from the fund will go towards a possible memorial for the musician. If you want to help, you can visit any Bank of America branch and contribute to Ed McMichael, the Tuba Man or send donations to:
Edward the Tuba Man McMichael Memorial Fund
Box 4985
Federal Way 98063

The clerks at the Gig Harbor branch of Bank of America found McMichael’s memorial fund and Dave plunked down his donation. We'll miss the Tuba Man when we attend events in Seattle.

Happy Birthday, Lorraine!

Happy Birthday, Lorraine! I know that the joy and celebration of your birthday is tempered by the loss of a friend and the fear that accompanies it, but the ‘hood celebrates your place among us and the day you were born. May all of your birthday wishes come true.


Congratulations, President-Elect Obama!

Obviously, last night was historic. President-elect Obama will be the next President of the United States. And obviously , I'm disheartened. He won and I congratulate him. I am a loyal American and he will be my President.

Over the last several months, I've worked to defeat him. He is a Socialist and his admitted background would make him unqualified to hold a government security clearance.

However, he is my President, and my country comes first. But that does not mean I have to agree or support his positions. As a loyal American, it is my right to oppose the policies that I think are wrong for this country.

I will be a vocal critic. I will work to elect a Republican Congress to keep his Socialism in check. I will work to ensure that he serves only one term. I hope the Republicans left in the Senate will have enough sense and backbone to keep him in check.

Know this: As much as I will oppose him politically, I will not have any truck with ANYONE who wishes him harm. Do not cross that line.

Senator McCain ran a good race and he chose a worthy running mate in Sarah Palin.

Today is Obama's day, but tomorrow, we start working to elect his replacement in 2012.

God Bless President-elect Obama and God Bless America!

Country First!


The Birth of Hope

Last night Americans were witness to history. Last night I got to witness history, a history I believed would not happen in my lifetime. Last night my pride in the United States and in my fellow Americans soared as high as when I was a child and got goose bumps singing patriotic songs.

And John McCain. Have you heard him speak the past two days? This is the John McCain that I loved. Where has he been? This is the John McCain who betrayed me. This is the John McCain that could have been elected if he had not relied on the xenophobic forces of the Religious Right. Who could have been elected had he not chosen an ignorant, mean spirited prom queen for his running mate. Who could have been elected had he not pitched himself into the sewer of the excrement of fear and prejudice peddled by the Right. George Bush, Sarah Palin, and the Carl Rove mentality lost the race for McCain. His own greed for being willing to do or say anything to win—and maybe a certain amount of dementia—lost the race for John McCain. Had John McCain switched parties in 2004 he might have won based on the same ideals as Barak Obama. John, I’m sorry you lost your way.

Republican Party, do you hear the ringing? This is your wakeup call. Americans are tired of your culture of fear and exclusion. You never did find Obama’s Willie Horton did you? God knows you tried. And all the time Barak Obama presided over a beautiful campaign in the midst of fear mongering and prejudice, you betcha.

Last night hope was born that the nightmare of the past eight years is coming to an end. To be sure, we still face challenges. Barak Obama is inheriting a nation at war. A financially and democratically bankrupt nation. The road he faces is littered with the shreds of our rights and foreign policy and with the pot holes of the breakdown of the American economy at the hands of greedy financial institutions.

The gulf between rich and poor Americans is wider than ever before as the entrenched old guard has increased their wealth and power on the backs of the middle class. Yesterday Americans stood up and said “no more.” Fear and hatred were trampled by inclusion and Democracy last night.

Is Barak Obama going to ride in on a white horse and slay the dragon of hate and fear that has been the pet of those fanatical right winged interest groups entrenched in the joke of American foreign and domestic policy? No. He has won the trust of the overwhelming majority of Americans and he will have to prove his worthiness of our trust. And we must prove ourselves worthy of his trust in us.

The road to repairing our economy, our constitution, and our standing in the world will be long and it will take our coming together as a people, working together, to keep the ideals of our founding fathers alive for our grandchildren. The work of repairing our economy and environment will be hard. Freeing ourselves from the bonds of the tyranny of oil that bind us to those who hate us, will take creativity and paradigm shifts, but we are a nation of will who can come together and lift each other and the country up to be that gleaming city on a hill.

The fight will be difficult to convince the world that we are what we believe ourselves to be, the land of the free and the home of the brave where we are not ruled by the tyranny of the few, but where the “we the people” have the power, but we’ve taken the first step in repairing America’s standing in the world of nations. A nation of Democracy loving individuals where the citizens are united in the belief that we can achieve a culture that embraces all human beings regardless of their color, their religion, or their gender. Once again Lady Liberty will lift the lamp beside the golden door.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Les' Favourite Song

If you wish to learn more about Leslie and her sister Tracie you can follow the link below.

