Thursday, December 27, 2007

FRIDAY FIVE: AULD LANG SYNE


Singing Owl writes "It is hard to believe, but 2007 is about to be history, and this is our last Friday Five of the year.

With that in mind, share five memorable moments of 2007. These can be happy or sad, profound or silly, good or bad but things that you will remember.

Bonus points for telling us of a "God sighting"-- a moment when the light came through the darkness, a word was spoken, a song sung, laughter rang out, a sermon spoke to you in a new way--whatever you choose, but a moment in 2007 when you sensed Emmanuel, God with us. Or more particularly, you."

1. Driving back and forth and back and forth and back and forth from Camarillo to Glendale to pick up my mom after her spinal surgery in February, to give her a weekend with us for company. Realizing that after my dad's passing in October of '06, there would not be a break coming for either of us any time soon.

2. Looking forward to positive changes in my son's school with a new head coming in, only to find myself sucker punched by a chilling attitude of mean spiritedness and duplicity. A "brave new world" so to speak where I am told that my son is not "tough enough because this is a tough school now". *sigh*

3. Writing stories. Having wonderful stories to tell and being able to use my life, my experiences and my improv training in weaving them. And having them read and appreciated. Looking forward to writing more. Looking forward to publishing some things next year.

4. San Clemente last June. For both Wonderboy and I, one of the best all time starts of summer anytime, anywhere. Just being able to live on the beach all day long with the most excellent friends was so healing and restful. A great blessing for both of us. 

5. My mom finally, finally taking hold of her life again, after moving into her own apartment closer to me. Getting the physical therapy she desperately needed to get stronger. Finally getting a hearing aid (this Friday!!) so she can hear everything. And other good things for her. She complained to me a couple weeks ago that she has "all these doctors now". I reminded her that she has neglected herself for so many years taking care of my dad that she needs to catch up and that things will calm down soon. And she's jake with all of it. 

I have not sensed God with me for a long time. I still don't. My only sense of God for many years now has been that he considers me a bad joke, and at every other turn he drops another shoe. However I do feel a great comfort and strength from Jesus. I would suppose that the son and the holy spirit and I get along fine. But the father and I are at sixes and sevens. I suppose that sounds very peculiar. Oh well. So I try to tell myself to shut up, suck it up and remember that I live a far more blessed and cushy life than 96 or more percent of the rest of the planet. And then I look at my sweet, smart, tender hearted "not tough enough" son and realize I must be the luckiest mom on earth.  


PRAYER REQUEST FOR MARCIE

Today Wonderboy and I went to get the mail at our post box. Marcie has worked there for close to 10 years and I knew her even from before when she worked at our previous post box. 

Marcie has had a horrific Christmas. Her son experienced some severe pain and went to the ER. The hospital he went to is one that has a far from stellar reputation. Marcie's son was diagnosed with a muscle spasm and sent home. The next day he dropped dead. He had been mis-diagnosed.

He was only 36 and otherwise in perfect health. 

Please send up a prayer for Marcie and her family. I cannot even imagine this. God bless her heart.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

JUDY and JANET: GREAT MUSIC FOR KIDS

Janet and Judy are Wonderboy's church choir directors. They led him in Cherub Choir and now in Celebrate Choir. 

They are the reason that he considers singing in this choir "worshipping God" and therefore as important as school. 

They are also the only reason I stay at this church. 

All their other music is very cool as well.  


Here's another website for them: Janet and Judy

They have just finished recording a new CD of Christian music. Included will be a song of theirs  they sang last Easter. It is just wonderful. I'll let you know when it's out.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

FRIDAY FIVE: IT'S ALMOST CHRISTMAS

Gonna play this week. My Mindy Swap pal writes:

"I have debated with myself for weeks about today's Friday Five.

Self 1: It should be deep and theological.
Self 2: But it's almost Christmas, it should be fun and warm and sweet.
Self 1: But your last Friday Five was sort of silly. You should show your more serious side.
Self 2: You worry WAY too much!
So after consulting with my fourteen year old daughter, we're going playful, pals o' mine! I love stories, so I hope you'll tell some about your favorite Christmas memories."


1. What was one of your favorite childhood gifts that you gave:

I blogged about this before, but Blogger kicks me out when I try to find it. It was a pair of nylon stockings that I got for my mom. I had sneaked into her lingerie drawer and learned her size and favorite color. Then my dad took me to buy them. I wrapped the box myself. It was the first really beautiful present I ever wrapped. With gold fabric ribbon and a beautiful bow. I was very proud of this at six years old.

2. What is one of your favorite Christmas recipes? Bonus points if you share the recipe with us.

Nowadays it's my bruschetta that I got from a restaurant chef. I don't have the exact amounts in front of me, but as I recall in my eggnog fog:  10 ripe plum tomatoes, diced; 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil; 1/4 cup fresh chopped oregano; one clove garlic (truly no more than that); 1/4 cup olive oil or less or more depending on your taste; salt and pepper to taste. Mix together and serve over sliced french bread lightly coated with olive oil and toasted in the oven. 

3. What is a tradition that your family can't do without? (And by family, I mean family of origin, family of adulthood, or that bunch of cool people that just feel like family.)

Opening gifts one person at a time. It takes for-flamin'-ever, but it makes the day last longer. (actually I'm probably the only one who insists on this. But being the queen bee of the family, all must obey my commands BWAHAHAHAHAHA)


4. Pastors and other church folk often have very strange traditions dictated by the "work" of the holidays. What happens at your place?

My church is  starting a new tradition that we could do without: Canceling the choir's Christmas concert and giving them half the sermon time on Sunday to sing a "special song". Otherwise it's several hundred dollars of poinsettias that, until this year, were just left to wilt. Fortunately this year our congregational care pastor collected them and drove them to convalescent homes in the area. He is one right on guy. Unfortunately he's semi retired and only part time.

5. If you could just ditch all the traditions and do something unexpected... what would it be?

Lose the gifts. Lose the stress of decorating and cooking. Buy tickets to Hawaii to lay on the beach and play in the waves, with just the three of us.

Friday, December 14, 2007

ARLINGTON AT CHRISTMAS


About 5,000 wreaths are donated by the Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine. The owner, Merril Worcester, also pays for the trucking expense. He's done this since 1992. Groups of Maine school children visit this event to help out, along with their regular school trip to DC. Harrington, by the way, is one of the poorest parts of the state.

Rest easy, sleep well my brothers and sisters.

(hat tip to Auntie A and Marshall)



Thursday, December 13, 2007

ARE YOU MAN ENOUGH?


Today my son's Siggy made an observation about me that I have heard from many quarters since high school. It was prefaced with how society tends to have a different response to certain masculine traits when found in a woman. 

More bluntly, how a woman will be called a bitch or other such descriptive terms when responding decisively, clearly and with assertion, just as a man is expected to. When we are supposed to cowtow, put hand to head and assume the passive/aggressive vapors in the face of challenge or adversity. 

This was not meant as an offense and I certainly did not take it so. Because it is what it is, as far as my life experience. 

I am just wondering what you ladies out there might have experienced in your lives in terms of this.  I would imagine a number of you have met brick walls of stubborn slammed doors when trying to reasonably, responsively deal with various situations in life. Even from other women I have found this prejudice. 

Have you ever:
Had to slow down your words and insert verbal lace doilies to get a point across?
Called on a man to be a mouthpiece to say exactly what you said, in order to be heard?
Experienced increasingly angry responses the calmer and more reasonable you become?

And do you have any wise advice or happy outcomes to offer from your experiences?


