Thursday, December 30, 2010

Twenty-ten

I had been writing a reflection for the year 2010, but this sums up nicely, without me having to type anything!  I got hooked on these folks in the Spring, they say it for me.



Also thanks to my kids, husband, franks, helmuths, music, pratts, siblings, outlaws, czechs and friends for making it  rich & worth it.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bad Mom

During most of December my family has had the flu.  I have not had the flu, and I could say that it was my superior immune system, but I got a flu shot, and it worked.  The flu takes ages to recover from, it is hard to breathe, you can't sleep, you have low energy, and food tastes funny.  I wondered why the very cute packages of chocolate from the advent calendar were piling up on the counter in the kitchen.  I finally put them in a dish, one for each child.  They weren't too sick to open the little doors, but they weren't in the mood to eat the candy!  Could a kid ever be too sick for one piece of chocolate a day?  Could two children be that sick at the same time?
As the mother of these people who are not eating their sweets, what am I supposed to do?  I was thinking I would tell them that they had to eat them, as if they were lima beans.  As soon as they are done with the Halloween candy, I'll make them eat the Christmas candy, in time for Easter.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bear Prints for Jim

The world is full of mysteries, some are more mysterious than others.  Animal prints aren't very mysterious or miraculous, and yet, they are a sign that something was there and now it isn't.    I was reminded of this, looking at these photos, and wondered why I would even be moved in the moment to take them:  They catch my eye, like a magic trick.  The animal is gone (in the case of the bear, not far ahead of me) and while I'm looking down, the creature is pulling away from me.


Camel print in Sinai Desert, Egypt

Black bear print, Malakoff Diggins SP,  California
Yesterday a man traveled ahead who has left as many tracks as a man can.  Tracks of Peace, and Love, Compassion and Grace.  As I look down to marvel at what he left, he is pulling ahead of me, just over the horizon.  I know he is there, I just can't see him yet.  I hope to follow.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I'm not the Only One

It seems I'm not the only one who has been thinking about the quality of Christmas music.
Here is an article from NPR:

Annoying Songs for Christmas

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Smoochin' Santa

Christmas provides people who love music, hours of festive listening and music making.  It also provides us agonizing listening experiences in long grocery lines.  For every inspiring, sensational Christmas song that echos through concert halls across the world this season, there are also those unfortunate tunes that litter the easy-listening radio tracks.


It is one of the latter tunes that was confusing to me as a young person, and by young, I mean until I was 33, which was last year.  


There is something virtuous and enchanting about Christmas (besides the commercialism, and pregnant-virgin-teen), so I was righteously upset by "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus". Did someone in the 1950's think that it was okay to spin the story of Santa: twinkly eyed, bowl full of jelly, tarnished with soot?  


How could it be that Santa would be cheating on Mrs. Claus with the singer's mother?  The thought frightened and shocked me!  Would Santa really come to a kid's house, with toys and Christmas cheer, while the reindeer waited on the roof-top, prancing and pawning their hoofs, and kiss someone else's wife?  Besides the song just being bad, to me, it was unethical, and messes up Christmas.


I've come to my senses, the song is still terrible, but in a moment of clarity last year, I figured out why this song is even allowed to be a Christmas song.   Mommy is kissing Santa, because Santa is really the dad, dressed up as Santa!  AH-HA!!!  I have been known for thinking outside the box, but I missed the point of this song for three decades.


There is still so many things wrong with it, the main one being, that if you are a smart kid, or smarter than me, you could tell there is no such thing as Santa just from this song, but I've come to realize that it is not unethical.  I still think it should be banned for the sake of believing, smart, children everywhere.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Baby Sitter

Addi, Emma, & Baby 
This is my sister, and my dog.  The dog loves my sister more than anyone in the whole world.  The dog is small, noisy, and weird, but for some reason she has the personality of a real dog, which I like! I guess she wanted to be right in the middle of the action, or wanted to sit on the baby's lap?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Magazine Aspirations

Thursday I found a book in the mystery section at the library which was recommended to me.  Usually if a book is recommendable, it is also checked out and I have to wait in line for it.   It was sitting on the shelf waiting for me to pick it up, and check it out.

I recently read the top 100 books the BBC thinks are the best loved books.  I have read 65 of them, which to me, seem a lot!  I have read hundreds of books in my life, simply for the joy of a good story.  The book I picked up, however, I am not sure if I can read.  The book is An Instance of the Fingerpost.

As I was checking the book out, I told the librarian, that lately I've had magazine aspirations in regards to reading.  This book might be 80 magazines long!  With the hustle of life, kids to raise, parties to go to, cards to send out, gifts to buy, trips to plan, cookies to bring, socks to match, and detail upon detail to tend to, a 685 page book might not be in my near future.  If I renew the book, I can only have it 6 weeks!  That is NEXT year.

There was a time when I could read without interruption, for years.  Now I can not.  I am having to let my love of reading sit up on the shelf for a while.  Someday my kids will move away, and I won't have so much to do,  and I'll read all the long books I didn't get to read in my 30's, and miss my skinny, soft-faced, school aged children.

I'm going to try to read the book anyway, it has got to be better than a magazine, or even 80 of them.  All I have to do it stop blogging and heft the book into my lap, easy, right?

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Sponge Bob Boy Pants

I took my 10 year old son to a Christmas party at a hotel in town.  I took him instead of my husband because we had nightly choir performances for a week, and I hadn't seen my kids all week.  Before dinner we visited the toy store and the book store, and I just enjoyed watching the boy who is leaving childhood faster than he knows, look at wind up toys, science kits, plushies,  bouncy-balls, and books.

He stood in the buffet line and talked to all the grown-ups, answering their questions without fear at the party.  He ate two heaping platefuls of lasagna, and washed it town with a cup of tea (or two).  He engaged all the folks at our table with fun commentary on the books he is reading, and the projects he is working on.