Leslie Rae Wermers

This is our dear friend Les from Minnesota Lymefighters, with the pumpkin bear we sent her for Halloween. She has been a tireless advocate, despite her own struggles with Lyme and co-infections. She was in the Lyme documentary, "Under Our Skin." Recently Les attended the ILADS (International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society) Conference in San Francisco and was energized by all the research news.

Anna and I spoke on the phone with Les on Saturday and she excitedly filled us in. She told us that she had been able to spend some time with Dr. Willy Burgdorfer. He is the research scientist who discovered the Lyme spirochete, which is called Borrelia Burgdorferi. She had become friends with him simply by calling and letting him know that he was a hero to those of us in the Lyme community. In San Francisco she gave Dr. Burgdorfer hugs from Anna and me too. She gave me his number and urged me to call him. She was also responsible for a large box arriving at our house, full of free tick-removal tools to hand out at the next movie screening. We gleefully told her it had arrived and shared our news about Anna's NPR interview. We talked until everyone was tired, then said I love you and goodnight.

Last night I came home to a phone call from Paula, Les' partner. I felt the ground open underneath me as Paula tearfully told me that Les died yesterday morning. Then I had to go and tell my daughter. We held each other and cried for the loss of our beloved friend.

So, the next time a doctor tells you that Lyme is, "Hard to get, easy to treat, cannot get chronic, and cannot kill you," you look them straight in the eye and give them her name, Leslie Rae Wermers. Tell them to get educated.

Rest in peace and be without pain, my beautiful friend, we'll continue the fight for you. I promise.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


I used to love Halloween as a kid and I still do. I know a lot of folks feel it isn't safe (It is if you do it right) or they can't be bothered (wonder if they had fun with it as a kid?) or perhaps some religious beliefs keep them from it. It seems there are less and less houses that participate in any case.

We always celebrate, and this year was no exception. We bought lots of candy and the kids got some costumes and we had a scary old time.

First, our neighbor Lisa and her daughter Coral stopped by to join up with us on our haunt through the neighborhood.

Two of the granddaughters, Lucy and YaYa, dressed as witches! They are stylishly scary!

Ben, Our autistic boy was trying to give us a scare!

Granddaughter Amy was Little Red Riding Hood. At two, she's scary enough without a costume. Amy has a nickname around here - "The Amy-nator". That girl doesn't dodge anything, she just braces for impact!

Lexie, YaYa's Mom, gets ready to sting me as I take her picture.

Off to prowl the streets!!

The scary little monsters hit the streets!

We get some royal beggers. Mrs. VW does the honors

Another Mother-Daughter team of trick or treaters!

From out of the smoky depths (or the steam from my breath) comes a li'l skeleton to haunt us!

And the scariest thing anyone saw that night.......

Keep going....


Hope you all had fun!


Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Power Of An Extraordinarily Ordinary Person---Jackie Pullinger and the St Stephen's Society

I had been struggling mentally for three days with a presentation I gave Saturday night.In my religious tradition, Saturday, November 2, and Sunday, November 3, we would be remembering in prayer All Souls, all those people who had died and who were now with God or soon (whatever words like "soon" have to do with eternity and mystery) would be with God.

I had three concerns:
1. I think that, right here and now, God and all those who in heaven with God are united with us...
2. Together with them we have been placed here to touch each other with love
3. That love strengthens, enlightens, inspires, and heals all those we reach out to... either in word, deed, or prayer.To sum up my concern, I think that each one of us has the power to make a difference in many, many people's lives. I fear that far too few of us think that.
So I found myself searching for some story that would help people realize that each one of us is a daughter or son of God who was created to help make this world a wonderful place.

One story I found was the video, The Law of Love, The Story of Jackie Pullinger:
In the sixties Ms. Pullinger went to Hong Kong to help people spiritually. She found work in the poorest part of Hong Kong, where she reached out to the victims of sex trafficking and heroin addiction. She quickly discovered that deeds not words made a difference... that broken people are helped by someone telling them that God loves them; rather they were going to be helped by those who chose, in God's name, to love them. She started teaching the children, helping adults to get food and shelter, and supporting addicts in recovering from their addiction.

More on Jackie Pullinger? Check out Wikpedia article:

Once people began to realize that Jackie Pullinger was going to stick with them through thick and thin, they started coming to her, taking her support, and letting go of their addiction.
Recovering addicts started helping other addicts. In the film, The Law Of Love, Many broken people began leading healthy lives, got jobs that enabled them to take care of their families, and created a neighborhood where all felt accepted and safe.
With God's support and each other's help ordinary people are doing wonder-full things.

I did not use this story in my presentation. But Jackie Pullinger's story inspired me to speak passionately. And I found this video on You Tube which celebrates the work Ms Pullinger and the community of recovering addicts, former victims of sex trafficking, poor people, judges, health professionals, other concerned individuals, are doing... ordinary people together doing wonderful work.