Category Archives: Life

Taking some time off

Just so you know where I’ve gone, I’m taking a bit of time off.  I foresee a couple of weeks doing the trick.

I have gotten quite addicted to my internet activities, blogging most of all.  I love to read and I love to write.  Probably my favorite aspect is getting and leaving comments, just because that means we really cared about and/or enjoyed what the other person had to say and took the time to respond.  That means the world to me.

But I am losing more than a few marbles at the present moment because of the weight I feel on my head.  For the sake of my sanity, I fear I have to ditch all the priorities that I can, which means not my family or my familial duties, but everything else, no matter how important a part of my day it is, in order to relieve the pressure I feel.  Come at it again hopefully refreshed and eager for more.

I might just be taking everything a bit too seriously.  (Ya think?)

It makes me sad even thinking about it because I do love these words, I do love to sit here and imagine you reading them, I very much love visiting your sites and seeing what is new in your world and what you make me ponder or remember or dream.  It feeds my brain, my social self and my soul.

From my overwhelmed position under the mountain of life that has fallen on my head, I don’t know what else to do right now.

Sorry, too dramatic.  You can see why I need to back off and get a grip.  Or maybe let go.  Whatever gets me where I need to be.

I will see you, or rather, read you all soon.  

Take care, my friends.

17 Comments

Filed under Life

Phelps got it wrong

He had a chance to change public perception.

I don’t actually blame him.  The anti-pot crowd is entrenched so deeply in their delusions about the evil marijuana plant that you’d have to essentially sacrifice your reputation, your future, everything, unless you kowtow to their judgment.

Instead of apologizing, as reported in the general media, like this article from CNN, he might have said, “I smoked pot.  It shouldn’t be illegal.  You people have it completely backwards; instead of the pot-smoking reflecting on my gold medals, the gold medals reflect on my pot-smoking.  You all say that pot smokers are shiftless losers, that it destroys your entire life, that it is the gateway to all that is damnable on this earth.  BUT I WON EIGHT GOLD MEDALS.  Idiots.”

Like I said, I can’t blame him.  He’s young, handsome, has his whole life to win more medals and get more sponsors and rake in the loot.  Why should he put himself on the chopping block just to try to end a moronic witch hunt.

It’s just disappointing, that’s all.  If he’d been drinking a beer, which according to statistics as well as common sense wreaks FAR more social havoc and destroys  many more lives than marijuana, no one would have blinked.

But partaking of the devil’s own herb?  Tsk tsk.  Bad times.

Don’t worry, buddy, they’ll forgive you.  You’re America’s darling, and hey, even Clinton admitted to smoking pot.  Just didn’t have a picture published of himself sucking the chamber dry, that’s all.  

And maybe in its own pathetic way, your little faux-pas might bring the US closer to a saner drug policy, eventually.  The advocates of legalization might be able to point back at you from the distant future, show the judge and jury how the medals around your neck were chiming merrily against the bong as you leaned over to take a big hit.

You could have been their hero, your framed portrait hung next to Marley in every dorm room, but this’ll have to do.

6 Comments

Filed under society

There Are Things Worse Than Death

Sometimes the news gives you a story that you just can’t shake.

A woman accused of trying to suffocate her 11 month old.

Not your run of the mill child abuser, though. A loving mother who has cared for her child, born with severe physical defects that she can never hope to recover from. A devoted parent who has had to watch her child suffer her entire life, with no end in sight to the suffering.

Not just suffer, but have to be resuscitated over and over again.

To me this is the deciding factor. This baby’s body has been trying to die. It is done. But our ability to perform medical miracles keeps the poor soul alive to continue its agony.

Why can we not learn to use our skills wisely? Why have we not established a really good process for determining the situations when it is an imperative of humaneness to just let a person go when it is obvious that death would be the best thing?

I’m not talking about euthanasia here, which is what it sounds like this mother was allegedly attempting, perhaps after a mental breakdown. Although I do think there are extremely rare occasions that might call for euthanasia, (I approve of Oregon’s Right to Die Law), I think in this circumstance a more appropriate concept is Do Not Resuscitate.

From what I’ve heard it is even difficult for an old person to have their DNR instructions respected.

There are things worse than death.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all in favor of our amazing techniques to bring someone back from the brink of death. Had this baby been in a car accident, obviously any extreme measures would be most welcome to keep her alive long enough for her body to heal and regain function.

But this baby’s body is not going to heal. Her brain stem will never grow. It will never function properly, according to the doctors’ own diagnosis. And yet they perpetuate this body’s life.

People comment that it is up to God, not us, to take a body. But God HAS BEEN trying to take her body. I am not saying that our medical abilities exceed the power of God, but if you believe in prayer, then aren’t actions a very concrete expression of our will, what we wish to see happening? Are we very naively asking for a person’s life to continue, and perhaps God is “allowing” our prayer to be answered, the way God “allows” all sorts of horrible things like murder, rape, torture. “Allowing” us to exercise our free will and then deal with the consequences later.

And if found guilty, this mother will have to deal with the consequences of what she’s done, legally and otherwise. I would never attempt to condone or make excuses for her alleged actions, but I also believe that the way a person has lived counts for something. There is ample evidence that she has been a devoted mother to both this baby and her 3 year old son, including this online website that she has maintained. It appears that she herself has suffered through a situation that few of us could handle and come out the other side with our sanity intact.

I can’t help but wonder, in the event that this crime really was committed, how her community might also be held responsible: was anyone making sure she got enough sleep, enough to eat? Was anyone making sure she didn’t need some mental health care? Is the medical establishment in any way responsible for having developed the ability to diagnose permanent defects, having developed procedures for keeping humans alive when their bodies are failing, but then refusing to resolve these two aspects so that families do not get caught in a nightmare of suffering?

2 Comments

Filed under Life

Progress?

