Dec 12, 2014

In The Wake of Michael Brown & Eric Garner Decisions To Not Indict

The events and personal experiences related to race in America at the present time have caused me to reflect and to see if I can articulate the feelings of communities that happen to have dark skin.

Being dark-skinned in America is like walking through life in a cage. You still have to go about your daily business, no matter what. But when you do it, you're always aware of being reliant on the benevolence of the majority to allow you out of your cage in every place or situation you encounter. Every, singe one, in succession, step by step, one day at a time, until the day you die. They get to decide whether or not your presence will be tolerated, and whether a law is needed to do it if you get too uppity. There's always an awareness on your part of those hanging out on the periphery, watching you, loathing you, and waiting to pounce on you and anyone else who dares to help you or treat you as an equal. You're always aware that sometimes you just won't be let out of the cage, and you have to meekly ask someone to hand you what you need through the bars, and hope they won't just throw it at you or taint it in some way first. And you're aware that some of them regard you as a dangerous animal in that cage. Sometimes, you start to feel like one, and they know it. They sense it. And that's why they keep you in the cage.



Aug 31, 2014

Knock-Knock

In the early afternoon on Friday, my 25-year-old son emerged from his bedroom. He had just gotten up. Yes, that is his usual time and no, he doesn't work the night shift. He's just lazy and unmotivated. But that's another topic for another blog post. Anyway, he came into the den where I was working away on a writing project, and asked what my daughter was doing in her room, which is at the far end of the hallway. He knew she should have been in school. I let him know she was in school, that she hadn't been feeling well in the morning, but got better after a couple of hours rest and wanted to go on in. hen, my son looked confused, and said he'd just heard her in her room moving around when he was walking down the hallway. I told him it was probably just the cat nosing around, but he pointed out to me that the cat was asleep and sitting behind me, and the noise he'd heard was like loud shuffling of papers and moving other objects around in the room. I had no explanation, and went both let it go.

Later on in the afternoon, I was back in my writing chair, shortly after having picked my daughter up from school. She and I were sitting in the den, talking, and my son was behind me in the adjoining kitchen. My chair is situated so that I can see all the way down the hallway. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a shadow move across it, about twenty feet away from me. I stopped mid-sentence, not sure what I'd seen. The overhead bathroom light was on, and the shadow had momentarily blocked out the reflection of it on the opposite wall. The kids, noting my abrupt dropping of the conversation and quizzical expression, asked what was wrong. I told them what I'd seen, and my eyes never left the hallway, because I was still trying to make sense of it. After a few more seconds, I saw it again. This time it was clear. I'm not accustomed to seeing such things. I've felt and heard odd things I can't explain, and I've seen my animals react to things not visible to me, but I've never actually seen anything like a apparition or this type of shadow before.

That night in bed, I watched TV for awhile, and fell asleep with it still on. I woke up and was about to turn it off when I smelled something unusual. It was a fairly strong scent, and perfumy. It was pleasant, and the kind I could appreciate rather than be disturbed by (I have a serious sensitivity to a lot of fragrances). I decided to just be still for a while, to make sure I was really detecting something. I've awakened on several occasions in the past to a burning smell. Usually, it's kind of like burnt toast. I always get up to check, because I'm sure someone must have left something in the oven too long. But there's never anything burning. The smell will linger in my nose for up to a minute before it dissipates. I've never been able to figure it out. At one time, I wondered if it was a sign of something not quite right in my brain than I needed to have checked out. But this new scent Friday night was definitely new, flowery. It lasted for a half-minute or so, and then was gone.

Honestly, I didn't think anything more about the perfume smell until late in the evening on Saturday. Then, I mentioned it to the kids. They had to point out to me that the other two off events had occurred just hours before. My son laughed, saying, “Well, that's what 'she' was doing in the bathroom. She went in there to put her perfume on, and then went back to the bedroom.” I don't know what it was, or what it meant. Nothing more has happened since, and I'm not keen on having any other occurrences. Stuff like that doesn't intrigue me. It just makes me feel anxious and on guard. One reason it's bothering me right now is that I bought the house we're in just nine months ago from a widow whose only daughter had died of cancer, much too soon. The daughter was much like my own, very musically gifted. In fact, she wrote the scores for a few major films. When we found the house, it seemed very odd and serendipitous. I was drawn to it by forces for which I have no explanation, and was able to afford and purchase it through means I can't explain either.

I have always had a sense that my deceased father and the seller's deceased daughter somehow worked in concert on the other side to bring the house purchase about. We really, really needed to move from the dangerous neighborhood we were in prior to this, but I had never really thought it was possible considering the state of my finances and poor credit a year ago. But, it happened, and we're very content in our new home. I never had anything 'weird' or of the paranormal variety during the many months I was painting and updating the house before we moved in. And, believe me, I was a little on alert for signs, but nothing ever happened. I had just a twinge of anxiety the first couple of nights we slept here. I resisted the urge to sleep with the lights on. But nothing happened. I made the assumption that any spirits were either too occupied on the other side to be visiting here, or they knew how much I don't want to experience their presence and are respecting that. So, I relaxed. Now, I'm back on alert, but I'm trying to be curious and comforted, rather than fearful.

***************

Okay, there absolutely is something strange going on here. Not a half-hour after I finished writing this post (while sitting in me bedroom), my daughter came out of her room directly across the hall from me. She went into the bathroom, and was doing something, then went back into her room. I didn't actually see her, I just heard her door open and close and her shadow go by. Only I discovered by way of my son a few minutes later that she was still fast asleep. No, she had not gotten up and gone back to bed. She didn't wake up until she heard us having a conversation about it just outside. She assures me that she did not get up before that.

****************

UPDATE

This morning I was up early. I spent an hour or so working on a writing assignment, hoping to get it out of the way before the kids got up. I was in my usual writing spot, so I could clearly see down our hallway. I heard no one and saw no one get up, but suddenly there was the sound of water running in the bathroom shower and moving around. I thought it odd because my kids rarely get right into the shower on a Saturday morning. I got up to check it out. The bathroom door was closed and along the top edge of it I could see that the light was on. I went to my bedroom next the hall bath and decided to wait and see who was in the shower. When I could no longer hear water running, I went into the hallway, and found the bathroom door open and the light off. No sign of any water having been run. Both kids' bedroom doors were still closed, but I was absolutely sure someone had been up. I knocked on my son's door, and clearly awakened him. He assured me he hadn't budged, and was a little annoyed. Then, I knocked on may daughter's door. I couldn't even wake her, she was so out of it. I've never been so mystified.

Jul 14, 2014

Could It Have Been Me?

This morning, my daughter rushed into my bedroom and woke me out of a rare, sound sleep. She was sobbing, nearly hyperventilating, and I was sure something awful had happened, that perhaps she'd injured herself. Either that or she'd had a terrible nightmare that seemed too real. But, no, it was something far more tragic in her eyes. She had missed yet another opportunity to sign up for a driver's ed class at school. This makes the fourth time she's tried to snatch a coveted spot as soon as a class became available for online registration. Apparently, she missed by mere seconds on two previous attempts. This time, she'd been really proactive, setting her alarm so she'd be up and ready, hands poised at the keyboard, by midnight. But she was foiled once again. Instead of a registration acceptance message, she got a message saying the service wouldn't be available until 10:00 a.m. So, back to bed she went, but not before setting her bedside alarm clock for 9:50 a.m. (all this she related to me after the fact, once the sobbing was under control). When she awoke on her own later, it was still early, but her clock was blinking, 12:37. It was blinking because the power had gone out not long after she'd gone to sleep. Relieved that she had set her iPad alarm as well, she dozed back off. It didn't occur to her that the iPad had been completely dead the night before, and that she'd plugged it in to recharge, only a few minutes before the power went out. So, it didn't charge. She woke up for the third time at 11:40, just in time to not get a spot in the class.

And right now she's calling me away from my desk. Another catastrophe, apparently. When I return, I'll explain why this long series of events is so curious...

