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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My New Year's Resolutions

1. Eliminate chaos from the house. (with a household of six that includes a five-year-old that will be tricky)
2. Bring more peace into my life. (see above)
3. Make my pennies scream even louder. (fulltime husband on 1/2 pay coming to a home near me soon)

What are your resolutions?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

"Twilight": Ick, Blah, Okay, or Pretty Good?

This post originally appeared on Gritty City Woman. And while it's not SPECIFICALLY tied into any neighborhood (save for the fact that the novel is set in Forks, Washington), I thought this would be fun to put here since many South Sounders have read this book series. Read on:

My husband and I don't make it a practice to exchange Christmas gifts with each other. In fact, we only exchange gifts on birthdays only. However, this year, my husband surprised me by announcing that he purchased me a small Christmas gift this year the week before holiday. However, he set up the gift like this:

"Now, you are probably going to hate me for getting this for you, and you'll probably wonder why I picked this out, but you just gotta give it a chance. It comes highly recommended."

First off, that's a pretty crappy set up for a gift, secondly, my mind starting racing with possibilities which results in something usually not too good, and third, well, I was worried about the hubby spending too much money on something ridiculous.

Well, I ruled out number three (expense) as he told me the price (it wasn't much). However, I did warn him like this:

1. No weirdo shaving products.
2. No baking things (like mixers, etc.) as I don't bake.
3. Nothing for the yard or for yard work.

He laughed and said it wasn't any of those things and that I would never guess.

So, just before the holiday, I got my gift. My response?


Yeah. OH.

The hubby got me the "Twilight" book series written by Stephanie Meyer. I won't provide any links or pictures of the book(s) or the author, as it is a worldwide, well known literary and movie phenomenon particularly for GIRLS ('tween and teen).

So, what does a 41-year-old woman do with THIS? My first thought was to get responses on the gift selection from other female peers. Some responded with laughter, others responded with "Oh" (just like me). There wasn't any positive responses. Now my husband has a thick skin, and is a master of self depreciation, so his feelings weren't hurt; however, he "challenged" me NOT to get hooked on these novels. He knows, that I always rise to the occasion for a challenge. And he also knows that I will be fair when it comes to novels.

I am now 100 pages in. Here's my analysis thus far:


1. The mystery of the Cullens (though unfolding a little slowly) is good.

2. The book has big print and a nice book jacket.

3. Typically I loathe books set in Washington State (particularly if the author is NOT from my fair state) because they always way over do the rain and the clouds. Though the whole setting of Forks, Washington is actually pretty acceptably written and gives a pretty decent backdrop for the plot.

4. The book reads fast.


1. The main character of Bella and her narration/voice sounds more like a 35-year-old woman then a teen girl. Now, I understand that the point of Bella being very mature and an "old" soul, is mentioned throughout, but she still sounds "off."

2. I know that Edward Cullen's character is played by a Brit actor in the movie and I have this irritating habit of "hearing" all his lines read in my head with a British accent!

3. Everyone is so "brooding." I guess that's the point, but I don't understand the concept of "brooding." To me, that translates into sullen, sulky, or dull. Maybe that's just me.

4. I have fallen asleep mid-sentence twice when reading. Not sure if that's good or bad?

I am going to keep going with it. I think the mystery will strengthen in some respects.

However, I am looking to all of you to help me keep going. So, where are you at with this topic? Are you a "Twilight" fanatic? If so, why do you like these books? If you hated "Twilight," I'd love to hear the same from you, too.

P.S. BTW, I gave my hubbby a William Faulkner novel, a John Steinbeck (his favorite author) short novel anthology and a John Hughes Classic DVD pack ("Sixteen Candles," "Breakfast Club" and "Weird Science"). Curious what readers responses are to these gifts, too.

Have at it!

P.S.S. I'll do some more updates on my progress.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Former Middle-School Classmate's Inspiring Pathway To Russian Orphanage Visits Offers Mental Backboard To Bounce Past & Future

Above (right to left): Peculiar People Puppet Productions international star 'Peter" takes time to pose with his multi-talented creator and puppeteer, Christopher Arveson during a recent visit to the Pacific Northwest. Photo copyright 2009 by Mizu Sugimura.

On six different occasions, a former graduate of Kirkland's Lake Washington High School here in Washington State has made a pilgrimage to various Russian orphanages in connection with West Virginia Volunteers In Mission. And if rumor correctly has it - he's due for return trip in a matter of days. Click here for details.

Arveson, presently an ordained pastor connected with United Methodist Churches in Brushfork and Bramwell, West Virginia was able to parlay a longtime interest in the Russian language he acquired as a impressionable junior high aged lad and machine sewing skills offered in senior high's Batchelor Living course (offered in lieu of a final year of mandatory physical education) into an equally rewarding avocation and complimentary inspiring volunteer career in the mission field spanning international relations, diplomacy and the arts.

Not bad for a formerly self-styled geek and longtime Eastside resident who daringly sang with a handful of like-minded male classmates a stirring rendition of Buddy Holly's "Rock Around The Clock" while walking several shoulders abreast up and down the darkened hallways of LWHS in the early seventies.

I must admit in those days the idea a minister-in-training walked among my classmates was a mind-boggling. Only a few years before students just a handful of grades older had practically engraved the slogan "You can't trust anyone over thirty" in stone. Most of the pastors I was then familiar looked upon average at least ten to twenty years past that benchmark. Interestingly enough my relatively small high school class produced among others about four ministers and one funeral director!

Until the beginning of this month the last time I'd seen Arveson who I met as an eighth grader at the now defunct Kirkland Junior High was in a reasonably uncrowded elevator twenty-five years ago in Seattle at Washington Athletic Club where I was working in an office. Turns out it was his last day of employment as a banquet waiter and he was actually on his way out the door and would soon be headed in the general direction of the East Coast.

However, in the brief space of time it would take to traverse between less than five floors he managed to throw out the news he had been absolutely thrilled to discover his real peer group upon graduating and shortly after enrolling as a student at Harvard University and later Yale Divinity School. The idea posed by Arveson that such a self-proclaimed real-life discovery could so quickly follow the relative social desert from elementary school through senior high school rapidly became a highly desired and sought after feature in my young adult mind.