True to my promise, I have been trying to think of concrete ways that I can participate in this move forward that we as a country are attempting.

One big area that I used to participate in a lot but have lately slacked on severely is taking better care of the environment. I tend to blame my slide away from greenness on where I’m living now, and after my recent attempt to investigate local green possibilities, it does not appear that I will get away from this excuse any time soon.

Cycling – out of the question where we currently live. I’d be run over within a week.

Composting & Gardening – we want to move out of our current house as soon as humanly possible, so there is no point starting anything outside. Plus, there isn’t any room anyway, unless I started digging up the front lawn, which is going to seriously piss off the landlord.

Buying bulk – I used to do this a lot on the West Coast (Santa Cruz and Eugene). Yesterday I went to a local health food store and found pre-packaged bulk items, which kind of defeats the purpose of using re-usable bags to go fetch your bulk grains, flours, etc., which would thus cut down on packaging. It was a small store, so I politely inquired of the three employees standing around chatting in the empty store if they knew of any place locally that had bins where customers could bag their own foodstuffs. They looked at me as though I were insane. So that ain’t gonna happen.

On the brighter side, here are some green things that might work even though I am living in an extremely pale green community:

Cloth grocery bags – I already have three from my previous incarnation as someone who cared about the environment. I’m going to check at Goodwill for old curtains or some other kind of sturdy cloth which I can cut up and make into some more bags.

Produce bags – in the past I’ve made some little mesh bags to carry produce home in (although a lot of things like cucumbers I don’t even put in a bag anyway) so that I won’t have to use any more plastic bags. I will invest in some twine and get on that project.

Homemade foods – I should dedicate more time to making things homemade, such as bread, so that it will reduce the amount of wrappers and containers that must be thrown out. Although, since I can’t find bulk flour, I’m going to have to throw out the paper flour bags anyway… if we had a garden, I could have a burn barrel and use the ashes to cultivate the compost pile…

If, if, if if if ifififififififififi

Hey, it turned into Fifi. Fifi the if-angel, the one that takes all your goofy fleeting fantasies, turns them into chocolate chip cookies and drops them in your lap when you least expect it.

A girl can dream.

Dream green.

6 Comments

Filed under society

“Baby Food”

I recently found, in the Jan. 19, 2009 issue of The New Yorker, an article entitled, “Baby Food” written by Jill Lepore. I got to this quote and it just about made me cry:

“When the babe, soon after it is born into this cold world, is applied to its mother’s bosom; its sense of perceiving warmth is first agreeably affected; next its sense of smell is delighted with the odour of her milk; then its taste is gratified by the flavour of it; afterwards the appetites of hunger and of thirst afford pleasure by the possession of their objects, and by the subsequent digestion of the aliment; and, lastly, the sense of touch is delighted by the softness and smoothness of the milky fountain, the source of such variety and happiness.”

No offense, I swear I’m not a genderist, but I can’t believe it was written by a man; in 1794, Erasmus Darwin (Charles’ grandpappy) included this passage in his “Zoonomia; or The Laws of Organic Life.” I feel like it so beautifully expresses the whole, multi-layered experience. I realize it is written from the perspective of the child, and I wasn’t ever breastfed, and most of us wouldn’t remember it if we were, but it reflects so well the feeling of total satisfaction and well-being that pervades every aspect of existence when a child nurses.

I really don’t understand bottle feeding.

And the gist of the article is how many women now decide to bottle feed their breast milk. Yes, I know: work, partying, vacation sans enfants. But I’ve had to use a pump (my first baby was premature) and lemme tell ya, it ain’t fun. It is the worst of both worlds.

Whereas, in my opinion, breastfeeding, you know, out of the breast, is the best and easiest.

Anyway, if you have the slightest interest in breastfeeding or children, check out the whole article.

3 Comments

Filed under kids, society

If the events were to be scrambled…

Just hypothetically, because I like the weather out here on a limb…

Say that one heard about the two events yesterday (farewell speech and aviation disaster) and then the extremely cold temperatures made one’s brain short-circuit for a minute and one got a bit muddled in the head…

One might walk away with the befuddled impression that W.’s presidency was a plane crash that we had somehow miraculously survived.

If only he’d had that heroic pilot on his staff…

1 Comment

Filed under society

Worth the Wait?

I’ve noticed that, in the South, cashiers will chat their hearts out to each customer. Regardless of how many people are in line, the person being rung up is the most important human in the world.

On the West Coast this sort of behavior would get you shot.

But when you stop and think of it, isn’t almost worth the wait to be treated like a neighbor?

I was in this situation today.  With each item the cashier would say some little joke to my 6 year old, who would giggle shyly.  Occasionally I would glance back at the line of four people behind us, watching for things that might be hurled at our heads.  All I saw were polite smiles or spacey faces staring off.  

Reminds me of our trip to Ireland.  I was going through customs in the London airport.  I had a nine month old baby and a four year old with me.  I had a luggage cart piled with three army-sized duffle bags and a suitcase.  I was about the 30th person in a line of about 50 people who had just gotten off the plane and were trying to get through that particular gate.  I had stood there only about two minutes when the customs officer at the front waved me up.  I smiled sheepishly and said, “Oh, I’m okay.”  I glanced nervously around me, hoping no one was cocking back to through a punch.  After all, I hadn’t accepted his unjust offer!

The people were looking at me like I was crazy.  “Go on!” someone said.  “You’ve got children!” someone else reminded me.  I slowly made my way up front.  The guy at the head of the line smiled at me without a shred of hatred as I was let through before him.

It was my first taste of the civilized world.

After five months of that, it was back to life in the Pacific Northwest.  Back to people turning their heads away from someone in need.  Where fairness is based on the mechanized rule of first come first served.  Where the cashiers will hardly ever speak to you, either because it is a culture of “time is money” or because they assume you aren’t cool enough or because the people in line behind you will kill her, or at the very least scream for the manager.

