Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Swords to Plowshares–does it help with PTSD?


An older blog I began in the early days of blogs and websites and boy does this puppy need some attention and updating.  Not holding myself out as knowledgeable about kitchen gardening, this blog was about my efforts, trials and errors and bits of information I learned along the way.   Now I keep a lot of my information on One Note for my personal use.  I blog about gardening less as you can clearly see by the lack of blog posts over the years.  A couple of wars happened somewhere along the way, and I got caught up in activism activities to try to bring to a quick end, but as anyone can see, seven and ten years later there are still the Afghanistan and remnants of the Iraq war.  Would that those returning troops could come home to some sturdy work in the outdoors in the manner of turning swords to plowshares. 

You know there might be something to that to help veterans clear their minds a bit when plagued by memories they don't wish to remember.   An anecdotal story about one of our neighbors bears this out to some degree for me.  He rarely, if ever, talks of his service in Vietnam.  He was badly injured while there, and had what is considered one of the more risky functions, ferreting out tunnels for snipers and explosives.  Upon his return he went to work on the family oyster farm business, and never looked back.  He works early AM till dusk every day.  I often wonder what his inner thoughts are like for him, what pushes him to work so diligently besides the fact that the work he does do is laborious and requires daily attention.  He's in his late 50's now and recently shared a meal with us.  He told us he was diagnosed at VA hospital with ptsd.  He said he never heard of ptsd before, didn't know what it was, didn't know he had it.   I was floored in unbelief, knowing that ptsd had been well covered in the 1970's and not sure how he could have missed that one.

But you know, maybe he could have missed that one.  Maybe because we live in a small village in a rural area, he may have missed hearing about ptsd.  Maybe he buried his head in his work and never looked up to hear about veterans with ptsd, veterans who were/are homeless, veterans who suicide in despair of ever being free of the memories.   He tells us that the work he has been doing all these years farming oysters, and farming the kitchen garden on his property saved his life.  I believe him.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Does Compassion Mean What I Think It Means?

Compassion.  I think I know what it means to me, and I know my penchant for projecting onto others what I think it must also mean to them.  And more often than not, I come to learn what I have projected is not necessarily at all something means to another.   So difficult, finding the commonality of our languages, even when we speak the same language.  I would have surely thought compassion would have a somewhat universal meaning and would be a safe conversational word to express humane, spiritual and faith based concepts.

Apparently not so much in the faith based world.   Reading a post on Compassion at Better Than Believing blog this morning was an eye opener for me.   Translated from the scriptures and texts into the English may leave behind some of the intended meanings in the original writings.   Calls into question then, what it means to follow the popular belief of the Jesus teaching of compassion.

The differing meanings of the words compassion as cited in the post:
racham as compassion; Hebrew racham, which may have evolved from a root associated with cuddling a baby or little child, is frequently rendered compassion but has a variety of other meanings.
chamal, which originally may have meant commiserate; another Hebrew word. The difference between chamal and racham is that chamalnever seems to be connected with emotions but always suggests a decision about how to treat people
Two other Hebrew words are occasionally translated compassion: chen, which usually appears in English as grace or favor, and chesed, which most often is translated steadfast love or mercy.
The word that usually appears as compassion in the gospels must always be accompanied by a verb because the word in Greek, splagchnizomai, is a verb. It is based on splagchnon which means intestines, bowels, guts, or viscera. When a people today talk about having a visceral reaction to someone, like the authors and editors of the gospels they are acknowledging that intense emotions are experienced in the digestive tract. A crude but accurate translation of splagchnizomai would be torn up in the gut. In the gospels splagchnizomai usually describes a reaction of Jesus to the suffering or distress of other people. Occasionally the translators use the word pity instead of compassion.

His post then poses question about meaning of compassion as is typically understood from the biblical texts.  He suggests that making a virtue of compassion as if it is understood in the same way by all may not create a bit of a problem in understanding the meaning and intent of the teachings.  If as a visceral feeling, gut reaction, one feels it or one doesn't.  He then cites the well practiced masking people must do with their personal feelings in the helping professions in order to provide care (ie, doctors, nurses, EMT, etc) effectively.  

I well know the experience of needing to turn off personal feeling less my compassion be exhausted before a nine hour work shift is completed.  It provides a safety valve that permits me to do my job, helping large numbers of others, without depleting my personal resources.  I don't think my sense of compassion fully dissipates, but it is necessary for it to recede to the background in order to more effectively perform the helping services of my profession.

His post goes on to suggest that followers of Jesus must also learn to train themselves with regard to their personal sense of compassion so that they might provide a loving and merciful response within the context of how they experience their sense of compassion.

I intend to contemplate this for a while, incorporate it into my understanding of compassion, and revisit what I think the scriptures might be suggesting Jesus meant in use of the word compassion.  It sounds like there are differing meanings applicable to different situations.  

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mormonism of Yesteryear's Pioneer Spirit

It would not be complete to not include the link to this post by Holly Welker; Latter-Day Saints and Modern-Day Pioneers, which generated in me a culmination that it has become  time or even past time for me to lift up my voice with my husband's voice in honoring the spirit, integrity and courage displayed by his familial ancestors as reflective of the pioneer spirit of Mormonism.  I can admire the story, the people, the experience and relate to it strongly as it mirrors for me that deeply held faith beliefs can sustain horrific life experiences. 

I do believe believe that through arduous reflection, introspection, and determination, faith can help rescue human pain, human hurt.  I am not of the belief that there is some immediate miraculous lifting of the anguish, but that faith is a process and like many  processes, it evolves in increments, steps, time and experience. I think for the most part humans will experience varying kinds of levels of deep pain, deep hurt that need the balm of healing.  And I believe a combination of factors to include reaching out for or holding onto faith can be that balm.

