The News Tribune logo

Monday, August 31, 2009

Justice Under God

Fall is raining its blessings on us. Summer is sadly and slowly slipping away.

Businesses are goal setting. Churches are getting ready to welcome vacationers back.
We appear to be so very divided around poverty and peace... and teachers, get ready... THE STUDENTS ARE BACK!

High energy, sorry summer is over--- the students are back. And, this year, the iron fist of NO NONSENSE, SETTLE DOWN, GET YOUR HOMEWORK IN NOW is decked out in black shirts... with that big downer, some time stopper that I would like to misquote now:
"Melvin and Lucinda, settle down or I shall see you after school at jug!"That's right, after school, when time is so precious and you get stuck in the classroom doing homework or some other task that you really do not want to do...
But you took your chances, your pushed the teacher too hard, and Mel and Luci... you are paying the price... sitting far away from each other, eyes on whatever you have to do, and slowly, slowly, you are ("wake up, the teacher is about to give you another day in jug...")

"Ah," you tell your folks after the teacher has phoned them that night, "I didn't do nothing." Well, check it out the teachers have the list in black and white now and this time, "if you do the crime, you'll pay the time."

Life goes on... school has started... and you are finding yourself on a grey day in a world of trouble...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Stadium Thriftway Texas-style BBQ

One of the most enjoyable events of summer is held every week on Thursday and Friday from 11:30 to 1:30 at Stadium Thriftway, near Wright Park, in Tacoma. Texas-style BBQ with the grill setup in the parking lot and fragrant aroma wafting throughout the area. Every customer is addressed as "Cowboy" or "Cowgirl" when stepping up to the counter to order. It is a fun atmosphere similar to what you'd find at 'The Fair' and even includes live music.

Anthony Almeida

It was ten years ago this week, August 28, 1999, when our friends Art and Edie Almeida allowed their son Anthony to go on a vacation trip from their home in Roy to Ocean Shores, Washington with family friends.

At the ocean, Anthony and a friend were wading in shallow water when Anthony was knocked to his knees by a wave and pulled out to sea, powerless against a rip current during the outgoing tide. All efforts to save him were futile against the power of the current. His body was not recovered for weeks. His death left family and friends devastated.

Anthony Almeida was the second oldest of four sons. He was a star athlete, a good student, and loved by all.

For the past year Anthony's mother, Edie Almeida, has been planning and preparing a 10th Anniversary Memorial Celebration of Anthony's life. She produced a slide show of family photos and even burned commemorative CDs with a collection of favorite songs and gave each person in attendance a copy of the CD in a jewel box case tied with raffia bow. Edie walked through the picnic shelter with a huge basket on her arm full of the CDs and stopped at each table to talk with every person who came and to give them a copy of the CD.

There was a buffet line with beautiful ethnic foods, fresh fruits, berries, and desserts. The event was last weekend, August 22, 2009, at Yelm City Park. More than a hundred people came. People of all ages were on hand: kids played on the lawn, older boys tossed a football back and forth as the music played, and people brought their family pets along, too. Everyone -- including the pets -- were all made to feel welcome. Family members came from out of state, as well.

The celebration was such a beautiful thing and Edie did so much to prepare for it. One special thing she had wanted to do was to perform a special hula as an expression of her forever love for her husband Art, for her three surviving sons, and all in memory of her undying love for Anthony. It was a beautiful tribute, unlike any I have ever seen before. Here is the video of the memorial hula.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tea With Tweed Meyer

Author's note: All text in italics are Tweed Meyer's own words.

My friend Tweed Meyer on the back deck of The Aerie.

Several years ago I met local artist Tweed Meyer, down at the Swiss, in Tacoma. It was a packed house with great energy and Tweed was a major part of the night's performance for me. Off in the corner by the stage she set up her easel. Conducting the air with pencils, charcoal, chalk, brushes and fingers, she caught the essence of both music and the bands' performance on paper. All the while she danced and swayed with her swirls and strokes, her smile bemused and blissful.

Recently I had a chance to ask Tweed how the Muse led her to paint music, to document the energy of performance. True to her name, she began to weave a story of texture and depth.

My dad had a record store on K. Street and an album of Elvis, signed on his visit. Nat King Cole to Satchmo, my parents loved music and dancing. Music has always been an important part of my life. As Satchmo said, Life is what we play.

Right: Tweed's rendition of a Pearl Django performance.