I was still searching for that ultimate peer group as recently as 2005. All I can say now is that some people need regular reality check-ins with what's really possible or are stunningly really late bloomers. Arveson's words still gave me something substantive to hold-on to over the years. Would I've been able to cope if I knew it would take me almost the full twenty-five years to finally figure it out? (Hmmmmn.)

Click here for more about Arveson and Peculiar People Puppets Production.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A South Sound "Santa" Captures The Heart Of Holiday

Before this 2009 Christmas Day disappears into fragments - I'd like o share a lovely little letter that a famous older gentleman associated with the more contemporary celebration of the holiday reputedly left at the home of a inspirational South Sound family who can be easily described as truly salts of the earth by most anyone who has had the pleasure to know them.

While the nitty-gritty details of the particular family referred to in this note are understandably of a private nature - American families of all ages, colors, income levels and backgrounds across the country share similar concerns as larger and more initially unconsidered losses continue to roll out as a result of last year's unprecedented economic woes which have already significantly impacted our collective immediate and future expectations.

However despite the fact our budget conscious"Santa" was clearly forced to trim back significantly here in Pierce County - what available reserve stockpiles of love, encouragement and hope clearly were not relegated to the budgetary chopping block - which is something we can all find a bit of light and warmth this most special night!

Christmas 2009

Hello - (name of family) - I mean - oh, Howdy, y'all. You're confusing old Santa this year. I had your house slated for a fly-over and here I see there are a couple of little guests.

Veronica and Vivian, you are such smart, beautiful little girls. You make your mama (and Santa) proud! I didn't want you to think Santa forgot you or couldn't find you, so there is a little something under this tree for you. And, of course I can't forget mom. I've not forgotten how you three helped out the head of this household last summer. I know she appreciated the help more than you can know. And girls, I just want you to know that I told your mom where the rest of your gifts are.

John, David and Sean. My, it's been a long time since you three have lived together. I see you are getting along better that you did when you were younger. Warms ol' Santa's heart.

Eric, your mom and aunt and I cooked up something special for you. But I let your grandma put her name on it. I expect you to make Santa proud. You have grown so much in the past year. Always remember that you are loved.

Debbie, I know you were going to skip the gifting this year because of tight money situations all the way around, but Santa thought you should all have at least a token. I hope you enjoy what I picked out for you.

That said, I apologize for the mess I left in the kitchen. I helped myself to some milk and cookies. You left them out by the stove, so I was sure you meant for me to have some. Sorry about leaving the mess, but this was an unscheduled stop when I left the North Pole, so I had to be especially quick. The cookies were delicious, by the way. Thanks. I know you meant to leave me a plate.

So head into the New Year with heads up. I think it's going to be a good one. Remember, things will work out for all of you. It always does.

Love Santa

Thursday, December 24, 2009

One South Sounder's Holiday Dream For All

Here's my Christmas dream for everyone:

1. Food on the table.
2. Physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual warmth.
3. Laughter!
4. At least one thing done with joy.
5. Jobs for those who need them.
6. A break from bad news.
7. A hand to hold.
8. Peaceful reflection.
9. Fresh air.
10.A good surprise!

Best wishes to all of my family, friends, neighbors, and community. You are all loved.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

TSO's Performance of Handel's Messiah Glitters In Memory

"Whether I was in my body or out of my body as I wrote it I know not. God knows." - George Frideric Handel.

Having a idle moment in hand - I recently went online in pursuit of a quote in regards to the George Frideric Handel (1685-1759). I was most fortunate to find this sparkling little gem posted above at where the great German composer was recorded to have said after composing Messiah's now famous Hallelujah Chorus. Like so many in the general non-professional public I have heard brief portions of Messiah on television or sung in snippets within the program of numerous live musical performances in years gone by.

After enjoying the unique pleasure of sitting in the audience at St. Charles Borromeo Church last Friday night to hear and witness this season's version of Messiah as performed by the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra it's been quite difficult for me to ascertain whether I have been able to find my own way back into my body since returning home from the concert!

Like so many people in the general non-professional musical public I have heard brief portions of Messiah either on television or sung in snippets within the program of numerous live musical performances in years past. However until this last December 18, I had never come even close to declare with complete honesty that I'd been able to rise high enough to actually attend much less sit completely through this entire masterpiece to once-in-for-all completely check-off and remove from a lightly penciled and informal bucket list tacked to an imaginary cork bulletin board in a heavily cobwebbed corner of my right cranium this truly remarkable cultural milestone.

But now thanks to an unexpected and unexpected opportunity provided by Deb, a longtime buddy and fellow sci-fi diplomat and explorer of the galaxy whose taste in friends and cultural highlights extends to Brian, her witty and distinguished friend, local firefighting veteran and equally well-known singing bon vivant who provided this correspondent with a truly fabulous out of daily life Christmas 2009 holiday experience!

Friday evenings 5th annual Messiah performance by Tacoma Symphony Orchestra and Chorus also showcased the soaring talents of four excellent local soloists whose melodious voices beautifully soared over the night's equally rich and memorable musical landscape. They would include : Sarah B. Markovits (soprano), Melissa Plagemann (mezzo), Stephen Rumph (tenor) and Charles Robert Stephens (baritone) all united under the capable and steady vision of conductor Geoffrey Boers.

Messiah night
sponsors include The News Tribune our own generous "In Your Neighborhood " reader blog patron. Others receiving special thanks: Arts Fund, The Boeing Company, City of Tacoma Arts Commission, Forest Foundation and Sequoia Foundation. Feel free to access
here Dawn Quinn's excellent December 16, 2009 piece on this year's Messiah showcasing Handel's music and symphony's efforts at the online site of the Tacoma Weekly.

Kim's List of South Sound Favorites and Not-so-Favorites 2009

This time of year I am positively obsessed with year end lists! Here is Kim's Favorites and Not-so-much Favorites for 2009 in the Tacoma-South Sound (Gritty style):

Favorite restaurant: Asado (always delivers)

Favorite Grocery Store: U.P. Fred Meyer, Trader Joes, Met Market at Proctor

Favorite Friendly stores: Posh Home, Envy, Trader Joes, Met Market at Proctor, Teaching Toys

Favorite Coffee Shop: Forza (West Side locations)

Favorite Health Food: Trader Joes in University Place

Favorite Women's Boutique: Jasminka (R.I.P.)

