Just Plain Foolish

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

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Out of words

It seems silly: I'm a storyteller, a writer, an editor. I might forget my lunch, but not my words, my stories. I sometimes feel that what really runs through my veins is The Story, but today I feel out of words to say what I want to say.

Maybe it's that I'm overloaded - I've been doing a lot of editing, and my inbox has been the recipient of loads of spam today. No, I'm not interested in refinancing my house, getting plastic surgery, or meeting Asian women. Maybe it's that I'm tired. I've been working and crafting a lot recently. The blanket is now too big to come to my cube with me (If it were a lapghan, I'd be done, but not yet...) And so I've started a second blanket that is small so I can take it to work. At Dad's suggestion, this one will be headed for an organization that distributes blankets to the soldiers who return wounded.

But one thing did inspire me today. Unfortunately, it's another crafting project. I saw this and had an inspiration. I could make a postcard quilt of a picture that is sometimes sitting there in the back of my head - it's one I've painted and sketched in endless variations since I first left home - basically, a view of the hills I grew up in. Better yet, I could make three! Send one version to my dad, and another to the valentines project, and yet another to be sold to raise money for Alzheimer's research...

This from a woman who hasn't finished the blanket she's been blogging about for a couple months. (Well, in my defense, my goal is to finish it Real Soon Now. Squares that arrive in my mailbox are added within hours of me getting the mail. As in, I get a picture for the flickr page, edge, and add them in that night. And I'm getting to the point of having where almost everything goes pictured in my head. I still don't have quite enough squares, but we're very, very close... And the second blanket is in bulky yarn on a K hook...)

And there's a personal project for a friend that I really should be working on, but haven't...

And I haven't done any paper crafting in a while...

I think the problem may be that the words are having to fight for space in the queue.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Catching up again

On Saturday, I went to the rally on the National Mall and was reminded of why I don't often go to large rallies or marches. Yes, I was there, but no, I couldn't understand the speeches being relayed over the speakers. I sat up the night before, making signs. And I brought art supplies to enhance them as needed. It was loud and while I was glad that I was there to be counted as opposed to the current stupidity, I was also glad when we headed off to the National Museum of the American Indian for lunch, and had to leave our signs outside.

I enjoyed a number of the homemade signs, even as I thought some of them didn't precisely speak to what I was trying to say. Okay, I admit it: I've asked why my dad is being sent where the Bush twins aren't, but "Surge the Twins" doesn't send the message I want sent. I don't want anyone to be sent in a "surge", unless it's relief workers who will actually work *with* Iraqis to (*gasp!*) rebuild their country. I did like the one my husband pointed out, though: "Give Peace a Chance! Nothing Else Has Worked..." One that did speak my truth was "The 'Decider' does not speak for MY God." That one was from a church group from Kentucky, I think. And a little kid had a wonderful sign reading, "It's okay to be upset. It's not okay to be mean." Amen.

I didn't make a sign with one of the most apropos quotes from The Princess Bride, though I did think about it: "You've made one of the Classic Blunders! The most well-known is this: Never get involved in a land war in Asia!" The quote I did feature on a sign is from one of my favorite bits of Isaiah: "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation. Neither shall they learn war anymore." I know my signs got photographed a couple times, before the Smithsonian got them. (I really wish they'd made separate buckets for the handmade signs and the mass-printed ones. Some of those signs were real works of folk art that I'd love to see preserved.)

Although it was pretty neat to be there, it also had an aftermath. Yesterday, my muscles weren't cooperating, and the headache started. I've spent the last couple days pretty much recovering from the headache. Meh. I think I'll be aiming at smaller stuff for a long while.

As for the blanket, it is coming along well. Over in my links, there's one titled "Blanket Squares" that leads to the flickr page of photos of the squares. Wow. Over 40 now, and almost all of them edged, plus some joined together. And I found the square that had gone missing, yippee! (It had decided to hide among the balls of yarn.) I've been putting more together, and edging the ones I have. Wow.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Folks, go check out Seeking Chivalry. Today, she has a post on the meaning of a surcoat - the garment that went over a knight's armor, and the significance that this can have for us today. There's a lot there about comfort, and about reaching beyond our comfort levels to do what is right. It's well worth reading.