Tweed's story-telling takes on even more colour as she moves beyond her graduation, in her thirties, from N.W.C.A. to studying in San Miguel de Allende. A flamenco guitarist set upon the backdrop of, "...vaulted French-domed rooms, tucked in amongst Diego Rivera's murals and a garden of fat doves," gave Tweed desire, whispered by her muse.

Back in Ollala, as a single mother of three, the seed was planted.

Bluegrass was always around in the very nature of its valley floor. I showed up to it, in our annual Bluegrass Festival.

During this time, the Ollala Community Centre was worked on and became useful again as a venue.

I wanted to capture, to document, our gathering in celebration and joy. Her eyes sparkle blue with the memories of an idea's tender shoots rising from home soil.

Left: Music at Tweed's house in Ollala.

Last but not least, I put up art at Starbucks, downtown Tacoma and sketched the scene. When I was done, I went up to the Swiss, where Bob suggested I get up on stage (with a pitcher of beer) and sketch. So came the flower and the fruit.

Tweed Meyer is loved by area musicians because she 'gets' us. We are honoured when we recognise, not so much our physical selves, but the energy of our intent behind the performance...dancing in living colour across the page/stage. Even ghosts living in the Swiss have been known to come out and play within a scene!

Right: Malibu Manouche at this year's Beyond the Borders Music Festival.

When I asked Tweed what was important to the harvest, she replied without hesitation in a stream of consciousness.

Showing up...listen...tell the truth...don't care about the present to process...right to be creative...document...trusting becomes up.

Yes Virginia - in 2009 Everything's Coming Up Tomatoes!

Above: This year tomatoes are the idols of the hour at this local blogger's home.
All photos copyright 2009 by Mizu Sugimura.

Earlier in the year, fellow TNT blogger Stephanize Frieze wrote about her intention to put in an old-fashioned Victory type garden as a way of coping with rising food costs and a down economy. Well, I admit I gave her idea some thought, but neglected to allow proper time in advance to prepare a patch of soil that would allow for me to give the concept a good try.

The opportunity to be responsible for faithfully caring and watering for some food producing green plants was not completely lost however. With a little help from my local Rite-Aid store's selection of tomato starts and a lot of full sun on my deck we are now rolling into that part of the gardening season where the fruit of my labors (see 3 photos accompanying this article) is becoming more of a reality!

So while I proved to be far less ambitious than my colleague, the summer of 2009 will still yet go down in my memory for as long as I live, irregardless of whether I choose to continue over the coming years and replicate this healthful and nurturing habit. There was also an unexpected harvest which heralded a brief return of some foggy memories from my salad days - as a handful of short scenes emerged from the past of my late bespectacled Japanese-American and Boeing engineer father hurriedly shuffling out our screen door to the backyard to religiously water and nurse his own plump little summer red objects of delight.

Next year perhaps I ought to think about adding a few green heads of lettuce ...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Fred Meyer employees fired for random mistakes

I am a regular customer at the Fred Meyer Tacoma/Pacific store, as it is literally a 5-minute walk from my house. Today as I walked past a house on the next block, a rolled-up flyer in the cyclone fence caught my eye. It was about a couple of former Fred Meyer cashiers fired for accidentally handing back customers' checks for $12 and $26, asking that the customers who mistakenly received those checks return to the store to make good on their purchases.

I didn't take the flyer with me, in case by some coincidence that homeowner was actually one of the check-writers. But I remembered the name Juanita Carroll, and as soon as I got home I searched the Internet for some kind of petition or blog post about this lady's predicament. Nothing. I called the store and spoke to a manager, and even offered to pay the amount of the check, but the manager told me that unfortunately this was the store policy, and even if the employee offers to pay the amount, they must still be fired (they are eligible for rehire if they remain active in the union).

That's when I went back to the house where I'd found the flyer. I knocked on the door and explained that I would like to take it with me, once the man had read it just to be sure he wasn't one of those customers. He seemed to find my request rather laughable, but I didn't care. I came home and called the union straightaway. Apparently this has only recently become a problem with Fred Meyer. And it's a problem I really can't understand. Why would you fire an experienced 19-year employee who says she loves her job (that kind of person can't be easy to find -- I'd have to pop happy pills or wear a hidden vibrator to make it through a day as a cashier!) only to have to turn around and go to the expense of hiring and training someone new, someone who might not even last once they got a taste for what it's really like?

