Thursday, April 30, 2009

New Group: FAVES

There's a group in Spokane, called FAVES, that is organized to celebrate film. It looks like their website is www.favesblog.com. FAVES stands for Film and Video Enthusiasts of Spokane (FAVES), and they describe the group as "an open community of film fans and enthusiasts be it short, documentary or feature formats" and the goal as being to "bring Spokane-area filmmakers and their supporters together for an evening of films and conversation and, hopefully, some networking. Our ultimate goal is entirely selfish: We love good movies and want to see more of them. To keep it going, join the Film and Video Enthusiasts of Spokane (FAVES).”

FAVES held its first event this past Tuesday, showing 17 short films that were entered in EWU's "2009 Quicky" contest that Dan Webster and Mary Pat Treuthart judged. It intends to have a monthly get-together starting at 5:30 followed by movie-watching at 6:30 every (I think) last Tuesday of the month at Isabella's in Spokane (25 West Main) (with the movie portion of the night being in the Magic Lantern, right next to Isabella's). I went this past Tuesday. It was fun. I couldn't stay for the whole night - I didn't realize there would be 17 films! (which, they were short, but it still was getting later than I expected.) All the films entered in the contest currently are located at the FAVES website.

My own group - KNIFVES, a movie networking group that's based out of Idaho - is working to coordinate with FAVES so that we all are interacting and hopefully not overlapping. (KNIFVES' mission statement: KNIFVES is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing an open forum for Inland Northwest Film, Video and Live Entertainment professionals, amateurs and enthusiasts, to promot production, training and networking.) It's interesting, between KNIFVES and FAVES, to see such enthusiasm for movies in this region. It's also interesting to see all the talent.

I do need to recommend one film in particular from the other night - it was the first film shown - called "Little Monkey on the Roam." It was silly, and it made me laugh. It's at the FAVES site. Also, here's a link to Dan Webster's "movies and more" blog - it appears that Dan's still working at the Spokesman for purposes of movie blogging, which makes me happy, I have to say.

Daily Free Write

.
seek all above and below, for through
this mystery will unfold a beginning

.



(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)
photo credit: Neil-San, found here

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Torture Building

Monday, I had to run an errand in Spokane at 108 North Washington. (or North 108 Washington, as Spokane lists addresses.)

As soon as I saw the address, I knew. I was going to the Torture Building.

As discussed in the news lately, and in my blog here and here, two Spokane psychologists - Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell - were instrumental in the turn this country took in the summer of 2002 in choosing to use interrogation techniques such as waterboarding prisoners and slamming them into walls. As also described previously, neither psychologist had ever conducted an interrogation before, and they stepped in with these techniques - as CIA contractors making a reported $1,000 a day (CORRECTION, 2014: Received $81 million of a $180 million contract, over 4 years) - in spite of the fact that the FBI was succeeding with more traditional, bonding-type interrogation techniques. (The Mitchell-and-Jessen-generated CIA techniques themselves originated with countries who sought confessions to be used for propaganda, not reliable intelligence.)

So here I've been, obsessed for a week on this topic, when - voila! - I have to be in the very building where these two psychologists have offices.

And then here is the other weird thing. As I drove to the Torture Building, I realized that the Obama election office last February, during the primaries, was two blocks south of it. Same street - same side of the street, even. Just a couple blocks south. (Oh, and point of clarification - I don't think the tortures took place there. But that is where the head offices were in Spokane.)

I got to the building and had to take a photo of it. Then I got to the office where I was going and said, "Hey. You're in the Torture Building!" To which my source (let's call him "Dave") agreed. Why yes, he said - yes I am.

So then, get this. They moved. Last week. Jessen and Mitchell moved, just vacated offices in the middle of the night. (Well, actually it was the middle of the day, as "Dave" saw the moving trucks and all.) (Apparently they had nice furniture.) (Well, and of course, given that we were paying them very well through their CIA contract.)

Apparently Mitchell and Jessen had been on the sixth and seventh floors, and needed a special code to get there. Not just any schmuck was allowed that high up in the building. Though they reportedly did have an office in Suite 205 of the same building that was more accessible to the public. (I took a photo of that too - office is dark and empty.)


So there you have it. The news from Spokane, hot off the presses, is that Mitchell and Jessen have left the building. Have they left Spokane? I hope we rode them out on the rails. It is the Wild West, after all.

I Had Plans...

... for my birthday yesterday. Truly I did. First, I was talking a friend into taking me boating for the day. Then, I was going to have a nice dinner at another friend's house.

And then, reality hit. First, the weather didn't even remotely cooperate. The rain and occasional hail would have put a damper on a day of boating on the lake. Besides, I got a phone call last week from a lawyer colleague, and suddenly my birthday (and the day before it) was dedicated to sitting in on some depositions. Which I was glad to do. Just, not the timing I expected. Then, yesterday evening, there was a gathering that I felt I should attend, related to this movie networking thing I'm all involved in right now... Nice, interesting people, to be sure - over here in Spokane rather than Idaho - a great way to spend an evening. I just hadn't expected it to be my birthday, is all.

My lawyer friend did buy me lunch. And a slice of strawberry cheesecake for dessert. So the day had a moment of celebration. I didn't need too much more than that.

Daily Free Write

.
.
hold onto a place - the heart -
and join all forces for joy

.


(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)
photo credit: Zenera, found here

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Daily Free Write

....
....
four dots to every eye, four corners to every square
but a neverending circle to every whirlpool - to every windshower



(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)
photo credit: Thomas Lieser, found here

Monday, April 27, 2009

Did You Know... (Another Torture Item)

... that the United States executed Japanese war criminals for waterboarding U.S. prisoners? Here's an article by CNN commentator Paul Begala that spells it out. In essence, we prosecuted Japanese war criminals after World War II for various war crimes, including water torture that simulates drowning. Sound familiar? So exactly how is it that waterboarding isn't a crime today if it was a crime a few decades ago - and such a serious crime that it warranted execution?