Yesterday, as I walked from work to the train station, it was cold. My poor legs were stiff from it by the time I got to the station, and my hands were cold, cold cold by the time I got to the restaurant for dinner after walking from the station close to my neighborhood. Brrrr. And yet... As I walked, I enjoyed the return of the sunshine. Even a couple weeks ago, I'd have been walking in darkness, but yesterday, the sun was clear, if not enough to melt the little dots of snow that occasionally dropped from the scattered clouds in the sky. And since I was alone on the sidewalk, I sang. It was good, a moment of brightness and joy in what has come to feel like a time of darkness and tears.

To anyone who wants to say that those of us who oppose the war are giving in too easily, I want to know what *you've* actually faced, what you've actually done. Will you sit with a returning soldier, searching for the remnants of the person you once knew? Will you call up a spouse and invite them to just talk? Will you stay up at night, praying with your whole being for the wellbeing of the soldiers? Will you cry? I have.

My granny recently wrote me a note about how we at home are doing our best to carry on, worrying and feeling the pain of this deployment, yet trying to help each other as best we can. When I read that note, I cried. Not little tears that slip down the face silently, but sobs, wracking my whole body as I fought for breath, until there was nothing left in me to cry. And that's something that won't go into my letter to Dad. I'll tell him about the snow, and the singing, and the hoping he's okay, but not the crying. He's got a heavy enough burden on his shoulders.

At no point have I believed our soldiers lacked courage or the willingness to make sacrifices. They do that every day. Nor do I believe the American people as a whole lack courage. I happen to think we also have that famous Yankee levelheadedness coming back, which is causing us to ask why we've bought a pig in a poke, and what we intend to do about it now that it's turned out to be a mess of skunks in that bag. And boy, are they spraying.

It's time and more than time to turn our ingenuity, courage, and hearts to the task of cleaning up. And this one will take more than a bath in tomato juice. (For those who don't know, tomato juice is a traditional remedy to skunk spray.)

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Cold out today


Crocheted on the way to work on the train this morning. The good thing is that I got a lot done. The bad thing is that I can't find a particular square. I'm really hoping that I didn't drop it, since it's one of the ones I really like, and not only that, but I can't get more of the yarn easily. Meh. I'm hoping I'm lucky and that it's sitting at home where I dropped it before heading off to work this morning, or else that I forgot it in my friend's house last night, or in the car when transporting it back. At least I have a picture, even if it's gone.

The crochet hooks arrived last night, and they weren't the size I was expecting, but I'm not too bothered by that, since they're lace hooks, and I do use lace hooks.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

And in the department of "Well, duh"...

Buying a new wardrobe every season is bad for the environment. Gosh. You don't say? Who could have known?

To be fair, they also have some stuff to say on the costs of washing, drying, and ironing your clothes. (Though I will point out that with fewer clothes, they get a better airing out and fewer opportunities for wrinkles.) Now, I don't believe that ironing is as necessary as the rest of the world seems to believe. In linen, I think ironing is just an exercise in futility, but that's me.

And, of course, they back me up in my belief that hang drying is better.

I'm amazed at how quickly the blanket has been happening. I want to thank all the folks who have been making squares. I'm trying to get them all edged and scanned. Then they're all going together. Wow.

I'm looking forward to next weekend, both with hope (Maybe now the Congress is ready to listen) and with a little bit of fear (What will this administration do when the funding is cut?). Yes, despite being snapped at, I am still planning on going to the march. I'd rather go with friends, but if necessary, I'll go alone.

My worry is about the consequences in the field. This president has shown that he intends at all costs to continue and even escalate this conflict, even as his budget projections insist it will be over before he leaves office. He's also shown that he has few, if any, qualms about underequipping our soldiers and in general taking away their benefits, equipment, and even down time in order to keep sending more. Somehow, I don't think the budget for Halliburton contracts will get leaner, and I worry that my dad will end up paying even more of the price than he already is.

I find myself hoping, praying, begging that George W. Bush will have a change of heart, because if he chooses to fight the will of the people and the will of Congress, he can do a great deal more damage yet. Even in the (unlikely) event of an impeachment, he still has the ability to take out his frustrations on the armed services of this country. And I fear he will. While I don't believe it serves the cause of peace to call George W. Bush names, I also think it is foolhardy to ignore the evidence of his past behavior. And that past behavior makes it hard for me to believe that Mr. Bush will not try to twist even a refusal of funding for this war.

