Saturday, December 15, 2012

14 December 2012

Today was my birthday, and normally I would reflect back on the past year. But I am going to copy things I've read on facebook about the Newtown/Sandy Hook shootings.

"Like everyone else, I am heart broken. I alternate between waves of heartbreak and waves of anger. 300 million guns in America...when is enough- enough. It keeps happening, we say it's bad but we seem to accept it. It truly makes me sick." --a friend at church

"I find it sad and sickening that we have gotten to a point in this country where we refuse to acknowledge or believe that our violent, gun-obsessed culture has nothing to do with these massacres. And we keep saying MORE guns is the solution. Yeah, that's working isn't it?" --a friend in Reno

"Mike Huckabee's god won't protect public school children because they don't pray in class. Huckabee and his god can go fuck themselves." --a friend in Florida

"Confuse liberty with weaponry and watch your kids act it out." --a friend in Florida

"WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO TALK ABOUT GUN CONTROL, AMERICA?! Do you think now is maybe the time??" --a friend in Canada

"I am gun owner I am so tired o f people blaming guns... Guns aren't loading themselves nor are they pulling trigger...It's people ... People are always using other things for them being sick and twisted.. These people need there ass kicked .. Kids really .....just sick..." --a friend from high school

and in response to his post: "It's not even people...It's demonic spirits who are controlling people!!! The world needs JESUS!!!I wish people would wake up and recognize how bad the world is because it's so evil and everyone just rejects God!! THE BIBLE says it very clearly....this is what we are dealing with........Ephesians 6:12 King James Version (KJV) 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."

"I'm not going to say anything about the school shooting other than it is horrific and I am heartbroken for all the families." --a friend in California

"I obviously am heartbroken over what happened today in CT, so many lives lost and so many innocent children. I do not mean to take away from that...but every day hundreds (if not thousands) of children die from equally preventable causes: Lack of mosquito nets, lack of clean water, being born the wrong sex in the wrong country, lack of medical care, being in a war zone, like Syria, I could go on and on. Let us all try to do better by ALL of the children of the world and truly live as one, sharing the same planet and loving ALL. That is my wish for the New Year." --a friend from high school.

"What a sad day What a cowardly no good shitbag 5 year old children !!!!!! This shitbags soul will burn in Hell forever. How can we share the sorrow for famlies esp. Moms n dads of the Victims /children's, so much pain what a tragic loss my eyes tear up for them ,the world seems to have stopped for a moment!!!!!" --a friend from high school who changed his profile pic to one of him holding a gun.

"I am so horrified. 18 children dead. The majority of the shooting done in the kindergarten classrooms. 4-6 year olds. EIGHTEEN KIDS DEAD." I will say it now. I don't give a fuck about your right to bear arms. This is not ok. This is NOT ok. There is no way 18 fucking children would be dead right now if he didn't have a gun." --a friend from Colorado

"I'll take a little gun control with my Friday glass of wine."
"Today my heart broke into a 1000 pieces. People kill people. It's happened since we walked the earth and it will continue to happen until our brains and hearts evolve. #guncontrolnow" --a friend in NY

"'ll be honest: Ronald Reagan is one of my least favorite presidents, but the old saw about how "Ronald Reagan let all the crazy people out of the asylums when he was Governor" is an over-simplification of why we have a mental health problem in this county. That being said, we DO have a mental health problem (which dovetails with our larger healthcare problem), and we DO have a gun problem, and the two compound each other." --a friend in Reno

"I've been sitting here reading all of your posts about today's horrific events and simply don't know what to say. My heart is broken and I am so angry. Being a mother of 4 children, it's sickening to think about every good-bye kiss and "have a good day" could end up like this. I know we cannot live in fear and we have to talk to our children, but how do we comfort them when we ourselves are so hurt over this?
I've spent the evening mourning over this and the same question keeps coming to mind, WHY? I'm am sick thinking about the extreme unbearable sadness the families are experiencing, especially right before Christmas.
Hold your little ones tight and cherish them daily. Turn off the news and talk to your kids. We don't need the media or politicians sensationalizing these events and desensitizing our children. My thoughts and prayers are with not only the families of those victims, but with all parents who are as devastated by this as I am." --a relative

"Everyone on this page knows I spent the entire fall rooting for you Barack Obama. You are not making me proud in this moment. DO. FUCKING. SOMETHING." --a blogger

"Thank you, Mr. President" with a link to the video Obama weeps over school massacre. --a friend in Reno

"No more guns." --a friend in Canada

"We are a nation of guns, violence and disrespect. Listen to talk radio, vitriolic hatred is rampant there. To correct this we need to pay attention to the dishonesty, manipulation and rhetoric of our advertising, watch the violent games our children and even adults play, watch the horrific films and television... this tragedy is a result of all this negativity and hatrid." --a friend in Reno

"So sad to hear about the CT school shooting. These incidents are such huge red flags about how we need to get serious about treating mental health issues. No "well" person would go in the the kindergarten at their child's school and start firing." --a friend in WA

