Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Un projet beau et tellement utile que l´on se doit d´accomplir.

A project so beautiful and useful it must be completed. . . this is the translation of the title of this post and I am writing about my short story that may turn into a book that I for certain want to get put into Women's Day or Home Journal. My main character has come to life and wants a gratuitous sex scene with his wife. I wrote one and I can't get it right. I am NOT inhibited. That is not my issue. Can these scenes be written intelligently?

I did something very stupid this morning. My friend Danille called. I said, "I was just thinking of you! I was out in this -30 weather and I thought about how much I miss watering and feeding my dad's horses in the early mornings before school. The cold air, the warm mash, getting the hay all over me as I flaked it off. . . "

She said, "REALLY?"

I recited some poetry thinking that I sounded wise and learned. (I'm giving my Frazier smile to you all as I reflect.) She said she had prayed about who to call (ruh-roh!) and was so glad she called me first. She has the flu that is going around that lasts three days and she, younger than me has arthritis flaring up in the bad weather. She'd talked to Tiger about coming back out tomorrow to stay with my kids while my husband returns to work on Friday-- could I possibly stay over the weekend? Her husband and kids are gone until Sunday. This woman is so nice that I can't refuse. Her arthritis debilitates her. She is a dedicated horse woman, the kind of person who should be cloned.

She wired me gas money (I'd not accept it if I wasn't so strapped after Christmas) and I went out immediately to feed and water the beasts. Guess what? I do not miss feeding my fathers' horses in -30 weather! I miss the memory of feeding and watering them in -30 weather! I took my portable massage table over to her place and set it up and gave her a 2 hour long massage. She was in tears-- she hurt like hell and the massage was pushing gunk out of her joints and muscles.

I'm leaving in a bit again and may stay. I don't like New Year's Eve because I would like to be celebrating with champagne and lobster. I love my children, but it's been so long since I got dressed up to the nines and looked beautiful in a skirt that shows off my long legs. My husband is happy with the kids and they will probably play Monopoly or Risk and the little kids will have some crafts. I'm grateful to go over there and pass the evening without fanfare and just study my texts and wake up early. She needs a special diet when she has the arthritis and HAS to eat even though she wants to curl into a ball and not wake up til it's over. I do not envy her.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

And it gets better. . .

A few hours after I posted my frustration, I put on some Tom Petty and made lunch and the kids started playing Monopoly and the little kids played with Leggos at the table. It's a funny thing with them in that when one talks to me and I respond, they all want to say something or get my attention!

What can be a mass of children squabbling and yelling one minute can be a sea of calm the next and I remember why I didn't want to stop having them . . . then Mitten the kitten knocks down the Christmas tree.

Tiger came home this evening to see a good friend from high school. She had dinner with us and gushed a million stories. She is funny as she has so much to tell us of her friends. It saddens me of the bad choices her friends are making, but so far she seems to be doing well.

I made an appointment to see the dentist in February. I so much hate seeing the hygienists. I always shut off my phone by calling my kids to call Darrin if anything goes wrong-- he's usually home, then these idiot women think that I shut it off so I can talk to them while they have sharp instruments in my mouth and hover 12" from my face! I am paying for my visit-- why don't they get the customer service aspect? Any time I close my eyes they have panicked, "She's relaxing!" (I did not floss for decades because of the lectures, then I saw a cute actor pretending to be a dentist talk about bacteria and the importance of flossing and I've not missed a day since!) Today the receptionist noted that I was supposed to have seen the dentist as a follow up to my last cleaning and asked why I waited. I could have mumbled that I was busy but I did not-- I told her why. She was laughing, she knows people who hate seeing the dentist but she said that no one had ever been so perfect at explaining exactly what got to them. She is having a guy work on me which I happy about-- male hygienists usually go in to this as a career because they are GOOD at working on patients, not as I am often told by women, "Because I wanted kids and I knew it would be a great part time job!" Whoo-hoo. I'm also wearing my IPod so I can chill out.

The Wind is Dying Down (Finally)

Winter break is always too long. We spent a fortune on presents and the weather has been bad, and I am stuck inside with my kids over the break. This is not a bad thing because I love them, but their interactions with each other have me wondering why they like not being in school. I get them organized with art projects and Cloud shrieks at her brothers, "Moooom! Tell Guy to stop bothering me!" Cloud communicates in shrieks and high pitched sounds. Guy, with speech impairments, starts speaking a mile a minute and I am saying, "WAIT! No one is in trouble!" Usually the fight is over something ridiculous. No-- all the time, 100% of the time, the fight is over something ridiculous.

I think the most amusing thing is when she complains that he is LOOKING at her. My comment to "just ignore him" falls on deaf ears.

Basil is almost 10 and he is a bright ray of sunshine in my day. I don't expect him to be a little saint. Basil was born a turkey, but he has some sweet moments. He's smart and he's driven. During these breaks, he knows that I get stressed out. The other day Cloud was having a fury over being asked to set the table-- she does everything, you know-- and I told her to drop and give me 10 push-ups for her comment. (Push-ups are my favorite punishment because they are good for them, they don't hurt, and they make them take a minute out to think. It's also cute when Starshine or Mudd come in and offer to do some. The person in trouble can't help but smile at the comic relief.) Basil walked in and asked if he could make the salad while I made the rest of dinner. Cloud was furious with him and muttered at him when she came into the kitchen to get the silverware and subsequently did 10 more push-ups. (She is going to be built like Arnold Schwarzenegger if she keeps her sassy comments!) Basil enjoys working outside with my husband when he shovels the driveway and basically takes initiative. Cloud and Guy do not. I do not worry about Basil driving-- the kid will remember to change out his oil and put gas in his car, and if he gets stopped by a policeman, he will be courteous and polite.

The other night my driveway was glaciated. The wind had packed snow around my SUV up to the door handles and it was a solid pack of snow from my door to my SUV. My husband asked the boys to help him out. Cloud started whining when he asked her if she wanted to go out and he said fine, but that she needed to fold a load of clothes. She was happy for this because it was windy and said she was glad to be in. I was wrapping up dinner and had the little kids. They came in 45 minutes later and Cloud had been watching TV. I put hot chocolate out for the guys and the little kids. Cloud asked why there was none for her. . . I told her that as soon as she folded the one load of laundry that she could have some. O the drama! "Dad always lets the boys work outside! Never ME."

Me: "Drop and give me 10."

Cloud: "MOOOOM! You are so unfair."

Me: "OK, 12."

More arguing and I kept going up and we got to 22. Then she jabbed my math ability. "Then I can start counting by 10's!" She did more push ups.

I feel like I have to walk on egg shells with her. This will be a long next 6 years with her. All my complaints about her I wonder if my parents felt the same way about me. My mom says I wasn't as bad-- but I figure skated and was in bed at 8 each night to get to lessons at 4:30 most school days. (I wasn't good at figure skating.)

But you see-- this will pass. Erratic actions and mood swings on her part will give way to sweetness in 20 minutes if I hang in there and don't get mad back. I do yell, but I try to be like a PE coach and not raise my tone, "You are about to get push-ups. Keep talking like you are and you will do 10 push-ups before you do this task."

My main concern is having the little ones mimic her thinking that it's just a tool of communication.

This isn't easy-- and I laugh because people used to upset me saying that girls and boys were different. Girls are differrent from each other! Each child is different!

The wind has died down and I will be getting the kids out to the hill to sled today.

My birthday is in 12 days. I wish it wasn't so close to the break. This makes me feel old. Guy turns 11 this weekend-- now THAT makes me feel old. We have four birthdays this month. My husband gets paid a few days after my birthday so we will celebrate after that.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

My Favorite Part of the Big Holidays

Dinner has been long consumed and now my husband and kids are playing in the living room and dining room.

Yesterday Tiger couldn't make it in and wanted to bring a friend. My house was not dirty, but cluttered. We went into high gear. Darrin had been tired and on the computer most of the night but had to put some toys together (I got the kids a puppet theater and they spent most of the day on it) and he did that, got toys out of boxes and engineered getting various toys put into stockings while Cloud and I vacuumed and baked. Of course what I'd made a few days ago was consumed before last night so I was starting from scratch. My pie crusts weren't rolling out right so I made cobblers and everything turned out OK.

This morning we woke to listening to the kids in the living room getting into their stockings and telling each other to be quiet! We put a few puzzles in and got a few extra winks. We got up and soon the living room was a sea of wrapping paper. Calamity Jane was thrilled with her new pony (a little one in from a toy store, not a stable) and the boys were quickly engaged in their Leggo sets. Cloud-- I have no idea what gets into her. Everything was about people not paying attention to her! She was happy with her clothes and games, but it was soon, "You bought the boys cool sets and forgot about ME and now you are only playing with THEM." I combated her by responding to her only with chirps of joy, as if she were saying sweet things.

We went to church and it was packed. We only took Calamity Jane because Peaches was sick and the others, wanting to stay home and play, would have never been ready on time had we made them go and claimed they were also sick with what Peaches had. Our priest wanted everyone to sing and told us in a church meeting a few weeks ago and a few of the ladies told Calamity that she sang well. To Calamity Jane it is a personal responsibility to sing in church. I told her that she could stay home if she wanted but she said, "Mom! It is important that I sing! Gloria is expecting me there!" She arrived and went up to Gloria and stood with her and it was sweet.

