Monday, December 24, 2012

Quiet White

It's Monday - a quiet day at any time, but especially today, the day before Christmas. It's been raining all weekend, melting what little snow there had been in the days preceding. How muddy was Christmas going to be?

Until now. A sweet cover of white snow came over night, to greet this quiet morning. Its presence adds to the quiet that is this day - mutes the edges of the dark (which it is, still, even at this time in the morning - during this time of year)

And now - just now, as I finish this acknowledgement of the snow that has arrived - I hear the sound of a neighbor's snow plow coming up the block. He'll clear a path for me, I'm sure. Yes, it was more than a sprinkling of snow last night.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Newtown

I saw the headline, briefly, Friday morning - but I had no time. I saw it, read it, left it for court. And more court. And unexpected court. All day long.

Then I came home at the end of the day and watched a news show. And just cried. Along with the interviewees. Along with (almost) the news reporters.

My nieces grew up in Connecticut. My nephews will start school soon. Taking the lives of the innocents - unfathomable.

I do not have children, though I work on their behalf - through my legal cases, through my writing. Still - to have children, and to watch the news these past three days ... what people must be feeling ...

My niece is in Paris on a scholarship this year. I noticed she posted something yesterday on her blog, only a day after an earlier posting. When I saw the title of the post - "Newtown" - I realized she had been compelled to write. It is her thoughts that I share here - bits and pieces of thoughts that she has had -

http://jacqueline-feldman.com/2012/12/15/newtown/

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving

'Tis the season to remember all there is for which to be thankful...

I just returned from 10 days in the Chicago area, babysitting nephews for a week (they are now 5 and almost 2 and 1/2) and then staying a few extra days for the Thanksgiving holiday.  I do not quite see how parents everywhere manage to juggle full-time jobs and parenting.  While both boys were at school all day (the older one is in kindergarten, the younger one was at preschool) - from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. - I just was unable to be very productive during work hours.... Well, I did get to the "have to" work - things that had to get done regardless of the disjointedness of my time.  And I could have let them stay at school longer than 3 p.m.... but that just didn't seem fair to the lads. So I let go, and instead marveled at the strength and organization of everyday people all around the world who seem to have figured out how to raise children and money all at the same time.

My mother is now in Chicago too, near my sister and her family, so she was a great help in keeping things organized. You'd think she had raised four kids herself, back in the day, so creative she is in coming up with activities for these little ones. (Oh, that's right - she did.)  Each day we'd head to the park after school - the weather was unseasonably warm - and each day the boys would hang from monkey bars and swings and make friends with the children who happened to appear at the same time as they did.  It is like a hidden pact: we have both arrived at this destination (the kids seem to say to each other) so it is time for us to become temporary friends and entertain each other here, now - before dinner. It is not that this pact is stated, or written - instead, it is understood.

One day when we arrived, my older nephew chose to try to play with two boys a couple years older than he is. He followed them around as they ditched him - kindly, never shunning him directly, simply moving away from him whenever he followed them to a new location.  At one point he gave up, and went to play with some girls instead (who accepted him immediately, and let him laugh).  But then there he was, back among the older boys.  They had taken their basketball and were throwing it into the tree (this I saw as I was coming back from changing the younger nephew's diaper).  This time the older boys were happy with my nephew, because he had a lighter ball and could help them with their tree endeavor. My nephew started throwing his ball into the tree and yes, it did go higher. I looked up to see what was in the tree. It was a squirrel. My sweet nephew was attempting to torpedo a squirrel from the tree.  I said his name loudly - he knew he was caught out.  He immediately ducked away, immediately stopped the task. The mother of the two older boys came over and, in a sing-songy voice, said how that wasn't nice to the squirrel, to try to hit him like that. What the heck - no wonder they were a little out of control, if her manner of discipline was to sweetly reason with them rather than just say "no." My nephew needed no such coaxing. It was clear to him that he should stop.

We talked about it later. I gave it zero tolerance treatment. But I also told him I was proud of him for reacting immediately when I said his name, and recognizing that it wasn't a good thing to be going after the squirrel like that. Ah, the lessons that come upon these little ones every day.  He lives in a household that keeps those kinds of boundaries clear, so he doesn't have to wonder too much about them.

Speaking of accepting responsibility for actions.. The little one is very - clear. He wants what he wants, when he wants it. This results in opportunities for ... disagreement, and a time out for him, now and then.  I admire his tenacity. And he is a big, strong boy. I am, however, taller and (so far) stronger. And I'm the one who rules the house when his parents are gone.... After a time out (he only had three during the week I was there - not too bad), I would ask him to say he was sorry. This he was not so interested in saying. It would come out in a whisper - no, not even a whisper - he would mouth it: "Sor-ry." I'd have to guess if that soft breath of air included the word which I requested to hear.  Getting the hug and kiss from him was easier, and I didn't really mind settling for that, as long as he also breathed the "sorry" word. But I had to laugh at his recalcitrance. This ability to refuse to give in at all costs likely will guide him well over the years. To the stubborn comes the outcome - as long as it is done with a certain amount of gradation. I felt honored to be a part of his learning process in that regard.Exhausted, but honored.

And then there was the joy, and the laughter.  We did really have a good time, even if I spent a lot of it in discipline mode. We played with the map that I gave my older nephew for his birthday.  (At one point he said that he wasn't very good with big puzzles. I told him he did pretty well with the map, including naming capitals. He said, "Well, I know a lot of it already," as if I were just humoring him, trying to find a silver lining in the black cloud that is his big-puzzle dilemma. Seriously, this just-five-year-old does know most of the states and a lot of the capitals already. He also reads - whole books - then laments that he's a "slow reader" because he doesn't read out loud as quickly as an adult yet - though almost.  "You're just careful," I told him. Truly, he amazes me.) I happen to have a somewhat decent Donald Duck imitation that I used a couple times, with great results. I'm best at the pretend Donald Duck sneeze... It's very messy, and loud. The last night I was there, the little one started to imitate my imitation. He did a good job! Very cute...

For Thanksgiving, my mom had the boys create turkey centerpieces (using apples as the base and Fruity Cheerios on shish kabob sticks for the tails), and make placemats for everyone, using cutouts of the outline of their hands to look like turkeys and then sprinkling the rest of the placemat with leaf stickers. Getting the little one to keep his hand spread out while we traced it was hysterical - he'd flatten it correctly but then the minute the tracing started, his hand would close up. "No, no - keep it spread - like this," I'd say, and show him. He'd nod, studious - spread out his hand - and then, right as I started tracing, shut it down again...

Here are some photos of the beauteous table that we set:






 


Yes, it was a grand day - and a great week. I'm sleeping now....

Friday, November 9, 2012

Four More Years

I am so happy. Content. People who know me know how much I believe in our president, and how hard I worked to help get him elected in 2008. I was in eight states over 11 months in 2008 - starting in Idaho in January, ending up in Colorado in November. 

This year, I did not do so much - though I followed it all intensely, and did take time to make some phone calls - so I knew that I had done something, at least. Free time was not aplenty this year - and so I had to cheer from the sidelines, knowing that another was the standard bearer this time.  This time, too, that work was rewarded.  Thank you for doing it.

I watched the video today, of President Obama tearing up when talking to his campaign volunteers after he had won.  The emotion came when he spoke of how proud he was of them.  That is what choked him up.

I remember four years ago, the day after the election, walking in to the campaign office in Colorado where I was stationed, just in time to be gathered over by staff to a corner of the room. My timing had been perfect - the president-elect (at that time) was getting ready to be on a conference call with staff across the country, to say thank you.  We gathered and listened on speaker phone as David Axelrod spoke and (I think) David Plouffe. Vice President-elect Biden said some words too.

