Sunday, January 31, 2010

How Does Your Mama Take Her Coffee?

The other morning while I was getting my first cup of coffee ready, I thought of my mom. I don’t know why. I put the non fat milk in my cup and took an eager sip and immediately shuddered from the bitterness. After I added my non calorie sweetener to my cup and relaxed into it, I remembered how my mother would drink her percolated coffee black. And rarely would she take a moment to enjoy it.

I smiled as I thought of terms I had heard that described her. “Salt of the Earth”, was one term that her former boss used to describe her and a statement he still makes to me whenever I see him.

Born in the late 1920’s she grew up in he days of the Great Depression. I didn’t know much about her and how she grew up. I know, as many like her, she never really got over those days of the Depression. It was not uncommon for her to cut paper napkins in half or make you wear clothes two or three times before you washed them. She hung our clothes out on the line to dry and our house was always spotless.

She didn’t work outside the home until my teen years but when she did, it was no office job she took. She cleaned rooms in a local motel and later worked in the laundry room. Not a promotion in my opinion as I would often stop to see her and the heat in that little room in the summer months was stifling.

She didn’t think she would live to be very old or she didn’t want to, I was never sure which. She died five and half years ago at 75 years of age, the last 10 of which she struggled with health issues and dementia. I realized as her time here ended how little I really knew about her or maybe how little she wanted me to know. She didn’t speak a lot about the bad things in her past but did tell the happy stories over and over again. She said you can’t take back hurtful things you say and you always had the feeling there was a story that came with that but what it was I was never told. She was hard on me. And I’m sure I repaid the favor over and over again in my teen years. I’m sorry was not in her vocabulary but she loved the people in her life dearly. Especially my dad. She didn’t marry until her early 30’s and my father was the undisputable love of her life. She and my father had a child pass when she was only two and half. I think she felt like there was very little you could count on in life other than dying.

But every morning, you could count on that deep black cup of coffee that was as bitter as the days of the Depression. Thinking back now, I wonder if she really liked it that way or if she was used to a punishing way of life for so many years that she embraced the biting flavor. I will never know. Even my dad took a little sugar in his. I wonder what that says about him? That will have to wait for another day. But for just a moment, I sure did miss you, Mom.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

La Herida Abierta or The Gaping Wound

I can no longer be silent. I’m angry. In fact I am so angry it took me awhile to sit down and write this. I wanted to write a factual blog on immigration not to offend anyone and leave my emotions out of it but I can’t. Immigration issues were brought to my attention several years ago and my passion regarding the issue has begun to increase.

First of all, let’s look at the crusade to “shore up” our borders. From what? From dark skin? From immigration workers who will gladly take the work that no one else wants? From people who inhabited this continent long before anyone with fair skin and blue eyes ever thought about being here? Not sure what we are trying to “shore up” our borders from. Let’s go back even a little further.

NAFTA, our country’s wonderful Fair Trade Agreement has screwed our Mexican neighbors. I said it. It screwed them. Once the corn industry supported our friends south of the border but no more. With this agreement came the ability for corn to be bought from the US for less than Hispanics can grow and sell it for in their own country leaving the Mexican people with no real way to make a prosperous living. Their journey is full of danger and fear. Hundreds of immigrants are shot in fields and buried without a word and no one hears about them again.

Drugs? Yes drugs are an issue in Mexico just like they are in any country. In a bad economy the problem only increases. The US’s drug problem does not solely come from Mexico. Plenty of blonde, blue eyed people manufacture meth in their kitchens with their children sitting at the dining room table. This evil entity knows no boundaries or borders.

A few months ago I was told a story about an immigrant who was working a hard job 6 days a week for minimum wage. Her work load continued to increase as more and more labor was piled on to her day. When she fairly asked for a raise, he boss told her that he would not give her a raise. He told her that since she was Mexican this was a good job for her and she should just be glad to have it. When I heard this story I felt as if I had just been punched. Being here most likely illegally, she had no recourse of action for the prejudice that was just handed to her. Would this boss have said no to a white worker? And if the boss couldn’t afford the raise, then just say so. But to tell her it was because she is Mexican is criminal.

