Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Kudos to the Congressman and his staff for hosting a successfully civil discourse Town Hall meeting last night in Ilwaco, in Pacific County, WA. And of course, the primary range of questions had to do with Health Care/Insurance Reform. Death threats to the Congressman aside, he still managed to conduct his usual in-person Town Hall meetings in several Southwest Washington counties.
What was the process?
I can't speak to the in person Town Hall meetings he held in other counties except for what I've read in media (some of which has been reported at Washblog). I can speak to the TH we attended in Ilwaco last night. Also Baird has added telephone Town Hall meetings as well to his usual array of in-person TH meetings in the SW counties.
The Ilwaco TH meeting was orderly and permitted the many to hear both the questions and Baird's responses without interruption or interference. Which is precisely what I wanted - information and not the drama of interference that has been the hallmark of many other TH meetings across the nation.
We arrived at the high school, and yes, there was a tiny contingent of less than impressive 'protesters' with their home-made cardboard signs. They kept their behavior under control and did not molest the people as they were coming into the auditorium. We signed in, and we were asked if we wanted to ask a question of the Congressman; if so, we were given a number (kind of like at an auction).
We were seated and it was explained by the moderator that corresponding numbers were in a twirl cage (bingo comes to mind), and numbers would be picked at random. Those persons who held those numbers would come forward to be seated in the first row of seats. Each would then get 3 minutes of time at the microphone to state their concerns, ask their questions and the Congressman would have 3 minutes of time to respond.
Questions came from both parties. I think people are sophisticated enough to filter out what is rhetoric and focus in on the actual question, when there is a question and not just a 3 minute pulpit for speech making. The Congressman's opportunity to respond, or better said, give the facts as he knows them, provided a format that helped enormously to dispel some of the rhetorical myths, giving the auditorium of people an opportunity to listen to and hear the information.
In Congressman Baird's Town Halls that we have attended in the past, even when my own emotions have been highly charged, (ie, his vote in 2007 for the Surge in Iraq where our son-in-law was deployed), he has been respectful to all, including us, in responding to concerns and questions. Last night's Town Hall was no exception. He was respectful, courteous, and responsive to every question, even the few who formulated their questions in what seemed designed to bait him. He actually was skillful in handling those baiting type questions, both responding and further elaborating on concerns and situations that led to the current Health Care Reform issue.
It was a 2 hour TH meeting, so obviously, there was not time for everyone who might have wanted to ask a question to have a turn at the microphone. But with the quality of the kinds of questions asked, and Baird's informative responses, I think probably most of the concerns people had in their minds received air time in a very Civil dialogue.
Earlier in August, I was also on one of Baird's telephone TH meetings (Pacific County), and got to ask my question of him; specifically what concerns about the Health Care Reform Bill did he have as he has said he is unsure how he will vote when it comes up for vote in Congress. Frankly, I would like to see him vote for the Bill with all of it's warts and flaws rather than to vote against it. I sense that voting for the Bill starts the ball rolling, probably with a lot of tweaks needed in years to come. Whereas to vote against it because of it's imperfections does little to alter or change the current deeply flawed Health Care 'system'.
As Baird explained he has heard from doctors, it is not really a system so much as an evolution that has evolved into a complex hodge podge of health care that some get and some don't.
On a personal note, I do have to be a bit amused at one of the questions last night. The Chair of the Republican Party in our 3rd Congressional District was among one of those whose number was called, giving her time at the microphone. She has had time at earlier Town Hall meeting in another county to state her concerns to the Congressman and she did make an offer of her home as a venue for the Congressman to hold an in- person Town Hall, guaranteeing him an assurance of safety she would personally provide. He did thank her for and it did seem he accepted the offer; I'm not sure he intended to hold a Town Hall in her home, nor would that be logical. He did hold the in person Town Hall in Ilwaco, at the high school - a more appropriate venue and approximately 2 miles from her home. She has not been deprived of opportunity of access to the Congressman, nor of opportunity to state her concerns or questions.
She has had a beef with what she terms his rejection of her offer, labeling it as evidence of an unwillingness on the part of Congressman Baird to hold in-person Town Hall meetings. She has both blogged it and arranged for a newspaper article in The Columbian, of her account of his rejection of her offer. In my opinion, it goes to show the 'slant' of her perspective in presenting the situation as a rejection, as an unwillingness on Baird's part to conduct in person Town Hall meetings. And it is a perspective she is pleased to broadcast in the media and telegraph to her party. It was, in fact, Baird offering a more appropriate venue with a wider opportunity, for the larger populace in the area to participate in an in person Town Hall. Probably safer for everyone also, with the County Sheriff there, and the presence of uniformed officers stationed along the side corridors.
Her concern as she stated it in the question last night to Congressman Baird were some remarks he had made in earlier years; favoring universal health care and duration terms of office. Baird corrected the perception she had of his earlier remarks on terms of office. She spoke again indicating she was in favor of all people having access to health care, and when Baird asked if she was in favor of universal health care, she said no, she was not, and promptly sat down. There was a bit of a buzz talk after that exchange amongst the people in the auditorium.
Highlighting this more to illustrate, in my opinion, a tactic of intent on the part of the Republican party in trying to direct attention away from the Health Care Reform issue, while offering little of substantive value as an alternative method to adjust the disparities in health care as we know it today. Congressman Baird is not the issue, nor is the next election. Health Care Reform is the issue on many people's mind and they seem to want information, not politicking.
My thanks to Brian Baird for the opportunity to learn what I felt I wanted and needed to learn about Health Care Reform - less the noise of disruptive interference. Good job in putting together the Ilwaco Town Hall meeting.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
Our weekend; The Story. I have a peridontist appointment about every three months, in a town about 2 + hours from where we live. So we have turned it into a weekend getaway, and a visit with my mother who lives in a nearby town to the town where my peridontist is located.