Jul 12, 2014

Slow Going

I've been sitting here for the last half-hour trying to come up with something inspiring, witty, or profound to say. Nothing's coming. It's been one of those draggy summers here in our corner of Carolina so far. Every member of my family has spent the majority of our days sacked out in the den, mostly watching mindless hours of TV while playing games on our electronic devices. Sad that it's come to this. We used to turn our noses up at people who were permanently attached to their iPhones and tablets, and we got into the game late. But here we sit, in slothdom. And we eat. And smack at bugs we can't see. Occasionally, one or two of us will laze our way into the playroom for a game of pool or to play a little music.

I'm going to make myself get up in a little while, as soon as my Ibuprofen and triple dose of super vitamin D kick in. I have a couple of errands to run, that I've been putting off, and dreading still because my car will be hot. Thats' another thing I need to take care of, recharging my air conditioner. I'm not just lazy. Well, yeah, I'm a little lazy, but I just don't feel well in general. I'm seeing doctors, going for various tests, all getting at nothing so far. And I've become preoccupied with various tasks that need doing around my house. I'm not doing them, just thinking about them, and fretting over the fact that I'm not doing them. I do plan to attack one odious task today, though. I'm going to start step one of my Tree of Heaven eradication program in our back yard. Whoever named those awful, awful, invasive plants was being a real wise guy.

Tree of 'Hell' deserves its own paragraph here. I'd never heard of them until I moved into this house and noticed something was taking over my yard and sprouting out all around the brick perimeter. It took a while to identify them. I described them to someone online, and she said I could tell if I was dealing with Tree of Heaven by breaking a stem and taking a whiff to see if it smelled like burnt peanuts. That was the smell, all right. It's repugnant, and clings to your hands. I soon discovered that getting rid of the thing is no easy chore, and could take years. The problem is that they spread easily by their seeds, can grow in any type of soil (or rock) or sun conditions, and have roots like you wouldn't believe. I was astounded when I tried to pull up a foot-high sprig a week ago. As I pulled, a root about 3/4 inch in diameter emerged, running through the ground laterally. Slowly and carefully, I stayed with it. It just kept going and going, and I ripped up a considerable amount of soil as I went. Eventually, it snapped off, though I'm sure I didn't get all of it. The freakin' root was nearly five feet long! That's when I knew I was in trouble, because I have hundreds of those suckers in various sizes spread throughout my yard. 'Suckers' is what they're actually called, the little ones that pop up from undealt-with roots of trees previously chopped down. Most of the larger ones in my yard won't budge, because their roots are now extending into the foundation walls. I try not to think about what that network looks like underneath, or how much damage those nightmarish roots could be doing. After a little research last week, I found that the recommended course of attack is to liberally spray the base of the plants with something called glyphosate concentrate. I put in an order for it at Home Depot, and it arrived for pickup yesterday. I'm ready to get at it. I'm told this regimen is something I canexpect to carry on for the next few summers to completely eradicate the nasty things. Great.

Jul 4, 2014

Why Say Anything?

This morning, while doing a Google search for something in some way related, I came across several results for a quote by Melissa Etheridge regarding Angelina Jolie's elective double mastectomy. This is old news from last year, but new news to me. I do remember reading about A.J.'s choice, apparently done because she discovered she carried a gene that predisposes her to cancer. Her mother had died of cancer, and just days after Jolie's announcement her aunt also passed away from cancer. In an interview, Brad Pitt called his longtime partner's act "brave" and "heroic." Well, Ms. Etheridge, a breast cancer survivor herself, took exception to that characterization, saying, " I wouldn't call it the brave choice. I actually think it's the most fearful choice you can make when confronting anything with cancer."

My first reaction to reading that quote was to feel a sympathetic blow to the gut. Why would anyone, under any circumstances feel the need to give expression to such a thought, and in public, no less? I feel blessed to be able to say cancer has not impacted my life personally. It's not among the many health concerns we have in our family. That does not, however, preclude me from understanding how inappropriate Etheridge's statement was in that moment. Just because it wasn't her own choice doesn't make it wrong for someone else to make such a personal decision. I am sure Brad Pitt regarded it as brave in his family's case because she did it for the sake of the many children they've chosen to raise together. That's what makes it heroic. And when you think abut Aneline Jolie's 'sex symbol' status, yes, it is brave to give up what many women (and men) regard as an integral part of their sexual identity.

My reaction to Melissa Etheridge's mouthiness has nothing to do with my own feelings about sexuality, or about cancer. It has everything to do with being humane and compassionate. It has to do with us being more circumspect about what we say and the energy we put out into the universe when we express thoughts and feelings about other people and their personal choices. I am not immune from run-on mouth disorder; in fact, I've uttered many, many things I wish I hadn't, as recent as a few days ago. Most of us do it on a regular basis, perhaps even more so with the popularity and availability of social media. We are quick to render opinions on everything and everyone. It's a bad habit, and a difficult one to break. It is worth working to break, however. If we want a better world for ourselves and our children to live in, we need to do away with the notion that everyone else has a right to our opinions.

A great quote/thought comes to mind, one that I've heard a lot in recent years, and have seen in memes circulating on Facebook. It's attributed to the various philosophers, including the Buddha and Shirdi Sai Baba. It goes something like this: 

"Before you speak, ask yourself: Is it kind; is it necessary; is it true; does it improve upon the silence?"

That's a good thought, a very good thought. I'm working it out.

Jul 1, 2014

Perspective is Everything

This morning while in the grocery checkout line, I came face to face with the most neglected looking toddler I've ever seen up close. He was a little Mexican boy, probably a little over two years old. He was sitting in the grocery cart and facing me while his mother was checking out. At least, I think it was his mother. She looked a bit old to have a child that age, but maybe she was just tired and worn out from too much life. The boy was wearing a nylon tank top and a pair of khaki shorts that were clean enough, but everything else was pitiable. His bare feet looked as if he'd been slogging through soot and ashes, and his legs were covered in bites too numerous to count. Maybe chigger bites, I couldn't be sure. Some were red, and others were scabbed over. There were even more on his hands, which were gripping the dirtiest looking bottle I've ever seen. It made me wince, because whatever was in it didn't resemble milk, or juice, or anything else a child should be ingesting. The poor boy's mouth was blistered and cracked. He drooled, and over his top lip a thick glob of dried mucus had formed. At the top of his forehead, near the hairline, he had a wide scrape. It looked like an old injury, where maybe the color might return, or maybe not. I was sure that if I had examined his hair there would have been things growing or accumulating there. Worst of all was the vacant look on the toddler's face. He looked as though he knew his life sucked, but was resigned to it.

My very first reaction to the scene before me was outrage. How could a mother, or anyone, let a child be in such a state? And how could they take them out in public looking that way? Judgment was oozing from me. I was smiling at the boy and trying to coax a smile out of him, but I was inwardly disgusted and repulsed. If I had known the number to CPS off the top of my head, I would have dialed it in that moment. My mind was racing, trying to figure out how to handle the whole thing. The woman would be out of the store and on her way with the child before I could get checked out myself. Just as I was trying to devise a plan to identify or hunt the woman down later, I noticed that the boy had on a hospital ID bracelet. No way to tell how long it had been there. Seeing that calmed me down a bit. At some point in the recent past, someone with medical training had laid eyes on him, and had released him without calling in authorities. I wondered how that visit had gone down. Then, I looked into the mother's eyes, for some sign. Emotion. Anything. She locked eyes with me for a moment, and there was a hint of contentment about her. Something flipped in my mind. She was no longer a bad mother. She was a poor mother. She was a human being doing the best she could with the hand she'd been dealt. For all I knew, the place she had to call home was a hovel with no running water and no power. And, for all I knew, that hovel could be a big step up from where she'd lived across the border. How often do we look down on others just because they're not going through life the way we would, or the way we think they should? And how often do jump to condemn rather than jump in to help? I need to think on that?

Jun 19, 2014

You Tell Me

This week, my kids and I are putting the finishing touches on a renovation project we started at the end of last year. When we're done, I'll have the house I've always wanted, a sprawling brick ranch in a quiet community adjacent to a wildlife preserve. We have a large, fenced lot, a perfect place for our new pup to play. There's a newly poured patio and fruit trees on the property. My daughter has a music room away from the main living area, where she can play piano, sing, and record. I have a quiet study for myself, and we all finally have the big playroom we've wanted to play pool and have friends over for parties. It's a far, far cry from where we were at this time last year.