I have done my best to write my truth to my representatives, and will further attempt to communicate it this weekend. I can only hope that that seed of truth will find soil to grow in. And now, I really want a cup of citrus herbal tea.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Happy Birthday, Love

Today is my husband's birthday, so I want to address a few words to him.

Love, I'm so happy that I was lucky enough to meet you, and love you, and marry you. You've done your best to live by your beliefs and have helped to keep me grounded in mine. You've taken me places I never would have thought to go without you, and you've come to some pretty strange ones with me. I still remember the first time we celebrated your birthday together, when you held a "hobbit birthday" by taking the entire gaming group out for Chinese food. And the times we've celebrated a little more simply, but I'm looking forward to the birthdays ahead.

I look forward to watching the laugh lines around your eyes get deeper as the sparkle in your eyes gets brighter. I look forward to threatening you with my barbequed chicken wings or burrito night when you tease me. I look forward to watching your beard turn silver, and seeing you try on a succession of berets over the years. And I look forward to loving that balding pate with the beret over it.

Happy Birthday, Love.

The blanket so far

Well, actually, this is already a little bit out of date, since this weekend, but I now have a flickr page with pictures of the squares so far.

Monday, January 22, 2007

A simple request

I do not think anyone reading this blog could possibly mistake me for a supporter of this war. It is difficult to imagine someone having more than about five minutes' conversation with me and making such a mistake. Which is why I was confused yesterday.

As my husband and I left our neighborhood supermarket with our bags of soup and sandwich fixin's, we were approached by a woman with an armful of fliers. Okay - that happens reasonably often in our neighborhood. Turns out she was from a group organizing a peace march in DC and was asking us to show up. Nearly the first thing out of my mouth was "We're going" despite the fact that I don't like crowds, noise, or other stuff that usually gives introverts like me hives, and usually that is the very stuff of marches. But this is important, and I can cope with crowds for a few hours, even if afterwards all I want is a long, quiet, very hot bath.

Why, then, did she feel the need to further convince us? Yes, I'm willing to go. Yes, I've been writing letters, signing petitions, and otherwise exercising my First Amendment rights. I've also been trying to address the fear in this country in my own ways, telling stories and explaining history, telling jokes, and being calm and peaceful in places that we've been told to be afraid in.* But this was not enough for her. When my husband made a comment that did not strike her as sufficiently doctrinaire, she snapped a correction at him.


My request is this: we are working for peace. Can we please keep in mind that as important as this is, we need to act peacefully ourselves? Our message of peace can be strong without this kind of thing, and in fact, would be stronger if we were to show that we have internalized our message and, as Arlo Guthrie once said "done for ourselves what we want to do for the rest of the world".

It is still very important to reach out to those who are so motivated by fear that they see no other options. I hate this war from the bottom of my soul, but I don't want to be in a place of hate. I want to show others the hope of peace, that there is another way to address fear. And that includes folks who support this war. Most are just afraid. Snapping at each other is no way to address that fear.

* It amazes me how much it actually does just to be cheerful and calm in difficult circumstances. As my family stood outside the hotel after the earthquake in Hawaii, several other people came over to ask us how often we got these. The assumption seemed to be that because we were calm and trying to help other people as best we could as we came down the stairs, and later remained optimistic, we must be locals. Similarly, my habit of bringing crafting materials whenever I have to go into an airport has given me wonderful opportunities to reach out to my fellow passengers.

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Friday, January 19, 2007

A poem.

Scraped raw, I tremble
Caught in the earthquake
As vision blurs and tears fall

Will they fall forever in a river to the sea?
Will my trembling shake the Earth below
Or maybe the sky above...

Will my heart crumble like sandstone
Before the salt wave of my tears?
Or will I arise, washed clean?

Even if I cried a river all the way to the sea
It would not be barren forever.
Dolphins would come to see what it was.

And maybe they would leap in the air,
Turning the water to a thousand diamonds
Flashing in the sun.