Apparently there was a debate as to whether the waterboarding resulted in just hard time for the Japanese prisoners. But Begala's article clears up the confusion. Yes, in fact, some were executed.

Just trying to keep everyone informed and honest about the debate here....

Daily Free Write

.
draw towards your heaven the abundance of life
.


(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)
photo credit: Wonderlane, found here

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Newsweek Article - When Torture Began

Here is a link to a "Newsweek" article that explains the circumstances in 2002, when the United States chose to begin using torture (rather than bonding) interrogation techniques. It goes to my point made the other day that the CIA is taking credit for information obtained via FBI bonding techniques. Ali Soufan is one of the FBI agents who interviewed prisoners using bonding techniques. As the article explains, a major pivotal point is the summer of 2002, when CIA contractor James Mitchell - psychologist from Spokane, partners with Spokane-based Bruce Jessen, also a psychologist - shows up and says, we're doing this my way from now on. This is definitely an article worth reading, as is Ali Soufan's op-ed piece in the New York Times last week. As Soufan says: "We could have done this the right way."

Perhaps They Were House Swallows

A few days ago, I wrote about how Spokane had fooled some chickadee birds into believing that spring had arrived when in fact the weather had turned foul again. Silly birds, I had said at the time, and loved their singing all the while.

A friend of mine who read the entry told me she enjoyed it, but then asked, "Do we have a butterfly situation here?" Alas, it appeared that we did.

Many years ago, going to breakfast with my boyfriend at the time, I saw a butterfly. "Oh, look," I said. "A monarch butterfly." My boyfriend suggested that perhaps I had no idea what the name of that butterfly was. I assured him I did. He assured me that I had no knowledge base from which to pull the name of any butterflies. I protested that my knowledge of butterflies was plenty extensive. He challenged me to name three kinds. "Well, there's the monarch," I said. He nodded, spotting me that one. "And the swallowtail," I said, trailing off ... "And the moth!" I proclaimed. No one could tell me that I didn't know my butterflies!

When my friend pointed out the current "butterfly situation," we ended up looking at some pictures of various birds and I had to concede that my reference to "chickadees" in my posting may have - just may have - misnamed the birds outside my window. Apparently chickadees look a bit more glamorous than the bland brown birds I had described. "I think you're describing house sparrows," my friend said (gently so as not to hurt my feelings too much). I had to admit that perhaps she was right. My little chickadees flourishing outside my window may not have been as exotic as I hoped. Perhaps they were only - gulp - common house sparrows.

I thought I'd see one this weekend, and take a picture, and hold it up for a vote. Apparently the storm from yesterday has chased them all away, under the old adage, "fool me once..."

And then something magical happened. In my world of procrastination (today is the day I had designated for completing edits of my screenplay, so obviously I needed a distraction), I decided to choose a piece of literature at random from this website that I use every so often that does just that. It's like opening up 1,000 books at random simultaneously to read just one paragraph from one of them. This, I did. And I ran across what appeared to be a sweet short story that I then had to dig up and read in its entirety. It's called "The Happy Prince," by Oscar Wilde, and tells the tale of a traveling sparrow (!) and a golden statue and how the sparrow helps the statue ease the pain of the poorest in the city by giving them the riches that make the statue so beautiful, and - well, I don't want to give away the whole story. But it made me cry, and my heart ache a little. And it made me glad to imagine that my singing birds from days ago just might have been the honorable, brown house sparrow after all.

And then - oops. I just went back to the story. It's a swallow! Not a sparrow! Man. I'm having some trouble here with bird names.

Well, in honor of them all - here are pictures of a sparrow, a swallow, and a chickadee. (And looking at these pictures side by side - I do think my songbirds were sparrows.)




photo credit, in order of appearance: wolfpix (found here), Max Westby (found here) and Vicki DeLoach, found here

When It Pours, It Hails

Off I went to my soccer game yesterday. As mentioned before, I play in the Grand Masters League here in Spokane. (That's a euphemism for "old people's league.") The skies were gray - actually, a little black - but I drove to the fields anyway. And let pass in front of me the softball players who were rushing to get out of the rain - oops, hail. Yes indeed, it started to hail. When I finally found the field where we were playing (I never pay attention to the schedule - I just know I need to be at "the fields" for the 4:30 "start" time), I thought - well, we can't really be playing in the hail. And wind. That to me was the capper - when the hail, which already hurts, is blown into you...

And yet I could see my team, playing in the distance. Limping along is a better description. But they all were out and about. At almost-48 (two more days!), I'm still one of the youngest on my team. "If they can play, then I should be able to do this," I grumbled to myself as I sat in the car and put my gear on (shinguards, socks, cleats) (extra sweatshirt).

By the time I got to the field, my green sweatshirt was speckled with white. Seriously, the hail was sticking. I kept looking to the sky for lightning. That'll stop the game....

And then, it was great. The sun never really came out much, but it did stop hailing and then, gradually, stopped raining. The field was soggy but manageable. Our team was losing (no surprise there) but then we scored two goals and made it interesting.

I haven't quite gotten into the groove yet this year. Oh, I've had my good plays - been like a vacuum here and there, sucking the ball out from under an opposing forward... Usually it's because some guy (we play co-ed) underestimates my timing abilities and thinks he can just breeze on past me (and gets suckered out of the ball instead). And then once, last week, I managed to get smacked hard enough with the ball to leave a partial octagon shape on my thigh, just like a badge of honor.

But I am way, way out of shape this year.... didn't play last fall, is part of it I'm sure... Sometimes all I can be is a body on the field that blocks an otherwise open avenue. But we are "short" women this year - only have four signed up when every game we actually need five - so my team is just happy I'm there, even if that's all I can be in any given moment.

Besides, we're having fun. As someone on the other team pointed out yesterday, the scouts are no longer watching from our sidelines, so we have to do this for some reason other than our high ambitions. And we're still willing to be out there, even when it hails. Talk about playing for the love of the game...