As we left, in the hotel bar, was a Celtic band.  He stopped and one man gave him a drum lesson, and let him sit in on two songs.  Their table was strewn with bar food and empty beer glasses, and they slapped him on the back and told him 'good job'.  He even got a penny whistle in exchange for a tune next time!  Overall it was a dream date to go on with my son.

I left the hotel with a smile, thinking of the time, knowing it was meaningful for both of us.  I was also smiling with a laugh in my belly remembering the quiet thing he told me while we were eating, in between his very grown-up conversations.  He leaned in, and told me quietly (which is a feat for any boy of ten: quiet):
Mom, there was this Spongebob where Patrick the starfish ate his pants, then he burped up the pocket and wiped his mouth with it, then ate the pocket.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

The Earth is Not Made out of Trees

What is insurance?  Insurance is a service provided, wherein you pay  monthly, to insure that if some calamity befalls you, that your life won't be destroyed by the high cost and devastating effects of of illness/floods/car accidents/fire.  If everyone pays a bit, the statistics are that some will need more, and others will need less, averaging the cost overall.

The concept of insurance seems to have been lost in the EXTREME cost of healthcare in our country.  Health care is so expensive, in large part due to the corrupt insurance companies, that insurance insures our family against very little.  Let me explain:

Our family has health insurance through my husband's job.  We also pay premiums, high co-pays for doctor visits, and have a high deductible.  We do this so that we can keep the direct cost to our family and to my husband's company as low as possible, and yet it is still very very expensive.  We also do other things to keep our health care costs down.  We eat healthy food, get plenty of exercise, sleep 8 hours a night, eat broccoli, and drink clean water.

In September, our daughter injured herself riding her bike.  She required a trip to the local ER, morphine, an ambulance ride, another big city ER,  pediatric surgery, a hospital stay, a catheter, pain meds and 3 weeks of recovery.  This excursion cost $20,000.

The whole time it was happening, yes, I was worried about my daughter, but also, I was consumed with the cost and our insurance.  It has been my experience as the mother of active and accident prone children, as well as being victims of accidents/fate, we are also victims of our insurance company and billing departments.

When we arrived home, I was waiting for the papers from the insurance company telling us that we owe them a detrimental amount of money.  Three months passed, and I thought I was wrong, but this week we got the bill for $3,000.

We called the insurance company, and because our girl was sitting in the ER past midnight, they have a loophole to be able to charge us for inpatient services overnight, which apparently are our responsibility to pay for.

I guess I was wrong to hope that insurance might insure our financial safety in the face of an accident.  Now we have to fight the institution, and the loophole, which is kinda making me feel sick.  We will not be paying $3,000.  We paid our deductible, our premiums, and our co-pay.  I'm grateful that my daughter was able to be sewn back together, and disappointed that the healthcare industry is so terribly broken.  I have no choice but to submit to it.

Yesterday, I received a mailer from Blue Shield of California, my insurance provider.  It said, "The Earth is Not Made out of Trees".  It was their attempt to go paperless, prompting me to use their website instead of sending me a bill in the mail (which is great for this tree lover).  I am assuming they are going paperless to cut costs.

Isn't it funny?  Sending me an exorbitant bill, though they are the ones who are insuring my safety?  Sending me paper to tell me not to use paper?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Security Czech

Several months ago, I  turned off my media outlet: NPR.  I don't have a television, and I only try to read global news pertaining to music or movies.  I guess I don't even consider it 'news'.  When my favorite actors are in a new movie it's not news, but I love movies.

I was driving to wait my turn in the elementary school pick-up line when a story came on about sea turtles swallowing crude oil in the Gulf of Mexico.  The turtles can't taste that the floaties are not jellyfish, and swallow the oil to their detriment.  I switched off the radio imagining the carnage, and haven't turned it on since.  I realized that I am not impervious to media, but I am significantly more sheltered from it than before.  That's why when I heard a group talking about the TSA being a bit too personal in the security line at airports, I knew there must be some news hype about it.

It also sparked my curiosity enough to Google it, and endure the media-induced frenzy on the subject.   I have had and intimate pat down while traveling last summer.  It did not insight a frenzy in me.  It did make me think about why it was okay for a total stranger touched every square inch (or centimeter.  I was in Europe.) of my body through my clothes.  Up to that point in my life the folks who had touched me like that have M.D. after their name, shared an umbilical cord with me, or are currently married to me.  I can now add a female Czech airport security guard to the list.

What was offensive about the encounter was not the woman's hands (okay maybe a little).  It is a concession to travel.  Couldn't the woman see what a good person I am?  Didn't she know that I'm positively more good just by looking at me?  I was offended that she couldn't judge by my appearance that I am an upstanding, contributing member of society.

A bad person is bad.  They will stand in the security check line at the airport and let the guard pat them down with malice in their heart, and the confidence that they are circumventing the security.  If everyone knows they will be strip-searched, x-rayed and hung by their ankles before air travel, the bad guys will do that, and then do the bad thing they intended, despite the safeguards.

Despite my goodness, doesn't the woman running her latex gloved hands all over me know that?  It is nearly too simple to understand.  Bad people will find ways to do bad things, despite our best efforts, that's what makes them bad.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Braver than Before

I'm trying to be braver about this blogging thing, and actually blog more, as I enjoy it.  Though my mind is mush right this moment, and I could tell you that I spaced out on a run and ran more than I meant, to get back to my car, and now have a terrible head ache because I am so distractible while listening to good running music, blah blah blah.....  Rather than do all that, I'll post some photos of myself, as this is my blog, I'm a bit loopy, and I can do what I want.  I've been told people don't want to read, they just want pictures.  So here:
Looking inebriated at Disneyland
As you can see, someone was following me around with the new camera.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hand-Me-Down Frankenstein

I found these blood pressure machines at Fry's Electronics.  The small town I live in has no stores like this, the warehouses actually are warehouses, not mega-marts.  As I was waiting for my  husband to find the 1001st cable that we have, in isle 256, I started thinking about how this "store" made me feel.  It has been my new trick: think about how I feel.  I know I might be late to the game of processing my life as it happens, but better late than never.