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

SEE YOU NEXT YEAR

Merry Christmas

Happy New Year

I'll see you all in 2008. 

I'll be taking a brief blogging sabbatical because of current overwhelming life demands. Nothing dire. Just way too much going on right now. But there will be more stories next year. 

Happy and Blessed Holidays everybody.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

SUSPICIOUS THAT CHRISTMAS IS NOT AUSPICIOUS

We're putting up the Christmas tree today.
Though the day started at 3:48 a.m.
with the Callie Cat garping on my sheet.
Not auspicious.
And I slept too long to get a shower.
My head itches.
Not auspicious.

We're putting up the Christmas tree today.
While Malibu burns houses down
and the cost of life just tripled.
Not auspicious.
And the day is truncated by a kid movie
My heartburn kicks in.
Not auspicious.

We're putting up the Christmas tree today
Though omens everywhere warn against.
Like, for instance, every toilet paper roll
empty at the same time
Not auspicious.

We're putting up the Christmas tree today.
Come hell or high water.
For days now I'm pounded with
Do we put it up today? today? today?
While Third Grade Teachers stop teaching
Algebra is not understood 
The milk carton is leaking
The kitchen sink is broken 
Mother's finances, Mother's finances! need attending.
There's no time to fix, replace or contain
all that decays in the house. And outside the house.
Not auspicious. Not auspicious at all.

We're putting up the Christmas tree today.
maybe that will help.
I'm skeptical. 
Not auspicious.

Monday, November 19, 2007

INTERVIEWED BY REVGALS!

*put on giant sunglasses* *Check reflection for errant chin hairs*

I've been interviewed by Mompriest at RevGals!!!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

MIGRATING HAIR


I remember when I was younger being totally grossed out by women who sprouted mustaches and chin hairs. Especially hairs growing out of moles. Yuck. "Don't they have any self respect," I would rudely and thoughtlessly think to myself. 

Then in my 30's I grew my own mustache. Just after starting treatment for a thyroid disorder. It kicked my hormones into gear and sent me to the drug store for hot wax. Which I used regularly for many years until one day, the hairs just didn't grow back so much and I could use tweezers. Hot wax was a pain in the butt and sometimes painful. Cold wax just ripped the money out of my wallet without removing a single hair. And laser treatments? No way. Too expensive and not guaranteed. And they make your skin look like plastic if you have too many.

I had a bikini wax. Once. Let's just say that I now flinch at the sound of velcro being pulled. And that is all I'm going to say about that.  

For a decade and a half I managed with tweezer and razor. 

Until *cue dramatic crescendo*!  Menopause! Somewhere inside my body a nasty little imp went running around me, pulling hair in places it was supposed to be and then pushing it out through places  traditionally saved for the male gender! 

On top of mood swings, hot flashes and night sweats, I had now turned into a werewolf Tressy doll, with hair coming out of many many visible inappropriate pores! Hair that laughed at my tweezers! That turned into thick and coarse armor at my razor! That would just *POP* out of nowhere while talking to the pastor or a teacher or someone else who would suddenly, quizzically look at my chin, then quickly away with that "ooooh how embarrassing" eyelid shift.

This is not fair. After spending over 40 years demon wrestling acne and finally named alternately heavyweight and mediumweight champion, here was yet another blight on my narcissistically tended appearance. Hair popping out of my chin. Noooooooo!!!

All I can do now is pluck. Since part of my acne conquering regimen involves a medical exfoliant just shy the strength of agent orange, my skin is too thin now to wax. Wax would rip the top layer clean off. Ow.  Which I learned from my dermatologist just before I was about to go out and buy another hot wax kit. God watches over aging narcissists as well.

So I pluck and pluck and pluckity pluck pluck. And I hope that when I'm really really old and decrepit with eyes that don't see so well and age clumsy fingers, that one of three things will be true: 1. My son lives close by and doesn't mind plucking for me; or 2. I live in a nice home with a nice attendant who plucks; or 3. I am so deliriously brain gone that I don't give a rat's patootie as the drool dribbles down over the whiskers while I watch Wheel of Fortune.

Friday, November 16, 2007

FRIDAY FIVE - Think About These Things

Songbird quotes and writes today:

"Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8, NRSV)

Friends, it's nearly Thanksgiving in the U.S. and it's the time of year when we are pressed to name things for which we are thankful. I want to offer a twist on the usual lists and use Paul's letter to the church at Philippi as a model. Name five things that are true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable, excellent or worthy of praise. These could be people, organizations, acts, ideas, works of art, pieces of music--whatever comes to mind for you."

1. Motherhood and my mother and all my most excellent friends who are mothers. (UPDATE: Picture is by artist: Essud Fungcap)

2. Yoga and those who teach it.

3. Live theater and performance arts like Cirque Du Soleil, Broadway and most especially those who work to create it locally for the children, like our local Parson's Nose.

No, seriously. New discoveries are so cool.  Along with new discoveries in cosmology and archaeology, it's affirming the Bible rather than disproving it. And this guy is really easy to read.

5. Anyone who creates or works in mission to help the less blessed, the disenfranchised, the poor, the hungry and the sick. And my guiding light of inspiration for this said: 

The Prayer of Saint Francis

"O Lord, make me an instrument of Thy Peace!
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is discord, harmony;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light, and
Where there is sorrow, joy.
Oh Divine Master, grant that I may not
so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand; to be loved
as to love; for it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life."

Yup, so all of the above, taken with a really good latte or cup of coffee and laced with large amounts of all kinds of humor, and well, golly, there you go! Oh yeah, and Thanksgiving stuffing. Ummmmm. I cannot wait!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

THE OLIVETTI - Part Three


My computer spat out sheet after sheet of neatly compiled, cross referenced and brilliantly summarized numbers and data. I sat back and looked at the Olivetti with a mix of awe and revulsion. Rather like the feeling one has after drinking too many rum and cokes, when you're not sure whether to stay up all night, or fall down with vertigo.

I had slipped in a sheet of parchment and typed "I wish I had the medical studies analysis brilliantly finished." And immediately after I typed the period and hit return, my computer had started spitting out the report.

It was flawless. It was succinct. It was absolutely brilliant. And it was even in my style.

I turned to the Olivetti with a degree of fear and said "Thank you," half expecting it to load itself with a sheet of paper and type "You're welcome".

Only 15 minutes had passed since Oscar had left my office. He stuck his head back in and I hid the report behind my back.

"Lunch today? It's your turn to flip for it and my pick."

"Sure," I said. "Are you finished yet?"

"You kiddin'? I just barely got my notes review done. You?"

"Pfaw...Uh...the same. Those notes were a bitch, yeah?"

"You know it. Lunch in 20, all right?"

"Yeah, I'll come get you," I said, my hands shaking behind me.

The door started to close, then opened again. "You all right, Mona? You look a little pale."

"Fine, Oscar. Just the usual actuarial tan."

We laughed over the old joke and he left.

I put the report on my desk and read it again. How could I not turn this in? It was just gorgeous. In my lifetime I would never have done a report like that. It would likely earn me the promotion that Oscar had been drooling over for months now.

That's why I shredded it. Then got my purse and went to lunch.

****************************

"Well, at least Mona got her work done on time," Stu nannered cattily as Oscar and I walked in from lunch.

"What?" I said.

"Upstairs wants to see you right now, Miss Most Likely To Be Promoted."

"You told me you still had notes to review!" Oscar said to me with a shocked look.

That look just killed me. I had no idea how that report got out of my shredder and upstairs. My chicken crepes were turning somersaults in my stomach.