I couldn't believe the union didn't have an online petition set up to pressure Fred Meyer corporate to amend or at least reconsider this policy. I couldn't believe they didn't have diaries posted at DailyKos or HuffPo or even our local newspaper, the TNT. I rely routinely on Fred Meyer for many of my shopping needs, but I would boycott them in a heartbeat to get them to change this heartless policy. In today's economic environment, a job loss can literally be life-threatening. I didn't go put my life on the line in Iraq only to come home and see my fellow citizens' security jeopardized not by fanatical terrorists but by greedy corporate policies.

This is not the end of this, but only the beginning.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

My Oh My!!!!

It's time for school... good old HIGH SCHOOL USA!!! And the new year is starting out mighty mighty tasty. Freshmen and their folks came ready today... to learn a lot about the school, about each other, and listening and learning and dancing and laughing were the top hits for them today. And a whole lot of good eating....Yum Yum!

Teachers, staff, and parents worked very hard to make this great day for all. The sun was shining. The grills were smoking... and all one had to do to make this a great day was just accept what was happening around you.

A good time was had by all.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Most Joyful Time... First Vows In Portland, Oregon

A number of people I know as they finished sharing a moving, personal story, have exclaimed: "what a blessing!" I understand them to mean they have been deeply and positively touched in ways they had not imagined. And I am using those words, "what a blessing," to highlight the wonderful experience I had, beginning Friday afternoon, August 14 and concluding Saturday afternoon, August 15, in Portland, Oregon.
Three wonderful young men, Patrick Couture, SJ, Michael Laveson, SJ, and Lorenzo Herman, SJ, publicly proclaimed their First Vows in the Society of Jesus.
These wonderful young men publicly stated that with the prayers and love of family and friends and with the loving support and direction of God, they were choosing to live, with their brothers in the Jesuit community, poor,celibate, and obedient lives... giving themselves to the work of supporting God in creating a safe, healthy, and happy world for all God's creatures.
Each one of them moved through the services with great grace, confidence, and humility. I was so glad I had the chance to thank them for what they were doing.
I had an opportunity to spend some time with Lorenzo's father. We laughed and teased. Here is a picture of Lorenzo Herman, SJ, with his familyAnd I had a few moments with Lorenzo and those few moments were the occasion for my thinking I was so happy to be alive.

At the Eucharistic Celebration, during the Ritual of Sharing the Scriptures, Lorenzo's aunt sang wonderfully... enjoy her prayerful singing

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Squirrel Story

Quite a while back, I posted about this beautiful piece of artwork done by a wonderful friend. The more you gaze into it, the more animals you will find...and all of them are a part of Anna and my stories. Today I'd like to share one with you.

Can you see the wee squirrel, down in the left and shown a little more close-up here? Anna (and her brother) have always had an affinity with squirrels, raising three orphans at different times in New York. Each one was successfully given back to the life they were supposed to have and even came to visit, showing off their own kids!

Last Friday Anna walked into the front garden and heard a distress call. Rani the pup used her nose and led Anna under the big fir tree, where she found a very new baby squirrel absolutely covered in biting ants on the ground. My daughter knew just what to do, grabbing protective gloves and a tupperware bowl. She brushed as many ants off as she could before picking up baby gently and placing it in the bowl. Anna and my husband worked quickly and carefully to remove every last ant from the wee squirrel.

With the calm assertive energy that speaks to all animals, Anna comforted and quieted the baby. She knew the squirrel's best chance was to be taken back to mama as fast as possible, so my hubby managed to put a cardboard box safely in the tree with baby inside. Now it was time to wait. Sure enough...mama came and a joyous, noisy reunion happened in the arms of our fir!

Grey squirrels make these little "meh-meh-meh" sounds between mama and babies. We've learned to mimic it (doesn't work with red squirrels) and have had many cool responses. The next day Anna went to the fir tree and heard the squirrels happily meh-mehing. She smiled and began to join in just a little, softly at the base of the tree.

To Anna's delight, mama came racing down the tree to within just a few feet of her. Anna watched and listened as mama grey gave a speech of thanks, complete with a couple of dancing flips...and what looked like blowing kisses! Anna's face glowed as she came in to tell me.

Squirrel medicine is about gathering. Whether it be food for the winter...or food for thought. Anna gathers information and compassion, sharing with the world and all her relations. Call us squirrely if you want: it's good medicine...and who doesn't love happy endings?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Don’t Let This Face Fool You….

