Thursday, February 26, 2009

"Does Jesus Know about Monkeys?"

My husband and I were discussing the Resurrection of Christ and son Mudd was considering this and asked, "Will the monkeys be there?" We had a very sweet conversation with him about only people being at God's judgment and that while there probably won't be any monkeys there, Jesus loves people who love all the monkeys!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Pleasant Things in the Evening

We are supposed to be fasting (basically eating in a vegan form) for the six weeks of Lent. I try to keep the fast, but it's costly. I always do as I can. My husband gets paid in a few days and I will do most of my shopping in the Fred Meyer health food section. We'll have a lot of Indian food and tacos. I wish that I lived closer to Anchorage so I could browse New Sagaya and be seduced by all their products and do a Lent the right way.

Trying to cook everything that I have and getting low, tonight I made chicken and rice in the crock pot.I love cooking in the crock pot-- when Darin comes home, the smell greets him before he opens the door. I used another crock pot to make a bread pudding with some stale hot dog and hamburger buns and dates. The whole dinner was great. Cloud gave me a huge crock pot for Christmas and I use it all the time. I used to use two small crocks and make dinner, but this is bigger than the two. (They are cheap but we never had the cash to get one big one-- money just went to other things.)

While I made dinner, Guy read to me. Guy doesn't read well, but he has speech impairments and has an impressive vocabulary when you can understand him. He sloshed through the book and Darin made him read it again, but he had to enunciate. Guy growled and he did a better job. Darin was playing Chess with Basil who is getting ready for a tournament soon. Dmitri was assigned a couple of chapters of a biography (written for third graders) on Einstein. At first he whined that he didn't care "about that stupid old man," and asked why he should care about him! Cloud picked up the book and started reading in a fake English accent and drew him in. They took turns reading chapters to each other and within an hour the book was read and he was laughing and said he wished he had met him. That made me happy, then he mentioned that Guy has problems like Albert Einstein did in school and spoke late-- "maybe Guy will be like Einstein!"

Guy looked up from his book and said, "E equals M. . . what did he say, Dad?"

All while this was going on, Mudd was running around through the kitchen with a remote control car and chasing the cats and dog with it. They are not allowed to use the remote control car around me, especially when I am cooking, but he was a bit fast and my hands and lower arms were covered in flour. Before she ripped up bread for the pudding, Calamity Jane was coming in and asking me for Spanish words that she is learning, and at one point came in to sing "Get Rhythm" and twirled a jump rope over her head, knocking over a plastic bowl that was perched on the cupboard. Mudd would toss a salad for me, getting salad all over the cupboard, but he was having fun and I contained him all right. Starshine was dancing "to music that is in my mind!" She wanted me to guess and not knowing, I started singing, "Menomenah!" It wasn't what she was imagining but the whole family got into it! Puppets from the school cabinet popped up from behind the bar, courtesy of Basil and Guy, and we got a little crazy, dancing and singing!

The bread pudding was great-- the kids loved it and asked if I could make it a birthday cake for them some time ;) Darin had enough leftovers for lunch and Cloud was happy with that because we NEVER have leftovers, but "her" crock pot was just big enough to have seconds for everyone and a little extra. This won't last long though-- he asked me to plan to cook with the Giant Cloud crock pot and one of the smaller ones so I can freeze several lunches for him in the future.

With this being Lent, we started out the evening meal by lighting a candle in front of the icon wall and praying. The whole meal, the before-fun, made it wonderful.

I'm starting a mulch pile-- an old friends' mom who lives for gardening in our fair state told me to start a mulch pile. I have a clean trash can that she told me to put near my garage for tossing vegetable scraps, coffee and tea and their filters, and egg shells. We don't have a lot of money for the garden so she says this is where to start, buy composting. The kids actually like helping me peel vegetables knowing that they can dump the peels and whatever in to my sink-side container, I think because they are thinking of summer.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Managing Myself

In my last post, Steve commented his position of priests serving and of my potential for burn-out. I was going to just respond down there, but I will bring it up into a real post.

