Bicycle Summer

I have raised my kids since they were two and three years old. We have had adventures, disasters, comic relief, and endless days of fun. We have had slumber parties underneath the dining room table. Built forts out of boxes in the back yard. Gone for lots and lots of drives in the country and told each other our deepest, most private secrets. Like, “I ate a worm yesterday.” “I hate Betsy; she’s a GIRL.”

Our wanderings and travels usually cost only gas for the car (very cheap then – five dollars would fill up my car that got 40 mpg). We would go to the airport and watch the planes land. We would go to every single lake within a 30-mile radius – there are lots!!!! We would go for drives that ended up with picnics along the Spokane River or in the woods of Nine Mile.

My youngest son had a spirit about him that Just.Would.Not.Quit. Their grandfather was about ready to bust his britches when we moved back to Spokane and they were about four and five years old. He brought them each a bike to ride – and their little legs wouldn’t even reach the peddles, let alone the pavement.

The youngest one persevered. He’d drag the bike over to the front porch and then leap onto it from the top step – only his momentum would propel him to tip over on the other side of the bike. But he persevered. Then he started running along the sidewalk with the bike at his side and take a flying leap to the seat and coast for ten feet until the speed slowed to a point of wobbly tires, and tip over. Finally, various neighbors would feel the daddy genes kick in and often I would see one of them racing along the street with my youngest ensconced on his precious bike, arms spread wide, grin from ear to ear, that he was actually riding a bike. (It never came with training wheels, you see.)

My oldest child waited until his legs grew long enough so that he could practically walk the bike while seated.

The youngest loved his bike. The oldest hated his; “it’s ugly baby poop brown, Mom!” or “It’s dorky!”

Then there was the summer of the bike thefts. The younger son’s bike was stolen - - - frequently. Once we found it right under our noses – on the side of the house where bamboo grew wild and created the perfect hiding place. Once returned from another little friend who was mad at him last weekend but not today. And finally gone forever by a nasty little kid on the other side of the school.

I eventually got him a new bike.

The older son wailed, “Why can’t they take MY bike!!!!”

“Because it’s dorky,” said the younger.

So it was with little surprise that one day I arrived from work to see the dorky, poop colored bike hanging on our fence with a sign “take me.”

There were no takers.



Is Forgiveness Overrated?

Well, the verdict was made. The evil Duncan has been sentenced to death and now we will sit on our hands waiting for the outcome of the automatic appeal and hope that he will waive his rights.

I have just finished reading William Young's The Shack and the theme throughout is forgiveness and being filled with God's love. The main character, Mack, is asked by God (Papa) to forgive the man who kidnapped and murdered his daughter. Mack could do this, with 100% help from God.

On this side of reality, can Dylan's dad forgive Duncan, who not only kidnapped him (and his sister) but sexually tortured him for more than 37 DAYS, and then shot him twice, in front of his sister, and then burned his body to the point that investigators were only able to retrieve a hatful of pieces of bone and hair?

Could you, as a parent, FORGIVE this man?????

I could not. As much as I walk with God, talk with Him, try to give everything to Him - asking me to forgive my child's murderer and the methods of the murder is too much. I hope I never have to walk down this path.



Dinner with Friends

I have mentioned my group of friends before – we are "sisters of the heart." I think we are like a marriage but even better – our divorce rate (I mean us, the "sisters") is a whole lot lower than for all those other married couples. We have been a loyal group of five for just endless years (around 30) and we have never sought out a younger, firmer replacement, nor have we had illicit and clandestine meetings with anyone we would think were filling our needs better than the other four members of our group. We have occasionally had a sixth person – usually a daughter, sometimes a mother. Our mothers have all passed away and now we are running through the daughters as our sixth.

The five of us are J1, J2, J3 (me), S, and C. I say their initials only because they would freak if I publicized our antics for strangers to read and they would slap their hands over their mouths if someone actually knew who I was talking about. So – a lot of subterfuge going on.

We meet once a month for dinner and our conversations are laced with gossip, sex, sagas, episodes, tears, laughter, and on into the night. We choose different places throughout Spokane for our monthly gathering. We tend to forget that there is anyone else present in our space – like the waiter or waitress. Waitresses seem to understand what we are talking about; waiters always come in at the very end of a topic or at the peak of a topic and walk away thinking we are discussing all the steps in making love to our mailman without our husbands getting the drift, only we were actually talking about our dogs being bred to raise pure bred puppies. Like I said – men tend to get a small piece of the whole story and walk away with a whole new story on us. Out of context. Really!

We share intimate details of our lives while enjoying each other's company for these monthly trysts.

For example, J1 had breast surgery, which she paid for herself, to make her more endowed. We individually went with her to the restroom at one of our dinners to have a viewing. It caused quite a lot of heads turning, people buzzing, what's going on – and hard to explain that NO we aren't doing an imitation of Larry Craig. After all the ooing and ahhing, we settled down for dinner and J1 passed a sack to me of her cast off bras, which slipped in the hand-off and spilled all over the floor of the bar we had decided to eat in. So – here I am, blushing the color of a tomato, gathering up various "practical" bras for someone who obviously doesn't really have a use for them. But there you have it.

