Friday, August 22, 2014

Headed back

I survived the Camino for 2 months -
without any newspapers, periodicals 
or mass media in ANY form.

I take that back...
I inadvertently saw one TV report 
(about child sexual abuse, no less) - 
which reinforced why I should never watch TV, 
even overseas.

Actually, I did more than survive, 
I thrived!

I'm headed back to one of my favorite places this weekend 
to celebrate, play
and dance with friends...
and, yes, 
eating fry-bread BLTs will probably be involved!

No laptops, computers, cell phones
or communication devices - 
beyond my voice 
and my 'new' antique purse-
will be used.

If I get into real trouble,
I'll send up a smoke signal!
 I'll be back when I'm back.

Peace, my friends.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A blessing or a curse?

“What manner of human being is a prophet?”

A person of agony, 
whose “life and soul are at stake in what (s)he says,” 
one who is able to perceive “the silent sigh” of human anguish… 
the importance of prophecy lies not only in the message, 
but in the role of the prophet as a witness, 
someone who is able to make God audible…

The prophet hears God’s voice 
and looks at the world 
from God’s perspective.

I don't know about you,
but I have several prophets as Facebook friends.
And, I don't mean that facetiously.

I have half a dozen people feeding my news stream 
with editorials, news articles and opinions
on a regular basis 
concerning the latest crisis du jour.

These are people of deep and sincere faith;
ordained clergy (primarily) who are intelligent, insightful, well reasoned -
and total buzz kills.

Their exhortations never cease;
their ability to witness each injustice 
and point it out to all their 'friends' is inexhaustible:
the Pipeline,
refugees on a mountaintop,
victims of natural disasters,
sports teams with offensive and politically incorrect names,
prisoners unjustly accused,
broken financial systems that are weighted in favor of the rich,
global warming,
non-accompanied immigrant children being detained,
inequities of every size and manner,
on and on and on ...

I'll leave it to you to imagine their distress at the whole Ferguson issue!

I swear when not on their knees praying,
their asses must be glued to a chair 
with eyes on their computers, 
reading - and commenting on - 
every article ever written about every issue.

Not only are they more well read than many of the people they try to persuade
(myself included)
and therefore intimidating to try to engage in a dialogue,
rather than their diatribes,
but any attempt to slow down the train -
to gather facts,
to reason,
to discern for ones self what sources to believe and
what weight to ascribe to the information -
is seen as inaction -
which translates to them as not caring 
which must be rallied against further.

I don't know what the reasons were for why the people of Israel ignored their prophets,
but I can tell you what I would say to mine ...

My dear prophets,
if everything is a crisis 
than nothing is.

For most of us mere mortals,
your level of intensity, pain and awareness is unsustainable.
We're not bad people, 
we're just trying to live our lives.

I can't imagine having to live with the gifts 
which God has bestowed on you;
frankly, it seems like a special kind of hell.

For all our sakes,
take a deep breath
and please post a picture soon of you holding a puppy 
or having a BBQ 
so I know you haven't forgotten 
how to wrestle as much joy from this life as you can!
It's not all pain;
its not all suffering and injustice...
even God rested on the 7th day.
For His sake, and ours, you need to take a break!

Monday, August 18, 2014

More than 50 Shades of Grey

I've decided its not the black and white issues we can't deal with -
it's the grey.

We can't stand ambiguity or duality.
We want certainty.

We want to know that someone is either good 
or they're bad,
either innocent or guilty,
either right or wrong,
either infallible or incompetent,
either 'them' or 'us'...

We can't stand living with the reality that 
someone who we think is a bigot may have a valid point,
someone who is genuinely a good kid could make an impulsive poor decision,
someone who is generally measured and careful could over-react and lose control...

We don't like to acknowledge that
the confusion,
hardness of heart,
race to judgment,
blindness to suffering
unwillingness to compromise
can be harbored in the same heart as
disdain for injustice,
a desire to do the right thing.

The emotions we see being played out
on the TV screens every night,
all of them,
aren't simply free floating randomly
in the molecular structure of the atmosphere.

