Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Unexpected Idol

Like many Americans, I watched with wonder, amazement, and heartfelt emotion as Susan Boyle took center stage and became the most unexpected idol in the history of the show. Her talent is surprising only in that it comes from such a humble and very real person. As I watched the clips of the audience when Susan took the stage I was disappointed in peoples reactions to her. Some wore expressions that said nothing less than "loser" when she introduced herself, others looked on indulgently as if they were giving a spoiled child the opportunity to be clever, and others choked back giggles or laughed audibly when she announced her age and singing aspirations.

Did people react this way because Susan Boyle is over age twenty, not built like a Barbie doll, or dressed like a pole dancer? I would like to think not, but when I look at many popular women singers, and there are exceptions, sex seems to be the selling point, not talent. I could only hope for the courage that it took for Susan Boyle to come on to that young, hip show in all of her middle-aged glory and sing like an angel. I can't help but think that the world would be a better place all around if less emphasis was put on looks and more emphasis put on what is inside a person. This is true especially for women. The audience said it all in this case, homely, middle-aged woman, what in the hell would she ever have to offer!

It will be interesting to see if there is any transformation of Susan Boyle to be had. In an interview she stated that she probably wouldn't be doing any of that hip wiggling again as she was too proper. I wonder if the audience would laugh at her like they did the first time she was on stage, or with her if she were to execute those moves again. Personally I would be satisfied if Susan Boyle stayed Susan Boyle, no hair dye, plastic surgery, or wardrobe enhancement required. She could record a few CD's and the world could focus on the beauty that is her voice.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Favorite Pictures

These guys are raunchy and kind of crazy, all part of my mid-life crisis, I love 'em. They are coming to town again on May 27th. I'll be there!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Today's Thought

I want God, I want poetry,
I want danger, I want freedom,
I want goodness, I want sin.

-Aldous Huxley

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Girl Scouts What????

I have been thinking about writing this post for a while now. Ever since I read about the trouble that the young girl scout who advertised cookies on youtube has now gotten herself into with the Girl Scouts organization.

Let me start at the beginning. When I was a kid, I always wanted to be a Girl Scout. There were no active troops in our area (at least none that my mom knew about) so she signed me up for Campfire Girls, which I did for about two years. My mom was the leader and when that ended, the Campfire Girls troop ended as well. I went through a similar experience with my eldest child. Wanting to involve her in Girl Scouts meant that I would have to be the leader since no one else volunteered. After four years of doing this, I resigned. None of the other parents wanted to take over the troop, so it was disbanded.

This brings me to my current issue with Girl Scouts, namely that the organization is not keeping current. I believe that the reprisal for the youtube advertising was a knee jerk reaction on the part of the Girl Scouts organization. A number of years ago a family stock piled hordes of Girl Scout cookies and later re-sold them on ebay for a significant mark-up. The family benefited directly from the mark-up and none of the money went to Girl Scouts. As a United Way organization, it is important that Girl Scouts does fundraisers only within a certain time frame and this must not overlap with the fundraisers of other United Way organizations in the area. So the ebay mark-up sales was treacherous for Girl Scouts on two levels: First it was for family profit, not that organization and second the cookies were sold outside of the allotted time frame which could cause Girl Scouts to lose future funding.

I don't know if these two incidents are related or not, but I suspect that they are. Things move within the Girl Scout organization at the speed of a slug traversing a honey spill. I am disappointed that the young girl in question was not allowed to make her youtube pitch. Computers are the future. These girls will likely be working on computers and using computers everyday for many things when they grow up. These are skills that should be taught now. Door-to-door sales is not only dated, it can be very unsafe.

This isn't the first time that I have run across antiquated ideals within the Girl Scouts organization. Within our own service unit I suggested that training for girl bullying could be done through Girl Scouts. There are already established programs that deal with this issue and my suggestion was that the Girl Scouts review and adopt at least one. This never happened. It was important to me because this is what our girls deal with everyday at school. For an organization dedicated to bettering the lives of girls, Girl Scouts is woefully behind on tackling this issue from an organizational level. Right now it is left up to each troop to address the issue or not and using only the resources that they are able to find on their own.