Daily Free Write

.
.

.
seek the questions, the answers, with purity of heart



(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)
photo credit: Merlijn Hoek, found here

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Daily Free Write

.
sacredness is the pathway
.


.
the stolen moments of love are the blessing


(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)
photo credit: Ya Susanne, found here

Friday, April 24, 2009

Final Update - Statute of Limitations Bill

In a somewhat delayed update, last week we got some homegrown publicity on the passage of SB 5832, the Washington state bill extending the statute of limitations on many child sex abuse crimes until the victim's 28th birthday. Rich Roesler, the Spokesman Review's state legislation guy, posted an item on his blog here. Then DFO (Dave Oliviera) at HBO (Huckleberries) posted an item on Rich's posting here. (full disclosure: after I emailed him and said, hey Dave, did you see this?) Then Rich ended up writing an article for the newspaper here.

Here's my perusing these past few days.... A blog can make a difference. I'm sort of amazed. I am the kind of person that has opinions. Through this blog (and through other blogs where I post comments), I now have new avenues to express those opinions. This, I understood. What gives me pause is how having an avenue for expressing my thoughts and opinions may have actually have impact - in getting this bill passed, for example - and at least gives people a chance to expand perceptions - especially if I do my job right and create proper links (and express my thoughts and opinions responsibly).

Torture Timeline

Here is the best timeline I have found so far on what we did and when. All paragraph summaries have links to source material.

Daily Free Write

.
fold in amongst all you know,
towards a path of goodness, of mercy

.
.



(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Appreciation

I got up very early this a.m. - one cat was messing with the other cat (okay, it's always Alex messing with Annie) and it woke me up and I let him out and then I felt wide awake and knew I had a lot to do this a.m. before getting on the road at about 11, so I thought why not just actually get up and make some coffee...

It was still dark out - which, at this time of the year in Spokane, you know that means I was up early. About 4:15 a.m., best to my recollection. Too dark to read the newspaper, what with the light bulb in the lamp by the couch burnt out and me without replacement bulbs...

So I worked by the light of the computer, and checked my favorite websites, and learned that Hillary Clinton was THE BOMB yesterday during hearings on the Hill (which, I did think she'd be a great SOS, but it's nice to have confirmation)...

...and then I heard them. The little birds, chirping right outside my window. We've fooled them, these little chicks. They think it's spring already. Silly birds. It's only getting up to 52 today...

They're the little chickadee birds - tiny, brown, hopping from branch to branch, every so often flying a few feet. They're not the most beautiful of birds, but they're happy, aren't they? Why else would they chirp like that?

And I think of my disappointment in Spokane yesterday - Spokane and its secrets - and then I wake up on a morning like today, and am grateful for all that this place has given me, including the independence to pursue my writing and the little chickadee birds chirping outside my window, and Annie (my angel cat) and Alex too (for as ornery as he can be)...

My frustration yesterday likely wasn't even fair, since the secret I lamented was a national secret, not a local one. And even when the secret is local, I don't know that I'm fair to Spokane, since all places have their secrets, I'm sure - and even if Spokane, percentage-wise, has more than average, it is not unique in concept. I think the slap in the face is not that there are secrets, or even that there are a lot of secrets, but that there are secrets in a town where I know the people keeping the secrets - not for the good of the community - and so there is the added feeling of betrayal by a friend... Once I watched a judge make a wrong ruling, and watched the judge know it was a wrong ruling, and knew the judge made the ruling not to help the law but to help the other side in a politically expedient sort of way... and I nearly moved the next week to some big, anonymous city where I wouldn't have to actually know the judge who so blatantly chose to hurt my client for reasons other than applying the correct law... so I wouldn't have to actually deal with the plummeting of my respect for that judge - whichever judge - when politics played its ugly role. If I don't know the judge, then I don't have to respect the judge - or lose that respect. When I know them, I have to deal with my disappointment in them. So that's less about Spokane and more about me, right?

And life is too short to police everything. (So I say this early a.m., as the chickadee birds chirp a song that asks me to enjoy the morning in its momentary perfection.) So I sip my coffee and listen to the sweet birds and then, because they remind me of St. Francis of Assisi (who I love, and who is gentle like them), I play the Gregorian chant music CD that I still have from the library. And Alex is back inside, but now he wants to go outside, because he is restless and can't decide where he wants to be, and so I let him back out. After all, I just want him to be happy... like the sweet little chickadees are...

Daily Free Write

.


.
a little sound creates a new beginning

(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)
photo credit: Isobel Craig, found here

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Spokane and Its Secrets

One thing I like about living in a smaller community like Spokane is the accountability that there is in people knowing their neighbors. Big cities, big anonymity, big crime. In a town where everyone is a neighbor to everyone else, there just is less crime. Oh, it exists, of course. But there is something that protects a little when anonymity is less. And Spokane has the extra benefit of being the hub of local activity. We are not a suburb, but the city between Seattle and Minneapolis. So we can be safe and have accountability in a city that is not swallowed up by some nearby metropolis.

I remember years ago, when I was on the board of the downtown Senior Center and Meals on Wheels program, we learned that we were the only Senior Center in town that received no finances from the Parks and Recreation department. All the other centers - including the one on the South Hill (translation: rich one) - received about $100,000 each annually. Here we were, serving the poorest of the poor seniors in all of Spokane, and nary a penny of those coffers reached our little center. As a board, we discussed it. As a board, we decided to speak out. I got nominated to do the speaking. Before we got started, the head of the Parks and Rec department told us we had less of a chance of succeeding than that snowball did down under. Within days of our speaking up, however, the newspaper did a feature story on the unfairness of it all. Coincidentally the story ran on Thanksgiving - with the first line being that our organization had learned that those who come last to the table get only crumbs. Good line. In the end, we got a little bit of funding, a promise for more funding, and some in-kind contributions (like use of a van to transport seniors). I left the board soon after, so I don't know details of what happened. But that series of events is an example of what I like about Spokane. If something is wrong, you can at least try to fix it.