As we left the church, Tiger let us know she'd be later than expected with her friend and I was glad when she showed up that she came. Her friend is beautiful and knows a lot of people in the Valley. She was probably overwhelmed by us, but I hope she comes back with Tiger.

Tiger's boyfriend is a sweetheart. They've been dating for a few years and I like how he treats her. He wore a Santa hat and brought in presents later on in the evening. The younger kids climbed all over him and were very happy to see him. I don't know why he is not overwhelmed but he is not. He says he loves coming over! That made me happy.

Now. . . my birthday is coming up. I don't like birthdays. It's an extra expense, and they stress me out because I DO CARE about them. I want to get boudoir shots taken. I have been getting them done every few years since I was 19. I won't get them on my day-- it's too close and I need to buy from the post-Christmas sales. I want to buy a fuzzy robe and slippers and at the end of my session, pose like that with a cigarette dangling from my lips! I think that if I make a calendar for my husband, that will be my June pose for it! I don't like my 19 year old shots as much as I thought I would. They are definitely pretty, but they are not confident like the ones from when I was 36 and had just had a baby 3 months before. My mom says that I am not yet in the prime of my life and that my 50 year old poses will be amazing. I am liking this. I'm not talking about skank here-- these poses are always a blast and I put a lot of thought into them. My husband spends a great deal of time cracking up a them. I in fact SNAGGED my husband with a portrait after he broke up with me. I was really sad when we split up so I sent him a picture of me in hip waders, a garter belt, funky hat with lures all over it, and a fishing vest. Nothing "nasty" was shown, it was a perfectly normal picture and I showed it to my mother. I wrote, "Some women use beauty to get a man, but I just use a lure."

Christ is Born! Glorify Him! And Have a Blessed Nativity!

Today we celebrate Christ's birth. As much as I planned for something simple, everyone thwarted me! My husband sat for most of the night on the computer and I was ready to cry-- all of my baking had already been consumed and I had more to cook. Tiger was in town, sick, and then called to let me know that a friend is bringing her over at noon and is leaving at 4, can I please make them pancakes? I've been studying Judaism and annoyed as I was, I thought of the commandment to be hospitable, so I just put cleaning on my list. My husband went into high gear after the kids went down and put some stuff together and even got the laundry hall made tolerable. (We don't have a laundry room. It's in a hall and laundry goes there.) He put together a puppet theatre and I bought bunches of puppets for the little persons.

Mitten chased Pageant Princess up the tree and it fell over. All was OK-- but it was funny. Mitten was a bit surprised.

I'm tired.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

About the Topic of Prisons. . .

I really wish that with the need of our prisoners to reduce recidivism rates that one of the wives of some of the recent Alaskan politicians who've been sent to federal prisons would get off their fucking lazy asses and form a political action committee. They could mobilize the families of prisoners to form a group that votes and then grab the attention of politicians who write laws and establish the rights of prisoners and make their voices heard.

One of my husbands' friends is married to a guy who was a corrections officer in Michigan. With the recent budget cuts, a MAXIMUM security prison has no armed guards around the perimeter of the prison! The prisoners know this. The ones who want to go in and never go back and not perp on one another are at the mercy of the prisoners who are there to stay. They have no recreation programs and they have to depend on volunteers. Look, I freak out at my female yearlies and couldn't even get through the last one and went home in tears. When I go into a prison, knowing that I may be subject to a search if they suspect anything, I am terrified. This isn't a volunteer job for pansies. You can't get a lot of volunteers in this. For governments to have the attitude of cutting the prison funding and hoping they can get "free" help from the community is sick and wrong. But then. . . who do you cut help for in the face of budget cuts? The elderly? School kids? Medical care for the working classes? This is why this vulnerable population needs representation.

Why do we have a 75% or higher rate of recidivism? They need recreational programs and counseling in an environment that is scary! If one of these wives would just stand up and form a group, she'd get criticism, then she'd be heard. (They can't criticize if they don't pay attention to you.)

With federal prisoners, I think it is as bad. Same needs. I also think all prisoners need conjugal visits with spouses so they can yes, have sex. It's a great behavioral stimulation and I think that depriving someone of sex for anything longer than six months is a crime. On Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, sex is at the base with needing water and air.

I'm on a tangent here. If a politician's wife got a support group going, she could also address the needs of many of the spouses struggling with poverty, medical care, child care and all the other evils that families deal with. She'd have to accept that people say stupid and cruel things and persevere. I think that politicians are like pageant princesses-- it's to look like you are doing something while being glamorous. We need politicians with a different mettle, who if they screw up, their spouses are going to take a stand, not fold like a bad hand.

By sticking their perfectly coiffed heads in the sand, the wives are not accomplishing some good that only they have the power and the voice to accomplish. Their husbands already have fame-- it is notoriety, but it can be turned into good. It's not about their spouses being guilty or innocent-- it's about them seeing where things are bad and shining their light to make it better.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I Know You're Out There Somewhere

I'm too tired to write ATM-- a flu is going through the house. It's not the throwing up kind. It's chronic back aches! I have to study. I just watched this song and got reminiscent.

My writing prof brought up an idea for where my writing is going. I can't elucidate right now but she threw me for a loop. I'm signing up for a second semester with her. She and I just wrote back and forth last semester, I did a few stories for her, but nothing special. I thought she would fail me but I got an A because she was seeing growth that you are not seeing on this blog-- yet. She says that my muses get to me via various angels they put in my way and that I have the sense to sometimes recognize them. What I hate is how I don't get to write about fun froth. In an age where the economy is going south, I am writing about issues that are uncomfortable that she says society is ready to confront and that I need to write in a Jane Public sort of way. I'm really good at being shallow! Why can't I write about sex starved debutantes and hockey moms? (She said, "Because I'd have failed you. Next question?") Why can't I write a bad Disney movie about a hockey mom who wants to be Vice President? LOL I chatted up a psychologist who says my research will take me to dark places that I don't want to go. (It's not about witchcraft or anything evil on the surface.) I like to eat. I need to be a food writer. I should write children's books. I know my prof is right and that what she said is the right path for me, but I really want to be lite and shallow.

I'm really tired. More later.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Little Baby Polar Bear

My husband sent this to me. I found it here and hope you like it!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Republic Windows and Doors By David Cheezem

Republic Windows and Doors
By David Cheezem

Silence is a locked up building with machines
Turned off. Prayer is a cleaned-up corner

of the mind. Silence is not prayer. Prayer
Is not silence. The difference, the difference.

Silence is imposed. Prayer is chosen.
A family must be fed, I know, I know.

Knowledge without power is frustration.
It’s hard to breath in this silence. It’s hard

To pray, to act, to shout, to download
God Save the Queen as a ringtone.

No future no future for you
Silence should be prayer, not despair.

But they ended the strike in a media flury
Fought back the insult, kept the injury.

© David Cheezem 2008


My friend Davis wrote this poem and I like it. I read it out loud and a couple of the kids asked about it. Had I read the article to them, they'd have not cared.

The poem made me think of when I was pregnant with Starshine and my husband's company went under. My husband did not protest-- the memory is one of making me think of how lucky we were. I was two weeks away from the Mrs. Alaska pageant, six and a half months pregnant, and he called and said he just got laid off and that he was applying for two jobs with the state that were about to close and that he'd be home.

We got on to state health insurance-- we'd already been on it as his insurance didn't cover pregnancies. It was good because I needed a c-section. I couldn't get my money back from the pageant and so I just had fun. I got my dress second hand and it was the wrong color for me. The summer was very tight. I was literally foraging in the woods with the kids for edible things and my husband was going to the lake with the boys-- they'd walk and thought it was the greatest thing in the world! I had to go to the food bank because I didn't want my husband going. First, he was out looking for a job when they were open and second, when he was home, it was my excuse to get out of the house!

Tiger had a volunteer gig at a greenhouse for some friends who grew for the REALLY bad off. She got part of my yard in order and taught her brothers and sister Cloud to keep it in good order. She bladed over to a job at a bakery where she was always given unsold items which was how we survived-- the food bank stuff never seemed to go far. Peaches went to see her dad for part of the summer.

Driving into the City was a gas issue. We never missed a trip. Every trip was rationed. I baked bread in the late evening when we needed the heat so we'd not have a hot-hot house in the afternoon.

After a month I started seeing the bank come by to take pictures of our house. That was scary. We were also getting bulk post cards from real estate agents and I felt like I was in a leaky rubber raft with a dorsal fin beginning to circle it and vultures overhead!

I fought my doctor on bed rest-- I hated it. He found me silly and once said, "Do you hate bed rest or do you hate Mat-Su Regional Hospital more?" (Some people have good experiences there; I say that competing hospitals are needed!) I stayed on bed rest but he'd not call it that. The day I was taken off the bed rest that I was supposedly not on was the day my husband was hired by the state. Starshine would still be inside me had they not gotten her out three weeks later.

Anyway-- we had it bad but we knew we were fortunate. Darrin's parents helped us out with a mortgage payment and some bills, but his unemployment was only allowed for three dependents! I worry for the people who are getting laid off across the country because they don't have what we did. We are in a semi-rural area where so many are in cities where it is cold. It hurts to think of families losing their homes and what this does to the kids and the parents.

Monday, December 15, 2008

All she wants for Christmas is her two front teeth!

