Sunday, February 28, 2010

The coast is clear ...

Honolulu Johnson called last night.
He is AOK. Tired. Sunburned.
Thanking God and all of you for your prayers.


Saturday, February 27, 2010

News from Hawaii

A mom's worse nightmare ...



5:49am:
Oh great! All i need is a big wave............... john hawaii

5:49 am
news says we could get a wave from each direction. LOL the surfers are all gearing up! im ready to go mountain hiking! john.............

8:32 am:
Ok, this is no joke!!!!!!!! We are due to be hit by a real frickin tidal wave! The sirens have been going off and there is no sleep to be had! im right on the coast, literally the closet building to the beach. i cant beleave my luck while here in hawaii. The last time chile was hit with a quake it was a 9 pointer, and it sent a huge 50 footer onto ewa beach that killed alot of people here in the late 60's. i beleave ill be fine but these buildings are not in great shape, and i mean it im right on the coast! Im not going to take their word for it but it is supposed to hit at 11:10 am my time. the siren is going to be going off at 6 am permanently until it hits. it could be a puddle wave or a massive bruiser, we wont know until it engulfs us, thats the best part. i will have my video camera mounted for this one. its a full moon which means surfers here surf all night. im not kidding they are in the water as i write this at 3:25 am. i think i may be the only sane person on this whole island. I really cant beleave this is going to happen! Mom im heading to the all night market to get some floaties. if i do get sucked out,I will be beyond pissed off. I will call everyone at a decent time to let everyone know our outcome. i will say if it does make it some of the more dense people will be shark bait. they think this is some kind of neat event. i will make sure to take high ground in a decent spot. Im not ruling out diamond head!!! it is the closet high ground to me. as i write the police are evacing the beach head quarters, this is not a good sign! i love you all.
John................

10:32 am:
Alright my pack is filled to 50 lbs! im on my way up diamond head in 5 minutes! the whole place is going nuts! no water in the stores, lines for gas, no exits, airports down, ships leaving harbor, and the national guard are running all over town! this should be a real show! im seriously sitting on the lowest ground at ground zero! the zoo is need of some help!!! its right here with nothing in front of it but the pacific. im debating helping for a few. i will keep everyone posted. i found a pill box on the side of diamond head look out that is in walking distance, i am for sure going to be up there. ill be in touch.........
john

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

"To be what we are,
and to become what we are capable of becoming,
is the only end of life."
Robert Louis Stevenson

Yesterday my friend, Dani, asked me to do a quick little exercise ... just for fun, she said. Dani, if you haven't figured it out by now, is someone whose wisdom and insight I value immensely even though we haven't officially met. So even though I wasn't sure of its purpose when she asked me to do three simple tasks, I gave it my best shot.

I found out later the exercise was one she often uses when she facilitates women's retreats. So as not to step on her toes, I'm not going to give away the questions. Like being on Jeopardy, I'll just share my answers. To say I was surprised, pleasantly surprised but surprised nonetheless, would be an understatement.

The final part of the exercise (which I'm doing here) is for me to write three sentences about myself (which comes directly from the questions.) Taken out of context, it may sound a little braggadocious. It's not about me saying how great I am. It's more about looking into the face of people I highly respect and seeing a reflection of myself. Like a personality trait bathroom mirror. Only I wasn't seeing the metaphorical chin hairs and double chins, I zeroed in on the pretty green eyes that mostly look for the good in the world.

Dani, as instructed, here is the final part of the exercise ...
I, Merry Me, am honest, faithful, fun, generous, accepting, happy, spiritual and loving.

I, Merry Me, am someone who has always been a strong, confident person, and now as I become aware of my strengths, I can look on with pride. I am a go to person who can be trusted in any situation and I love people - no matter what - and can make them feel loved.

Who knew? I'm not sure I did.

According to Dani, "In the realms of energy, (at it's purest form) like attracts like. What we are attracted to in others is a reflection of the characteristics we ourselves have. We can identify them because our ego is not involved (or so we think) in this exercise."

Along those same lines, another blog friend, Sorrow, shared with me recently something her grandfather told her when she was a little girl. It was their secret. Sorrow gave me the okay to share it here. "When we find people who inspire us, who shine in ways that make our hearts swell with love, who believe in us, encourage us, and just make the world a better place for us, it's God's way of giving us a mirror, so that we might truly see our own souls, and the way they shine."

When I read that, tears ran down my face. That happens a lot when I read really, really, really good stuff. I'm touched that this grandfather was smart enough, caring enough, to share this wisdom with a little girl who probably felt very unsure of herself. What would the world be like if every kid had a secret like this to hold close to the heart during the scary, unsure times? Actually, it would be pretty darn good if every adult knew this secret too!