On the other hand... This town loves its secrets. My experience with the Catholic Church (and its lay review board that - suffice to say - refused to listen to some pretty immediate concerns) is one example, but it's not the only one. There was the town's defense a few years ago of the mayor who proposed laws hostile to gays and then it turned out he had been trolling for just-turned-18-year-old young men (among other allegations, including quid pro quo for political appointments and earlier attempts of going after under-18-year-olds). The big issue in Spokane became the fact that the newspaper exposed the guy, not the substance of the exposure. People really were mad at the paper. Wow. Or what about the time that the local police force broke into the hotel room of a "20/20" producer and confiscated his videotape on the story he was putting together on the Gypsy curse? (Yes, we had a curse from the gypsies....)

When I said to a colleague recently that "Spokane loves its secrets," my colleague said that didn't I know there was a mafia connection in Spokane that dated back to its founding? I did not know that. Would like to know more... Because where we come from inevitably becomes a part of who we are, especially if we do not choose to change the course.

So I guess it should have come as no shock to me that the two psychologists instrumental in the torture policies of this country over the past several years - James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen - live in Spokane. I don't think that they're from here, but they run their business here. "If you want a place that will keep your secrets - come to Spokane," must be the word on the psychological street. Here is an article on the connection, from 2007. Turns out, in the torture memo released this past week that was authored by now-Ninth Circuit Court judge Jay Bybee, our two psychologists's opinions are used as his reassurance. A radio program in Spokane yesterday interviewed three reporters - one local - on the connection between Spokane and these torture memos. Not really something to write home about, is it?

This is what the psychologists did. They took the training at the local air force base that is used to prep our soldiers on what to expect if they are captured and tortured - which sounds like a good and important program, in and of itself - and turned the program into a "how to" for our own military to use those tactics proactively and against prisoners. Apparently the psychologists were great marketers because they were hired to implement this regardless of not having conducted any studies of effectiveness. Called "voo doo science" by a former FBI chief, the techniques they used were the techniques used in places like Korea and the former Soviet Union to get material for use in propaganda - not use in intelligence activity. As noted on the first page of the 2007 article, the CIA "chose two clinical psychologists who had no intelligence background whatsoever, who had never conducted an interrogation … to do something that had never been proven in the real world." As one person put it, "I think [Mitchell and Jessen] have caused more harm to American national security than they'll ever understand." Here's a good article connecting Bybee, Mitchell and Jessen. Here's another good article on the whole fiasco (and speaks of Mitchell's belief in "learned helplessness," a term used to describe what happens to battered women).

Which, I do not care if the torture was "good" or "bad," scientific or not, because torture is torture and it goes against the principles of this country - what I believe this country to be - so I would be against it no matter how "scientific" any outcomes could be proven to be. But to also find out that the torture we implemented was done so irresponsibly... and to know that the torture was given credit for getting information when the best information had been gotten by the FBI through bonding with the guy (rather than torturing him - see page 1 of the 2007 article).... ugly, ugly, ugly. And then to see Spokane have a connection to it all... Makes me sad. Spokane is a great place, in spite of itself. But on days like today (and news like this), I wonder why I'm still here.

Daily Free Write

.
what you desire will always be within your sight - your soul
.



(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)
photo credit: Talking Plant, found here

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bicycle, Bicycle

So last week, when the weather started getting so nice, there was a posting on the Huckleberries blog (local newspaper's cool, fun neighborhood blog) about whether any of our group was walking or biking to work. My entry, I thought, was appropriately flippant:

I wake up on beautiful days like this and think I want to bike to work, and then I realize I'm late, and what should I do with my laptop, and what if I need my car during the day, and - oh, right, I forgot, I don't even own a bike!!
So then, as the thread continued throughout the day, "Arpie" - one of the commenters - offered to give me a bike! How incredible is that?

Free to a good home.

I have two old- seventies era, but serviceable bikes I rescued from the Dufort Mall that I'm anxious to give away. They are both great town cruisers. One is an English style cruiser three speed. The other is a lady's Schwinn ten speed with upright bars. Both need between $20 and $50 worth of work to be in top shape. I'm willing to do the labor if the recipient buys the parts- or I'll get them to you as is.

I hate Ebay and I can't sell them because I got them for free at the mall. Selling them would mess up my karma. Beth- the ladies bike might be a good one for you if you're interested.

I thought, and thought - why yes. I do want this bike. So I accepted. Sisyphus (one of the other commenters) was funny:

Arpie, you suck at capitalism. ;-) Try to think of it as recycling, pun intended.

Still, I was getting ready to be a proud owner of a 10 speed bike.

"Arpie" emailed me last night. We are setting up The Exchange for May 2. Since he is being so kind, I am labeling this event a "Spirit of Service" story. And - ahem - here is a photo of my new bike - sure do love the color!

.


.
please be aware of the essence,
the inter-sentient feeling of belonging


(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)
photo credit: Walt Jabsco, found here

Monday, April 20, 2009

Screenplay Success

On Saturday, I finished a rough draft of my first-ever screenplay. I was late to my 4:30 p.m. soccer game as I kept putting more words into the computer so I could say, really say, that I had finished it on Saturday like I'd planned. By Saturday night, I had remembered five things that I forgot to put in it, and came up with one set of scene sequences that I'm going to have to figure out how to include. But never mind. I finished the thing! I really did.

This week I will amend and add, tweak and rewrite. But I'm feeling really good about the accomplishment.

I love that the product evolved out of me fairly quickly. It took about a month. The idea only came to me on about March 10 - I started writing it about a week later - that is a lot to put together in a short period of time.

I love, too, that it is a screenplay. I miss the novel form a little bit. Not able to do narration like I did in the baseball novel, which can be so fluid and caring to the topic. But there is something about recording all those conversations that go on in my head... Using pithy one-liners, creating moments of awareness simply through other people's conversations that feels magical....