Calamity Jane showed me some loose teeth last night. They seemed REALLY loose. This morning she kept complaining so I pulled one. . . then the other. Now she can smile and stick out part of her tongue without opening her mouth!

Mudd and Starshine are jealous. Mudd says he's "tellin' Daddy" on me for pulling her teeth if I don't pull one of his, and I laughed and said I couldn't. He changed his tactic, "Can I put a piece of corn in a glass and fool the tooth fairy?"

Starshine was furious that Mudd would lose his teeth before her and that she'd lose her teeth last.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

What's for Dinner?

A few weeks ago I bought some uncooked tortillas and have found a dozen uses for them. Today Darrin and I cooked together and diced up & cooked some potatoes, chopped up some tomatoes, made refried beans and some scrambled eggs. Darrin heated up the torts on the pancake grill and we dressed the plates and invited the kids in.

Mudd panicked because he didn't have a fork-- all his short life I have scolded him on not eating with his hands and tonight I changed things! I showed him how to tear off a piece of tortilla and use it to eat some eggs and he cried and buried his head in my side!

I gave him a fork but after a few minutes, he decided to try it again and he was soon ripping and picking food up and laughing. It was cute.

The kids loved it and my three boys who have birthdays in January all want it on their birthdays. They said that they love eating with me because they never know what they will get at dinner. Basil said that one of his friends said that his mom makes one of four different meals each night, and Dmitrios recited what they are as he is friends with the same little boy, then they toasted, "To Mom!"

It was a fun meal to make as well as eat.

I tried something that my grandmother said she did during the Great Depression-- I used my potato water that I had used to boil the diced potatoes in a bread for later. Grandma was a chef and she told me when I was 7 or so that you wash out the nutrients so you can use them if you use the water. It is rising well and I expect it to taste good, too.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Straight Talk with Calamity Jane

Yesterday I had to take Calamity Jane with me to my news meeting. We got there late and everyone stopped when she went in ahead of me. She walked to the front of the room and looked at everyone and I came trudging in and introduced her. She smiled and said, "Well, how do you do?" She shook the hands of the people there, then sat in the chair that had been saved for me.

She looked around and everyone was smiling at her because she was so funny. She smiled and said, "Well! You are in a meeting! Why aren't you talking? you are supposed to talk in a meeting!"

My adviser asked what she was supposed to do and she said she was too young and asked for some paper and drew him a picture.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Radio Free Palmer

I am beside myself with extreme excitement. My good friend Kellie Davis has a blog going with her work with Radio Free Palmer. She has some exciting leads and is going off to get the interviews done. This is her blog in testing. . .

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Happy Things

This won't go to TMI-- but last night I spent 3 hours massaging my very sick husband. It was NOT sexual. How could that be? Well, he was sick! I already had his bug so I was probably safe and if it comes back, it's from us sharing a bed!

I spent a 45 minutes massaging his feet and fascinated by where callouses have formed and noticing how they look. Then I went to his hands and spent a half hour on them. I did some Thai-type massage on the rest of his body. While I have not been trained in this, I have been trained in partner yoga and this kind of fell into place. He felt great, still sick, but he said he felt better than he had in a while. He woke up feeling pretty good.

I cannot believe how stupid I was to take that massage school-- if I could redo it, I'd go someplace with not one master, but someplace that is owned by a few people, maybe with a board of directors. Did I use anything that I learned in massage school on my husband last night? No. Actually, I don't think that guy taught me much except for the meridians. I cannot believe how insecure I was going there. I knew that stuff and that guy was fluff! I'd have been better off taking weekend massage courses for lay people, but at the time I wanted to go pro.

I had dated a massage therapist in my early 20's and he pretty much taught me everything. The knowledge has been around for thousands of years and there are some basics that just compound on each other and once you learn it, you have the foundation. The guy gave me several massaged and then I worked up the nerve to ask if I could do him, but didn't knwo what to do. He said, "Do to me what you want. If you are soft in an area, I'll think you want to be massaged softly there, too." I weighed 118 pounds and threw all my weight into working on him and kept asking if I was hurting him-- LOL! He explained physics to me and how to use leverage with the floor to get better pressure. After the first time I massaged him, I was out of breath and very tired. I had probably done NOTHING for him, and he wound up giving me a massage and I took a long nap!

Anyway, my husband is not complaining. He says, "It is what it is."

Friday, December 05, 2008

I have skin on my teeth!

We have a term, "He was saved by the skin on his teeth" meaning that someone had a close call with disaster and is OK.

I have been attention deficit with my classes. I am doing 20 things and I am fried with college. I think I've been fried for a while but didn't know it. I have been working on 2 classes through distance ed, plus one at Excelsior that I do not know if I will get to before next year at PFD time. I signed up for a drawing class this spring to help me with a project I am working on and I know the prof will advise me and I will hopefully be accused of being a real artist one day. I love drawing and painting.

In the mean time, my two classes are statistics and a science course. A few days ago it occurred to me in a dead sleep that I needed to apply for extensions on them. I just found out that I had just enough work done in each class to qualify and my deadline was yesterday afternoon. I'd done my wake-up at 2:AM the day before.

I know, the professors reading this are rolling their eyes at a lazy student. My last college newspaper for the semester has been submitted to the printer and I am ready to focus on my other academics. I may well nail my science class in the next month. I have to get one extra lesson in for stats and complete a test and before early January. I'm not worried about it as my husband is pushing me. He doesn't just push-- he likes stats and along with an excellent text book, makes it relevant to me.

Anyway, it's good to be wrapping these up if only so I can give 100% to my drawing class and editing this spring. The prof is really getting into anatomy this coming semester, which I am looking very forward to. I am thankful that my very sweet husband is indulging in my need to take a class.

I just created a really cool card for a friend that I didn't take pictures of, so I need to make another one for someone else and scan it. It's a card, but it looks like a box. I got the idea from watching an Enya song, Anywhere is. . . She opens up a box of clouds and I used time, flowers and the sky in the box. It's pretty cool. I don't know if he is just nice to me about my art or if I am actually good. I think my ideas are better than my execution!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Spelling Bee

My son Basil is going to be in the school spelling bee. He is excited and is now spelling every word in every sentence that he says to me. Fortunately the spelling be is in six weeks and not in six months! The kid is smart, not Einstein brilliant, but he is smart. He'll do well.

When I was his age, there was a girl who for reasons I've yet to understand called me "Stupid." Or "Stoop" for short. In the spelling bee, I made it to the last round. She was knocked out the first round with "thesaurus." She only called me "Stoop" once after the bee and I said, "Who's Stoop when YOU make up other ways to spell THESAURUS, Bridey McDaniels! Can you find a new name for me now?" (Her name is made up-- but she hated anyone saying her full name after that.)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I continue to be amazed!

LATER: Chabad continues to inspire me. More, "What can I do?" They let people who are really worked up pledge mitzahs. Isn't that great? The emphasis isn't on money because not everyone can contribute and prayers are vital. Doing mitzvahs in the memory of the deceased rabbi and his wife are a huge honor and I will bet that his is making their parents smile through their tears as people promise to put up mezuzah, read a portion of the Torah, one guy promised to open his hart while reading the Torah because it's gotten habitual for him, they are lighting Shabbat candles, etc. Check it out!

In an article, someone asked why the rabbi and his wife were not protected and didn't want to hear the crap about the Holocaust, why in this day and age, didn't G-d protect the rabbi and his wife? I will quote them here:

When Chabad was an underground movement in Communist Russia, activists were being sent to Siberia every second day. Many were tortured in interrogation and left to rot in their prison cells. The same question could have been asked then. The answer would have been the same: Send another rabbi to replace him.


The main thing now is not to ask those questions. The main thing now is to help one another to be strong and rebuild. The orphan needs your help. The Jewish community of Mumbai needs your help. That's where the money we collect will be going. Direct your outrage in a positive path.

This is, "pick up and keep going." Don't slow down,there is work to do.

There is another article about prayers. After the attacks there was concern at CNN about the rabbi and his wife and people were praying and someone wrote in and asked where the prayers went.

This is part of that response: As for us, down here in this mundane world, we are not mean to understand. Understanding brings complacency. We are meant to be outraged that such evil exists in our world. We are meant to fight back and destroy it. Not to leave that up to G‑d and His wisdom--but to do all we can that the world should be filled with such light that such a thing could never happen again.

I see the whole attack as a tragedy and cannot take my eyes off the fact that some survived-- including their baby son, who shares a birthday with Mudd. What gets to me is the responses have answered a lot of my own questions. I miscarried and a (Jewish) doctor who I still think of was very empathetic told me something to the effect of, "You are supposed to be mad! G-d set it up that way, you are a mother and you want to take care of your children, born and not yet born. . ." then he explained to me how amazing it was that so often I was having perfect babies because of all that can go wrong, and he directed my passionate sadness to being more impressed that I kept making healthy babies and that I had to be careful to not get so depressed that I quit taking care of myself and my kids. He had a way of keeping my eyes up and seeing great things. Chabbad does that, too.

I love how they say that we are meant to be outraged, that understanding breeds complacency, that we need to do all we can to stop and not let this happen again. This is resolve and perseverance. You understand why as a people the Jews survived pogroms and all the things governments tried to do over the centuries that wiped out other groups. Doing a prison ministry, I have to admit that this is one of the greatest inspirations that I had when talking about keeping up with what we were teaching, "You have a right to practice your faith and it is protected." I shared with them about early Jewish movements and told them to be like the rabbis, but as Christians.