Had my peridontist appt Friday and the report was good - some small improvement actually. Not much improvement, but far better than deterioration. Then we went to my mother's home, spent the weekend. and then came home to our animals. Our cat and dog remain at home, and so our time away is limited to a safe duration for the cat and dog to fend for themselves. Now that my cat bite is healing and the cat is healing, life is returning to normal. (A couple weeks earlier the cat was bitten by an animal, and in not knowing she was bitten, I picked her up, more rather tugged her out of her hiding place and she bit me…not at all her usual behavior, she is a very loving cat. We didn’t see her wound at the time, but knew something was wrong with her. Arthur spotted her wound, and we took her to the vet, who gave her a vaccine, and told me was more concerned that I get myself to hospital to treat the cat bite. I did, was vaccinated and given antibiotics, the incident reported to County Health, the cat quarantined at our home for 10 days and we are both mending without incident, the primary concern being exposure to rabies). When we returned home, our dog Jake resumed eating again. He misses us when we are gone and gets sad - depressed. Dogs have feelings. Oh, and our cat too, she has feelings, misses us and glad when we return home.
After my peridontist visit on Friday afternoon we drove to my mother’s home, picked her up and went out to eat. We live in a rural town, and there aren’t a lot of restaurants or places to eat, so we enjoy the opportunity of eating out at different restaurants on the days of my peridontist appointments. It’s an eating out together date we look relish. Choosing a restaurant in the town where my mother lives proved not to be as obvious as it might seem. We kind of scoured what we knew to be restaurants in her neighborhood, opted to go further away, settled on Black Angus, since I was hankering for a nice steak lunch. We got there and it no longer has lunch, open for dinner only. Must be the economy. The hour was growing late into the afternoon, I was hungry now, and we had not eaten breakfast that day, or at all, so we wound up at (oh yuck!) Old Country Buffet. Arthur likes the many choices of buffet restaurants, and sometimes so do I, but Old Country Buffet is not one of my favorites. We both really enjoy the buffet variety of primarily healthy choices at Sweet Tomatoes restaurant, but there were none the town where my Mom lives.
Saturday Arthur spent the day home, defrosted Mom’s freezer for her because it had become so full of ice that the ice on all the shelves were touching each other, no room for food. He took care of some other taskings for her, then spent the rest of the day fooling around with installing stuff in his old fashioned computer. Not the laptop kind, the big bulky kind. Some guy he knows had given him some Linus software to download or told him about it. Anyway, it was a dead computer (not working) and when Arthur finished the download it sprung back to life, installed Windows XP and is sort of functional again. He was delighted. Still needs an audio driver and something else that would permit it to link to internet. He was just intrigued that it started working again...kind of like a guy tinkering in his garage with his power tools, only Arthur likes to tinker with puter.
Saturday I took Mom to Farmers Market in Proctor area of Tacoma. That is a district that more resembles Portland or some Seattle districts; organic, green living, conscientious choices - that sort of thing, and an amazingly cool, fun grocery store with very upscale item choices. For a mere $309.00 you can purchase a wheel of gourmet cheese! An experience in itself. (I’m being a bit snarky – it would be very unlikely we would ever spend that kind of money on cheese.) We visited a new consignment shop in her immediate neighborhood – delightful items, colorful, fun, upbeat, cheerful. I liked it. But I didn’t buy anything, because in truth, neither of us need another thing!
And more for the hunt of treasure than because either of us need anything more in our homes, we went to a few garage sales. What was being offered wasn’t the kind of garage sales we were looking for - more like junk sales. We had fun anyway because we toured many of the University Place neighborhoods, the million + $$ homes with breathtaking views of the Narrows water, Narrows Bridge, the outlying island. And alongside the million + $$ homes, are more modest ranch style homes. You can be on a ‘house of dreams’ street and turn to go down the the next street which could well be a quiet and modest street of different ranch style homes. University Place neighborhoods are in interesting mix of income levels. After our tour of neighborhoods, I took her to visit Charlie at cemetary where his ashes are placed. It is a beautiful, peaceful cemetary, a place of quiet serenity amidst the hubbub of getting from here to there. Nice place to quietly reflect on life. I know, it may sound like a strange juxtaposition to reflect on life when at a cemetary where the dead are buried…..but that is how it works for me.
We went back to Proctor district that evening to have dinner at a niche Mexican restaurant (not a restaurant chain) because Mom said she heard good things about the food and atmosphere there. Lively atmosphere with mix of old and young people dining. I had a Taste Assault dish called Chicken Mole, although it would be better named Chicken in Mole (prounounced molay) Sauce, because the sauce was Outrageous - 6 ingredients, and I can remember plums, almonds, mole (an unsweetened chocolate), and some other ingredients. It wakes up your taste buds like wowza! Not hot or even spicy, flavorful would be the word I would use to describe it. Flavorful with each bite. Arthur took a menu and will experiment at home with making the mole sauce because I liked it so well.
Sunday we took Mom to her church (St Andrews Episcopal Church). A bit of history here; my mom lost half her sightedness recently and is vision impaired now. Mom had been saying she felt she needed something inspirational amidst all the doctor appointments and bad news. Along the way, I decided to call the Priest at St Andrews to talk to him about Mom. When she was a child, she attended Episcopal church in Spokane. I explained to him her childhood church exposure, and her current medical condition with being sight impaired, being told by her doctors not to drive anymore. He agreed to visit Mom immediately and arranged for someone to pick her up and take her to church on Sundays.
She has been to St Andrews now, a few times, and wanted us to visit her church. We wanted to visit it also, as I enjoyed the upbeat conversation with the Priest - he was energetically young, even though he isn't young. That Sunday they had special guests, a singing group who livened up the entire worship service with renditions of the hymns done to foot tapping music. Guitars, tambourines, horns, and one of the gals playing guitar was barefoot! Felt like we were at a campfire gathering! Geesh! But the worship service having a combination of traditional liturgy, the laying on of hands for healing, the Eucharist, and the lively music with a welcome invitation to all does reflect ‘The Emerging Church’.