Maybe I already knew it. Maybe I knew it but didn't believe it applied to me. However, it is obviously a lesson that two of God's special angels wanted me to re-learn because they spoke to me, in different ways but with the same "look in the mirror" message, on two successive days. Ah-ha! I said to myself out of the blue this morning. This mirror message + the 12 Step message = how about spending some time self-nurturing instead of always putting others first? (Working the 12 Steps is all about looking at yourself instead of blaming others)

As luck would have it when mind, body and spirit align at the same time the planets and stars are in order, I met with my writing group today. It felt great to sit with ladies of like mind sharing stories, thoughts, encouragement and laughter. It's only 4 hours a month, which seems like a drop in a great big do-for-others bucket, but I'm learning it's 4 hours very well spent. I must face the fact that being in the company of women is good for my soul.

Wishing for you time spent nurturing yourself,
Merry ME

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Happy Birthday Dani

Today is Dani's (of Three Sister's Spirit) birthday.

I've been wondering what to say that hasn't been said before. When it comes to birthdays the flowery, Hallmark greetings often seem overused. Yet in reality, "Woohoo! It's Your Birthday" is a pretty good summation of the this sentiment: The world became a better, happier, prettier place the day you were born, so as we mark the anniversary of that day, we celebrate and give thanks for you.

Over at her blog, Terri gave Dani, and independent retailers everywhere, a pretty good shout out!

When I opened up my email this morning I was treated to a poetry reading that I decided would hit the mark for Dani's birthday. Here's what the note said (since it was forwarded to me, I don't know who the original sender was):
Dear Friends,
Greg's aunt Lilly is one of my favorite people. I knew I loved her the night we met after drinking vodka from water glasses on the front porch swing and later dancing barefoot on the lawn under the moonlight to her favorite Greek music.One of Lil's great gifts is her velvet voice. In the last few years she has been reading poetry to music and more recently reading her own poetry.
Lil is also suffering from a slowly debilitating neuropathy that has left her wheelchair bound, crippled and dependant. Often times she can't type or hold a telephone to talk. She can't travel anymore (her true love) so I haven't seen her in more than a year.
I hope you go to the daily motion site below and listen to her poem. She has incredible insight and great talent. Her reading starts about 45 seconds after the music starts.
Enjoy, my friends!

Here's the site. There's a lot of wisdom in the poem. And, in my opinion, there is a lot of wisdom in Dani. So there is a kind of synchronicity in the poem's message and my birthday wish for my purple loving, crown wearing friend.

Queen Dani, I hope you are blessed today with everything your heart desires. Enjoy being you. Know you are loved. Eat cake and drink coffee til it comes out your nose.

My wish for all of you is some time to look in the mirror and tell the person you see how great (s)he is. It doesn't have to be your birthday to celebrate you.
Merry ME

P.S. Lillie did not write the attached poem - just read it. I don't know who wrote it.

Monday, February 22, 2010

A New Dog in Town



My sister who lives in a room above our garage has been on a quest for companionship and love. She's filled out on-line dating questionnaires and gone to dinner with a few guys who proved to be less than promising. Recently she raised (or lowered, depending on how you look at it!) her sights. She opted for a dog.

Before choosing the perfect pet she did lots of homework. She checked on the Internet and pet rescue societies for the best breed to suit her needs. She studied up on the best way to introduce a new dog to an old dog, 2 cats and the rest of the family members. She printed out information sheets on crate training and obedience training expecting each of us to be on the same page.

As it turned out finding the perfect dog was as easy as spending one hour at the local humane society. She quickly determined Laci, half Rottweiller and half dachshund, was the dog for her. In other words a short, squat solid mutt with a big smile and one floppy ear. Before Laci could actually be adopted, however, she had to pass a behavior test that had something to do with giving up a rawhide bone without growling or biting. My sister went back every day for a week to visit the dog, encouraging good dog behavior and promising a good home as the ultimate reward.

Last Saturday after purchasing a bed, a crate, several toys, a bowl for food and a bowl for water, a box of treats, a leash and collar, my sister was joined heart to heart with the little brown and black canine.



Three days later, Aunt Merry ME was left in charge of doggie day care. When I came out to fix my dad and the Alpha Dog' s breakfasts there was a note on the table indicating that Laci had been left un-crated (she whined) in the upstairs room and would probably need to be let out. In an effort to multi-task I put the egg water on to boil, dog food in the microwave to be warmed and Laci in the back yard. Then, as often happens, I got a little distracted.


[Photo: The beginning of the nose to nose, butt to butt, do si do!]

I could hear Laci barking to come in, or at least not be left alone in the yard, but I had kitchen duties to attend to. I noticed when the barking stopped, but paid little attention. I just figured she'd found herself a good waiting place. I continued with breakfast preparation. When I finished I went to the door and called Laci.