They live inside each of us.

"Not everything that is acknowledged can be changed,
but nothing can be changed until it is acknowledged".
James Baldwin

We HAVE to find a better balance.
All our 'littles' deserve a better way of living in community
than what they're currently seeing.

 I refuse to believe its too late.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Damned if you do, damned if ...

The community, and media talking heads, are enraged 
when police in Ferguson use 'military style, heavy handed tactics' 
against protestors when looting begins;
these same folks are expressing outrage this morning 
after police stood by last night,
watching from their cars,
letting looting occur,
basically telling store owners 
to "let their businesses go".

The community, and media talking heads, demand answers
and information from police,
filing 'Sunshine law requests' for all details
 surrounding the shooting of Michael Brown;
these same folks are now enraged when video,
taken immediately prior to the incident,
 seems to show the dead teenager as something other than
the "Gentle Giant" their narrative requires.

Media plays - on an endless loop -
 the statistics about a fractured community
that has a power base with people of one color
while the majority of the community is comprised
of people with a different skin color.

Anyone who thinks the fix is as simple as
having a police force and elected officials
who are all the same color as residents in a community,
might want to check with East St Louis, (IL)
and see how that's working for them.

Do I think the mind set and history of the police officer
prior to the shooting is important to know?
Do I think the mind set and history of the teenager
prior to the shooting is equally as pertinent?

Do I think stealing some cigars deserves the death sentence?
But neither do I think that willfully breaking the law
and using your size to intimidate some poor clerk
should go without consequence.

One news item that might have gotten overlooked this week
during the melee in North County
is that the Oxford Dictionary has officially recognized the term
"hot mess".

I don't think so either.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Our souls desire

I've thought about this scene in 'Hook' frequently 
since seeing the movie 13 years ago 
but never more often than this week, 
in light of the juxtaposition of 
Robin Williams suicide
and the death of Michael Brown.

In case you don't know the story -
in a nutshell -
Peter Pan has grown up.

He's far from home,
so far, in fact,  
that he doesn't even recognize he's lost.

He has no idea of his true identity.

He's become a corporate lawyer -
the very definition of a 'tool of the system'.

He's lost touch
not only with himself and where he comes from
but with all that's important in his life,
especially his family.

His children,
his future,
 (Jack and Moira)
are kidnapped by Hook
and, to reclaim them,
Peter has to return to his roots
and remember who he is.

In doing that, he also has to return to his 'community',
the Lost Boys,
who understandably have a hard time 
reconciling his current visage
the young, ageless,
seemingly magical boy
they remember.

In what I think is some of the most spiritual footage on film,
- the first 1:10 minutes -
Peter is finally recognized for who he is.

It reduces me to tears every time I see it.

I believe this is what we all want;
to be named and known 
beyond the trappings of our 'exterior' - 
our clothes, 
our false way of seeing things,
our wrinkles;
the ravages of the time and the place
in which we've lived our disconnected lives.

We can give that gift to each other.
It doesn't happen often enough,
but we can.

We can also let ourselves believe,
 in the very marrow of our bones,
that the light of the Divine lives in us as well;
and that's just as hard,
if not harder sometime,
than recognizing it in someone else.

We can mirror the love that God has for his creation
 and recognize the divine
in ALL those who cross our path
every day.

The fact that it doesn't happen often enough -
and is often really hard -
doesn't mean we should stop trying.

If you continue watching the rest of the clip,
you'll also notice art reflecting life -
in the detractors and naysayers in any community
(because they fear it will cost them their power)
as well as in how easy it is for others to be persuaded
you're NOT
who you are!

It's only as we admit our vulnerability
and our need for others in community -
only as we say "Help me" -
that we have a chance of becoming
who we were created to be.