And then it was time for Barack Obama. We all were so happy but exhausted - spent - having left all we had in the days leading up to election day. And then President-elect Obama told us thank you - how he could not have done it without us - each one. I know I teared up, when he said that. I was so tired - and grateful - and moved, as if he spoke directly to me. 

So when I saw my president emotional this time - as he thanked his staff four years later - I was not surprised. I knew from where it came.  I was glad to see it, in a way - his emotion - that it moved him, to look out upon the youth of today, and see in them the promise of tomorrow.

Yes, the result of the election makes me very happy. And now we move into the next four years.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Flying Turkeys


2012-10-17 16.07.58.jpgI did not know turkeys could fly.

We have a flock of wild turkeys by my office complex. Initially we had Tom Turkey (as I named him) and his ladies - a bit of a harem. Then the harem had little ones. And the little ones now have grown up. The whole gathering has become a flock, as far as I can tell. They wander around our complex, with its trees and fauna and parking lot, finding stray seed for food. It is quite a sight.

The other day, I heard a gobble (not unusual) overhead (not usual). I looked around. Did one of the baby turkeys, now grown, find his way into a bush? Or a low lying tree?

Suddenly a large, bulky object ascended to the roof of the building in front of me. It was a turkey. A flying turkey!

This was no small feat. The building is about four stories high, given its peaked roof.  And he just fluffed his way to the top of it:


I kept thinking, "But turkeys don't fly." This was a consensus. Any one to whom I've told this turkey-on-the-roof story has said the same - and has recalled the "WKRP in Cincinnati" Thanksgiving episode - the "Turkey Drop" episode - when the radio station manager decided to throw turkeys from a plane as a turkey giveaway. Les Nessman (the one with all the band aids) did the play-by-play as turkeys were thrown from the plane. This is when we all learned: turkeys don't fly. It was a mess on the streets below.  ("Oh, they're plunging to the earth right in front of our eyes! ... Oh, the humanity!")  As the station manager said later: "As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."

Apparently it is only domesticated turkeys that can't fly.

Because this wild turkey before me was strutting up and down the top of a four-story building's roof.




And he didn't get there by elevator.













And then he stood in silhouette. I presume he did that just for me.






:


And then it seemed as though it were over.  He had walked to the other side of the roof. I had to presume he was making his way slowly down, taloned step by taloned step... so of course I put away my phone and went to get into my car. And of course he was just waiting for me to put away my phone to eliminate my photo-taking opportunities. As it was then that he swooped down to the parking lot, flapping his wings, gently landing - like flying a hang glider, or with a parachute - and running forward a little, as his momentum carried him forward and towards the remainder of the flock.  I do not have a photograph of actual flight. I apologize. I should have known he would wait until my phone was in my purse.

And then here they are, the flock all together - or, as I have learned, the "rafter" - yes, a gathering of turkeys is known as a "rafter."


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Soccer

So yesterday, playing soccer, at the beginning of the game, I went one way and my back went another. Suddenly I had a charlie horse cramp on my hip.  ?? I spent the game limping along (unless I sprinted to stop a player from the other team from scoring a goal, and then I would remember only after-the-fact that I have a hip problem).  I mentioned my dilemma to another player. He said he had gotten that before, and knew what it was.  I was excited to have a name for this injury, so asked him to share. "Old age," he said. Ah yes. There is that.

Now I'm lying on the couch with a massive amount of work to do today with a heating pad on my hip and hardly able to move. Uh oh.

Also yesterday in soccer ... I'm not sure I want to confess. Let's just say that I did a public service that involved breaking the rules. I have no regrets.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Process Of Alchemy

Smooth facade is the surface of the pond and then ... only one bubble.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Nothing Else To Say

Two of the four who were killed in Syria last week were from Navy SEALs (in Syria with a private security company) who rushed to the Consulate to assist. A goodbye letter, written by one of the SEALs' best friends, was published in its entirety here: http://atwar.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/21/a-letter-to-my-friend-glen-doherty/?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Chicago Again!

Just returned from a very-short-trip to Chicago to visit my sister, her husband, and their two boys (ages 4 and just-2), as well as with my mom and niece. I often babysit the boys when my sister and her husband have to be gone on business trips. This trip, however, was to spend a long weekend at a family gathering of sorts.

It started a couple weeks earlier, when the phone rang about 8 p.m. It was my 22-year-old niece. She's just graduated from college with a writing degree (emphasis in journalism), and is on her way to Paris in a few weeks for a nine-month post-graduate fellowship project. I know, I know - it's a tough assignment. But hey, someone's got to do it. (She'll be reporting on the squatters in Paris.)

In any case, she called to let me know she'd be in Chicago in a couple weeks, for a long weekend, to see my sister et al, on her way back to the East Coast from Oklahoma, where she was taking a trip... and was there any way I could go to Chicago for that weekend? If I was planning a trip there in the fall anyway...

It worked out. We all gathered. Amazing.

An extra bonus is that my mom has just retired and moved to Chicago as well - about a mile from my sister (in the suburbs, more than the city - I don't know why I always say "Chicago"). So not only did we all have a blast, but I got to see my mom's new apartment (she's downsized!) - and hang up pictures and memorabilia for her...

Friends kept asking me why my niece was going to be in Oklahoma. I wasn't really sure. Turns out, it was a part of her summer research/writing project. There was an interview to be conducted there. She had some great stories from her trip - and brought everyone cool gifts. The boys each got a kitch cowboy hat. Grandma (my mom) got ceramic Christmas tree ornament chickens - two of them - whose wings moved and who each had their own basket of eggs. (Actually, they looked more like roosters to me, creating quite a puzzle about where those eggs had come from...). She got me a ceramic plate labeled "Washington" and showing Washington tourist sites. It was funny, since she found the plate in Oklahoma...

Highlights from the weekend:

-I arrived Friday to a block party at my sister's neighborhood. There was a bouncy house for the kids, and various and sundry neighbors to meet. At one point - and in spite of five adults available to keep an eye on him - my youngest nephew disappeared. Yikes. We looked everywhere for him. Turned out, he was across the street at a neighbor's house, talking to the little dog on the other side of the front door. He so loves dogs. "Goggy," he calls them. So sweet.

-When I gave the little one a bath the next morning, I asked him if he wanted me to tell him a story about a dog. He nodded somberly. (How could I think he would not want such a story?) So I told him the story of Barney Beagle, who waited at the pet store for his boy to come and find him and buy him from the pet store owner and take him home with him, where he belonged. (I loved this book from childhood. I can't find a copy of it now, to buy for the boys. But I can almost say the story word for word - so who needs the book?) He listened so closely. I thought later, oops - I may have put some ideas in his head about whether he needed to go find his dog some day...

-At one point on Saturday, the older nephew decided to do a magic show. He got in front of his "audience" (that would be my mother, my niece, and me) - and said, in Circus barker style, "Ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to the Magic Show!" His biggest and best - and only - trick was to show us a dollar (that he got from his daddy's money clip lying on the counter), then put the dollar behind his back, switched it to the other hand, and then showed us his now-empty hand - (cheers from us) - then he crumpled up the money and showed us the wadded-up result - (cheers from us again) - and then he asked, "Who wants some money?" We all raised our hands, and then he gave the dollar bill to one of us. See? He figured out how to make money really disappear!! We did that a couple times. I did receive one of the dollars. His dad came downstairs a little later to see - surprise! - fewer dollar bills in his money clip.

-I did participate with my own addition to the magic show - it's one I used to "perform" for my nieces when they were little, and is pretty silly - it's just right for the four-year-old audience, however, and so we performed it later in the day when our audience expanded (to include my sister and brother-in-law!) - We then told the little one that he could perform his trick too. He looked a little oddly at us and - as the report goes - raised one eyebrow as his response.