In 1999, I found myself suddenly single and raising two children with little help. For the next eight years or so, we struggled. I had a difficult time keeping a job due to my children's special needs and my own issues related to anxiety and depression. Before long, I was deeply in debt, and my once-excellent credit was ruined. We moved several times as my financial picture changed. Finally, in 2007, when I was at the end of my rope, a window of hope opened. My grandparents' former home on the same street where I grew up, and where my mother still lived, was vacated by long-time tenants. My father had just passed away after an extended illness, and my mother was happy to have me come back to our hometown.

Having a rent-free house was a blessing and a relief, but there were still utilities to pay, along with all the other expenses associated with raising a family. Of course, no debts were being repaid, as we could barely afford to eat and pay for medications. My health was continuing to fail. This entire period was very difficult for my children, who had been accustomed to a higher standard of living when their father was present. Until someone is going through it, there's no way they can really appreciate the snowball effect that is poverty. Loss in one area of life inevitably leads to another, and another. After five years of subsistence on government benefits, the occasional child support check, and charitable donations, I finally found a measure of relief in the form of Social Security Disability for myself and my children.

Getting back on our feet was a slow and incomplete process. There were a lot of people to pay back, attorney's fees, and utility bills to catch up on. Of course, appliances all broke down as soon as my disability refund check was in my hand. Still, we were in a better place financially. We were NOT in a better place physically. My grandparents' house was on a busy corner. When I was young, it had been a wonderful, safe neighborhood, full of kids my age. Our parents were content to let us happily cruise the area on our bike and stay out until the street lights came on. Thirty years later, I didn't dare do any such thing. My kids stayed indoors. There was a bus stop twenty feet from our front door, where loud riders felt free to trash our yard. Drug dealers and gangs moved in. Gunshots rang out during the night, and eventually in the light of day.

To be continued...

So, I'm just getting back to this entry after many days. A lot's happened psychically in the interim, so the tone of the continuation I'm writing now might seem a little different. Or not. Just so you know :)

The changing neighborhood... It was bad. We could watch drug deals going down from our front porch. People were threatening others they viewed as snitches, even kids. Music was much too loud. Things went 'boom' in the night, and it started to feel like a powder keg. The last-straw day was in late May, It was probably around 4:30 in the afternoon when something really wrong pierced the sunny-ness. A gunshot, and it sounded mere feet from our den windows. I hated those windows, for their large size and close proximity to the sidewalk and street. We could hear full conversations between people on their phones going by. There was what looked like a bullet hole in one of the panes when we moved in. I chose to regard it as the result of a pebble being kicked off the roadway.

Then, on a day in late May, we heard a gun shot for real just outside that window. Then there was yelling, and running. A group of teenage boys walking both sides of the street were in some kind of altercation, and one had apparently pulled out a pistol and fired a warning shot. The kids and I sprang up from where we were sitting, and our first impulses were to run toward the other side of the house. Once the kids were safe, I ventured back to the living room to peer out the windows and see what was going on. It was then that I got a  good view of the boys, probably all in their late teens. They had reached the intersection by this point, and I heard one threaten another, saying, "You see I've got this gun in my hand." I called 9-1-1, and police were on site within just a couple of minutes, but the teenagers had split and gone in different directions.

That's when our new adventure started, within moments after the police officer left our yard. My son emerged and said to me, "Mom, we've gotta get out of here. Please, I'll do anything. I know we can't afford anything better right now, but I'll get a job. Just get us out of here." I repeated to him what I had many times before, that our disability income and unreliable child support payments just couldn't support even a small house payment or rent somewhere else. I had looked already. And, even if that were possible, my ruined credit would prevent us from being approved for as much as a shoebox. But I told my son I'd look again anyway, and I sat down at the computer right then and there, to look at listings on realtor.com. Surprisingly, I soon found a house, a really inexpensive one, and it was still in my daughter's school district. It looked cute and well tended on the outside. I picked up the phone and called the listing agent, and that's how I met Gloria. Maybe this could work after all.

The next part I'll make short, even though it lasted for a period of months and was really involved and frustrating. The first house didn't work out. A shrewd investor snatched it out from under us before we knew what was happening. Anyway it had been a little too small. But I was on a roll. Mind you, I still wasn't sure how I was going to swing any of this financially, but realtor Gloria was on my side and my mom had gotten in on the game. Mom was hinting that she'd try to help in some way, though we never got down to specifics. With every house we checked out, she came along to check it out. I wasn't feeling too badly about accepting her help. I figured she owed me after a stunt she'd pulled a few years early, something that had caused me great trouble and distress, and had really damaged our relationship and my view of her.  I started a mortgage application with a BOA originator, a guy in Georgia who did 203(k) loans all over the country. By this point I had accepted the fact that my price range was really low, and I was looking at beat-up places that needed extensive renovation. We looked at two places that had potential, but the financing just wasn't working out.

My credit was even worse than I'd suspected. My banker had connected me with a colleague who specialized in rebuilding credit. She was a too-familiar-talking woman located somewhere in Florida. According to her, and following her plan of attack, it would take me at least six months to get my credit in the approval range. I lost hope at that point. I wasn't at the place of resigning myself to stay at our current location, but gave up on the fantasy of being approved for a mortgage and started looking at houses to rent or rent with an option to buy. I figured I might be able to do best with an individual rather than a property management company, maybe someone who wouldn't be such a stickler for credit. Still, I was banking on my mother as a cosigner in either case. But by now she had started looking for a new place of her own. She wanted to leave her home of nearly fifty years and find something newer, something where she didn't have to worry about maintenance. It was a good idea, but I knew her going from a place with no mortgage to a place that would probably cost her $1,000 per month would make her a less-likely candidate for helping me out.

To be continued...

Jun 18, 2014

Pinning Me Down

In a recent writing course on new media, my classmates and I were challenged to define and communicate our identities as writers. This was somewhat difficult for me, because I'm still trying to figure out who I am in that regard. It was a helpful exercise, however, because I've really needed to narrow the focus of my writing. I have always had a tendency to be all over the place (the ADD in me), writing a little bit of everything. Giving in to those impulses can be fun and satisfying, but being unsettled in that way means a lot of tasks go unfinished. I can complete an article, essay, or poem with no problem, but I'm a little ashamed to say how many books I've started and abandoned.

The truth of the matter is that I have a lot of identities, and they're not all compatible or easily meshed. There is the passionate, protective mother in me, who writes about the challenges of raising  atypical children as a single parent. There is the activist in me, who has a lot to say about politics and socio-economics. There is the spirit magnet in me, who writes about all things transcendent and paranormal, and then there's the poet-songwriter me whose inspiration comes out of the blue and can take over for hours or days at a time. I welcome and give in to them all. My writing is very personal, but is also something I enjoy sharing.

If forced to sum up my identity in just a sentence or two, I would say this: I like being the person who can speak for every man/woman. I like being the one who can put into words what others may not be able to, so that when they read what I've written, their response is, "EXACTLY!" Just as much, I like being the person who introduces new things to my reader. I like opening their eyes to things they may not have heard of, or just didn't notice or realize was of importance. I get a kick out of being a teacher or soul guide in that way. For me, there are few things more exciting than knowing I've motivated someone to broaden their horizons. So, maybe that's the identity. I'm a guru in training, who just happens to be chronicling every step of my journey.

Jun 16, 2014

Perception is Everything

We are so blessed and often ungrateful for our blessings here in the U.S. and other 'developed' nations. Yesterday, I was watching an episode of one of my favorite shows, "Love It or List It." A family had their three preschool sons and infant daughter sharing a bedroom, with bunk beds and a crib in it. The mom was saying how "ridiculous" that was, and that it just wouldn't do. As I watched, I was also flipping through the book, Behind the Beautiful Forevers, again. Best book ever, BTW, about life in the Anawadi slums of Mumbai that sit right next to its new airport. Most of the families there live in dark huts smaller than those three kids' bright, colorful bedroom, huts constructed mostly of found tin scraps and layers of cardboard. No plumbing or sanitation system, animals running wild through the 'streets'... Geography is destiny, for sure.

