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Portland, OR, United States
I am finishing up my midwifery apprenticeship and plan to be a real midwife early in 2014!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Obama!

Excellent! That's how it was, Mimi! ;-)

We got up at O dark o'clock this morning. I actually woke up an hour earlier than necessary and so I had plenty of time to eat breakfast, which I'd planned on just bringing with me. We took the bus down to the Coliseum and met my friend Maria there.

Earl Blumenhaur spoke first, and gave great reasons why we need to have Obama as our next president. Then, introducing Obama, was Bill Richardson, giving his endorsement to Obama. He talked about Latino issues and African American issues, and Maria leaned over and said, they'd make a good pair for the presidential election. When Obama began speaking, I thought perhaps she'd called it and he was going to announce something! Of course, it's too early for that but they were awfully chummy. Except for their man-hugs which weren't all that convincing. ;-)

Obama spoke of the need for us to look for what's good and right in America. He spoke of not dividing us into groups, where it's the us vs. them mentality. To see that the Latino child, the black child, the child from Appalachia, they are all OUR children. We need to make them a priority and not just say, oh, those children can't learn, or that it's too bad for them that they're poor.

He pointed out many of the bad policy decisions that have been made in the last 8 years, and it was staggering to me to hear them all lumped together like that, the sheer number. No Child Left Behind. The war. Torture. Guantanamo Bay and Abu Graib. Wiretapping. The diminishing of our constitutional rights. And he said something I believe to be very true: that it is going to take bravery and a struggle to right all these wrongs.

I did not agree with everything he said. He talked about using our military wisely and I'm not sure what he means by that. When he spoke of needing to be prepared more than just having a military, I cheered, but he went on to talk about how we need to be prepared to use that military. I was thinking, it starts way before that, when we are choosing how we will deal with nations that we don't necessarily agree with.

He made the statement that he is not anti-capitalist, and I frowned. But he went on to say that when a CEO makes as much in 10 minutes as some make all year that this is WRONG, I cheered. That's certainly not the capitalism we know.

He also dissed the lobbies and stated that he did not take their money. I wondered: can this possibly be true? That he has accepted no gifts from special interests? I don't know the answer to that question.

He is not quite as progressive as I would like. But he is the best hope that we have for our country, I truly believe.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Fill it up

Yesterday I had an experience that caused me to think through some issues, lots of different thoughts in a short amount of time.

I went to Arco to fill my car up with gas. Here in Oregon, we aren't allowed to pump our own gas, a gas station attendant does it for us. At most gas stations they still have the outside credit card machine on the pump, but at Arco they don't do that. How Arco deals with it in Oregon is to fill up your tank and then you go inside and pay after the tank is filled.

So, I got inside to pay, and realized to my horror that Hibi hadn't put my card back in my wallet after she used it. I had no other credit card, just my bank card, as we've been trying to reduce the temptation to just use credit when it's convenient. I had only a few dollars in cash, and of course, gas costs much more than that. My 20 gallon plus tank takes over $60, always, to fill. I shamefacedly told the attendant that I didn't have my debit card. I'm so sorry, I said. Sorry! he yelled at me. Sorry isn't good enough! What do you mean you're sorry!?! He yelled at me while I tried to think, what else can I do? I offered a check, but of course they don't take checks. I was standing there thinking, there is nothing I CAN do. "Sorry" is all I have. And a promise to come back with my card, but he was having none of it. Finally he referred me to his manager, who wasn't nearly as irate with me but was still somewhat angry. I offered, again, my check, or I could come back in five minutes with my card. He said, do both.

I left the gas station contrite at my mistake. How could I do this? That was so stupid. Of course they can't trust people to come back....this must happen to them all the time.

I came back to the house and rifled through Hibi's room looking for my card, as she was at tae kwon do. It wasn't there. I hadn't been able to get hold of Paul on his cell phone, so I'd have to drive over there--taking much longer than the five minutes I'd promised the Arco guys.

As I was driving there anger began to replace the contrition. How could they treat me like that? Yelling at me because of an honest mistake. I began to be indignant. This is no way to treat a customer. I could tell them that I certainly wasn't coming back to THIS Arco. I would pay my debt and that would be the end of it--there are plenty of other gas stations. Besides, they have to have some option set up for this situation, because they don't ask for payment in advance like other gas stations.

And then another phase came in my processing. I thought about the two different cultures of the two men I dealt with. The first was Latino, the second African, both obviously originally from another country. Perhaps yelling is a culturally acceptable way to deal with anger in their cultures. Letting off some steam. Maybe people deal with each other in this manner and then everything is okay again. Customer service isn't the same in other countries.

And then the final stage in my processing: realizing what these two men, just because of their culture and their skin color, must go through every single day. Something that I, a white woman, cannot even begin to fathom. Because, contrary to some opinion, racism is very, very much still alive. They must deal with mistrust and worse, all the time.

And I can't deal with a little yelling?

I went back and paid with my credit card. I chose to be mostly silent. At the end, I apologized for my mistake and let the manager know that I understand he must get people all the time "not able to pay." He thanked me profusely for my honesty, something which I don't think I should have to be thanked for.

I guess I see this whole situation as part of our broken world. It will not heal from more anger, but from understanding.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Obama in Portland!

And another Obama item! He'll be in Portland on Friday morning! Rally at 9:30, doors open at 7:30--yes that's a.m. Yawn. But I'll be there, along with Paul. Our silly children are content to let this historic moment pass them by as long as they get to sleep. :-P

Tickets are free but required. Go here for more info. Oh, oops, too late--they don't have any more tickets. I'm glad I got mine!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Obama's Race Speech

I knew, when I read this morning that Obama was going to address the race issue in a speech, that he could do it well. But Paul and I just listened to it online and if I hadn't been tired and closing my eyes on the couch, I would have jumped up and cheered. It was amazing! Please, please listen to it if you haven't already.