"We had a gun massacre here in 1996. 35 people murdered (the youngest three years old, the oldest 72) and another 23 injured by a young man with a semi automatic weapon and a grudge. Our government introduced some of the toughest gun control laws in the world in response. Since then, yes, the criminal element do still manage to access guns. Generally they shoot each other. Occasionally an innocent bystander is hurt. Most of our firearm deaths are suicides. We have had one attempted spree shooting that I am aware of in the years since. The young man in question had a legally obtained handgun and he managed to kill precisely TWO people at his university, wounding five. That's a grand total of seven people he was able to shoot before he was tackled by fellow students and subdued. He is currently under psychiatric care. You cannot convince me that the death toll would not have been greater had he had access to larger weapons. We lost 2 people that day, not twenty. Gun control makes a difference." --comment on blogger's wall

Sunday, October 28, 2012

28 October 2012

Today was a beautiful day, sunny and mild. I took the dog for a walk at 8 pm not, no jacket, because it was still warm enough to enjoy the stroll without one. The night was breezy and the moon was bright, almost full. The street lights shine then dim out all along our street, and at the end of the street where the trail goes up into the hills, it gets dark. I could see the moon shining on the light stucco walls of the houses on the hill above me. There were a few stars twinkling, their intensity dimmed by the moon's glow on the rabbit brush covered hills. I love how expansive everything feels, I love how the treetops blow in the breeze, the moonlight makes it all seem exciting. And there was a scent in the air of backyard BBQs, so it felt like it could be a night in August. August and October have always seemed the two months that are the farthest apart, but in northern Nevada maybe this is not the case. Leaves start to turn as the August nights cool down, but the sunny days of October keep many trees green for a long time.

My daughter loves the brightness of day, and enjoys the sunrise more than the sunset. And the sunsets though pretty can be melancholy in a way, the sign of another day over and realizing it's time to wind up. But then the nights feel broad and open, like there is a deepness above you. We can come back out in the night and enjoy the soft beauty of it, we can still come together and do things. I sample the fresh air and enjoy the movement of walking with the dog in the dry coolness of it, and I want to write about it, but when I come inside it's closer, warmer, louder, brighter. It all feels so much more compressed and heavy, and there are many sounds and demands on my attention, and I can't think how to write about the outside, the night walk.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

4 September 2012

A typical day or atypical day?

Wake up, offer very minimal help to getting the child off to school--lunches are already made, I just forgot to lay out clothes. Since I don't have to drive her now, my day is so different. Get back in bed, write a book review. Decide I must get dressed and walk the dog now that it is already 10.

Get dressed, walk dog. Plan day; not only this day, but plan to adopt a more rigid schedule, one with timers. Two hours for this, two hours for that, see, you can be productive I tell myself. Decide what needs to be done today. The paperwork for my mother's estate, can't keep procrastinating, it is due soon. But laundry, there is so much of it, the counter in the laundry room now has a pile above my head, and like a gold mine, the efforts at getting a pair of underwear for the kids takes more work and yields crappier results with each sifting.

Come back in house, carry a giant armful of laundry to the living room, dump it on the man's chair. I am declaring my absolute intention to deal with laundry by doing this. Now it has to be folded today, it's on his sitting place. Think about how it's too bad the second season of Downton Abbey isn't on Netflix, otherwise I'd get all the laundry folded. Feel guilty about estate paperwork, stop myself from running upstairs to get it. Tell myself sternly, no, two hours for laundry, then you can work on paperwork.

Turn and see counter across from chair, it is full of papers, they are messy. Decide to shred the man's trash papers in his "for the shredder" pile. Throw away some of my own papers--not all of them, naturally not. Find paper that needs to be mailed or turned in by Thursday. Decide to mail it today even though it may not make it by Thursday, and then I will have to explain I decided to mail it on Tuesday, when I am seeing the person face-to-face on Thursday.

Go to drawer to get pen to fill out paper. Can't find pen? Why not, I have plenty of office supplies in bags on top of the counter, but can find nothing in the drawer. It hasn't been cleaned in 5 years. Decide it absolutely must be cleaned now. NOW! Start pulling everything out and setting it on the kitchen table. Imagine the categories into which I will sort these things, imagine which can be thrown away. Find pen. Fill out paper, get purse from car, write check. Look for address for envelope. Can't find address. It must be in a directory upstairs in the computer room, where the Estate paperwork is. Suddenly realize that going upstairs is an anathema, it somehow blasphemes all that is holy in the world. I can't go upstairs! I had to physically restrain myself from running up earlier, but now, no. Can't do it!

Look on phone for address. It's not there. Think about checking computer. No, no way, if I log onto computer, that is the ABSOLUTE END OF THE DAY! Check e-mail on phone for roster. No, still no address. Google it. OK, there it is. Wait, is that the right address, I thought that was whatshername's, not so-and-so's. Consider running upstairs for directory. Nope, still an evil choice. Boot up computer.

Find whatshernames address--oh, see, very similar, not the same. Decide google address for so-and-so is correct. Fill out envelope, put on stamp. Again consider it will just be quicker to hand it in face-to-face on Thursday. Go to mailbox anyway, so I don't lose the paper before then. Which, you know, could easily happen.

Somewhere in all of that prepare and pour a cup of coffee. Look at mess of drawer on table and start sorting. Paper clip pile, safety pin pile, eraser pile, pen cap pile--why so many pen caps? I don't know. I think their pens are gone, but I decide to keep the caps for the time being, until I'm done sorting. Throw a small amount away. Coffee is now cold.