We loved the church, it had accommodations our little church building isn’t equipped to have, and if we lived in that area, we would likely attend that church. Afterwards we ate at a restaurant in her immediate neighborhood that she is fond of - an old fashioned restaurant left over from approximately the 1950’s era. So lots of eating this weekend, way too many calories, and Mom had a nice weekend. So did we.
Oh and at the Farmer's Market I bought some snow peas that were priced below what is usually charged for snow peas, so I bought enough to freeze. Bought a couple of tomato plants already bearing tomatoes, and a basil plant. I didn’t plant a vegetable garden this year, and haven’t spent much time outside with the herb and flower gardens, so keeping it light this year. Weather hasn’t been too cooperative where we live – cold, rainy, then unseasonably blistering hot, then cold again. At the market, I found a growing salad bowl planter that I wanted and Mom bought it for me for my birthday gift. The planter has growing lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro plants - salad ingredients, and that is the extent of my vegetable garden this year. Except all the herbs I have been growing for a few years now.
And I was delighted to learn about a lovely tasty sauce called Chimichurri? Oh, I tasted some at the market, and just had to buy one - lime Chimichurri. Great to use as braising sauce for grilled vegetables, on meats, or just straight on healthy chips or fresh veggies. Taste delight!
It was a rather sweet weekend. Last year around this time, we had visited Mom and she and I went to Lavender Festival on Vashon Island, ferry ride over and back, a beautiful, clear, sunny day, making the waters deep blue and picturesque. There was a Farmer’s Market there too, and we visited that Farmer’s Market
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
rating: 3 of 5 stars
Actually it was quite comprehensive and regionally specific.
View all my reviews.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Three acrylics, and I really do not have the 'art' of photographing my paintings, so pardon my amateurish photography. Early efforts with acrylics;
Holidays are over and the 'Company's Coming' size dining room table not needed now, so shortened it and added lighter table dressing for that fresher summer look.
I think I got some pretty good thrift deals on these plates.
-- a dozen Anchor Hocking Peach Lustre plates. While I'm not collecting these, I see the peach lustre pieces everywhere I find a collectible shop. This time, the price was just too good for me to pass up. I don't need more dishes, but hey, this is how collections get started, eh?
-- seven Homer Laughlin plates - rose edge design. This was at an estate sale, owner passed, and I am told these were her favorite dishes. They show years of use, wear and tear. But I am a nostalgia, vintage buff, and again price was too good to pass up...but I don't need dishes!!
In my painting/sewing room, the upstairs cupola, I used the handkerchiefs to create a window treatment. The view outside to peek views I have from the cuploa of Willapa Bay will inspire the paintings, while the breeze will softly blow the handkerchiefs, creating a lazy, billowy effect.
The back door, which leads out to a not so nice mud room, is an old fashioned French Door set up, that leaves a few things to be desired. For Summer look, I want to add handkerchief curtains. Can seam sew the handkerchiefs together, or hand sew the corners together, adding columns and rows of handkerchiefs. Can pin them together, ie safety pins. Can add lengths of string and clip on with cafe curtain clips, clothespins. Lots of different approaches. Right now I'm hand sewing the corners together and have one column on each window. Will add additional columns to fill the window spaces, depending on how many handkerchiefs I have available to use.
Fun video, College baseball, players from UConn and USF, filled in some of the time during a 5 hour rain delay with a Dance off Thursday, May 21, 2009. Enjoy and wow do I envy their ‘young’ energy!
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Military families feel disconnected from the larger community, according to a poll commissioned by a military family advocacy group.
According to the results of the poll, 94 percent feel that way. Blue Star Families released the results of the 3,000-person survey at a roundtable on Capitol Hill led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The roundtable -- meant as one way to bridge the gap -- included Blue Star Families, the National Military Families Association, Tina Tchen of the White House Council on Women and Girls, as well as several members of Congress.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Veterans expressions of pain are not necessarily a political expression of anti-war, pro-war or neutral…
Thoughts expressed by this Marine Captain on the matter of veterans healing from their war experiences articulates much better than I some of the thoughts I have tried to express…
I have taken exception to the activism among some of the anti-war groups that are too quick to usurp the veterans' expression of pain as an extension and endorsement of the group's own dissent message.
citing excerpt from the article;
The crucial mistake being made, I think, by so many in the pro-war, antiwar and apolitical populations alike, is their assumptions that the outbursts of veterans are necessarily whole-hearted expressions of dissent. More likely, they are expressions of pain.
The Primacy of Healing: Politics and Combat Stress in America
By Tyler E. Boudreau | Truthout
I am a veteran of the war in Iraq. Like many, I came home bearing an unexpected skepticism toward our operations there and a fresh perspective on America's use of military power. And also like many, I found myself emotionally and psychologically harried by my experiences on the battlefield. But unlike many, I landed after discharge in a community where criticism for the war was both socially acceptable and, in fact, quite common, leaving me free to process a distress which was directly connected to US foreign policy. I was, literally and figuratively, right at home. So, I couldn't help noticing how the political dissent of my community was facilitating my mental healing. That has given me reason to consider all the ways in which politics has corresponded with and influenced the understanding and acceptance of combat stress. And while combat stress survivors have, in some ways, benefited from this relationship; they have suffered from it as well.
Combat stress has a stigmatic heritage, well-recognized now, but that was not always so. World War I was an era in which distraught soldiers were often labeled "men of deficient character"; and yet, the unspeakable carnage of its battles seemed to have offered latitude enough in the aftermath for the painful expressions of its veterans. But after the infinitely more popular World War II, veterans became known more for reticence than effusion and for a stoical veneer beneath which (we know now) a growing tumult was quietly raging. With the country so steeped in enthusiasm, it is not surprising that their invisible wounds went largely unnoticed. After all, with whom, in such a climate, might a veteran have shared his horrible stories?