If you’ve never lived on the West Coast, you might think I was exaggerating.  Trust me.  One time in Santa Cruz, California, home of The Enlightened, I was at the bus station at about midnight, coming home from work, and there was a teenage girl sitting on a bench, looking uncomfortable as she actively ignored this drunk old street guy who was standing in front of her, talking to her at high volume.  I watched this for about a minute and then I went over and sat next to her and stared at the guy, repeating, “We’re not interested.  You can leave now,” until he wandered off.  Then I turned to her and rolled my eyes, as if to say, “Weirdos, huh?”  She looked at me and said sternly, “I was fine.  You didn’t have to come over.”

You’re freakin’ welcome.

I think I’ll wait a while longer, here in the South.

15 Comments

Filed under society

Reason and Imagination

Note: I can no longer make the spaces between the paragraphs, so now it just looks like one big squished text… sigh.  Just thought I’d warn you, dear readers.  If anyone is having this same problem and fixes it, will you let me know how?

He who will not reason is a bigot; he who cannot is a fool; and he who dares not is a slave.
  – Sir William Drummond
Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.
  – H. L. Mencken
I like these two quotes next to each other.  
On the one hand, we are reminded of the necessity of thinking.  If we will not or cannot use our human ability to reason then we can never invent anything, we cannot avoid fascism, we cannot solve the daily challenges we face that are overcome with simple logic.
On the other hand, if everything is logical judgment, if every person in our lives must pass through the reasoning machine, then our lives become gray and tiresome.  We need the magic of imagination to get us over those hurdles that cannot be reasoned with.  Why did my loved one die?  Why did my child lie to me?  Why didn’t I get that job?  Sometimes we have to take the leap and forgive, turn off our thinking and just love, even if it is just our own self that needs the loving.
Love can’t be logical; none of us is perfect enough to deserve the adoration that we seek and crave, that drives us mad when we feel ourselves alone in the dark, out of the spotlight of someone’s eyes shining with love for us.  The species would never survive if we did not have enough imagination to see the angelic resemblance on the face of an infant who had just screamed through all our sleeping time, spit sour milk on our best pajamas and caused us to clean up foul excrement.
To love someone unconditionally might be to say: Let us use our reason to resolve a problem one of us has or a conflict between us, and let us use our imagination to build for ourselves that common ground called peace.

3 Comments

Filed under Life

Regret

When I was a teenager, acutely aware of the life-altering impact of every choice I faced, I adopted a decision-making strategy which, though it has not lessened my anxiety, has nevertheless served me well.

I decided that, when I was paralyzed by indecision and needed to snap out of it, I would imagine myself on my death bed, then look my options squarely in the face and determine which would cause me the least regret from that future position.

This method has mostly caused me to do kind of crazy, out-of-the-box kinds of things: sell all my possessions and move to Ireland with two small children, quit a Master’s program to move across the country, homeschool my kids, sell my car and become a cyclist.  And I regret almost none of them.  As the old song goes, “Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention.”

But it occurs to me that I should have expanded this policy beyond the momentous decisions to include the small habitual choices I make everyday without even thinking about it.  I realized this when I suddenly became aware of how much I regret and will regret all the worrying I’ve done in my life.  I’m not entirely sure that this is a choice, or if I might choose to break the habit and live differently.

But these small acts of extreme stress and discomfort color my life’s journey just as much as a decision to marry or change jobs.  Day after day accepting my tendency to panic and refusing to take on the project of learning a new approach to conflict and challenge is just as essential to forming who I am and what my life is about as moving house or cultivating a friendship.

I choose now to devote time and energy to this goal: of becoming more emotionally stable, of learning to relax and see how small most obstacles truly are in the Big Picture, of finding the fun in a challenge instead of going into fight or flight mode against an insurmountable enemy such as a bank error or burnt toast.  I choose to remember that the attitude I choose to have throughout an average day is just as important a detail of my life as my address or my level of education.

I know that even if I don’t ever totally succeed, at least this is one decision I will never regret.

5 Comments

Filed under Life

Another intimate tidbit…

There was a 15 year span in my adult life during which I did not shave my legs.  Ever.

I had spent the previous seven or so years of my life shaving my adolescent legs, because “we have to.”  I hated every wasted minute, every painful red rash bump, every time the stupid guy who sat in front of me in history class would reach back and caress my shin and say either, “Ooo, smooth, who are you trying to seduce?” or “Oh, stubble, time to shave!”  In the way the a lot of teenage girls do not question cultural assumptions or the asinine way that people communicate them, I would inevitably feel alternately whorish or ugly.  And I continued to scrape the sharp metal against my skin.

Until I moved to Oregon in my early twenties.

Now, I know, there is electrolysis, hair removing cream, waxing, and a myriad of other methods.  BUT WHY?  Why do we continue to adhere to the purely vain idea that women must spend time, money and energy regressing to a prepubescent body by removing the natural covering of half their bodies?

Well I wasn’t going to do it anymore.

For those of you who have not had the singular experience of living in an area inhabited by a significant population of freaks, you will not understand the ease with which this decision is made.  You can walk down the street in shorts, leg hair flapping in the breeze (and to impress  you further, my skin is quite pale and my body hair, minus the grey on my head, is quite dark), and no one will bat an eye.  When you are surrounded by folks with their entire faces tattooed, by young people, white and black, with their hair in long scroungy dreads, by piercings and earhole-widening plugs and green spiked hair, the most likely reaction to a woman whose sole foray out of the norm is her hairy legs will be, “Geez, why are you such a square?!”

Thus, 15 blissful years.  