Jun 15, 2014

A Hairy Matter

Going a little off topic today...

The following is a post I felt compelled to make on a couple of forums elsewhere. It wound up being an essay instead. Someone with too much time on his hands created a petition on change.org for, of all things, a demand that singer Beyonce' and her husband, Jay-Z, do a better job of caring for their daughter's hair. There are not many photos of the toddler, Blue Ivy, online, but in every one she is sporting a very natural style. Some would say it's more of a "hot mess" than natural, and that it looks dry and ignored. There are those voicing outrage over the fact that Blue Ivy's parents, being so put together themselves, and having such visibility and resources at their disposal, should be more conscientious in regard to her appearance. Others are outraged at the ones who are outraged, asserting that the child is adorable and should be left alone. Here is my own take:

This issue of Blue Ivy's hair  needs to be put to bed. First of all, a petition regarding someone's beloved child's hair is offensive and absurd, no matter who it is. But, beyond that, anyone who doesn't have a close-up view of that beautiful little girl's hair and doesn't have the experience of having to deal with it should bow out of the conversation. Granted, it does appear dry and maybe a little matted at times in photos of her, no matter where she and her parents happen to be. But it's more complex than that. Much more.

My daughter, now seventeen, also had hair that was super thick, super curly, and also long as a toddler. It was so thick you couldn't see her scalp even when parting it.Trying to make her look like she wasn't neglected took more time and tears than anyone who doesn't have that hair can imagine. Combing that kind of hair on a toddler is a NIGHTMARE. It would take hours out of my day, and my daughter would scream as though I was murdering her. We would both be sweating, red faced, and in tears, and would have to take frequent breaks because she would start hyperventilating. Seriously, the neighbors once called the cops because they thought I was abusing my child.

Moisturizing. You're damned if you do and damned if you don't, because that just makes the hair gunky and causes lint balls to accumulate. That gunk is impossible to wash out, and washing make the curls lock up even tighter. What kids with this type of hair usually wind up with is hair that's clean on the surface and is a veritable rat's nest underneath if you don't go through the tortuous routine. So, on some days we did the best we could combing, and on other days we let it go, and maybe added a bow or headband. People would just have to say and think what they wanted to, and I'm sure some did behind our backs. In the end, I wound up having to cut all my daughter's hair off when she was a preschooler. We had no option other than to give it a fresh start.Yeah, she looked a bit odd for a while, but it was preschool. The other kids didn't care. They asked what happened to her hair, she told them, and they all kept it moving, the way decent human beings should.

Fast forward to now. My teenage daughter has long, beautiful, healthy hair down to her waist. Never do we go out that someone doesn't remark and compliment her on it, and that's no exaggeration. No weaves for her. We relax it now because that's what she feels works best for her very active lifestyle in music, dance, and theater, but we've walked into many a salon where we were actually refused service once people saw how thick and long it was. My daughter still has, as her one faithful hair stylist calls it, "three heads worth of hair." I willingly pay extra to have it done, because it takes several hours, and it continues to grow rapidly.

Beyonce' has quite the chore and quite the conundrum on her hands, because she has to choose between two evils. She's obviously choosing not to torture her child, and to let the haters run their mouths. Will Blue Ivy have damaged hair that has to be chopped off some day? Maybe. Maybe not. Will Bey one day regret not having made more of an effort to tame the hair? Maybe. Maybe not. Will her daughter one day look at pictures and ask, "Mom, why did you take me out looking like a mess all the time?" Maybe. Maybe not. I guarantee that conversation will last less than a minute. Will any of this matter in the long run? Definitely not. The point is that it's a fleeting issue and the parents' call. Your child is only a happy, carefree toddler once, and your precious time with them at that stage shouldn't be spent worrying over something like hair, or having people berate you for your very personal decisions."

THE END

Jun 12, 2014

How do we get there from here?

I spend a lot of time thinking about exactly what it is that so divides us as a society and just what that line of division is. I want to badly to be able to boil it down to a bit-sized piece. I've come to a number of different conclusions, and today it's this: It's about very different perceptions and perspectives on those who struggle. There is on the one hand those who think the solution is to blame, shame, and condemn them, and on the other hand are those who think it's better to try and hear, understand, and uplift them. There are those who look for ways to separate us by calling attention to how we're different, and those who look for how we're alike and embrace what's different as the spice of life. All of us, except for the few who make the most noise, want a more harmonious society, so shouldn't our goal be to do what works, as opposed to what feels safe in the moment? Doing that requires well-mannered conversation, and we are very bad at that. I think if you really want to help someone, you will ask what they need rather than tell them what their problem is.

Thoughts?

Jun 10, 2014

A Parent's Lament

Stories like this, of which there are far too many, leave me feeling despair and frustration. I don't know how it is that we got to this state. Moreover, I don't comprehend how we as Americans often neglect the very things that we know, with absolute certainly, are critical to our survival and success. As the parent of a high schooler with dedicated teachers, and the daughter of former teachers myself, I see firsthand how hard they work and how many have second and third jobs. At one time, my daughter was considering a teaching career, but now she's turning away from that path. It's a shame, because I'm sure she'd make a very positive impact on the upcoming generation of students. But I have to say (and I'm sure I'm not alone as the average citizen) I have no clue what to do that would actually make a difference. I consistently vote for candidates who make education a priority, but it hasn't seemed to make a difference. I volunteer at my children's schools, but I don't think that makes much of a difference either. What kind of grassroots efforts will actually have an impact?

A Teacher's Tough Decision to Leave the Classroom

Jun 9, 2014

A Timely Question

The strangest thing has been going on for the past three months or so. I usually wake up before my alarm goes off. I use the alarm on my phone, and it's usually next to me on the bed or on my nightstand. So, here's what happens: I'll stare at the ceiling for a while, annoyed because I never get enough sleep. After a few minutes I'll reach for my phone to see just how too early it is, and it NEVER FAILS. I'll see the time change from one minute to the next. This literally happens in two seconds or less. It happens no matter what time it is, what day of the week it is, or whether my alarm is set or not.

After the first few times this happened, I thought, "What a coincidence." After a few more times,  I thought, "That's kind of cool." After a month or so, I thought, "What the heck is going on??" After a few weeks of this I started experimenting, to see if I could make it not happen. I tried checking the time after naps in the middle of the day, and I tried pausing after my initial instinct to reach for the phone. It didn't matter. I'd still watch that minute change as soon as I picked it up.

I'm no statistics expert, but common sense tells me this should not be happening consistently for such a long period of time. And although I'm well aware of what focused energy can do, I could in no way be causing the time to change by touching the phone. If that were the case, the time would be very wrong by now. My conclusion is that my brain (maybe lots of brains) is performing some mysterious operations that I'm unaware of. Has my brain synced up with my phone somehow? Is there something in there telling me exactly when to reach for the phone?

Jun 5, 2014

A Day in the Life

A lot of people have a lot to say about  kids who live in poverty or in the "ghetto." I often wonder just how much the most opinionated among them really know what that's like. Fortunately for me, I've been that low at one time after being a lot better off. Yes, I say fortunate, and I do appreciate that the experience taught me to be a lot more humble and a lot more compassionate. It is only by seeing poverty from the inside as well as from the outside that one can have the right perspective. 

When I lived in a neighborhood that was not-so-nice, I was able to avoid some of the pitfalls, but not all, that most disadvantaged families face on a regular basis. There is a very real domino effect. The downfalls that I avoided were only because of the background I'd been brought up in and my knowledge of the ins and out of business and social service systems. For those reason, and those reason only, my children fared better. This is a typical day for others I saw around us:

They wake up coughing because they have asthma. Everywhere they've ever lived the air's been bad. And where they live now it's smoky from the wood they have to burn in the fireplace. That smoke along with the smell from the kerosene heater in their room is in all their clothes, and they can't bathe well because food stamps don't cover toiletries and detergent. They know they're going to be made fun of today and people won't want to sit next to them because they stink. 

