Just Plain Foolish

Just a chance for an old-fashioned, simple storyteller to say what needs to be said.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Community of the spirit

"There is a community of the spirit
Join it, and feel the delight
of walking in the noisy street,
and being the noise." - Jelal ud-Din Rumi

What can I say? That I am blessed with abundance. Well, yes, I am. I have shelter and food, and warm clothes and...

And such friends. Last night, I didn't know whether to laugh or to cry from the joy of having such friends. Wow. I was recovering from a minor migraine, but really wanted to go to the usual gathering of friends and fibery folk because I knew someone special would be there, a friend from out West that only rarely heads this way now, a friend whom I miss already, even though it's only in the last couple months she's moved.

And I brought what I'd promised for her - yarn and a crochet hook and my time to teach her how to crochet. And everybody sat around and kibbitzed, which was a good thing, because the way I learned to hold the yarn when I was small was not going to work for her hands. And other friends crocheted squares from the big bag of wool I'd brought for anyone to use. And still others sat around and talked with us, as our fingers danced over the wool and hooks were passed around, and the 5 year old learned to chain stitch with her finger.

And some gifts were exchanged, including one that nearly brought on those tears. A friend of mine gave me the most beautiful scarf - chocolate brown with pistachio green edging (it looks like chocolate gelato rolled in pistachios and then cut.) that she had made for me. I wore it while crocheting all night. Not that it was cold in there, but that scarf made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

And most of that handwork went into the big bag that holds the squares for my dad's blanket. And some of the rest of the handwork has been promised to a local rest home, and I am so blessed to have these people in my life. Every last one.

And as we approach the end of the year, I'd like to thank everyone who has read and commented on this blog, and all those bloggers whose blogs I also read. This blog arose in part because I felt a restlessness to get my words out there where others might read them if they chose, and I feel that that restlessness has opened up a new world for me. Thank you all.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Over at Reflections of a Secular Franciscan, Don is thinking about a young soldier that he has known for a while. He talks about praying over this young man and about his own internal conflict between peace and honoring soldiers.

I do not think it is an inconsistancy to both love soldiers and hate war. There is more to any soldier and to soldiers as a group than killing and being killed. There is a wish to be of service, to dedicate their lives to the service of others. It is not the soldier who chooses to go to war. It is we who send the soldier, who say, go here and do this. It is we who tell the soldier, this is how you will serve.

There is loyalty and firmness of purpose. There is the love between soldiers who serve together. And of course, there is more to each soldier than the mere fact of their service as a soldier. Among our armed services, there are artists, storytellers and jokers, folks who like to read, and folks who like downhill skiing. Some joined to get an education, as this young man did, and others join to give structure to their lives. Still others join because there is a restlessness inside them that they hope to tame. Some joined from patriotism, or a feeling that they were called to protect our nation in a time of trouble.

Many have paid heavy prices. I know more than one divorced servicemember. I know more than one who suffers from their service to our country. In some ways, it is my love for some of our soldiers that gives me such a strong need to remind those who make the end decisions on their service of the responsibility that we bear for their wellbeing. I am reminded that in America, we bear the responsibility for our liberty and for how we ask them to serve. In the end, how will we answer those shades who say "I died in such a place for such a cause?" How will we answer the living who are maimed or haunted?

And how will we answer those who have discovered that they cannot serve in the way that the military demands? Many soldiers are now serving sentences in prison because they have refused to be deployed. If I refuse to do my job, I will be fired. If a soldier refuses, they may be sentenced to prison, even if they had tried to obtain CO status, or tried to initiate harrassment charges against their command, or even to report to a hospital for treatment of mental illness.

So, yes, I believe it is possible to desperately want peace, and to love peace while also loving soldiers.

Friday, December 22, 2006


Sometimes, it's easier to be nice to other people than to yourself. Last night, after a long (as in serious overtime) day of writing and editing, I had planned on going home and hand cutting pop-up cards for people. Oh, and fixing dinner, picking up the living room a little, putting in my orders for the next round of care packages, and maybe getting in a couple minutes of crochet before falling asleep halfway to bed.

If someone else had said to me that they were actually dreading putting together cards, I'd have said something like relax, it's okay. Find some nice cards at the fair trade shop or something. Next year, you can use the pattern you've made up for this one if you want, or put it aside for another year when you just don't have any inspiration. You know, you really don't want to be doing pop-ups when you're tired and anxious anyway. You do realize that if you slip from being tired, it's a razor that you're slipping with, right?