Let me say at this point, the statement "the silence was deafening" could not have been truer. There was no sound of little dog feet running in excited anticipation. I couldn't hear the flapping of her tag against the collar. There wasn't a whimper or any sound that would suggest that Laci was anywhere in the yard. I know it's crazy, but for an instant I seriously thought oh, isn't that cute, the dog likes to play hide and seek. So I started seeking and soon discovered the slight space between the house and the fence - something big enough for a chihuahua to squeeze through, but nothing that a bigger dog could maneuver. Still, the pile of dirt she'd left behind as she deftly dug her way out of the yard was way more evidence than this missing dog detective needed. Sweet little lovable Laci was gone. Long gone. Dog gone.

What to do first? Grab the car keys and go looking for her? Or perfect the story I would tell my sister about how her newest and dearest BFF had been abducted by aliens? Not wasting any more time, I flagged down the neighbor who was out for his morning stroll and put him on dog alert. Then I took off in the car, yelling the dog's name and praying to a kind of saint cocktail I invented for just such an occasion - St. Anthony (finder of lost things), St. Francis (lover of furry 4-footed creatures) and St. Jude (in case all else fails). I drove two blocks away before thinking how utterly ridiculous I was being. It was clear the dog had headed for parts unknown, probably towards the south where she'd once lived. Visions of "The Incredible Journey" flashed through my brain. I know how far dogs can travel to find their lost owners. Laci hadn't been with us long enough to know her new home was home.

Crap!
Laci! Laci!
Please St. Francis, I won't say another mean thing about roaches or spiders.
Laci! Laci!
Damn!

I drove one more block before heading home. Out of the corner of my eye I spied 2 women, 1 man with a telephone in hand, and 1 black dog, laying on its back enjoying the tummy rub.

Thank you St. Anthony/Francis/Jude. Now I'm going to kill the little runaway!

Apparently as soon as Laci made her escape she entertained herself by checking out the yards in closest proximity. Then she decided to accompany a woman walking down the street. She wouldn't get close enough to be caught, she just went along, as if in Dog Heaven, investigating the new smells. As Karma would have it, Laci was finally captured by the woman whose run-away dog, Annie, was once cornered by my mother in the yard of the woman whose dog, Buster, I had rescued several times before. Clearly, what goes around comes around. Not to mention alls well that ends well.

For the rest of the day Laci has been getting to know her way around inside as well as out. She's discovered the cat food, a long-forgotten rawhide bone, Beauty's dog bed and the comforts of the place I may start referring to as "The Ark."


[Photo: Dad encouraging Laci to take a nap with him!]


[Photo: Laci with the forgotten and verboten rawhide bone.]


Wishing for you someone who responds when you say "stay,"
Merry ME

Epilogue: As I sat here typing, I heard the the beginnings of that dreaded dog sound. The one where you know you only have about 10 seconds to jump up, corral the dog and get her outside before she blows. We made it to the door. Obviously the cat food did not agree with the dog's delicate sensibilities. Our stoop has now been christened with a big glob of olive green stomach contents. I guess that means she'll stay for awhile!

Friday, February 19, 2010

More 12-Stepping

"I am deeply sorry for my irresponsible and selfish behavior."
Tiger Woods

"Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs."
AA Step 5

Because Tiger made his statement near where I live this morning, the local news people have been swarming like a school of piranhas, wanting blood and pictures. One of the more profound said something along the lines of "we love to watch heroes do good and we love to watch them fail." I guess I fall into that category.

Even though I think Wood's transgressions were of a personal nature, between he and his family and possibly the people that pay him to do what he does, I was curious about what Tiger could possibly say that would even begin to get him out of the doghouse. Yeh, maybe I wanted some blood too.

Yet as he read the prepared statement I realized it took on a much deeper meaning than just saying I'm sorry. I've seen that humiliated look before, I've heard the words that choke coming out, I've felt the despair. I believe that Tiger did not do what he did today simply to get back into the public's good graces or clear the road for more sponsorships. What he did was what everybody in 12-Step recovery has to do, only his 5th Step was much more public than others.

I am not privy to what kind of treatment program Tiger is in. However, my limited experience with rehab hospitals tells me that he is in a place that uses an AA model for recovery. There are probably as many different reasons for being in rehab as there are people who enter into it. Some people may go in willingly and some may be deposited at the front door with a post-it note stuck on his/her shirt that says, "Free for the taking." Some may go to hide from their problems (or the media), and some may just be ready to expose their souls for another chance at real living. I'm pretty sure the pressure was on Tiger to get out of the limelight and do some soul searching, but like everyone else in the program he had to take the first step.

What I heard today was a broken man beginning to make amends. It may or may not be total BS. Only time will tell if the person who has been held in such esteem for his golf prowess can become the man of character his wife and children need him to be. Everyone makes mistakes. Some are more public than others. My hope would be that the Tiger Woods that emerges from this debacle is one we can all look up to for his humility, honesty, and re-built character. I doubt if being unfaithful has much to do with Tiger's golf swing, but I am sure that if he continues to work the steps, his whole life will change. He will be much more at peace in his own skin and that might make his game even better than before.