And when the sandstone crumbles,
That is the place where spring comes,
And the buttercups echo the sun.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Imagination and play

Oh, for mercy's sake! People, just back off and let the kids play. ABC News has an article on new playground styles, some of which feature "play workers" to guide the children through them. Um, big swings and slides were nice when we went to town, but as a kid, I was much more likely to play by climbing trees (well now, we can't have that), running around with my siblings, the dogs, or other children, catching fireflies or balls, playing with my dolls - ranging from commercial dolls to yarn dolls that my granny taught me to make, and even to "dolls" made out of things like corn husks, daisies, or braided grass stalks. My brother and I regularly courted putting an eye out by "fencing" with marsh reeds from down by the stream. If you could break your opponent's reed or poke them in the belly with yours, you won.

I mean, I am not the world's biggest fan of dodgeball. It could be outlawed for schools tomorrow and I would not weep. I caught more "bean balls" than I care to think about. It's a wonder I didn't get multiple concussions from "playing" dodgeball. Ouch. Some concessions to safety don't bother me. Not letting bullies at school play "tag" with their picked-on classmates doesn't strike me as overly controlling. It strikes me as sensible, knowing exactly how much the bullies at my school were able to pull without one word of reprimand from the adults present, except perhaps for the victim, who wasn't allowed to quit a "game" used as an excuse for abusing them.

Nevertheless, aside from such flagrant abuses, I think children should be allowed to have their own play and their own imaginative view of the world, rather than being fed the pap of someone else's. Sometimes, rather than running about, I'd lie on my back in the grass, wondering what it would be like to be a cloud, or the wind pushing the cloud, or a bird, or a mountain. Or roll over on my belly - Imagine to myself that I am an ant, carrying away a leaf bigger than I am, or a spider, waiting on my delicately perfect web for a juicy fly. Maybe somehow while I've been lying here, some of *me* has rubbed off on the grass or the grass has become part of me. How will I ever manage to get up?

Or make up stories - "so the sky got bigger and bigger, and she realized she'd become an ant...", or retell ones I've read - "Once upon a time, there was a terrible witch, and she lived in a house that sat on a chicken's leg and could hop about by itself ..." or heard - "So, there was our great-great granddaddy, and he could see that the horses were nervous, when all of a sudden he heard..."

Or just make a great big mess in my already grass-stained shorts and t-shirt. And the main instruction that I got from adults was - You kids hose off the worst of it and come in for dinner.

A storytelling family

One of my favorite Nasruddin stories concerns the time he went to a conference of mystics. Now, the fellow who organized this conference was a very serious man. He liked things to be talked about in a sober and intellectual way, and so he invited some of the most respected experts in one thing and another to come to his town and hold a conference.

Nobody really knows how Nasruddin got an invitation to this sort of a thing, but he did. Well, he showed up, anyway. And he was wearing the robes he wore to teach in mosques instead of the rather more threadbare robe he wore to teach in the marketplace, so the fellow in charge let him in, but made sure he was seated as far as possible from the most learned, most respected fellows at the head of the hall.

Now, it was so serious, and so very intellectual a discussion that was going on there that the sound wasn't carrying far, and Nasruddin couldn't hear a thing. Did he let this bother him? You can bet that he didn't, of course. No, he sat down on the floor in the corner and began telling jokes and stories. In very short order, some of the people who were closest by him and couldn't really hear what was going on either came over to listen to the jokes and stories and they began laughing and slapping their knees, until more people came over to see what the commotion was.

Nasruddin just kept telling stories. And pretty soon, there was a large group of people straining to hear the jokes, while people repeated some of the stories and punchlines for the folks further back. Well, this couldn't be allowed to go on at such a serious conference, and so the organizer came over to shush them, saying "How will you know what is going on at the head of the hall?"

Nasruddin took notice now, and waved his arms at all the people who had gathered to hear his jokes. "From where *I'm* sitting, *this* looks like the head of the hall."

I'm from a storytelling family. Off the top of my head, I can name several writers, poets, and tellers of very tall tales. ("Now, you have to understand that I was glad the UFO landed in the lower field, because it distracted the Canadian invasion force that had come down the Mississippi...") When we all get together, we tell stories, play Scrabble, and eat a lot. In summer, there's fishing and swimming, too.

And that's why, in some ways, the blanket I am helping to make for my dad has become almost as much a thing of myth as a thing of wool, even before it's finished.