And after trying to steel myself to the schedule last night, I wrote to Thee, Hannah! that I just didn't want to, and seeing it in black and white let me see how very foolish it is not to forgive myself for something I wouldn't even see the need to forgive in a friend. Of course I'd never press someone else to do all that, so why was I being so mean to me?

So instead, I went home, made a very simple dinner, did a little of the crocheting, told myself the living room could wait for tomorrow, as could the orders (it's not like anybody's going to do anything before Christmas anyway...) and went to bed at a reasonable hour. And this morning, I even got the orders in. I finished off the crochet square I was working on, and now have an even more simple pattern for today. If I want to do more complicated patterns, I have all weekend, but workdays can be occupied with mindless crochet in the round patterns. And the yarn I chose for today was a nice bright color where the complexity comes from the yarn and not from my fancy stitching. Tomorrow, I can crochet in plain wool worsted to show off aran crochet stitches if I like, but today is single and double crochet in a round, eventually squaring off the corners with those absurdly simple scallops. (Think a visually interesting granny square with a true circle running about 3/4s of the way out.)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Will the Real Christmas Please Stand Up?

Over at Americans United, there's an article on the profit to be gained by exploiting people's fear of a "War on Christmas" which appears centered on what people say in malls and big box stores. Um. Which mall would... No, no, let's actually *think* about this for a second, shall we? The argument is that to combat the secularization of the holiday, it is important to make sure that while you are buying your discount prune pitter/yogurt squirter at Ticky-Tacky Emporiums Inc., their employees say, "Merry Christmas" rather than "Happy Holidays" or something else sinister.

Now, me, I would think that being Merry Christmassed by someone working too long for too little would only reinforce the secularization of the holiday by suggesting that it's just another commercial thing - all about the loot, as I once heard a priest say in a sad tone. Perhaps a non-secular celebration might be about volunteering to feed the hungry, care for the sick, visit the imprisoned, or even just spend the time at home with friends and family.

But none of those would turn a profit, would they? But what do I know? The places I like to shop don't tend to give me a pre-canned greeting, but something like, "Hey Fool, good to see you! C'mere and look at this." I must be doing something right.

And a moment of relief

An email from Dad. He's insanely busy, and only rarely gets computer time, but at least he's got a moment. He says he's looking forward to getting some sauerkraut and hasn't gotten to read his book yet. He's thankful to have so many people praying for him and just holding him in the light. It may not sound like much, but even a little note like this means so much as we wait with no knowlege of how our loved ones are getting on, or any real certainty of where they might be.

A calmer miscelleny

Last night was a good thing. I had dinner with friends - latkes and soup. And the best part was afterwards, sitting around and just talking. A friend showed me the squares she'd crocheted, and another showed me the wool she'd spun that she would let us use for the project, including some really gorgeous wool dyed with madder to a very cheerful orange. And it turned out that I also know the woman who dyed the wool. Wow. My heart just bloomed with the love and wonder of that moment, those incredible gifts of time that my friends were giving toward this project.

You see, I'm making a blanket to send my dad made of patched together squares, to show him that there are other folks out there worrying for him and praying that he comes back well. Any extra squares will get made into another blanket to be sent to the local veteran's home. My previous projects were a hat and slippers. They're my yarn therapy. (And my holiday gift from one of the friends working with me on this project was several skeins of a bright blue angora yarn. Ooooh.)

As we sat and talked, they even listened to my worries about dad's health when he came back last time. An unexpected sound could send him under a desk even right before they sent him again. My dad, the guy who used to love going on unexpected "explores", the guy who kept his cool even when I was learning to drive and nearly fishtailed us off the road right by a large quarry, was so upset leaving this time that he made the security arrangements so Mom could go with him and hold his hand right up to the moment of boarding. I want my dad back, and I want him back whole. I want to be able to eat at a restaurant with him without worrying whether the traffic will cause him to jump. I don't want to sit with him as he stares blankly at a television that's been off for a while, seeing I don't know what, but that's what I'll be doing when he comes back.