Vietnam marked a new era for politics and for combat stress. The antiwar movement was never so vociferous, the veterans never so outspoken. And the term "Post-Traumatic Stress" was virtually nonexistent; it was not listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) until 1980. Widespread criticism of the conflict changed all that. The antiwar movement did not merely give veterans room to recover; it created space in the American consciousness for the possibility that the experiences from war could, in fact, be psychologically devastating. This consequently opened the door to the study of combat stress. Today, after six years in Iraq (eight in Afghanistan), combat stress is nearly taken for granted as an innate component of war. And yet the stigma survives throughout the country, in the military, and even in the mental health field. Why?
The trouble with combat stress (and the traumatic accounts that go with it) is its tendency to call into question the morality of military action. Regardless of the policies, the objectives, or the administrations that enact them, war's essence is challenged outright by the mere existence of combat stress. Upon witnessing the sundered consciousnesses of so many returning veterans and hearing about all the horrible things they endured and committed, one finds it difficult not to conclude that the battlefield must truly be a horrible place. Of course, the justness of war is not defined by its casualties alone, but when the moral compasses of young soldiers are spun to the point where they find it difficult to bear their own skins (as we've seen expressed in the record suicides of late), it leads to a natural suspicion about the moral direction of the war overall. And that is precisely the problem. Like it or not, combat stress is, in its own way, a political statement. It is a silent judgment of war (and of society), and that is why the understanding and treatment of it remain perpetually stifled.
For instance, there has been recent discussion within the psychiatric community about reducing the criteria for post-traumatic stress in the pending DSM-V or restricting the types of events that might be deemed traumatic. The "disorder," some psychiatrists feel, has become too broadly defined, which has contributed to imprecise data collection. Their claim, in other words, is that too many people have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress. This must be the only epidemic in human history whose remedy is simply to eliminate the symptoms by which one is diagnosed, thereby normalizing the condition itself, which, in this case, is the psychological effects of war.
This is reminiscent, I think, of Freud's famous study of "hysteria," in which he concluded that the young women suffering from the said illness had been traumatized by sexual abuse. But in noticing the massive number of hysteria cases throughout society, he suddenly realized the dark implications of his findings. The epidemic was rape, not hysteria. That was apparently too much to bear for Freud or for society. Shortly after publishing his conclusions, he recanted them all and drummed up a new theory: These women - the patients with whom he'd worked passionately for over a decade - were just plain crazy. The renowned doctor turned his back on his patients and on the truth, the hysteria was normalized, and the abuse carried on. Combat stress appears to be heading in rather the same direction.
The link between politics and combat stress is hardly subtle; it is intuitive. Articulated or not, people sense it. For example, across the country there have cropped up literally hundreds of grass roots organizations and projects formed to reintegrate veterans and help them through the process of coming home. And in nearly every one of them, you will find some disclaimer or note of vigorous neutrality. "This is about veterans, not politics!" they practically chant. The very presence of this message reiterated ad nauseam is enough to let anyone hearing it know that this absolutely is about politics and that politics are inextricably bound to healing. These attempts at nonpartisan reintegration are fashionable - even admirable - but sadly destined to fail on a large scale because communalizing healing is not possible without first communalizing war. And the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are anything but communalized.
All the while that this effort to segregate the veterans from their wars goes on, the very same veterans will be searching for meaning behind their war experiences, and they will inevitably reach politics because, as Karl Von Clausewitz notoriously points out, "war is the continuation of politics by other means." Whatever conclusions veterans arrive at in the aftermath, one can be sure they will be politically charged. To deny the ruminations of veterans on the grounds of "nonpartisanship" is, for one thing, to ignore the old adage that silence is consent; and for another, it is to prohibit those veterans from processing a major element of their torment. On the other hand, to embrace their political outbursts too fervently or to focus too narrowly on the partisan weight of their every word is to lose sight of the central process underway. That is what is happening now across the country.
The insidious reluctance towards combat stress that one almost expects to find in the military has plagued the home front as well. In communities, which have adamantly supported the war in Iraq, returning veterans have found their ability to express pain often inhibited or even forcefully suppressed because it tends to sound too much like criticism. Those whose distress results from the danger they experienced or the death they narrowly escaped find at least some level of acceptance. But for those whose angst comes specifically from their deeds in war - from the violence they inflicted or from the deaths they caused - those veterans face a much stiffer resistance.
Members of my former unit hailing from various parts of the country have found themselves practically gagged by the pro-war culture of their own hometowns, leaving them no with way to process their pain and no way to heal. So strong is the intolerance for dissent, which their traumatic memories seem to represent, they are forced to process their pain through drinking, drugs, violence and a host of other illegal or self-destructive activities. These veterans come to understand one immutable truth: It is better to break the law than break the faith. If they turn reckless or criminal, they might do some jail time, but if they turn their backs on the war and on the troops, their former comrades, they will certainly face ostracism from their communities. And that is a far harsher penalty for anyone, let alone an unhinged combat veteran. Such patterns of emotional oppression must seem rather obvious to members of the antiwar community, who generally take the phrases "recovering from war" and "opposing war" to mean the same thing. In many ways, the two terms can be, and indeed are, synonymous, although not inherently so. The distinction may be slight, but I have found a great deal of misunderstanding can gather between them. Traumatic healing is not the same thing as political activism. They are driven by different forces, and so must be treated differently. This is a lesson that goes missed all too often.