Favorite Pet Store: Wags, Pets 'n' Pals

Favorite Vet: Chambers Creek Vet, Lakewood

Favorite Fast Food: Taco Del Mar, Taco Time

Favorite Bars: Asado, Pacific Grill

Favorite Hairdresser: Aura Mae, Azarra Hair and Wine

Favorite Pub Grub: Harmon Brewery

Favorite Local Beer: Point Defiance IPA (at Harmon)

Favorite Parks: Point Defiance, Wright (urban parks at their best)

Favorite Streets: Pacific Avenue, 26th and Proctor, All of 6th Ave.

Favorite Museums: Museum of Glass, Tacoma

Favorite place to look at water: Chambers Bay, Ruston Way, the Purdy bridge

Favorite Downtown Views: The "glass" showcase bridge over the train tracks that connect from the Museum of Glass to Union Station

Favorite people watching place: La Fondita restaurant, window seats, on Proctor on Farmer's Market Saturday

Favorite Comeback Kid Restaurant: Maxwell's Speakeasy (you've been redeemed and I love you again).

Favorite Sunday drive: Key Pen Hwy to Longbranch

Okay, my pen's dipped in poison ink now. Here comes the Worsts.

Worst Restaurant: Primo Grill. I am still mad at you. A certain manager was very mean. I am not forgetting this.

Worst Streets: Old Town, your cobblestone streets are quaint looking, but they STINK. Bumpy, broken, narrow, and HELL on ice. Tacoma, you gotta fix these are we are going to break our cars!

Worst Stores: Big huge mega chains and Costco (can't stand Costco--it's overwhelming and harried).

Worst Season: November through January. It's all about the weather folks. My S.A.D. kicks in.

Worst part of downtown Tacoma: No freakin' grocery stores in the heart of downtown. Not cool for all the folks that live there that have to drive forever to get to one.

Worst Place for Litter: My own flippin' main street near my home in U.P. Pick up your trash and stop chucking stuff out of the window neighborhood! And clean up your dog doo!

Worst Place to get stuck in traffic: All entrances to Hwy 16 and I-5, S. 38th St. by the mall, Bridgeport Way, Pacific Avenue, and 56th St.

Worst feature at the local Farmer's markets: Folks that make balloon animals. Sorry, but these are a waste of money, last too short of a time and is a choking hazard for the littlest children.

Worst Local Event: The Puyallup Fair. I am a fair hater--too expensive for what you get and too crowded. Go ahead readers and feel free to rake me over the coals for that one--I expect it (and I won't change).

Worst Sad Looking place: Spots on South Tacoma Way. Seems, sad, worn-out gray, too much concrete, cheap signs, and boring stuff. I'll be curious to see how the S. Tacoma farmer's market coming this spring will perk the place up.

Worst Place to park: anywhere around TG and St. Joe's.

Worst and scariest hill: the twisty, can't see around the corner hill of about 49th and Ferdinand down to Ruston Way.

Worst hill for your car: 30th (a nightmare for your brakes)

Worst speed trap: 56th and Cedar, anywhere in Fircrest, select spots in Lakewood.

I am very certain that readers/bloggers, you have your own lists, can concur (or better disagree!) with mine, and can think of even more categories.

Tag, you guys are it! Let's hear it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

May Everyone's Holidays Be Bright

The Christmas, Solstice, Yule, etc. cards with letters have begun arriving in the mail as 2009 begins to wind down. It's been quite a year, here at the Aerie. Our 29 year-old daughter has been keeping up the fight with Lyme disease and co-infections called Babesia and Bartonella. First we thought it would be a sprint, then we slowed our pace for a marathon. Over eleven years later, we accept and live with chronic Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections. We try our best to help others get educated and proactive in dealing with Lyme, leaning-in to support those just finding themselves caught in the surreal landscape of medical systemic denial.

Like everyone else in this out of balance economy, we suffered losses and pulled together as a family does. The good side of this meant that my son came from New York, in August, to live with us. I didn't realise how tired I was as a caregiver, until my son came and immediately pitched-in to help. We lived with post-it notes on every cupboard and drawer in the kitchen for a while, but he re-organised my kitchen so that it all works better. These sort of skills apparently come with left brain ability! He's also a wonderful cook...and man, did I need a cook this year.

You see, coming from a Brit line, and hitting the bumpy desert of just-past-middle-age, I have been leaving a Hansel and Gretel trail of broken teeth and crumbling bones...thinking I might find my way back when I escape from this old woman who ate me! Eating became a difficult thing and the pounds began to drop. I felt like I could've been run up a flagpole to flutter in the the sky was falling and I didn't have the energy to yell about the same time, everyone was telling me just how wonderful I looked. I'm so grateful for someone who not only reminds me to eat, but also cooks and goes out of his way to find dishes that might bring out an appetite in both his mum and sister.

A daughter I borrowed and love so much, this year married the man she loves and expanded our family yet again. She works to be a moving force for good in the world (as so many of the kids who have been through my home are working) whirling between western and eastern hemispheres. It's been a while since I held her in my arms. So it goes...our hearts know how to stay in touch.

Rajani, my black shepherd/lab grandogger is now sixteen months and weighs a muscular eighty-nine pounds. We've all put our individual work in to be good pack leaders and she has responded in such a wonderful way. She makes an incredible companion and therapy dog for Anna. My daughter is quite the 'Dog Whisperer' herself and brings out the best in her Rajani. It's natural, seeing as we descended from wolves. The Quileute tribe also believes this, so I hope they will accept me into the country.

Right now the bustle is about decorating the Aerie for the Holidays. Front and centre is the new-used couch. Cue the Heavenly Chorus...for this be the couch I have searched years for, with no star to guide me or budget for the price-range of my dreams! Behold, it was in the Goodwill for less than two hundred dollars! So bloweth my whole seasonal shopping budget. Thankfully my family has never been caught-up in the consumer aspect of any holiday or ceremony. But, oh honey...this couch! It's the size of a day bed, so Anna could be really comfortable in the living room...guests sink into it and can't leave...and I get to take afternoon naps, covered by whatever sunbeams come through my window on a winter's afternoon. It is a dark tapestry of deliciousness.

This year, for the first time in twelve years, we have both son and daughter under our roof. Together we'll see in 2010 (by the way, I've decided to call it "twenty-ten." Feel free to weigh-in on what you will call it) with fireworks around the bay, fireworks on the telly, playing some Rummy 500 around Anna's bed, eating lovely (soft) snacks and enjoying one another's company. The comfort that is with us, now that's the best present our family ever made.

