Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanks!

I turned some mental corners again this weekend! Yippee! I hope I'm changing in good directions. I feel like I'm learning what I need to out of this situation.

But first, I want to discuss some things to be Thankful for. In the past, I have sometimes had a difficult time being thankful. As in, "F.U. if you think I have to give thanks for the Food Stamps again." Conceptually, I understand that it is wonderful to live in a state with generous food stamps, in a country that can afford food stamps, where there's something to spend my food stamps on. But sometimes I resented the idea that I should be thankful for being stuck on the bottom of the economic dog pile. Ironically, it's being thankful and grateful for stupid things in dire times that gets you through those dire times.

Daily, I am thankful for running water. I am thankful that we don't live in a war zone, or a famine, or a military regime, or in a religiously controlled country, etc. etc. And when I think about the waiting purgatory we seem to be stuck in, I just remind myself that I'm not in a refuge camp, which is similar to this situation only A LOT WORSE. I have also found some other things to be thankful for. I have found that we have an abundance of towels (just not in the bathroom you are currently taking a shower in). No one will ever go needlessly wet in this home. And we had the foresight to buy a house at the right time. And the good fortune to sell it at the right time. And that's keeping this situation tolerable instead of desperate. We now have a new, working car. And the world is full of kind and loving people.

And this brings me to a recent realization. I was moping because I've been wanting my own chunk of earth for a long time. Sure, we could rent land, we could work on someone else's land, etc. But I want my OWN. I want THAT security. My own ability to grow my own food. And I think everyone deserves that security. Land should be a human right, because access to providing for yourself, your own food, is fundamental to survival. But I realized that the other thing I can count on is the goodness and love of other people. It's there. And if someone wants to share their acre with me for growing food, then that kindness is security enough. Perhaps not the most dependable thing in the world. But in general, I think we can depend on each other to survive and to meet each others basic needs, if not more.

I say I've been waiting a long time for what I want and just when we were about to reach out a grab it: DENIED! We've been working on our long term plan now for over 7 years. When Huck was laid off in 2001, the plan hatched. And we've been working towards it since. And now he's been looking for work for 13 months. He had those 8 days. And that was 5 months ago. Five months isn't that long to have waited for a dream. Recently, I had a sudden sense of immense patience. These are my dreams, and they are worth waiting for. I can wait. I will wait as long as I need to. But I will get there, maybe in a year, maybe five, maybe even 10 or 20. And it's interesting to suddenly feel that I can wait, even that long.

Lest I get to Polly-anna-ish, I am going to gripe about the weather inside our apartment again. The air that is forcing itself on us is driving us INSANE! We are constantly freezing cold. And it's gotten louder too. It's this loud whooshing and the sensation that you are standing on the beach, in winter, in Alaska. It is SO LOUD! I can't emphasize that enough. IT's LOUD. So we've got our electric fireplace on again. It's quaint reel of painted fire cranks round and round. And to simulate warmth, it has a little blow dryer stashed in a vent at the top. This is where we go to get warm. But to get your feet, you have to lay down and put your feet in the air. I may need to remind you that the picture of the fire isn't hot. It's just the blow dryer they installed in the top. What a CUTE idea!

The point of civilization is lost on me these days. Didn't humans build up the whole thing to bring us peace and security from Nature? Wasn't the economy supposed to insulate us against bad weather and bad crop years? And now we have weather AND an economy just as uncontrollable. And wasn't housing supposed to protect us from the elements? But now we find the elements have invaded our house and are just as uncontrollable as they were outside these walls.

I know we're supposed to be conserving energy to save the planet. But honestly, this electricity all comes from dams that aren't going anywhere and aren't contributing to global warming and are about 1 mile from our house. And that makes our monthly electricity bill a whopping $35. I'm not sure that conserving energy in these parts really does anything to help global warming. If someone knows something about this... and I mean, KNOWS, not pretends-to-knows, please let me know if I am supposed to be conserving electricity in these parts and exactly how that will help with global warming. And then, would you please come fix my apartment weather system!