And to top off my evening, I just read this post on Andy's blog. Andy, you've got a way with words!

I've been hedging my bets somewhat on who I plan to vote for, but it's sealed now. Obama addressed race in a way that hit just the right note. I want him for my next president.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Feeling what's right in the world

I just read the latest post on my sister-in-law's blog, and have to recommend it to you all. LaDonna is proclaiming for today what is good in her world, contrasting with focusing on the negative. I was feeling this way yesterday too--looking for the good and finding it, because there is good all around us.

Good Things I have enjoyed this past week:
1. a walk in the rain with Maria
2. seeing daffodils and other spring flowers, and smelling their delicate scent
3. eating a delicious lentil soup on the first day of Lent and really tasting it
4. sitting in silence and in community with others at our Clean Monday Retreat of silence
5. kissing each person who came to Forgiveness Vespers on Sunday and asking for and receiving forgiveness
6. seeing yet another knit-in-progress with rich earthy colors and feeling a bit of oh-so-soft silk yarn from Magpie's ever-present stash

And those are just the ones off the top of my head. I am so blessed.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Tears

I've been kicking around some ideas about tears for a while, and wanting to blog about them, but I'm not sure what I've got that's cohesive. So, I'll bang it out here and see what I've got.

A couple of weeks ago I took my kids to their tae kwon do class. Usually Paul takes them, as he takes the class with them, but he was out of town. I'd never actually sat in on a class before and I found it interesting to finally see this great teacher they've talked up in action. In contrast to many sports coaches, she is gentle and lacks the macho attitude, and doesn't think that tae kwon do should ever be actually used to hurt anyone unless someone first is intent on hurting the student.

I witnessed many different emotions during the class. Some were excited over learning something new, some were anxious as they were new in the class, some were frustrated over not being able to get a move they were working on. At one point, the teacher had more experienced students work with less experienced students. When they came back together, I saw the teacher talking with one student, a girl of about 12. She first cheerfully said "don't worry, he really gives good advice!" And then, in a stage whisper, said "why don't you go get a drink of water." It was when the girl turned to do that I saw that she was crying.

It was interesting to me that I'd just been discussing tears with a friend. An emotional moment had occurred in church for her just the day before and the tears came. It wasn't anything that hadn't happened to me before. She told me that she is an intellectual, and tears are a no-no for intellectuals. The perception is that it somehow sullies logic to have tears involved.

My question is: why are tears shameful to us? Why is crying seen as something that makes us less objective and more volatile? I told my friend that I have been trying to allow myself the freedom to cry when I need to, but it is difficult to do so in the moment. Tears are unpredictable; we cannot plan for them and how they will be received.

I am not an intellectual, but rather am a deeply practical woman. Tears are no more acceptable for practical people than they are for intellectuals. What good comes from them? They don't get dinner on the table. They muddy things and get in the way. And yet, I am firmly convinced that they are necessary and good.

I'm not someone who cries very often, or feels the need to. But I think that tears are a sign of a depth of soul, that we haven't gotten too jaded. Tears show that we still feel. It's easy to hide emotion as long as tears aren't involved. As soon as the tears come, like for the girl in tae kwon do, everyone knows exactly how you feel.

And so, if people know how you feel, they know that you feel, and that you are an emotional person. Somehow it has become a good thing to mask our emotion and only appear as even-keeled as possible. In our relationships with people, emotions are good and necessary, they help us empathize, they help us see what is truly important. And it's the relationships that are the main thing in life. Perhaps relationships are life. Relationships are what make us human, and because we are human we have relationships.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

My Girl Hibiscus


Today Hibi is 14.  14 seems so much more firmly entrenched in the teenaged years than 13.  13 seemed sweet and young yet, eager, still waiting to find out what happens in life.  14 seems like she knows all about this teen stuff.  Plus it seems loud.  She got an electric guitar for her birthday!  Paul and Hibi actually went and got it on Friday, so she's had it for a few days, but today Paul went out and got the amp that she was still missing.  Suddenly our lives are more...live!  She really sounds awesome on it.  And she really needs a microphone now, so we can hear her singing over the guitar!  
I attended a discussion on feminism on Sunday evening, and I was sharing about how Hibi made me a feminist, not the other way around.  I shared about her correcting me on the use of the pronoun--when she was one year old, I'd be saying something like "look at that squirrel!  He has a nut."  And she'd say "She, mom!  That squirrel is a she."  But I forgot to say how life-affirming and powerful her actual birth was.  I think that's when she started making me a feminist--at the moment she was born.  No messing around--when she kicked and broke my water, it was four hours until she came out.  She was just ready.  
She was just reading this over my shoulder and laughing about the squirrel thing.  She says it's silly.  But my dear Hibi, you are not silly, even though you act silly sometimes.  You are seriously making the world a better place, and I love you!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Garden Path

Here's what we started out with yesterday (we converted it to garden space in December):
And here's what we did with it!  


Last year when we went to the Rebuilding Center and bought a cart-load of broken granite counter pieces, we paid $50 for them and were happy for it.  Yesterday, I went and found the same size of cart-load, and asked how much.  The guy said $15!  I tried to talk him up but he'd have none of it.  :-)

I even found a fossil in one of the pieces.  

And here's how the established garden is looking, this first day of March.  St. Francis was Paul's Christmas gift.  We like him there.  
SC