My 11 week old puppy Kona’s little furry sweet face stops people in their tracks to coo. I mean, shoot, take a look at that pic!

And she is a good dog quite a bit.

Okay, she’s a good dog sometimes.

All right, she’s naughty. There.

So, bring in Tacoma’s Positive Approach Dog Training. I mean, we’ve been working HARD on training. We follow Cesar Milan and Victoria Stilwell. We read the books and the blogs; heck, we watch everything on Animal Planet.

We WERE having nice success (potty training and kennel training was a breeze, some commands learned, scheduled followed). These elements are still good, but playtime, turned into controlling behavior, nipping, irritating time. Hence, Positive Approach; and yes, we sprung for for the private lesson. It was worth all that and more.

A lovely, confident, knowledgeable, dog whisperer named Numia came to our home ready to go. She got down on the floor with my little bundle of fluff. Kona was wonderful at first; then they played. Numia politely acknowledged that our little pup was very stubborn, easily frustrated, and controlling (really a perfect fit for the Thompson clan).

We knew what we were getting into with a border collie puppy. There are risks with the herding breed, but with hard work, and being an active family, we knew that this was the right dog and she would be just wonderful.

Numia reinforced this and gave us excellent tips and tricks to help her self-calm and for us to gain back control as the pack leader(s). It was very informative and it is WORKING. Kona is doing much better with play time. We even got her out for a little walk today with her leash and harness.

We signed up for their Puppy Workshop. We can’t wait and Kona will love meeting the other doggies, too.

More “tails” from the front to come!

A Gig In Paradise...Trip To The Other Side

Friday the 14th. was a special gig for us and a new exploration, for me, of the Key. Our band was playing for a private party on the peninsula's west side, overlooking Case Inlet.

It was the most perfect of days to perform outside, with patches of sun and cloud carried on a sweet breeze. We were under a canopy, just in case, and we could have tied down the west side of it...but who would want to with a view like this?

I couldn't resist taking a picture of this wee tugboat, Reliance, as the fellas were setting up their equipment. Then it was time to get our groove on, starting with a mellow background feel as folks arrived from all over the world it seemed. Our host had a plan...and may I say, we have never been so well-treated as entertainers! For the first set we would keep it low-key so everyone could enjoy conversation, then our host would make a little speech.

After words of welcome, Frank proceeded to make the band blush with his praise. His plan was for everyone to eat (musicians first, even...just unheard of!) and then to arrange the chairs so that the second set would be a concert, all eyes on the band. We had permission for take-off!

What can you say when the sky lights your show for free? What can you say when an eagle hangs above you as if fishing for the notes? It had been months since Jazz Musette performed...and I had been jonesin' babies...jonesin'! To hell with the back and the joints of the old woman who ate me...all my hips heard was the rhythm section! Anna was able to join me for the last part, her harmonies always kicking it up a notch.

The evening was wrapped in bliss, wrapped in our motto of "Music, Love, and Laughter" with a wonderful audience rising with us to that place of magic between. We tore it up with some fun originals, sweetened with some old standards, peppered in a little reggae...wherever we were going, everyone was there.

For an encore, we did an Abdul Ibrahim piece that I wrote words for called, "Water From An Ancient Well," as the sun began to set. My eyes began to shine, thinking just how lucky I am in my line of work. I get gigs in Paradise!

Water From An Ancient Well (lyrics copyright 2004 Lorraine Hart-music and title by Abdul Ibrahim)

In the time of mountains
We humans barely show
There's a path
Where we come and we go

Every Age we go searching
For where our spirits dwell
Our need to drink
From the Ancient Well

For what is time
But this moment always
Forever touched with grace
If we only hold it so

In the time of mountains
We humans barely show
There's a path
Where we come and we go

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Fire danger high at Point Defiance, recklessness higher

Passing through Point Defiance there were signs prominently displayed warning of the high fire danger in the park at this time. Despite the signage we noted a shocking example of careless behavior and thoughtlessness that puts the park at risk. Someone dumped out their used charcoal briquets on the ground alongside the parking area at Owen Beach. With everything tinder dry, pine needles, fir needles, twigs, and brush there near the base of a large tree was what someone had chosen to use as their personal dumping ground