Wishing you all the warmth and comfort of loving family at this festive time for so many. Cheers to a New Year...hope to see you here, in our cyberspace neighbourhood!

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Quiet Night In The Bellarmine High School Quad

Five fifteen in the afternoon at Bellarmine... quiet and dark now, with raindrops quietly washing away the hustle and bustle of the day. Now, prophetically, the Christmas tree promises safety and warmth and laughter and gifts of love as Christmas day comes one day closer.

Lots of laughter, tasty food, friends and families coming together comforting each other,filling each other's sometimes empty, at times hurt and lost bodies and souls
with each other's sweet, sweet presence.

Encouraging each other to consider, reflect upon, and accept that
following the way of light leads to peace and joy

Filling the night with wonderful light

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Funeral procession Lakewood Police

A glorious day weather-wise for a tribute like no other in honor of the four murdered Lakewood Police officers. Their murder has galvanized the community in a way that could never have been imagined before.

As we stood along South Tacoma Way weeping, waving, saluting, covering our hearts with our hands every person had a different reason for being there. Seeing the hearses roll by with the name of each dead officer being carried to the ceremony at the Tacoma Dome evoked tears that just did not subside for hours.

The four-hour procession followed by a three-hour service was riveting. Seeing tens of thousands of people coming out to line the route and pay their respects was a beautiful thing, an experience we will all remember for the rest of our lives.

People holding signs -- not in protest, but in love -- expressing their grief and sorrow for the lives lost was a powerful and unifying experience that made me long for a time when we might all come together again and come to respect one another and treat every human being with dignity.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Bora Ju--- A Wonderful South Korean Artist

I would like to thank:
The Office for Equity and Diversity at the University of Washington in Tacoma
The University of Washington Department of Ethnomusicology
Northwest Heritage Resourcess
The Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism of the Republic of South Korea
and the Asia Pacific Cultural Center of Tacoma for bringing Bora Ju, composer, singer, and player of the gayageum, a Korean zither-like string instrument the Carwein Auditorium, University of Washington Tacoma, Friday evening,December 4,2009.
I was deeply moved by the music presented by Bora Ju and her friends.
In the video below, she sings and plays Hanobaeknyeon, which was composed by Lee Gun-Young on the 25 string-gayageum.

The selection is five minutes long. I urge you to play it. And ENJOY!!!

Further information about Bora Ju...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bezer--- the funny, gentle worker

At twelve fifteen this afternoon I headed on out for my first winter walk. Walking down twenty third I passed this one condominium where this solitary summer chair and this quiet barbecue grill brought back many memoires of spring socials I had gone too where there was laughter and good food and teasing and many stories shared.

I smiled thinking and hoping that the people living there would have many, many more happy socials.

Then when I got to Union I looked across the street. I saw Christmas trees were being sold in the lot located just pass the stop sign. So I decided to go exploring.
There were a lot of very healthy looking trees ready for purchase.
I met the fine man who was in charge of the lot and enjoyed a few emotionally warm moments with me... moments like those keep me from grumbling... "another grey day," I think painfully often...,or "why don't I just stay inside and curl up in a nice warm place with a nice chilling thriller,"or "!!!!...????." (feel free to add your own expletives...")

Thanks, Mr. Bezer... you warmed up my day.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Riding With Ms. Claus To Catherine Place

Yesterday was such a beautiful gift. I was allowed to be "wing-elf" for Ms. Santa Claus, otherwise known as local artist and good friend, Tweed Meyer. She had heard of a house in Tacoma called "Catherine Place," where women could meet spiritually for healing, and wanted to donate an absolutely beautiful piece of work to the house. Well of course I wanted to be in on an adventure like this! I grabbed my little notebook and camera and jumped into Tweed's funky little pickup. We both had big smiles and big stories so the ride from Home into downtown Tacoma seemed to take no time at all. We walked through the wrought-iron gate and through the doors to Catherine Place, into the loving arms of Sister Peg Murphy and Beth Maslow...and an afternoon that glowed.

Catherine Place is named after a feisty fourteenth-century feminist, Saint Catherine of Sienna, who stood up to the Vatican...and won! Now, you KNOW Lorraine likes a woman who speaks her truth. The vision for this house came about from three dreams Sister Joyce Roach had, of a place of healing for women. Through generous donations and a lot of hard work Sister Joyce's dream became a reality and a gift to Tacoma. I cannot believe they are working in their tenth year and I had never heard of it!

Their mission reads: "Catherine Place seeks to improve the quality of life for women by creating a gentle and sacred space to encourage each woman to claim her dignity and worth, by welcoming and honoring her and by providing opportunities for learning and spiritual growth."

Many alternate healing services, like Reiki, meditation, massage, etc. are offered here...for a donation! There are circles for poetry, music, rituals and sharing all available to us on their schedule for Fall and Winter. Classes for Reiki and Healing Touch are offered for exceptionally reasonable prices. The house is located in the South 8th. and I neighbourhood of the Hilltop. You can check them out by going to or call (253) 572-3547. Confidential support and advocacy are also given here. What a wonderful resource for women in our community. Please consider, if you can, a donation in the name of women you have known, ill, frightened and seeking sanctuary.

But now...back to our story....

Sister Peg and Beth could not believe the beautiful gift coming through the door. As you can see, Tweed's painting is healing art in itself and perfect for this sweet retreat for women. Sister Peg stands on the left, Tweed in the middle, and Beth to the right. We had joyful and tearful discussions as we all reached for each other, as women do. Catherine Place called to Tweed, Tweed's generosity gathered us, and we all received connection on the first sparkling day of December. I know I will be going back and joining circles under my friend's painting and the phenomenal photographs taken by Sister Joyce Roach. I know I want to meet this woman of vision and heart. I know I felt comfortable in Catherine Place.

Tweed and I drove home. Her little grey pickup now felt like a silver cloud and our talk was quieter. I looked at the burning beautiful sunset to our left...and the softer reflection of light in the rise of a full moon to our right and wide as I'm sure all the elves who help Ms. Claus do on their way home.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Buy War Bonds

No one need be surprised that President Obama is widening the war in Afghanistan. Even before he declared his intention to run for president he never made any secret of his belief that Afghanistan was the war of importance that had largely been forgotten by the Bush Administration’s obsession with Iraq.

