The one I never wanted to write

Please say prayers. Elizabeth, the heroine, is my best friend Judy’s younger sister xoxox

#uphillbattle

Well, this will be a hard one. Between the tears and glasses of whisky I’m not sure which will run out first. See, I haven’t been completely forthright on this blog with all of you. As the story goes on you’ll understand why. See, Larry has pretty much given us knockout blows since the jump.  For those who we’ve told and kept things under wraps I really want to thank you. Again, there were those that didn’t need to know yet. I’ll start from the beginning.

Remember the first meeting with Dr. Mody? The one I said we would do three rounds of chemo then radiation, then three more rounds then see where we were and see about cutting this monster out? Well, there was a prior meeting with the surgeon who met us upon arrival.  Apparently, Mayo Clinic has a much better MRI than Baptist Hospital, which might be…

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Leaving for Foster

I didn’t have to do anything except gather the plastic bags full of his shirts and pants and socks and underwear and shoes. Bags with books and teddy bears.

All he had.

I stood in the room with others, including his foster Mom.

We just waited watching him weep. Watching a child’s heart break.

He wept so silently and so constantly.

He didn’t know how much love sat in that room with him.

He doesn’t know that today may be the greatest day of his life. The day that changes everything for the better.

Tonight all I can think of is a boy who is in a house that isn’t his. No matter how bad that one was, this one isn’t his.

I’m sorry for what life has visited upon you. You touched people today who will think of you always.

Sleep tonight little man.

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Chicago, isn’t that elevator music anyway?

Judy, one of my very best friends on earth has a sister who has been diagnosed with a serious, serious liver cancer. Elizabeth is the mother of two teenage girls and the wife of the amazing Bob, who is writing a blog about their journey, which is only a few days old at this point (the diagnosis and the blog). Please send prayers and good thoughts and positive energy to Elizabeth and Bob and the girls, Ham and Cheese. Thank you. I think prayer makes a difference and these people need a big difference!

#uphillbattle

Let me jump right in……

A little housecleaning first.  Thanks to all that have joined this blog the last few days. We pulled up the stats and its mind boggling to us. Almost 500 visits a day and a thousand views is way more than we could’ve ever thought.  And the people that keep following this we can’t thank enough. I’ve heard army and prayer warriors but I think this is like a wave. No matter what your beliefs are everyone is coming together and that’s a really cool thing. I know it means a lot to Elizabeth and me as well. Let’s keep riding the wave to the beach and we’ll all raise a toast at the end. And those across the world, leave me a message. We have views from Australia, Columbia, Japan, Germany, let us know because that’s just the best and want to know who you…

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Police. are we asking too much…?

This is good. I’m going to share another one which is harsher and better. Officer Don of All Trades is my law enforcement blogging hero!

don of all trades

By all accounts, Dallas Police Chief David Brown seems like a good man.

His life has been touched by turmoil and violence and he’s overcome all of that to become the Chief of Police of the Dallas Police Department.

I don’t know the man, and I don’t know what’s going on internally in the Dallas Police Department, so I have to stop short of saying he’s doing a great job there.

Maybe he is, but maybe he isn’t. I don’t know if the residents or officers he serves like him or not.

What I do know is that right now, he’s a media darling, and with the way things are right now nationally, we as law enforcement need somebody to be that for us. We need him to strike while his iron is hot so to speak.

As a black man, he can say things that white officers can only…

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How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?

I don’t post much anymore and this post is long and it’s not funny but I really hope you will read it. I ask you to read it. And share it because it matters not just in Portland, not just in Oregon but throughout the U.S.

My mother was a teacher before I was born. She began her career in upstate New York and then moved to Portland, Oregon. In Portland she taught at Boise (pronounced Boyce) Elementary in North Portland which in 1963-64 was a very nasty neighborhood. Race relations in the U.S. were not good at that time (not that much has changed) and the Albina neighborhood where Boise is located, was a violent, rough place.

Police-in-Albina

Albina 1969

Joan, my mom, was 100 lbs of Irish power (her maiden name was Powers). She was a tough little customer and had tons of colorful stories from her time teaching at Boise. Joan taught a little girl named Maria Pia Gompetro (sp?). Maria was a spitfire and when parent-teacher conference time came, Maria had to sit in and translate for her mother, who was from Italy. My mom would say, “Maria needs to settle down and pay attention in class.” Maria would translate and her mother would nod and smile. “Maria, I don’t think you’re telling your mother what I just said.”