We get along fairly well for being almost sisters. We have our moments of sibling angst. But we work through it. One of us usually has some major trauma/event to discuss at dinner and we are fairly decent about sharing our two hours together so each of us has a chance to spill our hearts – whether for five minutes or for 30 minutes, whatever we need. We have no rules. We aren't judgmental, well, rarely. I'm sure when two of us get together away from the others a little judgment might happen.

To be continued, for sure. . . .



Evil Incarnate

These are my humble thoughts on the Duncan Trial. Taken from Community Comment. To those not from this area (Washington and Idaho), this is from a case where a predator, who has spent most of his life in prison for rape of children, stalked for children to kidnap, who he referred to as "flowers", and premeditated down to the bitterest detail, their kidnapping, torture, and murder. On May 16, 2005, he found two "flowers" in northern Idaho, by watching them from the freeway past their home. He brutally bludgeoned and hacked their mother, brother, and mother's fiancé to death, then kidnapped them and went on a 46-day rampage with them, torturing them, molesting them, raping them, threatening them, and eventually killing one of them before returning the survivor to safety. The jury today found unanimously that he is qualified for the death penalty, and will now convene on Monday to decide whether he indeed will get death or life.

* * * * * * * * *

This is giving me nightmares. Honest. Every night I lay in bed and I rehash all the "twitter" news I learned during the day. When this first got to jury selection, I was remarking even then that our justice system is way too lenient and nice for the likes of Duncan. And THEN the trial started..... Every day there was something more cruel or more gruesome. When I got to the day of the video and learned that Duncan shouted to DG that he was himself (Duncan) the devil; the devil has come; meet the devil. And suddenly DG was MY little 9-year-old boy. He was MY little sprite that loved to discover bugs in every curled leaf; who made friends with every dog he ever saw; who would take an hour to walk the one block home from school because of all the things he had to take time to discover! He was MY little boy who shouted Mummy, I'm home! and curled up in my lap to share his latest adventure. He was MY little boy who never knew a stranger; never knew evil; never knew anything but unconditional endless love. I weep for DG and his little boy days; for his sister who witnessed and watched; for his Dad who was helpless to do anything at all to save his son.

Maybe the jury will believe as we do, that a death penalty would be too understated. It is NOT an eye for an eye.

I know - maybe we can call for the death penalty anyway - and every day he walks death row, gets buckled onto the gurney, gets poked with a needle and when the curtain opens, nobody is there to watch. The guards decide to send him back to his cell until they get some people to watch his ending. The next day they start the whole ordeal over again, over and over and over. I hope, in that case, he lives to be 100.



Psalm 139, God's Love Letter to Me

(Papa's version, thanks to The Shack)

1 Honey, I have searched you
and I know you. I know your name.

2 I know when you sit and when you rise;
I can pick out your thoughts from afar.

3 I discern your going out and your lying down;
I am familiar with all your ways.

4 Before a word is on your tongue
I know it completely, honey.

5 I protect and surround you, behind and before;
I have laid my hand upon you.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for you,
too lofty for you to attain.

7 Where can you go from my Spirit, Little One?
Where can you flee from my presence?

8 If you go up to the heavens, I am there;
if you make your bed in the depths, I am there.

9 If you rise on the wings of the dawn,
if you settle on the far side of the sea,

10 even there my hand will guide you,
My right hand will hold you fast.

11 If you say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"

12 even the darkness will not be dark to me;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to me.

13 Honey, I created your inmost being;
I knit you together in your mother's womb.

14 You are fearfully and wonderfully made;
My works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

15 Your frame was not hidden from me
when you were made in the secret place.
When you were woven together in the depths of the earth,

16 My eyes saw your unformed body.
All the days ordained for you
were written in my book
before one of them came to be.

17 My thoughts toward you are precious, Honey!
How vast is the sum of them!

18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When you awake,
I am still with you.

23 I have searched you, Honey, and I know your heart. I know your name.

I love you, honey. I am especially fond of you.



The Shack; God in me

I have finished reading William P. Young's "The Shack". I am absolutely blown away by this book. There should be an inscription in the front saying, "Dedicated to Jeanie [fill in your name] because I am especially fond of you. Love, Papa (God)."

This book touches my heart like no other. It answers questions about some senseless tragedies that have happened to me personally, to friends, to the world.

I will be participating in a book study with the newspaper blog, Huckleberries, on Monday. I have just finished the book and I'm ready to dive in for a second reading.

I encourage you to get your own copy and participate at Huckleberries.


Life as Dilbert

One of my favorite Brits MarmiteToasty posted at "I am surrounded by STUFF":

Does your new cubicle make you a square? LOL

Humpf. Funny, Marmite. I am getting used to my round body in my not-quite square box , and yes, I probably could be defined as a square. Haven't heard that term/slang in years. When my son came home from being in the Army for four years, he kept saying he would get something "squared away." The two terms for square meaning entirely different things, and having nothing to do with the Dilbert quality of my berth.