US Air Force flying too low at Tacoma Mall

There was not enough ground clearance for a tractor-trailer rig sponsored by the US Air Force at Tacoma Mall on Saturday when its trailer got high centered on one of the planting strips on the south side of the mall. Mall Security and the services of a Class C tow truck driver were working to free the big-rig. It seemed ironic with our being a global super power militarily that everything ground to a halt for the Air Force spinning its wheels in a shopping center's flower bed right here at home in a large US city. The driver must have been quite embarrassed finding himself and the flashy truck he was responsible for in that predicament.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Health Care Hoopla

The well insured white right is engaging in fear mongering of the first order. It seems to me that the people who are screaming the loudest about “Death Panels” and health care reform are those who have good insurance and don’t care that the insurance companies are already deciding their health care. Just try to get a procedure or medication your insurance doesn’t want to cover. Even if they are willing to cover it, costs are still high.

My daughter-in-law is in a Catch-22. She suffers from bouts of tachycardia which sometimes sends her to the ER. While not life threatening, they can be terrifying (with a heart rate as high as 200), leaving her exhausted. Her last trip and six hours at St. Joseph’s ER cost $3,000, little of which was covered by her insurance because she was never admitted, just spent the day in the ER. Now she could have a procedure—an ablation to her heart nerves, some of which her insurance would pay, that would probably fix her problem, but even with insurance it would run her around $7,000 out of pocket. The cost effective thing to do is to have the procedure. It would be paid for in a couple of visits to the ER, but she's still paying on the last visit and doesn't have an extra $7,000 laying around. She is having to look into having it done in Brazil because their health care is considerably cheaper (and just as good) as ours.

My mother, who has Medicare plus some supplemental insurance, is convinced that Barak Obama is going to kill her and her friends just to get them out of the way. She’s perfectly happy with Medicare and the status quo, but the “rethuglicans” (fellow blogger Lorraine’s wonderful word, not mine) have got her scared spitless that if we all had some form of Medicare she’d be standing there with Sarah Palin’s mother and special needs son before Sarah’s so called “Death Panel.”

My youngest child has no medical coverage. He’s never had a job that offered it and he’s too old to be covered by me or his father. If he were to have a catastrophic illness his Baby Boom parents would probably bankrupt themselves to care for him. What sort of system is that? My oldest son pays $500 per month to cover his family and it does not include dental. That comes out of their pocket. It smacks of feudalism to me. If you are under or self employed you stand before the American medical system’s “Death Panel.” There ought to be basic health care offered to every citizen and then if people want and can afford more coverage, let them pay the insurance companies.

The system is broken. Why should the greatest nation in the world have some of the least accessible health care? What does that say about us?

If you agree, or even if you don't, check this out.

Washington State International Kite Festival

Next week is the Washington State International Kite Festival in Long Beach, Washington. If you are forgoing an exotic summer vacation you might want to consider the Long Beach Peninsula as an alternative and the kite festival is a wonderful time to be there. Already canopies and booths are beginning to go into place on the Bolstad approach to the beach. The weeklong festival will close the approach to all but foot traffic making it a great place to stroll, enjoy the colorful kites in the sky and the booths offering food, crafts and dust-catchers.

Even the drive to the coast is refreshing. Those leaving Tacoma will probably want to take I-5 from Olympia, but if you live across the Narrows the route through Shelton is only 15 minutes longer than zooming down I-5 and so much more relaxing. From Shelton there are a number of roads that will get you to Montesano and thence to the coast. All have charms and I try to go a different way each time I make the trip. Since I make the trip frequently it is fun for me to see which houses have been painted, which are for sale, which may be gone altogether. Many little farms have eggs and vegetables for sale and everywhere is the beautiful green our state is known for—even in these dry times, although some of the grass along the highways has gotten brown.


I'm on my way to Qatar. It's a small country that juts off of Saudi Arabia. I'll be there for a few weeks. I'll try and find some time to post a few pictures while I'm there. Right now, I'm in an airport lounge in Frankfurt waiting to change planes.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

South Sound Dog Days

When I was pregnant with my first child, I endlessly read “baby preparation” books (and no I still wasn’t prepared, really). I noticed that in each book, there was always a little mini-warning that read a little something like this:
“Some parents fall in love their new baby immediately. Others take more time to “warm up” to the baby and this is perfectly fine.”

So now that we have our new puppy (nine week old Kona), I remembered this advice and took it to heart. The kiddos are warming up to her; still a wee bit hesitant at times, but learning. And this is perfectly fine.