I think it's right to cry with longing
to live in a world and community
where we truly 'see' each other
this lovingly
and this completely.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Time travel

A black cabbie is beaten by police in Newark, NJ. 
Riots flare and burn for five days. 
Riot police riot. 
23 demonstrators are killed, 1,000 people are injured, 1,400 are arrested.
Four days later,
Detroit explodes in fury. 
Federal troops are called out with loaded rifles and tanks. 
43 demonstrators are killed, no police fatalities.
1.189 are injured, 7,000 people arrested. 
For one week the streets burn. 
It is the worst riot of the century.
While Detroit burns, 
uprisings break out in Toledo, Rochester, East Harlem and Pontiac (MI).
Within a week, riots flare in more than 100 cities. 
President Johnson calls out the National Guard. 
Footage of police and National Guard brutality fill our television screens every night, 
alongside film of raging, looting blacks.
Meredith Hall
Without a Map
I guess we could take solace in the fact that we're getting better at riots.

This one lasted for a shorter period of time
and fewer people were hurt/killed.
It sickens me though that 50 years later,
we're still talking about the same behavior,
for basically the same reasons.

In case you hadn't heard,
our community had a riot yesterday.
Today was no picnic either.

The rock that's been kicked over isn't likely to re-settle back into place
anytime soon
and whats crawling out into the light of day
isn't pretty.

There are plenty of people in this country  -
some of whom are flying in to our city even as we speak -
who will capitalize on the chaos for their own gain.

Back in the 60's,
 I didn't have the life experience
to understand the phrase "outside agitator";
I do now.

Facts are still being collected
but stories and speculation are rampant.

The accepted myths driving this scenario depend on your perspective,
your worldview
and, I suspect,
to a large extent,
on your race and economic status.

Over the weekend,
an unarmed black teenage male was gunned down by a white police officer
for no other reason except that he was 'walking while black'.
He was totally innocent of any wrong doing, was, by all reports a terrific kid
and was due to start college today;
instead his parents will be burying him.
Police received a call about a possible theft from a QT,
went to confront two males walking in the middle of the street
who matched the description.
The males approached the Officer while he was still in his car;
gave him attitude, tried to grab his gun and it went off.
The Officer got out of the car and pursued them,
shooting one of the males repeatedly,
even after he was down on the ground.
The black male died.
He was unarmed.
His body lay in the street for hours
(because police couldn't do an investigation
due to the need for crowd control.
The crowd that gathered immediately started threatening and harassing them).

Last night what began as a peaceful protest and demand for answers
by his parents and friends
morphed into a mob, fed by social media.
The mob looted several stores,
threw rocks and bottles at first responders
and burned down the QT.

There's an ongoing investigation involving our local Police,
(City and County),
the FBI,
and the US Attorneys Office.

No surprise that social media is awash with all sorts of nonsense
as well as deeply held and articulately expressed concerns and questions.

Here are some of mine -
(not sure whether they fall into
the former category or the latter)

What does stealing tires, hair extensions, shoes and beer
have to do with 'honoring' a dead teenager?

Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.
Those stores provided jobs and needed goods and services
in an area that's already high risk financially.
Why would you ruin them and drive them from your community
over a situation they weren't directly involved with at all?

How many of those miscreants last night even knew the dead teenager?

If this was a question of one black kid killing another black kid,
which happens in this town - and others - on a regular,
I mean practically daily basis,
you couldn't get ANY witnesses willing to say what happened.

In those death investigations,
no one saw anything; no one heard anything; no one knows anything.
But for this death,
you have hundreds of people all claiming to have witnessed the event.

Why are people so unwilling to let an investigation unfold?
Life isn't an episode of NCIS;
you don't get the answers in 60 minutes.
A decent, impartial investigation takes time,
hours of footwork and interviewing witnesses,
gathering footage from cameras in the area,
waiting for autopsy and pathology reports etc...
that's not 'stonewalling' -
that's reality!

Sadly, I suspect neither side will believe the results of an investigation -
no matter who conducts it -
unless it furthers their agenda and viewpoint.

I do NOT believe a police Officer got up in the morning,
was in a pissy mood and decided to kill an unarmed kid
just for the hell of it.
I could believe that we ask so much from law enforcement,
and put them in dangerous situations every day,
facing the worst behaviors and qualities of the human condition
that a burned out, over worked Officer could have over reacted to a provocation;
since they carry lethal weapons,
an unwarranted fatality occurred.