There are a gazillion different types of square - knit, crocheted, straight stitches, textured stitches, lace stitches, hand-felted squares, lopsided squares, very straight squares. And the colors: variegated yarns in different shades ranging from a sort of grey with subtle hints of many other colors to an exuberant blend of turquoise and purple, and plain colors -purples, reds, golds, blues, greens, and the black that edges every piece so they will fit together. There is camel hair, alpaca, merino wool, mohair, angora, and a few strands of people's hair that have fallen in. There is commercial yarn and handspun, hand-dyed yarn. There's even a bit of fiber made from soybeans in there.

The crafters range from a woman who professionally knits and crochets shawls to a woman who just learned to crochet so that she could participate. We have people from across the country participating - there are people making squares in Colorado and Kentucky. One square was worked in Boston. My mom came in for a swearing-in for the new Congress and crocheted a square while she was here and my mother-in-law is bringing a square from Chicago to go in. And as we've worked, we've told stories: happy stories, sad stories, stories about storytelling, and stories about music. I've told stories about my dad, for whom the blanket is destined, and stories that he told me once upon a time, and stories that I know he'd like.

And I'd like to think that somehow all those stories are being literally captured and knitted right into the fabric of the blanket itself, that maybe under that blanket, he'll dream of us all, sitting in front of the fire, telling stories and laughing, and all the time praying that he can come back to the head of the hall where we're waiting for him.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Dad liked the entry on our trip to the Lincoln Memorial and the way he told me about Dr. King's speech there, but he did mention that it wasn't at the farmhouse that he watched the speech live. (He thought, but wasn't sure that that was around the time they got a television.) Instead, he was in a small community hospital, recovering from a seriously broken leg, and watching on a television that his roommate had. Oops.

And then I wrote a post about how blogging has allowed me to publish my thoughts after years of wondering exactly how it was that I came to have these odd thoughts and so few other people seem to. And how I am grateful for the opportunity to speak my truth. But Blogger lost it, and I've forgotten the whole thing, except for a couple phrases. Meh.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


This is what happens when I allow myself not to post, folks: the posts build up, and then you end up with either the miscelleny posts that skip from topic to topic, or else I end up posting multiple posts in a day.

Today, I looked at a report from the folks looking after my retirement account, and there was a little magazine in with it. Now, normally, I find this kind of thing about as insightful as dental floss. Yes, it's something I've got to deal with, but it just doesn't speak much to me. But this one I found interesting. It was encouraging folks to look at smaller housing, to think about what they really *need* in terms of a place to live, rather than the hyped Real Estate Market. Maybe a smaller house that could later be expanded, if you need it. Go slow. Stay close to your actual needs and well within your budget. Consider buying a smaller house than you can afford. It's heartening when a message for simplicity can come from such an unexpected source.

And then I looked over at Don's blog where he's posted about reading someone else's reflections on simplicity. And there's a link to the entry over at Liminal Space, which talks about Quakers and simplicity. There's a lot of good stuff over there. Check it out.

And today's simple pleasure was reading an email from Dad, who said the hat arrived smelling a little like the sauerkraut, but everything's aired out now, and there's someone new there who has a daughter who's a lot like me (same college major, same reason for that major, same sort of job at university, and same sort of job when she first graduated.) So they're going to try to put us in touch. I sent him back a note with a lot of the thoughts that I put together for my Martin Luther King Day post.

Also, I've got a couple of vintage bone crochet hooks to add to my crafting supplies. Though that's not quite so simple.

Dr. Martin Luther King Day reflections*

I can still remember it. We had come to Washington, D.C. and were visiting the monuments and museums. We had been to the Air and Space Museum, where we'd looked at a space capsule and watched the film about the Enola Gay. We'd been out to Arlington, where we had watched the solemn Changing of the Guard and visited the Kennedy graves. I have to admit, I was probably a little bit young to be much affected by the Kennedy graves, though I was amazed at all the little white stones over those low slopes.

And here we were, standing on yet another set of grey marble stairs, looking up at a giant seated Lincoln, sternly gazing out from his marble canopy. And my dad was drawing for my little brother and me a vivid word picture of a huge crowd gathered to hear a speech given there. And he told us how he'd seen that speech on television, halfway across the country in a small community hospital while recovering from a broken leg, and how he'd known that he was being called to help make the world a better place to be. He didn't yet know how - that came later, but he knew that he needed to make the world a better place.