When I first came home, I got involved with some activism, and I remember a friend said to me, "Be careful." I asked him what he meant and he told me the story of another outspoken veteran who'd been invited to an antiwar rally. "He was talking about his time in war. He was screaming. His eyeballs were red. He was foaming at the mouth. Everybody loved it. They hooted, and hollered, and called out his name. And when he was done telling his story, they just let him go home - by himself - and stew in all those juices." My friend shook his head disapprovingly and said to me, "Remember, the antiwar crowd cares about one thing - antiwar, not veterans." That may not have been an entirely accurate or fair assessment of the entire movement, but since coming home and having participated in a few rallies myself I've seen enough of the overzealous encouragement and standing ovations to confirm my friend's suspicion. On the other hand, having gotten to know so many of the people at those rallies, I suspect now that their oversight was usually not from being callous or manipulative, but from misunderstanding the nature of combat stress and the way it tends to surface itself.
The crucial mistake being made, I think, by so many in the pro-war, antiwar and apolitical populations alike, is their assumptions that the outbursts of veterans are necessarily whole-hearted expressions of dissent. More likely, they are expressions of pain. It just so happens that their context is political and therefore their vocabulary is political as well. And while these expressions may be more affirming to the Left than to the Right, they are, for neither side, exclusively political statements. I don't mean to invalidate the thoughtful contributions of veterans returning from war, including my own, just to point out that there is more going on in the consciousness of a combat veteran than politics.
The search, I would say, is foremost for some level of serenity. Any new ideology picked up along the way is a by-product of the process itself, and one which does not always endure. That's important to remember. Veterans' experiences in war are extreme; their emotions are extreme; so their views will often come out extreme as well, initially at least. But their political destinations remain uncharted because until their pain has receded their maps are incompletely drawn. For my part, I was reading a lot of radical texts when I came home from war and quoting a lot of radical thinkers. That's fine, I think, because radical politics is absolutely one of the products of war. It was an exercise of regurgitation, which had the cathartic benefit of purging a lot of my rage. But I wasn't doing any real thinking of my own. When I finally calmed down enough to contemplate the situation for myself, I found a place that was not exactly where I'd started out and not exactly where those of either political party might have liked to see me, but it was far more satisfying to me because it was a place of my choosing.
The antiwar community has done well in providing receptiveness and acceptance for veterans expressing negative reactions to war and to the politics which drove them there. What they could do better is to not take those expressions too much at their face. (The pro-war and "neutral" communities could probably stand to consider this point, too.) For returning veterans, the healing process is the central activity on-going, not politics. They need time and room to speak their peace; they need the freedom to lash out verbally so they don't feel cornered into finding other, more destructive outlets. At some point most of them will emerge from the inner fray and be able to define more soberly their political disposition and place themselves in communities accordingly. Until then, compassion is required from all - compassion, which includes both tolerance and restraint, both letting politics in and simultaneously keeping it out, and having both the courage to acknowledge the intrinsic presence of politics in combat stress and the wisdom to recognize the primacy of healing.
Tyler Boudreau, a former Marine captain, is the author of "Packing Inferno: The Unmaking of a Marine." His web site is www.tylerboudreau.com.
Monday, April 27, 2009
We attend St John’s Episcopal Church, which is located in a small town in a sparsely populated county in a southwest corner of Washington state. It is a tiny congregation, of sturdy people, with traditional values, and they have kept the fact of St John’s alive over the decades with their sheer determination and will. I admire them for the values that have gotten them to where they are in keeping the parish viable despite many adversities.
I am not sure I have that kind of faith, yet I know I hold a deep faith that I continue to put through the test means of tearing it down to build it up. I am not ‘churched’ as the saying goes, certainly did not grow up as Episcopal or Episcopal churched. My mother believed we should try different church settings and perhaps did not have the confidence to share her own brand of church faith with us, having her own doubts perhaps, and fearing she might pass those doubts along. She was also, as a young new bride being exposed to a family who was steeped in fundamentalist type beliefs, and not shy in pronouncing judgments upon my mother and my father, who grew up in that judgmental environment.
I think my mother found safety in keeping her beliefs and faith to herself because outward examination with her new in-law family yielded her the negatives of damnation that are such a hallmark in Pentecostal type religions. The need for calling out condemnation and judgments seems as well to be a hallmark of and true today of the hybrid evangelical religion premises that evolved from some of the earlier pentecostal type religions. For whatever reasons, my mother chose not to assert her own church preferences on her children, we were left to wander among the landscape of various church religions. As a result, I’m not sure what we learned about faith as much as what we learned about different ways churches chose to practice faith in their own stylized versions built on their premise of an interpretation of the bible.
In my wanderings in the religious landscape, I found myself at Baptist churches, Methodist churches, Community non-denominational churches, and along the way got baptized a few times because I felt the pull of emotion wash over me when a pastor would call for the those who wish to be saved to come forward. Who wouldn’t want to be saved given that the other places supposedly prepared for the unsaved were highly unpalatable. Thus, I came to ‘know Jesus’ as defined within these types of structures.
The dilemma for me was that in my very real inner world and my very real child life I did have a friend in the spiritual world that I knew to be as real as the real life and conditions I was living. If the churches called this Jesus, then indeed, I had a friend in Jesus, uniquely my own friend and unique to me. My church experiences were sporatic, because I was also the child of a military parent, and our moves were frequent, about every 2 years, and it often meant for me whatever was a convenient church. You know, if a bus came and picked up the kids, that was the church I went to; or if the church was in a nearby location and I could get there by my own means, that was the church I went to; or sometimes no church at all. I did not consistently attend one church of one faith, so I got some rather mixed messages about the faith experience.
By the time of adulthood and having my own children, I saw a need for some kind of churching as part of the parenting experience and responsibilities. Not knowing really how a parent decides which is the right church, I was subject to a lot of evangelizing from people who were quite willing to tell me why their church or faith was the ‘right’ church for me and my children. After some awkward experiences attending such churches, I decided that my mother’s way must be okay – let the kids decide for themselves, thus I abandoned my efforts to bring my children to church.