-My niece was just, and simply, lovely. She was excited about her trip to Paris, wonderfully present with the family, loved spending time with the boys, chased them around the house playing her version of "Monster" - I kind of burst with pride at seeing her be so good and kind - not that I'm responsible for her or anything - indeed, she is the reason that she is who she is. She is as she always has been - a smart, beautiful, kind, funny person. (I need to go to Paris to visit!!! this year.)

-We Skyped with my other niece - her younger sister, who lives in Connecticut - who also is just so grown up and lovely. So wonderful! She has much grace - poise - perhaps because of all those years that she took dance class, I don't know... We had fun, even as the screen froze up repeatedly....

-We also Skyped with my dad where he was in San Diego - the boys got bored early on and took off for toys - but the screen didn't freeze up, so the chat went well -

-My mom's new living quarters had a Grandparents' Day celebration on Sunday. And who was there but a magician!! My nephews were mesmerized, especially the older one (having done his own magic show the day before). The magician asked for magic words - kids offered up "Abracadabra," and the like. Five or six words in, the magician called on my nephew. Personally, I was out of magic words. I wondered whether he would have one... "Alakazam," he said. Well, look at that. Good for him.

-At one point, in the car, Maroon 5's "Moves Like Jagger" came on. My four-year-old nephew started singing it. (He knows a lot of songs.) My niece laughed, and got her phone out to take video, but he stopped singing and we could not coax him to start up again. Had she not laughed first...

Well, and - I did not post in April, when I went to babysit the last time. But back then, it was my birthday while I was babysitting, so I had the boys bake a cake from a simple cake mix. And this was their result - happy birthday, one and all:




Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Every Year

Every year on this date, at least one news station replays what happened on this date in NYC on 2001. And every year on this date, I flash back - remembering my personal reaction, the confusion and then the heart break, of that morning. I remember trying to locate my sister, who flew to D.C. that day from Connecticut. (I found her - she was safe.) This morning, like every morning on this date since 2001, I think of how my moments of panic were overshadowed by the days and weeks and months (and years) of grief of those who lost their loved ones - of the fire fighters and emergency personnel who did all they could, and suffered because of it.... This morning, like every morning on this date since 2001, I watch the replay of the news from that day, and remember how we just didn't know - just couldn't fathom - the reality that was before our eyes.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Convention Lull

It's been the weekend between conventions - RNC and DNC. I watched what I could of the RNC (sound of television off intermittently, live blogs on in the meantime). Likely I'll watch the DNC in a similar fashion (with a little more sound from the television). I'm not a (paid) commentator, so I'll keep the bulk of my thoughts to myself. There are plenty of others out there who opine continuously for the rest of us. I will say two things, though. First, I was mightily impressed to see, in a 12-or-so-hour turnaround, a two-minute web ad from the Obama campaign that clearly pointed out the inaccuracies ("lies, if you will") in Paul Ryan's acceptance speech from Wednesday night. Second - I did "like" the Facebook page of "Invisible Obama." That's just funny.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sunday Morning Shows

Okay, I confess - I watched the political talk shows this morning, after spending part of yesterday skimming information off the Web - all because of Mitt Romney's choice of Paul Ryan as his VP candidate.

The exercise this morning was mostly dissatisfying. I heard a lot of "bold choice" rhetoric from both sides of the aisle (really, Dems? that's the phrase you want to use?), as well as a lot of talk about Medicare and Medicaid (really? that's the only focus?). The most palatable to the ear were Bill Bennett on the right and Howard Dean on the left (though I must point out, having been the education news reporter for the Wyoming Eagle back when Bill Bennett was Secretary of Education - and having to cover his simplistic "What Works" booklet - focus on parents - as a precursor to educational spending cuts at the federal level - really? - Bill Bennett is going to lecture us on looking at substance rather than soundbites?)

Also, note to "Meet the Press" - never ever sit Rachel Maddow right next to That Guy again (Rich Lowry, apparently). If they must be next to each other, at least put the corner of a table between them. If you insist on sitting them like a two-person panel that way, I think next time one of them might actually hit the other one. I can't even say for sure, right now, which one will land the first blow.

Here is what I did not hear on those shows (and yet was able to glean yesterday - and yes, over the years, but mostly yesterday - from just skimming the Web):
  • Ayn Rand is the single most influential person in forming Paul Ryan's political thinking;
  • Under Paul Ryan's tax plan from 2010, Mitt Romney would have paid less than 1 percent in taxes in 2010 (rather than the low 13.9 percent he did pay);
  • Paul Ryan's plan pays for that decrease by raising taxes on the middle class;
  • Ryan's plan cuts significant Pell Grants to about a million or so students;
  • The Catholic Bishops said Paul Ryan's budget "failed to meet moral criteria" because it disproportionately cut programs that served the poor and vulnerable (I did hear that once this a.m.);
  • Paul Ryan was on the Simpson-Bowles committee but voted against the ultimate proposal because it recommended raising taxes on the rich; and
  • Paul Ryan was one of the Republican leaders that caused the stalemate last summer that caused the United States to lose its triple A financial rating. (Remember how Boehner kept thinking he had a deal, and then he wouldn't? He'd lost control of the House?) (Update: I know I saw this one - am not finding support for it now - am not finding contradictory stuff either.... other than that he knew we'd need to raise the debt ceiling)

Here is an interesting article by Howard Fineman about a conservative friend of his who listed the reasons why this is a bad choice - the friend stays anonymous: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/howard-fineman/rep-paul-ryan-vp_b_1768137.html

I think of Paul Ryan (the Ayn Randian) like I think of Ron Paul (the Libertarian) - that it is good to have outlier voices in Congress, to add to the debate of where we are headed - but I sure don't want that voice to be my President (or one step away).

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Grandma Estelle

My mother's grandmother - on the maternal side - was a spitfire. I knew her barely - she died when I was eight - but I have vivid memories of her. I loved her. My mother says that Grandma Estelle would laugh when I was rowdy and would tell my mother that I was just like my mother when my mother was that age. I believe there was some "what goes around, comes around" mirth in Grandma Estelle's voice when she made that observation.

I remember once that she gave me a real tomahawk that I destroyed in an afternoon. Hey, I was five. Hopefully it wasn't real. I think it was though - maybe not real as in dangerous, but as in a real Indian toy (as we have Cherokee blood going very far back - to the Trail of Tears actually). When it didn't last in my five-year-old hands, she told me not to worry. Things happen. I loved my Grandma Estelle.

A few weeks ago, my mother (who is moving to Chicago from El Paso and so is downsizing) carefully had wrapped and shipped a set of wine glasses that belonged to Grandma Estelle. Actually, I think they might be liqueur glasses, or perhaps martini ones. They're beautiful. One set is lovely pink with grapes etched on them - not big, but the etched grapes are my clue they likely were intended as wine glasses. Another set - of four - are clear with a red base. In these four, I see my grandma. She had that flair of color, just like the red does on these glasses. I look at these glasses, and see my grandma - drinking from them, yes - but actually, I can see her choosing them too. The pink set was chosen for company. The red set was chosen just because.

Here are the pink:



And here are the red:



And here is my cat Annie attempting to navigate the huge box that delivered the glasses:




Hollywood

Just back from California - and the Hollywood Pitch Festival (speed dating for writers looking for agents, managers, production companies...) All went well. Did lose my voice from talking. Did meet some really great people. Did secure funding for at least one project (just did that Monday, actually - after the fact....)

I drove as well - hadn't had a road trip in awhile. It was fun, but a little too whirlwind... had to get back to take care of the law - hmm... that sounds like I'm the sheriff or something.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Turkey Babies

I have posted in the past about Tom, the wild turkey wandering the grounds of my office complex. A couple weeks ago, I saw Tom and his lady friend pecking at seeds in the grass so I knew he (and they) were still around.

Then one day, I heard a turkey gobble - slightly different from the normal gobble, but definitely with that turkey guttural sound with it too. Then I heard a "cheep, cheep" sweet sound. Then I heard a gobble - and a cheep - and a gobble - and a cheep... and thought, what the heck is going on?