My husband's  viewpoint on his ancestral story is better told in his own book 'And Should We Die', which is not an effort on my part to promote his book in this post; more that his own words tell the story of how he feels about his ancestral heritage and story.   Given what I have come to learn about this fateful and dangerous trek and the costs in terms of loss of life of men, women and children, I do not share quite the same viewpoint as my husband.  We do share in common a mutual admiration for the people who were his relatives, who made that trek, who brought his family to the West. 

In that vein, when I read Holly Welker's post, I let out a hoop and holler of Yes!  A person who not only shares my viewpoint but brings additional material to the discussion, offering up resource material for me to seek out and digest.  Bringing me to an almost 'aha' moment, which generated in me the desire to initiate this blog. 

Quoting from her post;

  As far as I'm concerned, my activity in the Mormon church is irrelevant to my identity as a Mormon. Mormons call themselves saints; I suppose these days I'm a secular saint rather than a devout one. But that indelible mark made on the collective Mormon psyche by the trek across the plains? It's as vivid and deep on my psyche as on anyone's. What it marks is not my relationship to orthodoxy but to sacrifice, landscape, the unknown, and change.
I am proud of and humbled by the actions of my ancestors. They abandoned the familiar and strode bravely into the unknown, confident that doing so would enable a better future. They gave up possessions, relationships that no longer nurtured them, ideologies they had outgrown. They did the hardest thing they could, both because they could and because they had no other choice.
I cannot count the number of people who have said to me,"I have profound doubts about the church -- its politics, its doctrines, its social structures. I don't always feel at home. But I'll never stop attending or voice certain doubts in public because that would render the sacrifices of my ancestors null and void."
And I say, "How is doing the opposite of what your ancestors did the best way to honor their actions? Isn't the best way to honor their examples simply to follow it?"
I currently live in Salt Lake City, with ample opportunity to celebrate Pioneer Day: concerts in the tabernacle, a ball, a powwow, fireworks, the obligatory parade. I'll probably skip it, because these days Pioneer Day is about settling down, when the spirit that made the arrival in the Salt Lake Valley possible in the first place was about rising up. Mormons today are instructed to submit to authority, when the impetus for the trek across America was rejection of authority.
So this year I celebrate by imagining the Pioneer Day parade of my latter-day dreams. The marshals of my parade wouldn't be men who make pronouncements about doctrine, but the contemporary pioneers who challenge and remake the ways Mormons lives their day-to-day lives.

Read more at the link, and the resource material she has posted.

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Literalism, another way to look at it


I have come to value that one of the pitfalls my formerly devout (in other words, accepted by the LDS mainstream) husband was his experience of a literal faith, which proved to have holes too big for him to ignore, followed by his need to resist the literalism of his faith community. 

In the either/or literal sense, his resistance was truly more his own effort to deepen his faith within the context of his faith community.  What he met with were too many who offered him the black or white literalism - if you are not for it, do not believe it, do not accept it, then you have lost your way, are listening to another force, are out of step and compliance with the homogeneous belief requirements. Would that his resistance have met with people who could offer him a more meaningful way to wear and use his faith, acknowledging his need to be out of compliance as part of his quest to deepen his faith.

My journey with him began at the time of his questioning, and I can only speculate what his life in the literal belief may have looked like, felt like to him.  Before I knew much of the community of LDS or Mormonism, I only knew of some of what is described as the peculiarities of Mormons - the usual array of things like their undergarments, the history of polygamy, the strong family bond, and an arrogance that they believed they had the only truth there is to have in such matters as faith, family, God.  What was more relevant to me than what the beliefs were, was his carriage of himself, the obviousness (to me) of his deeply held faith, and that there was a goodness about him that I had to conclude came about as a result of his heritage, his culture and his beliefs.   I have oft wondered if there was a way in which to accept aspects of the faith minus the literalism and still be able to hold to the faith-based tenet of the narrative.

My experience of religions considered to be traditional and mainstream Christian is that they too have holes too big to ignore, and again it seems literalism is a core cause of the need to resist by questioning.  It is the questioning process that I believe strengthens the faith.  It is the faith, I believe, that then strengthens the belief.  The two seem incompatible at times. I could never, for example, say that I believe with absolute certainty and unequivocably that a conceptual storyline is reality or truth, rather that it points to inner, deeper, personal truths that need to be nurtured over time and experience in order to more fully manifest in one's personal life.

Coming across the post Avoid The Temptation of Literalism, by Steve P. at bycommonconsent corresponds well to my take on the matter, and I'm actually a bit surprised to find it so well articulated from inside the LDS community.

To borrow Steve's words from the post;

This is why reading the scriptures a scientific text does such violence to their purpose. They are designed to connect us subjectively, consciously and spiritually to richer truths and meaning. To use the scriptures to pull out objective facts about the physical world and its history is to tear them way from what they are there to ground. Literalism is like giving a child a calculus book as a stepping stool to reach a washbasin. In so doing, much is lost that lies with the proper use of the book. Certainly children need footstools, but such use misses the true potential the book has to offer.
The scriptures are sacred. They allow us to touch the deepest truths available. To use them to read the surface of physical things (for which they are not intended and for which they don’t lend themselves) is a mistake that leads us away from where science is strong and should be used (as Elder Oaks points out) and, worse, wrenches the scriptures away from the beauty and truth they have to offer.

My husband has posted thousands of words expressing just such thoughts in his earnest need to indict literalism in any religion.  He and I have shared many hours of conversation and discussion over the past sixteen years of our lives together.  I'm not as likely to spend the amount of time, energy or resources as he has used in pointing to the flaw in a literal interpretation of what many consider the 'sacred' book.  As we have shared our thoughts, feelings with each other, I believe our sense of faith and belief has evolved and that while we share much in common in our connectedness at a spiritual level, we might have somewhat dissimilar verbalized belief sets.  It is extremely difficult to have any kind of conversation about religion, beliefs, faith because the language one eventually must employ has so many words that are 'charged' with meanings as defined for us, rather than words we can use and define for ourselves. 