Christians ask the same questions about God not answering prayers or not seeming to protect His people. We don't see the whole plan. I've had priests get furious with me, "How dare you question God! You can't get mad at Him!" I can't find it, but one of their articles says that you can be mad at Ha Shem, "He's big enough to handle it." (I told one of the ladies that and she laughed.)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving has passed

Thanksgiving has passed and Christmas music blares from the House of Crumpet. My kids are ecstatic. Mudd (who is now 5) occasionally looks up from what he is doing and says with an excited face and gremlin voice, “Christmas!” or, "Christmas is coming!" and he, StarShine and Calamity Jane run over to each other and get excited and talk about what they want. I know that I should not be encouraging of this because they are excited for the presents under the tree and the rich, good food after a month of fasting (we eat kosher vegan-- not exactly church rules but it's easier for me) and having meals that get repetitious after a bit because I only do three or four, but let’s face it: the mere birth of Christ is not the exciting part. Would it even be an issue if we didn’t have presents? There is an industry on Christmas. What if retail has saved Christ’s birth from obscurity in some ways? Society has a Sesame Street attention span and I don’t think the holiday would be on anyone’s radar were it not for retail.

If retail got insane over Chanukah, a lot of people in our country would be Jewish because they were attracted to it. One of my OB's told me that Chanukah was a low-key holiday until the West realized how close it was to Christmas and then it got trumped up. If Jewish New Year was closer to Western New Year, I think there would be the right way to celebrate, which the Jews would have held on to, and the Typical Way that everyone else does. Christians don't have the same hold on their holidays and this makes me sad.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Mumbai-Based Rabbi and Wife Killed in Terrorist Attacks

While I am not Jewish, I mourn with everyone who mourns over the victims of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. A dashing young rabbi and his pretty wife were killed in these attacks, they being the people who ran the Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish Center in India.

"For five years, they ran a synagogue and Torah classes, and helped people dealing with drug addiction and poverty," continued the statement. "Their selfless love will live on with all the people they touched. We will continue the work they started."

They are just two victims out of many, their son having been rescued by a kitchen worker.

I go to Chabad all the time.Being Eastern Orthodox in my faith, I find that much of what we practice is not original-- it's outlined in the Old/Original Testament (T'nach) and our Church Fathers seem to have reiterated it since Christians kind of blow off the old laws! Chabad makes it current with present-day writers talking about how they practice mitzvahs. I have become friendly with one of the rabbis who has given me advice that has fallen on deaf ears for several years. Why is it easier to listen to him? He was willing to pray for my grandmother but asked that even though I am Gentile to practice a mitvah, which I did,and innumerable blessings have followed. Anyway, even how Chabad mourns is unique to my Western mindset. Yes, they can use the cash-- but look at this: Yes, there is something we can do.

A mitzvah, a G-dly deed, has the power to reach deep into the core of our being--where we are all one, and the physical distance between us is of no consequence. At this core, a positive deed on our part can help bring peace and goodness to this troubled world.

What better way to mark little Moishe'le's birthday, and to salute the bravery of his courageous parents, than to perpetuate their lives--lives they devoted to bringing goodness and G-dliness into our hurting world!

Take a minute to do one or more of the following. You can make a difference.

* Light Shabbat candles! Jewish women, light a candle tonight! Click here for instructions and local lighting times.
* Tefillin: If you already put on tefillin every day, encourage a friend to do so. If you don't yet, now is a good time to start! Click here to find out how to put this important mitzvah into practice or contact your local Chabad center for assistance.
* Torah study (suggestion: our Daily Study page contains selections from the Torah)
* Say a prayer (suggestion: Psalm 20 is traditionally said in times of distress)
* Charity and acts of kindness: Put a coin in a charity box, give a gift of money to a fellow in need or to a charitable cause, or extend a helping hand to someone who needs it.
* Mezuzah: If you don't yet have a mezuzah get one now! If you already do have one, it may be time to have it checked to ensure that the words on the parchment have not faded. Click here for more information about this special mitzvah.

I hope when I die that poeple do these kinds of things. It's a huge honor to have poeple recite a Bible verse in your memory or to do something good. They even have an article on the body and how when one Jew does something good that the body of Judaism benefits. That is so cool! I don't know what happens when a Gentile prays for them-- does the whole world benefit? Who cares? I pray any way.

This is another disjointed blog post. C'est la vie & bear with me.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving for Many Things

I am thankful for my husband and sweet children (and not so sweet children!)

I am thankful that my mother has a really awesome boyfriend/husband who worships her.

I am thankful that I go to a church where I actually like the people who are there, and the ladies who I am friends with.

I am thankful for being part of a prison ministry and that I am able to serve.

I am thankful that a really cool rabbi and his wife put my head on straight about my education. (A priest would not have been the same. "Golda Meir was 72 when she became prime minister! You have time to accomplish other things, but raise your children now!")

I am thankful for a husband who wants me to not get my masters for now and to just finish my BA and we'll muddle through the student loans I've amassed.

I am thankful for a 19 year old daughter who comes home on holidays and loves her brothers and sisters-- and her mother and step father.

I am thankful for in-laws who include the goings on of my daughters who my husband was not able to adopt but who are grafted into his heart, and consider them just as much a part of the family as anyone else.

I am thankful that my dog, who seemed sick the other day, is better.

I am thankful for the internet and my cool blog pals.

I am thankful that I can be both progressive and conservative and that's it's OK to believe in the merits of both.

I am thankful for a particular pen-pal who encourages me with my art and who inspires me do keep going with it.

I am thankful for getting out of major debt this year and pray it continues, that we get out of the rest.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Ghost, a Speech, a Horse, Annoying Religious Women, and Prosfora

On Saturday I went with my ministry to the prison to do a follow up on the Kairos weekend. I had to give a talk on God's Love. I was supposed to talk about someone who has been hard to love. I had it all figured out and then I was starting to talk and I heard my dad's voice telling me, "Gosh al-Friday, they can't relate to that! You are a suburban housewife! Tell them about ___ _______!" It was like he was standing right there next to me like it was normal for him to do that. Not being one to argue with ghosts and especially my dad's ghost, :) I told them about my dad's prize horse who everyone thought was mean (she came up here with a sick filly and she was MAD) but who he fought for and loved and who produced great babies who are now breed standards. They related to her former abuse, her anger, and fear and my father's love. I told them how my dad was being charged and how he dropped to his knees while he was charged by her and how she reared up on him, bit, kicked and snorted and took the whip and lunge lines out of his hands and stomped on them, all the while my dad not changing his voice or method. (I also got bit and kicked. She was not exclusive!) It was the perfect analogy of God's love for imperfect people! Several of the ladies asked how I came up with the idea of appealing to their inner 12 year olds. . . if a woman was never gaga over horses, she can still relate to the abused and beaten horse, the daughter of two of the greatest American Saddlebreads who ever lived and over-educated people telling my dad that she was untrainable and should be put down.

For several years I have been terrified of prison for no reason. It came to me in waking up in cold sweats, just scared. My husband said to not run from it and to start to pray about it, which I did. Training with Kairos initially helped alleviate the fear. Yesterday I listened to several ladies talk about marriages ending because of what has happened to the women, or continuing in spite of their situations. Last night I woke up Darrin and talked to him for a few minutes about not leaving me, and I barely remember it. Here was that dear man this morning telling me, "I think you need to write about how marriages last when people are behind bars. Don't run from this fear." We also lit a candle for several people I know who are married and behind bars. Why can't I get a fear about eating truffles in France? Or of drowning in olive oil in Greece? Can't I be called to something fun? Surely there is a fun gig in those things!

The offenders are wonderful. I go to these for them, but I really don't like the prison. My former lawyer told me that as much as I appreciate them as people to think of them out of prison and on various substances-- most weren't put there because they were upholding laws. I have a few religious people that I work with on the Kairos team who remind me why I avoided church when I was Protestant. When I found out that my grandmother had died, I was blue but still went and they were all like, "Smile!" They got ugly with me for saying that it was a bad time and to back off. My priest says that it's because of a writer in the 1960's-70's movement telling people that the fruit of the spirit is joy and Christians turned into Stepford people. He knew a guy who he was trying to get to go to seminary who went to check it out and he returned, spooked. "They are all smiling all the time!" He said it was eerie. One lady yesterday was obnoxious again when I was talking to someone and she giggled, "You are so serious!" Then said, "Just joking." She's 70 years old, the same one who decided to tickle me last weekend with the same comment that I was "so serious." How do I tell someone that age that they are making me hate going? I was serious to an appropriately serious situation and I was listening to someone's story in a flipping prison! I wanted to scream at her, "You are so f'ing spastic!"

I made Prosfora last night. That is Blessed Bread. One of the loaves turns into The Lamb, which is mixed with Communion Wine, the combination with which we make Communion. Lots of praying goes into it, and I use some Holy Water. While I made it I held the big ball in my hands and started pulling off pieces and saying the names of the women at the retreat, "Pilgrims" and my teammates; I wasn't making a conscious thought of it, just praying for them and that is what happened. The seal on the bread (I use a wooden seal with symbols on it) came out perfect when the loaves were through baking, but the loaves were a funny, oblong shape. My priest asked after this and I apologized and explained and he just laughed. I should have perhaps kneaded it more? He said no, they were as they were supposed to be.