So now we are to send 30,000 more Americans to fight for democracy to be instituted in a country with no history of it and purportedly to make the United States safer. It was the Bush Administration’s policy to prosecute war in Iraq and Afghanistan with no inconvenience to the American public. During a recession it is time for Americans to be inconvenienced by the war. I believe that the American government should return to selling war bonds to Americans. If our government feels that keeping the Taliban and Al-Qaida out of Afghanistan will make the United States safer it is time for us to directly support the war with our pocketbooks.

Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee David Obey is leading an effort to impose a tax to pay for the war. According to The Week, Obey’s “Share the Sacrifice Act” would impose a 1% tax on income between $30,000 and $150,000 with wealthier American’s paying higher rates. The Bush policy of hiding what the war was costing in terms of dollars and lives (by not showing returning coffins) put Americans at a distance from the war. A war tax or campaign to buy war bonds would give the public a real sense of the cost of the war and of participating. Maybe it would meet with opposition, but it is time that Americans became aware, on a daily basis, of the cost of war. Only then will they decide to put their full weight behind the war or demand that the United States withdraw.

A Commitment

(the flags are flying at halfmast at Bellarmine High School today)
I woke up this morning, turned my radio on, and on KUOW I heard that Maurice Clemmons had been shot and killed early Wednesday morning. I lay there in bed with my arms wrapped tightly across my chest. Like so many other people I felt shocked, relieved, and sad that the tragedy that began Sunday morning appeared to have come to a very painful conclusion.
Police persons shot, people that might have helped Maurice Clemmons arrested, and Mr. Clemmons was dead.

So many people have been touched very deeply by what has happened these last few days.

Where do we go from here? I found the Your Voice column in today's News Tribune by Mr. Julius W. Brown, the former chairman of the Lakewood African-American Police Advisory Committee, very helpful. At the end of his column Mr. Brown Jr. says: "I have faith that the Lakewood Police Department will continue to be fair..." He concludes the article with this statement: "We (the Lakewood African-American Police Advisory Committee) will continue to build bridges (between the Police Department and the African American Community in Lakewood)and we will word hard to heal the wounds left open by this one hideous act of violence. You have my commitment to that."
Please read Mr. Brown Jr.'s column.

What do you think we need to do?

My Friend Lynn Speaks: World AIDS Day 2009

Today I would like to share a beautiful essay written by my friend Lynn, who lives upstate New York. I hope it touches you as it did me. Thank you Lynn.

I usually stay away from too much thinking about my brother Mark. There are depths there that I don't want to plumb. He was a kind soul, very loving. He was also very naive and even though he warned me that I should never trust anyone, ever, he trusted lots of people he shouldn't have. I remember one Christmas the woman who claimed to be the mother of his son (we all know that Marcus was NOT his son, and he knew it too but really wanted to leave a legacy...more about that some other time) telling him if he wanted to see Marcus, he'd better get his butt out to her house. After he drove 45 minutes in icy conditions, he called my mother's house crying because that b-word that rhymes with witch had left, with Marcus.

Life was not very fair to my brother, he was born with hemophilia and contracted AIDS we think when he had to have his knees replaced. Continued bleeds caused more than his knee joints to deteriorate.

But this isn't about Mark. Well, it is, because for me he was the first personal face of AIDS. He was subject to humiliation because of it. Some one made an AIDS joke in front of him and he lost his temper - he hadn't told his co-workers, simply because they didn't need to know. After he admitted to being HIV- positive, he went back to work. When he came out of work in the morning, he found that 'someone' had spray painted his truck with all kinds of epithets. That was not the first blow, but it was toward the beginning.

People still make AIDS jokes. Ignorance is a disease, too.

His teeth fell out. He lost his hair. He hardly slept the last two years of his life because he had terrible nightmares. His particular hell was the liver damage - because of the drugs he was taking. We counted the number of pills he took daily, once. The number 52 sticks in my mind. AZT probably prolonged his life, but at a very great price since that was what ruined his liver.

He'd gotten married two months before he received his HIV positive diagnosis. He was the best kind of father to his stepdaughters, I remember one Thanksgiving he went and sat with Niki in the hospital (she was ill with some weird bacteria infection.) He was there, but her biological father was not.

As much as I'm trying to keep this clinical, I can't. I guess it has to be personal.

At the end, he'd pretty much lost his sanity. He had flashes of his old self, and when he did, he was ashamed of how he'd acted during those other times.

There were other things. After he lost his job and had no money and no food, he went to the United Way for help. They refused to help him. I do not contribute to the United Way because of their treatment of my brother. PEACE Incorporated helped him, hooked him up with some agencies and most important, gave him food. He wouldn't tell us, his family, that he was in such a state because he was ashamed. Humiliated.

And I know that what happened to him was just a patch on all the stuff AIDS patients have to go through.

By now, perhaps everyone knows someone who is living with AIDS, or has died from it. And by now everyone probably has heard the conjectured theories that it started because men had sex with monkeys And of course, that is is a scourge sent from God to help rid mankind of homosexuals because they are an abomination.


I used to make the distinction, once.

I told people that my brother died of AIDS but he wasn't gay, he'd gotten it from a bad blood transfusion.

I don't do that anymore.

I am a sister who once had two brothers living, but now I only have one.

I am a sister who remembers those last humiliating and horrifying years, months, weeks and days of my brother's life. I would not have loved my brother any less if he had been gay. I know there are sisters out there who have brothers who are living with AIDS, and sisters who are terrified that their brothers might contract AIDS because of the way their brothers live.

I am a sister who hopes that one day, sisters and brothers won't lose their siblings, mothers and fathers won't lose their sons or daughters, to this scourge.

This is way too much of an emotional issue for me to write about without letting the personal creep in. I have people who might take me to task because I said I wouldn't have loved my brother any less if he'd been gay.

All I really want to say is that NO ONE deserves this horribleness. No one. Not my brother, not my co-worker's gay cousin, not ANYONE no matter what their sexuality, their religion or their personal habits.

I can only do this once a year. I am not strong, I can't find it in me to work with AIDS patients or rock AIDS babies. I sang with the Silent Chorus at one time, but that was about the best I can do. There are no longer observances on the Quad on this day.

But today, World AIDS day, I CAN put on my red ribbon and blog here. I can answer questions from people who see my red ribbon and ask me about it.