Look at bedragged laundry on chair. Think about how it and all the rest of the laundry still in the laundry room needs to be folded. Sit down and drink coffee and go on computer. Get up and throw a few things away from the pile, because I can see them staring at me. Look at rest of mess, knowing I will probably cram most of it back in the drawer. Write this blog post while drinking coffee. Decide to leave out many pronouns and articles for no apparent reason.

Now it's noon, yay, I can finally eat breakfast! Decide to drink more coffee and catch up on SongPop first.

Monday, September 3, 2012

3 September 2012

Sometimes people really anger me. More and more I despair about the human race, or feel disgusted by things that we do. I told my sister once that I'm naive, I want to believe we can find the common ground, I want to like people. So I have a love hate relationship. I guess we all do.

Really, I wanted to start this blog post with the statement that some of the people in Reno are jackasses. But people everywhere are jackasses. I went to a birth choice rally today. It was a peaceable small little thing, like-minded folk on the birth front getting together to advocate for the concept, and to share in a national thing. There were rallies all over the country. It was very small, but since it's Reno, the news showed up.

KOLO News 8 posted a photo on their facebook, and negative comments started coming.
Trinity: I want to throw water balloons at them. Gently of course. =p
Christine: Did someone confuse Labor Day with April Fool's Day?
Christine: And where is the rally against invasive appendectomies vs. laparoscopic procedures? (cue hyperactive, humorless, outraged comments about comparing a piece of one's digestive tract to a human life)
What a bunch of idiots !.......this won't be an issue when your country goes down in flames! For your country's sake get your bloody priorities right!!!!!!!!

Thankfully a lot of the reponses were positive, and it looks like some of the negative ones were removed. Most of the negative ones were about how there are more important things to worry about. Worry is like love--there is more than enough to go around for everyone.

Friday, August 31, 2012

31 August 2012

Today is the last day of August. Today I noticed the sky was a deep blue with wispy white clouds. The smoke from the California (Chips) fire has moved through. But then this afternoon, the sky was a lighter blue and there were more clouds, and the forecast for tomorrow is a cooler temp and partly cloudy.

I sat out in the shade today, sitting with the dog while I read a book. It was a nice temperature then. August is such a strange month, school has started, but it's still summer. We have weeks left, but already the signs are here that summer is leaving us. No two months ever seem as separated to me as August and October, but last week I saw Halloween displays of candy going in at the local grocery store.

In Reno, there are things happening at the end of summer. The Rib Cook-off is happening this week, and then there will be the balloon festival, the air races, street vibrations, all in September. All of July is Artown and there is the Independence Day holiday to boot. July always feels very busy. August always feels very lazy, as if we've given up trying to get anything done, and we are just holding onto the days of vacation that we have left. But some schools are starting back up in August, and next year my children's schools will begin in mid-August.

Last weekend the older girl and I went to San Francisco where we saw Les Miserables. It was chilly there, overcast the whole time, we had to wear jackets. On Saturday morning, we had breakfast at a little place with a patio and a heater there, which was needed because of the cold. I want to visit San Francisco more frequently or at least one good sightseeing visit, but I don't want to live there.

The past couple of years, we've ended up in Sacramento in mid to late August, and we visit the old town area. It's near the American River, and we see all the trains there, but it's empty. Everything feels empty there on a late afternoon in August. I don't know where the people are, but there is something so lovely about it all in the late afternoon.

Since it is Labor Day weekend, the husband is home early, and we are all sitting comfortably in our house with the beautiful day around us. I can see it out the window, but I'm not in the 90˚ temperatures.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

18 August 2012

It's been gray, overcast, smoky and humid for awhile now, it seems; at least two weeks, which isn't particularly long, but then it starts to feel like this is the normal way of things. About a month ago, we went to visit friends who live in a wooded area near the Steamboat Ditch trail. The kids played in the water, but I didn't realize they could actually go swimming, so they didn't take suits. They had fun in the ditch nonetheless, getting completely soaked and just air drying outside. Then we had dinner.

It was somewhat overcast and humid then too, with thunderstorms moving in. Sitting in her house I could smell smoke at one point, but it wasn't until we opened the door that we realized there must be a fire somewhere. My friend's house backs up to tall hills, and I looked up the little valley to the peaks to see if I could see flames, but all I could see were whitish drifting clouds from the rain. It did rain at her house, but it's always such a small amount by the time it crosses over the Carson Range, so I fire could be burning somewhere.

We decided to go and drive up in the neighborhoods on the hills above. I'd never actually driven up there, and there were lovely night views of the city. We drove for awhile until we hit a new subdivision that said it was part of Caughlin Ranch. I decided I had gone far enough without seeing anything so I turned around there. I passed a firetruck heading the way I had just come, and figured if there had been a fire, someone already knew about it. We continued to wind our way around when I saw a frog right in the middle of the dark street. I asked if the kids had seen it, and neither had. I was worried that it might get hit by a car, so I made a U-turn and went back. No one was coming, so I stopped with the blinkers on to get out and examine it. A car did come while we were trying to scare the frog across the road, and they waited for us, but then honked for a long time as they drove by.