I loved her the minute I held her. Yeah, I am one of THOSE.

Kona is sweet, smart, and awfully cute. She’s learned some early commands (that’s in her breed to be quick learners).


She’s a chewer (and a chewer, and did I say a chewer?) and “mouthing” becomes nipping after a time. We are working on this and training hard. She’s dug holes, ripped up my pumpkin vines, and attempted to eat her own poop. Patience, patience, patience.

It’s hard work, clearly to raise this wee pup (who ain’t so “wee” these days as she’s growing rapidly). We have a puppy training class next week (you’ll see a post on this for sure). Because she’s a border collie, this breed takes extra training and harder work, but it’s supposed to pay off in the long run with a wonderful canine friend and family member.

And being a family member, our dear Kona is subjected to numerous nicknames. We are trying to refrain from all this giddiness, but it’s tough (though, kudos to us pack leaders for always using “Kona” for commands religiously). Here are the nicknames (so far): Konesers, Koneyon, Kone, Dog-Puppy, Duppy (slang for Dog-Puppy), Duppy Duppy Doo, Rapscallion, Rascal, Stinky, Girl, Kona Girl, Wiggly Giggly Puppy, Wiggler Giggler, Diggy Doggy, Diggy, Diggy Diggy Doo, Little One, Sweetie, and Girly Girl.


Affix the label: Dog lover.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Meeting regarding the Greenwater Floodplain Restoration Project.

As a result of comments from some in the community, the organizers and engineers of the Greenwater River ELJ and Floodplain Restoration Project have arranged to hold a community meeting at the Greenwater Community Center to explain their plans for the river project. There will be several specialists to make a presentation and to provide feedback on the project.

This is probably the last public opportunity to discuss the benefits and risks of this project.

Most agree that the floodplain restoration project is a good idea in the abstract. Property owners along the river have reasonable concerns about the risks this may propose to their property. In addition, many are concerned about the risks this project may present to the SR-410 bridge that spans the Greenwater river. Additional concerns are about maintenance for the proposed engineered log jams (ELJ), and there are concerns about identifying these ELJ’s in the event that they fail due to age or flooding.

The Greenwater community in particular as well as those with an interest in this type of project are invited and encouraged to attend.

Click on this link to display a PDF file that shows the project overview. Note you will need Adobe's Acrobat Reader or the equivalent to view the PDF file.

The meeting will take place at 3 PM on August 22, 2009 at the Greenwater Community Center. This is located in the same building as the Greenwater Fire Department.

Plan to arrive a little early.

Hope to see you there!

For more information, on this project look here.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A South Sound Family Reunion

On Saturday, August 8th, South Sound residents Sandra & Jerry Hard of Shelton, Washington hosted a family reunion for Sandra’s family, the Frieze Family. Twenty-six children, grandchildren, great-grandchild, nieces, nephews, great-nieces, great-nephews and great-greats were present for a barbeque, home movies, and lots and lots of talk. The first reunion in thirty years for some members who had come from as far away as Arizona and Missouri, there was much to talk about and catch up on.

Eight first cousins together again

Second cousins, once removed, play together while the adults catch up

Those members who were not present were not forgotten. They were represented in favorite recipes, pieces of jewelry, and the faces of those who loved them. The family hopes that there will be more such meetings without such a long interval between.


Many things struck me at the retreat at Malibu... young people honestly sharing, people putting their reflections on their own spiritual growth in their notebooks, adults and teenagers laughing and praying together... the beauty of the retreat site---

the talent of the people who planned the retreat and got the teens excited-- check some of them out in this video

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Silver Morning; Gold Afternoon

Caught this beauty with my camera in this morning's misty rain and couldn't resist sharing.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Small Washington Town of Ilwaco has Inadequate Emergency Services

The City of Ilwaco at the mouth of the Columbia River is suffering from poor emergency services. Since it is a little out of our Neighborhood, click here if you are interested in the situation in a small coastal town.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Malibu Canada--1

That's right. My report will come in two segments.. the first the site where I had the pleasure of spending Friday evening, all day Saturday, and Sunday until 2:30 pm with a number of teenagers who were enjoying praying, playing, dancing, and singing in the warm, ocean air of this a wonderful teen recreational center high, high up in the mountains.
Young people of different denominations came together with wonderful, loving, inspiring adults to reflect on their spiritual lives.
The site... awesome--- the gathering... awesome

Enjoy this view of the ocean and the mountains

Monday, August 3, 2009

Krispy Kable (Hope this posts!)