They go to school hungry and lethargic because there was nothing to eat. On the bus kids are cussing and hitting one another. They get to school and the teachers are going over things they just don't get, but they don't raise their hand because people will know or think they're stupid. Sometimes they act up, because if they can't be known for being smart, at least they can be known as funny or cool. After school they try to do homework. They tell their mom they need to do something on a computer, but they have no computer, and the library's too far away. Besides, she needs them to help her carry groceries home, because there's no gas in their old piece of a car, and their registration's expired and they don't have insurance on it anyway.

They get to the checkout at the grocery store, and their EBT card's declined, because there was some snafu at Social Services and there aren't enough funds on it. They were already embarrassed by having to use food stamps, and now it's worse because they have to walk away leaving all the groceries sitting there. The ticked-off cashier talks about them behind their backs to the next customer in line, intentionally loud enough so they can hear. Mom's frustration and anger comes out in a good whipping when they get home, because mom downed a shot of liquor to take away the pain when she discovered the water's been cut off on top of it all. And those kids had better shut up about being hungry, or they'll get another beating. 

So they go to their friend's house and watch TV. Their friend's mom survives by selling her body, so nasty men are going in and out. And now some guy on TV is talking about how the poor need to stop whining, get a job and do a good job at the jobs that don't exist and do better in school so they can go somewhere in life, and start being more articulate than the people they're around all the time. They go home when they think mom's finally calmed down. A crackhead messes with them on the way because they won't 'let him hold a dollar'. They go to bed and try to sleep. But there's yelling outside as usual, and somebody's firing a gun, as usual. Then in the morning it all starts over again.

Jun 3, 2014

The Founding Fathers, Really

Last night I was sitting alongside my daughter in the den. She was deep in study for an AP U.S. History final, and I was online having a spirited political debate with a gentleman I'd made contact with just hours prior. It was quite an interesting back and forth, though on contentious issues that have been commonly discussed between Americans who view the role of government in very different ways. There are those who think government should intervene very little in human affairs, and those who regard that suggestion as one rooted in unreality. Often, the former will introduce the topic of the 'founding fathers' and their original intent in framing our country's Bill of Rights and Constitution. The latter recognize a number of awkward truths about those overly-revered man.

I had to end last night's conversation before we could get to what I think is the most salient point about our so-called founding fathers, which is that they were not the forefathers of us all, not in any sense. Not only did they and their ideas have no connection to the people already inhabiting this part of the world when they landed, but there is also little connection to those who came later in chains and during the waves of immigration from eastern Europe, Asia, and countries south of the American border. The forefathers of which they speak were British, and only British, and two-thirds of them were lawyers. From the very beginning the wealthiest among them and those from the larger states presided over, penned, and pushed their own agendas through to what was ultimately adopted. It was not long at all before the tyranny of the Church of England was replaced by another peculiar form of religious control over all aspects of colonists' lives.

We all need to be very clear and honest about the motives and convictions of those who created our system of governance. Yes, they were fleeing what they perceived as tyranny in their home land and seeking freedom, but there was an extreme degree of self-interest at play. When these men conceived of individual rights, they were thinking only of those within their insular community of British males. Their idea of a 'person' with unalienable rights did not include women, did not include the native people they pushed aside, nor did it included the human beings they forced to immigrate from Africa, enslaved, and treated like mere chattel. Those who were different from them were both in their minds and in the laws they would later write mere fractions of a 'person', available for exploitation in any way they saw fit. That is just the ugly truth, like it or not.

We so often hear the more conservative among us referring to the institution of slavery as an unfortunate 'stain' on our history. That's an interesting way to view it, and one that makes light of many despicable events and aspects of this nation's history, including the forced Indian migrations, Asian internments, the maltreatment of non-Christians and eastern Europeans and, yes, slavery. All of this has been seen as legal, as were the flouting of women's rights and the Jim Crow laws that persisted for decades. It has always been against the will and at the discretion of those in power that assimilation has taken place and those equal rights they hold so dear have been extended to others. And that still holds true, as the majority stubbornly cling to their right to run roughshod over gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals and those who dare to come here from south of the border to seek the same opportunities those 'forefathers' sought.

Those first Americans perceived the vast land of rich natural resources they invaded as theirs for the taking and a God-given right. This is a form of arrogance that many of their descendants either can't see or choose to disregard. When minority groups try to assert their rights under the Constitution, those descendants prefer to characterize it as an assault on their rights. They want not only their own guaranteed but the right to restrict others, and they see nothing wrong or hypocritical in that position. What those who cry out for less government interference ignore is the fact that our government exists primarily to protect minorities and the powerless from the self-interested acts of those who would do them harm. The writing of those protections into our framing documents is the one thing we should all revere them for, whether they fully appreciated the implications or not. In the end, we all understand on some level that we are flawed beings. We all have the capacity to harm others out of self-interest when we gain a degree of power, and until we are much more evolved we must protect us from ourselves.

Jun 1, 2014

Paranormal Skepticism in 21st Century America

While doing research for a writing class the other day, I came across a number of websites addressing belief in America. Quite a bit has changed since the introduction and recent surge of paranormal reality shows on media outlets such as the SyFy and Discovery networks. Here are a few statistics I uncovered from skepticblog.com's 2009 survey:

  • 82% believe in God
  • 76% believe in miracles
  • 75% believe in Heaven
  • 72% believe in angels
  • 71% believe in survival
    of the soul after death
  • 42% believe in ghosts
  • 20% believe in reincarnation
Skepticism is an interesting phenomenon, and there are varying degrees of skepticism. All of us are a little skeptical, and well we should be. We've all heard the warning that anything seeming too good to be true is probably just that. Still, many of us still want to believe in the prospect of that what is rare and amazing and also happens to be true and real. But no one wants to be duped, and there is no shortage of people out there who are banking on the more gullible among us. We are wise to be on guard.

Some people, and I have to count myself among them, believe in many things paranormal if large numbers of people across spans of distance and time have reported the same or similar phenomena. The assumption is that, after a certain point, coincidence, delusions, and hoaxing fail to explain all of the unexplained. Then, there are those who take their skepticism to the next level. They are the ones who don't believe in much unless and until they've experienced it with their own senses. They don't necessarily discount things that are out of the norm, they just reserve judgment. They are the ones who readily embrace the extraordinary when they have what they regard as proof. Then, there are what I regard as the 'true' skeptics. They are the ones who have a serious interest in separating fact from fiction, to the point of carrying out research and thorough investigation. If there are alternative explanations or ways to debunk others' claims, these are the skeptics who like nothing more than making those discoveries. Their documentaries, reality shows, and websites abound.

At the far end of the spectrum from those who'll believe almost anything they hear from anyone are those who'll believe almost nothing at anytime from anyone. These are what I regard as the disingenuous skeptics. They also tend to be the most vocal of skeptics. They relish any and all opportunities to scoff at others' beliefs and generally regard claim of anything paranormal as utter foolishness or flat out lies. And if something is pure foolishness and lies, it is not worthy of their serious consideration. They will firmly assert that there is no evidence when the truth is that there's plenty they choose to ignore.

One of the things I find most fascinating about the disingenuous skeptic is that they'll turn on their own in a heartbeat. Every once in a while, a diehard skeptic will experience the unexpected. They will come face to face with something so bizarre, and yet so real, that it flips their entire belief system and their perception of the universe upside down. These are the infidels. They are the ones who write books detailing their conversion, and they are also the ones who invite the harshest expressions of contempt from their former allies. Fortunately for those who experience the most astonishing realities, they typically gain a sense of peace and confidence that makes them oblivious to angry, irrelevant noise.

So, where do you fit on the spectrum?  Or do you think my entire scheme is faulty?


Jul 16, 2012

A Cynical Cycle

There is a very big difference between those who run their mouth incessantly for the sake of their 'conscience' and those who would literally lay down their lives for what they believe in. The difference is that the morality of the former is usually based on little more than long-held tradition or a semi-popular mindset. The latter are willing to give up practically everything others hold fast to,... KNOWING with absolute certainty what is universal truth. For them, a sacrificial life is not all that hard. But it's assured that they will be first admired, then envied, then hated. They will be mocked, lied about. Plots to lie about them, angrily pursue and obiterate them will be hatched. And when they repsond, even as they lay dying, that they don't care and it has all been expected and worth it, their enemies will become perplexed, then ashamed, and then admire end elevate them all over again. This hold true for every great master we know of, or those we later call saints, even those leaders in recent memory who speak fearlessly and circumspectly, don't argue, and clealy be observed as men and women of character. In the deepest recesses of EVERY soul, we know this to be true.