And for as start-and-go as this month has been - for as frustrating as the evolution of the story line has been now and then - I think I have never been so happy at my work as I have been this past month, writing this screenplay. Not in such a sustained way. I love the law. But this - just made me happy. Content.

I think it was the freedom of writing every day, or not writing as it turned out for some days. Every so often I'd think - what about money, how will I ever earn the money to support this writing habit - and then I'd realize - I didn't have to worry about that just yet. Soon. But not yet. I just needed to write this, and write it now, and let it evolve, and let get through to its own natural end. And then do that twice more, so I have three screenplays ready to go...

After I edit this week, I will give the product to my writing group, and then get it to Paul Castro (my instructor from the screenplay writing seminar). And then I will make plans of what to do. So it is finished but it is not complete, as I am also just beginning the next stage. Nonetheless - I think it's good. It's sort of a murder mystery with grace. And I like it. So I'm happy and willing to celebrate this moment. The next moment will be along in its own time. But this moment is its own celebration.

Oh, and yesterday? I spent the whole day resting and napping. I was tired!

Daily Free Write






Dancing mirth shall play forevermore!


















(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)
photo credit: Valerie Abbott, found here


and we danced - on the wave of an ocean romance -and we danced, danced, danced...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Daily Free Write

.
Lead the way to everlasting eternity, and know
that it is to thine own self that you must be true
.


(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)
Photo credit: Felinebird, found here

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Daily Free Write

.

.
Just because there is a hold on the blessings and beginnings
just does not change the laughter and the syllogism


(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)
photo credit: cams-not-in-lux, found here

Friday, April 17, 2009

Two More Days

I am writing a screenplay. By my calculations (which have been overly optimistic in the past), I have two more days - today and tomorrow - and then I will have a draft. It'll need reworking next week. But I will have a draft.

My intensity of focus kept me from writing about important things on this blog this week. For instance, I kept wanting to talk about squirrel detonation, but never did. (Read comments here - especially JeanieS's comment 5 entries down - from my friends over at the Huckleberries Blog to get a sense of the wackiness that we call Spokane.) (And then there's this squirrel item.) Also, I had a whole entry I wanted to write for Easter with the working title "The Crazy Cat Lady," as I realized it probably isn't usual to buy one of your cats a stuffed animal (bunny) for Easter. Except my cat Annie loves her stuffed animal collection - and there's a whole story there! - and it didn't get written, so intent I have been on the screenplay. And then - what else? Oh, yes. Soccer started last Saturday. Wanted to write about that, too.... How I am finally at the Grand Masters level play, which is a euphemism for "old people," and how I chose my current team, and how I say it's a team that "plays to drink" (and yes, we go for beer after each game).... And what about Ken Griffey returning to the Mariners? And John Madden retiring? Oh my gosh. These are things to write about. But none of them got written on this blog because of the screenplay.

And yet - I'm almost done. Amazing. With a screenplay that wasn't even an idea in February. So - other stories will be told on other days.......... This is the time for one story, now.

SPA "Doing It' Project

When I first started this blog, I wrote about a cleaning-up project that our local historic preservation group (Spokane Preservation Advocates) was doing at the local Interplayers theater. In fact, I helped, as I almost always go to the Interplayers shows, love the theater, and wanted to pitch in. This led to me joining SPA (!) - a really big group, and full of enthusiastic people. Our last meeting was at Bobby and Cathy Brett's house - owners (along with all the Brett brothers) of the Spokane Indians minor league baseball team. What a beautiful home! And how kind they were to let us trek through the place, and hold our meeting there. I had never met Cathy and was able to thank her for all that she and her husband and the team have done to support my baseball novel (which is based on a true story of the 1946 Spokane Indians and a bus crash midway through that season that took nine of the men's lives). They often have me at the stadium for book signings, and Bobby Brett gave us a great quote for the back of the book cover.

Tomorrow SPA is doing another "Doing It" project, like when they cleaned up Interplayers. This one is taking the siding off a local historic home and planting trees, all starting at 9 a.m. at 527 East Nora. Once the siding is off, the house is eligible for the National Historic Register. Here's a link. Definitely worth helping them out (though I personally won't be there tomorrow, alas).

Oh, and here is a photo, back from when we worked at Interplayers. We put on goofy hats. I'm the one in the blue hat. It was very cold that day!

Daily Free Write

.
There is no failure, only beginnings
..
and new efforts towards beginnings


(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)
photo credit: Jose Maria Cuellar, found here

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Daily Free Write





Use your logic
for goodness
of the soul
















(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)
photo credit: TapperBoy; art credit: Asaf Zakay; both found here

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Daily Free Write

.
grow beyond our wildest dreams
.

.
the dreams shall give essence to the deliverance


(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)
photo credit: Gisela Giardino, found here

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Daily Free Write

.
feel the mystery of soul
and the beginning of light
.



(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right}
photo credit: Grace, found here

Monday, April 13, 2009

More Trails of Tears

I just read a commentary in the newspaper about a PBS special called "We Shall Remain" - beginning today - where the third segment (set to air on April 27) will take Cherokee Major Ridge's side in the role he played in the removal of the Cherokee from the Georgia (and the Smoky Mountains) to Oklahoma in the 1800s. This is like saying Judas was a really good guy.

Here are straight facts, as I understand them (and I've researched this from a lot of different angles): John Ross was the elected leader of the Cherokee Nation. He was in the process of challenging all of Andrew Jackson's efforts to remove the Cherokee by going through court process. He was winning. There was a small minority of Cherokee who were interested in just giving in. Major Ridge and his son John Ridge led this faction and gave themselves a title: the "Treaty Party." One day, the Georgia guard arrested John Ross at his home in Tennessee (interesting exercise of state authority), seized all his papers and threw him in prison. They also shut down the "Cherokee Phoenix" (the Cherokee newspaper) and arrested a white journalist. While John Ross was in prison, Major Ridge signed the treaty along with others from his small faction. (Most Cherokee refused to attend this meeting, organized by white folk, because John Ross was in prison.) One of Ridge's supporters, Elias Boudinot, stated, "An intelligent minority has a moral right, indeed a moral duty, to save a blind and ignorant majority from inevitable ruin and destruction." Let them eat cake, too, Elias.