There is a story that once upon a time, the Baal Shem Tov, a Jewish mystic, knew a secret place in the forest, where he would light a fire in a certain way and pray a certain prayer, and the Presence would come. In time, he died, but his students carried on, though they'd forgotten the exact place. Still, they lighted the fire and prayed the prayer, and still, the Presence came. In time, the fire was forgotten, but not the prayer, and still, the Presence came. Today, we have forgotten the place, the fire, and even the prayer, but we tell the story and it is enough.

As we stood on those steps, my dad told us the story of a speech, and how that speech had called him to respond to that Presence, and it was enough. I will not claim that that one moment was what resulted in how my siblings and I have turned out. It probably had a lot more to do with being raised to use our words, to believe in justice, in equality, that violence is not the answer, that every human being *deserves* access to food, shelter, medical care, security from intentional harm - not because they are especially good, or especially rich, or any of that, but because we are all human beings.

I was not alive to hear Dr. King in person. I have, of course, seen clips of that speech, heard them on the radio, read a transcript, and seen the pictures. But it was though the living story that my dad told us that day on those steps, and through the way my parents tried to live by those ideals that they shared with Dr. King that I was given the gift to hear the Presence that was in that speech. And I pray that it is enough to keep it alive in me.

* Okay, so I'm a day late in actually writing them down, but I was thinking them through yesterday.

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Sunday, January 14, 2007


For those of y'all who like acoustic folk, check out Hank Woji, and in particular his single, Patriot Games, a classic folk protest song. Many thanks to Marty over On the Homefront for the introduction to this marvellous piece. Check it out.

I've also been listening to Lorcan's CDs, especially his most recent, Interstice. Lorcan, ye've gotta find a way to allow folks to buy these over the web. I will say now what I said when I first heard it - you've got to be the only musician I've ever heard who actually seemed to *listen to the lyrics* of poor "Tom of Bedlam". This is one heck of a lament, folks. And do not miss "Maili Dhonn" which is just beautiful and haunting. The entire CD The Best of Lorcan Otway is Yet to Come stands as a protest against the rush to war and against the shameful treatment that soldiers and pacifists have always suffered, one of the many cruel ironies of war. For some of his lyrics, check out his blog, where he sometimes posts them.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

And in the blindly obvious department...

The Attorney General of New Jersey explained that while the state will allow civil unions, this does not require any religious denomination to recognize such a union.

Well, gee.

Given that many churches don't recognize a civil marriage as quite as good as having the preacher say the words over you, or saying the words yourself, or walking nine times in a circle... I could go on, but I won't. Anyway, the deal is that preachers can refuse to marry people for all kinds of reasons. Catholic priests are not supposed to marry people who have a previous marriage that did not end in annullment or death. Orthodox rabbis will not marry women who have a secular divorce, but not a religious one. Many preachers will not perform interfaith marriages, and many of those who will place additional requirements upon the couple.

60 years ago, my husband and I could not have married in the state we did due to wicked laws. There are some folks who would not have married us had we asked them. I'm glad we didn't. Folks, it's time we stop denying religious freedom to those whose beliefs about marriage are not the traditional American standard.


The price of escalation

Dear Senator Boxer,

I'm not from California, but I wanted to thank you anyway. I know that you have been publicly taken over the coals for your comments to Ms. Rice on who pays the price for this war. As one of the people paying right now, I want to thank you. My dad is currently serving in Iraq, his second tour there.

There is very little support for military families, particularly of National Guardsmen and the Reserve. (My dad is in the National Guard.) There is none that I can find at all for those like me, the grown child of a soldier.

Already, once I have seen my dad come home to stare at bare walls, jump at the smallest sound, and just generally not be the man I have known for 30-some years. I have seen the ruin of war in his eyes, heard his stories on coming home. ("Now, this fellow was just about your age. His trailer got hit with a shell just as he was coming in from a shower...") And this time, his time there will be twice as long in a less stable situation. For my family, the war has already escalated.

I have seen the pictures of my dad in Jungle camo body armor standing out like a sore thumb against the desert. But at least he had body armor. His truck had armor, even if it was scavenged scrap iron welded on in theatre. He hasn't sent me any pictures at all this tour, though he's been there since just after Thanksgiving. As you may imagine, my family's holidays were a little more somber than other folks.