The irony of Fry's carrying blood pressure machines typifies how I was feeling.  This place makes my blood boil with anxiety.  I have a huge margin of anxiety before my heart explodes, as my blood pressure is ridiculously low, so don't worry.  I was wondering why I didn't want my husband to buy me new speakers in my 17 year old car even though they were broken.  The reason is I don't want to go into a shop like this, selling electronics (and Pillow Pets, and thousands of candy bars, and television antenna- do those even work anymore?).  More than not wanting to go in, I don't want to spend any money.

When I met my husband we were children, who could know who we would become, or our earning power.  In college our earning power, if you could call it that, was $9,000 just 10 years ago (thank you state and federal aid).  In college we needed electronic supplies in the form of computer junk.  Standing looking at 12 brands of blood pressure takers, I figured it out!  I hate this place!  I hate it not for itself, but  because when my smart, but young husband wanted to buy stuff for our computer in college it seemed like such a waste.  We didn't have a cushion to buy 2mb of RAM for $100.  I was nervous in those formative years and carry those nerves right into Fry's Electronics in 2010.

What I didn't realize back then, was the time and money that boy spent on electric cables, hard drives, RAM, and more cables was an investment.  We didn't starve, and he usually made hand-me-down frankenstein computers anyway, only needing to buy cables.  Sometimes investments feel scary, risky and make your blood pressure go up.

Today that boy is a software engineer.  The hours he spent with his hands in the guts of a computer is now the very reason I can go to Fry's and afford to buy stereo speakers.  The very thing that made me afraid,  is paying my rent.

Monday, November 15, 2010

It's in the Jeans


Scout is seven.  She is extremely good looking.  I don't have the authority to make this sort of judgment as her mother.  I can't stop looking at her because I am in love with her, I also believe that she is particularly good looking, despite my bias. 
Lately, she can not stand in front of a camera without making some silly face or gesture.  In this photo, she is not making a face because she is asleep, it is the only time you can get her NOT to pose.  Here she is, lying still for the camera, with a pair of Levi's on her noggin.  She went to bed that way.  She thought this was worth trying. 
Irony.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Barely Legal

Warning:  The title of this blog is more suggestive than its contents.

I've blogged about my relative age before.  My observations of my story give me more and more to blog about and this post is pointing out the borderline ridiculous.

Here in California, marijuana consumption is nearly legal.  This is an excellent opportunity for small businesses to sell paraphernalia to the occupants of California for this nearly legal activity.  These popular stores are called head shops.
Does this hoodie make my head look young?
It was in one of these shops that I found myself.  Well, it wasn't just me, and we were there looking for fully-legal smoking tobacco.  There were 8 of us in the shop, thinking it really was just a smoke shop until we were all bodily inside.  Four of the people with us were born in the late 90's and early 00's, making them clearly underage.  They also are our children.

If you were like us, and not paying attention, then you wouldn't have seen the tell-tail signs, which were pretty obvious.  I figured it out as my feet cleared the threshold, I am not exceedingly naive.  The most conspicuous sign was actually a sign, it said 'No one under 18 allowed', which no one really registered.

Though I didn't get a good look, I got the general impression.  A brightly lit counter.  Ads on the walls with white lights on bikini-clad tobacco girls.  One part of my mind was telling another, this might not be the shop for pipe tobacco.  There were a few shelves of brightly colored, kitschy tobacco products......and that was when the shop girl came out from behind her Oz-like curtain.  This was also when my ability to take in my surroundings ceased.

She looked at the adults and informed our party, that anyone under 18 could not be inside the store.  She started pointing at the children, age 13, 11, 10, 7 and just when I thought there should be a pause in her voice, or a breath, she pointed to me.  She did ask me for my ID instead of just throwing me out.  I didn't have my ID, it was in the car, which meant no matter what I had to leave the shop.

I'm old enough to know when I should just take a compliment.  It wasn't worth an explanation and it was totally worth the laugh when the whole deal was over.  I'm old enough to filter my words and not say: "I'm old enough to have a kid who is old enough to step through the front door." but since I'm telling you about it, maybe just barely.

Little Bit of Hallelujah

This last week, was full of time with friends and family.  Sometimes, I'm encouraged by my children, friends, my husband, and then sometimes in miraculous and delightfully unexpected ways.
I think a pod of dolphins swimming at the bow of a boat with you for an hour, might be as encouraging and satisfying an experience as one can have.  I hope these photos convey the Hallelujah my heart feels.




Not making a silly face for the camera

Even excited in line at the Happiest Place on Earth



Hunting for treasure.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Salty Ice Cream

How my kid thinks about the world is creative and beautiful.
She gets eczema sometimes.  Here is her observation, as we made home made ice cream tonight ( I know it is October).  With her elbows on the counter she said:

Ice cream has salt in it?  OH!  Salt is very very good for you.  Salt is very very good for eczema!

We have given her salt bathes to soothe her burning skin.  I like the way she thinks but I still asked her:

Do you want me to slather you with the ice cream? 

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Face Blind

I pay attention to coincidence, or a better way to say it: I don't believe in coincidence.  It might be hard to  turn away from dazzlingly obvious coincidence, but for ages I let small things pass by, without giving them credit.  I've stopped doing that, and am paying attention.  