Granted, it took me a while to overcome my cultural training and stop being repulsed by the sight of my own bare legs.  It helped that I saw others similar to me.  I always wanted to high five these women, thank them for being a weirdo like me, but I thought it might progress the cause further if I just acted cool, as though saying “What’s the big deal?” might make it so for the rest of the world.  

I also had, about five years into this experiment, what might be considered a healing dream of sorts: I was sitting in a circle of men, all of us in shorts, our legs casually stretched out toward the middle of the circle so that when you looked down you couldn’t tell us apart.  It fit so satisfyingly into my gender ideal, which is that each person be seen for who they are as an individual and not be immediately put into a box based on the type of genitals they (presumably) possessed.

It was a habit that would be called into question when I met the man who is now my husband.

He is far too kind and understanding to have demanded or even suggested that I shave.  But I knew.  I could tell by those subtle clues that one must use with those selflessly thoughtful people to find out what they really think.  So I began to shave occasionally, usually just up to my knees.  Heck, I supposed that in doing so I was meeting him halfway.  Seemed fair.

And now?  Well, dear readers, I am currently living in the South.  The days of freakdom have (temporarily?) come to a close and I suspect that a stroll down the avenue with gorilla limbs would not be well received.

But I still hate it.  My poor gams are stinging as we speak.  I wonder if they might be willing to walk all the way back to the Land of the Weird and reclaim their right to be shaggy.

6 Comments

Filed under society

Altered States

Sometimes I feel the need to make sense of our society’s drug policy.  For a brief moment in the ’60s (or so I’ve heard, having not made my entrance into this world until 1970) there was a subculture of people experimenting with altered states of consciousness, often induced chemically.  But besides that, we have all kinds of factions fighting against each other, none of them going anywhere except to hell in a handbasket: the “cool” drug counterculture, the illegal drug making/selling economy, the drug war economy, the poor souls fighting addiction, the puritan idealism that inevitably adopts a hypocritical position of condemning some chemicals utterly while accepting others without question, the pharmaceutical industry, the food industry, the tobacco industry, the alcohol industry, etc.

Okay, well, the legalized industries are doing fine.  But we often excuse their products as harmless, though in the last few decades we have been leaning the other way with alcohol and tobacco.

But we still allow people, including children, to walk around souped up on caffeine and sugar and few of us recognize these effects as altered states.  (I don’t know about you, but the most positive and productive I am all day is the hour or so when I’m flying on my morning caffeine fix.) We are only  just beginning to see them as powerful.  And our inevitable response seems to be to condemn them.

Are we capable of a more intelligent handling of the issue?

No matter where we stand on whatever drug issue, legal or otherwise, we all seem to be operating under the same common assumption: altered states are secretly fun, to some degree dangerous and always carry at least a small stigma of shamefulness.   Even with coffee, aren’t we addicts all at least a little sheepish when admitting our fixation?  Sobriety is held as the ultimate righteous state.

But might altered consciousness be something humans need?  Is it ever beneficial?  We might admire a Native American peyote ceremony for the soul searching and mystical insight it provides, but none of us is allowed to do it.  How would someone’s reputation change in your eyes if you found out they’d done acid?  

We allow, “I was just experimenting in college” and “I didn’t inhale.”  We’ve gotten to where we allow people to be reformed users, like George W., for example.

But for someone to be a respected member of mainstream society who proves their worth on a daily basis and is also a known pot smoker?  Nope.

We all have understandable fears based on anecdotal evidence of some type of chemical destroying someone we know and/or love.  We may even decide to buck the present trend and be against alcohol consumption.  But cars and motorcycles maim and kill lots of people, and isn’t that an altered state for a lot of people?  The power, speed, independence, road rage, status symbol possession… Most of the time we drive in a fairly sober, utilitarian manner, but who among us doesn’t ever floor it or take that corner just a little faster than necessary?  We definitely are not in our natural state, feet on the ground, head surrounded by sky.  Our heavy metal boxes put us in a certain frame of mind.

But we would never dream of outlawing them.

Our tv watching puts us in an altered state, a passive, drooling spectatorship.  How are the hours wasted and life energy atrophied away any different in front of the tube than passed out with painkillers?

Okay.  Granted they are different.  I’m just being dramatic in an attempt to make the point that we try to avoid sobriety in many different ways, some of them demonized as too dangerous and others labeled as simply “entertainment” or “transportation” or “java” some other moniker that makes them untouchable.

What would happen if we said, yes, we need to escape.  Yes, grownups are going to be allowed to choose their method of altering with no legislating and then they will be held responsible for any consequences of their choices.  The pluses and minuses of every method could be discussed freely.  We could openly admit that lots of things we do everyday, even something so innocuous as having a drama queen fit, are forays out of our “right minds.”  We could talk without shame about what we are looking for outside of our sobriety, about what we find there.

Or should we just continue to behave as though stone cold sobriety were the only way to be, ever.  That there is no time or place for getting out of your head or your day to day perspective, unless perhaps you choose Zen meditation, prayer, yogic breathing.  Newsflash — these things are seen as a little bit crazy, too.  Innocuously so, but nevertheless.

I hope this article did not induce any sort of altering in the reader’s awareness of reality as they’ve always assumed it to be — any effects of change in point of view, feelings of lightheadedness or hallucinations were purely unintentional.  Unless you go for that sort of thing.  In which case, you’re welcome. 

4 Comments

Filed under society

Friends

My parents never had any friends.  I know you’re saying, come on, don’t exaggerate, but I’m being perfectly serious.  They still don’t.  It’s the two of them, punto final.  They are not particularly anti-social, they just can’t be bothered.

So, having had no example, I’ve always had to make up the adult friend thing as I went along.  And I’ve moved around… a lot.  So whatever friendships I’ve managed to build up have fallen apart.  With Facebook I am able to salvage some, and with blogging I find I can get super attached, because I don’t feel like I ever have to lose any of the great people I meet over the internet, assuming we all continue to choose to inhabit cyberspace, and assuming the continuing existence of cyberspace.  (Now that we have it, can you imagine our reality without it?)