Yet he and I have persevered in sharing such discussions, and when it gets close to the heart of the matter, to the faith of our child selves and the intellect of our adult selves, a reconciliation must take place for the faith to grow and mature.  I see us at this place in trying to find our own definitions. 

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Dressy, Colorful, Designer and Vintage Scarves

I’m excited with my new endeavor, launching Look Again! an online e-store  

We welcome you to Look Again at the treasure finds we have found and are making available to you. Our items will be primarily of the gently used variety. If it appeals to us, then there is a good chance it will appeal to you too!

Please do bookmark us so you can find your way back to the store

Added some beautiful scarves to the store.  You’ll want to take a look!  (little play on words there, since name of the store is Look Again! )

Uses for designer and vintage scarves besides the usual fashion accessory; curtain valance, frame them, use as dresser scarves, use to make pillow slipcover, use in upcycle crafting/sewing, sew a few together to make table runner, make a tablescape by draping scarf from vintage purse with pair of glasses and place a thin column lamp placed in purse, What uses can you think of for scarves, vintage or otherwise?

Echo Black on White Striped Scarf



Offering this Echo designer scarf in a bold black and white stripe pattern, edged with an orange stripe finished with a larger red stripe. 100 % silk.

No tears or holes. There is a tiny run across part of the width in one place, but it is not obvious. I almost missed it in my examination of the scarf. Appears to be new or if used, has been very little use.

The Echo name in designer scarves has been around since 1923. In fact Echo claims that it was the first brand name ever printed on a scarf.


Charter Club Silk Tropical Floral Scarf




Offering a Charter Club designer scarf in vibrant colors in a tropical floral pattern edged in blue/green. The Charter Club logo is visible on the corner of the scarf. The tag indicates Charter Club, 100 % silk, made in Japan, with copyright icon - Macy's. Instructions indicate dry clean only.

The scarf appears to be new or if used, lightly used. There are no tears, holes or runs, the edges are rolled hem and beautifully stitched.
Scarf is rectangle measuring 35" by 18".



Vera Green Scarf




Vintage Vera! Offering this Vera scarf, likely from the 1970s based on large signature and no ladybug icon. All Vera designs are copyrighted. color green

Scarf is large square in size measuring 22 1/2" by 22 1/2 ". Green with green mountain pattern. The fabric feels like a chiffon, or sheer type fabric. There are no tears, holes or pulls. The rolled edges are in very good condition.

If you don't know the Vera name of designer scarves, a brief history. Vera Neumann, artist turned textile designer's scarves are known for their graphic, bold patterns (flowers, dots and geometrics) and Vera's signature in the corner. One way to tell the age of the scarf is by the size of the Vera signature - the smaller the signature, the older the scarf.  Also through the 1960s until the late 1960s, the ladybug icon shows up alongside the Vera signature.

The Vera signature gets larger; the ladybug icon makes a comeback in approximately 1973 with the larger Vera signature. Disappears again through the 1980s, and makes a comeback in present day scarves.

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She asks the questions most obvious to me

Is this a pattern? A lot of us women on fMh have been hurt by men in some form or another - abuse, rape, abandonment, etc. It seems to me that my friend in the temple easily dismissed my concerns because of my fears. If I wasn’t so “damaged”, then I would understand the patriarchal order and be at peace with it.

Is that true? Part of me wonders if it might be. But then part of me tends to think hat because I am aware of the abuses of authority that can occur, I am more sensitive to how they can occur.

Anyways, these are my questions:  If you have been hurt by a man at some point in your life, do you feel it has shaped your feminism? If you have never been hurt by a man, what do you think shapes your feminism and makes you aware of these issues? If more women who are not “damaged” speak up, will it lend more credence to those of us who are and make it harder to just dismiss us and our concerns?

via Feminist Mormon Housewives by Stephanie on 9/18/10

She asks questions that seem obvious to me, in the sharing of sisterhood across all the spectrums, don’t we have a bit of a sister obligation to ‘hear’ our sisters when they try to speak to abuse they experience under authoritarian structures.  And don’t we have some inner urging to speak out against it, even if the voice we use is one of support for one of our sisters?

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What does Yon Kippur have to do with Mormonism?


Perhaps more than is realized or currently practiced.  In quickly scanning which posts I would read this morning, I almost skipped this post, because it immediately started with Yon Kippur, and I wasn’t in the mood to read about Yon Kippur today.  But what Mraynes did with interpreting the spirit of Yon Kippur in applying it to Mormon doctrine of atonement was refreshing.

Today is Yom Kippur. Day of Atonement. A time to repent of the sins between man and God. I like the idea of taking a day to right your relationship with God. In our own tradition, the story of Enos has always spoken to me for this reason.


There is not a lot of room within Mormon theology for this kind of relationship with God. God is perfect, some say unchanging, and it is us who must repent, break our hearts and make contrite our spirits. And yet who among us has not been angry at God? Who among us has not felt that God has treated us poorly?

If Rabbi Brous’ metaphor holds, what kind of marriage is it if one party cannot say to the other, “You have hurt me”?

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Barbara B. Smith influence on Mormon Women at time of ERA


It helped me to read what Stephanie posted in eulogizing Barbara B. Smith.  Her expansive description of the time in which Barbara Smith took office of President of Relief Society reflected a time of great inner organizational structural change in the LDS church.  At the time of ERA, I knew little of Mormon faith, beliefs or culture, only that the LDS women were marching in lockstep to help defeat ERA.  At the time I was not in the fullest sense of the feminist movement, but I was in a budding career and much interested in growth of recognition of equal wages for women who found themselves in the workplace (either by choice or economic circumstance).  I recall my thoughts at that time of thorough surprise, puzzlement and even disdain in hearing that Mormon women were not in support of ERA.  How could sisters not support sisters, I wondered.  What was this peculiar belief set that permitted the women to hold to the status quo of too many characteristics on the economic and domestic frontlines belonging to a ‘man’s world’?