Finally, I believe that the home based troop idea run by volunteer moms is outmoded as well. I seriously think that the Girl Scouts organization needs to re-think troop options. The burn-out rate is high. I can attest to this because I am a victim of it. I tried to make a difference, to suggest options, one being that Girl Scouts offers troops whereby parents pay to have college students run the regular meetings or they establish group meetings at each grade level at each school that are implemented by employees of Girl Scouts and run by volunteers within a supported environment. It took me a while to realize that none of these options or any others are likely to be implemented while my children are young enough to benefit from them.

Meanwhile, my younger two daughters are in a traditional Girl Scout troop. I worry about leader burn-out here too and try to help out as much as I can. We did cookie sales in our neighborhood and at several stores. I am still hoping for youtube and internet sales options, this provides a valuable opportunity for teaching safety skills. I wish that I had more faith that this would be possible in the current organizational structure of this institution.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Whew! What a Busy Weekend!

This has been the busiest weekend that I have had in a long time. While I have enjoyed it, I am also finding myself missing the relaxation time that I usually get on the weekend. The weekend started off with a Friday night creative writing group meeting. I loved what everyone read, such creativity, such talent in our little group and I am not talking about me!

On Saturday, my "babies" turned seven. We had a small birthday party with a few of their friends. The lovely little ladies had their nails painted and then went for lunch. The evening was a family affair, a restaurant of their choosing which would be Chuck E. Cheese or Charles E. Cheddar for the more sophisticated among us. My mom and I took the kids and met my husband there. After a quick bit of food, I was feeling assaulted by all of the noise, noise, noise. Of course the kids all thought that they had died and gone to heaven. My husband didn't want to be left alone in this crazy venue. Fortunately my neighbor showed up with his kids and saved the evening.

My mom and I came home and watched a fantastic movie called "Frozen River." The movie is about a woman who is down and out on her luck, she can't afford the balloon payment on her double wide trailer. She lives in Northern New York state near a Mohawk reservation. An odd match is stuck between this woman and a young Mohawk woman as they join the business of human smuggling. Quite a terrific film if you are into movies about real life.

This morning bright and early, I shuttled my eldest child off to sing in the children's choir, we went to church, then out the brunch, and then went and saw PNB's performance of "Swan Lake." The performance was spectacular, the ending was enough to give one goose bumps.
Tonight I am off to dine with my wonderful friend Kathy whom I have not seen for many months. Then I will come home and collapse into bed ready to start a new week!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Some Like it Hot

Girls Gone X

Posted by ShoZu

Girls Gone X

The Whole Gang of Us

Cherokee Nation and Fly Girl

Me and Fly Girl

John Doe with his Guitar

The Star Attraction

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Media Makes Me Crazy

Today, during a break at work, I found myself getting caught up in some wording in the media. This happens quite a bit in our culture I think. The media stirs everyone up and then everyone gets all stressed out and angry. Media is no longer about reporting the facts or the news, it is about distorting perspective and making everyone more suspicious and less tolerant in their daily lives.

This is an example only, I am not posting in favor or against this particular organization but it is useful in clarifying my point. As I was flipping through a Newsweek, that family with the 18 kids I think they are the Duggers was featured in one of the news snippets. I have watched this family periodically on TLC when channel surfing. I don't really find the day-to-day workings of a family that large very interesting. In fact I find in quite stressful. All that I can think is how if I lived in a family that large I would have to have my own apartment adjacent to the house so that I could go off by myself and get some peace! I hate being around people all of the time, even my own family. I get this feeling like I am being suffocated and if I don't get alone time I get very, very, very crabby. My kids and my husband know this and they are very good to me.

At any rate, this post is not really about the Duggers directly or my frantic need for peace and quiet. It is about the wording of the feature. The article talked about how the Duggers belong to an organization called "Quiverfull." In the article they referred to this organization as only "a backlash to feminism." Now that got my attention. My feeling is that feminism is the acknowledgement that women are human and any organization against this must not believe in the humanity of women and consider them to be property much like heads of cattle.

I googled "Quiverfull" and I must admit that I didn't spend much time on the site, but I did spend enough time to know that they don't exactly bill themselves as a backlash to feminism. They bill themselves as a support network for people trying to raise large families in today's world. Fair enough. There are many people out there who choose to have large families. As long as I am not forced to have one, I am great with having them exist.