Then Oscar broke into a smile, "Good one Mona. At least I had mine upstairs an hour before yours!"

I felt better. But barely.

Turns out I did get that promotion. And a new office. Upstairs.


To be continued....

Thursday, November 01, 2007

WITH NO WARNING, IT JUST SLAPS YOU IN THE FACE

Do you ever sometimes think of statistics? Not in a formal sense really. More like, 1 out of 200 children you know will get cancer. I hope it's not mine. Or, 1 out of 500 parents you know will die while their children are still young. I hope it's not me. Like that? Being equally "brained" in math, I do.

So I'm sitting in the waiting hall while my mom has her first session of physical therapy, and I'm reading a local newspaper. I had written a satirically scathing letter to the Opinion page that was published last week and was looking for the rebuttal. No rebuttal. So I scanned the various articles of local interest.

I turned a page and saw a very nice picture of the husband of a friend of ours from Gymboree and My Gym and sporadic playdates over the years. The last time I saw him was with his son, Wonderboy's age, at baseball last spring. Of course he was a coach, because he was a huge baseball fan.

Then, shocked to the core, I saw over his picture the word, "Obituary".

The beautiful tribute written did not say how he passed. Only the sweet highlights of his all too brief 41 years.

This is the third parent we've known who has died in the last 4 years. The first was a mom who died of cancer in her early forties, leaving two small children. The second was last year, just before my dad passed. Morrie was killed when a young couple hit his car, causing it to fly and flip over the median to the other side of the freeway where an oncoming semi slammed into him, causing his car to burst into flames. He left four children, the fourth born the day he died.

There was a fourth. A dad of Wonderboy's school chum was killed in a motorcycle accident 2 years ago. But we didn't know him, even though that was a close connection.

Now Sam. Who leaves two sons. Both with the same birthday, two years apart. And his lovely wife.

These are too many. Statistically and personally speaking.

Job 14:2 He springs up like a flower and withers away;
like a fleeting shadow, he does not endure.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

PUMPKIN/APPLE FRIDAY FIVE!

It's Singing Owl's turn:

"All Hallows Eve (Halloween) is near. As a child, Halloween was one of my favorite holidays. We didn’t yet worry about razor blades in apples or popcorn balls or some of the other concerns people have with Halloween these days. Halloween was a chance to be mildly scared, and better yet, to dress up and pretend to be something we really weren’t. Let’s talk about that a bit, but then let’s add in some food ideas for this year. Where I live the leaves are falling, the temperature is chilly and pumpkins are for sale everywhere, along with many kids of apples. What's more, the "Holiday Season" will soon be upon us. ACK! I could use a new idea for dessert. So, here we go…"

1. How did you celebrate this time of year when you were a child?

First there was the school Halloween parade and carnival. Every classroom had to create their own booth, manned by volunteer parents. No schoolwork that day, just awesome fun. Then my neighborhood had the best trick or treating. If you were going to get a candy apple from the lady on the corner of the cul-de-sac you had to go there first, and you had to go there early. Then the rest of the neighborhood was fair game in order. It was a safer time and I could go trick or treating by myself from the age my son is now. There were a couple haunted houses to walk through where you had to put your hand in covered bowls of spaghetti (guts), olives (eyes) and jello (brains) before getting your treat from the "adult" dressed as a hideous witch. And THEN (she said sounding like Edith Ann) you got to go home with your friends, dump out all your candy, trade for favorites and eat eat eat till you were sick to your stomach!!

2. Do you and/or your family “celebrate” Halloween? Why or why not? And if you do, has it changed from what you used to do?

We have a neighborhood in a neighboring town that is required by the city to do it up for Halloween. People drive in from miles around to trick or treat here. The houses are spectacular. There are some special effects industry people who do amazing things. It is mayhem. You have to run to keep up with your child as they move from house to house at lightspeed. And you're all done in 1/2 hour.

What's sadly changed now is that, while I don't have to go through the candy, because the neighborhood is safe, we still throw half of it out, because too much sugar is a huge issue these days. This is from kids just not getting the exercise that we used to get in the regular course of our days. I have a friend who would tell her children that if they left most of their candy by the hearth that the "Great Pumpkin" would leave them a toy. But we have enough toys and that is another issue as well. The too much stuff these days issue.

I feel that nowadays life is just so very full of homework, video games, television, too many toys, it has become cluttered. Too cluttered. The simpler days were healthier, even if we did eat too much candy on Halloween night. Our dinners were home made and not processed and over salted and sugared. We walked to school and walked home. We ran every single day of good weather after school and on weekends. There was one, maybe two cartoon shows on during the week and only for an hour on Saturday morning. I believe all of these things have ruined much of Halloween today.

2. Candy apples: Do you prefer red cinnamon or caramel covered? Or something else? Caramel with chocolate and toasted pecans.




3. Pumpkins: Do you make Jack O’ Lanterns? Any ideas of what else to do with them?

Love Jack-O'Lanterns. They have these really cool kits with fancy designs that we do. Then use them until they grow fuzzy mold in the middle. These are like the ones we've done. They're from Yankee Halloween.com (for some reason the link didn't work.)


4. Do you decorate your home for fall or Halloween? If so, what do you do? Bonus points for pictures.

This year I did not decorate for the first time since Wonderboy was born. This was because of having to move my mom. Fortunately he is a forgiving child. Usually I deck the house out, inside and out. Scarier nowadays that the child is older. We have a flying bat, lots of window and mirror clings, a giant spider for the front yard a witch that flies into the tree, just for starters. Here was a fun thing last year:



5. Do you like pretending to be something different? Does a costume bring our an alternate personality?

I LOOOVE pretending to be someone else. Probably why I started my working life as a starving actress. Are you kidding? This is my holiday. I'd dress up for Wonderboy's school, but it would mortify him. When we threw Halloween bashes though I would dress up. One year I dressed as "Sitcom Mom", with the apron and the beehive and wearing pot holders.

Bonus: Share your favorite recipe for an autumn food, particularly apple or pumpkin ones.

Easy apple (or any fall or even summer fruit) tart: One package puff pastry thawed. Unroll it, shape it into a very large square and let it rest in the fridge. Cut up the apple or fruit into uniform pieces. About an inch square. Flavor as you will. With apples the amount of sugar depends on the tartness of the fruit. And I like to add a shot of Calvados along with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Mix with the fruit. Let it macerate just a tad. Then bring out the puff pastry. Swab it with melted butter. Glob on the fruit, sprinkle with brown sugar and nuts, and dot with butter. Fold in the edges of the pastry. Does NOT have to be neat. Pop it into a 400 degree over till it's done. I don't know how long. About 15 minutes or so. Puff pastry cooks fast, so keep an eye on it.

Or: baked apple: Cut off the top and core large apples. Scoop out just a bit more and save for applesauce. Fill with a mixture of brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, good old Calvados again and top with butter pats. Bake at 350 till done.


And y'all come on back later this weekend now. "Living With Familiar Strangers" will continue.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

FRIDAY FIVE - Homage to the Top Chef

.....A little break from the story. But no worries. A new installment comes later Friday!!

My Princess Mindy Swap Partner Extraordinairre, RevHRod writes:

"This Fall my family has been energetically watching Top Chef on the Bravo channel. My teenage daughter watches with the dream of some day being a chef. My husband watches because he loves reality shows and I mean, really loves them. Plus the whole competition thing really works for him. Me, I love cooking and good food. Every so often I get an idea from this group of talented young chefs who are competing for big money and honors galore.