As I clean house, or do boring things, I like to listen to NPR programing on my iPod.  This week I heard a story about 2 men who are face blind (Prosopagnosia ) on Radio Lab.  Face blind is a condition where a person can not discern one person's face from the next, or if they know the person, because they can not remember what they look like.  It is really debilitating because it seems that folks affected by face blindness have a huge hurdle when it comes to relationships with people. 

I was interested in this condition because I have had similar experiences with letters (Dyslexia).  I've seen individual letters, or letter strung together to make words for 34 years, but sometimes, it is as if I have never met that letter or word before.  It is interesting that I enjoy writing, as one might think it nearly impossible for me to write or read, but I can.  I can read and write, just more slowly than you.  I have made some adjustments so that you might not be able to tell that I can't tell the difference between "3BE",  how many "r's" are in arrive, and which way the hook on a "J" swings.  The folks on this radio program do the same thing, except with people.  

One of the men took the approach to stay in.  This way, he doesn't run into people.  Not being with people is his way out of awkward situations with his siblings, and boss.  He has to talk his way out of a lot of situations anyway, even if he does stay in.  He is a neuroscientist, so I'm sure he sees people sometimes and he has an assistant who helps him (he can do that, he's rich, I can't hire someone to read numbered exit signs for me, even if I were rich).

The other man does the exact opposite.  He treats everyone he meets as if he has known them his whole life.  He is outgoing and friendly, just in case he is speaking with his mother, but can't remember what she looks like.  He looks at everyone without condition.  He recognizes no one, and treats them as if he loves them.  I am sure, he still has to talk his way out of a lot of awkwardness, but the difference was striking.

This story was nagging at me because I could relate, on two levels.  The first I already mentioned but the other was more subtle.  While driving yesterday, I heard another story about a woman who fell in love with a man who is face blind (which ended badly, as you might guess).  Confirmation that it was no randomly nagging me.  Before Tuesday, I'd never heard of Prosopagnosia once in my whole life, and here it was twice in as many days. 

A light went on in my soul.  I am like the first man, mostly staying in.  You might not notice it, but I'm hiding it, and I can talk my way out of it.

I want to be like the second man.  It is more brave of this man even though he probably is as confused as everyone with this condition.  I want to see people for who they are each time I see them, even if I don't recognize them.  I get that it is a curse to not recognize people, but it seems that making the most of it, strong-arms you into being a loving person.


I have been stricken with my ability to put conditions on people I know, and people I love.  If I strive to live in the moment, then I have to realize I'm not in the moment at all,  and to love better.  The time I get with people is the time I get with them.  It is redundant, but profound.  A person with face blindness has to enjoy a person for the time they have with them, and try to treat them well.  They have to use tricks like I use to keep letters and numbers straight.  They have to be careful.  I'm admitting that I didn't realize how profoundly bad I am at loving unconditionally.

You can listen to the episode of Radio Lab here.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Old Cake

 

We like cake.  The band Cake is really what I'm thinking of specifically.  Personally I could never eat another slice of the dessert, and not be missing anything.  
     I know that people get to a certain age, and they see folks they know are their age, such as at a reunion, and they think to themselves, "do I look that old?".  I know that I am doing pretty well for my age, this isn't about that...... but it almost is.  
     When I first started to listen to Cake, I was in high school.  I don't know know if they were popular then, as they were a local band.  I know they are famous now, 17 years later.  Seventeen years later!?!?  So in my pubescent mind, the band members were older than me, and cooler than me.  I stored that information without really thinking about it.  
     If you look at the jacket's art on their recordings, you can't tell what the band members look like.  The art and layout makes me want a piece of candy (but not cake).  Up until last week, I had NEVER thought that actual, living and breathing fellows from Sacramento were who makes Cake, Cake.  Clearly I had never seen them in person or in a photo.  
This guy:


is the lead singer and and ring leader for the band.  Does he look 25? 
     I was shocked when he took the stage.  I wasn't so much thinking, 'Am I really this old, this guy looks 45?!' as I was thinking, 'Am I really such a numbskull to think that the band members of Cake are still 25?'.  I was surprised that I even came close to thinking, 'Am I really this old?'.  I don't feel old, or even old enough to get to think that yet.  I'm not even half way done, or at least that is my intention.
At the concert in Oakland, besides skipping the MC Hammer bit, and enjoying myself maybe even a bit too much, I was thinking about how old Cake is.  
     Maybe when I was younger I imagined they were cool, because they were musicians, and they were older than me, and they were famous, and I was not.  Now nearly nothing about the situation has changed, except they have more wrinkles and life experience (by percentages, I'm gaining on them).  My life experience since I was a kid, tells me none of that matters on the cool-meter.   Someday I will be older, I can hold my own as a musician, and I don't want to be famous.  It was nearly like going to your childhood house, or nursery school, and realizing how small the building is as an adult, or that even if cake is supposed to be yummy, it is okay that is isn't your favorite.  Even still, Cake is rad!

Monday, August 23, 2010

'This American Life' Wrecked My Life


I listen to This American Life podcast every week. I purposefully do not partake of mass media news. I don't have a television, I don't listen to the radio, and I might skim the BBC world headlines. I choose 'This American Life'.
There are some who believe that it is important to be informed about the events unfolding around us. I agree and yet hearing story after story about sea turtles eating crude oil in the Gulf, or millions displaced by floods in Pakistan solicits a physical and emotional response in me that is too strong, I have to turn away. Just as I turn, I can't stand not knowing what is going to happen, and I have to look back to make sure the whole world hasn't slid into the abyss.


Having said that, I'm devoted to this weekly radio program. I'll admit not every episode is noteworthy, sometimes it is, and sometimes it wrecks me. They do occasionally have current, newsworthy episodes, but mostly the stories are, as the title suggests, about people. I can't fathom global politics, but I can contemplate my neighbor.
At the beginning of the summer I listened to this episode:




407:

THE BRIDGE

Originally aired 05.07.2010
We bring you stories of bridges from three different countries, including one in China that's famous for its massive size and its high suicide rate. One takes it upon himself to patrol the bridge, looking for jumpers. You can read entries from the watchman's blog here. This and other stories where we stop before getting to the other side.