We ended up finding a place to park, and then I took a photo of the frog. After I got home, I walked the dog and thought I saw something in the distance, like flickering lights. So when the walk was done, I got in the car and drove up the hill, just to make sure things were fine, that there weren't any errant fires in the nearby hills. It seemed like an odd night at the time, but since then there have been more thunderstorms, sudden downpours and unending smoke from the California fires.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

15 June 2012

Tonight I went to a Reno Aces game with my younger daughter. The last time we went, we parked out on the street somewhere and walked in. This time I missed what was the last parking space on that street, and as I drove closer, there were weren't anymore, so we parked in the parking garage. A group of people from church went, so we all sat together in section 102, which is always pretty fun. I walked around the stadium, trying to do the 3 laps for a mile, but I found other people I knew from church, so I stopped and talked to them all. The Aces won, then we watched the fireworks.

After it was over, the girl and I went out and played in the big grassy area near the entrance. People were throwing balls and running, and one boy was riding a bike. I figured that it would take a long time to get out of the parking garage, so we just hung out there for awhile, until some of the lights were turned off.

Leaving the garage, we drove out on second street, crossed over the Truckee and took High street down to Ryland. Once I got in the vicinity of Art Museum and Arlington, I feel like I'm in the Reno I know. It's funny how the downtown part can seem almost foreign. Even driving up Virginia to midtown is a different experience. This got me thinking about how there are so many people here, working on really building up some of these parts of town to make them well populated business areas that draw a lot of people. I like that we do that, yet I don't know what the answer is for the concrete ghost towns we have now, that used to be thriving shopping centers.

Recycled Records could have stayed where it was, in my opinion. I hope their new location helps their business, but I actually liked going to their old location because it was easy to park, Swensen's is there, and I didn't feel like I was going to drive over bicyclists and pedestrians just trying to slowly make my way down the road. There is almost nothing left where Swensen's is now--the hair cutting places, the big furniture stores, the Mervyn's are all gone.

Parklane Mall was torn down supposedly to be revitalized or rebuilt, but that never happened. It's fenced off to keep people out, which has had the effect of turning it into a seagull refuge. Maybe the owners should think about putting a pond in, and just giving the whole thing over to the birds. Heidi's, which was on Virginia and not really a part of Parklane, got torn down as part of it all, since their property was owned by the same people. And now that cute restaurant is gone, and I'm sure their business has suffered as a result, because the only location in Reno is now way south where Denny's used to be.

All of this reminds me that we've driven up to so many restaurants only to find they had gone out of business: Jeremiah's, Austin's, the little restaurant where Extreme Pizza is now, Bajios, Tahoe Burger, Sezmu (and Bec's Custard before that), Cheeseburger Island Style (and Friday's before that), Washoe Flats Steakhouse, Batch Cupcakery. But the Freighthouse District, which is where the Aces Ballpark is located, and the fairly new CommRow District seem to be doing well.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

6 June 2012

Today was the last day of school for the girls. I woke up this morning at 5 am, then started thinking about things and all that regretful nostalgia that seems to attack me at night. I finally fell back asleep, then had dreams where people kept ignoring me or stealing my stuff, and I finally had to get mean before people would pay any attention to me. I woke up as my older daughter was leaving for school. The younger one was already up, but I guess needed something, so she was sitting outside the door, causing it to bounce against the jamb, or something. Normally the dog does that. In the middle of my getting dressed routine, the older girl texted me from school (I guess she had opportunity on the last day to do this), to tell me she forgot to turn in her check for geometry camp. I had to run the check up there at around 7:45, and I was able to talk to her Algebra teacher. I found out that she got 59/60 correct on her CBE, which was a 98%. That made me very happy for the rest of the day.

The weather has been chilly the last couple of days. On Monday in the second grade class, there was a walking field trip to a park a mile away. I signed up to bring pizza, so I walked down to Godfather's once we got to the park. But the cold front moved in, bringing terrible wind. The kids walked back to school wrapped in their picnic blankets, and I ended up getting stuck at the back of the line with the 3 slowest girls, and my daughter who was slightly ahead, but kept lagging, waiting for us. Tuesday was field day, but it was cold! I ended up helping the librarian out with her event, the wet sponge toss. The girl was not looking forward to field day, but when I saw her there, she said she was having fun.

Today the middle school let out at 11 am, so I didn't really have time to do much of anything other than run around and buy some teacher gifts. I went to Napa-Sonoma, Barnes & Noble and Raley's. Then I picked up the older girl and we came home where I prepared a lunch for the younger one; we both went to the school and all had a picnic lunch together out on the front lawn of the school. Finally they were able to eat outside again because the temperature got up into the mid-60's by lunch time, and it was quite nice in the sun.

I'm always rather sad on the last day of school, and yet happy and excited too. Then I feel like we can do many things, there is so much promise at the beginning. There are so many languages to learn, stories to write, things we can do! I bought a leather bound copy of the complete works of Shakespeare today at Barnes & Noble while I was buying a gift card for the teacher. I wanted to thumb through it and read different things, specifically the sonnets. Then I thought it might be fun to write a sonnet, but when I mentioned it to the older girl, she did not agree. I asked her for some ideas, and she said love or death--isn't that all sonnets talk about? Oh, I'm sure we could find something funnier.