I'm up now because I couldn't sleep. I woke up at 2 in the morning and couldn't go back to sleep. I just sat and crocheted on the blanket my friends and I are making for him, praying over it and thinking about what you said to Ms. Rice. I think it takes a different kind of bravery to stand up to the criticism you are taking, but it is bravery also. And I want you to know that when I read Ms. Rice's words, I also did not think she got what you were saying. She does not fully understand the sacrifice I am making every day my dad is in harm's way. Not even close.

Thank you for having the courage to ask the hard question about what this "sacrifice" will mean to those of us making it.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Simple joys when one needs to get better

Caramelized garlic on toast.
(put a small pot filled with peeled garlic cloves on the stove. add water to cover and a thin layer of olive oil - does not need to be extra-virgin, just a decently good olive oil. I use Goya's regular stuff, the kind that comes in the big bottle. Turn the flame to a medium low setting and allow to simmer until you hear the sound of garlic beginning to fry. Turn off the flame and spread the resultant goo on toasted bread - this is not the time for Wonderbread, either. Something chewy and crusty.)

Ratty pajamas. The ones with the bleach stain and the rip in the hem that have worn to a perfect level of comfort. To be worn with the slippers that don't match anything, including each other, but are warm and cozy. Okay, maybe this one is just me.

Tiger tea with licorice
Bengal spice tea, the stuff with cloves and ginger and such - essentially chai without the actual tea leaves and a broken up licorice root in the teapot. Sweeten with honey and a little lemon. If you are so inclined, add whiskey.

Broth with toast dipped in. Even better if there are onions and garlic.

(So sue me. I like 'em)

to give a variation to all the liquids. And yes, the vegetarian stuff is better than you probably think it is. Actually, even better are those little seaweed gelatin shots available at the nearest Asian grocery, but the packaging is awful.

Amusing books.
I'm working on Al Franken's Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them (A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right) which is really funny.

Recorded Sacred Harp
I can't even talk, but I can listen to pretty music.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Still sick

So I've got some cranberry rose spice herbal tea in the pot, and my hands wrapped around a steaming mug when I'm not typing. And there are animal crackers, too.

Off and on, I've crocheted on the blanket, and now, it's even big enough to cover my lap as I work on edging more squares. It seems every day I hear from someone else who has finished a square. When my mother-in-law heard about the project, she offered to work one. I have some on their way from Colorado, and one being made in Kentucky.

And I think about the place that this project touches. We have the booklets from the world wars, and the civil war, and so on that tell us "Our Boys Need Socks!" along with a knitting pattern. We have the description at the start of Little Women of four sisters sitting together and talking about the simpler Christmas they will celebrate while their father is at war. We have civil defense pamphets on every subject under the sun. And now, we have a war, a terrible war that has left thousands of American families to mourn, and Iraq in tattered ruins. And still very few Americans have been asked to sacrifice. Buy War Bonds? Nope. Put this war on plastic, thanks all the same. Grow Victory Gardens? Nah, that'd interfere with Archer Daniels Midland's profit margins. If you drive alone, you drive with the Enemy? Nope. Pull your Hummer out of the driveway and drive alone wherever you want. We'll drill more. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle? Nope.

So when the opportunity to do something, anything comes along, people have jumped at it. And most of these people have objected strenuously and loudly to the war from the start.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Sorry I haven't been writing much. Between a friend who is going through a rough patch, and having a cold, I haven't been actually sitting down to write, so of course nothing is getting written. On the other hand, my friend, Rae, has written on discernment, a topic that I've been thinking about while not writing much. And then when I sat down to write, Blogger was down.

On the up-side, I did get some squares on the blanket crocheted together, and I love how they look. Colorful, simple, beautiful.

Still pretty wiped out, so I'm having a cup of tea, then going to bed.

Friday, January 05, 2007

An interesting day

On Wednesday, I got a surprise call at work from my mom. She said not to panic, it wasn't bad. And it wasn't.

Mom came to town to attend the swearing in of a new senator, and wanted to spend some time visiting with me. So I called my friend who hosts the crafting evenings, to tell her where I'd be, and arranged with my office to take the next morning off, and head out a little early in the evening.