I've about broke-even on my card business. I sold 80 cards to local businesses yesterday. I'm not sure it's worth it, monetarily. But it is something productive to do. And it is worth it to see people, even well known and respected artists, go gaga over them. I haven't turned a profit. But I did have start up costs that need to work their way through the finances. And my ego's been a little stoked by all the positive feed back. Kate's constant advocacy has given the endeavor it's forward motion. THANKS KATE!

And I spoke at church this week, during "Joys and Concerns" about the economy: big impersonal thing which is actually affecting us all deeply, dreams are shriveling, saving accounts are dieing, etc. And yet, I'm also thrilled for the opportunity to move our society in a different direction, with different values. But then, I'm not getting what I want. Many many people appreciated my comments. I was even stopped in the grocery store by someone who wanted to thank me for my words. It was a satisfying experience. Both to know that I touched people and to know how many people felt the same way I did.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Pony, the Robin, and the Jiggle-O

Question: do you stop your child from innocent songs and thereby introduce them to the adult understanding of that song? Or do you just let them sing and who cares what the words are?

I've learned enough at this point (through notes home from preschool teachers) to stop swearing in front of my kids. Although I myself can't understand why certain words are forbidden, I realize that some people get quite a shock when they hear a little blond girl use them. So I've told my kids not to use certain words because for reasons we don't actually have to understand in order to respect, they will get upset if they hear little kids saying these things. So we don't say them. It's just simpler that way.

I write that, but in the back of my mind I hear little warnings. Because, if I'm honest with myself, I realize that the appeal of these words is the very power that the taboo gives. For instance, the word "the" is not something with any power, therefore we don't yell it at idiotic drivers (I hope your imaginations are fired up and processing that!). Our culture gives these words power, and we love to wield that power, especially when we are feeling powerless.

There are also little warning sounds in my mind because there ARE words that even I find offensive, especially racial slurs. And I would freak if my kid, or any one else's, used those words. I have my own language rules too, apparently.

So, are there songs like swear words?

Here's the quandary: Blue and her friends at school are singing these little songs with motions and dances. Without the loaded meaning of these songs, these are actually cool games. The girls stand in a circle and during "Ride the Pony" one dances around the group. During "Jiggle-O" one dances in the middle of the group. It reminds me of African tribal teen dances I've seen on National Geographic.

The problem is that these songs are double entendres popular as High School cheers. And occasionally someone will recognize them and scowl at me, as if I'm doing something inappropriate by allowing this all. Am I?

I mean, if Blue were dancing to these songs in a way that indicated she knew the alternate meaning, I would probably step in. But to her, they are songs about riding ponies and jiggling.

Red Robin would still be a bird to me, hopping and a bopping in the tree tops all day long, if some adult hadn't stepped in a told me not to sing that dirty song. After years of contemplation and additional information, I finally understood why. But why introduce a child to the alternate understanding?

I visited a Belizian friend on her family's sugar cane plantation. Her little niece had a fondness for sucking on hot dogs. People chuckled under their breath, but no one yank that dog from her mouth or told her it was wrong to eat hot dogs that way. I thought that was very cool of them. Why introduce such ideas where none existed before?

And yet, it's those other people, looking at me strangely while my 7 year old sings randy cheer songs. So, I could tell her to stop with the same reasoning I tell her not to swear: some people get offended. But where does THAT stop? People get offended at a lot of things and, as I stated above, I don't understand why. So do I live under the tyranny of other people's hyperactive offend-buttons? Or sometimes, don't I just get to tell them to shove it?

I think "those OTHER people" bother me because there's a part of me that IS wondering: is this inappropriate? Am I setting her up for a future of multiple STD's? Is she creating a "reputation"? Will she be more vulnerable to predators?