The winner for this season was Hung. Not the fan favorite, but he won fair and square. In his bio, he says if he were a food "I would be spicy chili - it takes a while to get used to, but once you eat it you always come back for more!" With that in mind, here is this week’s Friday Five"



1. If you were a food, what would you be?

I would be Thanksgiving cornbread/sausage stuffing. My recipe includes sweetened dried cranberries, toasted pecans, celery, onion and secret herbs. Yum yum. I make a lot of it. Because I eat a lot of it. And therefore a lot of me is likely thereafter a lot of it.

2. What is one of the most memorable meals you ever had? And where?

Three come to mind. One is a dinner made by a former beau of Cornish Game Hens with, of course, butter soaked herbed stuffing. The whole meal was amazing. Home made bread. Salad. And I made an apple tarte tatin as dessert! The second was at a favorite restaurant in Pasadena, of Apple Cider whiskey sauced, and of course stuffed, pork chop. All the bites, first to last, were tickets to heaven. And then one I made from a Julia Child recipe for chicken crepes with a cheese/wine sauce. Goodness that woman could cook!

3. What is your favorite comfort food from childhood?

My mom used to make a Velveeta/mushroom soup form of rarebit for lunch. With black olives on the side. I'd stick an olive on each finger, pop them in and then eat the smooth cheesy goodness on toast. And then there was french fry night, where we had tempura veggies, potatoes and such for supper. And on Thanksgiving mom would make this sweet potato/orange/marshmallow side dish that was worth waiting a year for.

4. When going to a church potluck, what one recipe from your kitchen is sure to be a hit?

Dadgummit my church does NOT have potluck dinners. I have tried and tried to talk them into this. But it's La De Dah Canada and all the fancy wimmins there apparently do not cook. If we did have potlucks, I would make my Died and Gone to Heaven Lasagna.

5. What’s the strangest thing you ever willingly ate?

I am not one to try octopus or sea urchin or even sweetbreads. It's a big coward I am with that. The most bizarre combination, that I will still eat today, is a peanut butter and sweet pickle sandwich.

Bonus question: What’s your favorite drink to order when looking forward to a great meal?

A kir royale. Maybe two or five. (Champagne with creme de cassis. Though I also like it with Chambord)

Saturday, October 06, 2007

MORE QUESTIONS ABOUT FOOD



Just some preliminary groundwork:

Just guessing here. Because I don't know for a fact:
I'd say that the woman on the left has not fed herself or her son because there is not enough food in her area to sustain a healthy weight for herself and a nurturing weight for her child.

Just guessing here. Because I don't know for a fact:
I'd say that the woman on the right has intentionally withheld food from herself out of a desire to be as thin as possible, believing her pictured physical state to be glamorous and beautiful.

Some psychological research has indicated that eating disorders are a mental disease and not a lifestyle choice.

An incorrect deduction would presume that the woman on the left and her child have an eating disorder. If you call a serious lack of food in their local geographical region an eating disorder, I would agree. But in fact, I do not agree.

Just guessing here. Because I don't know for a fact:
I'd say the woman on the right has an eating disorder.

All three appear malnourished. All three appear to be at some level of starvation. The difference, I would say, between the mother and son, and the "model" is intention. Yet the result is the same.

Now, take a mother or father (or both) who withhold food from their children to the point that the children become starved and malnourished. This mother and father, in fact, love their children, and believe they are doing them a good service. As in the parents who don't believe in giving their children modern medicine. And the woman in Texas who drowned her children to save them from Satan. And these children die.

And the woman on the left's child dies from being withheld food, but not by the mother's choice. By the circumstances of her environment.

Which child's death is more tragic to God? Does God hold all the parents above equally responsible in these children's deaths? Well, of course we're not gonna know that till we get up there. Assuming that's where we're all going. Because I don't know that for a fact. And assuming we remember to ask the question.

Which child's death is more tragic in your eyes? Are any of these child deaths preventable?

What would you do if you had just written a very large donation check to a mission in the Sudan to feed the starving people there, and then went to church and sat behind a family of obviously starving people, dressed in designer clothes who you knew to be affluent and watched their children stumble and fall from weakness on the way up to the children's sermon?

Which starving people are more tragic? Don't get me wrong. I absolutely believe in and support missions to Darfur and the Sudan and other areas of extreme poverty where all the people, including the children are suffering tragically. Through no fault of their own.

And the other side of the spectrum, the starving affluent, certainly can afford to choose differently. And yet they don't. And there does not seem to be any kind of "Unicef" or outreach program to help them and their children. We leave it to the courts. Who, only generally speaking here, take the children away from the poorer families and leave the ones who hire the expensive intimidating attorneys to return to the food withholding dysfunction they came from.

I would suggest that society and church needs to find a way to engage these families and help them heal as a family. Except, not my church, OK? They're worried about liability. Yours may well be too.

I'm just asking these questions:

~How do we as a society deal with the starvation of children and the self imposed starvation of teenagers and adults. Is it possible that the deaths of these children are swept under the carpet because of the "intention", even though the result is the same?

~How do we as a church, trying to obey Mark 7:27 "Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs." And do this in such a way as to also minister to the parents who do this. In other words, help heal the family?

Throwing large amounts of money at this will not heal these problems. Large amounts of money tend to attract corruption. Though money is surely needed in areas like the Sudan. To buy food and distribute it safely to where it is needed. How do we raise the awareness of our social consciousness and church consciousness to think outside the box to find solutions. Jesus told us that we would always have the poor with us. I don't believe that means they have to starve.

But then again, as Jodie pointed out in a comment on my "Foothill Blogger" post,

What do we as a society and a church do about this?

Friday, October 05, 2007

FRIDAY FIVE - Thankfulness List

From Mary Beth: "Welcome to the Friday Five!

This one is going to be veeeery simple: List at least five things (people, places, graces, miracles...) for which you are thankful. You may elaborate as you wish, or keep it simple."

1. My son.

2. My friends

3. My mom

4. Milk and being able to write about it

5.

6. Being able to see

7. Amazing Grace

Thursday, October 04, 2007

CHOKING ON PEANUT BUTTER

Day after day after day after day,
and night after night after night,
there is only "I need", "I need", "I need NOW"
from everyone.
Except me.

Day after day after day after day,
and night after night after night,
I do and I do and I do
for everyone.
Except me.

This has gone on
for years.
This has gone on
with and without tears.
This has gone on
relentlessly.

No time to eat dinner,
it's now 10:00 p.m.
I open the refrigeratior
and look longingly
at uncooked food.
If only someone would come
and cook it. For me.
I'm too tired.

I take out the jar of
Smooth Peanut Butter.
I take out a large tablespoon.
I introduce one to the other
and ground nuts mound over the spoon.

Back to the den.
Watch the news.
Lick the spoon.

Forgot milk.
Forgot water.

*Suddenly*!!
the breathable ratio
of esophagus
to peanut butter
is overwhelmed!!

A strange, so strange wheezing sound!
Is it a cat? Why do I feel dizzy suddenly?
Where is this sound coming from?
Oh. It's me. Just choking.

I stand, wondering where
oh where has it gone?
My panic.
It's not here.
Just wheezing and choking
and not breathing.

It feels peaceful. It feels welcoming.
I hear a beckoning. I hear a voice.
A pretty voice. A voice that promises rest.
For me.

"Just relax" it says.
"Don't get up. Just lay back
and let me stroke your brow"
it says.
And way way way way back in the background
almost too far to be heard is
"I need", "I need", I need NOW".

And without thinking I find myself
back at the refrigerator.
Ignoring the uncooked food.
Grabbing the bottle of milk.
Just one last wheeze. It really wouldn't be so bad, would it?
I could finally sleep, couldn't I?