I've decided to only do this for another year or two. It's all I can really handle. I have a good friend in prison for something that he should have known better over-- he keeps me grounded. He's upbeat and is my muse and he tells me what the people who I work with don't tell me-- what he is actually seeing. It seems like on the days that I come home thinking, "Oh these poor people!" he is there in the form of a letter saying, "I watched this drug dealer totally BS a religious volunteer!" I put his letters in my night stand and it is interesting that if I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about what I had seen or heard, the nightstand reminds me of his letter and he is saying it all over again. (I wonder if he ever gets woken up, thinking that he is dreaming of me waking him up to talk to him! "Tell me again what you said about the drug dealers.")

I am getting on to some boards that serve prisoners and I think that after doing the front line work, I will volunteer exclusively on the boards.

For years I have believed that politicians should do boot camp before they run for anything by washing the feet of the poor or serving in some capacity to the lowest of the low.

I have done Hospice and loved volunteering with it, and I have worked in extended care. I've done Compeer, CASA and trained with STAR over the past 20 years. I even trained with Childbirth Education Classes but never did it because I left my ex mid-way through the classes.

I am constantly going to the store and making eye contact with someone and they come to me and tell me something tragic-- I have one of those faces. When I was younger, I felt honored to hear the stories, but now I am busy with my own family. I care for my blogger friends and my real life friends, but I don't like random strangers (or flipping DENTAL ASSISTANTS) making me hear the latest. I have allowed to people to be very rude to me and when I have not responded with curtness, that has set off an emotional response. It has gotten bad enough that I often avoid the stores because I don't want to have my Empath encounters. I think that my time is coming to focus on my art and my writing. Surely reporting will throw me into the same situations, but it's a little more controlled.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Bad Within

There was an article in the paper last week that shamed me. At a local seedy motel, there were some broken pipes—some people of an ethnic group got into it, and water pipes were broken in a fight. The fire department was called to what must have been surreal: a woman of a certain local indigenous ethnic group from a village was bare-bottomed and came out and started asking the firefighters if she could see their penises. (That's the paper's word, perhaps not hers?) Turns out she was wanted on an outstanding warrant and was locked up. The story was funny. It would have been funny with frat guys, too.

What makes this story worthy to tell you all is that I accompanied clergy to the prison later that day. One of inmates started telling me about how she was attracted to the drink that her people can’t metabolize and how it’s taken a toll on her family and her future generations. I studied this in college in my social work degree, and when I worked with “them” I was always nice, but I was working and responding to a population, not to individuals. I didn’t think that I was at the time, but I was and am ethnocentric. I am way less now that I have come to a jarring realization of it, but I know that it probably will seep out. from time to time when I don't realize it.

Listening to that woman tell me about some of the things she did when drunk, imprisoned for a crime that she may or may not remember, I think of the woman at the seedy motel and wonder if she will remember what she said to the firefighters—there had been an arrest warrant out for her when they ID checked her so she is now in jail. I’m not saying that people of local indigenous groups who commit crimes don’t belong behind bars, but they have some brutal circumstances that created the situations they are in. I have no idea, but I am ashamed for how I have been without knowing it, even with doing no known harm to anyone. There were people in my degree who felt as I did and graduated and wanted to work with ethnic groups. They seemed sensitive and we thought that laughing at the situations was a sense of humor to protect us. Isn’t this kind of evil—and yes, it is evil, because it can grow—the kind of evil that allowed people to stand by and kill 6 million Jews? If you can blow something off, "Those crazy _____'s!" you can dehumanize them. Certainly I would never wish harm on them, but they become almost caricatures in one's mind. If I want humor in my life I can read Far Side, not chuckle at the actions of certain ethnic groups. I should have been devastated at the humiliation that that woman would suffer and how it reflected on all females of her ethnic group.