But in real life.  That’s another story.

I joined a local group of homeschoolers.  I met them at the park a couple of months ago.  Instantly, I was home.  I’d known them forever.  Not a moment of tension or awkwardness.

Great, right?

Leave it to me to put a negative spin on it.

First, they’ve known each other for years and are like a real community.  It would take me years to catch up, even though they do make me feel welcome now.  Wah, woe is me, I wish I’d stayed somewhere so I could be an integral part of some great group… blah blah blah.  Pity pot. 

Second, there is no guarantee we will stay in this area for any length of time, and if we leave they just get added to the Facebook list of blasts from the past.  My husband and I have an agreement that we will go where his career leads us.  My life is about my kids, who I can raise anywhere, my writing, which I can generate anywhere, languages, which I can speak anywhere, cooking and crafts… you get the idea.  I am willing to make this sacrifice to be a part of the wonderful partnership we have.  Most of the time it doesn’t feel like any kind of sacrifice at all, especially if I think of my parents’ social norm.

And I really like these folks.  They make sense to me.  We are on the same page.  I don’t want to lose that… again.

There is a get-together, a winter party, tonight.  I haven’t RSVPed, I am using the lice, the fact that today is my husband’s payday and thus I need to run multiple errands, and my own social inertia to blow it off.  But I’ve been told by one of the moms that I can just show up, and I secretly really want to go.  I’m at the point now where I am entering the “Cheers” phase of belonging to the group, where at least one person will instantly know my name and greet me when I walk in the door.

I think it might be a need we have, as social animals, to be recognized by not just the people in our hut but by the village at large.  Some kind of security, some kind of mental and emotional nourishment.  Don’t know how my parents manage without it, but I guess that’s their prob.

I’m so glad I woke up early this morning so I can sit here in the quiet (such a rare treat!) and get my head together.  I’m so glad you were here to listen.

6 Comments

Filed under society

Pigskin-r-ific

Yesterday was a fun end for us to the 2008 regular season of NFL, watching Carolina and Miami carve themselves a path to the post-season excitement.

First off, let me say congrats to Joy and her Vikings, and best of luck in the playoffs!

Secondly, my son’s Panthers ended up top in their division, as did my husband’s Dolphins.  In fact, Miami did so well compared to last year that they are one of the all time top turn-around teams in NFL history!

My father’s Lions, well.  I guess if you’re going to stink, you may as well do it perfectly!  Really reek up the joint!  And you know, first round draft pick, and all the rest.  I guess if you’re a Lions fan you’ve gotten used to the view from the bottom by now.  And with a record like theirs, you are 100% guaranteed not to do any worse next year!

Similar to my Raiders.  They did win one more game than last year, so perhaps they are on a slow crawl back to a winning season.  Maybe in another decade they’ll actually make it to the playoffs!

6 Comments

Filed under sports

49er Fantasy

No, not the football team.  Euw.

The miner kind of 49ers.

I’m from California, and the Gold Rush of 1849 has always been one of my most favorite periods in history.

The other day my daughter and I were watching a documentary of the pioneers and the Gold Rush.  It told the story of a family who went west to seek their fortune.  Usually men went without their wives and children and just hoped to make a bunch of money to bring home, or send for their families later.  But this family took off together.

When they arrived, the lady found that the miners would pay five dollars to have a meal cooked by a woman, which of course was a lot of money back then.  Well, maybe not to a guy who just found a bunch of gold nuggets in a creek and has blown phenomenal amounts of cash on booze and prostitutes.  Five bucks for a “home cooked” meal would be nothing.

But anyway, these miners had gone so long without being fed by their womenfolk, not to mention even seeing a woman up close, that she was greatly appreciated.  So much so that she was able to open a restaurant and make a tidy living off her culinary skills.

Now I know that some people fantasize about being Eddie Van Halen, or Angelina Jolie, or maybe even Bill Gates.  Having fame, fortune and glory is a commonplace desire.  But I haven’t felt as envious of anyone’s life as I felt hearing about this woman feeding all those men, winning their innocent affections and being compensated handsomely.  

I imagine, being her, I would feel like the most beneficent goddess mother, appeasing the boys’ stomachs and comforting their loneliness (she had her husband there, so I’m assuming that she was relatively safe from untoward advances.  Either way, nothing inappropriate figures into this particular fantasy of mine!)  They would adore me, looking up at me with their sad, scruffy, hungry puppy dog faces as I set before them some stew and biscuits still hot from the oven.  It would fill their bellies and warm their hearts and their homesickness wouldn’t sting quite so badly for just those few moments.  After their many months of perilous journeying, miserable gold panning, lousy food and rough male company, just the swishing of my clean skirts as I went to fetch the coffee would be like music to their ears.

Silly, I know.  But if a person’s fantasies reveal their essence, then I am all about food, earning a good living and being an adored mother-figure.  

I can live with that.

6 Comments

Filed under society

Laziness is not civilized!

Okay people, por favor, don’t let’s get completely pathetic.

I was walking through the parking lot at Target yesterday and I saw a perfectly able-bodied woman who, having loaded her SUV with Christmas surplus, was standing there watching the hatch close itself!!!  

I am disgusted.  This is not an awesome use of technology, people!  This is an example of why we are a flabby, soft, lazy, weak population!

Okay, maybe I’m overreacting a little.  Maybe having to close the hatch of her SUV is the bane of her existence.  I know if I could get something that would make it so I never had to touch a dirty dish again as long as I lived, I would buy it in a heartbeat. 

And really, there are lots of contraptions helping us out.  I haven’t beat my clothes against a rock in the creek in quite some time.  But seriously.  When will it stop?  When will we take some pride in having strength, agility, endurance?