I walked the dog tonight, and again I notice how nice the peaches and cherries are looking. I only wish we had a fruit tree. The birds are already getting the cherries, so I plucked one from the tree I passed, and ate it, and it was pretty good.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

29 May 2012

We had a restful Memorial Day weekend here, but cold. Friday it was sleeting and raining, Saturday was more of the same. Sunday warmed into the 60's, and the children were able to swim in the pool we had been heating. Monday morning, the youngest was ready to go out swimming right away. I went down and worked on weeding the Virginia Creeper that is taking over, and all the little cottonwood and popular saplings trying to grow in the worst places. I also hacked down a remarkable flowering weed that started showing up a few years ago, but is so close to the bricked edge that it just overflows to the next terrace. It's tall and green right now, but dries to yellow sticks in the fall. I laid those tender vines over top my arugula plants, that are just barely showing up in the soil. I also repotted my tomatoes into the larger, outdoor pots.

In addition, I read two books this weekend: Dragonsong and Dragonsinger. I also practiced my viola, and then at night after the kids were in bed, I started watching the Revenge series which John purchased from iTunes for me. I can get through quite a few episodes when there are no commercial interruptions. It's amazing how fast it can be.

This morning I was talking to a mom at the elementary school. Apparently two of the teachers from the Immersion program have had enough, and got jobs elsewhere in the county. The older daughter's 5th grade teacher is one of these, and it's a shame, as she is one of the best teachers my daughter has ever had. This teacher had moved to the Immersion class two years ago, but there is a lot of criticism from the 3rd grade parents who don't believe their children are actually learning Spanish, so they are leaving the headaches behind. They would have had to deal with the same parents for another 3 years, unfortunately.

My friend mentioned how the parents don't really value homework, they don't volunteer in the class, and the children have a lot of athletic practices that can get in the way of schoolwork. I don't always value homework either, I must admit. Sometimes it just feels like it's meant to drill and keep you in practice, so can become like drudgery after awhile, although I do sort of feel the more you do, the easier it is. When I was in fifth grade, I remember doing pages of multiplying two 3 digit numbers, and the whole thing seemed interminable. I understood the principles, but I hated it. There is a certain amount of math I can do easily now, but I'd still be hard pressed to find any joy out of multiplying or dividing multi-digit numbers just to keep in practice. Still, I recognize it hasn't become rote with my second grader yet.

With the older one, homework was always necessary, so that her father or I could actually teach her the math principles she wasn't grasping. At one point, maybe around 3rd grade, I found myself trying to break down the explanation into as simple a one as possible, but she still wasn't getting it. I found myself resorting to yelling, "But it's base 10, it's base 10" because she didn't seem to grasp the simple concept of doing things in tens. Finally her father sat down with her and told her the story of Gorp, the caveman, who needed to figure out how to count berries, or some such thing. He broke it down farther than I had even thought was necessary, I guess, but it worked. Now, with Algebra, he can spend several hours working with her on that during the week. She tried going to algebra tutoring, but it was her working alone and having to ask questions of the teacher, and she didn't feel comfortable doing that, so she decided to stick with working with her dad.

I've noticed, though, that went it comes to athletics, they seem to trump all. They can get in the way of church, of family meals, of weekends together, of other rehearsals, of homework, of play. They are serious. You can't just go to school and try out for an athletic team; you need to have already been playing on the various community leagues and teams. So my kids will probably never play any sport at this point in their life in school, unless it's in a school gym setting. It would be nice if there was a way just to play for fun and exercise, however, just as you can sing in a community group mainly for fun. The children's choir only rehearses once a week, and even that can be too much for some people. During the time they were preparing for the World Choir Games in Shaoxing, the kids started rehearsing together twice a week. When I played in a symphony orchestra, we rehearsed twice a week, and then had a Friday night rehearsal before a concert weekend that had two concerts. The Sacramento Children's Chorus rehearses twice a week. To get serious about the music, I think we'd have to rehearse more, but everyone seems too divided with all the activities they have to do.

I wonder is it possible to have some community sports teams that are more about having fun together, and some community choirs that can take it to a new level of artistry.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

24 May 2012

Earlier this week, perhaps Monday, I walked the dog around 8:15 and I was struck by how warm it was. It felt humid and I expected the air to cool me, but it did not. I checked the weather widget on my iPhone and it said it was 72˚F. I didn't see how that was possible, so I checked Wunderground for the humidity, and found that the temp and humidity readings at the closest location to me were 75˚ and 30%. That made more sense. I also downloaded Wunderground's smart phone app.

This morning I got up and put on a long sleeved shirt, because I heard it was going to be cold. And it was! I whipped my phone out again and checked my Wunderground app, which proclaimed it to be 60˚ F. No way was it that warm, my nose and forehead were cold by this point. So I checked my iPhone widget which said 46˚ F. Then I checked the Wunderground website, and saw that it was 50˚ with 35% humidity. All the readings on the map overlay were from 45˚ to 51˚ F. The one aberration was the KNRV site which said 60˚--even the airport said 48˚. So having other sources to confirm what I already was feeling was useful. The sun was hot on my back, and it felt warmer than 50˚ by the time I got back, so what I'm feeling is so dependent on other things too. When I write in the middle of the night, I'm much more emotional and, I believe, more eloquent. If you don't trust what you are feeling, wait a bit, I suppose.