Perhaps Barbara B. Smith wasn’t as far off the mark as I believed at the time.  Now that even Mormon women find themselves in the workplace, and not necessarily by choice, but by economic circumstance, women’s rights have taken a slightly backwards step forcing choices to multi-task as wife, mother, parent, and working woman.  The ‘SuperWoman’ as it was thought we women could be in those years of the movement (1970’s n 198'0’s) has proven to be unrealizeable.  Some role element suffers - be it the career, the parent, the wife.   I now believe an economy that forces women into the workforce at the expense of raising their children has consequences for the woman and the children.  Which is not to say it can’t be balanced and done well, but it takes enormous energy and superb help, not always readily or handily available. 

Having said that, I also believe that an economy built on consumerism has worn out it’s welcome and revisiting what we ‘need’ instead of what we ‘want’ is timely.  We may well find out that we need less consumerism and want more time to be in and with family. 

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Developmental Stages 7 and 8

On the eight stages of the ladder of life as defined by Eric Erikson it seems I have reached Middle Adulthood, and am looking at Stages 7 and 8.

Two conflicting issues fight within to be resolved; Generativity versus Stagnation.    Eric Erickson developed a ladder of life stages theory that seems to my reading to make sense, particularly this stage of 7 and 8.    Better told in the words of byjane in her blog article at MidLife Bloggers, take a read to see where you are in the process.

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Stuff, Getting it, getting rid of it

It’s a strange cycle, all those years spent slowly acquiring ‘things’ only to reach this age and wish to be shed of most of them.  I’m reminded of the late George Carlin’s performance routine in which he talks about ‘stuff’.    Coming across an article in The New York Times; When Possessions Lead to Paralysis, I am reminded fondly of what George Carlin has to say about it.

We just saw our granddaughter off to college, spending that first Orientation Day with her while she set up her dorm room.  Last month another granddaughter just got herself set up at her college dorm room, so we have furnishing college dorm rooms on the mind.  With the sparity of space, yet the essentials of living for the next year all contained in a space about the size of a large walk in closet, if even that much room, I’m feeling awkward about the house we live in which contains the two of us and all our possessions.  

I wonder why it seems to take a lifetime to acquire all we think we need only to wind up looking at it all wondering why we thought we had to have it in the first place.  Not so much my husband, as me, because I seem to have that collecting stuff need more than he, but I wonder, could we get by with just enough stuff to fit a dorm room?  I often wonder if we could get by with just enough stuff to fill a travel trailer and do some road travel in the years ahead. 

What would we do with all our stuff?  And already I’m thinking it’s time to have an ongoing garage sale, online, and offload some of this stuff.

My mother said goodbye to her husband in 2006.  When he went on ahead to the other side, he left her alone.  I spent the first two years being as much ‘there’ for her as I could, and she often talked of selling her house, and moving closer to us.  She talked of doing so for years, it is now 2010, yet it never got much further than talk, and now she seems to be settled with the idea of remaining where she is, staying put.  It’s a financially sensible arrangement for her, yet I’ve often wondered if the idea of what to do with all her stuff was a somewhat overwhelming part of her decision to stay put.    It would certainly be overwhelming to me to be alone and along in years, left to figure out what to do with all this stuff in our home. 

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Is the ‘Favorite’ child going to take care of Mom?

I know, I know..my mom says it too, she doesn’t have favorites, she loves us all the same.   Actually, I have come to recognize that I don’t want to be loved ‘the same’ as my siblings, because somehow it denudes my specialness, and I am then just one of the brood.  My mother would never admit to having a favorite among her four children.  I like to believe that I don’t have a favorite among my three children.  Yet this article in the New York Times; Mom Always Like You Best (a well known routine from the Smothers Brothers) points out the significance of  who is going to care for mom and how that relates to mom’s sense of  her favorite child. 

Quoting from the article, and for more, read the article here.

Further studies revealed that middle-aged children often recognized that their parents felt closer to one child than another — but were off-base about who ranked highest. “They typically choose themselves,” Dr. Pillemer said, “and they’re typically wrong.”

One might file this under “Stuff I’d Just as Soon Not Know,” except that the care of the elderly falls mostly to their children and that one child usually shoulders the bulk of the responsibility. Mothers also express clear ideas about whom they want and expect to take on that role, it turns out, so their partiality has consequences.

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She really does like her solitude and it’s okay.

Reassuring article, New York Times; Aging’s Misunderstood Virtues  explains that as we age our so do our tastes, preferences and what interested us at 45 or 50 may not be of interest in later years, as we mature so do our interests, we are continually evolving.    I have worried that my mother seems to spend more time alone than I think is healthy.  Perhaps not; quoting from the article;

“We develop and change; we mature,” he told me in a phone interview from his home in Uppsala, Sweden. “It’s a process that goes on all our lives, and it doesn’t ever end. The mistake we make in middle age is thinking that good aging means continuing to be the way we were at 50. Maybe it’s not.”

An increased need for solitude, and for the company of only a few intimates, is one of the traits Dr. Tornstam attributes to this continuing maturation. So that elderly mother isn’t deteriorating, necessarily — she’s evolving.

“People tell us they are different people at 80,” Dr. Tornstam explained. “They have new interests, and they have left some things behind.”