Drunken frat guys can laugh it off in court, the allegations later cracked up at 20 years later, and be sheepish on the stand. A drunk indigenous woman? She’ll look terrible in court, surrounded by educated people talking down to & around her, acting like she is public enemy #1 and the prosecution possibly forgetting about her later that evening or laughing about it, "Just another _____. . ." Her family may be illiterate or not letter writers-- she probably loves her children who are far away, who speak of their mother in jail like it's no big deal because lots of other kids in their village have moms in jail. What pictures will she get of her children? Will she even understand the court process? It's confusing to lawyers!

I am so glad that I did not go into social work. I would have thought that I was helpful while condescending my clients without knowing it. As time goes on, I think I'd be better, but I think that I want to stay away from it. I will probably only stay with my prison work for a year or two before I get out and be strictly on the board of directors and not work directly with people on the front lines. For now I am learning a bit and becoming aware.

music I love

This is a very sensual rendition of Louise Tucker's Midnight Blue. It may not be safe for work. It's not tacky-- I think it is beautiful.

This second one is not sexy, but dramatic with the singer singing her song and in the video. I have two capes like hers, in black and green.

This third one is a song that I sing in the car when I go places that God sends me that I really don't like going to! It makes me very happy and I met a man who recognized me from weeks before (I live in Alaska; it's small) and he asked what I had been singing because he said that my "radiant face" cheered him up on a very sad day. When I sing this, in my heart I am dancing en pointe (in spite of painful toes) and my heart is free!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Enjoying VD

Tonight instead of me making dinner for my husband, my husband took me out. I hate Valentines Day, but tonight I have to say that I liked it. I like going out and sitting in a nice place with other women dressed up with their husbands being extra sweet to them. I love to order the specials that the restaurants make for people who go out, specials priced a little lower to lure in customers like us who might not otherwise go out. I know that we need to worry about how we are on the other 364 days of the year, but this is just nice. Darrin spoke of how much he hates work-- it annoys me as i wish he'd look for another job but he keeps saying how much he really loves it, but he was charming most of the time. We ordered a "sweethearts special" and there was probably enough food on the huge platter for four people, and we took home extras for the older two daughters who were in charge and still awake when we got home.

Afterward, we were to go to another restaurant for desert because we both love the ice cream at another place. As it was, we stopped in a _____ shop where I took a second look and realized that the owner was there when I saw it was open because I wanted to get something for Tiger that this shop has exclusively. The lady is very religious and is doing a fundraiser for a certain situation. Somehow my work with Hospice got brought up and she was telling me of some tragic miscarriages that she had. (Death related.) My husband was so nice-- he wasn't mad for how much time we took and she told me some amazing stories. Before we left she gave me a hug and she told me how shocked she was that I had so many kids because she thought that we were doting over our only child! That made me feel good-- other people see us loving our children, as many as there are, as if they are each our onlies.

I went to the prison earlier this week. We were all sharing our stories of life, and one inmate said to me that I must be a great mom. I thanked her but told her that with my husband gone (he'd be gone Monday through Friday night) that I was one step away from boarding the eldest four left at home up for military school. She was having problems with her own teenager and she was relieved that it was a teen issue, not an issue focused on her being locked up. I have a few penpals there-- I don't share much from my life with them since I am a religious volunteer and i have to maintain an image, so I started sending them jokes from the internet. It made me so happy when one of my ladies said that she starts laughing when she sees my handwriting, wondering what I will tell her. I did have to tell one lady something-- she is having a really rough time personally-- not with anyone else, but just inside herself. I thought that my pregnancies were long, that they would never end, but she has at least 6 more years in there. she is doing something that church frowns on-- it's not illegal or against the prison rules, but church would have issues. As a result, she isn't going to our studies. I told her that life is still hard when it's easy, and that she doesn't have it easy at all, that she needs to do what she needs to make it, and to still come to the studies when she has the mental energy to return. I often don't even know if I believe in Christianity-- some aspects of it really turn me off (especially the verses that say that you follow Christ or fry in Hell-- some people just cannot relate to Christ!) I told her this, that I keep going because by following the practices, I am a better person for doing it. I know some very great poeple who are not Christians and I know in my heart that if there is a Heaven that they will be there!