Because I am a sister who lost her brother to AIDS.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Nothing but sorrow

Sorrow, nothing but sorrow, for the four Lakewood police officers who were murdered yesterday morning, sorrow for the decimation of their families, sorrow for the hole in the heart of the community. Nothing but sorrow...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Holiday Moments

Friday afternoon. Lunchtime. And I am looking back at some bright moments and hard moments. Hard moments: the aches and pains that come with being sick with a cold for a week. I had come to realize that, once I got too tired and starting sneezing and feeling feverish, I would not be able to function well for at least a week.
And I knew that I could not work at the hospital if I were sneezing away. Neither the team I work with, other staff members, or patients needed me stumbling around.
Still accepting that I needed to stay home and rest was very, very hard.

At the same time there have been the bright moments: being the occasion for a lonely patient smiling, having another pateint thank me for being there, seeing another patient head for home after a very tough few weeks.
Seven days later, waking up feeling alert, no sneezing, no aches, and having time to just sit and listen and laugh and learn with friends. Wonderful moments


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Is This Truly The Decade From Hell?

The most current Time magazine has a feature story that discusses how bad this last decade has been and the title on the cover reads, "The Decade From Hell." I heard on CNBC recently that the original title was, "The Worst Decade Ever."
Whatever the title you roll with, the point is pretty clear.

Do you believe this? Looking forward to discussion.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Put Your Own Spin On Thanksgiving!

While I remember coloring pictures of turkeys, pilgrims with buckled shoes and a handful of their Native American guests as a child - cornucopias and all the other hoopla that surrounded Thanksgiving was not enough to allow full ownership of this annual holiday in my grade school student's heart...

So it was with considerable surprise that I finally found some genuine fall harvest spirit this year in connection with working up an origami mock-up of a Asian-American inspired harvest craft project to introduce to families at Wing Luke Asian Museum.

Taking inspiration from a arty little origami box and folded paper ball, I put together a 3-dimensional spin on the traditional cornucopia theme which oddly enough fully resonates with the disconnect I've felt about Thanksgiving decor since my early youth.

Perhaps it pleases that part of my ancestry which includes hardworking farmers from Japan's Kumamoto Prefecture on the island of Kyushu whose celebrated staff of life was rice rather than corn or wheat back in my grandma and grandpa's day. So the cornucopia has been transformed into a elegant folded paper box, and bread into folded paper gohan balls.

If you or younger family members might be interested in participating in this exercise, consider yourself cordially invited to a free make n' take arts and crafts presentation during a Family Day at the WING with Mizu Sugimura, from 1-3 p.m. tomorrow afternoon at the museum located at 719 S. King Street in the heart of Seattle's Chinatown/International District.

While strict traditionalists may balk at this departure from conventional archetypes, as an artist I'm particularly interested in nurturing the idea that creative improvisation can always be welcomed if it plays any part in bringing more of these long-observed anchors of American life closer to the hearts and minds of us all.

And while we may prefer as individuals or communities to take different roads and personalize the holiday with our own take on the celebrations it is possible as a nation to arrive at the same destination if our fundamental goals are truly shared.

For more details and directions to the museum click here.

Below: (l-r) Mary Shifton proudly displays the paper fan she made at a previous make n'take session during a "Family Day at the WING" in August 2008 with Federal Way paper artist Mizu Sugimura .

Am I The Only One Who Likes Thanksgiving?

It still, after all these years, blows my mind, when the Christmas decorations come out at nearly the same time as the Halloween ones. And then there's the little pitiful Thanksgiving display, that gets smaller and smaller each year. Poor Thanksgiving: misunderstood and overlooked.

I love Halloween and Christmas, but I love Thanksgiving too. I am blessed because I have the ability to celebrate it with a loving family and food. I like the whole meal prep, getting together for a meal, the fall decor, the bounty, the smells, and the cozy feeling. I've participated in all kinds of Thanksgivings. Small crowds, large crowds, immediate family, immediate and extended family, family and friends, and just friends. I've eaten traditional fare, unusual fare (taco salad anyone?), and I even prepared an entire vegan feast. I've been home for the holiday and out of state. I've had Thanksgiving on vacation (my favorite away Thanksgiving was when the kids were really young and the four of us had a Hawaiian style dinner in Kona in our condo we rented and one kid was in her diaper only and the other one in his underwear. Rick and I were in bathing suits for the meal). Memories....

However, a lot of folks that I know, don't care about Thanksgiving and thinks it's too much, over-hyped, a pain, a waste, and so on.

But unlike the other two big holidays in the fall, Thanksgiving is so flexible. You can do it however you like. Sure there are customs and traditions I suppose, but you can tweak them a lot easier than you can the other ones. There's no pressure for material gifts, just the gift of your time.


Tacoma Mainstay Restaurants A Big Let Down

Maybe it was remnants of Friday the 13th. Or some weird full moon. Or some bad karma. But my husband and I had two separate and miserable restaurant experiences within 24 hours of each other at two different, favorite, and reliable restaurants in Tacoma. We've been long time customers of both establishments and always put in a good word or a plug for each. Now they've let us down. Here's the scoop.

Restaurant number one (The Hub): my husband took my son out for dinner. The restaurant was busy, but not overwhelmingly so. To start, the server accidentally spilled an entire beer all over my son. My son was a good sport, accidents happen, and my husband's beer was on the house. Okay? Nope. The service was turtle slow after that, inattentive, and they got the wrong order to boot. Folks that sat down well over 30 minutes AFTER they arrived were eating their food. My husband had had it with the wait. He advised the manager, they took a little off the bill, but still my husband was upset. He is very good at delivering feedback, so it wasn't as if he was a jerk or anything.

Restaurant number two (Primo Grill): I took my mom out to a performance at the Pantages and we decided to dine prior. This restaurant was bustling actually, but it seemed like their were quite a number of staff members. Our server really struggled (as she seemed to be doing bartending duties as well). She didn't seem to know the menu very well nor did she really know how to mix my mom's drink (she actually asked US what it was and how to do it--we thought it was a fairly common drink). Then the food took forever (others were getting served that came in quite later than us). Our poor server seemed to be walking around in circles aimlessly (we tried to have empathy but were getting frustrated because we had a show to catch and parking to contend with). When we got our order, part of mine was inedible (like eating a tablespoon of kosher salt) and my mom got the totally wrong order. Other folks at nearby tables were having similar experiences (one had worse food luck than us--ice cold, inedible pork that was so dry you could hear it crack off the bone). My mom and I recognized one of the owners (who very warmly welcomed us at arrival). Mom decided to go share her concerns (as our server was no where to be found). I overheard my mom and she was very nice, yet gave constructive feedback. The owner scowled, didn't say a word, rung up our check, and slammed it on the table and walked away. We were SHOCKED (as were the other patrons, who too were having problems). No offer to discount the meal, no offer to make things right.