There is a fairly large flaw in that thinking, I fully recognize now in hindsight, in that there is an assumption that children can discern through the fog of religiondom and decide for themselves. Since adults cannot do that easily, how can children be expected to escape the Babel that makes up faith and religion? So my children are not churched either and they are adults now themselves, beautiful human beings, raising children of their own. (Well, my daughters are raising children of their own, my son has chosen not yet to have children).
Along my adult years, I continue to study out religions, often times with a driving passion, looking for that ‘right’ church that most closely corresponds to my inner beliefs. No such church exists, quite probably because my inner beliefs like many people’s inner beliefs are built on foundations of information as provided by the adults who surround them and they try to make their inner world fit the outer world they are being taught. But maybe I project my perspectives as being the shared experience of others. Along the decades of my life and search, I did come to a recognition there is no ‘right’ church or at least not a church that would match my inner world beliefs. And I contented myself in trying to find a church home that at least would not offend my inner beliefs.
Thus did we land in a historic hundred year old building, in the quiet space of an Episcopal church, knowing little about the Episcopal belief set, but having experienced an assortment of other church belief sets. We being my husband, who has come out of the LDS faith, having been raised in it and having raised his own children in it, and myself with my hodgepodge assortment of church exposures. And this is how we came to St John’s Episcopal Church, finding a welcome home, warm people and in time we became confirmed in the Episcopal Church. Thusly, in the confirmation, did the Bishop remind us we were to remember our baptism. Given neither his nor my baptism were done in the Episcopal manner, being called to remember our baptism evokes strong memories for both of us and so did we begin the process of ‘reconciliation’.
Now I’m not entirely sure what is meant by that word within the Episcopal experience, but I play with the concept trying to understand it as it has meaning for me. It seems to me that for Episcopalians and the Episcopal Church a large part of the experience is perpetually ‘reconciliation’, as the Church grapples with societal changes over the generations. As the Church grapples, so then do the congregations and the people who make up those congregations. Since life is a perpetual journey of learning and exploring, making mistakes and learning from those mistakes, and preparing to take the risks to make more mistakes, and curiosity drives the learning, the Episcopal experience makes sense to me. Or at least the way in which I come to define what I think is the Episcopal experience makes sense to me.
All this to lead up to what this post has to do with Kevin Thew Forrester. I only learned of him yesterday, or rather learned that there was a bit of a dust storm being kicked up about his status as Bishop-Elect of Northern Michigan. It seems he spent some time studying in the Buddhist religion and attained a lay status which he was able to bring with him into his Episcopal experience. That, by itself, doesn’t kick up a dust storm. But it seems he gave a sermon during Easter season that called into question the terms of baptism, resurrection and redemption as it is traditionally qualified by the Episcopal Church – an Easter Church – a Church that affirms in every worship service it’s collective belief in the Christ resurrection.
Well now, here is where I can begin to explore my own space of inner beliefs within the context of the Episcopal experience. What if I can’t fully buy into a resurrected Jesus and the need for that whole experience as the redemption of humankind? What if to make that concept work for me I have to realign the meaning of my outer words to be palatable to the ears of those who belief without question in the absoluteness of the concept, while the inner meaning suffers in silence at being unable to express or be heard on the matter. What Forrester has done with this sermon, intentionally or inadvertantly, with it’s ensuing criticisms, has created a much needed space for me to explore aloud within the context of my church of choice one of the backbone foundations that make up the Christian experience.
Going forward, I am not sure what will become of Thew Forrester’s Bishop-Elect status, and I’m fairly sure he has a full plate just now as most of the Bishops of the Episcopal Church line up to give a no vote to his election. Bishop Greg Rickel of our own Diocese of Olympia has given what he explains as a thoughtfully considered no vote (see his blog). But simply said, for this one person, for me, this Episcopalian in a small parish in a remote corner of the state, Forrester has thrown open for me the doors of constraint that will keep me remaining in the Episcopal Church at at time when I had about reconciled and resolved to make a decision to leave my Total Common Ministry circle and perhaps my parish as well.
I wouldn’t leave in dissent or even disquiet, as much as reconciliation to the fact that these elders who have kept this parish alive deserve the comfort of worship within a church structure they still recognize in their last years . They have fully embraced some of the changes that have come down the pike along their years, including permitting women priests (we have 2 priests in our parish, one male, one female, both studied in the TCM and were ordained priests by then presiding Bishop of our Diocese).
Essentially my thinking is that if I find myself at odds with some of the beliefs , it is incumbent upon me to find the place of reconciliation within myself;it is not incumbent upon them to rework the settings to accommodate me. I then get to choose patience and faith in that the belief will come or exercise my option to appreciate that the belief will never come because already there exists within me a belief set. I have carved out my own space for faith and beliefs from amongst the offerings placed before me or that I have sought out and along the progression of my own years, I come to realize those inner belief sets within me have hardened, are less maleable and have place within the dialogue and experience. Now I enter a new phase in trying to find words to articulate what has been a highly personal inner world of beliefs – how to put words around those beliefs, and how to withstand criticisms that may come as a result of articulating my beliefs.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009
Came across this information this morning from another blogger. An ad she found at Facebook and at YouTube. I wasn’t able to find what she found at the source on Facebook, so it is copy and paste with a shout- out to her blog.
In Naselle, Washington, just down the road from us, another local business person is having to close up shop. The why details are included in her offer (below) to win her business, and have it relocated to within 500 miles.
The Cool Cow Coffee Company
You Could Win This Business!!
Enter by May 31st 2009
Host: Natalie Morgan - Owner - The Cool Cow Coffee Company
Start Time: Friday, March 19, 2010 at 3:55am
End Time: Monday, May 31, 2010 at 6:55am
Location: Naselle, WA
Street: SR4 & SR401
City/Town: Naselle, WA
Offers Hope to One Lucky Entrepreneur
And It Could Be You!