But by telling her to stop, she will ponder the purpose of that edict until she discovers it. And THEN, is THAT going to introduce concepts to her at too young an age?

The poor first child, victim of over-wrought parenting. Coyote will get to this age, I'll make split second decisions and just move on without a second thought. I won't remember the whole train of thought that got me to the conclusion, but I will remember the conclusion and that's all I'll want to know. I'll be so busy over-thinking the next stage of Blue's life that I won't have time to really re-think the whole issue facing Coyote. He'll get the same conclusion as she, but without all the hemming and hawing and thinking it over and over that she had to endure.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Good Old Times

A lovely visit to the Palouse last weekend. I got to see many of my close and cherished friends, though not all. And I set up booth with Kate. My cards and her soaps were a beautiful match. Kate and I got silly all over the place during the slow show: 18 hours long (with set up).

Then the Holy Moscow Food Co-op bought 40 or so of my cards to stock their store with.

Poor Kate: her family had recently fallen victim to the indestructible, ubiquitous louse. They were among many victims of the Great Palouse Lice Invasion of 08. And she'd had to go all out with laundry and bathing for a family of four for over a week! God keep us all from such a fate as THAT much laundry. Luckily the last nit was crushed the morning before we rolled in.

I also enjoyed the Vandals Volleyball game with Kate and her friendly acupuncturists. Kate's a REAL Volleyball fan. And it was thrilling to perch next to such an enthusiast. I have volleyball trauma from my childhood. I could have loved volleyball, but instead I fear it. It's a complex relationship.

I met with Fiona for longer than I intended, which is usual with such a fine lady as she. She brought me curious and enchanting gifts of 1950's cake ornaments: dainty, pink, dancing girls.

And lots of loved ones dropped by the booth to catch up and remind me that I have friends and there is love in the world.

It was difficult to visit, as I have nothing new going on in my life. And here I was, back in the place of one of the happiest times (socially, not financially) of my life. Back in my old community. But I don't have a new one yet, really. I haven't moved on to the new thing. I'm stuck in the birth canal, so to speak.

We obviously didn't visit the old house. I couldn't look at it at this point in my life. I saw pictures of Icelandic houses, and what the Real Estate Agent said was true, we had captured the bright, clean Northern European look. And I miss it, here, in this dungeon of beige.

Speaking of "this point in my life." Our friendly neighbors across the street asked me to "Nanny". They have five kids, most are in High School, but they have a third and first grader that Blue loves to play with. Both parents work A LOT. They seem like they are over the parenting thing. Frequently, their two kids are locked up in the house alone all afternoon. I think one or another of the teens drops by sometimes. So I've thought about taking them for afternoons. We like to have them over and we've taken them to school functions, etc. But the offer to "Nanny" is only $10/hr. And they'd expect 4 hours a day! To include Cleaning! And Cooking Dinner!! They just bought a dead pig, so I'm sure cooking would include PORK! Huck was barely able to suppress his laughter when the offer came out. Just the kids, two afternoons a week, I could handle. I'd be happy to do it. But cooking and cleaning?! I enjoy cooking well enough, as many of you know. But how would I cook for my own family if I was cooking dinner for theirs? And PORK, People! PORK!!! And cleaning? I can't keep up with my own. And I've have to be paid much much much more than $10/hr. Or I'd have to be near starvation. It's a funny offer, if you know me at all.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Dredded Day: Barber Fair II

Huck got light headed today.
Blue snapped photos while I snipped the dreds.
No tears so far. But Huck sure looks as dorky as when I first met him. His hair's just so dang fluffy!





He feels GREAT! Imagine, shedding 8 years in just 15 minutes. He keeps tossing his head around, light as a feather. Like he just got his braces off. He knew it would feel good, but had no idea it would feel as good as it does.