She had an African-American boy in one of her classes who she walked by one day and placed her hand on his back to look at his work and he winced. She took him out of the class and looked at his back. In her exact words, his back looked like “hamburger”. She called his mother to come in and his mother said, “Don’t you worry Miss Powers, I’m making sure so and so does his work.” Her method of making sure the little guy did his work was whipping his back with a wire coat hanger. My mother told her if she touched him again, she would have her arrested.

My mother had a theory, had a goal of identifying children who were smart and had the drive to do better and getting them the education that would get them out of the ghetto they lived in. She went to Boise school officials and Portland Public School officials and begged them. “I can tell you who these kids are, get them out of here and give them a chance.” Nope. No can do, that’s not fair.”

Floyd. I can’t remember Floyd’s last name. Floyd was far too old to be in the 4th grade at Boise. He was smart and funny and his home life was a violent hell hole. Floyd loved my mother and was very protective of her. He would walk up and sit on the corner of her desk when the class was acting up and lecture them all to shut up and listen to Miz Powers. He was NOT happy when he met my dad, Joan’s fiance at the time, when my Dad came to the classroom. But he skeptically gave his approval of the marriage. A couple of years later, my mom saw Floyd on the local news. He was arrested for armed robbery.

Fast forward to 2016. I am tutoring reading at the Portland Public School for homeless children, the Community Transitional School. I tutor two kids for 30 minutes each. Homer is in kindergarten and Maria is in 1st grade. I am sorry to say that Homer is a lost cause. He is a tiny, darling African American little boy who has no attention span, can sort of kind of read a few words. One of my kids couldn’t read in kindergarten but she also had a stable, engaged family and a safe, comfortable life. Homer doesn’t have that and I think society’s ills will win with Homer.

How do you solve a problem like Maria?

Oh my dear little Maria. Maria and I are pals. M is for Maria and for Maggie. I told Maria that my middle name is Mary, “Maria is Spanish for Mary.” Maria told me, “No, Mary is English for Maria.” This little girl is a live wire and she is smart. A couple of days ago, during our 30 minute time together, Maria said, “that word can’t be ‘babies’, baby has a Y in it.” Hurrah Maria! We spent the rest of our time thinking of nouns that end in Y but their plural is ‘ies’. Maria picked up on that, I didn’t point it out to her.

This kid has it goin’ on. She doesn’t want to be too obvious with her smarts but she brings it when it matters. She is the daughter of Mexican immigrants. She is smart. I want to help her progress. A few weeks ago I spoke to the reading program coordinator asking how can I spend more time with Maria? And the coordinator thought that Big Brother/Big Sister would be a good idea. Nope. The school doesn’t have a connection with them. Okay, what about Trillium Family Services? A local Portland non-profit that does amazing work with children and families. Nope.

Unfortunately, CTS, as a school, does not match students with mentors through any programs. There are a number reasons for this. One is that we are not able to extend the same services to each child. It is a matter of equity. We want our families to feel we are providing a service of teaching and helping every child.

 

Are you shitting me?! What if mentoring at CTS caught on?! What if we, the privileged of this country no matter what color, what if we go out and try to save one starfish at a time? What if it’s not fair? There is still good to be done, children to be helped and nurtured, it’s not always fair but it can work.

Must Maria, who is only 7, be lost to the lowest common denominator simply because if she gets extra help, it’s not “fair”?

I was raised by Joan Powers O’Connor and my siblings will remember one of Mom’s favorite lines, “life isn’t fair.”

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The Conscience of this Conservative

Let’s first set the scene. I am and always have been a registered Republican. I am a John Kasich fan. I live in Oregon so my primary vote rarely ever matters because the nominee for both parties has typically been decided by the time Oregon’s late May primary is held. In Oregon, if you are a registered independent, you cannot vote in the Democrat or Republican primaries. I think two years ago there was a ballot measure to change that. I voted for it but it didn’t pass.

I am in my favorite season: Presidential election season. This is my version of the Olympics. I love watching the spectacle. My guy never seems to win but I still love watching.

Which brings me to my plight. In the late ’80s I read a slim volume by Barry Goldwater entitled “The Conscience of a Conservative”. I read it and I thought, “Yep, this is me. I am a conservative Republican.” Read it. It’s only 123 pages long depending on the edition you find.

What did that book say that told me that I’m a conservative? Here is a brief summary of the ideas set forth in that book.