Some say if they want to be here, they should be legal. How naïve. My son had a girl dropped into his high school that knew no English. They handed her a schedule and sent her on her terrified little way. A few hours into the day, someone knew my son was advanced in his Spanish classes and brought her to him to help her. Let me repeat that. A student brought her to my son, another student for help. No adult or administrative professional offered to help her in any way.
Okay….for the sake of argument, let’s enforce them being legal. Do you know what it costs for an immigrant to become legal? How about you look into that and ask yourself if you could afford it. Now, let’s lay a citizenship test in front of you. Can you pass it? Could you pass it in a language that was second to you? Okay. Let’s force them to become citizens. But MAKE IT FAIR.

Bottom line, Hispanic immigrants (the one’s who make it) are in this country to make a living at jobs that most whites do not want and they are hired by people who can pay them less than they can pay whites. And they are here because our governments fair trade law have drove them out of their own country because they can’t make a living there any longer. So when you start talking about keeping them south of the border, imagine someone coming in to your home, taking away your ability to make a living, forcing you to separate from your family and loved ones. In your new location, no one will help you with your new language, the only job you get is long hours with hard labor and no hope of advancement. But you are glad to do it because you have no other options and you know this will be your life for the rest of your days. Glass ceiling? How about low ceiling. How about a boot on your forehead forever. No retirement. No health care. No luxuries. This is it. Forever and always. Last I saw, the 13th Amendment was abolished. Apparently not.

If what I have said here makes you angry, good. If you are angry because you disagree with me, what is your heritage? Did your family stop at a little place called Ellis Island? If so than you were given a fair chance in the greatest country in the world. Our southern neighbors deserve the same. And if you’re angry because you didn’t realize things were so bad for your employee, friend, or neighbor than do what you can to get their voices heard. It is 2010 in the greatest, wealthiest country on the planet. Doesn’t this all seem a little ridiculous? End the bigotry. End the unfairness. Let them work and earn a living and pay taxes and contribute the economy where they can work, earn a living, pay taxes and contribute. It’s time to stop the slavery.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Regis Opens House to Public

Open House Showcases Regis’ Competitive Edge
Parents considering high school options
should attend on Jan. 31st

On Sunday, January 31, 2010 Regis High School will host an open house for families who are considering education options for their children’s schooling. The Regis Open House will be held at 550 West Regis Street in Stayton from 1 to 3 p.m.

The purpose of this open house event is to let the public see first-hand the quality of education delivered at Regis High School. Parents and prospective students will get the chance to meet teachers, coaches and current students. Students who represent clubs will be available, as well as coaches who lead athletic teams. Clubs such as the Regis Fly Fishers the Blazers will have interactive and educational booths.

There will be student hosts acting as personal tour guides. “Last year, I really loved working with the incoming freshmen. It’s a lot of fun to get to know them before everyone else does. I look forward to meeting more students this year!” said eleventh grade student Michael Ripp.

There will be displays featuring student’s work in science, art, physics and more. In addition, the school will feature Picturing America, a set of 36 large prints that are a traveling art display provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities grant.

The public is welcome to attend this open house. For more information, call the school at 503.769.2159.

About Regis High School
In 1963 Regis High School was built by a group of dedicated families from the surrounding area. Regis is a Catholic educational community that is open and accessible to any student who is looking for values-based education. For more than 30 years, the Regis High School Foundation has provided financial stability to the school and has granted merit based scholarships to more than 123 students totaling $34,300 since 2004. Regis affirms the uniqueness and dignity of individuals, inspires the pursuit of excellence, fosters faith and develops a commitment to service and justice through a balanced academic and co-curricular program. To learn more, visit or call 503.769.2159.

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

When the World Gives You Lemons...

Manifesting is something that's been new to me in this past year. It's true that they say people pray more when times are tough and they are up against a wall. We will try anything. Beg, plead and borrow to get out of whatever jam we have currently got ourselves into. That deserves some ephasis. Whatever jam we have gotten ourselves into.

It was just one of these situations I found myself in this time last year. I got a hold of a book at a used book store called "Ask and It Is Given". Okay. I'll be honest. I got the book awhile ago. But circumstances being what they were, I finally got it out. Being honest again, a little churchy for me. The beginning has the biggest skeptic cringing just a bit as to whether or not this is even possible. But as you go through the book and they talk more and more about manifesting your future, I found many jewels inside that I could use in my every day life. It even gives you different scenarios to focus on for different situations in your life.

One of the best jewels I received from this book is not to focus on money but rather focus on what money brings to you. In my particular case (and many others), money brings security. So in my meditations, rather than ask for money, I would envision what security would feel like. A warm house, food in the refridgerator, reliable get the idea. It works!

