Sunday, March 14, 2010

Shifting direction a bit..

Taking inventory, it looks like I had some fun over the years creatively building and playing with blogs. I have 17 blogs that I have created over the years at Blogger, and 11 at Word Press not to mention the other blogger sites where I built blogs. I began blogging back in the early years when blogging hadn't yet caught the popular imagination. My early efforts were in accord with the limited technology which has made advancements over the years. Along the years I've seen people built some really great blogs, artistic, playful, theme related, content rich, and I am delighted to follow other's blogs. Expanding on the blog theme, there are now online magazines that attempt to capture diverse interest categories.

In that regard, I think it has come time for me to attempt to integrate some of my blogs and work more in one blog than across many. Much as I'd like to build one of those blogs with multiple pages and columns, I doubt that I will get around to doing it. So, will take one of my blogs and see if I can rework it to be more expansive with multiple topics rather than core theme to one topic. Large effort for me to round up all the blog content and get it into one place. New project.

Why, though, I ask myself. Why bother. Shrug...I don't know, just seems like it is time for me to do it if for no other reason than for myself.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Congressman Brian Baird's Successfully Civil Town Hall Meeting in Ilwaco – Health Care Reform

Kudos to the Congressman and his staff for hosting a successfully civil discourse Town Hall meeting last night in Ilwaco, in Pacific County, WA. And of course, the primary range of questions had to do with Health Care/Insurance Reform. Death threats to the Congressman aside, he still managed to conduct his usual in-person Town Hall meetings in several Southwest Washington counties.

What was the process?

I can't speak to the in person Town Hall meetings he held in other counties except for what I've read in media (some of which has been reported at Washblog). I can speak to the TH we attended in Ilwaco last night. Also Baird has added telephone Town Hall meetings as well to his usual array of in-person TH meetings in the SW counties.

The Ilwaco TH meeting was orderly and permitted the many to hear both the questions and Baird's responses without interruption or interference. Which is precisely what I wanted - information and not the drama of interference that has been the hallmark of many other TH meetings across the nation.

We arrived at the high school, and yes, there was a tiny contingent of less than impressive 'protesters' with their home-made cardboard signs. They kept their behavior under control and did not molest the people as they were coming into the auditorium. We signed in, and we were asked if we wanted to ask a question of the Congressman; if so, we were given a number (kind of like at an auction).

We were seated and it was explained by the moderator that corresponding numbers were in a twirl cage (bingo comes to mind), and numbers would be picked at random. Those persons who held those numbers would come forward to be seated in the first row of seats. Each would then get 3 minutes of time at the microphone to state their concerns, ask their questions and the Congressman would have 3 minutes of time to respond.

Questions came from both parties. I think people are sophisticated enough to filter out what is rhetoric and focus in on the actual question, when there is a question and not just a 3 minute pulpit for speech making. The Congressman's opportunity to respond, or better said, give the facts as he knows them, provided a format that helped enormously to dispel some of the rhetorical myths, giving the auditorium of people an opportunity to listen to and hear the information.

In Congressman Baird's Town Halls that we have attended in the past, even when my own emotions have been highly charged, (ie, his vote in 2007 for the Surge in Iraq where our son-in-law was deployed), he has been respectful to all, including us, in responding to concerns and questions. Last night's Town Hall was no exception. He was respectful, courteous, and responsive to every question, even the few who formulated their questions in what seemed designed to bait him. He actually was skillful in handling those baiting type questions, both responding and further elaborating on concerns and situations that led to the current Health Care Reform issue.

It was a 2 hour TH meeting, so obviously, there was not time for everyone who might have wanted to ask a question to have a turn at the microphone. But with the quality of the kinds of questions asked, and Baird's informative responses, I think probably most of the concerns people had in their minds received air time in a very Civil dialogue.

Earlier in August, I was also on one of Baird's telephone TH meetings (Pacific County), and got to ask my question of him; specifically what concerns about the Health Care Reform Bill did he have as he has said he is unsure how he will vote when it comes up for vote in Congress. Frankly, I would like to see him vote for the Bill with all of it's warts and flaws rather than to vote against it. I sense that voting for the Bill starts the ball rolling, probably with a lot of tweaks needed in years to come. Whereas to vote against it because of it's imperfections does little to alter or change the current deeply flawed Health Care 'system'.