I hate this feeling that the war sits on my shoulders in a way that it doesn't sit on most of our lawmakers' shoulders. I wonder in what world of delusion some of them are sitting to imagine we can take the additional burden of an expanded presence. I wonder how many will sit this season, half hearing Christmas carols and sermons invoking peace on Earth and goodwill to man, and keep them in a completely separate compartment from the war that is being waged in our names, and in the name of the "Prince of Peace". And do not mistake: it is. I think the speech that made me the most angry at my father's homecoming was the minister who blessed the returning troops, making it very clear that Jesus was blessing their fight against the Foe. My mom, who is Christian, said afterwards that she had been very uncomfortable herself and couldn't imagine what it had been like for my husband and myself. I wondered what it must have been like for the young woman in hijab, holding her young child (obviously born during the early part of the deployment) in her lap.

I don't believe my dad should have to shoulder for one more second a war that our "leadership" believes so little in that their families don't go. Does Laura Bush sit up to all hours, worrying about the conditions her daughters are living in? Send regular care packages to the troops? Think about where to find individually packaged condiments so that sand doesn't get in or the stuff go bad? Have those beautifully manicured hands made hats, cooling wraps, scarves, slippers, neck protectors? Has she turned on her computer, half afraid to look, praying there would be an email message?

Today is the darkest, shortest day of all the year for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. Soon, the days will begin again to lengthen, the sun will return, and night will give way to day. We try to light the night with candles and bright Christmas trees and Yule logs and other ways of asking the sun to return soon, and I find myself lighting a spark of hope inside me that with the longer days, the returning light will bring out that Brighter Light in all of us, leading us in the ways of Peace.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A muddle

I'd like to urge everybody to go check out my latest link, Amy's Head, and in particular her open letter. She's already lost someone very special to the war and has got some good stuff to say about the suffering we're causing by this conflict.

I'm tired, tired of this war, tired of waking up in the middle of the night wondering how my dad is doing, tired of clinging to a short note promising a longer letter that hasn't arrived, tired of wondering why my dad who's a much needed physician in a seriously underserved area is going for a second time while the president's daughters who don't seem to help anyone, including their own livers, haven't gone once. Let's face it: I'm pooped.

Thank goodness for my husband, who has thus far put up pretty well with my restless sleep pattern, and has worked to keep me going. Even if he does volunteer me to make latkes. Thank goodness for my friends who are helping me through this. Thank goodness for the ability to write about it, to get it out there.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

More self-absorbtion

It's very frustrating when every reference but one to children of deployed service members refers to minors. I have my dad's sense of humor and his eyes. I have his mother's feet. And I don't want a teddy bear, thank you. Nor do I need a babysitter.

I do need a sense that someone is listening, but I'm just not getting that either from the military or from most of the "family support" organizations out there. It's easier to come across references to taking care of a service member's pets than it is to meet the needs of adult children. The one reference I've seen in some pretty concerted searches to us adult children is an article on forgiveness that's obviously intended for the servicemember, as it's not accessible without a password.

There is a little out there for parents of deployed servicemembers, and there is even a little out there for girlfriends/boyfriends of servicemembers. (Though, of course, due to religiously motivated stupidity, nothing but secrecy and aching worry if that person happens to be the wrong gender.) And what support there is is a good thing, but many of the Guard and Reserves are older and not all of us who love a servicemember support the war.

A couple of things on my mind

First of all, last night I woke up in the middle of the night, worried about my dad. Having nothing better to do at Oh-dark-hundred, I went online to look for a convenient way to send him condiments. Yes, he gets food from the mess. Last time, however, he was half begging for something with more flavor, so I sent him a box full of spices and condiments - curry powder, Old Bay crab seasoning (It's a Maryland thing to put it on nearly everything. A friend of mine swears she saw some on ice cream once.), bbq sauce, hot sauce, lemon pepper, blackening spice, you name it. So last night, I found a site that sells those mini-packets of condiments that you get with fast food, only with a wider variety. They have packets of saurkraut, little jars of fancy mustard, and even mini toiletries available. While I don't like the waste in this kind of packaging, I also know that that's the preferred way to send stuff.

Secondly, there's the case of this teacher in NJ. Now, I went to a religiously oriented Christian high school. Not only did we have students that were not of the majority denomination, we also had a student who was a Muslim. Amazingly enough, since it was part of the requirement for graduation, we all took religion classes together, and at no point did any of our teachers say to any student that he or she would be headed for hell. Somehow, I came out with the belief that one's final destination is not something other people determine.

Unfortunately, a friend of mine recently had a similar problem, and the reaction of the community to any complaint is likely to be as bad or worse, so she's been home-schooling her daughter.