Good-bye, era!
So much was possible with the dreds. You could look at our family and understand us in an instant. It was easy to make friends on our wavelength. And it was fun to bust through stereotypes. The graduate at the top of his WSU class: with dreds. Allergic to marijuana: with dreds. Teaching high school remedial math and middle school resource room, strictly: with dreds. And especially to be a great attentive father: with dreds. There have been a few dead-beat dads that he has met along the way and he's influenced for the better. Somehow, seeing and meeting Huck gave them a new perspective on being "cool" and a good dad, simultaneously, and they changed because of it.

There's a time for everything, as they say I don't think I need to explain his decision to anyone. But I will.
He felt the need to eliminate any reason not to hire him. Employers told him that dreds wouldn't matter. This was a fantasy. There's a subconscious component to hiring decisions, which has probably been coming in to play. Also, "human resources" would be wanting to cover their butts and impress their bosses; hiring someone with dreds, they might fear rightly or wrongly, could jeopardize opinions about their own judgment.
In a different economy, it might have been different. But it's not a different economy, is it?

Mistake? Perhaps. But of the multiple choice of mistakes that life is, I think he chose the better mistake. It sounds so negative. But... it seems to be doing a good job of keeping us out of some of life's dead ends. Hopefully it'll work again.

And I apparently have a new husband without all the drama that getting one usually involves. I'm not sure he's cuter than my old husband, but time will tell. I just hope I don't mistake him as an intruder and let him have it, then he REALLY won't look as cute. Again: multiple choice mistakes to be made! Man opens apartment with key, you don't recognize him. a) you assume your husband got a haircut and you ignore him, b) you assume you've been asleep at the wheel of your life and this man is your new boyfriend, and you ignore him, c) you assume that somehow an intruder got his filthy mitts on your apartment key and is strolling in nonchelantly, so you run at him with the fingernail clippers you are holding and maim his face severely. See what I mean: pick the better mistake. It's like the engineering test, none of the answers are perfectly accurate, but its your job to pick the one the would kill the least number of people, should the bridge collapse. That's life. There's a little 101 Life for you. Free. Here on Sarajoy FRESH! For you.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Good Kids?

For an entire week I was basking in the glow of positive parenting feed back. Then Halloween came and spooked away the glory.

Volunteering in Coyote's class room, I efficiently dealt with their severe problem child (the whiniest primadona EVER), much to the gawking teacher's astonished admiration. Then I got all the kids doing yoga and meditating. She was amazed and gushed about my skills and wondered about substitute teaching.

Then I had parent-teacher conferences at Blue's school. I actually like her teachers now. Not yet keen on the "make your day" program (the program's name gets the whole family singing "Pump up the Jam"), nor do I expect to be in the near or distant future. The teachers actually told me, "It is obvious that you have put a lot of time and energy into your daughter." They also told me that they stopped using "Steps" on her because she didn't need them. They just tell her to stop and she does. They also put her into the accelerated math class. I've warmed up to them, now that they "get" Blue and they flattered me so eloquently. How can you not like that?

And then Halloween came, and the candy, and the late night. Wenatchee had a kickin' Halloween with one particular neighborhood totally decked out and crowded. Huck played in Leavenworth with the SKA band that night and returned home at 2 AM. Then we left at 5:30 for a 10AM funeral.

We walked into the Columbarium and I gasped in horror. It was a labyrinth of floor to ceiling glass. Each square foot of glass full of urns. This is every mother-of-two-kids-jacked-on-last-night's-candy-and-sleep-deprived's worst nightmare. For one and a half hours I had to keep the kids entertained. We looked at the 1,000,000 boxes. We met a woman leaving flowers for her 19 year old son who drowned and her 17 year old niece who died in her sleep. We dipped our fingers in every fountain. But it wasn't enough to keep a full-on wrestling match from erupting. Feet kicking 1 millimeter from the GLASS WALLS! In the middle of the funeral. When it was time to leave, Blue was spasticly flinging on her coat in the entry. She managed to miss the glass table but punched a visitor. When I told her to calm down that great big girl actually laid down in the foyer and kicked her legs in the AIR!! In a dress! I dragged her outside and just laid into her, "What are you doing? What is this behavior! I'm embarrassed and ashamed right now!" I was yelling, then I saw the door open and a relative heading out from the Columbarium. So I suddenly switched to a sweet voice saying, "And so I expect you to behave like the wonderful and amazing girl you really are, Okay honey?" Classic private-mom/public-mom stuff. I couldn't believe I was perpetrating it myself.