ACT ONE. TROUBLED BRIDGE OVER WATER.
There is a four mile long bridge in Naan-jing China, famous for how many people jump off to commit suicide. In 2003, a man named Chen Sah began spending all of his weekends on the bridge, trying to single handedly stop the jumpers. Reporter Mike Paterniti tells his story of meeting Mr. Chen.
You can read some of Mr. Chen's blog posts about the bridge here. A story Paterniti wrote about Mr. Chen appears in GQ Magazine. (15 minutes)

The reporter follows a man around as he patrols and pulls desperate people off of the bridge before they kill themselves. This isn't the kind of story I should have listened to, but I couldn't stop listening. The most interesting part of the story was how the man rescuing people actually felt after he pulled someone down. He was a bit angry and bitter, it was a job he felt compelled to do, but didn't enjoy. One would think he would be more calm and centered. This story set a stone down somewhere inside of me.


A few weeks after hearing this story, we were driving in our VW Vanagon, home from a restful camping trip. Coming from the coast, into the Central Valley of California, it was 104 degrees, up from the foggy 50 that we left in the morning. We were all miserable in the old, un-air conditioned bus. We debated. Only 40 minutes from home, we had to stop to get cooler. Do we muscle it out, and drive home, or do we stop for a few minutes to cool off. What happened next made that choice matter.


Feeling a bit more refreshed, we headed home over a bridge, that divides two valley towns by a river. The bridge is high, over a river, industrial space, and a race track ( for all the set up, you can guess what is going to happen next). At the top of the bridge, sitting on the outside of the railing, was a woman, getting her courage to jump.


Without thinking, I told my husband to pull over at the end of the bridge, grabbed my phone and hopped out of the moving van. I started quickly back up the bridge, and called 911. I had a bit of a walk to contemplate what I thought I was doing, and talk to the dispatcher, on the way to the woman.


My mind was racing: What am I doing? When I see her, I'll pull her down, like the man in the story does, but if she is standing, I won't, because I don't want to go down with her. What am I going to say to her? If she does jump, then I'm going to have to remember it has nothing to do with me, but if she gets down, maybe I had something to do with it. Do I really think I can recover from seeing this woman take her life? What will I say?


Before I saw her, I was looking over the railing to the grassy racetrack below for her body. I could hear sirens for her, then see her silhouette come into view, not sitting, but now standing on the railing taking deep gulps of air (not going to pull her down). I recognized the deep breathing as I have jumped into the river from a tall rock, and needed those same breaths to gain courage. As I got close enough to see her, the police were arriving from both sides of the baking bridge. I was ahead of them walking fast, and she said to me, "Come any closer, and I'll jump". I stopped. I put my arms in the air, in surrender, but the police pushed by me, ignoring her command.


Then, for what seemed a day, or as if there was no such thing as time, there was a stand-off. The police shouted at her, not with anger, but commanding force. I stood, taking up space on the bridge, imagining I was there for some reason. She was back-lit by the setting sun, and as thin as the light post she used for balance on the railing. As the shouting continued, I could not look at her one more second. I would look away, but then, not knowing if she had jumped, have to look back to her ashen face. It was like a cruel tennis match.

At this point I was 90% sure she was going to jump. The officers crept towards her, yelling at her to get down, but she wouldn't. All the while, I'm looking towards her, and then away for a moment, and then back again. I was trying to stop my hands from shaking, and to be there. The tension inside me was too much. I think it was too much for the lady on the bridge as well. The officers, without asking her if she was a mother, asked her to think of her children.


She got down.


It turns out those police officers do that talk-down quite a bit on the 10th St. bridge in Yuba City. It was clever to assume she was a mother. It would be the reason I would get down (or never get up there in the first place, no worries!).


I've had a lot of time now to think about that late afternoon. I know it was about that woman getting down off the railing, but I was there too. So for some reason it was about me as well. I can't take any credit because she got down. I never spoke to her. That day I found myself in a similar situation I am faced with the news.  I want to see what happens, but I often have to look away.  It is too graphic.


What I can do is fight the bitterness and anger that comes with darkness and current events. I don't want to be like the man in China miserably pulling folks off the bridge. Tragedy isn't something that happens globally on the CBS Evening News. It isn't something I can choose to look away from, and yet if I stare it in the face, like the man in China, I'm bitter and angry.


I could not have driven by that woman on the bridge. There are 6 billion of us here and any tragedy is personal.


In my attempt to hide from the 'real' world, by listening to non-newsworthy personal stories on a weekend public radio program, I found a kernel of courage on the 10th St. bridge. I found that I can look for as long as I can, and then I can take a break, and I don't get to ask why.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Summer Days

It is the last day of summer vacation.  Right now both the kids are still sleeping, and my plan was to get them up at a more reasonable time, so that when school starts tomorrow, they'll be ready.  I got up at a reasonable time, and am enjoying the quiet, and the fact that they are so peaceful and resting.  Tomorrow the excitement begins.
Last night we made juggling balls using birdseed and balloons after dinner, and today we will get school supplies, and head to the water, to pack as much into the day as we can.
In the quiet, I'm reflective about our summer:
We didn't eat one meal inside our house, we ate outside, breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I picked up pool towels, cooled my heals in the water, and watched the kids splash and play all summer in the pool.  Justus read nearly one book a day, and I realized this as he was filling out his book reading journal.  I perfected the navigation of the library website and retrieval system (I'm sure just in time for them to upgrade), and checked out books 3 and 4 at a time for him.
Scout's teeth started to come in, and she grew taller and more mature, making her less like a sweet and soft little girl, and into a school girl, still sweet and less soft. That little Scout is tucked safely away in my memory.
We spent time at the coast (no summer weather) and a lot of time letting go.
I had to let go of having a garden, which was hard, but also good.  Silas let go of a few extra pounds, and we both said goodbye to some dear friends heading to Central Asia.  We said goodbye to our old house, and some old ways of thinking.
Saying goodbye isn't as entirely bad as I let it be in my mind.  It can be quite liberating.  The part that is scary, or more so, invigorating is the unknown.  I'm hoping that the rest and the joy I found this summer, even as things came to an end, will carry over into the unknown that starts tomorrow.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