So, what gives?

The restaurant business is a tough business indeed. It always has been. Compounded by a bad economy, it's worse. But COME ON. These restaurants let my family and I down. I am sorry if it's a bad night, if there are employee issues, or whatever, but folks, you've got to step up. Tacoma has a wonderful culinary/restaurant scene, which I hate to see sullied by this terrible service.

Readers, bloggers: tell me, what would you do? How would you move forward? Share your bad restaurant experiences HERE.

Sharpen your poison pencils and let 'er rip!

P.S. Thanks to the last two comments--they made some excellent points and gave me the
guts to name the offenders. Hub, Primo, you guys are off your game. Kim

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Gig Harbor High School presents the Miracle Worker

If you love theater, but are watching your pennies I highly recommend high school productions. Gig Harbor High School is in its final week of The Miracle Worker. Teacher/director Kristin Zetterstrom never fails to give the community a professional theatrical experience at bargain basement prices. Tickets are $8.00 for adults, $6.00 for children/students.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Rambling Rose

Reader’s who followed the posts I put up for Pat Kurz, Tacoman and Gig Harbor High School teacher, who spent a semester during the 2007-08 school year teaching in China, will be happy to know that Pat has continued to write. I am here to introduce her blog, Roseman’s Ramblings. Among her talents as teacher, writer and gamer, Pat is a gardener, particularly of roses (hence the name), but in her blog she examines life as a Baby Boomer in a new century. She’s eclectic and gritty. She tells it like it is.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembering Veteran's Day at Tahoma National Cemetery

My father was a survivor of Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Midway. He served his country as a civilian aeronautical engineer during Operations Red Wing and Hardtack. The plaque that memorializes him is a thousand miles away in the Missouri Ozarks. I can’t take him flowers for Veteran’s Day, but since both my husband and I have the day off from work and like to do something meaningful to honor those who have served (so did my husband in peace time) we decided we would attend the ceremony at Tahoma National Cemetery in Covington, WA where the father and brother of my best friend are buried. Our families have known each other since we were very little girls and I knew she could not attend herself as she lives and works in Oregon. She did not get the day off.

I hate the fact that commercial enterprises turn Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day into sale days meant to line their pockets. I sent Amazon a nasty email at Memorial Day because of that and emailed the History Channel complaining because they turned Memorial Weekend into a Monster Quest marathon. Having said that, I was disappointed to find that Safeway had not made up any very patriotic looking bouquets and had them cobble together a bouquet of red carnations and one of baby’s breath into two, which the floral department clerk tied with red and white ribbon. It would have to do.

My girlfriend had suggested that I wear red, white and blue for the occasion which proved a problem since nearly everything in my closet is purple. I dug out my red jumper, generally reserved for Christmas and Valentine’s Day, and a white blouse. Carefully I pinned the WWII Sweetheart pin my mother wore onto my red sweater. No matter that they divorced when I was 18. For me it symbolizes my love and honor for my father.

Because it had been extremely rainy all week I asked my daughter-in-law to help me find my good umbrella. The sun was out, but I wanted to ensure that it would stay out. It turned out that it was a wonderful day for a drive and to wander around Tahoma National Cemetery. With my girlfriends directions we found first her father’s grave and then her brothers. People are buried in the order they arrive at Tahoma. Spouses can be buried together, but there are no “family plots.” After we had placed our flowers and taken pictures we walked to the flag area where there were formal ceremonies going on. When a cloud obscured the sun and the ceremonies were winding down we moved toward the car.
On our way out of the cemetery we stopped to pay our respects to Dave's friend from the FAA, Chris Beal. Chris emigrated to the United States right out of school and joined the U.S. Army. He fought in Vietnam, became a citizen, and made the Army a career. His second career was the FAA where he also retired before his death in 2007. He was a charming man and we miss him much.

Back in Tacoma we went out for a late lunch in Old Towne. The ladies went to the Hawthorn Tearoom and the fellas across the street to the Spar for fish and chips. Our timing was perfect in that we all finished at the same time and the weather was deteriorating by the time we got in the car to head home to Gig Harbor. It was satisfying to have participated in the ritual of taking flowers to soldiers and to remember my father, even if he is buried so far away. I still have some of my father’s ashes that I’d intended to take to Pearl Harbor, but am now thinking of asking the VA if we can put them at Tahoma. Then his family would have someplace closer at hand to go for Veteran’s Days.

Lyme Warrior

In remembrance of a faithful four-legged Lyme Warrior, Oliver, 05/05/'96 to 11/10/'09

Please make sure that you use flea AND tick protection for your beloved dogs and cats.

Veterans' Day '09

With love and gratitude for those who dedicate themselves to our safety, in the hope of a better world. Thank you for your service.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Morning With Jan Buday

I was delighted to take some time for good conversation with another Two Waters Arts Alliance artist, Jan Buday, on Thursday morning. Jan studied textiles and weaving at the University of Hawaii, but her
fascination with textiles and art began its spinning in her childhood. At age seven, she was with her parents in Japan and had two large emotional imprints. One was the ruins of Nagasaki, a mere decade after the blast (Jan's family, as Japanese-Americans, had endured the injustice of fear, living in America during WWII) and the other was a visit to Kurashiki Village; a village of Folk Arts.

It's here in the conversation that Jan begins to light up, her arms waving
as if one could paint the scene of colour, fabric, texture and weave she was immersed in that day. It was easy for me to feel it because we were sitting in Jan's studio, surrounded with colour, fabric, texture and weave! The
grey day lay outside, but inside I felt warmed and if I could
be seven, safely playing in her studio.

Seventeen years ago, Jan's father made and gave her a "Marudai" which is a wooden stand used for an ancient Japanese art of braiding, called Kumihimo. Threads, silk, ribbons, etc., are weighted by tying wooden
spools to the ends, and then braided into different designs for cords and belts. Let me tell you, the first time I saw Jan working with a large Marudai...I was mezmerised! Her hands danced up and down, side to side, across the top with her threads. The wooden bobbins clacked in rhythm against the stands wooden sides. Hawaiian slack-key guitar playing softly in
the background and my eyes brimming with colours, I was transported within Jan's gentle dance and the hope I know she has for the world, as an artist grateful for the chance to affect a corner of it.