I went to my office door - and saw a baby turkey! Oh my gosh, did he look sweet. He had gotten separated from his mama, and was standing on the brick walkway in front of my office door that leads up the steps to my office. Mama Turkey was down the way along the grass, on the brick path that starts a few feet to the right from where the baby stood. All the baby knew was that his Mom was directly in front of him as the crow flies - and as the turkey flies, if they flew, but it appears they do not (at least not when they are babies).

I watched as the baby - cheep, cheep - tried to jump up towards the sound of his mother's gobble (rather than realize that if he first waddled away from her voice to the right, he would find a crossing brick pathway perpendicular to where he stood that could get him to her much more easily). By jumping toward where he heard her, this baby turkey kept landing - smack dab! - into the low concrete wall that lined the pathway of the bricks leading to me. Ouch! (I thought, as I watched him smack his face into the wall, trying to follow his mother's gobble and get to her). Ouch, and ouch again (I thought, as he tried this trick two more times).

For as much as I did not want to get in the way of the call of nature (and turkey), I felt I could not just stand there and watch him hit his head against the wall - both proverbially and literally - so I did what I knew would help: I opened the door to my office.

He turned towards the sound I made to his left and looked - startled by my actions - and instinctively took off to run away from that sound, and me. He skedaddled a few feet to his right, and in that direction was the pathway that his mother had taken, and where she stood (some yards away) waiting for him to join her.

I knew he'd find her now. I didn't have to see the reunion to know it would happen as I watched him round the corner and take off on the pathway towards where she was.

But curiosity got the better of me anyway, and I stepped out of my office and walked the path that he had gone - only to see a passel of them (is it a gaggle or flock?) - gathered with the Mom - oh my gosh, how cute was that!! - there were about five or six brothers and sisters that patiently waited with Mama for their unfortunate wayward brother to join them.

And so there they were - turkey babies! Looking suspiciously like goslings (is the best I can describe it).

This was the best photo I was able to take - it is not particularly good - but it does show, just next to the shadow, the baby turkey scurrying away from me and toward the brick path that leads to his left (and to his mother):



And then here is a photo of his mother with the other babies (though the siblings are nearly impossible to see) around the corner from where he was:

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Affordable Care Act

It's a week later and I'm still rife with thoughts and opinions about the outcome of the Supreme Court's decision upholding the Affordable Care Act.

When I saw the outcome last week, I called my mother. She said that she had just heard too. She and I had discussed potential outcomes earlier in the month. She said, "It's just like you said it would be." I responded, "It is nothing like I said it would be." Other than the ultimate outcome of affirmance, I suppose - which I had calculated the chances of that happening at 60 percent (for the entire thing), and at 80 to 85 percent (for all but the individual mandate). I had the vote at 6-3 for all or all-but (possibly 5-4 for all and 6-3 for all-but), with Justice Kennedy being the determining factor and Chief Justice Roberts - looking to his legacy in part, being a careful jurist in part - siding with Justice Kennedy siding with affirmance.

So really, the only thing I guessed correctly was that Roberts was aware of the significance of this vote. I hear it is the first time in a 5-4 vote that he has sided with what they call the "liberal" faction of the Court (Justice Brennan would be horrified by the use of that term for all those four - who are excellent jurists, don't get me wrong - but back when Justice O'Connor became thought of as one of the "liberals" on the Court, the term "liberal" no longer meant what it used to mean).

What I have stated privately to a person or two is my disappointment in Justice Scalia. He is the one who has spearheaded an increasingly expansive view of the Commerce Clause - until now. His rhetoric during oral argument of this case in April (I did read a lot of it) just solidified my growing concern that he is first a political animal and only as an afterthought a careful jurist. It hurts my heart to see this, especially because he is so intelligent. But it does seem these days that he has no qualms about becoming a weapon against fair and careful justice whenever it suits him, regardless of inconsistency with his previous opinions. That is bad for the Court, and bad for the country.

I really do love the law - I respect its process and believe we should be able to trust in it. The fact that Justice Scalia took such a hard right turn away from where he has been headed with his interpretation of the Commerce Clause... well, it deeply disappoints this officer of the court. The other justices - Alito, Thomas, even Justice Kennedy - I believe their dissent in this case. Justice Scalia? I don't believe his dissent, because I sincerely believe - knowing what I do about his past decisions dealing with the Commerce Clause - that he would have affirmed if the ACA were nicknamed Bushcare. That kind of partisanship on the Court is sheer poison to the rule of law in this country.

It all gives me despair - and yet hope too, as I keep realizing how much there is to appreciate about our Chief Justice's approach, especially in light of Justice Scalia's behavior. I still think the law should have been found legal under the Commerce Clause, given the progression of the law surrounding the Commerce Clause in recent years. But I am satisfied with the outcome that the Court did reach. It allows me to maintain hope in our rule of law.

I saw this article this a.m., which outlines a lot of what I believe about this decision about where it was headed. (I disagree with the Chief Justice's summary of what would have happened had the Court affirmed the ACA via the Commerce Clause, by the way - there was a way to allow it, and to interpret "interstate commerce" when it comes to health care that would have justified it under the Commerce Clause while not creating the "slippery slope" that he outlines in his opinion - which is why I thought there would have been a different outcome on that issue.) What is interesting about the article is that the rollback of the Commerce Clause is exactly what the Chief Justice would have been expected to do (and exactly what I would have expected Justice Scalia not to do). So Justice Scalia has cut himself off at the knees, so to speak, by letting there be this 5-4 decision that reigns in the Commerce Clause when he has, in the past, used the Commerce Clause to advance all sorts of federal regulation. It would seem that, perhaps this one time, Justice Scalia's too-clever-by-half approach may get in the way of hard turns he may wish to make in the future when it comes to upholding application of the Commerce Clause in laws he does like.

Anyway, here is a link to the article - it's worth the read: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/scocca/2012/06/roberts_health_care_opinion_commerce_clause_the_real_reason_the_chief_justice_upheld_obamacare_.html

Sunday, June 24, 2012

In Memory

Today is the anniversary of the 1946 Spokane Indians baseball team bus crash. It also (I learned last week) is the saints day for John the Baptist. I don't think I ever knew that. It feels like a nice coincidence.

It is on this day that the team's bus crashed as it was crossing Snoqualmie Pass. Nine of the 16 men on the bus died. Eight of the nine who died had served in World War II. It was the first season after the war.

It was a great team. They were good men. I take this moment to remember them.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Good Day

Yesterday, in Pennsylvania, two juries rendered two verdicts.

One jury found senior Catholic church official Monsignor William Lynn guilty of one count of child endangerment. That jury did not accept his defense that he had to accept the bishop's decision not to stop a known pedophile priest - not to report that priest to the police - not to keep that priest away from children, but to send him back into ministry, and to children. Instead, the jury held him responsible for his own actions - his own lack of action.

A second jury found former Penn State football assistant coach Jerry Sandusky guilty of 45 counts of child sexual abuse. That jury did not accept Sandusky's story that he did not abuse those children (now adults). Instead, the jury listened to the testimony of Sandusky's victims and believed they told the truth.

For all those sexually abused (for those who have spoken up and have not been believed, for those who have not spoken up because they knew they would not be believed - for those who have spoken up and have been shocked to be believed - and still mourned for those who were not so lucky - for those who were abused simply because those in authority never stopped the abuser even though they knew who the abuser was and what that abuser did - and would do....)

for all those people, often silent and silenced voices....

Yesterday was a good day.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Three Ravens

A few weeks ago, I wrote of a raven who flew at my car's passenger side door - so closely that I could see his talons curled up in to his underbelly - it had been black on black, but I saw them all the same.

In the past week or so, I have seen two other ravens.