Then I'm drinking.
Straight from the bottle.
And the smooth stickiness is washed away.
The wheeze is gone.
And I am still here.
Almost sorry.

And tomorrow becomes:

Today after day after day after day,
and night after night after night,
with only "I need", "I need", "I need NOW"
from everyone.
Except me.

Gonna need to buy a new bottle of milk today.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

COMIC WEDNESDAY




(From my very funny friend, Susan)

THE FOOTHILL JOGGER



While waiting for the muse to strike me with another story, here's a strange and sad and true tale. While we don't live in the upscale burg of La Canada, Wonderboy and I travel there all week long for his school, for church, for my haircuts, groceries and all sorts of daily life requirements.

La Canada is adjacent to Alta Dena and Pasadena. Foothill Boulevard is a main drag. It stretches west into the more middle class La Crescenta. Then, traveling eastward again, it goes into disguise through Alta Dena, then picks up again in Pasadena. All the way to a pretty little town called Sierra Madre. The distance from La Canada to Sierra Madre is easily more than 10 miles. One way.

Every single day, at some point during the day, you will see a young, blond, skeletal woman in shorts, tank top, baseball cap, pushing a red double wide stroller as she jogs first one side of Foothill all the way into La Crescenta to the west and then back on the other side, heading back to Sierra Madre in the east. She jogs over 20 miles a day. She has been doing this for so long that when you are directly behind her you will hear that she is not even winded. Wonderboy calls her Mrs. Skeleton.

The scuttlebutt from local shopkeepers is that she is the wife of a successful doctor and the family is very wealthy. They say that her schoolage children are also malnourished and very skinny. Their teachers will bring food for them to eat when they are at school because they do not get fed at home. Complaints have been made to Child Protective Services. But, it is said that because the family is wealthy, it has been impossible to remove the children from the home.

Now, I will wager that if this woman was the wife of a blue collar worker and the family was not wealthy, those children would be in foster homes immediately enjoying mac 'n cheese, with apples and carrots and milk. Not to mention breakfast and lunch. Every day. But the husband is a rich doctor. Now I don't know for a fact that this is the reason the complaints filed by teachers and neighbors have been unsuccessful. But I suspect it is true.

What do you think? Do you believe that our legal system panders to the wealthy even on this level? Even to allowing the continued endangerment of children? What do you think any of us might be able to do about this? I know there have been other tragic stories involving the neglect, abuse and hurting of children in "ordinary" or even "priveleged" neighborhoods. Do you think this is now an epidemic? Or is it just because our population has burgeoned so large that the numbers are still, percentage wise, proportional to, say 1960?

The pastors at my church will say to those with family problems, "Well, you better not tell me about any of it because you know I am a mandated reporter". So if this jogger was a member of my church, her children would likely not be helped there either. Do you feel it is the church's place to help in situations like this, if possible? What would your church do?

Meanwhile, this sad woman who no one, including myself, knows how to help, will get up tomorrow, send her schoolage children out without breakfast, then put her preschool children into the red double wide, and spend the entire day running the more than 20 miles, while none of them get anything to eat. Well maybe except for the dad.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

HOMEBOY INDUSTRIES

Today is the Grand Opening of Homeboy Bakery/Homegirl Cafe after a fire in 1999 burned down the original building.

A Jesuit priest, Father Gregory J. Boyle, founded Homeboy Industries. He said "Nothing stops a bullet like a job".

In the bakery, rival gang members are working side by side to make bread.

May God bless this profoundly positive mission of peace in my city. And may blessings of success rain down on their endeavors. And I'll just bet the bread is really good too. Gotta go and taste me some.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

BACK TO CHURCH

At church this morning our head pastor (just back from painful ankle and foot surgery) announced that he's stopping the capital campaign three weeks hence because they've only been able to raise half of the funds needed. The plan is to scale back and just build the children's pavillion and remodel one of the halls so the music department can have new offices. Apparently only 10 million is needed for this instead of the 13.6 million that had been asked for. And they only have 6.8 million so far. All this after building the 11 plus million dollar family life building and worship arts center.

The worship arts center has kicked off their "Ovations" program with an art show of secular paintings that loosely try to tie into scripture. They're nice paintings. Though I do not understand what a painting of an old man gardening in his underwear has to do with Jesus. Or of a lady slumped over asleep at a table. I must just be thick headed.

The new building did not enlarge the sanctuary. And we really needed that. But the idea was to put overflow into the worship arts building so folks could watch their kids or the programs on a live feed video screen.

Our pastor acknowledged that he knew he had offended a lot of the congregation with the enormity of this building project. Especially when it jumped from 8 million to 24 within 4 years. It really doesn't matter whether or not it was his personal fault that all this has gone remarkably south, but I felt an apology from him was in order. It was not at all forthcoming.

Instead, the congregation was chastized by telling us that the only thing keeping our church alive is the constant incoming flow of new families and if we don't build this big expensive new building then that flow is going to stop and our church is a' gonna die. Gotta have the pretty, expensive building or the church will die. And that's that. And if that's what we want, that's what we'll get if we don't sign onto the five year plan of giving. I hadn't been all that offended before. Just skeptical and incredulous over the session's idea of how the numbers were supposed to work. NOW I am offended. I know the church is in trouble. But there is just no way I believe a pretty, expensive new building at the cost of what would rebuild a sizable portion of Katrina victim's houses, or maybe make a profound positive impact in Africa, or both with that kind of money, is gonna save our church.

Children and families will come when there are good programs based on Jesus and teaching the Bible. *shakin' my head* And of course they'll come to party with interesting secular programs and to play pool and basketball in the shiny new buildings. But then it won't be church any more, will it?

I would love to find a smaller, spirit centered rather than secular centered, church with my mom, but Wonderboy loves the children's choir so much and the leaders are spirit centered. So, for him, I'll hang in there. And there are good people there. Though some of my pals have left. And the junior and senior high programs are also centered on Jesus and scripture. Though the entire time I've been at this church there has always been a disconnect between youth, adult and senior groups. Now I understand why.

Oh, and they're starting a new study group on "The New Atheists: A Christian Response". I wish I had time for that one because I have always thought that being an atheist meant that one did not believe in God. Apparently there are new requirements for the club. Maybe a secret handshake or something. Or maybe it's a "unborn again" program. *shakin' my head again*. I had thought that the church already had a Christian Response.

Can I get a witness?

Friday, September 28, 2007

FRIDAY FIVE - Reverendmother's Swan Song

Reverendmother sings her Swan Song thusly: "Well friends, as I prepare for the birth of Bonus Baby, it's time to simplify life, step back from the Friday Five, and let one of the other capable and creative RevGals take the helm. It's been a great almost 17 months of co-hosting the F5, but it's time to say goodbye... so here's my swan song."


On Endings and Goodbyes:

1. Best ending of a movie/book/TV show

Movie: Field of Dreams, James Earl Jones' character walks into the cornfield, "Ray" has a catch with his dad as all those cars are a'linin' up to come and see.

Book: No contest - "Gone With The Wind". Never been a better one.

TV show: I do watch TV, but that I can't come up with one here tells me that in my opinion, the end of every TV show is a good thing.

2. Worst ending of a movie/book/TV show

Movie: Ingmar Bergman always left me hangin'

Book: Stephen King's "The Stand". Loved, loved, loved the story. But the book needed to end two chapters earlier. It was obvious that he had fallen in love with the place and his editor didn't have the cajones to tell him to get out sooner.

