Saturday, March 31, 2012

Saturday fun

When I wasn't using these...

I was on my deck, in the chaise lounge, waiting for my heart rate and blood pressure to return to near normal levels, watching the skies...

wondering where this plane was going, if I'd been there before, would like it again and if there was yardwork there I'd have to do!

Then I also noticed...

obviously, I added the arrows to make it easy for you to agree with me.
Cloud paintings can be hard to identify!

You're welcome.

What did YOU do today?

Weekend wish

May your weekend be filled
with slow movements and deep breaths.

May you lose touch of time,

get lost in the story,

listen long
and linger free.

Give yourself permission to feel what you feel,

be it joy, anxiety,
happiness or loss.

Enjoy your weekend, friends.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Aren't our jobs hard enough already?

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics”
Benjamin Disraeli

Oh Ben, you clearly didn’t work with the same folks I do!!
Honey, let me tell you there are WAAAY more kinds than that!

And, can I just say, the ones that piss me off the most are the lies told by staff in government agencies who are supposed to be ‘our partners’ in protecting kids!!

We don’t have a choice – we HAVE to work with these people.

I’d like to know at what point the ability to lie with a straight face becomes so routine and habitual that it gets incorporated as part of a person’s character… because I swear that’s the point at which workers are promoted from the front lines to Supervisors at DCFS (Department of Children and Family Services).

I was happy (well, willing to oblige, if not exactly gleeful) the request last week to admit a 3yr old female who had obviously been wailed on and beaten for some time.
There wasn’t an extremity or body surface that didn’t have some mark, bruise or healing scar to attest to the cruelty she’d experienced at the hands of mom and her partner - and for those of you who suspect I’m always ‘picking’ on male partners, let me clarify that this partner was female.

(Dear Moms,
The people you pick to sleep with, regardless of gender, who have NO biological, financial or emotional attachment to your children are NOT going to be ‘bonded’ with them in the same way that, hopefully, you are – and bad things can, and DO, happen.

End of discussion)

This kid had the misfortune to live in an area across the river from us into which not even State Troopers go alone after midnight.
So I initially had some sympathy for the investigating worker who promised she’d go out to the home in the morning and then approach her Supervisor about taking protective custody if no suitable family member could be found for placement.

(You may be amazed to know how many kids are raised in such multigenerational dysfunctional families that no one for three generations can pass a background check and serve as a placement for kids; then again, if you've been reading this blog for any length of time, maybe you wouldn't be surprised at all!)

My sympathy also extended to later that day when I was told the court docket was full and they couldn’t get her case before a judge until Monday.

See, here’s the problem…
while on any given day we’re a regular laugh riot of a fun place to work and hang out, we’re not a frickkin’ resort.

There was NO medical reason for this child to be admitted in the first place and, if there’s NO medical care being provided, we don’t get paid!

Is money more important than protecting a child’s life?…of course not.
But you know when shit starts to roll about this unreimbursed admission, it will land on my doorstep!

Needless to say, my sympathy was evaporating more quickly than spit on a hot griddle!

In a nut shell, phone calls were exchanged on Monday, with all kinds of time frames and excuses from the DCFS Supervisor about how “things weren’t moving along as quickly as they’d hoped”.

When she insisted on additional days, it lead to a quick phone call (placed by me) to Court which confirmed my suspicion that DCFS never contacted them about this kid (not this week nor last) so, of course, her case wasn’t anywhere on the docket!

I admit it, I was a bitch when I called them back at 4:45pm and told them I had spoken to court.

I also told them the day spa was closing, the kid would be on the corner waiting for pickup within the hour and if they couldn’t find a way to take her into custody by then, she’d be turned over to an investigative reporter from the local paper who was more than willing to do his own investigation.

In rush hour traffic, it’s a 45” drive from their offices.
They were at the hospital within a half hour.

All of which begs the question: WHY should it be this hard?!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Got it... even if only briefly

I just want you to know I’m aware I do a LOT of complaining in these posts.

This is, after all, MY journal and my vehicle to process the situations and minutiae of my life.
I love knowing that many of you find my words worth reading but, ultimately, this is about me.