As Baird explained he has heard from doctors, it is not really a system so much as an evolution that has evolved into a complex hodge podge of health care that some get and some don't.

On a personal note, I do have to be a bit amused at one of the questions last night. The Chair of the Republican Party in our 3rd Congressional District was among one of those whose number was called, giving her time at the microphone. She has had time at earlier Town Hall meeting in another county to state her concerns to the Congressman and she did make an offer of her home as a venue for the Congressman to hold an in- person Town Hall, guaranteeing him an assurance of safety she would personally provide. He did thank her for and it did seem he accepted the offer; I'm not sure he intended to hold a Town Hall in her home, nor would that be logical. He did hold the in person Town Hall in Ilwaco, at the high school - a more appropriate venue and approximately 2 miles from her home. She has not been deprived of opportunity of access to the Congressman, nor of opportunity to state her concerns or questions.

She has had a beef with what she terms his rejection of her offer, labeling it as evidence of an unwillingness on the part of Congressman Baird to hold in-person Town Hall meetings. She has both blogged it and arranged for a newspaper article in The Columbian, of her account of his rejection of her offer. In my opinion, it goes to show the 'slant' of her perspective in presenting the situation as a rejection, as an unwillingness on Baird's part to conduct in person Town Hall meetings. And it is a perspective she is pleased to broadcast in the media and telegraph to her party. It was, in fact, Baird offering a more appropriate venue with a wider opportunity, for the larger populace in the area to participate in an in person Town Hall. Probably safer for everyone also, with the County Sheriff there, and the presence of uniformed officers stationed along the side corridors.

Her concern as she stated it in the question last night to Congressman Baird were some remarks he had made in earlier years; favoring universal health care and duration terms of office. Baird corrected the perception she had of his earlier remarks on terms of office. She spoke again indicating she was in favor of all people having access to health care, and when Baird asked if she was in favor of universal health care, she said no, she was not, and promptly sat down. There was a bit of a buzz talk after that exchange amongst the people in the auditorium.

Highlighting this more to illustrate, in my opinion, a tactic of intent on the part of the Republican party in trying to direct attention away from the Health Care Reform issue, while offering little of substantive value as an alternative method to adjust the disparities in health care as we know it today. Congressman Baird is not the issue, nor is the next election. Health Care Reform is the issue on many people's mind and they seem to want information, not politicking.

My thanks to Brian Baird for the opportunity to learn what I felt I wanted and needed to learn about Health Care Reform - less the noise of disruptive interference. Good job in putting together the Ilwaco Town Hall meeting.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Oil Painting is so much brighter though

I created 5 new paintings in a day. I was really into it that day. Two oils and three acrylics. Trying acrylics was new for me, see the post below.

Here is one of the oil paintings, and you can see the paint is so much more vivid.

Acylics or Oil? My New Acrylic Paintings

Trying my hand at acrylics. Reason; well oil painting can be rather toxic from what I hear and read, and you know, I'm just getting along in years and not too anxious to gunk up my lungs and system. I also have read that Bob Ross designed his wet on wet paints and thinner not to be toxic, so maybe I'm safe to continue using those products. Adapting the wet on wet technique of oil painting to acrylic paints, which dry quickly and less the medium of the oil which permits the paint to blend and stick to paints already on the canvas. I'm at a disadvantage.

Three acrylics, and I really do not have the 'art' of photographing my paintings, so pardon my amateurish photography. Early efforts with acrylics;

Vintage Finds - Collectibles

Holidays are over and the 'Company's Coming' size dining room table not needed now, so shortened it and added lighter table dressing for that fresher summer look.

I think I got some pretty good thrift deals on these plates.

-- a dozen Anchor Hocking Peach Lustre plates. While I'm not collecting these, I see the peach lustre pieces everywhere I find a collectible shop. This time, the price was just too good for me to pass up. I don't need more dishes, but hey, this is how collections get started, eh?

-- seven Homer Laughlin plates - rose edge design. This was at an estate sale, owner passed, and I am told these were her favorite dishes. They show years of use, wear and tear. But I am a nostalgia, vintage buff, and again price was too good to pass up...but I don't need dishes!!

Handkerchiefs - my latest fun thing to do..