TV show: Twilight Zone. That show should have never ever ever ended. The ending wasn't bad. That it ended was bad.

3. Tell about a memorable goodbye you've experienced.

When I said goodbye to my dad last October. I could tell him, but he couldn't talk to me because he was in such bad shape. But I told him, "Everything's all done now dad. The lawn's mowed. The yard is watered. All your tools are cleaned and put up. The house looks beautiful. You're sittin' in your easy chair with the cat on your lap and a nice cool beer on the side table. Just lay back now and rest. It's all done now. And all is forgiven, all is forgiven."

4. Is it true that "all good things must come to an end"?

All things come to an end, period. But the ending of one thing is always the beginning of something else. Good, bad or indifferent.

5. "Everything I ever let go of has claw marks on it." --Anne Lamott
Discuss.

The material: cat claw marks, or the claw marks of not being able to let go easily.
The emotional and ephemeral: ditto the claw marks of not being able to let go easily.


Bonus: "It isn't over until the fat lady sings." I've never loved this expression. So propose an alternative: "It isn't over until

..........the very last proton has degraded."

Thursday, September 27, 2007

SAD SO LONGS

Two blogfriends I have greatly enjoyed, respected and have found enlightening are leaving.

Will Spotts, formerly of the Truth in Love Network, is leaving the PCUSA and has written a powerful piece on his experience and reasons.

And Bill Crawford, Bayou Christian, is hanging up the blogging towel for awhile.

I am sad, but I wish them both God Speed and Tender Mercies in their life travels.

Monday, September 24, 2007

George Carlin Talks About Stuff

Here is the story of life this week. Thank the Good Lord that George Carlin could make a prescient presentation based on the current disaster sitting in my mothers new apartment this very minute.

(note: it IS a cleaner version of the earlier....but still contains profanity. Though the profanity is necessary for the story line. And the nudity has been omitted. ;)

Friday, September 21, 2007

FRIDAY FIVE - de-cluttering edition



In the midst of moving children off to college Sally says:

"Making the most of our resources is important, I have been challenged this week by the amount of stuff we accumulate, I'd love to live a simpler lifestyle, it would be good for me, and for the environment I think...

With that in mind I bring you this Friday 5;"

1. Are you a hoarder or a minimalist?

I am a hoarder with delusions of minimalism. I will go along and go along, believing that I have been brutal in tossing out all that's not needed. Then, without warning I'll discover that I can no longer walk into my closet.

2. Name one important object ( could be an heirloom) that you will never part with.

Just one? It would be my computer if it's just one. If I got just a couple more, then sculptures my dad made, paintings my mom did, my scrapbook photos of my son......

3. What is the oldest item in your closet? Does it still fit???

Usually I am the oldest item in my closet and I will sometimes fit. But I think you meant clothing. It would be a size 4 pair of jeans that, no, do not still fit. I keep them to remind me that I was actually once that size. For 5 minutes. Until I ate supper.

4.Yard sales- love 'em or hate 'em ?

I've no need of a new yard. I would be in the hate 'em category. I find them a large suck hole of time, where I end up finding nothing.

5. Name a recycling habit you really want to get into.

Lately, after what we've gone through with my mom, it would be furniture. Though my mom did a great job. We found a handyman who took her unsellable furniture to local shelters and hospice homes.

And for a bonus- well anything you want to add....

With my mom's big move, I've been thinking a lot about stuff lately. How it ends up such a yoke around my neck. It's such a blessing to be able to just consider the lilies as Jesus told us to do. Yet those clingy attachments to the thingies still abide. I've watched friends helping us pack, hovering over items of my mom's, asking "are you going to want those PG?" Then when I've said "No", finding them hoarded away on their purse or by their keys for taking home. Then considering my poor mom watching her life with my father so alarmingly dismantled before her eyes. And I again think of "consider the lilies". I just pray that when it's my time to downsize and dismantle my life, there won't be so much darned stuff. We need a Weight Watchers for stuff, don't we?

Now, please excuse me because I have to prepare my house to receive some of my mom's stuff tomorrow on our big moving day.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

BEWARE THE AGING EFFECTS OF STRESS

Here I am just a scant couple weeks ago starting the process of telephone calls to move my mom, get Wonderboy ready for school and all the recent goings on of my life.










And here I am today.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Kid Abomi-nation and Reality TV Editing

Here's an interesting YouTube by Charlie Brooker showing how "Reality" TV is not necessarily "Reality". For those tuning in to Kid Abomination next week, think about this. And what was involved in the parents "selling" their children to make this show. Because, bottom line, selling them is what they did. And the sole purpose was financial profit.

Friday, September 14, 2007

RUMPLED SHEETS


Abbey of the Arts has had a poetry week going on. So I wrote this.



I lay beneath golden mountains of dreams
divided by chasms of snores.
Morning’s light creeps across the peaks
to kiss my face gently awake.

No, no, not yet, I’ve not finished, no please.
I’ve just another story to dream.
It’s warm and it’s safe and it’s sweet in this place
and I am not ready to wake.

But the bright light demands that I GET UP RIGHT NOW
Start the day, do the chores, meet the needs
of the family who hangs on my every strength, every breath
and my night time renewal is gone.

……still….through the day I carry about a sweet smile
my secret safe carried within
of my nightly climbs through the golden dream mountains
where I know I will travel tonight.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Friday, September 07, 2007

Rich Mullins - Creed (Credo)

Hat tip to Quaker Pastor

FRIDAY FIVE - On Overcoming

Sally's Friday Five is inspired from apprehension over taking her son for a cardioversion. (Prayers going up for him, Sally)


1.Have you experienced God's faithfulness at a difficult time? Tell as much or as little as you like...

I have indeed. By the spectacular, which I have concluded to be miracles; and by the quiet whisperings:

Finding my parents and then just my mom a home when needed....immediately and their home selling....immediately with no haggling.

And other miracles I've posted about before, here, and here.

And most profoundly, changing my entire life, this guy:



2. Have you experienced a dark night of the soul, if so what brought you through?

More like a couple dark decades. And even after coming through, another dark decade. I am part of an extraordinary family of beleaguered saints. The worst of the worst happens to each of us, over and over and over. Even my own Siggy says she's never heard tell anything like what we've gone through. Family darknesses (not just mine) include:
suicides
lawsuits
divorces
alcoholism
kidnapping and beating
rapes
attempted poisoning
death of a child
.....just to name a few

And what gets me through are humor, God's strength added to my own, miracles as talked about above, and the gift of a sense of the universe being so far greater and wondrous than all this. As in, will any of this really really bother me 100 years from now?

3. Share a Bible verse, song, poem that has brought you comfort?

The 23rd Psalm. And Jesus' sermon on the Mount.
And more Psalms.

4. Is "why suffering" a valid question?

Yes. It is on my list of "What was all THAT about?" for when I meet Jesus.
Also, you know, sometimes it occurs to me that I would not be where I am today, doing what I do the way I do it if there hadn't been such profound suffering in my life. As in the way steel is tempered. I figure my family should be a bag of diamonds by now.


5. And on a lighter note- you have reached the end of a dark and difficult time- how are you going to celebrate?

Sleep. Read. Reflect. Diet and exercise. Sleep. Oh, and did I mention, sleep.


Bonus- anything you wish to add....

Just one thing....that saying that God never allows more than you can handle. I do disagree with that. I believe many people get more than they can handle. And I believe that that's because this portion of our eternal existence is just a tiny tiny part. So yeah, we'll get more than we can handle here and then have to deal with it...there.