  1. States’ rights.  The 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” I’m a strong believer in states’ rights.
  2. Civil rights. He promoted “natural” and “human” rights. He believed in integration (keep in mind this is back in the early ’60s) and voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because he didn’t think parts of it were enforceable constitutionally.
  3.  Farming. He believed that U.S. farming should be kept outside of federal regulation. Let the market set the prices. Of course, he didn’t have to compete with foreign price controls and tariffs.
  4. Taxes and spending. He was a flat tax kind of guy.
  5. Welfare (as it was called then). He thought the federal government was not the solution to joblessness and poverty. Goldwater believed the “welfare state” created a culture of dependency. I believe that LBJ’s Great Society programs caused the dissolution of African American families and communities and most certainly led to a culture of dependency and entitlement across the country, black white whatever. Bad idea.

Obviously, there is more to the book but I don’t like to write really long blogs. I think a conservative believes that government should leave the individual alone to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; limit the federal government’s powers; and follow the Constitution. The U.S. is blessed to have one Constitution, where many Western countries have plowed through many. I believe in looking back to the 10 Commandments and the Magna Carta. Good ideas are timeless and I think some of that has been lost in this country.

Sooooo, believing what I do and agreeing with Goldwater on the conscience of a conservative, I’m a gal without a party. To be a “conservative” now means that I must oppose the civil rights of a large swath of this country, that I must oppose abortion for any reason any time any way, I must think that we should deport 12 million people back to Mexico, that creationism is science and so much more that isn’t me.

In this election, I’m in for John Kasich. He’s not perfect but no one is. He is a guy in my party who I have liked for decades and he does work with both sides of the aisle.

I thought I was a Conservative but apparently I’m not anymore. I’ve kept this short but am happy to elaborate on any issues in the comments.

I am also pro-white wine and golf.

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Constitutionally Speaking: Guns and Religion

Some of you may be like me, trapped in an On Demand, Hulu , Netflix cycle of must watch TV that requires a spreadsheet to track schedules, characters and plots; which allows me (and perhaps you) to avoid the news detailing what a mess this country is.

The news is typically so dispiriting that I have stopped watching, listening, reading much of it at all. Still, the news reaches into my cocoon. I’m going to stick to stories local to me but the hue and cry is heard throughout this great nation of ours.

This fall there was yet another mass shooting, this time at Umpqua Community College in the southern Oregon town of Roseburg.

Constitutionally speaking, I’m going to look to the right and all the people screeching about their 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. I’m looking at you “2nd Amendment Voters/Advocates”. Please read the text of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States before you tell me and the rest of the country about your right to own an automatic weapon.

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Do you see those first four words about the well regulated militia? Do you get what that means? It doesn’t mean that everyone for any reason can own a gun or an arsenal of automatic weaponry that would horrify the Founding Fathers of this country. I am not part of a well regulated militia thus I do not need to keep and bear arms. The Oregon National Guard can keep and bear arms.

I’m not for banning all guns. I think there should be a ban on assault weapons. Automatic assault weapons are made for hunting human beings, that’s not okay. I think we should enforce the myriad laws we have for background checks and that should apply to online sales, gun shows, pawn shops, retail stores, etc.

I also think that the people screaming about their 2nd Amendment rights, should SHUT. IT. Unless they are a member of a “well regulated militia” and I don’t mean regulated by your Uncle Wally and run out of his barn. If you are a member of a police force, US armed services, the National Guard — then please feel free to assert your Second Amendment Rights. If not, stand down.

bear arms

And this guy can also bear arms

Ohhh, look over there on the left…they are all snickering about the loser conservative gun rights people on the right. Hee Hee, Maggie sure told them!

Well, folks on the left, I’m now going to have a chat with you. It is holiday time, time to decorate the holiday trees and send the holiday cards and make sure that Portland Public School choirs don’t perform at The Grotto’s (The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother) Christmas Festival of Lights, the largest Christmas choral festival in the WORLD. As I said, I am keeping it local but there are examples around the country of…wait for it, the separation of Church and State! Right!? Separate those two before real trouble starts!

churchandstate

Inigo Montoya for the win!

Ahem, now that you folks have got your First Amendment knickers twisted, just a little reminder that the words “separation of Church and State” appear no where in the Constitution. The First Amendment to the Constitution reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The First Amendment leads with “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” because our Founding Fathers came from Merry Old(e) England, where the government, then a monarchy, said to all of England, “your church is the Church of England.” Period. They added, “If you don’t like it, too bad, you cannot practice any other religion.” As I’m sure you all know as informed and interested American citizens, the Pilgrims left England so they could practice their particular religion without the King putting them in jail or gaol.