English Camp 2010


These photos sum up our time in Czech Republic at camp teaching teenagers English.
My class new how to talk english weller than i!
It was a time of learning and love for everyone!  It is hard to express in words or on a blog, so the photos will have to do for now.
There were several awesome photographers there, so there are many beautiful photographs.  By 'many' I mean several hundred.  You can check them out HERE.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

3-D Fad

I know I've blogged about this mural before.  I'm reflecting on why this art is just not doing it for me.  I think at first it was just the change that I didn't like, and now there is more to complain about.

I don't keep up with the usual things people complain about, taxes, aches and pains, religion, politics, healthcare, and kids these days, and yet I feel like whining about this mural that I see daily.  I think my criticism of it is as valid as most people's criticism of the list I mentioned before, pretty thin.

I get the latest and greatest is 3-D.  It is fitting that this would be on the side of the movie theater, except that to my eye, NOTHING about it is 3-D.  It doesn't trick my eye like Avatar, or make me want to look at it at length like an Escher.  This is a pretty good photo of the mural, and taken from almost any angle,  I'm not seeing it.

When I was a kid, we drove to a central valley town, that had a similar mural, and it was fantastic.  It was like the first time you blow out trick candles and don't know that they are going to light the second they go out.  When you are a kid it is so cool.

I guess when I pass by this everyday, I'm reminded how I want to be filled with wonder and excitement, like a child.  How did I end up being the person who is complaining on a blog about stuff, instead of pointing out the wonder and awe that our world is filled with.

I'm going to try not to be such a grown-up.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Fireflies No Matter What

Our two kids love music.  It only makes sense, or, I was desperately hoping they would love it, and have it in their bones.  I will love them for who they are no matter what, but.... (I'm skeptical when a mom says, "I'll love them no matter what but...." and am saying it anyway)  I am happy they have great pitch, sweet singing voices and some sense of rhythm.  Now, I would like them to learn an instrument, but for now, life is full, and they are still musical pip-squeaks, so there is time for piano, saxophone, bass guitar, and drums. Like I said, I'll love them for which ever musical venue they choose, well, I really didn't say that, but what is true is I'll love them for whoever they are, no matter what.

In the car to school last week, Scout was singing along with her favorite song.  It is a nonsense song on pop-radio called Fireflies by Owl City.  She loves it so much, I even purchased it from iTunes.  We were on our second run through the song, Scout singing full voice, line for line perfection, when she turned down the music (don't worry, the airbag is disabled in the front seat).

She said, "Mom, do you know why I am learning this song so well?  It is because if that guy who is singing dies, I can take his place."

I love her no matter what!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Fear Kiboshed by Salamanders

If you watch the television, and sway one way or the other on politics, you probably have some anxiety in regards to the environment.

If you are an environmentalist (or something like that), you might be afraid that our over-use of..... well, everything, is a foolhardy path to our demise, for ourselves and our posterity.  The television is full of gloom and doom scenarios ending in your grandchildren as climate refugees in a global famine.  If things pan out in this direction, there is something to be afraid about!

On the other hand, there are the folks who think global warming is a bunch of hype, or even a conspiracy.   You might be skeptical about the those who are passionate, or even angry, about the environment.   You might feel that 'going green' is a trend, and see those who back it as hypocrites.  In a cold snap, some of your friends might say, "see, so much for global warming" as a joke.  If you are one of these types, you might not be so against conservation, just the people who say that they are.  You might not be so terrified of a bad end game, just bad political policies that hamper your liberties.

So what about my garden?  I found a salamander while weeding a bed yesterday, and I started thinking about Earth Day and Global Warming.  I'm very sentimental about salamanders.  I guess it's because I haven't so innocently found one since I was a child.  Also they are absolutely cute and say something about the overall health of my yard.   They are everything a frog dreams of being, if frogs could be better than they already are.  I have no idea why witches would use one in a brew.  I think they should use bananas or old warts, but never a salamander.

Watching that little creature, smoothly taking sticky steps in my palm, set my mind at ease about the whole debate.  It made it more manufactured to me.  What if every policy maker, creationist, republican, democrat, evolutionist, parent, grant writer, child, teacher, news anchor, skydiver, christian, and scientist had a garden, and found a salamander?  How might it change the world?

With amphibians, which seem so rare and beautiful,  hiding in my garden, the fear and hatred people feel towards one another seems rather silly.  Amphibians are very dependent on the overall health of their habitat, which is why I'm glad I gave away my television before Earth Day.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Wonky Tooth

Scout has been noteworthy as well.  She has learned to read!!

I think six has been harder for her than other ages because she has had to mature A LOT.   This has made being her mom more interesting.  She has some fun things to say, questions to ask, and stories to tell.  She is so smart, spunky, and really knows who she is.  My favorite thing about her learning to read, is her love of music.  She is loving the hymnal, and counting time (yes, I said, counting time), and reading the words.  More than that though, her voice is soooooooo sweet and perfectly in tune.  That makes a musical momma proud!