So you can imagine how pleased I was to discover that the whiny, internally critical, endlessly ‘processing’ princess is not always the persona that comes across in my daily life.

Within a span of 24 hrs, several interactions have helped me recognize that even on days when my blog post feels and sounds like I’m channeling Ebenezer Scrooge, Andy Rooney and Oscar the Grouch, all rolled into one, I apparently can still be perceived as someone who actually DOES care, and cares deeply, for the other human beings with whom I share this planet.

And that perception is accurate; I DO; sometimes so much so that I need to distance from it in sarcasm or humor.

One situation recently touched me deeply and temporarily changed my world view which is always a good thing.

When you work in a company of any size, you can’t ‘know’ everyone who crosses your path.
You see them, hear them, even exchange pleasantries with them, but ‘knowing’…that’s something else.

So I was surprised when she stopped by because I don’t know her, although I see her almost everyday.

A lovely, older woman in our Housekeeping department, with broken English, a delightful ‘foreign’ accent, always smiling and eager to help with whatever you want, sensitive to the point of timidity about being in the way or being intrusive.

She asked for permission to speak; she asked me what my job was and, before I could even formulate how I should answer, she said, “because you seem like someone I can trust; I’ve heard you speak of God and I think I’ve even seen you pray. I don’t know if you think your God is the same one to whom I pray but I need your prayers”.

For the next 45 minutes, as she sat in my office, she spoke of the family she had been forced to leave behind in Afghanistan.

A college educated woman who planned to escape from the terror of war with her husband and sons, only to have her husband, father and brother in law killed in front of her eyes three days before they left.

A woman now worried about the toll war was having on her youngest brother “whose mind has been distorted” and who, even after shock treatment and anti psychotic medicine, sits alone in their village talking to himself of a vengeful God, demons and satanic forces beyond his control; of her middle brother who has been diagnosed with renal failure and of her older brother who recently had surgery which successfully removed shrapnel from his eye but which couldn’t restore his vision.

Tearfully, she said how frightening it was to know her family is doing so poorly when she was so far away and so unable to help.
In a hushed whisper, she admitted it was even harder when she felt so grateful to be in her new country and relatively safe.

I reassured her that Mohamad Subhan, Sultan Aziz and Hashmat ‘ullah would be added to my prayers; as would she, Zarghona.

The world both enlarged and contracted during that conversation.

A distant land that has been only alien and 'other' morphed into a country filled with towns and villages filled with families and individuals.

Individuals who love each other, individuals who do unspeakable things to each other, individuals who have the same fragile human conditions we do and whose families worry about them and feel helpless just as we do.

And, in a brief moment of grace, I really got it; it's NOT just about me...

it's about all the other 'me's out there as well...

it's about US.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Lessons learned

I write this as someone who :

*has beloved family members (male and female) who are not the same skin color as I am.

*knows full well that racism exists and is operational in our society.

*has been involved in countless police investigations over several decades.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

*Life is not an episode of Law and Order or Miami CSI.
Nothing gets resolved in increments of hours or even days.
A full investigation takes time.

*‘Facts’ are not what they always seem on first appearance.
No one person, or viewpoint, has a monopoly on ‘truth’; the piece of whatever ‘truth’ you own is only that – a piece of the truth.

*‘Truth’ is found in shades of grey.
Nothing is black or white, no matter how much we may long for the simplicity and surety of such dichotomies.

*There will be contradictory elements of truth because human beings are, by nature, contradictory creatures.

*Vigilante justice is as wrong and dangerous as mob rule;
whether that mob assembles outside a pioneer jail house in the 1800’s or in a town square in the 21st century, egged on electronically by ‘social media’.

Take a breath, people.

Justice is blind – and slow … but it should be given time to work.

Two other things I’ve learned ?

*It doesn’t always go the way we think it ‘should'
*no matter how it goes, it will reveal things about ourselves we may not like.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

this one's for you

Do you ever find yourself wishing you had paid more attention as a child?

Your adult self trying desperately to remember the way a beloved relative spoke or smelled; the way their hand looked and felt as it calmed you with a gentle touch; the lessons they tried to teach you?