This book also states that for a manifestion to take hold in the universe, it needs to be a steady vision for at least 90 seconds. This really is harder than you think it is. To hold one thought in your mind without distraction for 90 seconds. I'm getting better at it but it's not easy. Again, it works.

Also, you need to know that the Universe has a sense of humor. You need to be very specific in your requests. For example, you may not want to envision a new car without adding that you would like that new car without the old one being wrecked, stolen or (worse yet) reposessed.

Another thing is that we as humans tend to focus on the negative. I don't know why. Negative thoughts creep in all the time. We can't help ourselves. But the next time one of those negative thoughts enters your mind, make sure you let the Universe know that that is NOT the outcome you desire.

And always, always end your manifesting and meditating with gratitude. Gratitude is the key. Without it, you cannot expect the Universe to give you more. And give it time. And trust. Put the wheels in motion. Do your part and watch it all unfold. What a beautiful thing.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

There is Always Next Year

I have been a Pittsburgh Steelers fan for the past 34 years. It is hard to think of a time where I was more proud of my boys than today. Yes, our playoff hopes are all but dashed at the time that I write this, but the courage, compassion and heart my team showed today could not have left me more proud of my boys and the Steelers organization.

Ike Taylor delivered a most unfortunate hit on off balance Miami 3rd string QB Pat White that left him with yet unidentified injuries. Ike Taylor was there at his side as the cart carried him off the field. His remorse still evident on the sideline plays later. What a contrast to the dark days of Jack Tatum who delivered a paralyzing blow to Daryl Stingley without a word of regret or concern to Stingley or his family at the time of the injury or years later.

Always first to defend my team when they call the Steelers “dirty”, I will concede hard hitting but never dirty. One of the reasons I have been a Steeler fan as long as I have is the organization itself and the Rooney family and their unwillingness to put up with less than class players for the sake of wins like so many other teams in the league.

Even Joe Greene did not like the term “Mean Joe Greene” in his playing days. And you would be hard pressed to find a man with more compassion than him. Play the game? Yes. Mean? No.

Now, to look at the courage of the day. Ben Rothlisberger was hit by former teammate Joey Porter in what appeared to be a dislocated shoulder. In obvious pain, Rothlisberger still returned to the game to throw accurate strikes that eventually led to the Steelers defeating the battered Dolphins. I haven’t seen this in a Pittsburgh QB since Terry Bradshaw led his team in the playoffs with a cast on his wrist. You did not see Ben complain and it was obvious the amount of pain he was playing with. Since the success of Ben Rothlisberger, it has been my belief that as Ben goes, so goes this Steeler team.

Are we in the playoffs? Miracles are needed. Most likely not. It was tough year riddled with injuries and a less than strong offensive line. But can the Steelers hold their heads high? In my opinion, absolutely. Looking forward to next season. Steeler fans never die. We just grow older.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Good-bye Gingerbread ~ Hello Crafts

One of the corners in my house is now empty. I hate that. Putting up Christmas trees is always much more fun than taking them down. We love the pretty right out of them around here. When they do come down, they are closed up and crunchy making a pine needle mess from their temporary home to the front lawn.

It’s the first step. Now begins the phase of taking one thing down a day leaving the snowmen for last. I can’t take it down if it makes me sad. Gingerbread tree came down first as it was absolutely necessary. So how does one (who is known as Christmas Christy) begin to wean herself off of the holiday? Here is what I have discovered works for me.

Each year I am often a little disappointed in the lack of homemade items I have contributed to the season. January and February are great opportunities to begin those craft items I’m not in the mood to do in the spring and summer and do not have the time to begin in the fall. Perfect! Out come the craft books, the sewing machine and organizing the craft box which is no easy feat in itself.

This years project? Santa horse blankets! You’ll be able to buy them on Etsy once I have them completed! I’ll let you know when. Also more crocheting! My issue with beginning to crochet again is the last time I did a lot of it, the joints in my hands didn’t get sore and I could see. So even with the new challenge, it’s a great little night time project. What else, what else? Any suggestions for me? Keep in mind the gratification needs to come fairly swiftly as my craft kit is full of unfinished counted cross stitch projects.

Sources of inspiration are everywhere and winters here are long. I am keeping my mind open to the possibilities and as you all know, I will keep you posted.