And that, my friends, is the end of my sermon.
But I'm wondering why it is that for two days in a row my higher power has placed the 12 Steps in front of me as if to get my attention. Could it be that I have some internal housekeeping to do myself? Perhaps it's time to dig out my copy of the Alanon Big Book - One Day At A Time - and do some reading.

Wishing for you people who will sing your praises when you are on top of the mountain and hold your hand when you are in the valley,
Merry ME

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Remembering

"Came to believe that a power greater than myself
could restore me to sanity."
AA Step 2

Sweetie and I actually got to spend some together time alone on Valentine's Day. First things first, I took my new computer to the Apple store for a "well-baby" check. The sight of a "Security Warning" error message spelled out in big red letters upset me so badly the night before that I almost took myself to the emergency room. Saner minds prevailed, however, mostly because the tech support was shut down and I was able to soothe both my worry and the computer's warning by simply turning the machine off for the night.

After a short, but direct, lecture from Akman, the Apple tech who knows more about computers than I will ever hope to know in my lifetime, I promised to 1) never download anything I don't ask for without first getting permission from someone with MAC after his name, 2) back up my hard drive on a regular basis so as not to lose precious information and 3) immediately sign up for my one to one classes - which like post-natal nursing care, gives a new iParent information on the care and feeding of her new computer.

That settled Sweetie's Valentine was much more amenable to talk of love ... people love. We held hands as we walked into the book store. He smiled when I asked, "Can I buy just this one little book?" And I smiled as he generously shared his hot, salty French fries. I ask, does love get much better than that? He "gets" my desire for brand new books even though I don't have room for one more book on the shelf and I "get" his love of greasy fries even though we both know it's not the best choice for his heart.

Following that we went to a movie. I don't have a problem going to a movie by myself, but there is something special about holding hands with the person sitting next to you (a person you know!) We chose to see Crazy Heart after hearing so much about how good Jeff Bridges played the role of a country singer on the down side of the slippery slope of fame. We were not disappointed. Though I must say I found myself squirming in my seat as he lit one cigarette after another and drank himself to sleep at night. He looked disheveled most of the time and I could almost smell the stale odor that must have surrounded him.

As I watched "Bad Blade" continue the downward spiral of alcoholism yet still be attractive to a certain kind of bar fly and then fall in love, I had one of those "been there, done that" moments. I couldn't help but remember a man from my past who rocked my co-dependent world for about 6 years. I won't give away what happened in the movie, but there times I wanted to shout to the woman, "NO! Quick, get out while still you can!" At the same time I had a sad kind of feeling that happily-ever-after didn't necessarily mean that the man and woman would ride off into the sunset together.

When I first met my "Bad" boy I was pretty naive, in and out of depressive episodes, looking for myself in all the wrong places and a sucker for a man with a twinkle in his eye and smooth words on his lips. I didn't see alcoholism or drug addiction. Instead saw someone that "needed" me. I heard someone say, "you matter." A deadly combination.

At the time my John Denver tapes were laid aside. I lived my life to the music and philosophy of Jimmy Buffet and the Coral Reefers. I've never been to Margaritaville but I have downed my share of Jose Cuervo. Come Monday, Changes in Attitudes, Let's Get Drunk, and Stories We Could Tell became my theme songs. The life I'd known for 20 years as a wife and mother with all the benefits of such narrowed to a small apartment where I tried to find myself and save someone who wasn't sure he needed saving.

Then one day, my therapist used the word "co-dependent." She suggested I find a 12-step meeting. In the days before blogging, but nonetheless living the lyrics, ".... if you ever wonder why you ride the carousel, you do it for the stories you can tell..." I followed her advice, never knowing that my life was about to take another turn (or turns!).

I could say that magic happens in the rooms where the 12-steps are practiced. But it is not the kind of magic that happens when a fairy Godmother waves her wand and says bibbity bobbity boo. It is the kind of transformation that happens when a person puts everything on the line and works like hell to dig him/herself out of a deep dark hole. The 12 Steps and 12 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous (and its follow-on groups) are as much a way of living life as the 10 commandments or the Golden Rule. They are the basics of living with yourself and your fellow man. In the mean time, if you work the program the way it's meant to be worked, you stop drinking, drugging, and, in my case, depending on other people to fill you up.

All the steps are important. But if I have to pick one that really, really made a difference in my life, it is Step 2. Believing in a high power - something greater than myself - meant that I could trust someone/thing other than ME to take care of things. I didn't have to do it all. What I had to do was give up my need to control every situation so that I could handle the outcomes. Oh sure, there was more to it than that, but that one thing was the stronghold of my "recovery."

Back to the movie, as I watched I remembered the bad, the ugly and then the good that shaped that phase of my life. I haven't been to a meeting in years. But I hold the people I met in those rooms in high esteem and affection. Gratefully, I grew to a place where I could let my bad boy go and, in doing so, I freed myself to love the way I think it is meant to be.