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Project; Her t-shirt ruffles meets his shirt

How-To: Upcycled Ruffled Shirt Pillow


Tricia of Oh So Crafty shares her tutorial for making this cute ruffled pillow from a man's button-down shirt and a t-shirt.

I am subscribed to Craftzine which features crafty artists and projects.  I enjoy seeing the creative minds at work, sometimes I marvel at how minds work in thinking up these projects. 

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Thrift Find – Pink Kimono

More thift find sharing.  I don’t think this kimono is vintage, but I liked the pattern and color.  For now I have it on hanger on closet door to please my eyes when I wake up in morning.  Later I thought I might use the fabric in a remake project.  Which reminds me that I need to snap some photos of the wonderful linens I found when I was thrifting with my mom in her town earlier this year. 


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Big Blue Bottles

On the return route home from our Mother’s Day drive to Cathlamet and Puget Island last weekend, we stopped at an Antique Shop we have bypassed on our several trips south.  The house and location was a dairy farm, per the owner, and now that they are not farming, they rearranged the space into a home-owned antique shop.  I got to browse the shop finding several items on my mental ‘must have’ list.  But my mental list and our pocketbook are often not in agreement, so I did what I typically do – fill the shopping cart in my head until it is time to check out.  Then I decide on what item(s) are an absolute must – may not be there when I come back someday.  My pick for today were a set of oversized blue Ball mason jars.  That was a must. And a small extra tidbit purchase was the tea cup and saucer.





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Crocheted Open Weave Mesh Scarf for Spring

Looking for a light weight spring season type scarf to crochet, I came across pattern for open weave mesh scarf.  First I tried the pattern on some ribbon yarn my mother had brought for me, but I would have needed about two more balls to get the scarf to a long enough length.  The ribbon yarn made up into a neck scarf and that may work well too.  I had some lemon colored light weight acrylic yarn that I used and it gave me the longer length scarf I wanted.  It does crochet up quickly.  I’d like to make a few more of these mesh scarves.




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Colorful Palette of Scarves

I can’t help it, in my thrifting, when I run across a colorful scarf that appeals to me I just have to add it to my collection.   I don’t wear them very frequently, mostly when I have reason to dress up, ie, going to town, meetings – that sort of thing.  After years of 8-5 employment and dressing for the office, I don’t regret that I don’t have to do the ‘morning routine’ each and every morning any more, but I do miss career dressing sometimes.  Scarves work well for career dress up.   

This is not the full collection, nor are all the scarves vintage, but I liked the color palette combination and it is cheerful to wake up to each morning.   I have about 3 more collections that are more vintage.  One includes a Japanese motif pink silk scarf that I just love. 



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In the Pink – oil painting

My most recent oil painting drying in the kitchen.  I didn’t name the painting ‘in the pink’, although it does have pink tones in the sky and water.  But sitting on my pink formica table with chrome pink chairs, ‘in the pink’ seems to fit for this photograph.  The oversized Ball blue mason jars in the background were a find from antique shop a week earlier.  The card is artwork note card my stepdaughter created and send me for Mother’s Day.


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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Can we make it?

Don Delillo's White Noise.

"Here we are... knowing all these great things after centuries of progress but what can we do...? Can we make a refrigerator? Can we even explain how it works? What is electricity? What is light?... Name one thing you could make."   (from blog post at fair companies)


Sustainable living continues to intrigue me on many levels.  As I am sure I have said before in one of my blogs somewhere, the term has been upcycled over time encompassing everything from waste not want not thriftiness, frugal cost saving, simple and/or meaningful living, do it yourself, homesteading, living off the grid, recycling, green or eco-living, but whatever it might mean to you, I have a stronger sense of what it has meant and means to me. 


A few years back I set upon myself the task of learning to do more that would equate to what is today’s term of sustainable living by trying to teach myself more of the old homemaker skills that seem to elude my grasp.   It was both fun and challenging and I learned some few new skills, but not nearly enough to survive if the way of life as we know it does not sustain. 


I keep thinking I will blog about it, make a website collection about it and I do go about getting projects started but fall seriously short of goal.  Enough years have elapsed with the internet now that there are many such blogs, websites, groups, forums, social networks that cover sustainable living far more comprehensively than my meager collection efforts. 


So what is the point of this blog entry?  I have One Note which is a great piece of Microsoft software that works like several expanding file folders.  For the most part that is where I keep my collections.   There is no need to blog it as a means to harvest or collect information intended for my personal use.  Blogging then has changed shape for me as blogging is a sharing of information enterprise, and I am not sure what I have to share that hasn’t been shared somewhere else by someone else. 


I’ve seen a number of blogs that serve as collections of source links pointing to other peoples accomplishments.  I could perhaps do that as well, and find I am likely unwilling to devote the time to keeping such a blog updated regularly, nor spending great amounts of time searching out the internet.  So this blog will be a bit more random and irregular in it’s purpose, theme  and what catches my interest to share.   Mostly though, it still feels to me like the overarching theme for me is what amounts to sustainable living – on several fronts. 


Having taken all my blogs and integrated them into one, I find I have far too many category tags for the tags to be functional.   Yet I am unwilling to spend the time to condense the category tags for each blog post into more functional categorization.    Wishing any interested reader well in trying to sort through the too lengthy list of tags, but I sure wouldn’t blame you if you gave up after seeing the list. 

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Our house now and past

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Hero to suicided Iraq veteran in five short years…

A photograph of PFC Joseph Dwyer in Iraq made him an American hero, but five years after returning home, mental combat wounds drove him to his death. He is not alone. In 2009, more than twice as many soldiers died by their own hands than were killed by the enemy in Iraq. But new types of therapy are giving others the chance for the peace he never had.