Feb 27, 2012

Learning To Listen

Over the past few weeks, I've been struggling a bit with the increasing regularity of precognitive messages and increased sensitivity to spirit activity I've been experiencing. Specifically, I was VERY overwrought when I abruptly awoke from a dream that Whitney Houston was about to die about ten days before it happened. I hoped it wasn't true. I prayed for it to not be true. I tried to dismiss and forget it, but just couldn't. I told a few close friends about it, and when it came to pass many of them said I must have a "gift." I didn't want to be rude, because I'm sure they meant to be reassuring and putting a positive slant on things, but who the heck wants a gift that makes you feel crappy?? I'm more inclined now to believe that I tend to be an open receiver, perhaps more attuned to energies swirling around me because of my SLIder tendencies and the fact that I spend quite a bit of time just being quiet and still. Most people don't have the luxury of being able to do that as much as I can. But I'm realizing now that I really should take the advice that I'm so often given, to work on honing and gaining control over my sensitivity, to actually help others and feel better at the end of the day.

While at church yesterday, I was sitting on the front row, and decided to try some of the exercises recommended by noted psychic detective Noreen Renier. I was listening intently, but at the same time I was carefully studying faces of people in front of me, noting each feature one at a time and describing them in words in my mind. The emotions and thoughts of these individuals began coming through to me in a stream. I found that I knew what movements they were about to make, what they were about to say. At one point, our lead pastor stood up in an impromptu moment, and said he'd just felt the spirit whisper into his ear that he needed to make an altar call to a certain number of people in the audience who'd been believers for a while, but had never really FELT the presence of God, and wanted to. As soon as he said that, the number 9 appeared in my mind. I whispered to my daughter beside me, "I feel there will be nine." Our pastor said he'd give them a couple of minutes to come forward, since our sanctuary's quite large, and because he knew it would take a great deal of courage to step forward at such a request. Slowly, and one by one, five people gathered in front of him. He began to speak to them, and after another minute two more people joined. There were seven. I thought to myself, "Oh, I was wrong." But after he'd been speaking for a minute more and began to pray, another woman emerged from the left side and took her place among them. Once she did, a young man seated only a few feet from me to my right took the few steps forward to reach the others. I got an odd but welcome feeling of warmth, and said to my daughter, "And that makes nine." So, what do I take away from that experience? That I should heed the advice of those who've been counseling me through their writings, to not second guess or censor myself. Whatever comes to mind first is probably correct. It was one of those small, defining steps in the right direction.

Dec 7, 2011

Catching Up

It's been quite a while since I posted to the blog, so I should first apologize to those of you who are loyal readers. I've somehow managed to lose login access to Blogger and virtually all things Google related, from my home computer. Said machine appears to be hopelessly infected and on its last leg. At any rate, I began having problems with my Ethernet connection shortly thereafter, so wasn't able to access the web at all until I found my way to the public computer I'm currently using. Sometimes, I think one can only come to the conclusion that higher powers have intervened and frustrated easy access for good reason. For my own part, I believe this recent lockout has been God's and my attending angels' way of forcing me to take care of a few matters I've been neglecting (including several household chores) due to, purposeless web surfing. I was also finding myself being drawn into forum and social media discussions that were taking an emotional toll. Not good. Sooo, I've been filling the past three weeks with cleaning, reading several good books, and reflecting on a few things more worthy of my time. I hope to post my thoughts on them in future posts. I hope everyone is gearing up for a Christmas season filled with love, joy, peace, and gratitude!

Oct 9, 2011

Where do I go from here?

It's been a bit of an emotional day. I find myself here writing before bed to release some of my pressing thoughts and questions to God, and then try to wait patiently for guidance. For several weeks, I've felt a burden to move forward with a specific ministry. It's a little daunting, primarily because I expect it  to not be well or readily received by many people, mostly some strangers, but also many people within my circle of faith I know and respect. But there comes a time when one has to speak the truth as it's revealed to them by spirit, no matter what the earthly consequences may be.

I do realize that anything worth doing that will make a difference will often be met with resistance. But the Lord is giving me more confidence day by day, more confirmation on a regular basis that my belief system is sound, but I'm not yet clear on where I'm supposed to go from here. I don't know how I'm to get beyond the "inspired" phase to the action phase, or even what that's supposed to look like when I get there. I do know God and those He's charged to attend to me will be with me all the way, and I know they're aware of these questions and concerns, even without me putting them into words here or verbally. But I'm stating here that I really, really need a sign that I'm on the right track, and a sign as to what my next step should be. All I know right now is that I've never felt as passionate about anything in my life as I do about this ministry. Never. At age fifty, I'm only now feeling that I have a special purpose in the world in this life, something important to do for the Kingdom. That in itself is such a blessing, to no longer feel like I've just been wasting time while others around me have been more focused and productive.

Father God, I do thank You for this gift, and for all the other gifts you've bestowed on me and my family. None of it is deserved, but all of it is cherished and appreciated. Please continue to be with me and keep me strong. I live for You now. I desire Your will and Your approval more than anything. Please keep me under your covering, and allay any fears that try to creep in and undermine my work for You. I love you, Father! Please come to me in my dreams tonight, and please open my eyes and ears during my waking hours. Amen.

Part 2, Morning:

I've just awakened, and at first was having some difficulty remembering my dreams of last night fully. Now that they're coming back to me, I need to write them down quickly, but come back to them to read later. As is often the case, they're not making much sense to me right now, but someone else who's discerning may be able to interpret for me, or the symbols may make perfect sense when I read this later from a fresh perspective. There were several dreams I recall:

In one, I was shopping in a small grocery store after church. My dad was with me, but waited in the car, as I was to be getting just a few things. The car we were in was a small, white sports car with a beige convertible top. Very odd, because we've never had such a vehicle, nor would each of us ever buy one for ourselves. It's too small, impractical, and we share the opinion that cars are just transportation, not extensions of ourselves or statements of any sort. We were parked in the corner space of a parking garage, where there were few other people, and our car was right near the entrance of the rather unappealing and nondescript store. I also recall that my dad seemed to be wearing the same wide brimmed hat that he had on in another recent dream, one that was more vivid, and in which I knew his spirit was communicating directly to me to let me know he WAS with me, and so that I could give him a big hug and actually feel his warmth and communicate love with my natural senses. At any rate, I had difficulty finding what I was looking for in the store, even though it was just a couple of things. But I happened to be on the cereal aisle first, and a large box on a top shelf a few feet away and behind me caught my eye and seemed to beckon me. There was something about the colors of the box that seemed familiar to me, so I went to investigate, feeling very hopeful. I was hopeful because I had a feeling it was a box of Quisp cereal, my favorite of all time, which came back after a couple of decades last year, only to be taken away again. It WAS Quisp, but a generic store brand. I looked at the picture on the front, and the cereal did look a bit odd, not quite as tasty or satisfying as the real thing, but definitely a version of Quisp and good enough to buy and try to enjoy. I wanted more boxes of it, but realized not only was it the only box of its type, but the store was completely out of boxed cereals of all brands and types. The cereal area shelves were completely bare except for that box I took from the top shelf that had seemed to draw my attention to it. As I got to checkout, I can recall opening an envelope that had come in recent mail, and it contained a check that was for either $1,563 or $1,536. I didn't recognize it at first, nor the sender, but was happy to have the funds, which had been sent to me quickly from a woman I'd communicated briefly with by phone and e-mail, who was paying me in advance for babysitting her infant for several of the coming months. The check was pale yellow, accompanied by a hastily scrawled note in some sort of shorthand of her own creation. It was difficult to decipher, and seemed to have been written by someone who was young, poorly educated, and a bit naive and trusting, but also full of a blind faith that was beautiful and touching to me. I can recall feeling in the dream vowing to meet her expectations of me, and not to let her down in any way, because I would also be letting down the God she and I both share belief in. I was touched by the fact that she'd send me full payment so far in advance in such trust.