When will we see “automatic hatch closer” on the list of car features and say, “Honestly, no, see the flab hanging off my upper arms?  I think I’d better close the hatch myself, thanks.”

Considering the economic state of our country, we’ve got a lot of work to do.  I suspect it is the roll-up-your-sleeves, elbow grease kind of work that makes you sweat, and not something for which if one pushes the correct sequence of buttons one might remotely signal the economy to restart itself.

Let’s stop being proud of our new laze-crazy devices and start being proud of ourselves and each other for our genuine human abilities.

6 Comments

Filed under society

Criminal Element

I am on a bit of a low due to the rash of robberies in our area.  My husband, as you may not know or remember, is a cops & courts newspaper reporter, so every local criminal event is, in some way, a personal event in our household.  

Before you say that maybe my husband shouldn’t bring his work home with him, I LIKE to be part of his life and to hear about how his day went.  And if you’d ever heard the way he tells a story, you wouldn’t want to miss a single one either.

I know robberies happen all the time everywhere, but lately they have been violent around here.  One middle aged waitress was pistol whipped by a scumbag thief trying to rob the restaurant where she was working because she claimed not to know the combo to the safe.  Obviously the s*** for brains criminal has never worked a service job in his entire worthless life or he’d KNOW that there’s no restaurant owner going to trust the lowly employees with the combo to the safe (just about the only jobs I’ve worked have been service jobs, so rest assured I am NOT insulting the employee with my sarcasm.)

Almost as repulsive as this man beating on a woman is the fact that a dishonest thieving rat is terrorizing someone trying to earn an honest living.  

So then I hear about the owner of a small country store being robbed for the third time this year, and he ends up shooting the two robbers, killing one.  I should be saddened by a death.  But it makes me want to cheer.  I feel like this store owner was standing up for all of us, sending a message that this sort of immoral insanity will not be tolerated anymore.  Additionally, there is one less criminal that will be able to wreak his havoc in our area.

I heard a comment stating that the deceased had tried to straighten out his life but due to his criminal record, no one would give him a job.  What else could he do but turn back to crime.

This softened me a little.

Is there ever a second chance?  Is there a way to turn your life around?  Would society let you do it, if you really had a change of heart?

What are we doing to ourselves that we have light sentences for the criminals and strict rules for the cops and courts so that violent offenders end up on the streets either with no punishment or after learning new tricks of their trade inside, and then there is no way for them to walk the straight and narrow even if they wanted to?  Aren’t we just setting the stage for disaster?

I have no solution to offer.  I just see it all up close and personal and there appears to be no end in sight.  Just a few days after the robbers were shot, there was a report of another armed robbery in a parking lot, but this time the victim was shot.  Perhaps, instead of being a deterrent, the injury or death of a criminal will just inspire them to shoot first?

Is there a way to encourage and facilitate the re-entry of criminals into “normal” society, or at least a way to get them to empathize with their victims?  Is this why they commit crimes in the first place, because they have no awareness of the feelings of their victims? Is there a way to determine if an individual is incapable of feeling empathy, and if so, what should be done with those people?  Should they be allowed to run loose?

It scares me to think like this.  I see Big Brother and machines hooked up to people’s brains and citizens in mortal terror of being imprisoned as a “preventative measure.”

I guess we have to value freedom and civil rights and accept whatever consequences come along for the ride.  

I just wish it didn’t always come down to physical safety vs. human rights.  Such a fundamental American conflict, and one that we might never sort out.

1 Comment

Filed under society

More Facebook Insights…

Every once in a while a few new observations occur to me about this social networking site.

Or maybe the observations are simply about my own life.

For example, you can organize your friends into categories.  I currently have five: people from high school, people from college, friends my husband and I met through his job in the last town we lived in, people I have met in our current town, and family.  

What is most interesting is that these categories do not overlap one iota.  Most likely none of these people will ever meet each other.  It is as though there are completely separate pockets to my life story that are totally unrelated.  There are even more pockets than these five, but I haven’t met up with anyone from the others.

I have discovered friend surfing.  If you aren’t friends with a person, they almost always have their profile set to private so you can’t see any of their information.  BUT you can see their friends!  Thusly, I can surf the friends of a friend, and from there find someone I know, or used to know, and surf their friends, ad nauseum.  It is a strange journey down a bizarre garden path where names and faces from the past bloom amongst the unfamiliar flora.  

When a certain person comes into view, it is as though the memory of them casts a light on a part of me that had been asleep since I last held them in my mind or saw them before me.  I am not completely me without all the people that have shaped my existence.

My final thought of the day is to meditate on the act of “catching up” on the last 20 years with someone who was only ever an acquaintance.  Of course any story we tell, no matter how many facts it relates, is in some way a lie due to all that we decide to leave out.  So which version do I tell to whom?  It is kind of fun to think about, really.  I can highlight a particular chapter of my crazy journey to give a certain impression.  I can turn my face slightly and appear a writer, a housewife, or a clown.

I know it’s a bit of a waste of time, commenting on someone’s status that isn’t even in my immediate vicinity just to make a witty joke or empathize with a human I once knew.  I know it’s a bit extravagant to send them good karma or pass them a drink, poke them, throw snowballs at them, or buy them a fish for their aquarium.  All kind of silly, really.

Yet, it apparently feeds me in some way since I keep going back to see what’s going on with everyone.  And occasionally, it is also food for thought.

5 Comments

Filed under Life

“I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas”

Here is a post by a guest blogger: my sister, Emily Horton.  She recently took a course called “Master Recycler Program” from a local agency aiming to maximize sustainability in the Eugene/Springfield area of Oregon.  After having taken the course, she tells me that she feels her life has new direction and purpose as she seeks to implement some of the ideas and strategies she has learned.