Well, I have seen many ravens, actually - there are many, in Spokane - they often travel in flocks - a "hell," I believe it is called when they gather together like that (no, a "murder" it is - I stand corrected - and that is for the crow and not the raven) (these have been so large that they can't be crows) (that's the rule).

In any case - I recently have seen two more ravens in striking locations, like I saw the first. These new two so strikingly have appeared from what seems like nowhere that, as with their brother from a few weeks ago, they are imbedded images in my brain for ever - or at least for now.

One of these two stood up on the tip of the top of the building next to my office building - and seemingly waited until he caught my eye, so that I first could see him so perched for a moment - just a moment! - before he fell forward and downward in dramatic dive.

Here is a photo - not of the bird but of the roof on which he stood (at its highest point)...



... because, before I even thought of taking a photo, it was too late - he already had taken his dive, and come within feet of the ground before circling back up and flying away.

And then there was a third Raven. This one also startled. I was driving on May 30 in late afternoon to a parish in Spokane - St. Aloysius, a Jesuit parish on Gonzaga U's campus. I was headed there because it was the anniversary of the death of Joan of Arc, and it seemed fitting to light a candle and say a prayer on her behalf at that location. As I drove on Sharp Avenue, I sensed a presence outside my window - and yet I knew there was no car to my left, driving along my side. I glanced to see what the presence was. It was a Raven - my third in a matter of weeks. He flew alongside me, at almost-eye level - perhaps a bit above that, but not by much - and stayed so for about a block - until, I'm sure, he was confident that I had witnessed his parallel flight - and then he swooped up and away, with an imperceptible nod.

I felt - what should I say - approved? Yes - that whatever I was doing was acknowledged, appreciated - approved.

(And notice: I did not modify "imperceptible" with the word "near" - for I do not know that I even saw the nod that I'm describing.)

It was a trio of ravens on a trilogy of days. Perhaps that is what a flock of ravens should be called - a trilogy.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Remembering...

photo by Kent Landerholm, located here

Two days ago, I remembered that ten years ago was the first day I had ever researched Joan of Arc.

I remember the day because it turned out to be the anniversary of the day that (they say) she recanted the voices. Four days later, on May 28, she recanted the recantation. On May 30, they killed her by fire for heresy.

She has always been my hero (I am not alone in this). But ten years ago (two days ago) was when first I realized what a week she had, starting on May 24 in 1431.

The synchronicity of researching her on that day in 2002 began with a dream I had had in the early a.m., in which a lovely energetic young woman showed up with a entourage of assorted beings (including a quiet, thin young man and a penguin) (hey, it was a dream). In the dream, she said something to me in French, but mostly spoke in English, telling me that she had come from San Jose, and that there was, in Spokane, a Pogo lounge (after Walt Kelly's "Pogo," made up of a similar entourage, when you think of it) (again, people, it was a dream - it doesn't all have to make sense). (Later, I looked up the French word - it translated as "grant" - as in money). Still in the dream, she and the entourage stood at the top of my friend's garden, above and beyond, in a location that does not exist in the garden-for-real. She said that they really liked Spokane because "they let us hang in Spokane" (emphasis on hang) (not from a noose, but loose, like in the '60s) (is what I thought). She said this a few times. Then we started singing "Go Go Pogo" and dancing to it (me down below, she from her ledge) (a song I learned at the age of 3). I woke up from the dream thinking that this young woman was fun - she made me laugh - and that she was the kind of person who drew people to her. I felt lucky that she had come to find me, to talk to me. I wondered where this Pogo lounge was, in Spokane... I thought it would have a red interior.

When I told this dream to an intuitive person, he asked me if I had ever researched Joan of Arc. I said that I had not. And so began my journey.

By 11 a.m. that morning (May 24, 2002), I had learned that on May 24, 1431, Joan of Arc had (supposedly) recanted the voices - with the promise from her captors that, if she so recanted, they would let her partake in the Eucharist and they would return her clothes to her so that she would no longer have to dress like a man. After she recanted, they did neither of those things. By May 28, she had recanted the recantation. It gave her captors the leverage they had been seeking. They declared her a heretic, and burned her to death on May 30.

I have always felt like that young woman on that ledge in that dream was some form of Joan. Jeanne. She was so lively and young and genuine, that I have always felt that youthful side to Joan of Arc - she had intensity too, don't get me wrong (she was, after all, a warrior). But she is multi-dimensional to me, and full of life, in part because of that dream.

In all these 10 years, I had always seen her tortured-soul day as May 24 - not the day she died, but the day that she recanted the voices. And in all these 10 years, I'd believed that she had recanted. I'd read researchers' opinions that she had not really recanted (it is not recorded, as far as I know, so it is an issue for debate), but my gut had told me that she had.

This would have been one big recantation. It was the voices (of Archangel Michael, and Saints Catherine and Margaret) that told her as a young teen that she must save France - find its leader, win France back. It is what led her to become the military leader that she became - if only through her faith in the mission (though it was more than that too).

If she had recanted those voices, she would have been saying that none of it were true. And my gut told me that she had done just that, when I first learned of it 10 years ago.

But then this past Thursday.... Suddenly I believed that she had not.

This is what I now think happened.

On that day - May 24 - they asked her to recant the voices. Rather than staying silent, she said something that did not recant. But just her speaking (and because of their desperation to "get" her, after months of trial where she had avoided conviction) allowed them to twist her words into what they wanted to hear - wanted to claim that she had said. That is when they announced her recantation. My sense that she had actually recanted came from my sense of her guilt of what happened that day - but her guilt, and what happened, did not actually mesh.

And that is what I think I figured out, two days ago.

There are examples in her trial where it is recorded that she stymied her prosecutors like that. When they asked her if she was in a "state of grace" is an example.... If she had said "yes," she would have been considered arrogant and a heretic for making that assumption. If she had said "no," she would have been without authority to claim that she heard voices.

Her answer: "If I am not, may God put me there; and if I am, may God so keep me."

It is a brilliant answer, inspired, and evidence that this 19-year-old girl was receiving guidance beyond herself to manage her own defense without human counsel against a prosecution team that already had decided her ultimate fate of guilt, regardless of how they achieved it. These were the kinds of answers that drove her captors crazy.

And on that day - May 24 - not a trial day, and so no court reporter (or the equivalent) - when they asked her to recant, I now think that she gave a similarly inspired answer that was not a recantation. But there apparently was no recording of what she actually said, so they used the fact of her speech - the fact that she spoke at all - to condemn her anyway. And her soul regretted the lapse.

Each year, for 10 years, I've tried to hold space during this week for the agony in the ethos that I feel, from what I feel is her regret. Each year, the pain has lessened - until this year, when it felt like it was hardly there. And with the lessening has come, for me, increased understanding. But it wasn't until this year that I actually believed in my gut - hey, wait - she never recanted at all. Perhaps it was the lessening over time that lifted the guilt so that the nuances of what actually might have happened could be felt. I don't think that I think this now because I'm desperate to believe it. I'm the one who was willing to believe, ten years ago and for ten years, that she had just made the mistake of negotiating a deal with unscrupulous men so that she finally could have the Eucharist she so desired. It would have been a reasonable choice. It would have been human. But now, I think it's just true - she didn't recant, but she regretted speaking aloud at all without someone present to record her words.

I did do what I felt she would want, two days ago on May 24. I went to a Catholic church mid-morning, lit a candle, and said a prayer. I'm not Catholic, so I'm very awkward at this ritual. I have been awkward for 10 years now, as I have tried for ten years to honor this impulse during this time (during this week in particular). I did it anyway this past Thursday, regardless of skill, as I felt she would want me (others) (everyone) to do this.

The impulse has receded in recent years - actually, and ever since the Pope stated explicitly that non-Catholics shall not partake of the Eucharist, I have felt it optional. (We non-Catholics are unclean, or so it appears that the Pope believes). Strange, isn't it? A woman attempting to honor Joan of Arc during the anniversary of a time when she was not allowed the Eucharist suddenly is unable to do so because she herself is not allowed the Eucharist.