My childhood was a fairy tale - from the Brothers Grimm - but after decades of time with a therapist and the cost of multiple Harvard degrees, a certain measure of acceptance and forgiveness has been achieved.

THE bright spot in my life was my great grandmother - part Native American and all unconditional love.

She's vividly etched in the memory of my heart and yet I'd love to have captured more of her truths.

One of her sayings that I do remember and one which gave me great comfort even as a child is pictured below.

I've come to realize how profound her saying is - and I've come to realize that, while I was thinking of it as balm for whatever drama was transpiring in our family at the moment, Nanny was referencing a more timeless truth.

Some things don't get resolved or healed in this lifetime, but there's always hope "in the life of the world to come".

Monday, March 26, 2012

Photographic potpourri



I could have sworn this tree
was a different color
last year!

Did you know Juddi viburnum was the inspiration
for so many of the milliners flowers they made in the 50's?

They don't look 'real', do they?

Their fragrance

and that of lilacs
are exactly why someone

needs to invent
a smell -a- vision feature
for pictures.

I'm convinced this is what heaven smells like!

And finally,

this is what you get
when you need to erase
the images of a child abuse fatality case
from your head,

you have insomnia,
a marker and whiteout ...

As previously mentioned,
I'm definitely going
'down the shore'
this summer -

and my aging body is SO not beach ready!
Not sure I'll do anything about it frankly,

beside acknowledge it...
and move on from caring!

I DO think it would be fun though
to make a series of
wooden peg 'beach people'
representing all my family
for a summer mantle display,
don't you?

I see another trip to Art Mart soon
to get the supplies I need... :)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Weekend plans

We need to find God,

& he cannot be found in noise
and restlessness.

God is the friend of silence.

See how nature -
trees, flowers, grass -
grows in silence;

we need silence to be able to touch souls.
mother theresa

may you have a weekend filled
with peace,
and moments
of silence.

Friday, March 23, 2012

can't get enough...

of white ranunculus...

or feeling like Georgia O'Keefe!

Isn't it amazing how these flowers look like they're created from crepe paper?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Bombshell tonight…

Is Nancy Graces’s voice echoing in anyone else’s head when they hear that phrase?

A publicist for ‘The Situation’ initially stated he’s NOT in rehab due to any substance abuse, but he went for R&R (rest and relaxation)… proving what I’ve known all along.

They’re all impostors!

Don’t they know you GO to the Jersey Shore for R&R!

If they were really from Jersey, that would be the first place they’d head!

I should know…
I’ve just booked two weeks there at the end of the summer (since we don’t have our summer house anymore) – and I can’t wait!!

It may be the only thing that gets me through the summer in the Midwest!

Thanks, Pinterest

for the inspiration for another project!

Take a frame (half price this past weekend at Hobby Lobby) and cut out old used maps
of places that are dear to your heart.
I had plenty of maps - all so well loved they could barely be folded up again)

I chose maps for Algoma, WI; Beach Haven, NJ; Evanston, IL; Mission, SD; Webster Groves and Kansas City, MO... and voila!

An colorful wall piece reminding me of all my favorite places!
Obviously you can use as many maps of places as you want.

Total cost, for me, less than $12.00.

Memories it brings back when I look at it - priceless!

I think this would be a perfect wedding gift for a couple setting up residence in a new location... using their hometowns, where they went to college, where they met, were going to honeymoon, etc.

Hope I remember the idea for THAT version next time I need it... guess I'd better not erase it yet from my 'board'!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


What fun to spend time this past weekend with a young colleague and her husband who are expecting a baby later this spring.

I was happy to help document this phase of their lives - before things get far more complicated!

I have to say the decision to go down to the flood walls was an inspired one!
(The scale of the paintings, I'm sure, made the mama-to-be feel very small!)

Obviously, it helps that they're both so darn cute!
Their daughter is sure to be a knockout!!

Timing is everything ... we dodged rain drops for over an hour - and finished up just as the skies opened with torrential downpours, thunder and lightening.

As those of us who ARE parents already know, flexibility and a sense of humor are essential in starting down the parenting path!!

Hope they're pleased with how we spent our time!!

ps: She was wearing those boots when they married, so it was only right she wear them for this photo shoot too, don't you think?