I could also believe that a genuinely good kid
made some poor, testosterone driven choices;
whether he was trying to impress friends with his bravado
or was sick of being viewed with suspicions by 'the man',
gave the police 'attitude' when confronted
which escalated into a shouting, shoving match,
a struggle over a gun
and his death.

A beloved son is dead.
A mans career is over; his life threatened.

The fault lines in our community are exposed and raw.

There are no winners in this scenario.

Healing won't be easy -
especially since I suspect people will be picking at this scab
for a LONG time.

It's been a VERY sad day in the Lou.

Monday, August 11, 2014


All the pictures from my childhood show sisters 22 months apart.

From the way we're dressed 
and our body language
it would be easy to think we shared 
days of playing inseparably by each others sides
nights of giggling under the covers, 
laughing at goofy private jokes
exchanging secrets.

Easy to think -
but wrong.

There were plenty of secrets in our house 
but they belonged to the adults.

There were also explicit, and implicit, messages 
forbidding us from ever discussing them;
the consequence of which
was that 
we were left to deal with our confusion
and pain
in isolation.

We shared genetic material
but little else.

I remember being jealous of her as a child.
She was clearly my grandparents, and parents, favorite.
They didn't even try to hide their partiality,
explaining that she was the first born
and it was 'normal' to like them better.
I grew up hearing "Why can't you be more like your sister?" 
on a weekly, sometimes daily, basis.

Then, in the mysterious way that works in dysfunctional families, 
our roles flipped when she hit puberty 
and I had perfected
being 'good'
and invisible at home.

I remember being protective of her as a teenager,
when her pain and confusion led her to make a series
of destructive and dangerous choices -
with consequences that followed her to adulthood.

I know the broad brush strokes of her life -
multiple relationships and marriages
(each one to a man further down the evolutionary ladder);
children born to, but not raised by, her;
spotty employment;
years of what we termed 'going underground' -
disappearing with no family contact for years,
reappearing briefly
only for an infusion of money
and moment of attention.

I don't know the details that make up her life -
how she feels, 
what she thinks, 
who she loves,
what she believes,
what she regrets
or longs for.

When my mother died, 
I contacted her through Facebook.
I had no other information; no address or phone number.

I was shocked when she came to the Memorial service.
It was the first time my brother, sister and I had been under the same roof
in over 25 years.

It was also the last contact I had with her;
that was over 2 years ago.

Her Facebook account has been deleted.
The phone number she gave me is inactive;
email messages to her online 'address' bounce back.
I know because I tried to reach her.
Today is her birthday.
She is 67.

I don't know anything about her life
but I hope she knows joy;
I hope she's found peace.

Given her history,
I suspect that's naive, unrealistic
and not likely to have happened,
but I wish it all the same.

Happy Birthday, Sis.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


It was 40 years ago this week that I was placed on an FBI watch list.

My husband and I, 
along with his brother and his family
were 'down the shore' in New Jersey on vacation.

We'd sit around in the evening, 
trying to pick up a TV signal from Philadelphia
to watch the drama of the crook 
who insisted he wasn't one.
The country knows better now;
we knew better then.

His degree of crookedness may be open for debate
but his morally black soul isn't -
plus, he was a Republican.

Enough said -
at least for us.

My parents and grandparents sat on the screened front porch,
"watching the world go by"
in total darkness, 
trying to avoid both our conversations 
and the reality that their votes had helped bring the chaos about.

Earlier that week, I sent a charming post card to a friend back home -
upon which I had written:
"Where are assassins when you really need them?"

Just in case you're contemplating doing the same -
the FBI really doesn't like it.

At least they didn't then -
and I highly doubt that they've developed a sense of humor
 in the intervening years!

Just sayin'.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Got you pegged

Some folks are SO clever - 
wish I had a small portion of their talent and imagination.