And now here's another odd thing: the parish in Spokane where I have gone - started going, back in 2002, for these quiet rituals - happens to be in a building where abuse occurred, decades ago. When I started going to this parish, I did not know of the abuse. When I went back this past Thursday, I almost didn't go - it is a tainted building, after all. And then I thought - was it no coincidence that it was this church that I had started using in 2002 as a place to go, to honor the young Maid of Orleans? (years before I even became involved in fighting for victims of priest sex abuse, and almost before I even knew anything about it)... Or had I been drawn to the building intuitively - in an effort to respond to a desire for healing... healing all around... It isn't the building's fault, that a priest abused a child there - that a priest forced it to witness, and hold secret, the horrible thing that the priest had done.

What I'm enjoying about this week, so far, 10 years later - is how much lighter it feels this week than it did 10 years ago.

photo by kimncris, located here

And did you know - that all the saints whose patronage include "opposition of Church authorities" are women - with all but Joan of Arc and Teresa of Avila connected to the U.S. (except one, who was from Australia)? Yes, the Catholic rabble rousers are Jeanne d'Arc, Teresa d'Avila, and women from the New Worlds. :)

And then there was the trial 23 years later - also recorded - where Joan of Arc was absolved, and her prosecutors themselves (from 23 years ago) found to be in the wrong. Justice was delayed, but was not denied. Or so it would seem.

And of that trial - the "Rehabilitation" - 23 years later, Mark Twain recounts (as fictional narrator of a contemporary, on the last page of "Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc"):

"It was beautiful to hear the Duke d'Alencon praise Joan's splendid capacities as a general, and to hear the Bastard [Jean Dunois of Orleans] indorse these praises with his eloquent tongue and then go on and tell how sweet and good Joan was, and how full of pluck and fire and impetuosity, and mischief, and mirthfulness, and tenderness, and compassion, and everything that was pure and fine and noble and lovely. He made her live again before me, and wrung my heart."

Mine, too.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Post Street - Then And Now

So here's something weird -

This is a link to photos of a street corner in Spokane - Sprague and Post - that talks about a building where I worked - the Peyton Building (10 North Post) - when I first moved here. It was in the Peyton Building that the Spokane Indians baseball team had offices in 1946 - which is how I've been writing the movie script of my baseball novel "Until the End of the Ninth" (pretty quickly having people in the 10 North Post building). And here is a feature in the Spokesman Review newspaper this week, highlighting that very block - as though nothing has existed in Spokane but this street corner, for about a century now.

10 North Post is in the middle of the block going up and out of the left side of the photos. It is the first building that is tall in the 1900 photo.

http://www.spokesman.com/then-and-now/morris-peyton-blocks/

And here are copies of the photos that are provided in the link - the 1900 photo comes from the Northwest Room of the Spokane Public Library (a great researching resource), and the modern photo was taken by Jesse Tinsley of the Spokesman Review:



Monday, April 23, 2012

Tom's Back

Tom Turkey's back - and he's brought the ladies with him.

These photos are taken right outside my office. I took the last two photos from inside my office. He's gobbling now, too. And he's perfectly happy to have his photo taken with his feathers puffed out, unlike a week or so ago (here is where I wrote about him before). I do think it's for a benefit - but I don't think it's for my benefit. There are three or four hens in the same area, paying close attention to all his prancing and gobbling.

It must be spring.






notice the hen on the other side of the wooden platform....

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Story To Remember

It is my grandmother's birthday today. She would have been 95. She passed away in 2002. We still miss her.

My mother wrote an email early this a.m. to share with our family a story of her parents as she remembered them from long ago. She gave me permission to share what she wrote.

Here it is:
I remember that during World War II my dad worked long hours. Once a month mom and dad would go out for a night on the town. I remember that mom would get all dressed up and would smell so wonderful, using her good perfume. I was always so envious and wanted to go along also but had to stay home with a babysitter and my little brother Tom.

The next day (Sunday) mom would answer my questions about their night out - dinner, dancing (mom loved to dance and dad was a pretty good dancer also), and dad always bought mom a gardenia to wear. The flower was mounted on a cardboard backing in order to facilitate the pinning on your dress process. I usually got to wear the gardenia and dad would dance with me too. It made me feel a little bit better.

I thought my mother was the most beautiful woman in the world when she got all dressed up on those nights that she and my father went out. I believe the Palmer House was one of their favorite places to go. I would fantasize that I some day I would be grown-up like my mother and could go out dancing with my dad.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Tom Turkey

I have but one brief moment - a moment delayed already for a week, and so should not wait a moment longer - but I do think if I can take time to write about Chicken Gal, then I ought to give due time to Tom Turkey - a name less inspired than the Chicken Gal name, but proper all the same...

(it reminds me of when I named a paper machete Dharma head "Tako-Chan" when I lived in Japan - apparently it was like naming him "Johnny Boy" here - though my Japanese friends only laughed and graciously never took offense - none was meant, of course - he was named with affection only)

In any case... back to Tom.

There he was, last week - standing beside my car, at my office complex - at a building away from my own (that darn construction and consequent parking congestion)... It was the first day I was glad to have the construction, for the inconvenience led me to the Other Lot, and it was near the Other Lot where Tom stood.

I know it was a "he" because of that red thing across his nose. I'm no farmer - of no kind! - though I come from farmer stock - from way back - so I suppose it could be in my blood to know that the red thing across his nose (or would that be called a "beak?") meant that he was a "he" and not a she. And I did call him "he" in person (or in turkey, as the case may be).

But no, it was only confirmation after the fact that led me to know that his red nose thing meant he was male.

But it was a good guess, don't you think?

In any case... there I was, going to my car after a long day's work (they've been long these days - can't you tell? it was March since last I wrote here) - and then there he was -

He didn't caw or anything - or gobble, yes gobble is what they do - but it startled me just the same. Really, I wasn't expecting a turkey next to my car when I walked to it.

He fluffed out his fur - feathers, I mean - it just looked like fur, so puffed he became - I didn't know why he puffed like that - I thought perhaps it was to say "hello" - he didn't seem fearful, though he didn't seem to like me either - and yet I was so pleasant! How could he not have been charmed? Perhaps he was charmed a little - he did let me take photo after photo - but only with his feathers down (and like that, they looked like feathers)

We went back and forth across the brick wall for awhile, me asking him please, please fluff your feathers out - and him waiting until I put down my cell phone before he would - each time! - he'd wait, then fluff when the camera was in repose - it was as though he thought I'd take a part of his soul if I caught him on camera in the act of a fluff - and perhaps he was right - perhaps there was something about allowing that moment to be - just to be - without any recordation of it -

Though it would have been nice if I could have caught him in the act, so to speak.

In any case... such was our moment... and my moment with you now, telling about this moment from last week... thanks for listening, or for sharing too (if only in your mind, as you remember your own tales of turkeys - do any of them include a moving one that was not on a table in November?)



Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Chicken Gal

Cluck. And then cluck again.

Yes, it was just another day in Spokane. There I was, leaving Huckleberries (our local organic food store and all-around reliable neighbor). And there she was, sticking her neck out, and back in - out, then in - and then out again - as she pecked the grass for a seed or two in front of the house across the street, looking wholly out of place (and dangerously close to a store that loves its free-range chicken).

I thought of telling her to back away, girl - back far, far away from the eyes of those that scan the streets from the store's back door - but I took out my phone instead, and took a photo of her bobbing head.

There we were, on 10th and Monroe, smack dab in the middle of the lower South Hill - me with my camera, her with her intentions... I tried to catch her on her head bob up, not down, but she eluded my endeavors - though at one point, she looked up as if to say, "All right, take the photo. Take it now!" But her pause in action came just at the moment that my thumb got stuck to the side. By the time I clicked, she had bobbed back down again.