I don't have those lovely vintage type handkerchiefs, and am at the mercy of finding them at thrift stores, collectibles and such like. So I went and found some because I found a few fun ideas for how to use and wanted to give some of the projects a try.

In my painting/sewing room, the upstairs cupola, I used the handkerchiefs to create a window treatment. The view outside to peek views I have from the cuploa of Willapa Bay will inspire the paintings, while the breeze will softly blow the handkerchiefs, creating a lazy, billowy effect.

The back door, which leads out to a not so nice mud room, is an old fashioned French Door set up, that leaves a few things to be desired. For Summer look, I want to add handkerchief curtains. Can seam sew the handkerchiefs together, or hand sew the corners together, adding columns and rows of handkerchiefs. Can pin them together, ie safety pins. Can add lengths of string and clip on with cafe curtain clips, clothespins. Lots of different approaches. Right now I'm hand sewing the corners together and have one column on each window. Will add additional columns to fill the window spaces, depending on how many handkerchiefs I have available to use.

Dance-Off! What baseball players do when rained out

Fun video, College baseball, players from UConn and USF, filled in some of the time during a 5 hour rain delay with a Dance off  Thursday, May 21, 2009.  Enjoy and wow do I envy their ‘young’ energy!


Monday, April 27, 2009

On Kevin Thew Forrester; Bishop-Elect of Northern Michigan

We attend St John’s Episcopal Church, which is located in a small town in a sparsely populated county in a southwest corner of Washington state.  It is a tiny congregation, of sturdy people, with traditional values, and they have kept the fact of St John’s alive over the decades with their sheer determination and will.  I admire them for the values that have gotten them to where they are in keeping the parish viable despite many adversities.

I am not sure I have that kind of faith, yet I know I hold a deep faith that I continue to put through the test means of tearing it down to build it up. I am not ‘churched’ as the saying goes, certainly did not grow up as Episcopal or Episcopal churched.   My mother believed we should try different church settings and perhaps did not have the confidence to share her own brand of church faith with us, having her own doubts perhaps, and fearing she might pass those doubts along.  She was also, as a young new bride being exposed to a family who was steeped in fundamentalist type beliefs, and not shy in pronouncing judgments upon my mother and my father, who grew up in that judgmental environment.

I think my mother found safety in keeping her beliefs and faith to herself because outward examination with her new in-law family yielded her the negatives of damnation that are such a hallmark in  Pentecostal type religions.  The need for calling out condemnation and judgments seems as well to be a hallmark of and true today of the hybrid evangelical religion premises that evolved from some of the earlier pentecostal type religions.  For whatever reasons, my mother chose not to assert her own church preferences on her children, we were left to wander among the landscape of various church religions.   As a result, I’m not sure what we learned about faith as much as what we learned about different ways churches chose to practice faith in their own stylized versions built on their premise of an interpretation of the bible.

In my wanderings in the religious landscape, I found myself at Baptist churches, Methodist churches, Community non-denominational churches, and along the way got baptized a few times because I felt the pull of emotion wash over me when a pastor would call for the those who wish to be saved  to come forward.  Who wouldn’t want to be saved given that the other places supposedly prepared for the unsaved were highly unpalatable.  Thus, I came to ‘know Jesus’ as defined within these types of structures.

The dilemma for me was that in my very real inner world and my very real child life I did have a friend in the spiritual world that I knew to be as real as the real life and conditions I was living.  If the churches called this Jesus, then indeed, I had a friend in Jesus, uniquely my own friend and unique to me.  My church experiences were sporatic, because I was also the child of a military parent, and our moves were frequent, about every 2 years, and it often meant for me whatever was a convenient church.  You know, if a bus came and picked up the kids, that was the church I went to; or if the church was in a nearby location and I could get there by my own means, that was the church I went to; or sometimes no church at all. I did not consistently attend one church of one faith, so I got some rather mixed messages about the faith experience.  

By the time of adulthood and having my own children, I saw a need for some kind of churching as part of the parenting experience and responsibilities.  Not knowing really how a parent decides which is the right church, I was subject to a lot of evangelizing from people who were quite willing to tell me why their church or faith was the ‘right’ church for me and my children.   After some awkward experiences attending such churches, I decided that my mother’s way must be okay – let the kids decide for themselves, thus I abandoned my efforts to bring my children to church.