I haven't seen all the Oscar-nominated movies for 2009. But I'm going to throw my vote into Jeff Bridges' ring. His performance was believable enough to trigger long-forgotten memories, and gratitude.

If you or anyone you know has a problem with drugs or alcohol I highly suggest taking that first step. AA/Alanon meetings are held all over the world. There is bound to be one in your neck of the woods. Know this .... you are not alone. All you have to do is ask for help. Here is the website.

Wishing for you a life of sobriety, hope and love,
Merry ME

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Happy Birthday Linda

"There can be no situation in life
in which the conversation of my dear sister
will not administer some comfort to me. "
Mary Montagu



My mom used to fuss at me that I'd be late for my own funeral.

How did she get to be so punctual? Was she was genetically programmed to be on time, or was it that she spent her life living with military men who ran their lives (like their ships) by the clock? If Dad had a plan to get up at say 0800 hours, then you could be pretty much assured that Mom would be up and in the kitchen by 0700. Sadly this was not a trait I inherited. When my husband wanted to be awake before the sun arose that was fine by me as long as he didn't make much noise.

My Sweetie, whom you might recall has a slight case of OCD into which category the desire to be ready to go somewhere at least 30 minutes before the announced ETD falls, has adjusted to fairly well to my slower than a snail's pace. Personally, I think it gives him time to line things up in the refrigerator or measure the distance between the plates and the bowls, so I try not to throw him off by actually being ready on time!

But this post is not really about my tardiness. It is about my sister, Linda, and the fact that Sunday past, Valentine's Day, was her birthday. My intentions to give her a birthday shout out were good, just not timely.

I don't think it is a coincidence that one of the people I love most in the world, and one who showers love on her family even when it is unnoticed or undeserved, was born on Valentine's day. Linda has a heart that is about as big as Jupiter. She is not an indiscriminate lover, yet generously hands out comforting words and hugs to anyone who needs them. She may be best known for giving sanctuary to stray cats, rescued dogs, sisters, nieces/nephews, friends of n/n, photo albums, old quilts, family heirlooms, long forgotten Time magazines, bolts of flannel, and well-loved stuffed animals.

Linda is 8 years old than I am. In most of my early childhood memories she is a shadowy figure; one of several in Christmas morning photos or family outings. By the time I was a teenager, however, Linda had become my most trusted friend. She's never not been there for me no matter the joy or crisis. We have shared family sorrows and adventures. Her memories support my memories, assuring me that I'm not all together crazy.

Linda is my favorite traveling partner. She is always up for a road trip. Over the years we've shared seats on jet planes, European trains, English double-decker buses, zodiac boats and a variety of family automobiles. We've explored the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, Graceland, Savannah, Hanama Bay, The Tower of London, Amsterdam's red light district, the Na Pali coast, and Dad's Smokey Mountain roots.

For me, where Linda lives is the very definition of home. The beds are comfortable, the towels fluffy, and the food plentiful no matter what one's particular tastes happen to be. Linda and I have often talked of combining forces to make one king-sized family compound where we will live out our golden years. It will be a place where the door is always open, everyone is welcome; where cats, dogs and grandchildren can frolic. It might get a little bit crazy at times, and it won't be without heated discussions. But it will be a place where we can take naps or stay up late, play games or watch movies, laugh or cry - a place where love abides.

Comic books are full of caped crusaders who do daring deeds. Although to my knowledge Linda has never saved anyone from a burning building (she did hold a man's hand after a car accident until an ambulance arrived), my Super Sister has, on more than one occasion, brought me back from the edge of despair. She is brave enough to face a bowl of oatmeal every morning because she knows it's good for her. She can fly across country on the red-eye, arrive in a different time zone and still hold her own with Grumpy Grampy. She is strong and gentle at the same time.

Dear Sister, even though this birthday tribute is a tad after the fact, I hope you know how special you are to me. I can't imagine what it would be like to live in a world without you. Happy Birthday. Happy Every Day.

Wishing for each of you a big sister like mine,
Merry ME

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Good Read

“The Afghans want their children to go to school because

literacy represents what neither we

nor anyone else has so far managed to offer them:

hope, progress and the possibility of controlling their own destiny.”

Greg Mortenson, Stones into Schools, pg. 318



Last night I finished reading Greg Mortenson's sequel to Three Cups of Tea. I say sequel, but even though it is a stand alone book the author's powerful message is the same ... building relationships and schools - schools for girls - is where the future lies for Afghanistan. And dare I say, the rest of the illiterate world.


I am not ashamed to say that I am a big Greg Mortenson fan. His first book opened my eyes and touched my heart. If it is possible I am now an even bigger fan. He may have had some help writing this book, I don't know, but it was a great piece of writing as well as story telling. There are several maps in the front of the book I had to keep referring to so I could keep my bearings about what was going on where. But I didn't need a photograph to see the places he described. His metaphors, like "Windex-blue water" made the writer in me swoon.