EDITED: I wrote an email to one of the authors of a book I have read on prison ministries and asked him to please advise people involved in this to uplift one another instead of hen pecking. He liked this idea and says that he will indeed write a chapter on this!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

My husband is 41.

Today we celebrated my husband's birthday. Peaches works a lot and wanted to be here for it so we did it when we could so she'd be here. I am supposed to be fasting but I am not because I got sick this week. I need the protein and when your body is weak, it's a bad time to switch over.

Mudd was cute-- he is about to turn 5 in a few days and he said, "As soon as Mommy thinks she Daddy's age, he just ups and turns a year older before she can get his age!" (I'll be 40 in a few weeks.) He is always trying to catch up to Calamity Jane who stays just ahead of him. Daddy said, "But Mudd, only one person can be 40 in our house! Otherwise the world would be a mess! Mommy can't catch up to me!"

He thought about this for a moment, but he still wants to catch up to Calamity Jane to see what would happen!

I bought Darrin some exotic coffees for him to grind and some major Lego sets. He is very happy. While he waited for his cake, he and the kids danced the hokey-pokey and sang silly songs.

It was a great night.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My Grandmother Passed Away Last Week

In the middle of me breaking ground and going places that I'd never gone before, I did not blog about something that was happening: my grandmother was dying. She died while gasping for air and knew what was happening on Thursday night. She was 95 years old with multiple organ failure.

I chose a Jewish version of her name as my baptismal name. I think that my family may be Jewish (I'm such a Jew-wanna-be! LOL) because she had told me, back when I was getting marriage counseling with my ex husband and discussing family traditions, about her mother telling her about her mother who used to light a candle at sunset every Friday night. My mother until 15 or so years ago would not cut meat and vegetables on the same tray, but they thought I was silly when I said it was Jewish and insisted that we were Lutherans AND WE JUST HAD A JEWISH SURNAME WITH THAT PARTICULAR GRANDMOTHER, DAMMIT. :)

My grandmother was a cook for a school and she and my late grandfather owned a restaurant for a while. She sewed and made beautiful porcelain dolls, one that she gave to me after a miscarriage. I'd take that doll on stage with me in a Mrs. Alaska pageant. She thought that that was pretty cool! I have saved several quilts and afghans that she made for me.

She was a pretty lady, both inside and out. When my mom had a serious surgery in Seattle, I was 9 years old. We had to stay there (going down from Fairbanks, Alaska) for 3 months. Every day she dragged me to see Great Grandma every day. I was mad because she was in an old folks' home which smelled of cleaning agents. One day Great Grandma threw up on me and I thought that my arm would fall off. For a week she let me sit in the car while she went in, then she made me go in again. I whined, "It's not fair! Why do Karen and Terry not have to come?" (They were cousins my age who taunted me for having to go.) Grandma said, "Because they don't have good hearts like you do!" She didn't state the obvious, that they lived 20 minutes away in the other direction, no, Grandma chose to tell me that I had a good heart. I'd complain more and she'd keep telling how sweet I was and in spite of how I reacted, she was unable to be convinced otherwise.

I would wind up volunteering a lot ond going places that no one likes to volunteer at-- unless they have good hearts like me! LOL I've done Hospice, Compeer, CASA, 4A's, toname a few. She was very proud of me when I worked at an Extended care facility because she said, "Those homes need people like you."

Last week I called her a couple of days before she died and she'd been mostly in and out for two weeks, but that one time, she was awake and called me by name. She said she'd see my kids soon.

I last saw her at my dad's wake. We barely spoke before her ride was ready to take her home and she asked me if I'd come see her. I cried so hard when I said I would. I knew I'd not make it back down.

My cousin who is a paramedic was with her and he broke down. The whole family was there with her-- kids, grands-- everyone. It was OK that I wasn't there. The kids and I made a banner for her that she saw before she died. We wrote "We love our great grandma!" on it and put all of our hands in fabric paint and signed underneath. I think that my mom thought it was too hillbilly because instead of hanging it over part of her casket, she says that she put it in the casket.

The weekend was made worse with my Kairos teammates. I was not droopy at the prison. I was getting sick but I wasn't depressed. Now i am feeling blue.Of course my mom is sad with both of her parents gone because the feeling that I had when my dad died of being next is double bad for her.

My younger brother had a little fun-- as he schmoozed with the family, people asked about me and he said that I had wanted to come down but that I had a "retreat" in prison. (He said the word retreat with finger quotation marks.) He would of course wait a few counts then tell them what I was doing, but even had I not had the "retreat" I couldn't have afforded to go down.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Everything Else that I Do Will be Secondary in Importance

I just spent the weekend with a prison ministry. I wrote a report on it before I left and said that I hated it and that I would never go back, saved it and left for the church to meet with the rabid Evangelical Care Bears who I'd be serving with. Mid-way there I told my husband that I was sick and didn't want to go. Yes, I have the mentality of a 9 year old when I panic. He finally said, "I will take you home if you want me to, but I think that you have to be there. There are Native Orthodox who I don't think are being ministered to and I think you will find them. You have a responsibility to your Orthodox sisters."

I went and as I got to meet the ladies in a big circle we all told the group where we went to church. I said that I was Orthodox and sure enough, a couple of the offenders told me of women in different houses that were Orthodox who'd not come to the retreat because it wasn't Orthodox. I knew why-- I'd not expected to get my priest's approval and yet he had promised to come and was thrilled that I was reaching out. I met a couple who were there and told them to come meet him when he came. I was furious because my husband was right as there are no Orthodox Christian outreach at least in this prison. Actually-- the Orthodox Church of America (OCA) is supposed to be serving the prison but it doesn't. The priest is a young looking Alaskan Native-- he's older, but he looks young. I wonder if the girls flirted with him or something and he doesn't feel right going. Or he may be too spread out as it is and prison is easy to cut; it is for politicians.

God was amazing. One of the Orthodox "girls" and I met and I called her "sister." She started to cry. Well, she is my sister in Christ and she is Orthodox! She'd been praying for just one Orthodox woman and God sent her me and another team member, then my priest came! He's going to go to a training this coming week and go and minister to them. To think that my church's big sister church is practically next door to this prison and it was me who got The Call to be the link to the priest going there humbles me.

Kairos is about the basics of Christianity. We brought in food, and this symbolism wasn't lost on them. God feeds us. We sang, "Oh when the saints go marching in" when they walked in in the mornings. One said to me that it reminded her of Heaven, that when she dies that she will be greeted by the smiling faces of family members that she both knows and doesn't know.

I don't know how I feel about Jesus still, but if Jesus isn't real, G-d will forgive those who believe in Him. We were trained to discuss forgiveness, repentance, Opening the Door to Jesus (my talk) and many others. I broke bread with women convicted of embezzling, drug abuse, murder, and worse. (Oh yeah, there is worse. Much worse.) We served them & never let them serve themselves as we were servants of God, sent to talk to them about Christ's love. Would a murders' or child abusers' victim want their abuser to get good treatment for a few days? Most likely not, but would they want them to change? This was their chance to get the love they missed out on. Ninety per cent are getting out, which ones do you want being your neighbor-- the ones who've not been through this ministry or the ones who have been? I saw women who are very tough and very mean break down and cry.

This past weekend I heard some of the most heart breaking stories that any one has heard. I heard them from survivors. A woman was hugging me and said she had never felt joy or happiness before. I never understood how anyone could survive the indignity that prison is rumored to be, but I met women who said there is no dignity but manage to survive with a sense of humor and inner strength.

My husband said, "Next to raising children, nothing that you do will ever be as important as leading people to God." We will train them to start a weekly session within the prison. The hope is that they will stay with studying and keep a sisterhood alive. Corrections officers across the country have said that the effects last about 4 months, then they kind of whither. It's OK-- we (from the Outside) try to get back every six months, as well as monthly. I've committed to the monthly meetings for the following year.

I will see if there is more need. It is enough that I have brought my gentle priest over to meet the chaplain and find a slot. I hope that I can continue to serve.


On the other side, living with a group of other females (we'd leave at night and stay at a church) is not my thing. I can stand it for three days before I begin to fray! When I think, my face isn't smiling and about half decided to comment on this. "Tea! You look like you are angry." WTF is that about? I am embarrassed to tell someone that she has something on her teeth and they felt obligated to comment on my facial expression? One woman acted like I had some nerve for explaining that I had some muscle damage. I told her that I'd had a stroke, but no, she'd not be fooled! She knew I'd not had one! I was trying to tell her to shut the f--- up. You don't tell anyone what to do with their faces. "Smile! You look angry!"

"Go stand on your head! You still won't look attractive."

I cannot make myself smile when people do that and I want to slap them.

Another woman kept jabbering at me in the morning and TOUCHED MY BACK and said, "Are you not a morning person?" I was ticked-- if you have to ask, back off! I wanted to say, "No, but it's not that. I just don't like talking to you." I am comfortable with silence. This woman just doesn't say a lot of smart things.

They were as bad as dental assistants, if not worse.

The third and most irritating thing, an older lady brilliantly decided to come up from behind me and tickle me. I almost choked on my Ny-Quil pills that I was swallowing and she giggled to the room of 20 women getting ready for bed, "You look so serious!" I said I was swallowing pills. Everyone laughed some more. I am scared around this group-- had I choked and tried to cough them up, they'd have been banging on my back forcing them the other direction. They seemed to react to things to get attention. It bothered me.