My point here is how the media stirred me up and got me going over nothing. I am sure that this organization considers themselves to be a backlash to feminism or their definition of it. I have noticed that very few conservative organizations have ever done any reading about the definition of feminism and probably get most of their "facts" from media personalities like Rush Limbaugh. I guess if you don't want to research the true facts and use such personalities as your source that is your individual right.

I can see where doing so can get people stirred up and angry though.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

It's Just so Frustrating

I have to work hard at being a patient person. In some areas I have had more success than others in achieving this goal. One area that I still have absolutely no patience for is needing to do other people's jobs for them. I have my own job to do. Actually since I work both outside the home as well as in it, I have two jobs to do, I shouldn't also need to do the job of someone else.

My eldest daughter has a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder. She is not "hyper," but without her medication she is totally lost in dreamland, lacks age-appropriate social skills, and does not follow directions or understand assignments in class. After several years of counseling, diet alterations, and medication trials, we have finally found a medication that really works for her. The problem with this medication is that it is not readily available in pharmacies. Because of the class of medications that it falls under, I have to go to the pediatricians office every month and sign for it, then take it to the pharmacy. I would love to say that I am so organized that I think about doing this a week or even a few days ahead of time, but I am not. The upside is that the pediatrician's office is on my way to work.

To save myself the hassle of cluttering my already full mind with advanced planning every month, I worked out a system with the pharmacy nearest my house. This is also where I do my grocery shopping and get coffee, so they know me. For the first three months I called to make sure that they would have this prescription in stock (this was a huge organziational feat that took written reminders as well as an alarm on my phone). After that the pharmacist said that they would always have it in stock because they knew that I would be needing it around the same time every month. Apparently it is also expensive, so they don't want to have extras around.

Fast forward to today after six months of success with this pharmacy. My daughter has one more dose of this medication. To top it off, she is taking the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) test this week. It would be the worst week ever to send her to school unmedicated. I go to my pharmacy, just like I did at this same time last month, and they don't have the medication! They tell me that someone else has the same prescription and they gave it to them. Well that is all fine and dandy, but why didn't they make the new customer wait while they ordered more, why did they have to give them mine? Then the pharmacist tells me that they can order it and it will be in on Friday or Saturday. Let's see, that is two full-testing days unmedicated, I don't think so!

I drive to another pharmacy near my house (and people wonder why stay-at-home moms are never home). This pharmacy didn't have it either and it would be the same two day wait to order the medication. They were, however, nice enough to call pharmacies nearby. This was tremendously courteous and unexpected. I often avoid this pharmacy because it is big and busy and wait times are usually over an hour. After phoning six other pharmacies, this pharmacist finally found one nearby that had one prescription.

This pharmacy happens to be located in the bowls of a large metropolitan hospital. Aside from having to drive to the top of a parking structure and pay to park my car so that my kids and I could run in and grab the last available prescription in Bellevue, this was not a bad last resort. Promisingly, the pharmacist at this hospital pharmacy assured me that they always have this medication in stock because several of their staff members give it to their children. Hmmm....I wonder if I should believe them?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Spring is Trying to be Here!

The rainfall, sleet, and hail patterns are more spring like. I just wish that it would get a little bit warmer. Spring is trying to come, I just know it!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Bunnies, Bunnies, Eggs, Bunnies, Eggs

Easter is Coming

It is that time of year again, Easter is upon us. I like Spring well enough, but not as much as I like Summer and Fall. Spring is less popular with me because of our yard. Things grow VERY rapidly here in the Pacific Northwest, especially the weeds and our yard is no exception. Not being overly fond of yardwork, I find it difficult to make time in the schedule to get out there and get it done. So far this year seems to be a little better. Last Fall we hired the "wonder crew" to prune, cut, rake and get everything ready for winter. Suffice it to say, they did an awesome job and the yard seems to be more manageable with the rain and sun combination that seems so hospitable to weed growth.

Easter is always busy for us. The kids like to do all of the fun traditions like dyeing eggs, egg hunts, and baskets. We have an annual party with friends, the church day seems longer, and then there is the Easter meal. I am so happy to have my in-laws here this year. They are so industrious and my mother-in-law loves to cook. She also loves to ski and we all went up for a family ski day yesterday. It was fun for the kids to ski with a grandparent, a good inspiration as well.