In another dream, I was riding in a vehicle with several close friends. I can't say who they were, except that we'd known one another for a very long time, maybe back to childhood, and had a history of putting on shows for small audiences on a tiny stage. It was amateur theater, plays written by one of these friends, but we enjoyed it as a frequent pastime, and we were excited to be starting a new play that she was just about finished writing. As we rode, I asked if she'd be willing to tell me about the character she wanted me to play. She hesitated, and looked at the other friends for a moment, as if they knew what she was thinking about me and the character, that I might not respond to it well and want a different role. She then told me she hoped I would be okay with playing the part of a young pregnant woman. I envisioned myself on the stage in the role, under bright lights on that small stage, and wearing a very bright green maternity dress, looking nearly nine months pregnant. The role was attractive to me for some reason, and once I came out of fantasy mode, I told her so. She seemed relieved and pleased.

In another dream, I was in a house, but viewing it as an observer able to pan in all directions as well as living and moving around in it. It seemed to be my own home and one that was new and only recently finished and moved into. Others, old friends and neighbor children were there, milling about as though they were familiar with the place and supposed to be there. Rather than really interacting with them, I was checking out details of the inside of the house, the color scheme, paint and wallpaper choices, and trying to decide if I'd made the best choices in them. I fretted about whether the great room space looked cozy and inviting enough, homey enough. The colors of the home's decor were pale peach, muted cream and yellows, with splashes of green, pale flowers, and warm, country style wood. The lighting was muted lanterns of various sorts on the walls, ceiling and by the fireplace that I could see ahead and off to the right of the casual dining area that was my vantage point. There was an L-shaped seating area of comfy dark green near the fireplace that seemed to be ready and waiting for a group to gather there and enjoy one another's company, or participate in a small group discussion of some sort.. After scanning the rooms for a while, I noticed that there was a small, dark alcove for a computer, and went to it. A child was there playing a game, and I joined in, trying to show them how to play, but the young girl was soon called away from the house by her mother. As she left, an old classmate of mine from grade school and college came and leaned over my shoulder. He wanted to show me that something more serious, a book, was available online. It was something very deep and possibly a classic that I'd never read, but I felt that he was letting me know I should. The man was Rick Bynum, someone I've never been really close to, but have always admired very much for his calm, kind demeanor, his strong work ethic, and his dedication in everything he does. He was always a bit of a quiet guy, but still popular and everyone was his friend. And he was very proactive in a quiet way, getting things done well, even if not the very best. Ricky was, and still is, at all times commendable and steady.

In another dream, which was brief and a bit odd, I saw a man in a red and white pickup truck. I passed close to him, but he didn't seem to notice me as I stopped by his open cab and watched what he was doing. He was a young Caucasian man, a bit scruffy and dirty looking, wearing jeans and a plaid flannel shirt. There was something about him that made me feel pretty sure he'd done something criminal (not his first time, but perhaps more serious than his past petty crimes), and was trying to hide evidence and cover his tracks. He was modifying something under his dashboard so the ridges wouldn't be checked against with something that had apparently been used in the commission of the crime. I sensed that it was a murder, or at least a serious assault that he'd committed. He was filing something metal down and smoothing it, then creating a new ridge pattern with the long boring tool he was using. When he was done with that, he gave the floorboard on his side of the truck a fresh coat of gray enamel paint. I suspected then that he was not just trying to disguise certain parts of the truck, but trying to make it seem to investigators that it was another truck altogether than the one they were looking for.  The truck was parked in the back yard of the house I grew up in, just in front of the garage, which had both doors fully opened. That garage was hardly ever opened up wide like that. Inside, there was a dusty pool table, which had never actually been there, but once I saw it, I wanted to play. But it seemed to be missing all but a couple of the balls. There was only the black one and a green one. It was covered in dust and cobwebs. When I went in the house to find someone to play with me, my brother, Bronald, seemed interested. For some reason, he was also my son. But he/they got sidetracked by something on the way out of the house, and I don't recall us actually completing a full game once we finally got out to the table. But I somehow won a game, seeing only the very end of it and me enjoying a tiny victory moment for myself. That's all I recall of that dream.

In my last dream, I saw myself at the entrance to a mountain road in a secluded area. I was with a small group of guys, maybe four or five, and a woman who seemed to be the leader or guide for the group. She'd done this leading before, and apparently was part of the staff of a lodge or retreat center that we were heading to or taking part in a program with. As we were setting off on the inclined, unpaved road, she warned us that it wasn't an easy route, and that it would be okay if anyone wanted to turn around and go back then, or at any point along the way as the hike got tougher. She told us it WOULD be treacherous and a bit scary, with many places one could easily fall off and be badly injured or killed, especially as it got darker outside. I got the impression that we wouldn't get to where we were going before dark, and the trek would be rather long. I forged ahead with the group, but with trepidation. Nobody else was turning around, so I felt safer with them than staying back alone in the middle of nowhere. We had traveled only a minute or so before the scenery and road changed. It became more narrow, more encircling, but also more lush and nutrient rich, with a thick and flowery garden oasis visible at a distance. It was as if we were walking near the opening of a protective cave, but the cave was moving along with us. The soil, which was not only under our feet but arching up around and over us, was a deep reddish-brown. It seemed so fertile, almost like large-particled potting soil, and didn't feel very solid under our feet. But it was still pleasurable to walk on somehow. Just as it began to get dark out, the soil cave faded and we were all startled by a noise just off to our left in the forest. Everyone stopped, on alert. Something was rustling around, but we couldn't see it yet, and didn't know what it was. We weren't talking much, but everyone seemed to be under the impression that it was a large, wild animal of some sort. Even though we were all frightened, we slowly ventured off the road into the thick woods to look for the beast. I'm not sure if we wanted to track it down and catch it, or just make sure it wasn't in a position to attack us, and to figure out what it was. I was about ten feet away from the rest of the group, and looked over at them to my right. I realized they had all donned costumes or camouflaged outfits of some kid. At first, I thought they were trying to look like bears, because they were hairy. I wondered why they'd try to look like bears since whatever we were going after was probably also a bear. Then I realized the hair was brown, and the bear was probably a black bear, and what they were wearing looked more like Wookie suits ( like Chewbaca in Star Wars) than like bears. It suddenly dawned on me that what they were trying to look like was Bigfoot creatures. I found that both fascinating and and brilliant, thinking if there was anything a black bear might run from it would be a Bigfoot. As I observed them, I thought it was a great idea, and wondered to myself if I should also put one of the suits on, or if I was already wearing one and just hadn't realized it. It seemed like a good idea. I do have an interest in those mythical, mysterious creatures, which I am sure exist, and are probably not totally what scientists expect them to be, which is why they've not been able to catch or find the remains of one. The thought crossed my mind that Bigfoots are possibly shape shifters, or have the ability to move back and forth between dimensions. After those thoughts went through my head, I woke up.

 What do these dreams mean? I'm not sure yet. A few ideas popped into my head as I was writing, but I also realized that parts of the dreams seem closely related to things I've seen on TV or have talked about very recently. I'm going to have to separate those things out. Or, maybe, those elements have just been pre-orchestrated, incorporated, and stuck in my mind for a reason, Hmmmm

Sep 26, 2011

Song's are coming to me fully written early in the morning lately. This one just in!


I Want You To Be First
by L. J. Bonner

When the trials of life come, (and they always do),
Why is it that I don't come straight to You?
Even when I know I don't know what to do,
Why do I forget to remember You?

Or the good You have done, or your faithfulness,
all Your favor or undeserved kindness,
or the power unlimited You possess,
or Your Word that's revealed it's Your greatest desire
that every child who knows You will always be blessed.

Lord, when will I learn
which way I should turn?
And when will I see
You're right beside me?
I want to not wait 'til my life's at its worst,
but to hunger and thirst after You.
Even if it means I have to wait,
I want You to be my first.

When I wake to a day of uncertainty,
Why do I allow fear to take hold of me?
Even though I've been harmed by anxiety,
Why do I forget I shouldn't worry?