Last week my children were being turkeys. My 10 year old Basil decided that he didn't want to clean his room, he didn't want to do his chores. He actually stepped outside and said he'd stand there until I said he didn't have to clean his room, that he was stronger than me and that there was nothing I could do to make him. I told him that he could have it his way and to come in. He used terms like, "I aint gunna!" and, "I don' hafta!" His Cockney accent annoyed me more than his obstinate attitude.

I changed his password on the computer and altered his account so he could only get PBSKIDS and a few other URL's that the tiny kids like. He really wanted to do his school work (he does care about that) and play a certain game. When he finally got the password to his account out of me, I shook my head as I didn't know what he had to do to get to the other sites. He decided to clean his room and fold some clothes and get the kitchen floor. (Yes I am here all the time, but if they don't take turns cleaning the bathroom, mopping the kitchen floor, folding clothes, they forget that they use the bathroom, scuff up the kitchen floor and use their clothes and throw clean stuff into the hamper, they forget that SOMEONE has to deal with these things.) After a bit he told me that he did his chores and did more than he originally was asked to do, and would I please make it so he could get on the other sites! I fixed it but told him that "old age and treachery overcomes youthful persistence every time, Kid."

Monday, February 09, 2009

I am almost at the end. . .

of a science course. I took an incomplete in it and now I am nearing the finish line to complete the thing. I loved the course (it's on natural science) and I am ready to be through.

I took the statistics test last week and failed it, but I had psyched myself over it. I realized that I could have notes. I relied on them when I could have relied on the class. I make mostly B's on my homework, so I should have gotten it. I learned some valuable lessons about statistics. i did have a couple of profs who liked their 75% drop out rate, but this class is taught by a prof online who wants to make it as easy as possible. I could have gotten it and I had to do it the way I did.

Last week I had bunches of sick kids. I came down with the flu and a fever. I was crying in my sleep. I had it for two solid days-- the kids had it for maybe 24 hours and it was "lite."

I have been ready to gobble up my husband over the last month. He was ignoring everything with stuff going on at work. Over the last weekend, he called one of my friends over to the house and took me out and he kept pouring me Maragritas in spite of me having reacted to alcohol for the last few years. I'd have no reaction, and tempt fate with a glass of wine the next day. Did the naturopath's vitamin cure help me not get a painful rash on my feet, or was it something that she recognized as a mental thing that I could get rid of on my own and decided that I needed a placebo? Placebo or a vitamin working really well in just ten days, I am not complaining. I don't drink that often and Lent is about to start, so I won't know if it really worked. I am impressed with the reaction, but it must be a placebo. Two other doctors had seen this on my feet and had no idea what it was, but I didn't pursue it because they didn't know where to start and it wasn't killing me. I only treated it when I was tentatively invited to a wine tasting and I wanted to be able to enjoy it! Since I spent the same amount at the doctor's office that I would have for pink eye, I am lucky. I must say that I enjoyed chilling out and having a few drinks with my husband. He was being charming-- he has NEVER charmed me before and I must say that it was nice not having to be cerebral with him. He had better let me relax with him again! And soon! I need time to unwind and not get calls from the kids. He was funny-- he hasn't been funny in a long time.

My daughters are all growing. My 18 year old curled her hair and looks just like I did at her age-- but she looks better. My 12 year old looks like my 18 year old did six months ago. I had never confused them because they looked alike-- I'd confuse them because I was thinking of one and looking at the other with a third child's name on the tip of my tongue.

My sons are getting bigger, too, but they are looking more dissimilar. . . for NOW. I have reacquainted myself with old friends and (minus the colored hair) they look just like their parents did 20 or so years ago! My sons, slender as they are now, will be husky like their father in a few short years. (To them it is a lifetime away-- to us, it isn't long!)

I'm getting back to my science class and it will be over by next Monday evening. Then stats will resume for me, but I am not worried because 2-3 hours each night of them will get me through the class.