Tonight I am looking forward to going to the X concert with friends. I saw X last year and really enjoyed the show. Normally I don't see bands two times in a row, but seeing great bands up close for very little money has a strong appeal to me. Plus it is always more fun when to go with people who want to be there just as much as you do. Tonight I am not going to focus on how much the band has aged, I am going to focus on the great music and the enjoyment that goes with finanlly getting some time away from home.

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Favorite Painting

This is my favorite painting, or at least one of them, there is so much good art out there that it is kind of hard to choose. When I was in graduate school at the University of Wisconsin I used to drive my crappy little car in all kinds of weather to get to the Art Institute of Chicago where this painting is housed. I spent an incredible amount of time looking at it. Because I have seen the original so many times up close and personal, I find that I am reluctant to accept a copy. What gets me is the red in the older sister's hat. Never has a copy even come close to the red in the original. The colors are so vibrant that they almost feel alive. I think that this painting transcends time, look at it long enough and you can almost feel as though you are there.

Old Books

I have always had a passion for reading. When I was a child, I would frequently leave the room in the middle of a television program to finish reading a book. While I am not always that disciplined as an adult, I am still pretty much always in the process of reading a book. My eldest daughter seems to have inherited my love of books. Tonight, while we were unpacking from our short vacation, she happened to spy some old books propped up on the bookshelf in the room downstairs where our luggage is stored. She asked me if any of the books were for children. I had forgotten all about those old books, a couple of which I had read multiple times as a child. They were books from the childhoods of both of my parents and my grandmother. As we went through the volumes I started to remember reading those old books, my favorite two were "The Bobbsey Twins and Baby May" (1924) and "Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch"(1901). On the first page of Mrs. Wiggs was a note written to me from my grandmother telling me about how she and her sisters had read this book, then my mom, and she hoped that I would enjoy it in turn. Flipping quickly through both of these volumes I could see that they are quite politically incorrect by today's standards, I am sure that my daughter and I will be discussing the differences between early last century and early this century. Meanwhile, I am pleased that she wants to continue the tradition

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Oregon Garden

The kids and I visited the Oregon Garden with grandma yesterday as one of our spring break fun outings. What a fantastic plot of land, maintained primarily by volunteer garden lovers, it is an earthy paradise slowly awakening to spring. We were able to view flowers making their way up from the earth, a bird capturing and eating a fish from one of the ponds, frogs hopping and croaking, ducks nesting, swimming, and playing all in the backdrop of another gloriously sunny and unseasonably warm day. If I could get to Oregon once a season, I would love to take the kids here each season so that they could witness subtle and seasonal changes in nature up close and personal, this is a perfect place to do just that.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Timberline Lodge Mt. Hood

Here is a nighttime view of historic Timberline Lodge at the foothills of Mt. Hood. My kids and I had a great ski day here today. The weather was so gorgeous that they kept the mountain open an extra hour for skiing. A bit of wind at the top kept us all challenged and it was overall a wonderfully enjoyable day.

I remember coming to Timberline Lodge as a child. Skiers still hung out in the old building then and trashed the beautiful wood floors by clomping around in their ski boots. The huge fireplaces in the middle of the upper and lower levels were always enticing. Nowadays there is a sturdy day lodge nearby for skiers and Timberline has been restored to its former 1930's beauty and it is primarily a hotel. They were getting ready to celebrate a wedding there today, what a scenic place to get married in. I am betting that the wedding party wasn't expecting such a high level of snow in April. The snow level today is about what it is in this middle of winter photo.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Organic Farming Vacations

Yesterday, while waiting at an appointment for one of my daughters, I read about an organization called WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunities in Organic Farming) http://www.wwoof.org/ The premise of this organization is to provide food and lodging in exchange for a bit of labor around farms all over the world. Before I explored the website, I thought that it might be limited to tent camping on a farm and six hours or more of labor per day. Normally I don't mind tent camping, but I have a small rodent aversion and the thought of tent camping on a farm brings to mind mice and rats nibbling near where I sleep after dark. I don't think that I could tolerate that, people who know me well know that I probably couldn't tolerate it at all. After reviewing some of the opportunities I was encouraged. Many farms offer accommodations and some require only 2-3 hours of labor per day. The farms differ in amenities offered, some are family and pet friendly and some are not. I have only viewed opportunities in states near to me. I figure that if we ever did do something like this as a family, I would want to try out something nearby before travelling across the country or abroad on such an endeavor. Meanwhile, the opportunity to travel as a family to interesting destinations for less does look inviting.