Monday, December 18, 2006


Over at Plain in the City, Lorcan just Blogged about the Left Behind Game in which the forces of Tribulation in the Last Times duke it out with prayer and violence mixed. I find this deeply disturbing on a number of levels.

1. Don't you think that's part of what's gotten the world into the mess it's in right now?

2. What the heck did happen to loving thy enemy and turning the other cheek, anyway?

3. I can't believe you're comparing this to Star Wars and saying at least it isn't worse. What are you thinking?

There's a lot more where that came from. Eeew.

A self-absorbed blog post

Over at Reflections of a Secular Franciscan, Don is responding to allegations that bloggers are self-absorbed folks who delude themselves into thinking others want to hear what they have to say. Whenever I hear that argument from a professional writer, I wonder whether the author has really thought about their profession. Was Ms. Bronte "self-absorbed" when she wrote stories for her siblings? Mr. Tolkein when he wrote about "hobbits" for his children? Mr. Pohl and Mr. Asimov when they wrote for magazines with circulations of maybe a dozen people? (Most science fiction authors from the "golden age" started out their careers writing for low-circulation magazines produced by and for fans.) Sister Hildegarde von Bingen when she wrote about the mystical experiences she had?

Perhaps. Perhaps I am deluding myself that anyone cares to read about being the somewhat contemplative and spiritual pacifist daughter of a soldier. And yet, mine is a perspective that I haven't seen in any of the major outlets. Noone is covering those of us who love someone "over there" but feel that this has been wrong from the start.

And somehow, I feel that if I were to publish my thoughts on contemplative spirituality in any of the "regular" venues for such thought, I would have difficulty in my lifetime reaching agnostics, athiests, Catholics, Jews, Pagans, Quakers, and Episcopalians to name the folks whom I know to read what I write. And I would not receive nearly the level of feedback I currently get.

I realize that most people who subscribe to the self-absorbed-guy-who-never-leaves-his-parents'-basement theory of bloggers are thinking either of the "And today I got up and had a peanut butter and honey sandwich on sourdough for breakfast and then I met Jimmy over at the mall and we..." style of personal blog (which is usually really for keeping in touch with friends) or else the "And George Bush/John Kerry/whoever is a stupidhead who should never have graduated kindergarten" style of thing. But blogging (am I the only person who loves to blog but thinks the word sounds like something's wrong with the plumbing?) is an incredibly varied form of publishing. It includes both of the above styles, religious bloggers who use the format to discuss theology/practice/contemplative lifestyles/whatever, political bloggers who actually think about their subject, crafters who exchange patterns and reviews of tools and materials, and many many more. There are bloggers who write about living with various disabilities, and bloggers who write poetry. There are bloggers who write exquisitely, and bloggers who can barely spell. It's a wide world out there.

What I find particularly fascinating is the columnist to whom this opinion is attributed. I was unable to find the column referenced, but according to Don, this was published by George F. Will, who regularly publishes highly partisan commentaries on current events, like the exchange between President Bush and Senator Elect Webb a little while ago. In particular, his commentary on that event was widely criticized by many bloggers who pointed out factual inaccuracies and a heavily spun take on the incident. At least two bloggers even compared it to an incident during the first Reagan campaign where Mr. Will commented on a debate that he had helped prepare Mr. Reagan for using unethically obtained materials. If he did publish such an opinion, I can see where he might be a trifle miffed with the blogosphere. Aside from the challenge blogging presents to more established media (still not much. Most people still get their major source of commentary elsewhere.), liberal bloggers have pretty thoroughly skewered Mr. Will in the last month.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

State of Denial

Last night, I went to bed with a really bad headache. Now I've woken up and can't sleep. Meh.

I've been thinking about the state of family support for the military. Hoping there was perhaps a support group for adult children of deployed soldiers, I went websurfing on the military's family support page. Unfortunately, the help available for children of soldiers appears to be in the form of teddy bears in Battle Dress Uniform (BDU). Oh, and there are coloring books. And for spouses, there's advice on maintaining the family finances and helping junior bond with the teddy bear (no, I'm not kidding. How I wish I were.)