If you are of a mind to actually read the article, it tells a most compelling personal story while also offering hope to other veterans who might not be making the adjustment to life after Iraq / Afghanistan as well as they think.   Link to article

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Health Care Reform Legislation Passed and Signed into Law today

'On Behalf of My Mother'

This morning the President made it official: things are going to change a bit between Americans and their health insurance companies.� The President signed health reform into law, with a package of fixes not far behind, and in the process created a future for the country in which Americans and small businesses are in control of their own health care, not the insurance industry.

Having expressed all due admiration for Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Leader Harry Reid, and those Members of Congress who showed the courage to stand up to an avalanche of misinformation and insurance industry attacks, the President explained what the signing was really about:

read more at link The White House Blog | The White House
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Monday, March 22, 2010

‘Fears that Veterans health care and TRICARE will be undermined by the health reform legislation are unfounded.’ Shinseki

Statement from VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki

WASHINGTON - As Secretary of Veterans Affairs, I accepted the solemn responsibility to uphold our sacred trust with our nation’s Veterans. Fears that Veterans health care and TRICARE will be undermined by the health reform legislation are unfounded. I am confident that the legislation being voted on today will provide the protections afforded our nation’s Veterans and the health care they have earned through their service. The President and I stand firm in our commitment to those who serve and have served in our armed forces. We pledge to continue to provide the men and women in uniform and our Veterans the high quality health care they have earned.

President Obama has strongly supported Veterans and their needs, specifically health care needs, on every major issue for these past 14 months – advance appropriations, new GI Bill implementation, new Agent Orange presumptions for three additional diseases, new Gulf War Illness presumptions for nine additional diseases, and a 16% budget increase in 2010 for the Department of Veterans Affairs, that is the largest in over 30 years, and which has been followed by a 2011 VA budget request that increases that record budget by an additional 7.6%.

To give our Veterans further assurance that health reform legislation will not affect their health care systems, the Chairmen of five House committees, including Veterans Affairs Chairman Bob Filner and Armed Services Chairman Ike Skelton, have just issued a joint letter reaffirming that the health reform legislation as written would protect those receiving care through all TRICARE and Department of Veterans Affairs programs.

Link source at United States Department of Veterans Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Katie Roberts
March 21, 2010 katie.roberts@va.gov or 202-461-4982

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Law of the Garbage Truck

One day I hopped in a taxi and we took off for the airport. We were driving in the right lane when suddenly a black car jumped out of the parking space right in front of us. My taxi driver slammed on his brakes, skidded, and missed the other car by just inches! The driver of the other car whipped his head around and started yelling at us. My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy. And I mean, he was really friendly. So I asked, "Why did you just do that? This guy almost ruined your car and sent us to the Hospital!"

This is when my taxi driver taught me what I now call, "The Law of the Garbage Truck." He explained that many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it and sometimes they'll dump it on you. Don't take it personally. Just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. Don't take their garbage and spread it to other people at work, at home, or on the streets.

The bottom line is that happy people do not let garbage trucks take over their day. Life is ten percent what you make it and ninety percent how you take it! Have a blessed, garbage-free day!


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Monday, March 15, 2010

The end of an era - Monkey Puzzle Tree is down

(photo of our home is among the featured illustrations in 'Back Roads of Washington', 1992, drawn by illustrator, Earl Thollander)

Saga of our 90 year old Chilean Monkey Puzzle Tree ( Araucaria araucana ) comes to a close. The tree was planted in the front yard of our house, we are given to understand, some 90 years before we ever arrived on the scene. When we bought the house, the tree looked ragged along the lower branches, and the previous home owner told us it was not unusual for this species of tree to look like that when they reached these mature ages. He told us the story of how the species of tree came to be planted in Bay Center, Washington as it is not native to the area, although the climate is conducive to nurturing this species.

When our house was built in 1892, by a barge builder, the house was given to the daughter and her husband - the Bochaus. In those early 1900's there was ship travel on our Willapa Bay and the Willapa River. The ships might harbor in Bay Center and spend a day or night as guests of local residents. Mrs. Bochau would entertain the ship captains in her home and one of the ship captains (Capt. Cook, I believe) gifted her one of the seedlings of the Chilean Monkey Puzzle Tree he had as cargo on his ship.

The tree grew successfully through their lifetime, and on into the life spans of the next two owners of the house. By the time we came along to to buy the house in November 2002, the tree was well into it's maturity. However, these are prehistoric trees and have an incredible lifespan, living well past 100 years. The tree was not beyond it's years, but it did succumb to some infection and it began dying from within.

The first year, we enjoyed the giant tree with it's giant limbs and it swayed gently in the heavy windstorms. It was well rooted and not likely to fall over even with the highest winds. The first spring, I learned how prickly are the 'leaves' if you can call them that on the branches, as I did the yard spring cleaning. As the lower limbs lost their green, I asked a neighbor to cut off the lower limbs in hopes we could save the tree. It seemed to me the logical, compassion, caring and nurturing thing to do to try to save the tree. I neglected to consult my husband on my decision and that was one of the few times I have seen him livid. He was 'not ready' for the mangling of that great gracious tree, no matter that it had dying lower limbs.

Over the years the tree continued to die from within, turning browner and browner with each passing year until there was nothing left of green on the tree limbs even at the pinnacle of it's height. But it continued to stand, testament to the community of it's long history in Bay Center. I pointed out to my husband that there was nothing green left on the tree and it had indeed passed into that place where trees are no longer among the living. He would not be convinced easily. He had been following for a few years the attempt of a new branch shoot trying to grow and what was left at the tip top of the tree that was still green. He would not agree to the reality that the tree was no longer healthy or even living.