So I attended a political dinner with the most flavorless food I've ever attempted to eat. (The salad was good, but the rest of it - well, you couldn't tell what the vegetables were because they all tasted the same.) There was a lot of energy in the room, and I was heartened by some of what was said, and saddened by some other stuff, but overall it went about as well as could be expected. And Mom got to meet the senator and his wife, and say a little bit about rural health care and how the war is affecting military families. And then we got to visit with Mom for a couple hours before it was time to go home and to bed.

Yesterday morning, I headed for Union Station on the Metro and got off the train and up to the street with the Eastern sky still on fire from dawn. The folks who had slept on the sidewalks the night before were already gone, and the streets were filled with taxis and well-groomed folks in neatly belted black trenchcoats and young men in grey suits with red ties, and older women in elegant black wool coats. I felt a little out of place in my plain snood, tunic, and skirt, with my biker jacket (with carefully mended pockets, just a little shabby.) I wondered for a second if I would have any problem getting to the hotel, but it was fine.

Mom and I sat in her room and looked out the window at all the bustle. While that was going on, we crocheted together, and she made a square for the blanket. Watching her, I saw where I get a couple of my crochet habits - I hold the yarn in a similar way, and tend to the same stitch as my "not thinking about it" crocheting. We talked about the aunt who taught her to crochet, and my memories of her cookies. We called my granny and told her about the blanket, so she's going to do a square, and a really cool, elaborate square at that. We watched one of the young men in grey suits go to the Starbucks across the street, then hurry onwards with whatever he was doing. Finally, we went for lunch up to the train station - salad and fries with lemonade - the sort of lunch Mom and I have loved to share for as long as I can remember. Then I headed for the Metro to go back to work, and Mom headed for the swearing in that she was supposed to witness, after which, the bus would take her back home.

It was a good visit.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Heard from my dad again

While I'd gotten secondhand word from my dad on Christmas, it was good to get email directly from him yesterday. I told him about the blanket my friends and I are making, and he was really enthusiastic about the idea that a number of people were coming together to make this blanket for him. He compared it to the movie, "The Making of an American Quilt", and just loved the notion. (Contrary to stereotypes, my dad totally loves some "chick flicks" - American Quilt, anything with Molly Ringwald, that kind of thing.)

The whole idea of walking on a noisy street and being the noise (the quote from Rumi that I posted a couple of entries ago) has been hanging around and insinuating itself into my thoughts on peace. While I can write to my elected officials about my desire that we should work towards peace, even if that work involves risk, I can only hope that they will take my words to heart. But peace is more than the current political situation. It's more than an armed truce. Perhaps part of it starts with taking good enough care of my health that I don't snap at my friends when the problem is that I have a migraine.

And this blanket has been an opportunity for peace, for friendship, for sharing, teaching, contemplating, storytelling, praying, hoping, and lots of other good stuff.

A new beginning

I'm not one for making New Years resolutions. They've always felt false to me, as though somehow I'm telling myself that I should somehow become someone else. But I see each new year as a new sheet of paper, just like each new day. In some ways, I wonder if folks didn't have it right to start the new year with the new growth in April, but in others I think that starting it in winter allows us a few months of thinking things through while it's too cold to go anywhere. I think I'd be really messed up by a new year beginning in summer, so I'm glad I don't live in Australia, despite enjoying a bluegrass program hosted there. Then again, maybe if I'd grown up with that being the normal thing, a winter new year would seem weird.

This year, not only did I feel my fresh page came pre-blotted, I suffered through a migraine starting on New Years Eve, in the evening and lasting until... well, I'm still wearing dark glasses and wincing whenever people down the hall talk. Meh. I found myself struggling to be a reasonable person at all, and even snapped at a friend for talking in the same room.

The enforced quiet time has led to a lot of thinking - some about what it means to walk down a noisy street and be the noise... some about the nature of peacemaking... some about why we seem to pick round numbers as though 3,000 were somehow of vastly more importance than 2,999, and how reaching that number on New Year's Eve meant that coverage of it was stuck between shots of various street parties worldwide... some about the nature of justice and the nature of the death penalty... Some of those thoughts may eventually come together in future posts.

And I've also reached a halfway point on the blanket for Dad. I have a new mailing address for him, which is good, because my package that I had prepared for Christmas came back about a month after I'd sent it, due to errors in the address. I'm repacking the thing, since I doubt he wants Christmas decorations now. And I'm beginning to write the story of the quilt for him to read when it's all finished.