3rd Place

Justus had a tough year at gymnastics.  He was unsure of his routine at the beginning of the season.  He was so unsure of himself, that he didn't do well.  In all honesty, the coaches changed around a lot, and when he finally got a steady coach, he took off.
Last weekend at his home meet, Justus came in 3rd.  For a kid who was coming in LAST just a few weeks ago, this is pretty amazing.  He was quitting after this meet, but who could quit when they are on top?
Look at his face!  He was so excited you can't see his face.  He is saluting with his whole self!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Real Estate vs. Real Life

What does Tyson know about real-estate?  Basically just what she has learned by informing herself while buying a house.  Why is Tyson blogging in third person?  Who knows, so she'll cut it out.

I'm un-officially documenting the sale/loss of our house on another blog.  Here is the link:

http://realestatevsreallife.blogspot.com

Knock yourself out....

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Girl Who Lived!!


Justus has a sweet-spot in his heart for a girl in his class. She is pretty, sweet, blonde, energetic, imaginative, and SMART. She stands out, a perfect girl for Justus to have as a friend.

Camryn was in a terrible car crash on the icy road after Christmas. She was in a coma for 4 weeks, and had a broken femur and traumatic brain injury. Justus was devastated. He was aware enough to know the gravity of the situation. After winter break he returned to school, and to the playground, without his friend. He felt her absence.

In what is nothing short of miraculous, Camryn is now home, attending school, therapy, and surviving her accident. Not only is she surviving, she is thriving, and moving ahead with gusto. She is going to be okay!

After her accident, her head of beautiful hair was shaved mostly off. She is sporting cute caps, and pulling it off with style. In a display of solidarity, Justus shaved his head yesterday. Though it is in no way as hard for him, as it is for Camryn, he is very particular about his hair. Obsesive Compulsive is a good way to describe it. He was super excited to do it, until it was over and 5" of hair was gone. Now he is a bit bashful, and having to get used to a lighter head!




I am so in love with my boy. I can only imagine nearly loosing a child, and thinking of it I feel a bit ill. I am in love with the person my boy is becoming and how attune to his surroundings right now. I am glad to get to spend time with him and look forward to the decades of time we have together!

He was so bashful about the haircut, he didn't want me to post a photo of it, even though it is fabulous!

I'm so happy Camryn made it through alive and well. I'm happy for her mom and dad, her family, her classmates, her husband, her children, her grandchildren, and for Camryn!! Keep up the good and hard work!

Sunny Legs Revealed


I know everyone is clamoring for the missing photo from my last post. After weeks of waiting, here it the photo in question!
Notice the dent in my shin where a log from the woodshed pegged me! Ouch!! It doesn't look bad, but geez, it hurt!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Depression vs. Skin Cancer


I left my camera at my sister's house. On the camera is the perfect photo for this blog. It is a sunny photo of my white legs, pulled up pants, pushed-down striped socks, and heavy winter shoes. I was sitting outside of a gymnastics meet for my kid at Stanford. It was sunny and 'warm'. I would wait to get the photo off of my camera so I could use it for my blog, but by that time, this post will seem irrelevant. It may be June before I see that camera again, so I'll get it off my chest now.

I have been thinking about the fine line that I walk in the winter between Vitamin D and Prozac. I know the sun is low on the horizon, and that I get less UV during the winter. I also get that I get less "D" over all during this long season. Only to make things more complicated, I am a sunscreen-aholic. I have to be a devout sunscreen-etarian so that I don't get overwhelmed by the sun during sunny months. Even though it is February (no sun, not for days, weeks, and months), I feel a pang of guilt when I don't put on my SPF 15 every morning. I wonder if I feel disproportionate guilt due to the fact that I may now have seasonal depression.

Am I overreacting due to my dislike of dairy products and that glowing orb in the sky? Have I been out of the sun so long that I can't get control of myself in the longest months of the year? Do I like getting carded for buying alcohol so much that I would have to check myself into a sanatorium? Maybe a few more wrinkles on my face would be worth it through the winter.

In a valiant compromise, I decided to pull up my pant legs and let my shins see the sunshine. I ate a hot dog (summer food) and let folks laugh on the inside as they passed the goofy red-head in the sun, outside the Gymnastics Center at the prestigious institution that is Stanford University.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Wrestling the Angels


After last week's Wednesday, I woke up ready to greet this one with a smile and routine.

Last week, a coyote scared my kids into hiding in the car, and our dog scared it off of the deck. I was right behind the dog chasing the coyote away with shouts. Running in the morning ice, I fell hip-first onto a deck chair. This is the hip that has clumsily hit the ground hard, more times that I would like to admit (see previous posts).

Later that day, I found the body our our cat outside in the grass. The reason the coyote was on the deck in the first place? He was there to eat our cat, and we scared him away before he carried her into the woods, though not before he loudly killed the cat and scared the kids. I had to bury the cat in the yard with two crying kids.

After a week of ice packs and sleeping on my right side (which is the wrong side) I decided to take an easy walk up the hill. This was after a perfect morning of stay-at-home-mom-ness. I even thought to myself as I walked up the driveway, "what a perfect way to redeem last Wednesday" beyond my folded laundry, clean house, full fridge, and clean floor.

Walking up my little road to nowhere, I saw cars parked to the side, and a woman crying. I got closer and saw a man stroking the head of a half-dead baby dear. The failed christian in me turned to walk home, but the tears of the woman and the kindness of the man moved me forward. The woman grabbed me and hugged me. I told her I was so sorry. She cried more. If the man moved away from the deer, it would struggle to run. It was a gruesome sight. The woman cried more, I stepped closer to her side. We waited for the sheriff to come to get the deer, and it seemed like ages, though at most, ten minutes.

No sheriff arrived, but a Grass Valley policeman. He was very neat and trim and young. Summing him up, I didn't really think he had much to offer the scenario until he put his hand to his side to unlock a gun from his holster. The woman cried and ran to her car not wanting to watch, just as two more cars came to the scene just trying to head up the road and stopped.