The reception was way better. It was in banquet room with an entire GLASS WALL over water. GREAT! But they had balsa wood airplanes which we flung around and smacked everyone in the head at least once. Now that's kid friendly!

So, post Halloween, I have developed a diabolical parenting tactic. It works so well that I have some concerns about it. If it's THAT effective, can it be safe? Ethical?
Here's how I developed it:
Huck was at band practice. I had a fever and felt dizzy and run down. Coyote would not go to bed. I was not going to do the chase-and-giggle thing he was gunning for. So when I told him to go to his room and he giggled and said "NO". I grabbed his bucket of Halloween candy. I tipped open the kitchen garbage with the toe lever. And I held a Mars bar over the trash. "If you don't get to your room by the count of FIVE, I'm going to throw this away."
He looked at me in TOTAL HORROR. Paralyzed by shock. His mouth gaped and gasped. He couldn't believe I would do it.
Blue whipped up from her homework and shrieked, "RUN COYOTE RUN!!!"
"One, two, three." And he was his room.
"I'm so happy to see that you've decided to cooperate tonight!"
Was that a questionable tactic? It was so efficient, it seems like it should be wrong. But I can't figure out what could possibly be wrong with it, except that it fulfills several parenting fantasies at once: throwing out candy and prompt responses. Is that so wrong? Is it wrong to make your dreams come true?

MOVIE REVIEW: If you are a parent and you haven't seen the 1944 classic "National Velvet," since you were a kid, you should. It stars Micky Rooney and Elizabeth Taylor. I loved this movie as a horse-obsessed child, but I recently got a grown-up take on it. The parents are hilarious as a couple. The little brother is COYOTE. Completely. Absolutely. And my kids loved it too.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Eat this in Rememberance of the Moscow Food Co-op

I miss that dosh gang Moscow Food Co-op there so stinking much, you wouldn't believe it. I could go any time of day or night and meet friends and acquaintances, usually Kate or Erin on business. So that was the best thing. But the second best thing (after the newsletter, of course), was the food. Sure the produce got a little long in the tooth some days and sometimes the prices were laughably high, but you could find food. REAL FOOD!

Here I have been in PAIN trying to find a good grocery store. Fred Meyer was okay, but their produce was sorry, stinky, limping, bruised compost pile. I'd found better even in the Co-op's dumpster. Costco was recommended. But they're unreliable. Most stores I've visited contain the following aisles, in order of accessibility: the chip aisle, the pop aisle, the cold cereal aisle, the diaper aisle, the TP aisle, the beer aisle, the frozen pizza aisle. Since moving here and trying to find a decent grocery store, I have discovered why many Americans are overweight: grocery store lay out. Now don't laugh. I'm serious. I have had one heck of a time finding actual ingredients for actual real meals containing actual food. And of course no one carries decent pasta or sauce. So my choices are to make it from scratch or eat shit.

There's a health food store here consisting mostly of vitamins and a few extremely over priced, expired foods. And then they over charged regularly. Last time I bought two items and they over charged me by $5! I won't even go in there anymore.

True, there are 4 Farmer's Markets in Wenatchee. But they are stuck in cash crop mode. At the height of tomato season I found only beefsteaks! I asked one booth why that was and she ACTUALLY SAID, "Well, the heirlooms and brandywines don't TRAVEL WELL." How far are you traveling, lady? So, I endured an entire tomato season with beefsteak tomatoes.