Jan combines this beautiful braiding with exquisite glass beads she makes herself, and the combination looks like jewelry for the soul. You cannot look or touch any of the pieces without feeling Jan's smile and the gift that comes within it. She also teaches Kumihimo, with a Level I class coming, Nov. 21st and a Level II class, Nov. 22nd. at Gig Harbor Beads. Their phone number for more information is (253) 858-6750. You can see the little foam form that replaces the traditional Marudai for holding in the hands and working. I'm really looking forward to my lesson this winter!

I asked Jan how her process and art have changed with age and experience. It's a question I ask of my community as I ponder it for myself. With life's serendipity, her answer, our conversation, and a poetry prompt I had received in the morning, all began to weave. So I shall leave you with a recommendation to visit so that you can see more from one of the amazing artists we have here, living between the Two Waters of Carr and Case Inlets. I leave you with a poem from the prompt, "growth," and the magic of a morning spent with neighbour, colleague, and friend...thanks Jan!

Growing Passion

She had a passion to begin,
details sometimes lost in the rush
to start again another flame.
So it is, when fire is young,
sparks fly and burn, too quickly done.

Now she knows her passion runs,
years grow into life poured
through emotion, her art
into details and justice,
nailing intricate finishing touches.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Drink Beer and Help Kids and Families at Mary Bridge (Yes, Really)

Nothing says fall better than a deliciously dark and stout stein of great beer. Beer. Yum!

So, raise your glasses, get some great food, be thoroughly entertained, and bid on fabulous auction items at Oktoberfest by Chambers Creek Orthopedic Guild, Tacoma Orthopedic Association. Oktoberfest is being held at Annie Wright School in Tacoma's Old Town neighborhood on November 14th from 6 PM to 10 PM. Tickets to the event are $45.00 per person. Proceeds from this event will benefit Mary Bridge Children's Hospital and Health Center.

And they will have beer there! Beer tasting! Frothy, delicious beer.

What's better than sipping the suds, dining on fun German fare, and having a casual evening out with friends and doing good for the hospital? Not much else.

Oh, and did I mention the beer?

Intrigued? Thirsty? Get moving because tickets are limited. E-mail your reservation to this e-mail address: to reserve your tickets.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

South Sound Animal Lovers, Please Help

Readers, Bloggers:

The Tacoma Pierce County Humane Society is desperately in need of pet food for their Emergency Pet Food Bank. This food bank benefits those who are struggling to afford pet food. The Human Society is deeply concerned because some folks who cannot afford to feed their pet may be forced to bring them to the shelter.

Please, please help this heartbreaking situation from happening. Drop off your bags or cans of dog or cat food at the shelter (they will gladly accept partial bags, too!). Click HERE to get all the info.

Our South Sound animals and families thank you in advance.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

University Place May Take The Hatchet To Youth Sports Programs

I have been the recipient of e-mails that indicate there is strong and substantiated buzz about the city of University Place potentially cutting city sponsored youth sports programs beginning January 2010 due to financial woes. Personally, my children don't use any of these programs; nonetheless, this community is sports oriented and these sports teams mean the world to a number of local families. Yes, times are tough, but I had a tough time believing the city would pursue this avenue. So, I dug a little, read a little, and here's what I found.

This website has been floating around (created by Mayor Linda Bird, who happens to be up for re-election this Tuesday) called Save University Place Sports (click HERE to view). Mayor Bird lays the foundation of what's happening, adding a strong sense of urgency to citizens, while at the same time taking a swing at fellow council members, particularly Council Member Flemming (who is retiring at the end of his term). Interestingly, I have been the recipient of e-mails taking jabs at Mayor Bird from Flemming for a variety of issues.

So my take?

Politics as usual. Ick.

I find this blog in it's entirety and the timing of its creation from Mayor Bird rather strange. While her proposal to initiate council pay cuts to save vital community programs is intriguing, what's the deal with the blog? Suspect to me.

The bottom line is that the political climate of this city is very heated. Citizens are angry about The Town Center long time construction site (which is a mess all around). Clearly council members are bickering amongst each other and it's getting nastier as we approach Tuesday.

My proposal? Let's get the facts of these proposal cuts outlined in a NEUTRAL, non-biased format (hint, hint UP City Website). City leaders, if you want to duke it out politically, do what you've got to do, but leave the kids out of it.


Working for the Ideals

Yesterday my husband Dave and I chose to spend part of Halloween standing on a street corner in Tacoma, demonstrating for equal rights for all citizens. Those who put Initiative 71 before the people sought to over-turn the State of Washington’s “everything, but marriage, law” passed last year. Just when it seemed that Washington had struck a blow for fairness and enlightenment, the unenlightened Born Again Hypocrites in the state thought that they’d make and end-run around equality.

What drew us out despite our overwhelming belief that 71 will pass was the experience last weekend of a coworker who had demonstrated in front of Border’s Books on 38th in Tacoma. He was verbally abused by a church group demonstrating to reject the initiative. The story made its way around the local Facebook community and another rally was born. We all were excited when Dave went across the street to stand in the midst of the Reject group. He moved when they brought out a bull horn, but the Tacoma Police Department made them put it away.

Dave and I fail to see how allowing committed couples to make decisions about end of life issues, inheritance, and benefits impacts their lives. If anything, we see it as strengthening of the entire community of Americans. We also honor every American’s right to an opinion and free speech so we were respectful of the Slavic church group who showed up with their “one man, one woman, protect the children,” but really can’t understand how Initiative 71 is damaging to anyone’s children or marriage, especially since it has nothing to do with marriage. Of course they had the “slippery slope” theory which also doesn’t hold water since the fact that the heterosexual couple down the street gets a divorce or our homosexual friends are allowed to marry, impacts our marriage not in the least.

One of the beauties of American democracy is not only the right to free speech, but freedom of religion which means that no one can force their religious values down the throat of any other citizen. The Declaration of Independence was about the ideals of equality, opportunity, liberty, rights and democracy. We did not begin as a nation adhering to all of these ideals for every citizen, but we are an ever evolving society, seeking to make the dream come true for everyone.

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?