Was on Etsy yesterday,
looking for inspiration -
and found these!
from the shop, Pegged by Grace

Curious George

Where the Wild Things Are

 Thanksgiving Collection

Princess collection

Dr Who

Life's a Circus

Alice in Wonderland

 Old Testament Heroes
(Noah, Moses, Joseph, Jonah)

(has NOT left the building!)

 Princess Bride -
(as you wish)

Be still my heart!
You KNOW I'm getting out my pegs and painting this afternoon, right;
what else is there to do on a rainy Saturday?

I'll have already been to the gym...
who IS this person who works out almost every day?

Enjoy the weekend, friends!
I know I will.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Rainy Day

Cool and rainy in the Lou this morning -
and I have lots to do today -
working out at the gym 
(for the 3rd time this week, no less!), 
using new moisturizer,
finishing up a presentation for Adult Ed on the Camino,
a meeting about possibilities
well, that's it!
Don't envy me my busy life!

But, this afternoon, I may just color;
found THIS online
and it's too good not to share.
May have to print off some of these sheets for Art Camp!

 Grab your Crayolas and join me - 
You know you want to!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Retirement update

Its not that I can't fill up the hours:
I'm reading.
I'm facilitating outreach projects for the parish and the Diocese.
I chair the Missions committee.
I Co-chair the Stewardship Campaign.
I joined the Rec Center and am working out x3/wk.
I read.
I'm working on projects around the house.
I've reclaimed all of the yard I care to tame.
I've met friends for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, Happy Hour and tapas.
I meet friends for movies.
I've traveled to contiguous states to visit family and friends.
I swim.
I walk.
I write.
I've caught up on the all the popular media I care to.

My blood pressure rarely gets raised.
I don't obsess about the state of the country - or the world.

Retirement is nice;
it's as if I've found a 'Mute" button and have set it as my default.
And that's the problem.

I miss living with passion.
I miss having a job that takes all of who I am. 
I miss feeling consumed by what I'm doing.
I miss feeling passionate about how I spend my days.

I don't want a job or new career that depletes me;
I don't want to go back to that.
I don't want to place myself last.

But living a muted, nice life isn't who I am.
It's not what I want.

I have NEVER worked 'just for pay'.
I won't start now.
Even on the days I hated, I loved my job.
I knew I was making a difference

I'm still looking for work that has meaning
and that completes me.
Other than that,
things are fine.

Too bad that's a huge piece that's still missing!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Off the Radar...

although I'm not sure why!

If you're looking for a wonderful 'feel good' movie -
one that makes an amusing point about social media
while reminding you how important it is 
to know what's important in your life -
your passion, your family and your work -
you MUST see 'Chef'!

It's a gem!

Friday, August 1, 2014


What a glorious summer this has been!

Moderate weather
with cool spells leading to the AC being off 
and windows being open;
lots of small catch up tasks around the house, 
volunteer projects
road trips to see some of my favorite people 
while discovering new places.

This past weekend included
yoga on a beach with a niece
before traveling on to her sisters home in an adjacent state -

 with accommodations that surpassed any B&B
 because it was filled with beloved creatures
 and people!

A recent trip to Grand Rapids, MI took me to 
Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park;
walking around a 132 acre park, 
filled with beauty,
was the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

(A kids area that made us all sad we didn't have small children anymore 
so we could play in the water feature and sand pit - without drawing suspicion!)
I LOVED the Queen Bee -
 but realize I was only ever a worker bee!
For all my Camino friends!

I especially loved hillsides covered with wild flowers...

It was wonderful!

Add in a delightful restaurant for brunch

and you have the recipe for a near perfect summer weekend!
Life is good, my friends!

"You do get to a certain point in life where you have to realistically, I think, 
understand that the days are getting shorter, 
and you can't put things off thinking you'll get to them someday. 
If you really want to do them, you better do them. 
There are simply too many people getting sick, 
and sooner or later you will too. 
So I'm very much a believer in knowing what it is that you love doing 
so you can do a great deal of it."
Nora Ephron