STS picks up kind of where 3CoT leaves off. It continues the efforts made by Mortenson, the CAI, his crews in Afghanistan and a couple trusty sidekicks to build schools in the war ravaged, quake-riddled, most remote parts of Afghanistan. Places where things have not changed much since Marco Polo visited. Places you'd think there would be no cell-phone or wireless Internet connections. Places where the US is trying to replace the mujadeen, who replaced the Taliban, who replaced the Soviets. Places where tribal elders see the real way to reduce poverty, infant mortality, and certain extinction is in the education of its people. It seems like a no-brainer. Mortenson is putting his time, talent, and monies into making the dreams of the school children and elders alike come true. At great risk to his personal health and relationships I might add. I'm not sure where he gets his inner and outer strength. Partly he admits that it came from the people he had working with/for him. Some of the escapades/challenges/adventures were, I think, the stuff epic movies are made from.


If you haven't read or hear anything by/about this man, it is my humble opinion that you should stop everything you are doing and give either 3CoT or StS a go. 3CoT has become required reading for some of the top military brass now serving in Afghanistan. Again, it's just my opinion, but I think it should be required reading for everyone in the human race.


I don't know what it takes to get a Nobel Peace Prize. I don't take anything away from our esteemed president, but if the nominating and selecting were up to me, this humble man from Montana, and his dirty dozen, would be at the very top of the list. And I am hereby starting a grass roots campaign to see that he gets what he justly deserves.


[That said, if there is a similar medal for those behind the scenes then it should go to the wives and children of the men on the move. These staunch supporters have been left behind for weeks on end with little or no news from the front. And still they encourage the movement. God bless them.]


If I had to say one disparaging thing about the StS/Mortenson phenom it would be that when I went to his web site this morning to find out if there are any speaking engagements scheduled nearby, sadly there are none closer than Orlando. Several are private. Those that aren't are sold out. I also discovered the high price of fame. There is a $25,000 fee to schedule an engagement. I know that the money will go to a good cause. I know that Mortenson more than deserves whatever he rakes in. But I'm kind of sad that fame has made him almost as inaccessible as the Hindu Kush he writes about.


Wishing for you and those you know time spent with a good book,

Merry ME


P.S. Listen to the Wind, is another book about building schools in Pakistan/Afghanistan. It's basically a 3CoT picture book for kids - and grown ups alike.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Feels So Right


"Time is too slow for those who wait,
too swift for those who fear,
too long for those who grieve,
too short for those who rejoice,
but for those who love, time is eternity."
Henry Van Dyke


Here we are on the eve of another Valentine's Day. A day for lovers everywhere to scramble to embody the Hallmark concept of love. Chocolate manufacturers and florist shops do a booming business. Men who might not otherwise step foot in a card shop stand next to each other silently reading sappy poetry trying to figure out what it is that their girlfriend/wife/SO/Domestic Partner sees in the glittery cards. Then, to add insult to injury they have to stand in a line with other uncomfortable looking guys, shuffling from one foot to the other trying to act macho while holding an oversized stuffed animal, that really has nothing to do with love but blasts out Celine Dion's theme from Titanic when you press it's foot, under one arm and a heart-shaped box of cherry-filled dark chocolates in the other. It's quite obvious to the women in the same lines who still have a few tears running down their cheeks after choosing the card with just the perfect sentiment, that these fellows, who would have no problem standing in line at Home Depot sharing with each other the thrill of power tools, have visions of BudLight and football games dancing in their heads. Still they need to be given credit for making the effort.

We all know that for a relationship to be built on really solid ground, partners need to use the "L" word a lot more often then one day a year. Still we get caught up in the commercialization of it all. Even before the left over Christmas wrapping paper and twinkling lights are put away, the store aisles are full of Valentines giving lovers everywhere ample opportunity to purchase said greetings. I try to hold out, giving myself time to savor the meaning of the holiday, but really I'm as guilty as the next. I literally buy into the Hallmark hype.

For someone who could be on the American Greeting Card Buyers Hall of Fame, I'm a sucker for homemade cards made from folded over construction paper, covered in glue and paper doilies. Ironically I still harbor a deep seated fear of having an empty Valentine mailbox on my grade school desk. No matter that it's been 50 years since those scary, love-starved days. That's not to say I didn't get valentines - everyone did - but I was nonetheless afraid I wouldn't. At the same time I was unsure how to accept the greetings I did receive. Weird I know.

Over the years I've both anticipated and dreaded Valentine's Day. I've composed love letters that would rival sonnets exchanged by Romeo and Juliet. I've also cursed the very idea of love. I've decorated cookies with candy hearts and cried myself to sleep with a sugar hangover after eating a whole bag of Hershey Kisses that I bought myself. I've danced with a special someone to a special love song (anyone remember "The Shadow of Your Smile"?) but also been known to pretend that John Denver wrote one of his greatest songs for me instead of his beloved Annie. What girl hasn't?