So basically, there isn't any real adult support. Yes, I'm sure small children need help with Mommy or Daddy going away for a long time, maybe forever, but adults also need support. I think the problem is, though, that the kind of support we need gives the lie to so much of what the military wants said about itself that they can't even talk about us. We need help dealing with the damage done in war. Even non-combatants like my dad come back with serious emotional and sometimes physical wounds. We need help with the emotional trauma of sending them where they clearly don't want to go. We need help with our own emotional hurts and training to help with our loved one's pain, but the military is so busy sending the signal that we're all strong and brave and fully behind our troops that there's no room for dealing with the hurt that's there the whole time, simmering beneath the surface.

I try to talk with mom on a regular basis, to help be her support, and sometimes to lean a little on her. I worry about my younger brother who doesn't seem to want to talk about it, but at the same time is clearly showing the strain. My younger sister is also clearly worried. But that's no surprise. Our father is in a war zone. While I was at my husband's employer's holiday party, the brother of a soldier was telling me about some of what his brother had been through in the very camp my father is stationed at. Not comforting thoughts to sleep by.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A poem

The music pounds its heartbeat
In me, through me, through you
Until we are the music, the dance.

Orbiting you in freefall
Spinning joyfully lifted shoulders
As the magnets in your hands and eyes
Draw me into sacred communion.

I taste my salt sweat
Feeling my muscles leap to the dance
As the heartbeat shakes me
And I lose myself in the dance, in You.


Still here

I'm still here. Talked to my mom on Sunday, and while she reassured me that she's been hearing from Dad about twice a week, we also talked about the signs we both saw of PTSD before he left to go back. We also talked about the inadequacy of the family support efforts and the mental health screenings that soldiers are supposed to be getting.

Unfortunately, I've begun several posts, only to sit there staring at them, unable to write more than a few words. At the moment, some of the feelings are running so deep, I can't find words. Every time I breathe a sigh of relief: Oh, that's a different part of Iraq, or a different branch of the service, or someone from Iraq, not an American, I still know that someone who was holding their breath, hoping, praying - just being a prayer for their loved one's safety, has had that prayer go unanswered.

Yesterday, I saw an SUV with a "Support the Troops" magnet on it and desperately wanted to ask the person what they were actually *doing* to support the troops. Buying a $1 magnet from the gas station doesn't count. But I also saw a little car with Senate plates and a "Bring Them Home Now" magnet, which was an odd moment of validation.

Friday, December 08, 2006

A sigh of relief...

It was good to check my email and find something from Dad. He's looking forward to the hat.

My husband called me on my stress-out last night. Yep, it's time for me to take a media holiday. No radio on the way home tonight. Besides, the book that I'm reading right now lends itself well to such a break - American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Not that it is particularly peaceful reading, but is an exploration through rather dark fiction of the relationship between the sacred and the profane. So far, it's been very interesting, and I'm fascinated by his portrayal of one particular character - Czernobog/Bielobog, who seems to reflect the inner conflict of the main character. Tonight, I think I'll finish off the slipper I'm working on, fold a few dozen cranes, and read some more of the book. I will not listen to the news at all.

And the madness spreads...

... to Pennsylvania. For mercy's sake, people. Think. If someone breaks in when the family is out (the far more common scenario), would you rather they just got the TV and stereo, or that they got the contents of the gun cabinet?

Though at least this guy isn't saying he's arming up against possible refugees.

And out of the swirling mess...

I'm feeling better today. The "edge of a headache" feeling is pretty much gone. I'm still a little scattered, but somewhat more collected.

One of the ways I self-treat my headaches is caffeine. Those who know me know that you won't see me eating much chocolate (I make an exception in bad weather for a cup or two of hot chocolate, homemade mostly), drinking coffee or cola, or usually even drinking a non-herbal tea. I save it for when I really need it - nothing attacks my headaches quite like coffee, provided I only drink the stuff when I need it. Unfortunately, as I tried to get rid of the headache yesterday, I had too much, so I ended up staying up later than I should.

While up so late, I took a personality test based on Myers-Briggs test and came out INFP, supposedly a pretty rare type, given to perfectionism and (big surprise) imaginative thinking, as well as (even bigger surprise here) mysticism. Supposedly also the shadow type to most politicians. Now, according to Jung, each personality type has a "shadow" type - an opposite; and types tend to see the worst in their shadow types and perhaps even bring it out. And the thought floats though... perhaps that is one of the certainties I've been clinging to, that I am Right and They are Wrong.

I have been, and still am terribly angry. I'm angry that this hideous war was fostered on the public by carefully cultivated lies. I'm angry that my dad is going while Bush's daughters go drinking in South America. I'm angry that we haven't even bothered to properly outfit our soldiers. (You don't send people into a desert in green camo armor, or into a war zone unarmored.)