I turned to look away, but not in time. I saw the officer take out his gun and shoot the baby in the head. There was blood. A terrible thing to watch for us all, but not as bad as watching it struggle. A terrible thing for a passerby to drive up to during lunch time. The officer put on some gloves and pulled the body off the street. Everyone turned and left slumping a bit.

I had some time to think about what had happened as I walked back to my house. Last week's trauma was about how things we work hard for can easily be lost. I am still recovering from falling in the ice, I am still sad to see the bag of kitty food in the laundry room. This week's trauma was about what I do have.

I came upon that scene, not by accident. The reason is who I am. I can comfort in the midst of suffering. I didn't turn and leave, telling myself that I would only be in the way. What I brought to the woman, was who I am. Who I am is all I have. I didn't add to the gruesomeness of the moment by walking away. In this way, last week's trauma was redeemed with this week's trauma.

My hip still aches terribly. It looks terrible. Today I'm going to use it to remember.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Camera Curve

Our little Kodak point and shoot camera broke/died in October. I have been taking photos by hauling my laptop around, and relying on others to document Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years, a trip to the ocean, a family wedding, 2 giant snow storms, my sister's 30th birthday, and Justus' gym meets.

Yesterday our new camera arrived in the mail. I was as excited as if I were 6 years old getting my first Cabbage Patch doll, or my green banana seat bike. I was excited because the photos I have been able to take in the last several months are really poor quality. I was also excited to get a really nice camera and take some good snaps, until I opened the box last night.

The line between excitement and anxiety is quite slim. There are 5 manuals in as many languages, not to mention photography jargon, a dozen buttons, and hundreds of settings. I'm overwhelmed with where to start. Do I start at YouTube or the jr. college? I think I start by taking photos. I almost forgot that I could start learning by taking photos, which is where the word 'overwhelmed' really suites the situation. I'm going to give myself more than 12 hours to get the hang of it. I am also going to post one of the photos I took last night, just cause I can (as opposed to yesterday at this same time).

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Appropriate Idiom


I can't think of the best title. There are too many hokey puns and applicable idioms, that there isn't a 'best'. My favorite ones are 'a head above' or ' hard headed husband' (just for the alliteration, not because he is). As you can see, this is about my husband, and I don't want to make fun of him with a pun or saying, so I'll just leave the title alone.

In a dramatic turn of events, Silas forgot to put the guard onto the hair clippers, during what was clearly a bleary-eyed, early morning, repair job. He took the blade to his head, leaving a 2 inch strip of pure Silas head. We all came running to the bathroom to the sound of laughter, and then we joined in! There was no working around it, and Silas had to shave his already balding head entirely.

This style seems to be quite popular for men our age. I have yet to decide what I think of it, even as some of you reading this have this exact same 'haircut'. On one hand, it is handy. An easy way to ease one's way through rough patches of balding. It is an immeasurable step up from the comb-over. It isn't denying the change, and yet steering one clear of the Bozo the Clown look. In this same category I am lumping those men who for simplicity sake, just shave their noggins.

Then, there are the other guys: The kinda tough jerks who shave their head so that people will do what they say! I would lump them into an insecure military/police/skinhead crew. The kinda folks who are just not happy with themselves, and the rest of us have to suffer. The problem for me is that sometimes one guy can be in both groups. Or, I might assume the latter when it really is the former or vice-a-versa. I guess the point here, as in my previous blog, is you really can't judge. I sit around and think about this kinda stuff anyways, so then I do judge now that my very own husband is in the 'bic-club'.

Since this is a new idea for me, and I spend a lot of time looking at and thinking about my husband, I'm going to have to get used to it. 15 years ago we cut his long fluffy hair on the back porch of his parent's house, so he could join the Air Force. Every 2 weeks or so, since then, Silas or I have cut his hair, to regulations, whether he needed it or not. Now we can wait a few extra weeks, and it will be back to how it was before, balding on top (and on the back) and thick and dark on the sides. Then I won't have to think about it...

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Chicken Tacos

We were starving and a bit sick after a very curvy car ride from the coast. It was that kinda starving that makes you irritable, as if you could cry, in fact, my son was crying at the very thought that he might not get a bowl of Mexican food. The line was LONG and SLOW, and I was taking deep breathes, and thinking, "chicken tacos". Things were not going my way.

So none of that really has to do with this next bit, but it was in that long and slow line, as I was searching for my happy place, that the young lady behind me made a phone call. Yes, I absolutely hung back to listen to every word, once I heard what she was talking about, this is how it went:

Hey, guess what? Yeah, I finally told my parents about my boyfriend.
No, they were fine with it. They just asked what he was in for.
As long as he didn't hurt anyone, or steal anything, they didn't care.
Yeah, they were fine with it.
Now I can stop waiting for his letters and rushing to get them before my parents.
I'm writing him a letter everyday. Yeah I'm so glad....
Huh? No way am I missing my 21st birthday, no way...

They just asked what he was in for? Huh? Really? In so many ways, that is so messed up. I thought the very reason one spends time behind bars was mostly because he has hurt someone, or he has stolen something. Everything else that I can think of to put one behind bars, besides these two criteria, area also terrible. This is attractive to someone? Clearly, yes.

I really am trying to give folks the benefit of not judging them, especially perfect strangers in line at a taco stand. So in this case, I was judging the stupid girl, her stupid parents, her criminal boyfriend, and the extremely impacted taco-makers. This really isn't what I was wanting to do, but I was starving. I get that everyone deserves to be loved, and was glad that these folks were not my responsibility.

I'm my responsibility. Now that my belly is full, and my blood sugar is back into a reasonable range, I am still judging. I am judging my my stay-at-home, mountain town, organic garden, 30-something lovable husband, energetic happy children, caring friends, healthy family, and very centered life. I like it!!