From prison, John Ross denounced the treaty as "fraud upon the Cherokee people." The general in charge of the removal - General Ellis Wool - also protested the treaty as a fraud (and Jackson called him out for being "disrespectful"). Between 15,000 and 16,000 Cherokee - virtually the entire Cherokee population - signed a petition denouncing the treaty. Major Ridge and his family received, I believe, $500,000 (supposedly for Cherokee education, but hmmm - wonder where all that money went) (and even if it did end up in the Cherokee coffers, that may not have been Ridge's original plan). Andrew Jackson brought the now-"signed" treaty to Congress for ratification. Tennessee congressman Davy Crockett was one who protested, saying the signatures were not of the actual Cherokee chief and should not be considered legitimate. Crockett stated:

None of my colleagues agrees with my sentiments. But if I should be ... the only man of the United States who disapproved of it, I would still vote against it.... A treaty is the highest law of the land, but there are those who do not find it so. They want to juggle with the rights of the Indians and fritter them away. It's all wrong. It's not justice! ... These Indians are remnants of a once-powerful race, and they must be fairly treated.

The treaty was approved by only one vote. Ridge and other supporters (about 1,000 people - most of whom probably denounced the treaty before its passage in Congress) went ahead and moved to Oklahoma. The rest of the Cherokee did not move. Instead, they followed their leader John Ross (now out of jail). Years later, with a false treaty ratified, our American army seized the Cherokee, threw them into stockades, and then force-evacuated them to Oklahoma, all through a raging hot summer and a freezing cold winter. Thousands of Cherokee died in this process, most on the Trail (4,000 deaths is a conservative estimate, 8,000 is a more realistic estimate). The trail is still not really marked, except for here and there - and at Cape Girardeau State Park in Missouri (where Cherokee were stuck for weeks on either side of the Mississippi River as the snow and ice made the river impassable for the inadequate river boats that the military had hired to get the Cherokee across). The trek is called the "Trail of Tears," after the Cherokee name for it (literally, the "trail where they cried"). Small flowers sprung up along the pathway as the Cherokee walked. They are called the Cherokee Rose, and are said to have grown from the tears of the women as they walked along the trail.

So, let's say that Major Ridge had the "best interests" of the Cherokee at heart. He still was not Chief. He still received money that he spent. He still did not have the bulk of the tribe behind him (almost all of them did not move with him). And he still signed the treaty while John Ross was in jail. I'm sorry, but that's not how things are done. There is no honor in that. It is not the sympathetic side. It is the coward's side - at best. And it is the side of the betrayer. All that is missing is a Judas kiss on the cheek.

So now PBS is going to tell this story from Major Ridge's point of view? When most people in this country have no clue about the original set-up of the story? I'm very upset. John Ross is a hero of mine. He worked against all odds. He might have won had it not been for Major Ridge's complicity with Jackson. History could have been wholly re-written if Ridge had listened to the chief of the Cherokee Indians. Instead, Ridge took matters into his own hands.

The hero in this story is John Ross. To make Major Ridge the hero instead is just very odd.

Major Ridge and his son John were murdered after they signed the treaty and moved out west. This was no good. It should not have happened. (There is no evidence that John Ross was aware of the plot to kill them.) At a minimum, the Ridges and their supporters should have been tried by the Cherokee nation for treason and then received whatever punishment was appropriate, not just out-and-out murdered. Still, their murders should not now make them heroes.

I imagine I'll have to watch the segment on this (apparently it's the third one, to be aired on April 27) and see if they do any justice whatsoever to the facts of the story. It's 90 minutes. Sigh. Will I be able to tolerate it long enough to watch it and decide for myself what they've done to this slice of history?


A Cherokee Rose
.
take the silence for granted,
and seek the truth within
.

(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)
photo credit: Gerald Crawford, found here

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Daily Free Write

.
Just now, hold your breath and the scepter of being.
Lasting only unt
il dawn, and more.
Guided song, the principle of life.
Two heralded angels, drawing u
nto a beard - a scroll -
.

.
Today is Easter. In honor of the holiday, I chose to post this free write,
which is part of the entry that I wrote on Easter morning in 1998.
To me, "beard" is traditional religion and "scroll" is fluid spirituality.
I'm more of a "scroll" person myself. But both seem to matter.

.
(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)
photo credits: scepter, Caribb, located here; sky, Pedro Vasquez Colmenares G., located here

Saturday, April 11, 2009

It's The Law

At some point yesterday afternoon, Washington Governor Gregoire signed into law Senate Bill 5832, and extended the statute of limitations on child sex abuse crimes from the victim's 21st birthday to the victim's 28th birthday. We had wanted elimination of the statute of limitations altogether (like it is in murder and arson cases, and in federal child sex abuse crimes). That was not to be. The law, however, does provide some breathing room. And could be changed in the future. Right now, some 20-year-old may just have gotten another seven years to report a crime of sex abuse against him or her, and doesn't even realize what has happened....

Don Brockett is the reason that this bill didn't die. Yes, there were legislators that sponsored it (our own Chris Marr did, along with Sens. Jeanne Kohl-Welles and Val Stevens). And there were legislators who voted for it (all of them, in fact, by the time the bill came up for floor votes). And the Sentencing Commission backed it, having recommended this extension after a year-long review and 50-state survey of the issue. But it was Don who kept the issue alive over the years, hitting his head against the wall, staying with the topic even as it failed year after year because of some resistance by some legislators that apparently had the ability to influence the whole lot of them... Which is weird, in and of itself. Don's website is www.stopmolesters.org.