I go to do the work of God. So what if I am not smiling? My grandmother died, I was missing her funeral, I was hearing deep stories and I did not go there to explain my face, affirm some dimwitted woman's need for affirmation on stupid comments on the weather and to watch to see if she was talking to me, and I sure as hell didn't need to have someone tickle me. (I almost slapped her when she did that.) I felt like those women were cultish in how they acted, "You must be what I want you to be." I don't mind training with them, and i don't mind breaking bread with them, but there is a line. Had I, the odd duck of the group placed my hand on someone's back to say anything, the response would not have been comfortable. Had I tickled anyone, it would have just been strange and I'd have probably been smacked. I can't even imagine ordering anyone to smile. That is so beyond the pale.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Sky is Not Falling

This past weekend I went to more training. Fortunately Rick Rockhill made a comment that made me wonder why I was doing this. I've been stressed out. Anything that causes the grey hairs that I am sporting isn't worth it. Screw it. I'm doing the prison ministry for God, so to hell with what anyone says to me (in the training, not Rick who was right on target!) that hurts my delicate feelings.

I did a training at the prison and I broke out in hives afterward. Smoke glass does that to me and I didn't even see it--I just knew it was there. What was I thinking? My heart was bigger than my brain. I don't feel worthy to be with the group of dedicated women who are teaching the retreat. I know so little about Christianity and it's not my denomination, it's just that I feel as shallow as a bird bath.

Friends from church, once I announced what I was doing through our priest, have offered to help me with cookies. This is pretty cool. No, it's incredible. Twenty five dozen cookies are being made by friends on my behalf for the prison. In any church you need to ask for help from the priest or pastor before anyone helps you and that's normal.

The other thing that happened. . . because the TD was in the shop, I needed my husband to cancel his and the kids' plans and get me to the next city so I was without a car. I called him the next day when I found out that I needed to go to the prison to meet with the pastors for a training. I told him several times where I was, told him that his sister was near by, maybe see her or to wait in the parking lot for me and bring something to read.

The leader who drove me to the destination is hard to describe. Are tsunamis obnoxious or do they just have a lot of energy? Well, she was in a hurry to leave after the prison training and basically I couldn't get my stuff out of her car fast enough and I didn't want to be around her when she went into, "I don't have 12 seconds to spare. hurry-hurry"mode. When I called my husband he said he would wait for me in the parking lot, then right before I went out I called him and he said that he was up the road. He told me to just unload my stuff on the steps (I'd been out over night) and I stood with a suitcase, an art supply bag and a crock pot. After ten minutes, I started to worry and realized that my car phone was in the leader's car. After 30 minutes, I was in tears because people coming out of the prison walked right past me and didn't look at me when I asked to borrow their cell phones. I started to wonder if I was invisible.

The pastors came out and they did recognize me only after I asked if they could see me. . . you know, I really started to doubt my existence. I would not have been shocked if an ambulance had arrived and taken my body out of the facility. The only other time I have been avoided like that was when I was a mime. ;)

The pastors helped me reach my husband and the leader, my husband was an hour away. It was funny when I saw my phone and he had been texting me, "Answer your phone." "Answer your damned phone! Where are you?" "Do you have your phone?" "Did you say you were at the prison?"

After a half hour of coordinating, the pastors had to be someplace. They dropped me off at a restaurant and before I called Darrin, one pastor said to me that I had every reason to be angry with him, but that it was good for me to see what released offenders go through. I felt like an idiot on the curb being ignored, but I am not the first person to feel like that and I ultimately had a place to go. Had my husband been unable to get me, I had friends able to help get me home. (This is why you memorize several friends' phone numbers.) I cannot fathom being from a village being released in Anchorage and having to stay there because there are probation officers but no friends. The pastors said that sometimes inmates get released only to not have spouses pick them up (as planned) because they are living with someone else and have been for a long time.

It bothers me that I knew how I looked standing on that curb while I was standing on it, but didn't want people to think that I had been "one of them" and was then a released inmate. The pastors confirmed what I suspected that people were thinking. Why did I not want people to think that? Who cares? For several years I have wondered over the situation of people who have not even voting rights and how disenfranchised they are and I have mentioned it to lawmakers, but they never paid much attention to me on it. I have tried to present them in a good light, but I still felt furious at my husband for leaving me stranded. I am not better than they are, yet I was thinking pretty damned well of myself.

I worked what happened in to the speech I am giving about opening the door to God and letting God take His time. I have even painted a picture of myself standing at that curb in gouache to illustrate Matt. 6:26 "Look at the birds in the sky. They don't plant or harvest or gather food into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. You are more valuable than they are, aren't you?"

I am weird about Christianity. I doubt it constantly. I don't "know" it like CS Lewis seemed to know it. I do "know" that there is a God who created us and loves us, and I "know" this because Descartes said that just being able to imagine a being who created us is proof. I have a picture here of me and a few of my kids lighting candles. That night I must have lit 7 or 8 for different people and things. I like lighting candles because the represent so much-- the candle wax is us melting to God's will which is the heat from the flame, and the wick is our passion burning.

Yesterday I signed up for a drawing class. I only got a C in it last spring and I think that having no other classes I can put more in to it. I'd like to be able to speak through my art without needing to explain it. I would like for any one to look at my work and say the same things.

I got a message that my radio show is going to happen. The two interviews that I did are going on the air in several weeks. I of course have ten shows that I want to do next. I thought that my supervisor-mentor-friend just didn't like my voice, but instead he really was waiting. So exciting!

I will be off until possibly Sunday night,probably Monday. I have much to do.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Prison Retreat is Coming Up

I have a training this weekend for the prison retreat.

I am bummed. I need to take 20 dozen cookies to it and my baker, a restaurant owner just had two employees quit. I am busy with school and everything and this happened! Argh.

I needed to get donations which didn't happen in spite of me asking my church friends. I also told them that if they couldn't donate but cared to please make some posters for me to take which are needed and no one would do them. Why? My Eastern Orthodox friends basically told me, "We are Orthodox and you are serving with a Protestant group." I don't enjoy how they Protestants worship because it's not my style, but the people in my group are so genuine! The mission is extremely worthy and a lot of people need that chumminess with God so they can relate to Him. Some move on to more liturgical churches, some stay in the way we teach, and some fall away and come back later. Maybe some move on to other faiths-- but they learn to appreciate. I do not think that Orthodox have a monopoly on Salvation and when you are reaching out to prisoners, the simplest approach is best: Love God, be nice to your enemies, forgive, etc. Everything else is gravy. I love Eastern Orthodoxy as I find it meditative and I enjoy practicing aspects of the faith that reinforce it in our minds, but the elitism sickens me. If anyone there asked me to help out with something, I'd be happy to in whatever way I could.

I asked my husband's family-- they are great Protestants, wonderful people, but they ignored my request. Why? Probably because we're Eastern Orthodox. (I think they think we are going to Hell.) I'm not mad, but for God's sake, we are on the same side!

Should I even be doing this? Most women do things in pairs. I go off, "Hmm. This looks like it should be interesting." People in pairs have support.

What a stupid, stupid thing for me to have even tried doing. I'm going to think about this overnight, but I may just drop it.

I need support with this from my church and I am afraid that if I drop this, I will also drop the faith that I agreed to raise my children in because I don't like the people in how they act.

Monday, November 03, 2008

A Thespian in My Midst

This year for the yolka, Cloud is a prettily dressed servant woman narrating, then Guy is Joseph, and Basil and Dmitri are shepherds. All but Guy has a speaking part. The wee babes are Nativity animals. I practice with them on their parts every night between now and the yolka. (A yolka is a Christmas story.)

Dmitri is the funnest. While Cloud glums through and mumbles and Basil thinks this is an excuse for me to get him away from basketball practice (I got him in to basketball and I am letting him finish the season and still keep his part!) it is Dmitri who says his poetry and stands on the couch, dramatically crawls on the floor, has to speak it in a British accent, then a German one, then a Swedish one, then has to shout it, then whispers it. He has it memorized and enjoys it. To say that this makes me proud is an understatement. I love that this comes so naturally to him and that he is not embarrassed at the age of 8. After a week of practicing, he has asked for my poetry books and wants me to find poetry that he may like then recites the first few stanzas. He was enjoying making things up, "Now I will say this like I am cold!" I had him read one line then me the other like we were arguing.

Cloud came into the room and sneered at him and I made her do tree position and recite her lines. She tried very hard to act bored, then started laughing which was funny. We both stood in tree and I "argued" with her with her lines.

In memorizing the lines we shout them and sing them, all the while the younger kids play around us. You can tell the Crumpet Kids by how relaxed they are performing as chaos reigns!

I'm enjoying getting to meet the other moms at my church. Everyone's kids are funny in their own way and it's cute to see their parent's quirks show through, or just to see the kids do funny things and glance up at Mom & Dad laughing.

Yesterday at the end of our service, the deacon asked if there were any announcements. Calamity Jane said to everyone, "Well, I'm six years old!"

The deacon laughed, "And when did this happen?"

She said, "On my birfday!"

Everyone laughed. He wished her a God grant her many years and we all thought she was a cutie.