Well, I have made the initial move. I have taken the attitude of "simplify, simplify, simplify." Most of my personal possessions went home in five banker's boxes, including extra shoes, heating pad for my poor ailing back from all the packing and unpacking and filing and re-filing, my clock radio because it just doesn't fit anywhere logically unless I hang it by its chord from the ceiling, my fru-fru frivolous stuff that had nothing to do with secretarial work, cups and mugs that I have received over the last ten years. All my software books for Word 97, Word 2003, Excel 97, Excel 2003, and training manuals for each got trashed along with files that I had in my desk for "tips for working with your boss" older than two months because bosses change their habits at a whim and firms change your boss at an even faster pace.

I am "stuffed" into my rectangular, not square, box that is claustrophobic at best. I have been listening to two co-workers talk talk talk, who I really liked, before today, and now find extremely annoying with chit-chat, hogging the printer, mumbling under their breath, and generally invading the space I lost when I moved to this cramped cubicle.

I have concluded that it is wisest to have as little personal items as possible so that if I get totally disgusted with the whole situation, or my retirement age miraculously moves down a couple years, I can sweep my hands across the top shelf and toss everything in a box, grab my purse, and my exit check, run laughing all the way to the bank, and never worry about small dark places again. Ever.

Here's a tour of the top shelf: two plants (they can go into the garbage at a moment's notice); four rubber duckies – one a red hat duckie, one a dentist duckie to encourage me to keep on keeping on with my dental care, and a bride and groom duckie set from my son's wedding – they fit in my purse; a little glass kitty since I can't have a living one at this stage in my life (also fits in my purse); and a third plant (a "lucky" bamboo that I am thinking about tossing right now because it's NOT WORKING), and awaaaaayyyy I go.

So, I am spending much of my time praying for the social security gods to take pity on me and lower the age of retirement to 60 – I just have eight months to go. Woo Hoo.



Some of my best friends are men

I have several groups of friends who are women. A prayer group. A red hat group. A group of women who have been meeting once a month for dinner for 30 years. And I have a few good men who are very special friends. All my friends support me and listen to me, but it is especially endearing and eye-opening to get input from my men friends on, well, MEN. You guys think WE are difficult to understand. Hoo boy. Anyway – my heart has a soul mate in a man friend who continually lifts me up and buoys my spirit and inflates my pitiful self esteem – and answers so logically my perplexing questions about what makes a man tick. I am blessed!



I am surrounded by "stuff"

I have had to unload my desk at work to get ready to move to another, much smaller, cubicle on another floor. So, I came in this weekend and filled eight boxes of "stuff" from my desk. Half of it was work related, so I don't feel too bad about THAT. However, the other half was all personal – knickknacks, figurines, stuffed animals (so professional, don't ya think?), collectible tea cups, pictures, a wall full of ribbons that I have saved over the past ten years from every present and flower I have received. Stuff. Bits and pieces of things that have nothing to do with my job as a secretary. My life and personality lives on and in my desk and is now crammed into four banker's boxes. I have marked them "GO HOME" and am debating whether I should take them to my new cubicle, which is where I will be settled for most of my waking day, thus "home" away from home. Or take them HOME to my house.

The only drawback will be that nobody will know it is ME that sits in that cubicle – no signs of my passions, my possessions, my personality. The advantage will be that if I should {gulp} get a pink slip for whatever dire reason, I can simply pick up my purse and walk out the door. No packing! No having the office manager stand over me while I take four hours to unload my non-work-related "stuff."



The Monster List

Contrary to "Happy Lists" (a great blog), I have Mad, Mad, Mad Lists. Actually I have one list on legal-sized yellow-lined paper. It's handwritten in different colors of ink: blue for normal-get-it-done-when-you-can; red for chop-chop need-it-yesterday; and green for whenever; I have a date at the top and then a whole list of "to do" items. Well, I go along with all I normally do in a day, and later I get out my list and add more to my list and a new date. Sometimes I will draw an arrow from one item (work on Smith file) to another item of a different date (work on Smith file).

What good does it do me to make a list of priority items that I need to do now but don't have time to do until tomorrow because I am too busy making up my list of projects to do tomorrow and then tomorrow I'll look at the list and see an item from ten days ago and I'll FINALLY get it crossed off, but there are so many arrows going to items that I spilled over to another day. I feel like Scarlett, chanting, "tomorrow is another day." Or like Orphan Annie, singing "Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I'll do it Tomorrow" "There's Always . . . . Tomorrow!" And then my Clark Gable inner twin says, "Frankly my dear I don't give a damn."

My green items are colored over with blue. My blue items become red. My red items are catching fire.

I need a keeper.



A New Kind of Wedding

This weekend my two sons and the younger son's wife will fly to San Francisco for an event that is historical in our family. Their father is getting married to his soulmate, another man. The times, they have been a'changin', that's for sure. I guess I did something right in raising my boys to appreciate their father as an intelligent and compassionate man and not berate him for choosing a different lifestyle.

What do you get for a gay couple's wedding if one of them is your ex?