Colour the Key frustrated fuschia and confused chartreuse about Broadstripe Cable. We can be very understanding and patient about replacing faulty equipment from the previous company throughout the entire peninsula...hell, we're cheering about that! But Broadstripe didn't move in yesterday and they have been cheerfully charging us full-fare for flaky cable services. Dare to be late or argue the cost for lack of services and you will be disconnected (KAPOW!) like that.
Before I continue my rant, please let me give kudos and a shout-out to the guys who are working out here. Nial, David, Tim, Leon...yes, we're on a first-name basis...we even hug them whenever they arrive. Would you like to know why (other than the fact that they have been working their tushies off in some of the most beastly weather we mossbacks have known) why they have come to mean so much to us? It is the HUMAN contact, the HUMAN concern and understanding. If I am paying you good money for services, this is what I expect to find when I have dealings with your company.
These wonderful guys are the best customer reps Broadstripe has. They have met my daughter and understand just how important being able to connect with the world is when mostly housebound. They have called to give us updates and explain what's going on. They are as frustrated as we are because they are made to pull double-duty, explaining for the company, when they'd like to just get this mess cleared up.
Now...let's visit the people who are actually PAID to be customer reps (custreps, as I've come to call them) for Broadstripe. We'll have to call them, you see, because they are in Michigan. Seeing as my cable-dependent house-phone hasn't worked in months, we'll have to use the cellie. Better make sure it's fully-charged because we are going to be on-hold for a loooooooong time, listening to Broadstripe's enthusiastic, self-stroking advertisements at full volume before hearing a crisp, efficient voice asking how they may help you. This is where it begins to roll downhill like a good wheel of stinky cheese.
We have copies of all the work orders, with details and dates...but each time we call Michigan it's as if we are at the beginning of the movie "Groundhog Day" and riding the redundancy roundabout! They don't "see anything going on at the moment," and their equipment "shows us as being online." My blood-pressure begins to feel the timing of Old Faithful coming close with each try at explaining what they should already know but don't....BECAUSE THEY'RE IN MICHIGAN...and they don't give a flying fanfare at the moon about a customer needing help! Why should they? There's no other cable game in town (though many are opting for Centurytel and Satellite TV) and they stand absolutely no risk of this customer walking up to their desk in calm, assertive, lethal Alpha-mode.
And the bills keep coming like the march of brooms in the Sorcerer's Apprentice. I can sometimes post a blog, send and receive some emails, even get onto some sites (requires dexterity, aluminum foil, and secret incantations) but in a very short time all shuts down and I am told that I'm disconnected from my server...even though my monitor says I'm online...and, more importantly apparently, Michigan's monitor says I am...and to quit my *itchin'! My fellow Blogonias remember that we have had these problems ever since getting the cable installed three years ago, under a different company. All have made money on my community and given caboodle in return for our hard-earned dollars.
On July 30th. testimony was given in Wa. DC on the Lyme Guidelines debate, which was being streamed live online. We were not able to take part in this, after waiting months. I gave a detailed account to the lead engineer, who made it part of his report to corporate. Everyone talks about compensation, further on down the road, for all this mess. Let me say this with enough projection to make it all the way to Michigan...
A few free months of HBO etc. is not going to be enough compensation, Mr. Shadid Butt (CEO), 16305 Swingley Ridge Rd., Chesterfield, Miss. 63017. Oh no. This company owes my community recompense, not because they have to replace shoddy equipment, but because Broadstripe custreps in Michigan have treated us so badly and not kept us informed. Rather, they have led us to believe WE are somehow to blame and annoying for asking for explanations and updates on the service we pay for but don't receive.
Monthly Broadstripe, $114
Customer Service, your sanity
Hard working engineers who update us....priceless!

Astoria's Sunday Market

Sunday I went to the Astoria Sunday Market. This market has been going on for years, but it has just never worked out that I could go. Actually, guilt was probably a factor in my not going sooner. I feel guilty if I’m not doing something for my mother or family and just taking a couple of hours to go do something I want to do isn’t easy. Sunday morning I decided the Sunday had come for me to go.

Astoria, Oregon, long a sad town with vacant shops downtown, is coming back into its own with galleries and book stores as well as organic bakeries and grocery stores. Add the Sunday Market into the downtown area and finding a parking place was hard. I drove around for quite a while and was on the verge of giving up when I found one near to the market.