When the limbs became dry enough to begin to break off, I grew concerned that one could fall on someone passing beneath and insisted the tree come down. Our neighbor, who has some experience with bringing down trees agreed to take it down. He was able to get all the limbs cut off and the top of the tree when there was an accident kickback with the chainsaw. The kickback went across the top of his hand, and we are all blessed that it grazed his hand with no damage to the nerves or connecting tissue. My husband rushed him to hospital where they attended to his hand, but it did cost him some work on the fishing boats during his time of recovery. He has said he would come finish taking the tree all the way down, but a few years have passed and he has not taken it down. I can completely understand his reluctance! Nor did I really want him to take on the challenge as the county power lines create a tripod quite close to the top of the tree.

I explored having the tree made into a totem pole, asking the person who made the totem pole for our neighbor down the street if he could make one from the remains of the tree. He said the wood is too soft and if he made a totem, the features would split with the wood, ie, the eyes or nose might split causing a caricature image -- not very totem like. So for a couple of years the trunk of the tree has been standing, withstanding our powerful Storm 2007 winds of 140 - 160 mph.

Another neighbor thought perhaps to use the wood from the tree to make unusual wooden crafts as it is a desired wood for such projects. We agreed if he could take it down, he could use the wood. He came, he saw the power line obstacles and changed his mind about taking it down. He suggested that the county might be willing to take it down.

Last week as I was leaving the community heading to town, I saw the county people doing some roadside tree cutting and stopped to inquire if they could take down my trunk of a tree. He said he couldn't do it today as they had full schedule but would come back, to which I said no hurry, the tree will continue to stand. Surprised to find a work crew from the county in front of my house today, he kept his word and did come back to take down our tree.

It was fascinating to watch as with their power equipment and trucks they were able to stabilize the tree while someone else using chainsaw cut through the lower trunk. The truck with the stabilizing equipment held the tree steady, lifted it and gently swung it to the side of our road, laying it down gently.

She lies there in less than all her glory now, having been stripped of her limbs and foliage, a tall trunk of a tree that used to be and is no more. Good bye dear Monkey Puzzle Tree, we did not get to enjoy your heyday and were there at the time of your demise, but we truly respect your tremendous history.
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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Shifting direction a bit..

Taking inventory, it looks like I had some fun over the years creatively building and playing with blogs. I have 17 blogs that I have created over the years at Blogger, and 11 at Word Press not to mention the other blogger sites where I built blogs. I began blogging back in the early years when blogging hadn't yet caught the popular imagination. My early efforts were in accord with the limited technology which has made advancements over the years. Along the years I've seen people built some really great blogs, artistic, playful, theme related, content rich, and I am delighted to follow other's blogs. Expanding on the blog theme, there are now online magazines that attempt to capture diverse interest categories.

In that regard, I think it has come time for me to attempt to integrate some of my blogs and work more in one blog than across many. Much as I'd like to build one of those blogs with multiple pages and columns, I doubt that I will get around to doing it. So, will take one of my blogs and see if I can rework it to be more expansive with multiple topics rather than core theme to one topic. Large effort for me to round up all the blog content and get it into one place. New project.

Why, though, I ask myself. Why bother. Shrug...I don't know, just seems like it is time for me to do it if for no other reason than for myself.
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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Orders to deploy to Afghanistan - third combat deployment

Son-in-law already has his orders for deployment to Afghanistan. He is home with his family for now - his year 'dwell time' at home. We work to try to forget it is only a year that will pass quickly and another deployment looms ahead. My daughter works (and I do mean Works) at trying to get the most out of their time home, arranging for the family to get everything they can out of each moment; something to be stored up against the times he is away.

A third deployment after two extended, stop-loss 15 month deployments in Iraq. Amounts to 30 months on the ground in Iraq + the months before and after deployments of readying or debriefing and he has been gone about 40 months of his children's lives. Strong as my daughter is in trying to keep her family stabilized, I am seeing the toll these deployments are putting on the families. There is no way that my grandchildren will not carry some imprint of fear into their adult lives. Military brats, kids who grow up with parent(s) in military are resilient and develop unique coping skills that can serve them well in their adult years, ie, taking responsibility, organizational and communication skills, embracing different cultures, but as is well identified in the movie (dvd available) Brats; Our Journey Home, children are impacted by the life during times of peace, and more so during times of war.

Is it too early for me to be thinking about joining the protests of the Afghanistan war? Possibly, but I don't think it's going to be marching in the streets that will get the message out there this time. Not sure yet, what direction registering statements of concern about the direction of Afghanistan war will need to take or wind up taking, but a beginning is discourse and dialogue, talking about the course of this war. Wearied from years of intense activity in being part of actions to elevate the concerns about Iraq war, I'm not anxious to jump into the fray to do likewise with Afghanistan war......and yet, neither do I want my son-in-law and his family to have to go through another combat deployment.

I do empathize with President Obama in having so many fires to put out as soon as he stepped into office, and unlike former President Bush, I don't think we are dealing with a President in Obama who is beyond listening to reason. Afghanistan is another fire that needs to be put out, it won't wait patiently in line whilst all the other issues demanding President Obama's attention get priority attention. I'm going to need to hear Obama's reasoning for why our troops need to remain in Afghanistan; why my son-in-law needs to put his life on the line once more --- for what purpose, for what larger issue, for what greater good?

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Congressman Brian Baird's Successfully Civil Town Hall Meeting in Ilwaco – Health Care Reform

Kudos to the Congressman and his staff for hosting a successfully civil discourse Town Hall meeting last night in Ilwaco, in Pacific County, WA. And of course, the primary range of questions had to do with Health Care/Insurance Reform. Death threats to the Congressman aside, he still managed to conduct his usual in-person Town Hall meetings in several Southwest Washington counties.

What was the process?

I can't speak to the in person Town Hall meetings he held in other counties except for what I've read in media (some of which has been reported at Washblog). I can speak to the TH we attended in Ilwaco last night. Also Baird has added telephone Town Hall meetings as well to his usual array of in-person TH meetings in the SW counties.