I posted summaries on this blog and emailed legislators this year (and went to testify). I don't normally get involved, but did this time. What I find interesting is how very little feedback I received from any of the legislators, even though I had plenty of contact with a fair number of them.

Two legislators - both Republicans - stand out for me. The first was Sen. Bob McCaslin, from Spokane Valley (right next to Spokane - was part of Spokane until a few years ago, when it incorporated). Sen. McCaslin is on the Senate judiciary committee, and was there when I testified in favor of the bill. He was happy to see me - I don't think they get a lot of people from Spokane over to the west side of the state to testify - and thanked me a couple of times for making the trip.

The second was Joe Schmick, of Moses Lake. He is on the House rules committee, and was one of about 20 legislators who received an email from me to recommend that the bill get a vote on the House floor (which is the job of that committee). He was unique in that he actually responded to my email, thanked me for the information, and then let me know when the bill had become law.

This doesn't mean that other lawmakers didn't get things done. In fact, they did - as I described above (and special thanks go to Sens. Marr, Stevens and Kohl-Welles for sponsoring the bill in the first place). Nonetheless, I appreciated the willingness of Sen. McCaslin and Rep. Schmick to acknowledge me and keep me in the loop. They were the ones who made those particular efforts. Thanks.

I ended up not going to the bill's signing ceremony. Don didn't go, and I just decided it would be a lot of driving for just a few minutes. It would have been fun but, in a way, it was unnecessary. The most important thing already had happened. The bill had become law.

Daily Free Write

.
learn, in every moment, that which you already know
and begin, again - yet again.
.

(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)
photo credit: Matthew Sullivan, found here

Friday, April 10, 2009

All in the Family

People of all shapes, sizes, skills and personalities do volunteer work, every day, all around the country, in each community, big or small. Sometimes we hear of their efforts. Usually we do not. Doing something for someone else is a critical component of building a strong community. Letting someone help in a project is a nuance of that component.

And then there are our kids.

In this new, technological world, where community is the one viewed through computer screens, how do we know if our kids are really getting a sense of how important it can be to reach out to someone in need - and beyond themselves?

Tamara Lee Poelstra, community activist in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, is a parent who works on instilling in her children the same sense of giving back to community that her parents instilled in her. "As a teen, I never realized what my parents were doing," she says. "Through the lens of experience, I realize that they were teaching me to get out of my head and into the world."

She tells the story (which I read from her speech notes) of the time that her father brought her one Saturday morning to help clean, organize and paint the home of an older woman who needed the help:

I remember this day because of how hard I worked. I remember this day because of Mrs. Langly's stale ginger snaps and tears. I remember this day because it was the day I saw my father in a new light. He volunteered in our community. I did know that when occasionally my father would be late coming home or gone for a weekend day, Mom would say he was helping someone. But on this day I understood what he actually did. He was a contractor by trade but not everyone who needed his services could afford to pay him. So on his free time, he gave of himself. After looking into the sweet tear-filled blue eyes of Mrs. Langly, I understood why he did it.

And then there is her father's impression of what happened that day:

My Saturday at Mrs. Langly's house was a punishment for missing curfew. However, my dad doesn't remember it that way. He remembers it as the day we painted a whole house together and helped a sick, lonely old lady, and how proud he was of me.

So now, with her own children, she repeats the teaching moments. Sometimes her children create the opportunities for her (just like she created this moment for her dad by missing curfew way back when). Complaints will signal to Tamara that they are "too much in their head, and we're out volunteering - walking dogs at the humane society" or some such thing.

Tamara remembers one particular one time when she brought her daughters to a soup kitchen. They weren't all warm and fuzzy about going yet they each contributed in a positive way. And then there is the gift in the outreach. Tamara remembers hearing a lot of laughing in the corner that day. She looked over, and there was her daughter, teaching some of the homeless kids how to play the card game Speed. They all were having a blast. "It changed the feeling in the entire room," she says. It was a reminder of why getting her kids up and out and helping others was worth the effort - for all involved. "It's an alternate way of dealing with children that doesn't involve spanking or just letting live with their own consequences," she says.

And it's a way of ensuring that the legacy of volunteerism lives on. Like father, like daughter, and daughters again.

Daily Free Write

.
Cling to life, but cling to death too
love it all, and the moment

.


(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)
photo credit: "Auntie P," located here

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Daily Free Write

.
flow through to the answer, all answers,
.

.
and hold precious within the sound bursting throughout


(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)
photo credit: Charlie Brewer, located here

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Daily Free Write

.
let go - see the stars
.
.
higher and higher do we climb


(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)
photo credit: Bashar Al-Ba'noon, found here

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Page 60

I have reached page 60 in my screenplay. This page, in screenwriting world, is a milestone, as it marks the end of the second (of three) acts, and it is the moment that the hero takes an affirmative step towards creating his or her own destiny (her, in this case). All is well and on schedule. This is what is happening at my page 60.

A happier milestone is the last page. I'm not there yet. I wanted to be there already! What is taking so long? Except it feels good and right. This screenplay idea came to me only five days before my screenplay writing seminar (read about the seminar here), so I cannot be surprised that I still do not have a finished product two weeks after the seminar ended.

I had my own "page 60" moment a couple Saturdays ago. I had just heard something that made me very upset. I was absorbing the information, feeling very "sho ga nai" (Japanese expression that means "cannot be helped") about the whole thing, and then I protested. I decided to do something. Anything.

So I drove in the middle of a fog storm to a hill south of Spokane called Steptoe Butte. The name frustrates me because it memorializes a general called Steptoe who slaughtered a bunch of Indians over time and lost just a few military men in the process. Should be "Steptoe's Slaughter," but it isn't. Despite the name (and circumstances), it's a sacred place for me. (Maybe because of those things, as I live this life primed to wage those kinds of unwinnable wars). I go to this butte before my own big battles, to gather my thoughts, my energy, my focus, my courage. (Apparently I am not alone. ) This day I decided, in the midst of my "sho ga nai" moment, that I needed to go.