Because of the good You have done and Your faithfulness
all your favor and undeserved kindness,
and the power unlimited You possess,
Your Word has revealed it's Your greatest desire
for every child to call on You and so be blessed.

Lord, when will I learn
which way I should turn?
And when will I see
You're right beside me?
I want to not wait 'til my life's at its worst,
but to hunger and thirst after You.
Even if it means I have to wait,
I want You to be my first.

Because of the good You have done and Your faithfulness
all your favor and undeserved kindness,
and the power unlimited You possess,
Your Word has revealed
it's Your greatest desire that every child
to call on You and so be blessed.

Lord, when will I learn
which way I should turn?
And when will I see
You're right beside me?
I want to not wait 'til my life's at its worst,
but to hunger and thirst after You.
Even if it means I have to wait,
I want You to be my first.

Sep 23, 2011

Finally, Daddy came for a visit!

Just a little over five years ago, my father passed away. He had been confined to a nursing home for the last two years of his life, following a series of strokes. For the last few months, he was also suffering from dementia, and the times that he could recall who we all were became fewer and farther between. He was responsive to questions, but with only one to two-word phrases, and he never initiated conversation or asked any questions himself. It was some solace to all of us that he at least seemed fairly pain free. When the end finally came, he slipped away rather peacefully. Daddy's memorial service turned out to be a rather complex, two-day event because many of those who wanted to attend the funeral service were young people he's mentored over the years as a track and field coach. But on that same day, there happened to be an invitational meet that had been named in his honor a few years before. So, there were actually two services so they could all make both events, and many of them wanted to speak about how their lives had been impacted by Dad. It was very moving, and also very like him to die just before a meet named for him.

After the final service was done, and we'd left the cemetery and spent time at a repast with family and friends in the church banquet hall, we made our way home. It was just the immediate family, with spouses and the grandkids. I was the first to enter the front door. As soon as I did, the aroma hit me in the face like a blast of wind. It was cigarette smoke, Kool's brand, to be exact. It was the brand Daddy had smoked for decades, but not for the last two-plus years of his illness and convalescence. Mom and the rest of us had complained endlessly about the smell of that smoke and how it lingered in every organic material throughout the house. But things had finally aired out and the house was smelling fresh again by the time Dad passed away. So, when I smelled that smoke, as did everyone else in turn as they entered the living room, we all chuckled. We knew then for certain Daddy had stopped by the house he'd loved on his way to the other side, to let us know all was well and he was still there, just in another realm. After just a few minutes, the Kool's aroma was no longer detectable. It was then that my youngest brother revealed that when he'd gotten out of bed that morning, he distinctly heard our father's voice in the bedroom, just saying, "Heyyy, therrre." Daddy had always given everyone that greeting, and always drew the words out so it sounded like a half-dozen syllables.

We settled into the house to rest, and chatted about the events of the day. We reminisced. Then my other brother showed up at the house. He's always the lagger, the one who has some special and mysterious, quasi-government business to take care of. We've learned that it's best not to ask a lot of questions, since some high-level government agency finds it necessary to kill us on account of classified knowledge. We related to him the occurrences of the cigarette smoke and hearing Daddy passing through my other brother's bedroom in another city earlier in the day. He started to laugh, and said, "I had something happen, too." He said before he'd left the family home for the funeral after the rest of us, he was sure he heard Daddy clearing his throat on the back porch. That semi-enclosed porch is where Daddy would retreat to while taking a secret smoke break. And he had a signature throat clearing sound, very dramatic and annoying. My brother looked out onto the porch, but no one was there. He said he simply said aloud, "Hey, Daddy. See you later."

Having been the family intuitive, I was certain I'd see or at least feel or get a whiff of my father's presence over the next few days and weeks. But it never happened. Not a thing. I felt disappointed, but then resigned myself to the fact that he had important heavenly business to take care of and couldn't get away. (to be continued soon...)

Sep 22, 2011

Ghost Cat's Getting Out Of Hand Tonight!

If  you're a regular reader of my blog, you're familiar with Ghost Cat. I should have given it a more proper name by now, considering that its been hanging around for over fifteen years, but I'm still not sure of its gender or exactly what it looks like. In recent weeks, however, I've begun to see its shadow figure. I'll see it out of the corner of my eye, or sometimes right in front of me. But it's only for a fraction of a second, and a transparent gray color, so all I can really tell is that it's the approximate size of an adult feline.

Ghost Cat confounds my cats Buzz and Oliver because it just suddenly appears, and disappears just as quickly. This evening, I watched from the living room as Buzz approached Oliver sitting under a card table in the den. They were both just chillin' there for a few seconds, when suddenly their heads jerked around to look behind them. Ghost Cat must have been right there in front of them and too close for comfort, because they both jumped straight up in the air a few inches, and then took off in different directions. I have NEVER seen either of them move that fast. Their claws made incredibly loud scratching noises on the hardwood floor as they sped off. In his haste, Buzz ran headlong into a wall, and then dove behind the sofa in the den. Oliver had scooted into the hallway, his body slamming into the door jamb as he went. He cowered under my bed until he felt it was safe to come back out.

After a few minutes, both cats slowly ventured back into the den, shoulders hunched down and scouring the room for traces of Ghost Cat. When they were satisfied it was no longer around, they approached one another and Oliver (the older of the two) licked Buzz' face as if he was reassuring him. So CUTE! Then, they went back to looking around the den and adjoining rooms for Ghost Cat. They sniffed the floor in places where I guess they thought he might have been hanging out. I wonder if ghost cats have a scent(?) It took both Ollie and Buzz several minutes to stop looking anxious and go to their respective napping spots. I have the feeling Ghost Cat will be making one of its visits to my bed tonight, to tiptoe around my feet and legs, because I also caught a glimpse of him sitting on a kitchen chair while I made dinner tonight. That's been Ghost Cat's way for all these long years, hanging around for a few days, and then being scarce for weeks or even months at a time. But its visits are always welcomed and always fascinating.

Voluminous Evidence That Jesus Appeared to Native American Tribes

In the gospel of John, Jesus tells his disciples that he has other "sheep" elsewhere that know him. Who and where are these other sheep he's referring to? Where was Jesus during what some refer to as his lost years for which there is no biblical record? It may surprise many to know that there are oral traditions, symbols of the cross, and other evidence on other continents about a bearded white man who appeared to them with words of wisdom, instruction for living, and had powers to control the wind, sea, and other element. The link below will take you to a fascinating page about his appearance in the Americas.

http://indianinthemachine.wordpress.com/2011/09/22/he-walked-the-americas-evidence-of-jesus-by-native-americans/

Sep 20, 2011

Sharing A New Song

I don't fancy myself a songwriter, but the lyrics to this song came to me in spirit over the past two days, and pretty much wrote itself. I'm sharing it here because it's meaningful to me. It may or may not resonate to some of my readers, but here goes:


"I Remember Us Now"

The soul that's learned to hear You can't be easily deceived,
and truth that meets an open heart is eagerly received.
Words of light sent down with grace
illuminate our inner space,
Rekindle now the flame lit when our spirits first believed.

Chorus:
Heavenly host, I remember us now.
It's slowly coming back to me
from the sea of safe obscurity.
Recalling the charge; I remember my vow
to carry forth His love and light,
to ever seek the clearest sight,
and the promise you'd be there to show me how.

The mind that's learned to fear You can't see authenticity,
too steeped in tradition to embrace the simplicity.
Words that speak to all the earth,
to every soul You've given birth,
Rekindle now the spark we see in synchronicity.

Chorus:
Oh, Heavenly host, I remember us now.
It's slowly coming back to me
from the sea of safe obscurity.
Recalling the charge, I remember my vow
to carry forth His love and light,
to ever seek the clearest sight,
and the promise you'd be there to show me how.

Lord, You placed a mantle upon this life
and I'm overwhelmed by Your trust in me.
Gather us now, carriers of the light,
ready to be what You've called us to be.

Oh, great Father God, here I lovingly bow.
Knowledge is washing over me
in the sea of great tranquility.
I remember the charge; I remember our vow
to join at the appointed time,
and then go forth to all mankind,
with the message of our future, past, and now.