Pacific County, Washington
Natalie Morgan, owner of The Cool Cow Coffee Company in Naselle, closed its doors for good, after the town’s most recent disaster. Ms. Morgan had owned the drive thru espresso and deli for eighteen months when she witnessed the rising water from the Naselle River engulf the entire neighborhood before encompassing her business. Now she is hoping to give the opportunity of ownership in a new location to one hopeful entrepreneur and create even more jobs in the process.
Natalie had spent almost two months on the remodel after purchasing the business from its previous owner in June of 2007. She painted it apple red, added cedar shingles to the base of both of the buildings and adorned the structures with all sorts of country details including a life size Holstein cow that had been shipped in from Texas and proudly displayed on a platform at the front of the building. The cow is such an eye catcher that people would often stop to take pictures of her. Natalie even held a contest to name the cow and then let her employees pick the winning name. She planted flowers and hanging baskets in the summer to make the space even more beautiful and painted the picnic tables outside to match the buildings. No detail was overlooked, from the black and white cow patterned tip cups which read “Cow Tipping Allowed” to the little chocolate cow cookies that were given out with each and every beverage and ice cream treat, it was apparent that the new owner had poured her heart into every detail and it did not go unnoticed.
On the day of the flood the water had already overwhelmed the local fire and rescue building located directly across the parking lot from her espresso stand when the phone call came in from the red cross warning people in the area to evacuate. Natalie and her husband quickly moved as much of the equipment as they could up off of the floor, and then they locked the door and drove out through the rising flood water now just inches from the base of their building.
The Cool Cow Coffee Company had already been struggling in it‘s present location and the weak economic condition of one of the poorest counties in the state was not helping the locals to afford the luxury of one of the treats from the towns best coffee kiosks and delicatessen. In December of 2007 Naselle, Nellie the life-size Holstein cow that is perched high above the drive through eatery withstood the one hundred mile an hour winds that had crumpled the metal roof of the fire department next door, but this December that cow would find herself abandoned due to heavy snow fall and an inaccessible mountain of snow and ice left at the entrance of the business by plows clearing the nearby highways.
By the time a local contractor was finally able to clear the two feet of snow surrounding the coffee stand, it had only been open for five struggling days when the flood waters surrounded the buildings causing a power outage to the storage unit and a complete loss of perishable inventory.
The shop has not been opened since that dreadful day, January 6, 2009. With revenue dwindling, cash flow almost nil, inventory gone, quarterlies and property taxes soon due, Natalie had no choice but to close her shop. She applied for assistance from the Small Business Administration’s Disaster Loan program, but was denied because of her inability to pay back the loan due to her recent loss of income.
Even before the flood, like so many other communities and businesses in and across the nation, Naselle’s economy has also been hit hard and with the impending threat to close one of the areas main employers, the Naselle Youth Camp, Ms. Morgan feels that there is simply no hope for her shop to prosper in its present location. Buyers in the area are far and few and even if a buyer were to come along and make an offer equivalent to her initial investment, she could not sell it with a clear conscience knowing full well that it will probably flood there again.
It’s become obvious that if this business is to prosper, than it needs to be moved to an area with improved economic demographics, but Natalie and her husband, Pete, have spent the past five years physically building their home in Naselle and they still have a great deal of work to complete before they could relocate, so moving the business and relocating themselves is not an option at present. With so many people out of work, so many layoffs and so many struggling financially right now, she hoped that somehow she would be able to turn this tragedy into a positive experience for someone whom lived in a more prosperous and populated area and maybe even create a few more jobs in the process.
So she logged onto the Washington State Gaming Commission’s website and while reading through the state gaming regulations, she came across something called an essay contest. In this type of contest the prize is awarded to a winner based on a skill not chance and in this case the skill that each person’s entry will be judged on will be a creative writing project where the subject matter is based on a desire as well as a need to become self employed.
Interested persons are asked to write an essay describing why they should be given her coffee shop and are to pay a $25 entry fee with their essay. The entry fee will help Natalie to recover her initial investment and pay for any sales tax due to Washington State, the cost of the structure(s) relocation including relocation permits and fees by the contractor, free consultation on new site selection and location, all of the business’s equipment by way of a U-Haul rental truck, one week of free training in the shop at it’s new location by the shop‘s previous owner, all signage, menus and $2,000.00 cash to aid with the business’s start up costs, plus a new floor and sub floor to be installed at the building(s) new location.
It’s a win-win for everyone involved. Especially in today‘s difficult economic times. Natalie gets her investment, not to mention her health, back, the state gets a healthy sum of revenue out of the deal, some lucky, possibly even presently unemployed person gets the chance at owning and running their own business and perhaps even creates a few jobs in the process.
Here’s how to enter…
Write an essay explaining your current economic struggles and why you would like to own The Cool Cow Coffee Company.
250 Words Minimum - 500 Words Maximum
Mail it to:
The Cool Cow Coffee Company Essay Contest
Attention: Natalie Morgan
PO Box 502
Naselle, WA 98638
Be sure to include your written essay with your name, address and telephone number printed on the top, include a self addressed stamped envelope and the $25 entry fee. Entries must be postmarked no later than May 31, 2009. We must have at least 2,500 entries in order to award the prize. If we do not receive enough entries by May 31, 2009, your entry fee will be mailed back in the SASE you provide.
If all goes well and we get enough entries to award new ownership, the winner will be notified by phone on June 6, 2009 at 7PM.
Please, due to the high cost of structure relocation we can only relocate this business within five hundred miles of its present location in Naselle, WA. If the business’ new location is to be outside of that five hundred mile radius you will be responsible for paying the difference in relocation costs at the time of signing. The winner must sign title of ownership within 5 days of acceptance of The Cool Cow Coffee Company and will have 30 days from the date of signing to find and prepare a new site for the business to be relocated upon.