Friday, August 24, 2007

FRIDAY FIVE: Cultural

From Sally this week:
"I have spent the week at Summer School studying the Gospel and Western culture, we have looked at art, literature, music, film and popular culture in their myriad expressions. With that in mind I bring you the cultural Friday 5".

Name a

1. BookI read this book straight through. So excited. The author is an MIT physicist, now a professor at Jerusalem University. He is also a Bible scholar. He takes discoveries in physics, cosmology, paleontology and archaeology and demonstrates the literal truth of much of the Old Testament. Including Genesis, folks. It was just the coolest book.

2. Piece of musicShe saw me through my dad's passing. She's helping me with my mom's moving. I can have a good cry with a couple of cuts from this album. And there's no question that Jesus is playing back up for her.


3. Work of art- I do enjoy paintings and sculptures and all that. But not as passionately as dance. Watching it and doing it, both. It's pictures drawn and stories told with bodies. Swan Lake, the Nutcracker, Dennon and Sayhber Rawles' Tango Apassianado are beautiful expressions of God's majesty through our bodies. (BTW, that's Dennon and Sayhber pictured here. I was blessed to have taken class from them for several years)

4. Film I still watch this film. I've used music from it in my dramas. It speaks to me of God's still and always miraculous interaction with us. If we will only listen.

5. Unusual engagement with popular culture - No pictures for this one. I'd have to say becoming a mother late in life has completely turned my views inside out, upside down and rightside over. From Sesame Street, to a new awareness of the dark side of marketing, to being here with you right now. None of that would have happened without the gift of my son. It has made the gift that that other Son so much more meaningful to me.

That have helped/ challenged you on your spiritual journey.

Bonus: Is engagement essential to your Christian faith, how and why? Yes. It's where God calls through to me when my own openings are closed. Bringing me back. Calling me out. And correcting my course.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

DEPUTY PRESBYGAL TO THE RESCUE!


Something has happened that confirms to me I am moving my mom close by just in the nick of time. I'm gonna write about it for any of you who have elderly parents living "without a net" so to speak.

This past Sunday when my mom got home from visiting me, she opened her mail to find a very odd letter. The letter was from a doctor's office in "Other City", not her city, and from a doctor she does not know, nor has ever had any contact with. Inside was a form and a note. The form was a cheesy looking xerox and the note was hand written from a "Christy". The request was for her to fill out the form with all her personal information, including social security number or the appointment will be cancelled, and to bring it with her for her "appointment" on August 27. My mom told me about this right away.

*cue Starsky and Hutch theme*. I immediately got on the internet and googled the doctor. He's legitimate. Monday morning I called the "Other City" police department. Spoke with "Secretary" of the street crimes unit. They were off duty on Monday, but she had really good advice and information. She knows the doctor and confirmed he's a fine fellow. She also said I had to contact my mom's city's sheriff department because there may be jurisdiction issues. Plus the fact that a crime has not actually been committed. This was more like a "pre-crime". I guess something like, just because you bought the cake mix, doesn't mean you've made the cake or even intend to make it. In legal terms.

I called Mom's City's sheriff department and spoke with an officer. He said that they did not have any task force or unit for identity theft and the best they could do would be to send an officer to look at the letter. This is actually good to know.

Next, I called the doctor's office as my mom. I don't there is a crime on the books for "impersonating your mother" and I don't believe my mom will file charges against ME for identity theft, so I figgered I was clear to do this.

Guess who anwered the phone? Yup. Christy herself. Here's how it went:

Me: "Helloooooo. I am calling because it seems there is a mistake."

Her: "Oh? What kind of mistake?"

Me: "Wellllll. I got this letter from you in the mail asking me for information regarding an appointment on August 27"

Her: "What's your last name?"

Me: (I give it). "And you see I don't have any appointment with you on August 27. I don't even live in your city and I don't even know this doctor."

Her: "Hmmm. That is so strange. This is about your left ankle."

Me: "Welllll, my left ankle is just fine. You know, dear, I really think you ought to call the po-lice."

Her: (starting to sound alarmed) "The police? Why?"

Me: "Wellll, this really does sound like i-den-ti-ty theft to me."

Her: (sounding more alarmed) "Identity theft?"

Me: "Why yes dear. And the po-lice ought to be in-formed."

Her: "Don't do another thing now. I will handle everything from here."

END OF CONVERSATION

I have given young Christy more than a day to call the police. Secretary of street crimes unit in "Other City" informed me today that she has NOT called the po-lice.

I have a next step planned, and will tell you what that is tomorrow.

Meanwhile, here's what I figure: It's not someone pretending to be my mom to get free medical care. If that were the case, they would not have sent a request for information form directly to my mom. They would have come at her a different way. It's also not happened before this because my mom got on the phone with various agencies to insure no other fraud has yet been committed. My crackpot theory, that I allege, is that this 'Christy' is "phishing" for patient information. I've never known of a doctor's office to send out information requests prior to just a regular appointment. They will ask you to come in early to fill out paperwork. But not solicit this by mail. I cannot think of any other possibility. My mother has no knowledge of this doctor, has no "left ankle" issues, would have not had any of her doctors refer for an appointment. So there is no basis from which this letter could have legitimately issued.

Here's what the "tells" were for me: She was the one who answered the phone. She ended the conversation quite abruptly when I mentioned "police" and "identity theft". And she has not called the police.

Anyone got any other ideas?

Updates to follow.......Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Friday, August 17, 2007

FRIDAY FIVE: Word Association Redux

From Reverend Mother this week, who borrowed from Songbird:

Below you will find five words. Tell us the first thing you think of on reading each one. Your response might be simply another word, or it might be a sentence, a poem or a story.

1. vineyard -

the Grapes of Wrath

2. root -

canal

3. rescue -

me

4. perseverance -

Katherine Hepburn quote: "the secret of life is to endure"

5. divided -

.....and punched down and kneaded so that the bread may do it's second rise.

Short and sweet, well really more grim than sweet. That's what moving will do. I'm off again to Camarillo, praying for light traffic.

Friday, August 10, 2007

FRIDAY FIVE - Stress Busting Edition

Sally writes:
I am off to spend a few days at the beach chilling out after a hectic few weeks and before I head off for Summer School...

So with that in mind this weeks questions are looking at how you deal with the stress monster!!!???

1. First, and before we start busting stress, what causes you the most stress, is it big things or the small stuff ?


It is the Chinese water drip torture of one thing after another after another after another, piling on relentlessly with no relief any time soon. Take for example, the last two weeks of my maelstrom life:

**Help Mom with escrow process, inspections, repairs, documents, organizing packing, movers, because her house sold in 2 and 1/2 days.
**Go to all day soccer referee training for Wonderboy's soccer team. Reschedule 2nd half of day for later.
**Find apartment for Mom to live in. Hours of internet searching, and looking at three dismal places, finally finding one that is perfect. Then prepare Mom for news that she will be going from 1900 square feet to 872.
**Helping with apartment paperwork
**Help Mom with Trust papers. Drive an hour and a half today to pick her up and an hour to the attorney. Then another hour of driving back home so Mom can see her new apartment.
**Regular schedule of work and chores still have to be done. Why is there always MORE laundry when times get really busy like this?
**Neighbors going on vacation, "can you feed our cat and water our plants", "why, yes I can, no problem!!"

2. Exercise or chocolate for stress busting ( or maybe something else) ?


Oh Lord, when my life is like this there is NO time for exercise. So when I go up and down my stairs, I run, hoping to get some cardio in. Plus I will park farther away when I go to the grocery store or wherever, just to have an extra minute of walking.