There is a fairly large flaw in that thinking, I fully recognize now in hindsight, in that there is an assumption that children can discern through the fog of religiondom and decide for themselves.  Since adults cannot do that easily, how can children be expected to escape the Babel that makes up faith and religion?  So my children are not churched either and they are adults now themselves, beautiful human beings,  raising children of their own. (Well, my daughters are raising children of their own, my son has chosen not yet to have children).

Along my adult years, I continue to study out religions, often times with a driving passion, looking for that ‘right’ church that most closely corresponds to my inner beliefs.  No such church exists, quite probably because my inner beliefs like many people’s inner beliefs are built on foundations of information as provided by the adults who surround them and they try to make their inner world fit the outer world they are being taught.  But maybe I project my perspectives as being the shared experience of others.   Along the decades of my life and search, I did come to a recognition there is no ‘right’ church or at least not a church that would match my inner world beliefs.  And I contented myself in trying to find a church home that at least would not offend my inner beliefs. 

Thus did we land in a historic hundred year old building, in the quiet space of an Episcopal church, knowing little about the Episcopal belief set, but having experienced an assortment of other church belief sets.  We being my husband, who has come out of the LDS faith, having been raised in it and having raised his own children in it, and myself with my hodgepodge assortment of church exposures.  And this is how we came to St John’s Episcopal Church, finding a welcome home, warm people and in time we became confirmed in the Episcopal Church.  Thusly, in the confirmation, did the Bishop remind us we were to remember our baptism.   Given neither his nor my baptism were done in the Episcopal manner, being called to remember our baptism evokes strong memories for both of us and so did we begin the process of ‘reconciliation’. 

Now I’m not entirely sure what is meant by that word within the Episcopal experience, but I play with the concept trying to understand it as it has meaning for me.  It seems to me that for Episcopalians and the Episcopal Church a large part of the experience is perpetually ‘reconciliation’, as the Church grapples with societal changes over the generations.  As the Church grapples, so then do the congregations and the people who make up those congregations.   Since life is a perpetual journey of learning and exploring, making mistakes and learning from those mistakes, and preparing to take the risks to make more mistakes, and curiosity drives the learning, the Episcopal experience makes sense to me.  Or at least the way in which I come to define what I think is the Episcopal experience makes sense to me. 

All this to lead up to what this post has to do with Kevin Thew Forrester.   I only learned of him yesterday, or rather learned that there was a bit of a dust storm being kicked up about his status as Bishop-Elect of Northern Michigan.  It seems he spent some time studying in the Buddhist religion and attained a lay status which he was able to bring with him into his Episcopal experience.  That, by itself, doesn’t kick up a dust storm.  But it seems he gave a sermon during Easter season that called into question the terms of baptism, resurrection and redemption as it is traditionally qualified by the Episcopal Church – an Easter Church – a Church that affirms in every worship service it’s collective belief in the Christ resurrection.

Well now, here is where I can begin to explore my own space of inner beliefs within the context of the Episcopal experience.   What if I can’t fully buy into a resurrected Jesus and the need for that whole experience as the redemption of humankind?  What if to make that concept work for me I have to realign the meaning of my outer words to be palatable to the ears of those who belief without question in the absoluteness of the concept, while the inner meaning suffers in silence at being unable to express or be heard on the matter.  What Forrester has done with this sermon, intentionally or inadvertantly, with it’s ensuing criticisms, has created a much needed space for me to explore aloud within the context of my church of choice one of the backbone foundations that make up the Christian experience.  

Going forward, I am not sure what will become of Thew Forrester’s Bishop-Elect status, and I’m fairly sure he has a full plate just now as most of the Bishops of the Episcopal Church line up to give a no vote to his election.  Bishop Greg Rickel of our own Diocese of Olympia has given what he explains as a thoughtfully considered no vote (see his blog).  But simply said, for this one person, for me, this Episcopalian in a small parish in a remote corner of the state, Forrester has thrown open for me the doors of constraint that will keep me remaining in the Episcopal Church at at time when I had about reconciled and resolved to make a decision to leave my Total Common Ministry circle and perhaps my parish as well. 