It got foggier as I got closer. Then there was sleet and snow flurries. I thought about turning back, but suddenly this journey, this day, meant something - was symbolic for not giving up, not giving in, not accepting negative answers, despite conventional wisdom.

The winding road up the mountain was sleek, but I got to the top of the butte after much careful driving. When I got there, there was a surprise waiting. A family was at the top already. How funny. Of all days that you'd think I would have the butte to myself, this would be the day. And it definitely was not a mellow family. No, they were very loud. The view was nonexistent, as the photo to the right shows. But I'd gotten there. Ha. And immediately got back in my car and drove back down the hill, so annoying was that family.

Now here's where the funny thing happened. A song that I love, a song that tells me things are going to improve, that has in the past come on the radio as I was coming down off a mountain - came on the radio. I would have missed it had I tried to tolerate the other folks on the hill. You know the song. From the 1960s: "Ooh, ooh, child, things are gonna get easier.... ooh, ooh, child, things'll get better...." I sang the song the whole way down the mountainside, laughing at the slick roads (and driving very, very carefully). When I got home, I plugged those lyrics into my screenplay, into just the right place. So there. Things will get brighter - "right now..."

Clear Steptoe Butte photo is by Roger Lynn, located here

Daily Free Write

.
ye shall begin anew, learning
multitudes beyond even today

.

this photo is of the Paris bookstore that housed famous writers before they became famous - I've been here,
have seen the lofts - check out this link to the photo, by Wally Gobetz, to read a history of the place

(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)


Monday, April 6, 2009

Daily Free Write

.
.

.
peace, chaos, they are the same -
just different angles of the same journey



(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Waiting for Godot

I just saw "Waiting for Godot," at the local Interplayers theater. It was something else. It's that existential play from decades ago. Did you know it was funny? Hilarious. In our production, the funny parts were highlighted - played not as slapstick but definitely as comedic. One of my sisters tells a story of laughing through a different production of "Godot" to the consternation of those around her (who were taking the play mighty seriously). But last night, I wasn't the only one laughing. I do think I laughed loudest at a couple of lines. But at least I was not alone.

I think the best line was when Go Go says, "We don't have any rights?" and his friend explains (as if it makes it better), "We gave up our rights." Now, in print, it doesn't look so funny. But in the theater, it was hysterical. I might go see the play again, to catch more of its nuances. Yes, it was that good. Must be a good production.

The next play up for Interplayers (after the "Godot" run, which ends Saturday) is "The Graduate." I didn't know the movie was also a play. It opens April 23 - right before my birthday, which is April 28. I am turning 48. It's a good age. It will be a good year. Or so I imagine. Jeannie S, another Huckleberry blogger, has a countdown on her blog for turning 60 the day after I turn 48. I'm hoping for a big bash. Hmmm....

Funny story. Once, I told my sister (same one as above) that a friend was coming to town and that we'd probably go out to celebrate because it was our birthday weekend (almost the same day, in fact - something my sister knew). My sister sounded surprised. "Why would you do that?" She asked. I, in turn, sounded surprised. "Well, to celebrate our birthdays," I said. It took a couple more "who's on first" rounds before we realized that I was saying "our birthday weekend" and she was hearing "Arbor Day Weekend." I laugh as I type this, remembering back to how funny it was. It was dialog worthy of a sitcom.

Later that evening, she went to dinner at a friend's house and told this story. Her friend grabbed a calendar. Turned out, my friend was actually coming to town on Arbor Day Weekend, because it's always the last weekend in April, and it happened that the last weekend in April that year included April 28. It was both "our birthday weekend" and "Arbor Day Weekend." What are the odds?

And so, "The Graduate" opens at the Interplayers over Arbor Day weekend this year, which does not include April 28th (which falls on a Tuesday this time). Make a note on your calendars.



photo credit: Carol Von Canon, found here

Daily Free Write

.
just as we were,

.
.
so we will be
.
.
(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)
photo credit:
Jeannie Fletcher, found here

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Daily Free Write

.
.
Time deals all wounds but leaves behind a new thought



(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)
photo credit: Rana Banerjee, found here

Friday, April 3, 2009

Snow Again

Today, it is sunny and warm and without snow on the ground. Yesterday was a different story. This photo says it all. Spokane has a habit of having snowstorms in March - frantically arriving, scattering flakes the size of nickels, and then leaving with little trace left behind. But this is April. I wonder if winter now is over. It's pretty though. This is from right outside my front window yesterday morning.

Success!

Drum roll ....

It passed! The bill extending statute of limitations on child sex abuse crimes to the victim's 28th birthday (see whole series of entries here) has passed the House. It already passed the Senate. Now it awaits the signature of the governor. Email the gov at this address (ellen.landino@gov.wa.gov) if you want her to sign the bill.

Passage numbers have been unanimous in both the House and Senate floor votes. It looks like this will finally, finally become a law. The last three years (at least), it has died in committee. Who could imagine that protecting today's kids from pedophiles by giving yesterday's victims a chance to grow up and realize the harm and speak up would be controversial. But it was. And now, it is on to the new chapter of becoming law.

Passage of this bill would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of Don Brockett, former Spokane County prosecutor. He has worked for years on getting this extension. His preference (my preference) was for no statute of limitations at all (like it is in the federal system on child sex abuse crimes, and like it is in the state system for crimes like arson and murder). But this is a start. His website is www.stopmolesters.org.

Don asked me if I wanted to go to the signing ceremony, if there is one. Won't that be a miracle? Not that I get to go, but that there is a signing ceremony. I can hardly wait.

Daily Free Write

.
Seek for solace of the soul,
and know the be
ginning within
.



(want to know what free writes are? Check out the "About Free Writes" category to the right)
photo credit: Haeroldus Laudeus, found here