As soon as I began to look at the booths I was instantly rewarded. We have been doing a lot of landscaping around our old Victorian cottage in Ilwaco and I had been looking for a Rose-of-Sharon that was just the right color for a couple of years. The second booth I walked by had a lavender one for $6. I was able to take it to the car and finish strolling (with a ridiculous grin) the market without lugging it around.

Astoria has a thriving art community and so there were plenty of photographs, pottery, paintings and crafts to look at intermingled with plants, fruit and vegetables. Besides the stalls of the market I ducked into Godfather Books where I purchased a copy of Jane Kirkpatrick’s A Tendering in the Storm which is set on Willapa Bay and Gypsy’s Whimsy just to smell the incense. The book has gone to the top of my stack of books to read and seems appropriate since I am staying a few miles from the bay.

In keeping with my New Year’s Resolution of not acquiring so much stuff I resisted the urge to buy anything else, except a peanut butter cookie. I tasted bread from the Blue Scorcher Organic Bakery and then forgot to go back and buy a loaf. Fortunately I know where the bakery is and when we go to do serious shopping I will stop and get some bread.

All in all, Astoria’s Sunday Market was a lovely way to spend a Sunday morning. If cooling off at the coast sounds good to you, plan your trip to include a Sunday and check out Astoria’s Sunday Market.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Plot Thickens

For further reading and a recent timeline posted by an Iranian about the incident below, try this link.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Ugly--or at least very stupid--Americans

Three Americans were arrested by Iranian Border guards yesterday when they did not heed the warning of the guards and crossed over from Kurdish Iraq into Iran. According to the AP, Kurdish officials are referring to the two men and one woman as “hiking tourists.” Has anyone see Gov. Mark Sanford lately?

Allegedly students, I wonder what they were smoking when they decided that hiking in a nation at war was a good idea. “Hey, man, I heard they have some awesome mountains in Kurdistan.” In tourism 101 there’s a section about “What to do if a border guard yells anything at you.”

My money is on the fact that these Americans were not simply innocent hikers or tourists. With so few facts known it would be foolish to point fingers at any American governmental agency. For all we know one of the many ex-pat Iranian groups in the U.S. might have made the itinerary for this trio or maybe they are jounalism students looking for extra credit, but as the protests in Iran continue (largely ignored by American media) the Iranian government is going to take umbrage at anyone illegally entering the country, particularly from a country embroiled in a war that involves the United States, who has a history if interfering in Iranian affairs.

In 1953 President Eisenhower sent the CIA to Iran to overthrow the democratically elected Prime Minister Muhammad Mossadeq and restore the Shah to the throne. His twenty-six years of brutal rule set the stage for the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The U.S.’s standing in Iran was further damaged by President Carter’s decision not to talk to the Revolutionary leadership which led to the take-over of the American Embassy, the taking of American hostages for 444 days and the defeat of President Carter in the 1980 election.

Americans as individuals and a nation tend to want to rush into situations without thinking. Troubled American John William Yetta not only is standing trial in Myanmar for his stupid actions in swimming across a lake to the residence where Nobel Peace laureate Aung Sang Suu Kyi was under house arrest, which could get him a five year sentence in prison himself, he put the very person he sought to meet in jeopardy. Suu Kyi has already spent 14 of the last 20 years as a prisoner for her nonviolent opposition to the Myanmar government. Just when her parole seemed a possibility Yetta made his midnight swim which sent Suu Kyi from her home back to prison. So far it’s been a good year for meddling Americans.

I am a strong supporter of the Iranian opposition currently fighting for a more democratic society there, but the United States government had best keep out of actual interference when the stakes are so high. The time has not come for President Obama to make overtures to the opposition and it would be just as ill-advised to send in agents, particularly through Iraq. I don’t believe the Obama Administration to be that unwise.

I’m not sure which sounds more ludicrous, spies or tourists hiking in the Kurdish mountains, especially because they’d been warned by the Kurdish authorities not to do so. Whether they are covert agents of the U.S. government, mercenaries of ex-pat Iranians, self-styled freedom fighters, or just very stupid tourists, this incident can materially damage the United States standing in the region because even if they are tourists who lost their Rick Steve’s Guide to Iraq, no one in the region will believe it. This story bears watching.