As “pay back” for the class, students are required to fulfill a certain amount of volunteer work.  She wants to develop presentations to give in local classrooms and also to publish some of her ideas and experiences.  

She welcomes any comments and feedback you have on her article!

“I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas”

With Christmas looming right around the corner and three young children to consider, I am beginning to brainstorm my holiday plan.  When I think back to Christmases past, I see visions of trashbags full of plastic packaging dancing in my head.  In the Lane County Waste Management Master Recycler Program, I learned it’s okay that I can’t afford all the gizmos and hoopla our consumer-based culture has come to expect from the holidays: Mother Earth can’t afford it either.  And so I sit in the November rain, pondering how to make this season go easy on the Earth and my pocketbook, but heavy on the festivities.

Such an outcome is possible if we use the Green Triangle.  Ernest Callenbach developed the Green Triangle as a way to visualize the connection between our personal well-being, the health of our planet and our economy.  Picture a triangle with each point representing one of the aforementioned factors.  Every decision we make, everything we buy affects all three points in a similar way.

So when we choose to clean our yard with a rake instead of a leafblower, we positively affect our personal health with exercise, our earth’s health with a zero-emissions human-powered tool, and our financial health with a one-time, low-cost investment and no additional fuel or tune-ups required.  When we make a decision that is responsible and positive for the earth, we positively affect our health, and definitely save money.

Now to take the Green Triangle theory and apply it to my holiday dilemma.  Our family’s main holiday priority is making happy memories for the kids and infusing the season with meaning.  In addition to the Eugene Register-Guard, I check the Eugene Weekly and Oregon Family Newsletter for free or low-cost family events in the area.  Our favorites become annual traditions, like the free live nativity at Herrick’s Farm and the open house at Heceta Head Lighthouse.

While we try not to focus on gifts, we do like to spoil the kids a little at Christmas.  In years past we spent $200 or more at major corporate retailers and really didn’t have much to show for it, and nothing cherished or special.  But last year we bought a few beautiful toys and puzzles from a local family-owned toy & hobby shop and then spent the rest of our budget at non-profit second-hand stores like Teen Challenge and St. Vincent de Paul’s.  It feels good to support local businesses (it’s great for the economy, too!), it’s good for the planet to buy non-plastic, minimally-packaged gifts (especially second-hand) and we spend less money while giving better gifts.

Why stress and work overtime to fund your Christmas this year?  I see everyone’s lives improving dramatically as we use the Green Triangle to guide our daily decisions and purchases.  There’s no better time than now to start, so go ahead, give it a try!

For more information on the Green Triangle, visit

 http://www.context.org/ICLIB/IC26/Callnbch.htm and read his original article.

6 Comments

Filed under Life

Repost: Thanksgiving Ingrate

Okay, since y’all didn’t disown me the last time I pulled a fast one like this, I’m going to do it ONE MORE TIME.  (All caps means it’s a promise!)

Thanksgiving Ingrate

Americans love to get presents and be the center of attention, which is probably why most of us claim our birthday as our favorite holiday. Thanksgiving is also near the top of the list because it brings together four of the greatest joys in life: feasting, family, a four day weekend and, of course, football. It is a day which allows us to cure momentarily our chronic case of the gimmees and just be grateful for what we already have.

Despite Thanksgiving’s huge popularity, there are a few Americans who, though their hearts may swell patriotic and their stomachs appreciate the traditional meal, nevertheless harbor a secret resentment toward the beloved Turkey Day – I speak of those late November birthday babies.

Oh, we are a sorry bunch. When next year’s calendar comes out we must look ahead to see how close the fateful day comes to impinging on our specialness. If Congress had just left the date of Thanksgiving in the early fall, as it was when the Pilgrims originally celebrated it with the Wampanoag Tribe in 1621, we of the November 22nd through 28th set could be guaranteed chocolate cake instead of pumpkin pie with candles. If they’d just left well enough alone when Colonial Governor John Belcher declared Thanksgiving be November 12th in 1730, or when President George Washington proclaimed in 1789 that Thanksgiving be observed on the 26th of November, more of us could consistently have pizza for our special birthday dinner instead of green beans and cranberry sauce. Admittedly, even with such arrangements there would still be some whiners among us. But there would be far fewer and most importantly, I, being born on the 24th, wouldn’t be in their midst.

Our annual “birthday roulette” began in 1863 when Abraham Lincoln established that Thanksgiving be celebrated annually on the last Thursday of November. This custom held until 1939, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in an effort to stimulate an American economy still reeling from the Great Depression, declared that Thanksgiving should always be celebrated on the next to last Thursday of November, thereby giving Christmas shoppers an extra week to spend money. Some states protested, refusing in 1940 to go along with FDR’s “Franksgiving” celebration. (It should be noted that Texas, not wanting to be rude, decided to make a holiday of both weeks.) In 1941, Congress compromised by declaring Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday of November, which is sometimes the last Thursday, sometimes the next to last. Either way, it always threatens to land on my special day.

Of course, in 1970, being newly born, I couldn’t care less, but I did manage to ruin my parents’ Thanksgiving. I was born on a Tuesday and, in adherence to the medical wisdom of that era, my mother and I were to be released two days later on Turkey Day. Right in the middle of a football game, my father got the call to come pick us up from the hospital. Originally from Detroit, my Dad is a loyal fan of the Lions, who have played football on Thanksgiving since 1934, a full 32 years before the Dallas Cowboys tried to steal the spotlight by starting their own Thanksgiving game tradition. My mother graciously permitted him to come get us during halftime.

The Lions were playing none other than the Oakland Raiders that year – I was born in Hayward, California, a mere ten miles down the Nimitz Freeway from the Oakland Coliseum (now called “McAfee”). The game was tied at halftime, so it must have been quite a dilemma for my Dad: bring home the new baby, or watch a nail-biter between our hometeams. I like to think he was rewarded for his familial loyalty since the Lions went on to win 28-21.