A foundation for the main structure of 9‘X18“, all utility hookups, local permits, fees, lease contracts and/or rental agreements are the sole responsibility of the winner. All such arrangements should be made within 30 days of signing the title. The business structure(s) and their contents must be relocated within 30 days of new ownership, or no later than August 15, 2009. The $2,000.00 cash award will be given to the winner on the first day of training. However if financial assistance is needed to aid the new owner with utilities, rent/lease, fees and permits etc., arrangements can be made to draw off of the cash award in the form of checks written directly to these agencies and/or land owners, but not to exceed the total sum of $2,000.00. Training will begin on a date specified by the new owner and will not exceed a 7 day training period in succession.
If you have any questions you may e-mail Natalie at email@example.com. If you would like to see more pictures of The Cool Cow Coffee Company go to You-Tube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoDrEXR8PQA and view my video.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Daughter and son-in-law had flowers sent to my house; meant to arrive Easter weekend. Since we live as far away as we do from urban centers, it takes UPS a bit longer to deliver, so the flowers arrived a couple days later than they planned, but the flowers did arrive.
Came in a florist box that looked like long stemmed roses might be inside. Opened the box to find fresh spring flowers, a hefty square glass vase and florist preservative packet, along with a happy greeting card from my daughter and son-in-law.
I learned later in talking to my daughter that she had chosen another arrangement, but where we are located there are no florists in close by vicinity that could accommodate the choice she made. I am happy with what was sent – fresh spring flowers that are still looking fresh a week later. Picture below.
After a too long time away from my paints, brushes, and the messy operation that is oil painting, yesterday I completed two paintings! The paintings I've accomplished grow fewer and fewer over the years since 2006. Lots of reasons why, but I hope this change in momentum means 'I'm Back'!
I sought out the old painting clothes and found I've outgrown them (that means I weigh more now than I did when last I wore them). Time to set aside another set of painting attire, in larger size.
Painted this scene in 16 x 20 size. And then painted the scene again in 11 x 14 size, although it has variables from the larger size, making both 'originals'.
I took photo of the larger size and the paint is still Wet!
The house just doesn't have much accommodation room for paintings to dry. There is the cat who can jump up anywhere, so the paintings need to be in a room with a door that closes. And as I looked around the house, I see we don't have many 'roooms' that have doors that close. Then there is the odor of oil painting that can permeate the air. If I'm going to paint frequently, I need to figure out the logistics for these challenges.
So we put the Wet Painting on top of a wardrobe (a place the cat has not yet figured out how to climb) and I snapped a few photos ... not very good photos due to the angle of looking up at the painting, and the paint is still ..... well Wet!
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Odd coincidence or serendipity because I have a grandson (9 yrs old), nickname 'Drew' who plays basketball, x-box, football and is also fascinated with Grandma (me) teaching him to crochet. He is determined to learn and gives it a serious effort. I told him about how cool it is that The Crochet Dude has such fun patterns. The very next day we went to my granddaughter's high school art show and sitting there crocheting some fantastic hats and scarves was ---- wait for it --- a guy. Now if that is reassuring and inspiring for my grandson to know guys out there DO crochet. It will spur him on in his own efforts to learn to crochet - not like Grandma, but like 'the dudes'!
I adapted the many patterns I found on blogs, to make some simple channel pockets for the interior of the purse.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Love the finished purse with it's ruffled top. I played around with making several layers of ruffles because I so liked the look of the first one I finished.
And for a dual-colored purse, it was fun to put colors together and see the results. This is one of several I worked up using different color for outside and inside. Above is the black outside of the purse closed up. Below is the purse opened to reveal a contrasting color of orange inside pockets.
Daughter and children have done an outstanding job of making the sacrifice without complaint, but I have seen the hard edges the toll has taken on them. The two younger children were 1 and 3 years old when he left for the first deployment to Iraq, and now they are 7 and 9 years old. For 40 months of their young formative years, he has been away and in danger, a danger which they are aware of and it has created for them an anxiety they can not well articulate except through fear and anxious-driven behaviors. I applaud their mother and her teen age daughter who have worked in harmony in managing the younger children through these anxious years.
My time of putting energy into activism towards ending the Iraq war and getting the troops home winds down with President Obama's declaration of ending Iraq war and drawing down troops - responsibly. Drawing down and withdrawing our military is a process that is done with an eye to reducing risks to remaining troops and takes time and I have no disagreement with that process. Recognizing that President Obama plans to put more troops into Afghanistan and that war front may escalate, I am disappointed with that plan. And after a 'dwell time' period at home with his wife and children, likely our son-in-law can figure he will have a deployment to Afghanistan - he has said as much.
But -- after six years of war in Iraq, eight years of war in Afghanistan, with the unmet needs of the service men and women coming home to their military families, and the unmet needs of military families who have sacrificed much for too long ...I want my energies to be directed in venues that will help put in place some of the much-needed resources for this generation of veterans and their families. I'm thinking that I want to shift the direction of this blog towards being a part of the bridge building that facilitates calling attention to needed resources, but I am also thinking that the name of the blog is perhaps too provocative - as I meant it to be when I created this blog. Perhaps it is time to retire this blog and begin anew with another blog.
I would like to give a shout out for a military family group that has already made contributions in representing some of the concerns expressed by this generation of military families. Many members are currently military spouses, and I think that gives their thoughts weight as among the representative voices of this generation's military families. See Blue Star Families.... their mission statement;
"Blue Star Families is a bridge between military families, the shapers of policy affecting military life, and our nation at large. Through outreach to our government leaders and local civilian communities, we strive to share the unique experiences of our military lifestyle and the pride we feel in our families’ service. By engaging our members and their families, we seek to gather our perspectives and opinions on all aspects of military life. We use this knowledge base as a voice of military families to inform the policy shapers and to support families, like ours, that have the honor of serving our country."
And see their blog Blue Star Voices.