I've been thinking lately of the hate the sin, love the sinner maxim that has been making more of an appearance more these days. I'm trying to make sense of it. If sin is a vice, a bad habit, an unhealthful practice like not getting enough sleep, smoking or the overconsumption of goods and the resultant waste that engenders--something that probably should be changed whether the person is willing to or not, then I suppose I can hate the sin. Fat people & smokers may fall into this category. Gay people may too, for some.

If the sin is something worse, like drug use that causes the "sinner" to harm other people by both legal and illegal means, that's something else. But you still may love the person as much as you detest what is happening to them. Or you may not, you may write them off completely as unwilling to leave their destructive lifestyle in favor of treatment. Gay people and fat people may fall into this category, as well as substance abusers.

If the person has beliefs and practices that are detestable to you, it is still possible to love the person even as you hate their politics. Right wing social conservatives fall into this category for me for the most part. Actually, even fiscally conservative Republicans who think they are doing good fall into this category, the first group is trickier. It's harder when the beliefs are so divergent that you feel that they are hurting people and choosing to bring sorrow into the world. Bigots--the people who want to keep a system in place that benefits the status while denying rights and power to a large group of people, it's hard to actually hard to believe they are just misguided. I try to, I try to love racists, I try to see people as a composite of good and bad with the bad not tainting the whole person. Especially since so many of us are racists just by the fact that we don't examine the practices and structures which keep exploitation in place.

But finally I come to my main idea, the one that got me thinking on all of this. I have been feeling very angry towards the Catholic church. Almost as soon as I was thinking it, the love the sinner hate the sin idea came into my head. But I don't know that I can love or find value in institutions that perpetrate crimes on people. I've always thought there was so much, good and bad about the Church that the important thing was to keep the good, throw out the bad, honor what was right. Now I think that maybe the whole thing needs to be dismantled and burned to the ground, and then rebuilt. I feel that the foundations are so corrupt, it's not possible to keep shoring up the main structure at this point.

I was not actually able to finish my thoughts on this topic before I had to leave the house. Suffice it to say that I know my opinions would be offensive to people, and it seems that I'm throwing the baby out with the bathwater, which has always been the opinion I've had. Our history will always be our history, we can't change it, we can just acknowledge how it influences us today, and move away from some of that influence rather than embracing it. But sometimes it seems impossible to overcome the decay of many years, especially when people refuse to open their eyes to the problem.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

22 May 2012

Today the Nevada Arts Council Partner-in-Excellence grants are due, so of course I stayed up until 3 am, trying to at least get down my complete narrative. When I first started this process, the narrative section seemed easy, but I skipped around and chose which questions to answer, figuring inspiration would strike later when I returned to the questions I found dull or problematic. And inspiration did strike in the sense that I have a better sense of what I feel my organization is trying to achieve. The issue then becomes how do I make my narrative fit their questions. When fitting questions to your own agenda, it's important to come across as stealthily as a polished diplomat, not as glaringly obvious as a Presidential candidate. Attempting to take their questions at face value doesn't work, as either the questions seem repetitive or non-relevant. So trying to get my ideas across in a way that explains what we are trying to do while somehow trying it into the question being asked is crucial.

The following question seems like it should be simple enough: 1. Describe your community and include: (a) its location in the state, (b) relevant community characteristics, and (c) demographics of its population. If you cite census data, please relate it to your programming decisions. I had an almost boilerplate answer for this last year, taken from the grants from the year before. All I had to do was recheck the latest census data. And, of course, in answering a question about the demographics of a population, I must use Census data, what else would I do? Yet they seem to be asking a different question, one I can't quite tease out. Tell us about your community, and don't try and skate by on this question by citing Census data. If you insist on using it, make it relevant. But how are the demographics of my community really relevant? From casual observation, the demographics of our concert are similar.

Early this morning, at 3 am as I was brushing my teeth before collapsing into bed, I thought maybe they really do want to know very specifically what the demographics of our audiences are. Maybe they want to know if the demographics of our audience match what I state in the population of my community. Maybe they want a better idea of what my community is, they don't want me to cite data about the Reno/Sparks/Tahoe/Carson area at large. But that is our community. This is who we try to reach, this is who we want to reach. That is how we envision our community.

Part of my difficulty here is my own opinion of Reno, recently formed in the last few years, when I see big commercial music acts getting lots of press and/or acclaim, but choral music getting not a lot of attention when choral music is much more accessible to the community at large in terms of performance opportunities. And choral music can be such a varied and complex art. Choral groups are so big in other countries, and choral singing has been taken to new levels of performance with the standards and judging criteria being set by organizations like Musica Mundi. When Reno has a choral festival, who comes? Mostly people from other states and other countries. They come and stay in the hotels and eat dinner, and spend money, and they are their own audience, since such a small segment of this community actually attends these concerts, many of which are ticketed but free.