Love is like a two-sided coin. In order to feel the flame, one has to risk being burned and light the match.

At a recent dinner, my father opined that young people don't know what love is; that love can't really exist until couple has been together for 60+ years. Each of the daughters sitting at the table who have struggled with love over the years, bristled a little. Coming from a man who rarely expresses his love in words, it was hard to listen to. I do believe, however, that the initial fire of love that burns so hotly (physically and emotionally) in the beginning of a relationship will of necessity die down. The smoldering embers, however, may not be as intense yet they maintain the ability to sustain heat and passion.

I wasn't there on the day my parents got married, but I was privileged to watch them at the end stage of their marriage. There was a spark of the fire that was lit so many years before on a sunny Hawaiian afternoon. Conversely, perhaps the best example of love, companionship and heart-speak I've ever witnessed was between a couple that only had ten short years together. At the risk of disagreeing with my father, I am of the opinion that it is not a matter of years in the love but of the love in the years. Does that make sense?

Sweetie and I are nearing the 6th anniversary of our meeting. It was a fate-filled afternoon in pine cleaner-scented MacDonald's. While I sipped my Coke and listened to his life story, I saw myself reflected in his blue eyes. At the time neither of us was expecting to fall in love. We were two people who had been down that road before and didn't particularly trust life or love. As I recall we looking for fun and friendship, not wine and roses. Ha! I'm pretty sure if we'd known then what we know now about where we were headed we might have shook hands and wished other a happy life. Today, though, I have to say even with the complicated family dynamics, loving Sweetie and having him love me back is what Valentine's Day is all about.

There are lots of love songs that could speak to our relationship. As I've been writing this post I've been listening to an Alabama CD. One song made me think just how right it feels to love again. In general and in particular. Sweetie, this one is for you.

Wishing each of you love with a capital "L"
Merry ME

Public Service Announcement for Bird Lovers

"If I keep a green bough in my heart,
the singing bird will come."
Chinese Proverb

Or in the case of Molly:
"If I keep the feeder full of seed and my camera focused,
the red bird will sit still
and say, "Cheese!"

Molly has a set up that captures all her bird friends who come to the Pinecone Cafe for a little snack. Even though she explained it in a previous comment, I'm still not sure how she does it. Needless to say I am totally envious of her talents, but truly grateful that she shares her photos.

Go check it out and enjoy.

Wishing for you a day filled with happy bird songs,
Merry ME

Thursday, February 11, 2010

P words

"The only true way to prove that you have lost your inner child
is if you don't laugh when you hear the word poop."
Amanda

Dad had an appointment with his GP this week. One of those F/U things that takes more time to prepare for and get to than the actual appointment. We were there to get the results of his swallowing test from a few weeks ago. The speech therapist that conducted the test had already informed us that Dad has a slight problem swallowing liquids. Slight as in he has to really concentrate on making stuff go down - from a kind of disconnect between the brain and the swallowing muscle - and so far nothing is going into his lungs which could cause pneumonia. Good news!

However, since we were there, Dad decided to throw out a few different complaints. Nothing new, just something to talk about. I guess when you are old the conversation can easily turn to a discussion of your ability, or lack of, to pee and poop. Remember how exciting it was when your brand new baby did things in its diaper that a few years later would gag you? With Dad it's the same sort of thing in reverse.

At the risk of giving out TMI here's how the conversation went:
Dad: I think I'm going to stop taking Senna as prescribed by hospice because I can't seem to control my pooping (my word). [BTW, the hospice nurse has given him permission to do/take whatever works best for him.]
Doctor: You could eat bran cereal for breakfast. It will help either way - if you are too loose or not loose enough.
Dad: I'm not going to give up eating what I like.
Doctor: Oh, I thought it was a problem.
Dad: Not that much of a problem. I just thought I'd use the time while I'm here to make it worth our while.

Two days later, the whole Hospice team was here - nurse, social worker and new doctor. In other words a grand audience! I left them alone at the kitchen table but listened closely from the other room. Invariably the discussion turned to his pee which is one of the ways to assess the condition of Dad's bladder.

Doctor: What color is it?
Dad: I don't know. Would you like to see it? It's got flakes in it. I can show you my pad.
Doctor, beginning to squirm and look for the nearest exit: No, that's okay, I'll take your word for it.

[ME: OMG. This is disgusting!]
[Nurse: Type. Type. Type on her computer.]
[SW: Blank stare.]

I know that elimination is a normal part of the human experience. I just wonder why it is that old people want to talk about it so much. I've always been pretty private about that subject. I have to wonder, though, as time moves along, will I also begin to work discussions of my bathroom habits into every day conversation? Will I bypass the make-up aisle in the drug store and go straight to the stool softeners and/or GasX? Will I stop weighing the pros and cons of tooth whitening toothpaste and contemplate instead the advantages of Depends over the store brand?