I wouldn’t leave in dissent or even disquiet,  as much as reconciliation to the fact that these elders who have kept this parish alive deserve the comfort of worship within a church structure they still recognize in their last years .  They have  fully embraced some of the changes that have come down the pike along their years, including permitting women priests (we have 2 priests in our parish, one male, one female, both studied in the TCM and were ordained priests by then presiding Bishop of our Diocese).  

Essentially my thinking is that if I find myself at odds with some of the beliefs , it is incumbent upon me to find the place of reconciliation within myself;it is not incumbent upon them to rework the settings to accommodate me.  I then get to choose patience and faith in that the belief will come or exercise my option to appreciate that the belief will never come because already there exists within me a belief set.  I have carved out my own space for faith and beliefs from amongst the offerings placed before me or that I have sought out and along the progression of my own years, I come to realize those inner belief sets within me have hardened, are less maleable and have place within the dialogue and experience.   Now I enter a new phase in trying to find words to articulate what has been a highly personal inner world of beliefs – how to put words around those beliefs, and how to withstand criticisms that may come as a result of articulating my beliefs. 




Sunday, April 26, 2009

Getting Started

I have avoided creating a blog specific to my faith beliefs, partially because it's so highly personal and I like to think uniquely my own. Within the context of the church we have come to call our home church; within the context of the evangelical faith community having stepped into politically shaping our country with their belief set; within the context of sorting out my personal space of belief sets from the definitions so willingly handed to could be a useful tool to blog about my own sense of my personal journey in my own Walk with Jesus (borrowing an oft used Christian phrase).

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Flowers Arrived; doesn’t the gift of flowers just make you smile!


Daughter and son-in-law had flowers sent to my house; meant to arrive Easter weekend.  Since we live as far away as we do from urban centers, it takes UPS a bit longer to deliver, so the flowers arrived a couple days later than they planned, but the flowers did arrive. 


Came in a florist box that looked like long stemmed roses might be inside.    Opened the box to find fresh spring flowers, a hefty square glass vase and florist preservative packet, along with a happy greeting card from my daughter and son-in-law.


I learned later in talking to my daughter that she had chosen another arrangement, but where we are located there are no florists in close by vicinity that could accommodate the choice she made.    I am happy with what was sent – fresh spring flowers that are still looking fresh a week later.   Picture below.





Two new oil paintings - just finished and still Wet! Unoriginal title of 'Cabin by the Lake'

After a too long time away from my paints, brushes, and the messy operation that is oil painting, yesterday I completed two paintings! The paintings I've accomplished grow fewer and fewer over the years since 2006. Lots of reasons why, but I hope this change in momentum means 'I'm Back'!

I sought out the old painting clothes and found I've outgrown them (that means I weigh more now than I did when last I wore them). Time to set aside another set of painting attire, in larger size.

Painted this scene in 16 x 20 size. And then painted the scene again in 11 x 14 size, although it has variables from the larger size, making both 'originals'.
I took photo of the larger size and the paint is still Wet!

The house just doesn't have much accommodation room for paintings to dry. There is the cat who can jump up anywhere, so the paintings need to be in a room with a door that closes. And as I looked around the house, I see we don't have many 'roooms' that have doors that close. Then there is the odor of oil painting that can permeate the air. If I'm going to paint frequently, I need to figure out the logistics for these challenges.

So we put the Wet Painting on top of a wardrobe (a place the cat has not yet figured out how to climb) and I snapped a few photos ... not very good photos due to the angle of looking up at the painting, and the paint is still ..... well Wet!



Makes me smile….unexpected and joyful - video at Centraal Station Antwerpen

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Well I'm flattered,The Crochet Dude stopped by my blog and left a comment

So hey, thanks Crochet Dude - he actually has a name = Drew Emborsky, aka, The Crochet Dude. He left a comment at my post about using his pattern to make travel jewelry purses. Thanks Drew!

Odd coincidence or serendipity because I have a grandson (9 yrs old), nickname 'Drew' who plays basketball, x-box, football and is also fascinated with Grandma (me) teaching him to crochet. He is determined to learn and gives it a serious effort. I told him about how cool it is that The Crochet Dude has such fun patterns. The very next day we went to my granddaughter's high school art show and sitting there crocheting some fantastic hats and scarves was ---- wait for it --- a guy. Now if that is reassuring and inspiring for my grandson to know guys out there DO crochet. It will spur him on in his own efforts to learn to crochet - not like Grandma, but like 'the dudes'!