Still, I did get a shot or two - of her on the lawn - of her approaching the driveway - of her crossing the driveway - to get to the other side, perhaps? It was a punchline in the making...

There was a point when I remembered the wafting of scents of grilled teriyaki chicken cooking inside this lovely store - not today, but other days - and I thought, no - it can't be that she's escaped from there. Can it? But just as I wondered, a boy - two of them - came out from the back of the house where she was. They were laughing and looking, searching for - yes, a stray chicken. One stood in front of the gal, a hand on either side of her and then, in one instant, he caught her between his hands and scooped her up. I heard them say something about "Animal Control" and I said (from the other side of the street), "Is she yours?"

"Yeah," the boy carrying her said. "She gets out a lot."

She likes those seeds on your lawn, young man.

I didn't think to ask her name. Hen, I think. Or Chicken Gal. That, I like. It is how she shall now and forever be known, at least on this blog. Her name - what we called her - was Chicken Gal.

Yes, this is Spokane - where you can meet whatever farm or wild animal you might want - a Fat Robin or a Raven, a baby Skunk and now this Chicken - oh, and the Coyote - don't forget the Coyote. The Trickster, is how we knew him. I wonder how he is?

Spokane. It's a town of adventure, no matter how small. Just look. You'll see.





Monday, March 26, 2012

WOW and Sarah

Apparently "War on Women" is being abbreviated "WOW." Wow, indeed.

The Republicans have been making such bad choices. It's like how my 4-year-old nephew describes the game of football: "Bad choices. Good choices. Watch the flag!" I find it difficult to believe that Republicans don't understand this - in the context of football or politics. But they don't, apparently. It's been like watching a train wreck, in slow motion - and then watching it wreck again (with the non-uterined humans creating the biggest collisions).

Spokane's local paper, The Spokesman Review, decided not to run the Doonesbury columns last week that commented on Texas' mandatory sonogram law. That was just one of the reasons I had last week to say, "Wow." I loved one of the letters to the editor (which the Spokesman did print, to its credit), entitled "Where Is Doonesbury?" - It read in its entirety, "My husband has been yelling about this all day, and I’m about a hundred times madder than he is!"

In the midst of the Republican party's one-two punch on women (eliminating contraception funding while simultaneously, state-by-state, requiring these sonograms), I have also happened upon a couple of Facebook entries that talks about how women need to be submissive to their husbands. This was sort of a weird parallel, and were postings by two different people who I really like (well, I guess I should like them - they are my Facebook friends). I do think this female legislation will find its way to the trash bin over time, as I do not see it as sustainable in the end. But perhaps it is driven in part by this intense desire by sane people to read the Bible as saying that a wife is supposed to just do as she is told....

This was, at least, how the two Facebook postings interpreted that portion of the Bible.

I'm an inconsistent reader of the Bible. I'm more spiritual than religious and so am eclectic in how I gather my God information. But I was raised Lutheran, love biblical stories, and certainly have deep respect for the Bible, and what it is wanting to tell us. I'm a little more Jewish in my approach to the Bible, I think - meaning, I would have loved studying the Talmud (the Jewish writings that interpret and explain the Torah - known in Bible-world as Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy). I'm likely one of the few out there who "gets" how Ezekiel's Chariot epitomizes metaphysical alchemy. I love the Psalms. Job perplexes me - both the book and the man. Oh, and I won "Bible Baseball" in third grade - a board game - because I memorized the most Bible verses in Sunday School (though that had less to do with the Bible and more to do with my competitive spirit - I wanted to win!). So I may not read the Bible every day, but I do have some nuanced understandings of it.

When I read these Facebook postings - all feel-good and generic, without any explanation of how submission was supposed to work in, for instance, a domestic violence relationship - I thought, this can't be right. I've always known this submission thing was a little off because - well, because God made me and I am not built to be submissive, and I just don't believe that God would make me who I am just to have a cosmic joke - a good laugh at my personal expense. In fact, I've spent a lifetime growing out of "good girl" mode - a lifetime of learning to challenge imbalanced authority because it was in my DNA to do so, even as it was also in my DNA to be well-behaved. And yes, I've never been married, so maybe it ends up a non-issue. But I just can't imagine God would make me who I am and also state that all women need to be submissive.

So when I saw these Facebook postings, I did what I often do when it comes to the Bible (or any writing of authority, for that matter): I dug. I went to the source - well, to interpretations of the source, as I can't read the Bible in its original language. I found some cool things - like the word "submissive" has been perhaps incorrectly translated - it should read "cooperative" - things like that. At one point, an author pointed out that the Bible (the "submission" thing is in a letter in the New Testament, btw) states to be submissive "like Sarah." And anyone who knows about Sarah knows that sounds like code for "don't be submissive." It would be as if the Bible said, "Be without opinion, like Beth." Ha! I would know exactly what that meant, if I read it.

So here is the thing about Sarah: I always thought, "Sarah's a b----." She was great, and Abraham's wife, and Isaac's mom and all, but there plenty of moments in the Bible where I just thought, "Sarah can be such a b----."

Then I read a wonderful book - Orson Scott Card's "Sarah." It helped me understand - Sarah was just being tough as nails - was just attempting to figure out how to serve God's will, and manage Hagar and the birth of Ishmael - a situation Sarah created but then became caught up in, without easy answers. She was strong. She followed what she understood God to tell her. Abraham had to do what she said. She was not just being mean. She was being clear - and a model for women like me, caught in our own challenging circumstances, learning to stand firm even as human authority attempts to contradict. "Submissive like Sarah" - that's something I can do. And for as strong-willed and headstrong as I am, I can be pretty malleable when I feel guided spiritually to take a certain path - I will take it, against all odds because I feel I must. "There is nothing easy within this challenge except the challenge itself." So that would be "submissive like Sarah" too, I think.

Maybe WOW and Sarah are not related topics - maybe I should have written two separate posts for them. But it feels like they are well tied together - hence the substance of this entry.

This is a great article on the Sarah submission topic:
http://newlife.id.au/equality-and-gender-issues/submission-respect-1-peter-3_1-6/

And this is a great article of one woman's experience in Texas with regard to sonograms: http://www.texasobserver.org/cover-story/the-right-not-to-know


Monday, March 12, 2012

Bird Haven

My car must be a magnet, or have a magnet in it.

This morning started with two big robins around it - perhaps related to my Fat Robin of a couple entries ago? They scooted away only when I made clear my intention to not hover but actually get in the car and drive to work. Hardly had they scattered and I was on my way - rounding a corner in my quiet neighborhood - when a raven flew at me, as though he was going to skid into the passenger window pane. Only at the last moment did he avoid collision by flying up and away towards a tree. He came so close that I saw his underbelly, and his clawed feet curled up beneath him. I'm surprised I saw his feet so clearly (black on black, as it were), but there they were. As was he. In the moment, I think I was much more concerned about his safety than he was.

I wonder about the attraction. It isn't as though I'd just washed the car.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Cool Dream

So I woke up yesterday having scored a touchdown in my sleep. This is not a metaphor.

There I was, playing for an NFL team - I do not know which one (my only angst) - and then there I am, on third and goal, the go-to running back, holding the football, running to the end zone, looking for my lane... when suddenly it is all open in front of me - only one defender stands in the way - he's not much taller than me - he's the one who looks like a deer in the headlights, I'm the one who knows what is going on... I run into the end zone, untouched, scoring the touchdown (no spin moves needed, and hardly a leap, zig or zag)...

And then I woke up. What a great dream. The only sad part was that I woke up before I had a chance to do my touchdown celebration. I would have liked to have seen how that looked. Oh, and I was a little perplexed that I didn't know which team I was playing for. I believe it was the home team though - our uniforms were white, as I recall.

