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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.