When the American International Choir Festival was here, the news came out and filmed my choir singing on state for a panel. I came home eagerly to TiVo the news, and was disappointed to find out that they were only playing it from the angle of, "look how small this is, look how much money was wasted, RSCVA debacle!" Reno's craptastic attitude is a major part of the problem in attracting new events and new tourists. It's not all about how many hotel room dollars events are going to bring in, how we evaluate the worth of an event compared to the cost of having it is more complex. I think that Reno did get screwed by the Interkultur, because in wanting to hold successful choir festivals in the US, they are perhaps not considering their audience. The cost of actually attending their events as a performing group are prohibitive, and if you're trying to get something new off the ground, something that already doesn't have status, you're going to have to offer a bigger incentive.

But Reno should also consider the question of whether an event enriches the area culturally by providing something to its residents, whether the residents will be supportive and make an event a success, and whether the combination of these things can help define the city as a venue for future world class events that may prove to be more lucrative. With the grant application, I'm somewhat disappointed that they chose to end with a very boring question, that doesn't seem to lend itself to a good meaty answer. I wish they had streamlined this process even more so that my narrative could read like an essay, and I could end with the question of why we deserve state funding, instead of having it stuck up near the top.

Monday, May 14, 2012

14 May 2011

It was a beautiful breezy day today. I went and sat outside with my dog, trying to figure out the new Nevada Culture Grants Online site, and discovered the grant proposal I'm writing is due sooner than I thought.

I took a brief afternoon nap with the wind blowing the tree against the house, which is a bit disconcerting although I've heard it so often. I think afternoon naps or rest time are what I'll remember most about this house--the afternoon sun coming in through the white blinds, making my room practically glow. Today is was more dappled and shaded with the blowing locust tree branches, and the room stayed cooler.

When I have time to lie and ponder things, I can feel stressed by all there is hanging over my head with this house. The thought occurred to me, as it often does, that I'm not really where I want to be, this isn't how I thought life would be. Simultaneously with this thought, usually, is remembering the hopefulness of youth when I knew I wasn't where I wanted to be, but there was always so much potential. So today I almost immediately asked myself where did I think I'd be at this point, and why, and why would I think I'm not in that place? I wanted to be married with children and a career, and here I am with at least part of that, right? I have a 13 year old and an 8 year old, they are doing well in school, I have a dog now to occupy my time, I have many volunteer opportunities, and I keep practicing my music.

The fantasies I had I still have, and they are for fun, they weren't any kind of life plan, honestly. I watched the series finale of Desperate Housewives last night, then I watched the last videos of my mom's time on earth. One of the characters mentioned that what is said about middle age is that your dreams for the future become your memories of the past. I had never heard that before. I've always lived with nostalgia for the past as well as dreams for the future. I'm not sure either one really has much bearing on reality, other than the reality of how I exist in my brain.

I had another thought yesterday, which is that people enjoy things that aren't pretty. When I think of the discordancy and noise of the music people find powerful and meaningful, beauty isn't a priority. Maybe that's why people do actually like me, although I am not beautiful.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

10 May 2012

A friend just posted on facebook about how someone called her a breeder. I was thinking of all the responses one could give to that, some of which are quite offensive. I'm capable of being quite offensive, I just try not to be most of the time.

Why yes I am...and you? -or-
Thanks! Sterile? -or-
Why bless your heart, sugar, did God curse your womb with barrenness?

this one could potentially lead to: I made a choice to to have children which you could follow up with I made a choice not to be an asshole, but we might have different priorities.

ohmygosh, Jack Russells, how did you know?!? squeal Are you a potential client? Do you want my business card?

with a disgusted air: You anti-choice zealots make me sick!

Yep. As were your parents. Did they make the right decision?

Yes, like many biological entities, I am capable of reproducing. Thanks for noticing something so obvious, I like remembering just how statistically normal I am.

Yep, and I breastfeed too--ask my about my reduced cancer risk, I can't wait to tell you all about it!

Thanks, but we prefer the term GIVER AND SUSTAINER OF LIFE!

My friend's response was that she is proud to be raising children who already have more class than she ever will.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

9 May 2012

I'm a Christian, let's get that clear right off the bat. I was baptized in the Presbyterian Church when I was 5 and 1/2. I was confirmed as a teen, and I've made a number of choices over the years to stick with Christ. I do love Jesus, so you can have my Christ when you pry him out of my cold, dead hands. But I'm the kind of Christian that feels like the Bible is too obviously influenced by humans, mostly males; the books that didn't make it in and did make it in influenced by humans, also mostly males. I tried reading the Bible as a child, and I always gave up. My husband read the Bible twice, first the King James and then the New International Version. He's not a believer, he's pretty much an atheist--maybe that's what reading the Bible through on your own gets you. He believes people can benefit from religious practice, as do I. And we both believe that religion can, has and will continue to kill. Religion is like anything other forms of humans attempting to organize, which is to say easily corrupted. The religion you have is almost always the product of your own cultural and tribal influences, or the result of trying to get away from those and being drawn to something that speaks to you internally.