In my awake state, I remembered an earlier part of the dream. It was still the NFL, but it was a scrimmage rather than a game. I scored a touchdown as running back during the scrimmage too, but at the time I thought they were probably just letting me score because I'm a girl and it didn't count and they were just trying to be nice.

But then in the game - it was a real game (dreamland real) and I scored again. This time, nobody was trying to be nice. This one counted.

It wasn't the first time I'd dreamed that I was a player in the NFL. There was one other time - I was a running back in that dream too - for the Philadelphia Eagles (I love the Eagles) - but that time, there was no touchdown - it was in the middle of the field - there was a much better defense - I was barely able to go forward - I needed to use my spin move - which I executed flawlessly, by the way - until that dream, I didn't even know that I had a spin move!

What was different about yesterday's dream was that I didn't know which team I was on - which team had drafted me. In past NFL dreams, it's always been the Eagles. Besides the dream as a player, I've dreamed once that I was the walk-on coordinator (clipboard and all), once that I was a confidante to the coach (Ray Rhodes at the time), once that I was a spectator during preseason training camp and sat with Bo Jackson as we talked over the Eagles' prospects for the year (he seemed like such a nice man).

It does surprise me that I keep playing the position of running back in these dreams. I'm more of a defense person - love, love watching corner backs play - such athleticism. It's how I usually practice law too - on the defense - criminal defense is where I got my start in the law - my first plaintiff case, I was almost confused - I had to initiate everything! The lawsuit, the discovery requests... And in soccer, I almost always play defense. So you'd think in dreamland, my subconscious would have me play defense. I guess my subconscious has other things in mind.

I do love football. Of course I love many sports - heck, I wrote a novel about baseball! - but football ends up being my go-to sport, for some reason. Baseball too, at times. At least I can play baseball (in softball form). And baseball is more often a metaphor to me - a metaphor for life - how there is no deadline, and how whatever happens is up to the teams. If nobody makes a move, the game will go on for infinity. If nobody scores, then nobody wins - or loses - or wins, though. And isn't that key? In my baseball novel (Until the End of the Ninth, about the Spokane Indians' minor league team in 1946 that dies in a bus crash midway through the season), there is a section that talks about baseball's structure. It is in the context of the Indians having beaten the team from Victoria, B.C., on May 16, 1946 (40 days before the bus crash) by tying up the game in the 9th inning and finally winning in the 12th:

It took a lot, to beat Victoria like that. More than perseverance, more than hope - faith too, and maybe a commitment to the mundane. Always a commitment to the mundane. Playing day in, day out, game after game, pitch after pitch - and then, in a moment's silence, when all seems statically standstill, someone does something to change the flow, or create it.

And isn't that the way life can be?

Maybe I'll dream about baseball tonight.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Fat Robin

Just outside my window, just the other day, was a big ole robin - rotund, from all the worms he had been eating - and I thought, egads man - don't you know it's winter here? Where in the heck are you finding all those worms? He was not in any way telepathic as far as I could tell, as not once did he look my way to acknowledge my consternation. Funny, funny bird.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Ways to Write

Here is a list of my writer role models in no particular order - because they are brilliant and because: Murasaki Shikibu (she was first!); William Faulkner (he didn't give a f--- what anyone else thought); Mark Twain (he had a writer's heart and a marketer's brain); e.e. cummings (in the end, he welcomed any one - despite what Sherman told him); Emily Dickinson (she wrote even when nobody read or discovered); Margaret Mitchell (she wrote to last); David Siedler (he showed such lovely, strong humility); Edgar Allan Poe (such a mind); Bertolt Brecht ("Wo ist Gott?"); Charlotte Bronte (she had such wild and wooly ways); Jean Rhys (she wrote in obscurity) - on and on... thanks.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Great Story

So I called a good friend of mine yesterday - Gail, who lives in Greensboro, North Carolina. She had met the president a few months ago and she told me...

Wait. Some back story first.

I met Gail back when I was campaigning for Barack Obama in 2008. Initially I went to her church because I was going to be poll watching at that church on the primary polling day (a Tuesday, so two days later) and thought it made sense to meet some people at the church itself. It was a raucous, wonderful time, with singing to the rafters (as the expression goes). I looked essentially like nobody else there (color-wise - it was a primarily African American church), but that didn't seem to matter to anyone. I was completely welcomed and embraced (figuratively and actually, as I remember). Then when Tuesday rolled around, I went and stood outside the church in lawyer mode to ensure that everyone had a chance to vote and have a voice. That's when I met Gail. She was sitting outside as well, also doing poll work. It turned out she had missed me at church because it was one of the very rare Sundays that she hadn't attended. She otherwise was one of the pillars at the place (such a great church - I love that church). She and I hung out all day and became great friends - though that is just the way she is anyway. As her father says, she has never met a stranger. She is a lovely, amazing person. There are few people out there as special as Gail.

When I came back to Greensboro a few months later - in the fall of 2008 - she and I decided we would go out together and register people to vote. I told her I'd take care of everything - get the list of where we would go, etc. When we met to get to where we were going, we decided she should drive and I would give directions. When I told her where we were going, she abruptly stopped her vehicle. Excuse me? She must have said. We are going where? I told her again. She just looked at me. I told her that I had asked for an assignment in a poor neighborhood - that way, we were sure to get all kinds of people who hadn't registered to vote yet. Mm hmm, she said. As we got the neighborhood, Gail (a former police officer) seemed to be holding back as she followed me from door to door but told me that I was the one who had to do the talking (until she couldn't help her gregarious self and would join in each conversation at the tail end). Then her pastor called her on her cell phone and I got a glimpse of what was on her mind: "Beth's got me in the 'hood," she told him. "And me without my handgun. She doesn't know any better, but I've got my phone in one hand and my keys in the other. Anything happens, we'll make a run for it!" I just laughed and chided her - "this place is fine," I said. "Everyone's been so nice!" She just rolled her eyes. As far as she was concerned, I was a babe in the woods - or the 'hood, as it were.

Fast forward to last fall (and yesterday, when I heard the story). Turns out, President Obama decided to work out at Gail's gym last October - a gym near where he was staying at the time. Gail had come with some freshly made pound cake to give to the staff there, saw all the secret service cars, and wondered, what the heck... She got permission first, that it would be okay to talk with him, then waited for her chance and came up when he was in between machines and told him she was a great supporter of his and that she had campaigned for him back in 2008 and then told him that she and her "white, blond-headed girlfriend" from Spokane, Washington had done some voter registration that year in the rougher side of town - she told him, "I should know, I'm former law enforcement and I had clients" from down there. And she told him that we had no problems whatsoever. (And while she was too polite to tell me this yesterday, I'm pretty sure she told him how naive that "white, blond-headed girlfriend" was, dragging her to that neighborhood.) (Except we did have just a marvelous time!) Funny funny. Then she asked him to take the four pieces of pound cake that she had, and he said, "Gail, what are doing to me? I'm here to work out!" but he couldn't turn down that homemade baking (and he shouldn't have - she is one marvelous cook). She ended up getting a photo taken with him and being on Cloud 9 about the encounter.

In fact Gail did more than what she told him, because she also drove people to voting locations at the general election, and spent a lot of time helping one elderly woman in particular get her voter registration straightened out because of some bureaucratic red tape that had been put in her way. Another person would have given up, but Gail knew that it mattered to this woman to be able to vote and she wasn't going to let her down. That's how Gail is. She also took her eldest son to the inauguration, to stand on that lawn with him and know that she was present for that moment in history. It was a great intention that she had. I wish I could have figured out a way to help her get a better seat - or a seat at all - or even just a little bit of a view. But I imagine there was something special for her to just being there at all. And then last fall - did I mention? - she got to meet the president in person and got to give him some of that delicious pound cake that she makes. That likely made up for inauguration day's obstructed view.