Sadly, I think I may have a genetic predilection for this to happen. My grandmother often told us about her intestinal discomfort, and now my dad is following in her footsteps. Is it only a matter of time before I join the conversation?

I'm afraid so because I have noticed along with hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings and chin hairs I have developed a rather distressing habit of tooting without any warning. Sometimes I think I am the whole tuba section of my own one-woman marching band. I have no idea where this toot-ability came from. As a rule, I'd sooner slit my wrists then make a bathroom sound in public. Now I never know when I'm going to poot loud enough for people to think the dinner bell is ringing. My doctor was totally unsympathetic; he may even have suggested I eat more fiber. The joys and benefits of fiber eating must be a class they take in school!

There you have it. While other people are out in the world shoveling snow, trying to come up with a new health care plan or end world poverty, I spend my days discussing "P" words. I guess it could be worse, I could be up to my elbows in dirty diapers!

Wishing for conversation topics that do not start with the letter "P".
Merry ME

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

How Many Men ....

.... does it take to change a power pole?


One to dig the hole
(while 3 others look on)


One to lift the pole

One to guide the pole.

2 to change out the wires

and one to supervise!

Interesting fact for those who might be considering becoming an electric company lineman:
Out of 500 applicants only about 12 actually make the final cut. And then it there is a 4 year apprenticeship. I guess when you are working with thousands of volts of electricity they have to be a little choosy about who they get to do the job.

Just another exciting day in the neighborhood!
Merry ME

Monday, February 8, 2010

Peace Quilt

Blessed are the Piecemakers


The Peace Quilt
by Margaret Rolfe
(Designed and Published in Australia)


I don't think you can get a really good look at this picture because I haven't quite figured out how to cut and paste with my new computer. I don't think it is all that difficult but I am still behind the learning curve. So let me tell you about it. The colored blobs in the center of each diamond are origami peace doves pieced together out of fabric. I admit it does look a little intricate, not to mention daunting. But as soon as I saw it, I knew it was the starting point for the quilt I want to make - with your help - to raise some money for a few charities that are near and dear to my heart.

The connection between origami (folded paper) cranes and the hope for peace came about because of a young Japanese girl. Sadako Sasaki was only two years old when the atomic bomb was dropped near her home in Hiroshima. Sadako and her family, except for her grandmother, survived the blast. Sadako grew to be an active girl and a champion runner for her school, but was struck down by leukemia when she was 11. She spent many months in the hospital before dying in 1955, at the age of 12.

While in the hospital Sadako began folding paper cranes because, according to a Japanese story, a wish will come true if you fold a 1000 paper cranes. Wishing to be well again, Sadako determinedly folded more than 1000 cranes. Her wish did not come true, but her classmates decided to create a memorial to Sadako to remember their friend and her courage and kindness. The Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima was unveiled in 1958. At the top of the memorial is the figure of a girl holding up a large crane. Folded paper cranes have come to symbolize the desire for peace in the world. At the foot of the statue are these words:
This is our cry,
This is our prayer,
Peace in the world.

The Peace Quilt's designer, Margaret Rolfe sewed the Crane blocks as she traveled around the world. Sewing was not only a soothing antidote to the stresses of flying. Rolfe sewed each block with her heartfelt desire for peace in a troubled world. *

So I have a basic idea, what do I do now? I think throwing it into the blogosphere and asking for help is the appropriate next step. For those of you artists who work with fine-tuned precision, or at the very least a plan, I need to say up front that I'm more a "fly by the seat of my pants" girl. I won't really know how this quilt is going to turn out until it is finished.

In an October post I threw out the idea of having my blog friends trace around their hands and send me their favorite peace quote. I haven't given up on this idea. In my peace memorial I envision all the hands grouped at the bottom, with the cranes somehow flying out of them. Since that plan would involve a certain degree of planning and skill that I don't necessarily possess, I could also use the hands around the edge or on the back. It would depend, too, on how many I get.

A third idea is to ask my fellow bloggers from around the world to send me pieces of fabric (say 1/4 yard) from wherever they live and/or travel for making the crane blocks. Personally I like this idea because of "patchwork" look it would produce.

With all the other things I have going on in my life - caregiving, writing, sorting baby clothes, and medicating a sick cat - attempting a project like this seems a little over the top. Which is exactly why I've become obsessed by it! What do you all think? What would be easiest for all you helpers out there?

I'm counting on the old adage, great minds think alike, to get me started. Please come back to me with your suggestions. In the mean time I've got laundry to fold and a pot of stew to make.

Wishing for you a peace-filled afternoon,
Merry ME

*The Peace Quilt, Margaret Rolfe, 2007, pg. 1
FYI: /www.amazon.com/Sadako-thousand-paper-cranes-Eleanor/dp/0698118022