I have core values, I know what I believe, and it *is* very important to me. And still I say I'm a Christian. People don't think I'm the right religion, so they tell me the good news of their own belief system. There are atheists doing atheist evangelism, telling me that if I don't believe everything the way it is written in the specific version of the Bible they quote, that I'm not a Christian. That I should give up the madness. There are other Christians telling me the same, but that I should repent and follow their truth. I've had LDS missionaries coming to my house for awhile, asking me to be baptized in their church, asking me to pray and God would show me the truth. I went to their church, it was nice, but when I prayed ll that happened was I dreamed that LDS missionaries were breaking into my house and coming in through my windows to try and kill me. It was a manifestation of the stress I felt, so I asked them to stop coming. I had Jehovah's Witnesses coming to my home for 2 years--that was how long it took me to get through the first book about what the Bible really teaches. I thought that by the end of it, I would either convert or become an atheist. But here I am, still a Presbyterian, understanding finally why the JW's have a problem with me.

So gay marriage: I wasn't raised knowing what being gay was. I amazingly didn't find out until I was in middle school, and kids were using it as a slur. I went home and asked my dad what being gay meant. He told me that it was when a man loved another man and or when a woman loved another woman. He said it in a way that I didn't mention sex, but left no question in my mind that he meant in a marrying way (although I didn't know it at the time, my father believed that if two people were living together and were having sex, they were married). I'm not sure I said anything other than I didn't know that existed. He didn't offer any further commentary. I have at least one friend who said he was raised knowing that being gay was wrong because of what it said in the Bible. Because he was gay, it was harmful to him as a kid. I told him I never picked up on the fact that the Bible said it was wrong.

Hadn't I read the story of Sodom and Gomorrah? Well, yes, many times. I never knew it had anything to do with same sex sex. In fact, this was the part of the Bible where I often gave up. Lot offers up his virgin daughters to the rampaging crowd. Then later his wife gets turned into a pillar of salt? What the heck? And if a woman is raped in town, she gets stoned to death. That was where I actually threw the Bible down on the floor in a huff. I was about 12 at the time. Yes, I read Sodom and Gomorrah a bunch of times, and the fact that the men wanted to have relations with the angels didn't seem strange to me. And from the Jehovah's Witnesses, I found out that angels did have sex with human women, and that's where the Nephilim came from, and God prohibited that from happening again. So the fact that humans and angels would have sex was a big no no however you sliced it.

As a teen, I still knew nothing about homosexuality, other than I knew I didn't want to be that way and was thankful that I wasn't, especially as a fat teen who felt completely exposed and hated. I was somewhat sympathetic to people who were, because I didn't see it as their fault, but I only thought there were 2 guys I knew who fit that description. AIDS became big news in the mid-80's, and network news magazine type shows did segments on flamboyant queers who had sex openly in parks. I was not impressed, I didn't get the need for anyone to flaunt any sexual activity.

In my second semester of college, 1985, I had to do a research paper for a writing class. I ended up doing it on gay rights. The material in the Alderman stacks was somewhat dated, but I learned a lot of things I hadn't know neverthelss. I read about the Stonewall Inn riot and the Rev. Troy Perry of the Metropolitan Community Church. He went around marrying gay couples within that church. At that point I decided that if people can have religious commitment ceremonies tying them together, then there was no reason to deny them the legal right to do this. Our civil law shouldn't follow one particular set of religious beliefs, especially if they were discriminatory. And that's really how simple it was for me. I wasn't even sure I liked a lot of the people I was reading about. The last thing I read was a poem where the author wished the reader was gay so we could see what it was like to crave the flesh of our own sex. Annoyed, I shut the book with finality and returned them all to the library, wrote my paper where I basically came down in favor of gay rights including marriage.

Later I went home and asked my sister if she supported gay rights, and we talked about it. We had never talked about gay issues before, but we decided we should raise our kids knowing that some people are gay and that's not a problem. And that's what we've done. I've never tried to assume that heterosexuality is the only option for them, even though the majority of human beings are. I became active in gay rights protesting in school, and mainstreaming was my thing. It often wasn't for my gay friends. Gay marriage wasn't usually the leading point, although the clear evidence that same sex couples lacked basic human rights because of not having something like marriage.

Nowaday gay marriage is a big issue, and many people aren't afraid to come out in favor of it, at least on the Internet. Meanwhile the rest of the people are busy passing amendments to state constitutions trying to ban it. And because of that, our President said that he is in favor of it. Ultimately it's a good sign, it's a sign of change happening that people don't like, and people pulling out last gasp efforts to keep things the way they were. But eventually, those of us who raised their children to believe being gay isn't a moral failing will have a bigger and bigger influence, and the unthinkable will become possible. I'm just sorry it won't help the people who need it now.

2 May 2012

This day was my elder daughter's 13th birthday. I was driving to the hospital for a breastfeeding coalition meeting, wondering if the hospital had any bulletin boards where I could post a flyer for her choir concert. I was thinking of the power the choir has to make me cry, not necessarily because of the subject matter, although that is part of it, but because of the sweetness of their voices working together. The fact that they come together every week to practice, and they work at it, and learn their song, and learn their parts, and cooperate with one another, and blend their voices, and make something beautiful that is greater than the sum of the individual parts. And, for the most part, my daughter doesn't even have an awareness of this. She often doesn't like going to choir rehearsal. She feels annoyed if people do a part incorrectly. She doesn't like the dress, she's not necessarily a performer. But she interprets the songs with the facial expressions she thinks are proper. She doesn't cry when she sings the songs, she thinks about what she's doing along with the other children, and then those who are lucky enough to be listening can hear the totality of it. I wish more of Reno could value hearing them.