The phrase “separation of Church and State” comes from this letter written by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury, CT Baptists in 1802. The phrase in no way means there is no room for religion in public life, it simply means the government will not dictate what religion its citizens practice and that said citizens are free to practice whatever religion they wish. Or practice no religion. Up to you, American citizen.

Again, as the 2nd Amendment folks need to get their facts straight so do you Separation of  Church and Staters, and again, SHUT. IT.

I am not saying that the discourse should end on topics so important to the well being of the United States of America. I am saying get your facts straight before righteously throwing around buzzwords like “the right to bear arms” and “separation of Church and State”.

“There is nothing so absurd but if you repeat it often enough people will believe it.” — Dr. William James, widely recognized as the Father of American Psychology

 

 

 

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Profoundly Resilient

Today is Brigid’s 16th birthday!

It is hard to believe that just four months ago this happened:

crash volvo

Brigid was in the back seat behind the driver.

Here you can see her car door stuck to the grill of the car that hit them.

crash truck

 

We were in the hospital for 10 days.

That's Oregon Health Sciences University up on the hill.

That’s Oregon Health Sciences University up on the hill.

Brigid in her bed, hooked up to tubes and monitors, being poked and prodded.

brigid rm 24

After five days, the pain was so great and the healing so limited that they operated on her and put in a plate to stabilize her pelvis and six screws to hold it in place.

Last week I took Brigid to a see a counselor, believing that any teenager who had been through such a trauma and had her life changed so drastically (missing months of school, not dancing anymore, etc.), might need to work through some of it. Jan, the therapist who I trust and respect, met with me and Brigid for a few and then I left and she and Brigid talked. I came back at the end to be told “Brigid is profoundly resilient.” Jan credits me with staying by her side throughout, the fact that Brigid has no memory of the accident, Brigid knows and accepts that she is deeply loved by family and friends, and Brigid is Brigid. Profoundly resilient.

Yesterday we went to lunch and birthday shopping.

brigid16

“And I got a birthday bracelet from Tiffany!”

I went for a walk in the woods early this morning and thought about Brigid and her 16th birthday. At one point, I was overcome with emotion and gratitude; grateful to God for blessing us with Brigid back in 1999 and again for watching over her the night of the crash in April.

Brigid, I wish for you a long life filled with love for family and friends, quiet kindnesses and raucous celebrations.

Happy Birthday my sweet girl and many many many many more.

EPSON MFP image

Brent Went To Let The Chooks Out And You Won’t Believe What He Found

We are home from 10 days in the hospital and Brigid is healing. She had surgery to stabilize her pelvis with a plate and six screws. I have taken a leave from work and she is not back to school yet as she cannot walk without a walker or any great distance. So since I am not blogging, I’m going to reblog some of my favorite bloggers. Here is a Brat Like me, an American girl farming and raising a family in France. Try her, you’ll like her!

Brat Like Me

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A chicken outside the coop.

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Two steps in, ten chicks popped out.

Here we are tending to four chicks and a hen, when we had no idea a hen was doing just fine with ten little chicks of her own.

It’s the peepy sound of Spring.  Very noisy hen and chicks.

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… I do apologize for the crappy internet-gimmee-clicks title, it seemed right at the time.

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One Tomb; Two Teens; the Lottery of Location; and the Rest of Us

We always have so much to be grateful for. Brigid will be fine and hopefully home soon! Thank you to my dear wise friend Judy for this post.

We Are All Carpenter's Kids

A blog entitled “We Are All Carpenter’s Kids” should surely have an Easter post, and I am sorry it didn’t. Wherever you woke up Easter morning, the tomb was empty. Whether you celebrated in one of the world’s richer countries or one of the world’s poorer countries, the tomb was empty.

Last week Brigid, the 15 year old daughter of my best friend Maggie, was in a car hit by a drunk driver. She sustained some fairly serious injuries and was taken immediately to a nearby hospital in Portland, Oregon. She received excellent medical care, has had successful surgery, and though her recovery will be long and painful, she should be heading home today.

Last week, Carpenter’s Kid Aidan Chitawo, also 15, sought treatment for an intestinal blockage that has plagued him for at least a year. I can’t describe the tremendous efforts of his caretakers, including my ever-pastoral, tireless…

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