I'm angry that our traditions of democracy, inherited from the old English kings who pledged to uphold certain rights, sometimes voluntarily, sometimes at swordpoint (yeah, I know it's fashionable to attribute our democracy to the Greeks, but our trial system, our writ system, and our system of putting a monetary value on injury are nearly direct descendants of rules that were in place already by the time of William the Bastard of Normandy, and those that weren't were put in place by his money-grubbing grandson who would have taxed moonlight if he could have worked out how to do it) have been openly disregarded in a manner worthy of bad old King John. (Who really took blame for some stuff that his brother did, but was still awful in his own right.)

I could go on... but have I been clinging to that sword so tightly that it's cutting me? Is it time to work on letting go of that fury, not for Bush's sake, but for my own? Is this part of selling certainty to buy bewilderment? I don't know. I do know that lurking under the anger is a deep sadness, an ocean of tears - for my dad, for everyone caught up in the conflict, for the families that have been changed forever by war.

I know also that despite Pentagon assertions to the contrary, there aren't many support programs for the families of deployed soldiers, particularly families that don't fit the mold. Adult children? Forget it. Family members that support the soldiers but not the war? Forget it. Little kid who misses Daddy? Here's a teddy bear in a BDU for you kid, and a support group for your mom. Need more? Forget it. It makes me angry and sad at the same time.

I don't know.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

A miscelleny

Today, I can't seem to gather my thoughts. Perhaps it's the migraine I seem to be on the edge of. But several things are kind of swirling around in here so I'm trying to get at least a basic sense of it, because some of them are important and worth thinking about when I can concentrate.

One thought has to do with a quote that I happen to love from Jelal ud-din Rumi. Yesterday, as I was looking at a blog that I follow, I noticed that this quote was a header for an entry: "Sell your certainty and buy bewilderment". Now, the actual entry didn't engage me nearly as much as the quote did, and I felt that this phrase was something that perhaps I was meant to think on for a bit - certainly, it's been nagging at me, whispering at me since I saw it. What certainties am I clinging to that I need to let go of, to sell away?

Another thought in the swirling mess that is my consciousness today has to do with churches. Not the concept "church" as in "Peter, go and build my --" but as in brick and stone, wood and cloth and water hookups and electrical connections, and sewage management and somebody's going to come in and build this thing. It's strange - I've been to many churches and synagogues, meeting rooms in bookstores, a couple of mosques, a meetinghouse, and other places of worship, but whenever I think of a church, I think of a tiny white clapboard one, maybe 5 miles at most from the Ohio River. It has acoustic tiles that were painted by someone (maybe in the 60's?) with devotional images. The stained glass windows don't have pictures, just squares of colored glass in the window frames. The organ and "choir loft" (a tiny stage at the back behind the wooden bench pews) take up the entire width of the back, and the sanctuary at the front is a simple wooden structure. That church was partly built by my great great grandmother. Whenever I think of it, I remember my grandfather's booming deep voice leading the congregation in hymns, of various relatives getting married in it, of funeral dinners in the basement. Of the story of my great grandfather who was outraged with the preacher for making fun of poor folks during the Depression (who didn't donate much to the roof fund), so he knocked that preacher into the rosebushes by the porch. Of the various family pictures of everybody sitting on the steps to that porch.

This was sort of inspired by someone else who'd been talking about a story in the Christian Science Monitor on mega-church development and the strains it's imposing on local infrastructure. One quote that struck me was a woman and her daughter who lived less than a mile from the church who were complaining that it would be shorter to walk than to drive to church when another church went in. So, um, why don't you? Better for you, better for the environment, your neighborhood... Maybe encourage both churches to run shuttles for those who can't easily walk? Encourage carpooling in your congregation? Maybe even begin funding a program in your church to serve breakfast to all comers after services? Give y'all a chance to connect to each other, a break most Sundays from making brunch (or make it a potluck or something to reduce the financial and work burdens of doing it), a chance at community outreach, fewer cars on the road since you won't be planning to go out after church...