3.What is your favourite music to chill out to?


This week it's the violinist from Celtic Girls. Really pretty and soothing. Other times, good country music.

4. Where do you go to chill?

Someday I hope to have time to go somewhere. For now, it's with a book. For when I have time, I'd like to go get a massage.

5. Extrovert or introvert, do you relax at a party, or do you prefer a solitary walk?

Gimme a party. With people I like. Love to drink, nibble and chat.

Bonus- share your favourite stress busting tip!

If there's no time for yoga, stop for a minute and b-r-e-a-t-h-e.

(I'm working on the last post of Jezreel's story, so hang in there. It'll be done soon)

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

TIME FOR A COMMERCIAL BREAK

(I confess to totally stealing this from Barbara B, who brilliantly stole it from someone else. Why? Because it's wickedly brilliant!!

Friday, July 27, 2007

FRIDAY FIVE - FLOODS AND DROUGHT


Sally writes today:
Here in the UK we are struggling with floods, other parts of the world have similar problems without the infrastructure to cope with it, still others are badly affected by drought.... My son Jon is in Melbourne Australia where apparently it has been snowing ( yes it is winter but still!).... With crazy weather in mind I bring you this weeks Friday 5...


1. Have you experienced living through an extreme weather event- what was it and how did you cope?

September 1992 my husband and I were on Kauai. Our last day there, September 11 as it so happened, Hurrcane Iniki hit the island dead on. We were lucky enough to get into the Kauai War Memorial auditorium with 1,500 other people when it hit. It lasted for 7 hours. We sat in auditorium chairs the whole time. Every now and then someone would open a side exit door to stabilize the room pressure and each time a palm tree, just outside, was bent lower and lower.

Just before the eye the winds got so strong that all the lights went completely out and we heard the copper roof start to rip off. Water came in on people to the left of us and you could hear a rush of wave made of people as they screamed and moved to the other side. After the eye the storm was not as severe.

Then the three days afterward, sleeping on the floor, helping on volunteer teams to clean bathrooms and clear rubble, were surreal. We got out first because we were in the only shelter on the entire island with running water and they needed it for the residents. Actually we got out second because Japan sent a ship in the next morning to take all the Japanese nationals home.


2. How important is it that we wake up to issues such as global warming?

I believe we're already too late and God will deal. That said, we still need to do as much as we can to help. From what I've read I believe that we have far too many people living today than our planet's resources can support in our current lifestyle. When God deals with this, I believe it will be harsh.


3. The Christian message needs to include stewardship of the earths resources agree/ disagree?

Absolutely agree. And I believe we have been sadly remiss with this issue.


And because it is summer- on a brighter note....


4. What is your favourite season and why?

Fall. The weather's crisp and cool. It has my favorite smells. And I love plaid wool skirts. Even though I don't currently own any.

5. Describe your perfect vacation weather....

Hawaii. Any time of year. As long as a hammock and umbrella drinks are involved.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

FRIDAY FIVE - LOOKING BACK, LOOKING FORWARD

Sally writes:
"When I began work here at Downham Market a wise friend told me that after one year I would see a few changes and sense God at work- years two and three would cause me to question and to wonder why I had chosen to accept the post here and in year four I might see the beginnings of something new."

And so with that in mind alongside yesterdays celebrations I bring you Friday 5 Looking back, looking forward..

1. Share a moment/ time of real encouragement in your journey of faith

After trying all the churches in my neighborhood, I chose my best friend's Missouri Synod Lutheran Church. In the Sunday School I had so many questions. I would stay after and ask more. The teacher was very kind and took extra time to answer my questions. She gave me the courage to arrange a meeting with the pastor and get baptized. I was ten years old. I remember her kindness. She made Jesus a real person for me.

2. Do you have a current vision / dream for your work/ family/ministry?

I pray daily, sometimes lamenting, that I will have career vocation with my writing in the church. With dramas or presentations. My wildest dream would be to write and produce Christian film. That would be so sweet. I have so many ideas for really good stories. I especially want to take scripture and make it alive for our time. With great humor, where appropriate. To inspire folks to pick the book up again and check it out. I got to do some of that at my church until.....well, just until. I have to believe that God has a plan somewhere for me to do this before I am too old and decrepit to remember how to spell decrepit.

3.Money is no object and so you will.....

Buy camera equipment. Hire a crew. Make the films from #2 above and market them without mainstream entertainment interference. Hire really talented actors who are not necessarily famous. With maybe one really famous one to get it sold. Introduce media into worship and church life as a scripture based tool. Teach others how to do this too.

Then go to Italy for custom made shoes.

4. How do you see your way through the disappointments? What keeps you going?

When things are really really bad, I'll down a brandy before bed. Play my music really loud. And read. And go back to scripture and pray. And rant to God and lament. What keeps me going: easy, only one thing besides God holding me upright and that's my boy. My precious gift of being his mother.

5. How important are your roots?

Given my personal history and my immediate family history, my roots have given me the perspective and insight I had to have to forgive my immediate family's creation of a blindly brutal and often callous upbringing. Though going through it, they did not see it that way at all. Anyway, having routed out that family history gave me compassion for their experiences and showed me how the experiences of previous generations informs our upbringing. Knowing what went into their life experiences helped me to heal so very much. I've gone back 4 generations at least on both sides.

Unless, of course, you're asking about my hair color. In which case, I must do the roots every 4 weeks. My hair just grows too fast.

6. Bonus= what would you like to add ?

There's one common thread looking back and looking forward and that's simply this: there is never enough time to do it right, but there's always time to do it over.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

EXCUSE ME

Starving:
I'm hungry now. Too tired to walk.
Nothing left for my boy to nurse.
Can you see me here?

Fed:
I'm sorry, but no time right now.
I have to take my children to their
shiny school after their pancake breakfast.

Starving:
Do you see my boy.
My heart is broken afresh every day
that I cannot feed him.

Fed:
Sorry? What was that?
I'm late you know.
Have to go. We'll chat later.

Starving:
Somehow I have to walk another 15 miles.
It's said there's water there.
Can you see me here?

Fed:
No time, no time,
I have back to back meetings today.
Important business, important plannings.

Starving:
Perhaps your wife then?

Fed:
Oh no, no no.
She's busy, booked up
with chores and errands and things we need.

Starving:
Oh.

Fed:
Now don't be that way.
We help, you know.

Starving:
How? Do you mind if my boy
and I lie down now.
We're very tired.

Fed:
(wiping hands) Er, um, of course.
Well, we give. Money.
To charity.

Starving:
We don't want your money.

Fed:
It's not our fault, you know.

Starving:
We don't care whose fault it is.
We're just hungry.
And sick.

Fed:
I don't have time for this right now.
I have important planning to do.

Starving:
We don't want your time.

Fed:
I'll help tomorrow. That's what.
I'll book 5 minutes for you at one.

Starving:
We can't make it.

Fed:
What?

Starving:
We're dead at 6:00 today.

Fed:
Oh. It's not my fault you know.

Starving:
I still don't care.

Fed:
I'm doing important work here.
You'll see.

Starving:
Not us. We won't.

Fed:
Well, those after you. Next year.
We're making some beautiful
buildings. They'll change things.

Starving:
When? Not for us.

Fed:
You'll see. Well those after you.
Our buildings will bring in
only the best people.
Only the best. They're the ones.

Starving:
We need you.
Now.

Fed:
No time today. No time.
Important meetings, plannings.
What was it you wanted?

Starving:
Just a glass of milk.
For my boy.
So he can die without his stomach hurting.



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