Feeling Silly

For the past five months I have been having heart palpitations. They have been increasing in duration and number of times that I have them and I had started to get scared, thinking they were linked to a medication I am on to regulate my cycles. I got worked up over the past few weeks, working up the nerve to call. In the US doctors can make you doubt your sanity if you complain too much, but this doctor never has. I called my doctor's nurse and argued over whether or not to get an EKG. I do not like anyone touching me except for my husband or worse, looking at me, even if it is a woman helping me. EKG's are exposing.

Anyway, I told the nurse and got off the phone, happy that I'd let her know and knew that if anything happened that they'd have a record. When I had researched this, I had looked up "heart palpitations" with the medication. As I got off the phone I looked up palpitations on their own and found a link to caffeine which I have been guzzling for about six months since May to the tune of six to eight cups a day!

I called her back-- stupid me. I am going off gradually lest I wind up calling her about headaches associated with this medicine as well. . .

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Chaim's Bar Mitzvah

I'm not Jewish but I am drawn toward the faith because I always have been. I have a son with special needs and this story inspired me. I hope you like it, too.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Why I Like Erick Cordero

I am busier than heck (heck is a busy place, I hear!) but I am taking a moment to tell you all about my friend, Erick Cordero. I think we are friends-- we met during the election and while we don't do lunch and share a lot, it's probably because we are both very busy people. If we were neighbors, we'd probably talk a lot more and be happy for being near each other.

Anyway, I have been a lifelong Republican until this year when I realized that anything I said to my local representative was already decided by him and I could watch his eyes glaze over when we spoke. Erick Cordero is not running for representative; he his running for the senate. He runs an agency that gets lawyers to do pro bono work for clients who cannot afford it. My husband says he squeezes blood from turnips, water from rocks, swims with sharks, etc. and it's cute when he says that because you look at Erick and think, "He's so sweet!" And he is sweet-- but he's smart. (He gets along with everyone which may be why I like him; I don't like a lot of people.) Erick Cordero also a businessman. And- get this, Erick Cordero is a Democrat who is against abortion, but he also wants to solve the underlying need for women who want to get abortions. Pair this with the Republicans who want you to have the babies, but don't want you to get Welfare or train you! Erick Cordero gives a flying frak!

His wife is a really nice lady-- she is a teacher in Eagle River and teaches German. I don't know how many languages the two of them together speak, but they have more foreign experience and knowledge than many ambassadors have. His kids are great-- I have met them and my kids have met them and if you want to know a vine, see it's fruit. These kids will make him and his wife proud in the coming years. I used to live in Hillside and grew up with politician's kids and they were resentful. (As teenagers we'd sneak into our parent's wine cellars. . . but that's a different story for another time! LOL) Erick Cordero's kids are proud of him running. They won't be doing anything to embarrass their parents, God willing.

I don't like his challenger. She is a society doyen (dragon!) and is more, "Vote for me because my family's name is all over the place." She's raised $76,000 to Erick Cordero's mere $15,000-- because he represents small business owners and average people. Will his opponent still represent me if she wins and realizes that I have supported Erick Cordero? I am doubting it. She is letting a seated state representative bash Erick for her, which is annoying. Erick Cordero will still represent you if you don't like him, but for right now, he needs your vote!

This is what Erick Cordero has to say for himself-- read this and please tell your friends why they should vote for him.

Over the last few weeks, I have had the honor of running for the State Senate in Mat Su. I set out to elevate the dialogue and help restore faith in the public process, and I believe I have succeeded. My message has been consistent; we need to make sure that legislators are working for all Alaskans and we can accomplish great things if we work together for Alaska's future.

Throughout this campaign, I have been clear about where I stand on the issues, particularly in supporting:

* Development of renewable energy sources to find long-term solutions to our current energy crisis;
* Improving our public transportation system and roads;
* Making healthcare available and affordable to all Alaskans;
* Supporting our educators and other public employees by restoring the defined retirement benefits;
* Enhancing services for members of our senior community;
* Making sure that social justice and ethics are more than just a campaign talking point.

Partisanship hurts us. We need to work together as Alaskans to find solutions that benefit our whole state. I will always do what is right for all Alaskans because we have unique challenges that require unique Alaskan solutions.

On November 4th, you have a real choice. I will work hard for all members of our community. I ask you for your support and your vote.

Thank you.


Erick Cordero

p.s. please visit to learn more about me.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Prison Ministry

Today I went to my training for a prison ministry. I really like the women who I work with but I find part of it intimidating. I do not get into evangelical praying. It came time for me to pray and I was like, "Oh dear. What do I say?" I was mellifluous and prayed long and loudly. I don't get it. When Orthodox Christians pray, we have some direct prayers. Some are long but I don't think that God gets into long prayers. I felt really silly telling God how great He is and mimicking my fellow attendants by reminding Him of how He parted the Sea and delivered His children from Israel, caused the frog plague on Pharaoh-- the frog plague was cool, etc. and will he please make this successful and bless our guests and bless us, start in on more how great God is, go back into it. It mentally taxing! I really wanted to say, "You keep my car running! You gave us life! Surely this is easier to help us get more money to get this running!" Or. . . simply ask and pray and meditate quietly.

A long time ago a rabbi told me that we pray because even though G-d knows what we need, it's like we are sitting at a table and you need to ask your host for things because he doesn't otherwise know you are hungry. "The fish is delicious! Will you please pass some more to me?" is different from, "Your home is so lovely, you work so hard for this party, you did a great fundraiser last year for the dance ensemble to go to England. . .I just really appreciate. . .and won't you please pass the fish down here?" It sounds like I am making fun of people who pray like this but I am not: for now it is just soooooo uncomfortable. At the next training I will be better.

I get to give a discussion on living as a Christian and keeping the Word in your heart and in your actions and life. As a mother, I pray constantly. The older my kids get, the more faithful I get. I pray in my mind as I cook, I pray when I drive not because I am a bad driver but because there is so much that can go wrong that doesn't. I read my Bible quite often-- both Testaments. I can discuss this pretty easily. The book on this also has tips on what to say. "All the honor of the daughter of the King is within." -Psalm 45:14

We had some political people drop by the house today to ask who we are supporting. I asked about their candidates' support of prison reform and reform on the court system and they said their men would deal with it better than the Republicans which is true.

I mentioned my prison work to several politicians a while back. Would you believe that only the Democrats asked me about it later? It's very frustrating because they actually care about it! This isn't bleeding heart liberal stuff-- I knwo thatmany who are incarcerated should be there, but I think that prisons need to be set up for punishment for the offender but also allowing them to return to their families. Conjugal visits? Yes-- I keep hearing how sexually charged they are and I think that people who have visits with spouses keep the spouses closer and less likely to fool around, and also allow the offenders to get the needed physical touch even if it's just once a month. Of course in the ministry I am not an advocate for the prisons, but my interest has pulled me to this. I believe that voting family members need to connect and form a grass roots effort to get the lawmakers attention and push for reforms. I have spoken to corrections officers who feel the same way, but they have said that they have to keep control at all times so whatever I push for, they need to be able to keep control.

I think that it was Reagan's period when the political parties polarized. Now I think that is changing. I know and respect a local politician who is pro-life and I am proud of his stance. There are a ton of Christian Democrats. Democrats for homeschooling (that need sot be worked on) and Democrats supporting business.

Now that I've rambled, I have to close. I have vespers and I need to study.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I Have Voted.

I've voted. For president, Congress and US Senate and I am sad that all we had in this state were who was on the ballots. We had better people to send.

I am excited for the people who I voted for for the district levels who will go to state! I do hope they win and it is for them who I genuinely cheer on.

Now I will ignore the rest of the election.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Pictures, and a Forum

I never thought that I would be as busy as I am. Last week I was in tears thinking that I would be fired as editor. My husband had gotten back from a trip, I still had volunteering at the school to do-- and this is a picture that I took of Sarah Palin Cookies at a local bakery. I thought that I might drop by my pal Senator Lyda Green's office with a dozen and let her toss some cookies, but at $4 a piece I thought against it.

I also took some pictures of the snow. You may also see some pictures of the first snow on some raspberry bushes.

I went to the MSC Candidate Forum at my college. We had an interesting discussion. I like all but one of the candidates who showed up and that candidate performed so poorly that I couldn't have written a decent thing about their comments if I had wanted to. I went around the room to people who I knew would support said person and I said, "Hey! I was running late! Did ____ ______ say anything quote-worthy?" They couldn't come up with anything. Said person dodged questions and pulled an anti-rhetoric tap dance worthy of our governor. I wanted to put that in the paper but the person who edits my work (I am the editor) is not a fan of the governor but he took it out and hissed at me when I protested!

The incumbents were all right. They need to tackle each election like they have never tried to be elected, as they were so damned boring! Their voices didn't fluctuate! The lowest point was at the end where each person had 3 minutes to speak and each Republican told us a bit more about themselves and pointed to their fellow Republicans of different districts and told us how much they love working with them. One did not say it-- but he was the one who probably should have said it because he seemed to be the leader of them. The others would get the mike and say, "I just want to say that it is a PLEASURE working with M---, B----, C--- and J----- and I hope you send me back to Juneau with them." Alaska has been accused of having an old boys network and this re-enforced the notion that we have one. Until an ethics bill was passed making secret caucus meetings illegal, our legislature would meet in private caucuses and vote bills out because the were A. Bad, B. written by a person of the Other Party, or C. Written by someone that a legislature on that committee didn't like. They can still vote bills out of committees, but they have to be public about it. This, "Send me back to Juneau with these people" made me think of that time which was less than 2 years ago.