And in there, they also had a story on the whole war on Christmas thing and on a congressman who wants to have a Koran with him at his swearing in. Look, folks, I don't care if you celebrate Christmas, Diwali, and the major Sabbats as long as you don't shove any of it down my throat. As for the whole Koran thing, John Q. Adams was sworn in on a book of law including the Constitution, which seems to me to make more sense than any religious book. But that's just me. (And by the way, I don't swear - neither by heaven nor by earth. I try to just tell the truth as I see it, and if you won't believe my word, why would you believe my oath?)

Finally, I was thinking last night, as I taught someone else how to crochet, of the women who taught me to crochet. My mom, who taught me the basics, and a series of older women who would watch my hands as I learned and say things like, "Your tension'd be more even if you'd hold your thread like this..." and "Let me see that bit you just did. That's pretty work." I'd watch them work their hooks through the fabric, the lace, the thread, and wish that the hook would flash in my hands, fabric dripping seemingly effortlessly off the end. Oh, how I wanted to be able to create beautiful things like that. I was so proud when I managed to make a doll blanket for my sister out of different kinds of squares and edge it in scallop edging.

Well, last night, it felt like I had somehow begun to pay forward some of their patience with me. This time, it was me saying, "Well, it's easier to pull the hook through if you turn it this way while putting on a tiny bit of tension by holding your stitch like this..." "Watch how I curl my finger to hold the thread a little bit out there..." and even telling stories of how clumsy I had been when first learning. And how I thought when I was little that perhaps they were crocheting the world...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


As I finish off the last couple rows of the helmet liner, I reflect on the frustration of being a family member of someone currently deployed. When the news talks about someone who is injured or killed, my heart stops, wondering, worrying. After all, I haven't gotten a response to that last email yet... And every stitch of the cap becomes a prayer, a prayer for safety, for patience, for peace, that they can feel the love that goes into each stitch.

And of course, there are those who do make it back, at least bodily. NPR is doing a series this week on soldiers at Fort Carson who suffer from PTSD and other mental wounds and the trials and tribulations they've faced as they come back, including hostile commanders. One soldier even said "You know, there were many times I've told my wife -- in just a state of panic, and just being so upset -- that I really wished I just died over there [in Iraq], cause if you just die over there, everyone writes you off as a hero."

Our treatment of these guys is disgusting. We've sent them to endure war for us, then we call them weak when they return hurt. After I finish my projects for Dad, I think my next several will be for vets and the homeless.

Monday, December 04, 2006


As I crochet, the thick wool yarn sliding between my fingers, there is a meditative rhythm to it, especially as my fingers adapt themselves to the unfamiliar stitch and it becomes familiar. The tug of the hook, the neat little stitches lining up into simple swirls along the long spiral that makes a hat. I'm much further along - The cap has gone from looking like an afghan piece to looking like a yarmulke to looking like a cute little cap - stiff enough to stand up on its own. If I were doing this for civilian life, now is when I'd begin varying the color, or the stitches, making that last couple of inches more interesting. but not this time.

A friend of mine tells me he'll be deployed this time next year. I've promised him that I'll craft something for him as well, but these projects are hard.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

A slow day

The weather change today left me with a headache that sapped my energy. Even so, I picked up my crochet hook and some wool and kept going on a helmet liner from the pattern my friend sent me. *sigh* It's not a very cheering project to work on. I'd rather be working in bright red alpaca, or the beautiful sand and sea varegated soy silk my friend gave me, but at the same time, I feel a connection as I work on the depressing thing. This is to keep my dad warm while he flies, so I'm working tight - a close single crochet, instead of my usual double crochet, which means my mind is on what I'm doing. This isn't one where I can turn on a movie and let my hands work while my mind is on whatever story is on the screen.

In a way, it's good. It's forcing me to be present to my own feelings both on Dad's deployment and on this project. And also to my reaction to the underfunding of current operations - I'm crocheting this because they haven't provided proper equipment - wool is both fire resistant and warmer than the synthetic materials that they have provided. And part of me wants to add something decorative, even though I know it's not permitted - at the least a bit of shell stitch around the edges, which would make it fit better - but it's not permitted.

So I'm taking breaks with the red alpaca shawl I'm making for a friend. Even working on the shawl is a lovely break. Alpaca is so cuddly and the color is bright.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Thank you to a friend

Who just forwarded crafting patterns that I can actually use to send my dad.



I've gotten the news that my dad reached his assignment safely and the countdown may begin. (Training time doesn't count against a deployment, only boots on sand time counts.) Though I am happy of course to see a boundary at the end, I also know that I will worry.

Luckily, I have a few meditative knitting projects to work on...