The Ilwaco TH meeting was orderly and permitted the many to hear both the questions and Baird's responses without interruption or interference. Which is precisely what I wanted - information and not the drama of interference that has been the hallmark of many other TH meetings across the nation.

We arrived at the high school, and yes, there was a tiny contingent of less than impressive 'protesters' with their home-made cardboard signs. They kept their behavior under control and did not molest the people as they were coming into the auditorium. We signed in, and we were asked if we wanted to ask a question of the Congressman; if so, we were given a number (kind of like at an auction).

We were seated and it was explained by the moderator that corresponding numbers were in a twirl cage (bingo comes to mind), and numbers would be picked at random. Those persons who held those numbers would come forward to be seated in the first row of seats. Each would then get 3 minutes of time at the microphone to state their concerns, ask their questions and the Congressman would have 3 minutes of time to respond.

Questions came from both parties. I think people are sophisticated enough to filter out what is rhetoric and focus in on the actual question, when there is a question and not just a 3 minute pulpit for speech making. The Congressman's opportunity to respond, or better said, give the facts as he knows them, provided a format that helped enormously to dispel some of the rhetorical myths, giving the auditorium of people an opportunity to listen to and hear the information.

In Congressman Baird's Town Halls that we have attended in the past, even when my own emotions have been highly charged, (ie, his vote in 2007 for the Surge in Iraq where our son-in-law was deployed), he has been respectful to all, including us, in responding to concerns and questions. Last night's Town Hall was no exception. He was respectful, courteous, and responsive to every question, even the few who formulated their questions in what seemed designed to bait him. He actually was skillful in handling those baiting type questions, both responding and further elaborating on concerns and situations that led to the current Health Care Reform issue.

It was a 2 hour TH meeting, so obviously, there was not time for everyone who might have wanted to ask a question to have a turn at the microphone. But with the quality of the kinds of questions asked, and Baird's informative responses, I think probably most of the concerns people had in their minds received air time in a very Civil dialogue.

Earlier in August, I was also on one of Baird's telephone TH meetings (Pacific County), and got to ask my question of him; specifically what concerns about the Health Care Reform Bill did he have as he has said he is unsure how he will vote when it comes up for vote in Congress. Frankly, I would like to see him vote for the Bill with all of it's warts and flaws rather than to vote against it. I sense that voting for the Bill starts the ball rolling, probably with a lot of tweaks needed in years to come. Whereas to vote against it because of it's imperfections does little to alter or change the current deeply flawed Health Care 'system'.

As Baird explained he has heard from doctors, it is not really a system so much as an evolution that has evolved into a complex hodge podge of health care that some get and some don't.

On a personal note, I do have to be a bit amused at one of the questions last night. The Chair of the Republican Party in our 3rd Congressional District was among one of those whose number was called, giving her time at the microphone. She has had time at earlier Town Hall meeting in another county to state her concerns to the Congressman and she did make an offer of her home as a venue for the Congressman to hold an in- person Town Hall, guaranteeing him an assurance of safety she would personally provide. He did thank her for and it did seem he accepted the offer; I'm not sure he intended to hold a Town Hall in her home, nor would that be logical. He did hold the in person Town Hall in Ilwaco, at the high school - a more appropriate venue and approximately 2 miles from her home. She has not been deprived of opportunity of access to the Congressman, nor of opportunity to state her concerns or questions.

She has had a beef with what she terms his rejection of her offer, labeling it as evidence of an unwillingness on the part of Congressman Baird to hold in-person Town Hall meetings. She has both blogged it and arranged for a newspaper article in The Columbian, of her account of his rejection of her offer. In my opinion, it goes to show the 'slant' of her perspective in presenting the situation as a rejection, as an unwillingness on Baird's part to conduct in person Town Hall meetings. And it is a perspective she is pleased to broadcast in the media and telegraph to her party. It was, in fact, Baird offering a more appropriate venue with a wider opportunity, for the larger populace in the area to participate in an in person Town Hall. Probably safer for everyone also, with the County Sheriff there, and the presence of uniformed officers stationed along the side corridors.

Her concern as she stated it in the question last night to Congressman Baird were some remarks he had made in earlier years; favoring universal health care and duration terms of office. Baird corrected the perception she had of his earlier remarks on terms of office. She spoke again indicating she was in favor of all people having access to health care, and when Baird asked if she was in favor of universal health care, she said no, she was not, and promptly sat down. There was a bit of a buzz talk after that exchange amongst the people in the auditorium.

Highlighting this more to illustrate, in my opinion, a tactic of intent on the part of the Republican party in trying to direct attention away from the Health Care Reform issue, while offering little of substantive value as an alternative method to adjust the disparities in health care as we know it today. Congressman Baird is not the issue, nor is the next election. Health Care Reform is the issue on many people's mind and they seem to want information, not politicking.

My thanks to Brian Baird for the opportunity to learn what I felt I wanted and needed to learn about Health Care Reform - less the noise of disruptive interference. Good job in putting together the Ilwaco Town Hall meeting.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Bill Moyers interviewed on Bill Maher - videos

Did you watch Bill Moyers on Bill Maher this past Friday? It is worth watching. Bill Moyers is well … Bill Moyers and he says it best. If you missed it you can see 3 part video posted below; also at LiveLeak - links here and here and here.

Part 1 of 3

Part 2 of 3

Part 3 of 3

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Daughter’s family stationed in Hawaii, 2006

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KoKo Head in Hawaii, photos taken by daughter when stationed in Hawaii, 2006.

KoKo Head Hawaii_thumb[2]


She did her kitchen in Coffee motif, using  Espresso painted cabinets, and coffee cup napkins pasted to kitchen backdrop


Her patio garden, Hawaii, 2006


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