The high point was when the most dynamic of the speakers, a Democratic challenger who got a lot of laughs and moments of applause when she said intelligent but cute things, was the last speaker and said, "I'm not a part of a fraternity but I really want to represent you, and I have friends of all shapes and sizes and flavors and I can get along with them as well as _____ can!" I'd like to see her win if only to hear her speak from the heart like she does. She had three "moments."

I am friendly with 2 challengers for the same seat, a "Mr. Cat" and a "Mr. Cheese." Mr. Cat is slick. The guy has the personality of champagne. Mr. Cheese is the intellectual. Mr. Cat has beat challengers who are smarter than he is, but he is a better politician. I think that Mr. Cheese will hone his skill quickly, but right now they seem like the Star Basketball Player and a Band Nerd going against each other. The Band Nerd is a local businessman and writer-- very, very smart. He is the underdog. If he wins, will he get warped and lose his soul in our state capitol? The Basketball Player is however VERY smart, with a degree in physics and engineering-- but the Band Nerd is someone who is thinking all the time. He is a writer and a poet and someone who loves to learn. I think that he will be very effective if he wins in part because he is already enmeshed in the community with local clubs.

Erick Cordero, a regular blog reader was there and he did very well. He is from Mexico City and has a very slight accent. It's just enough to pique your ears so that you listen more intently. I liked what he had to say because as a person who runs an office where he seeks lawyers to do pro bono work, he has a real heart for the public and the people he serves. He isn't a social issues man, however-- he shines the brightest when talking about oil and gas and natural resources.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Raining and Pouring

Last week I was in near tears because my team of writers was getting nothing to me. Of course I had other things to do and saw it as a blessing but I thought I'd also get cut as editor. Three hours ago I had 10 articles in my mail box. :) I am a busy lady!

My husband came home at 2AM today. It was good to see him but he left 75 weather and returned to 6" of snow. Instead of spending the day relaxing, we ran cars places and had things to do. I am not complaining; we had the money for it. He wasn't as thrilled with out bedroom. I did so much work and he said it was a nice start. I'm not mad, btu I was a little sad.

Church irritated me yesterday. Look, I don't get into Jesus in the Protestant way, OK? Yesterday my Orthodox liturgy was all about the parable of the seed that either blows away, takes root, or doesn't bear fruit. It went into going off about hell awaiting the sinner who doesn't accept Jesus. I have a problem with it. With how hard life is and all the troubles people have, expecting them to accept Jesus when presented with it,then all the hassle of dealing with people once you are in a church, I don't think that a loving god is like that. I don't mean to live a hedonistic life and not try to live a life filled with caring, but when you doubt your faith and just love one another, care for your neighbor-- why isn't this enough? (I am not interested in a religious discussion here with Evangelicals. I can't agree with what was spoken about.) This seemed to be a more Evangelical leaning sermon.My experience with Orthodoxy has always been that we didn't concern ourselves with Heaven or Hell but on what we are doing in the present moment and pleasing our creator. My particular branch of Orthodoxy was born of a Charismatic church 30 years ago so it has it's roots there, and our priest comes from that tradition.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Meme, Cleaning House

I am wiped out. I am trying to organize my room and the wardrobe that I bought splintered. Where is Martha Stewart when you need her? I wound up taking two loads in my SUV to the thrift store. THAT is killing me. So much that I spent so much $$$ on! Yikes! One of my friends told me to only shop thrift stores because if you can't find it, you don't need it. Argh! I liked being frivolous years ago! Now I am a mommy who is watching every dime!

Ropi sent me this meme which I am happy to fill out lest I have nothing else to write about than details of things that I wish I'd gotten rid of. His instructions said 8 words or less but I am too tired.

I was pregnant with #5 and waddling all over the place, wondering what I was doing being pregnant.

Getting the house ready for my husband's return.

I would pay off my student loans then add on to my house. I don't want another house-- I like where we are. But I could use extra space. My house would have a gargantuan rumpus room with a special place to play with Leggos. My husband wants to play the stock market so I would make sure that he had money to play with and I'd update his computer every six months!

I have pretty much lived in Alaska for all of my life.

I bite my nails, I stammer and I hate to say no.

6. SNACKS YOU LIKE: Fresh oranges, fresh apples, and the latest $3 teas.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Cheering on Candiates

Today I had a bunch of shopping to do and sign holders were out cheering on their faves. I honked and waved for them all. I love that people are out routing for their candidates and taking their kids. I don't agree with some of them, but I will never forget Progressive Alaska's face when I gushed about the guv as VP. He was kind, and I knew that my stupid remark probably annoyed him, but he was still nice and zinged me, and I've not been the same since!

There are a few Democrats who are running for national office who WILL NOT respond to my concerns and I think they will be just as open to me as they are now. I am VERY annoyed that my husband got negative propaganda today from the DNC and it's ilk. While these candidates did not endorse the fliers, they did not publicly renounce them! Neither my husband nor I will fall for anything written by the opposing party! Do they think we don't know all the negative nonsense committed that has been all over the paper? They are not coming up with anything new. I am completely annoyed. They should be writing to us saying, "Please vote Democrat! Here's something you don't know about how competent ______ is!" It's like listening to my children bicker, only worse because they are paying someone to make the slick ads.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Sweet Things: Still Cleaning

I will never buy anything again. so much junk in my room that started out as treasures! I have found gifts and look back and wonder how many gifts that I have bought for people have become yard sale relics. From now on, I am only buying presents for people that they will use and that are personal. A blogger friend gave me embroidered hankies last year for being a winner on his site. (Any one who reads his blog is a winner! {big cheesy smile} ) I have taken the hankies to ceremonies and gave one to a grandmother who didn't have one. She sent me two brand new ones and said she was keeping the one I was given as a memento of her grand daughter's wedding. THAT is a wonderful gift, although my giver may not have known that they would be so special to me.

I embroider as well. I have some nice pillowcases and just embroidered some daisies and a monogram on a pair for some friends who are getting married. Even if the cases don't match all of their sheets, my feeling is that they will be used and appreciated. I put the same daisies on an apron for "her" for the bridal shower. I will only give gifts that can be used from now on. (Although for the last 20 years I have given vases as a wedding present. I need to keep that up.)

While cleaning, I donated a year's worth of Victoria Magazine and three years of Discover Magazine in mint condition to an extended stay home. Each magazine cost us around $5! I love donating what I have loved, but so much of what I gave away or threw out was stuff that we paid money for. They represent chunks of my husband's life and of mine! I also sent over some books. That hurt. Books become a part of my body. The clerk asked me what kinds of books I was donating and I told her to "look in the bag!" I didn't want to cry. . .

Peaches went for a job interview at Wal~Mart today. She said that the interviewer had a giggle fit when she asked her what she wants to do and she said that she wants to go into marketing. Peaches was funny because at that moment she decided that she didn't like the woman and didn't want her approval. She had terrible posture, read the interview questions off a sheet, and Peaches said that if she were interviewing her, that she'd never make the cut for her company. Is there something funny about marketing? She said that she learned that people without much status in a low paying field get high on themselves. She has a couple of other jobs that she is considering and can be choosy.

I took Guy out to eat today. We went to look at shelving for my room and he gets into trouble with Cloud, who is only 16 months older than he is. I took him to India Palace when we were done and we ordered naan with raisins and cardamon and ice cream. (Neither of us felt great.) It's fun to take them out individually because I can gently coach them on manners. It's not his special needs that cause him to be awkward-- it's that he is 10 and he isn't too fussy. He also didn't mind little corrections. He asked me if he is my favourite and if I like him the best. I said yes, but the truth is, all the kids are my favourites.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Was I Put in a Meat Tenderizer?

I am so sore! Whiiiine! I have a fever, and a headache. My joints hurt. Why don't my children slow down when I need to? I still have places to take them.

LATER: I am still sick, but I am committed to this bedroom. I have moved everything in it except for my husband's closet. I threw a lot of stuff in there. I cannot believe how much I have stashed in this room. Maternity clothes galore that I put places just to get out of the way went to Bishop's attic today. I have art supplies that I have accumulated since I was 9, things that I cannot part with because I am a creative person who goes back to my projects every few months. My room is tight. Now it is looking nice, but I have no wasted space. On Saturday I have a training to go to and I am worried that I will be a puffy faced mess for that.

I hate that my husband is coming home and my joy is more that I can get out and that I can have a second adult helping with homework and transportation.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I am very, very sick

Someone who is very dear to my heart is a Jew in Jerusalem named who I will call Avi. I have known her through internet work for years and I don't remember when I haven't known her. Her answer to everything is chicken soup! I imagine her in fourth grade not getting her times tables and thinking of chicken soup!

Today I started coming down with something around 1. By 2, I was in the store feeling worse but buying chicken breasts and cans of canned broth and cream of chicken soup. I got home ready to pass out. Fortunately Peaches can drive and picked up her little sister from her horse back riding class. I told Cloud what to do and she threw together a delicious soup. It wasn't made according to Avi's standards, but I was in no shape to make it myself! When Cloud brought it to me in bed, it tasted very, very good.