BEEFSTEAKS!

I can't find quality ingredients. I can't find fresh produce. I can't even find an edible baguette, for pete's sake! And I'm not spending 1-2 hours on a meal made with piles of GARBAGE. So, fine, quesadillas for every meal. Who gives a rats ass what we eat! Can you tell I've been a little miffed about the food situation here?

We recently trekked off to another funeral for Huck's family: Grandpa Palmer (more on thAT perhaps some other day). And we visited a thriving farmer's market while there.


They had 3 types of broccoli! Fresh!
Several types of beets! Fresh!
22 kinds of Potatoes! Fresh!
189 types of Eggplants! Fresh!
REAL BAGUETTES! FRESH!!
Holy Moses!
I spent about a $100 on fresh food.
I was giddy, goofy, and totally out of control.
Carrots! Fresh AND sweet!
Greens, several kinds and none of them mildewy!
HEAVEN!!!

And then I found Top Foods, which has a layout for people that cook: ingredients first and the junk is off on these separate discrete aisles. I even chatted with the manager for a while about the lay out and suggestions for better tofu. They had 3 types of organic sugar! It was a very good day for me.

So this week we are eating good food again. And I feel so much better. Relief at last. Thank GOD!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

YIIPPPEEEE!

Me and just about the entire Universe is feeling GRAND right now. Obama won. And Gregoire is about to. I'd been invited to the official Wenatchee Democrat party last night, but was sidelined with a fever. I laid in bed and cried with joy as I heard the news. It all happened so quickly. McCain's speech was perfectly beautiful. And then I listened to Obama's speech.

You know, he is so amazing. Just put aside his being black, his being younger, his being Democrat in a BAD year to be Republican. Even without all that he's just an Amazing person who ran an amazing campaign. If he runs this country like he did his campaign, I can't see how we can fail.

Even if his only attribute had been "soaring rhetoric" (which it isn't), I don't see how that could be all bad. Soaring Rhetoric can and has accomplished a lot. Listening to someone speak and feeling hopeful, useful, and encouraged is not merely window dressing. A lot has been accomplished in this world by hopeful and encouraged people. Even I (yes, even the great, sickly Sarajoy herself!) want to be inspired to be my best self. And speeches can do that. I thought the criticism of soaring rhetoric was stupid and ignorant. Don't they know what an inspirational speaker can accomplish, can get others to accomplish? 100,000 pyramid schemes can't be wrong! Well they can, and they are. But the point is that inspirational speakers can get a lot of things done, even goofy things like pyramid business schemes.

None of the Republicans I spoke to thought an Obama Presidency would be bad. They were all simply born-again Republicans, and couldn't vote for the better leader because he was on the wrong side.

Huck's teaching high school literacy today. Can't wait to hear how that goes!

And I am going to Moscow, Idaho again on the 14th and 15th of November for a woman's craft show. Kate, The Soaptress Extraordinaire, and I are going to have a booth together. I will sell my cards and she her soap. This is thanks mostly to Kate's encouragement and LARGE order of cards for the CSA recipients at WSU's Organic farm. I was very proud to fill that order and even added some new drawings of a couple of garlics half embracing and a very shapely hubbard. These were departures for me, as I have only done wild weeds before. They turned out okay, but didn't hold my interest quite the way wild plants do. So for Christmas I'm doing a couple of wild poinsettias, wild Mistletoe and maybe a wild looking Holly. I'm trying out color and it's not going very well. The drawings are something I'm proud of, but when I go to scan them, I get the background paper loud and clear, but if I fade the paper to invisible, I lose the colors! AUGH!!

Anyway, I'm looking forward to it. The whole family is coming because Huck has business in Spokane on Thursday. I hope we can see some friends while there. The kids and Huck will be looking for ways to entertain themselves, but I'm not sure when I'll get the chance. I'll send out an e-mail to see if anyone has some time to get together.

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