My mother didn’t fare so well, having missed the feast, though she did get some leftovers. But that’s just not the same as sitting around the table with all the fixings, the all-important centerpiece being a golden roasted turkey. North Carolina contributes greatly to the event, being second only to Minnesota in turkey production with 39 million annually. (There is even a town named Turkey about 70 miles south of Raleigh on Hwy 40.) Those who love sweet potatoes with their bird owe some gratitude to North Carolina for growing 702 million pounds of the tasty tubers, the most of any state and almost twice the amount of the runner-up, California.

Occasionally, people attempt to include some new-fangled culinary innovation in the holiday fare, such as the vegetarian’s “tofurky,” which is tofu sculpted then baked as though it might replace a juicy fowl, and “turducken,” the carnivore’s delight out of Louisiana consisting of a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken. But no matter which new dish enters the scene, we still refuse to turn away from our traditional meal.

Biased as I am by the holiday’s total disregard for my basic civil right to be the Birthday Queen of the Universe, my favorite part of the traditional spread is the appetizers. This is not to disparage my family’s cooking talent; on the contrary, my mother and grandmother are the best cooks around. No, this is to say that when you skip breakfast to try to save your appetite for the big dinner, you’re going to need some serious appetizers. I mean really, when has a turkey ever been ready within three hours of when it was supposed to be done? Those always seem like the three longest hours of my life, as the aroma of slowly roasting bird teases my nostrils and the warm rolls waft waves of irresistible scent that follows me through the house. That appetizer plate with the various deli meats, cheeses and pickled vegetables is the only thing that keeps a person from going mad and eating the couch.

And during our Thanksgiving feast we must be surrounded by our loved ones, who will often travel long distances to celebrate with us. This is all fine and dandy, but try arranging a birthday sleepover under such conditions. As a kid I always knew that for every member of my family that arrived for the holiday, there was one less friend still in town to come over and bring me presents.

So you see, those of us who came into this world within a few days of Thanksgiving do not get a break from the gimmees, and in fact have our special birthday desires so thwarted that we aren’t very grateful for anything.

On the other hand, this uncivilized selfishness never prevents me from thoroughly enjoying the cornucopia of treats that Thanksgiving has to offer. And I’ve decided, this year, I’ll be a big girl about it and hope that the holiday is a truly special day for everyone.

Horton family appetizer plate:

Arrange on serving plate in artistic fashion:
Salami, Black Forest ham, pastrami (cut in triangles)
Sharp cheddar, smoked gouda, Danish fontina (cut in squares)
Black olives, green olives w/pimientos, dill pickle spears, pepperoncini
Contents of a jar of spicy pickled vegetables (cauliflower, carrots, pearl onions, etc.)
Garnish with fancy cut green onions and radishes
Crackers: Triscuits, Wheat Thins, Ritz

This article originally published in
The Lake Magazine November 2007

4 Comments

Filed under society

A place in the world

Yesterday I got the idea in my little head that it would be fun to be an online moderator for a new site I joined for mothers in my local area.  They have all kinds of forums that have eaten up more of my day than blogging lately.  One of the forums is called “Natural Living and Attachment Parenting” and they had an announcement about needing a moderator.  I emailed the woman in charge of the site, and she informed me that the position has been filled.

I may live a pretty straight and narrow life these days, but I’ve been known to hang out in alternative-land.

I was a vegetarian for about five years, and would still be now if it weren’t for all these carnivores I live with clamoring for charred flesh.

I lived without a car, using my bike and bike trailer or the bus for all my transportation, for 9 windy rainy wonderful years.

I’ve baked my own bread, fried my own tortillas, made my own clothes, costumes, quilts, cloth bags to carry groceries in, even went so far as to crochet some little bags to put veggies in so I didn’t have to use the plastic ones from the produce section.

I breastfed each of my kids for three years (it’s sad that this is considered alternative.)

I shared sleeping quarters with each kid for at least three years.

I homeschooled my first child until 8th grade, my second until 5th grade, and my third is now homeschooling “first grade.”

I had natural childbirth with midwives and lived dirt poor so I could stay home with my babies.

I’ve lived without tv, phone, bank account or credit cards, I even lived for a time in a house whose only heat was a woodstove, and then I lived for a few days in February without wood.  No better way to wax alternative than not to be able to feel your toes.

I shopped and worked at health food stores for years, trying out all the funky “new” foods that the rest of the world considers staple but Americans find so fascinating, like millet and tofu.

I recycled, reduced, and reused, including finding half-broken furniture and such and repairing it with materials bought at a thrift store or yard sale.

I’ve had an organic garden, composted, grew veggies, mulched with my lawn clippings.

I’ve used a clothesline, canned my own jam with blackberries I picked, crocheted my own afghans and cured illness with home remedies.

And I drank microbrews as long as I could afford to!

And that doesn’t even include all the weird things I’ve done in the name of following my bliss.

I got it into my head when I saw that announcement that I might have a place to share all this, to make my experience be useful to someone, to be needed.  I might have an incentive to stop my slow slide into the disposable convenience of mainstream complacency and regain some of the habits, skills and attitudes that made me feel so self-sufficient and conscientious.  

Of course, I can still post and comment in the forum.  The truth comes out that I just wanted a bit of spotlight, I wanted to alleviate a bit of my new-in-town floatiness by having a place I belong.  I feel way too  much disappointment for a fleeting idea that just came to me yesterday.

So I look at all the projects that I have neglected in the past couple of weeks, developing conversation classes, translation, studying to qualify as an interpreter, and I decide to attack them with renewed vigor.  

Here I go, clicking to put a check mark in the box next to “vigor” and pushing the “renew” button.

And here comes the inspiration…

Wait for it…

Wait…

4 Comments

Filed under work