Monday, November 23, 2009

Chasing the Storm

On the night of December 2nd, 2007 the coast of Washington and Oregon was slammed by hurricane force winds that left a wake of destruction reminiscent of the eruption of Mt. St. Helen’s or the atmospheric explosion of a meteorite. The infrastructures of the communities that dot the coastal region were devastated. Roads were rendered impassible, power lines were down everywhere as were telephone lines. Flooding was rampant in communities built near the sea. My mother lives in Ilwaco, Washington at the mouth of the Columbia River and for three days we were out of contact with her. Although phone lines were down we knew that she was sitting in a cold dark apartment. As soon as the roads onto the Long Beach Peninsula were opened we drove down to see what we could do to help her. By the time we arrived her ordeal of no power had just ended so we got her some fresh groceries and promised that should any other such storm that promised so much devastation be headed toward her we would come and fetch her away.

Last week the coast was pummeled by storm after storm. Mother came through the first four with her lights only being out for 2 and a half hours. I became complacent. Friday night I checked the NOAA website and it looked like the storm predicted for Saturday night wasn’t going to be as bad as that which they’d had on Monday. Sunday morning we woke to the news that the coast of Washington had been slammed by a storm that had been much more severe. From a Facebook friend who lives in Ilwaco we learned that not only was the power out (her parents have a generator), but that it was a major BPA line that might take as long as 3-5 days to repair. Although the phone lines were not down this time, we were out of contact with my mother because her corded phone was malfunctioning and her cordless phone had no power. The question became what should we do?

After making phone calls to PUD, the Pacific County Sheriff’s Department, and my cousin who lives down there I came to the conclusion that I had no choice but to drive down and rescue my mother from her cold dark apartment. How I was going to get her down the stairs from the second floor I would deal with when I got there. A check of the DOT website indicated that the roads were open so my husband and I hopped in the car and were off. Clearly this storm had not been anywhere as devastating as the 2007 storm. The more inland communities appeared to have power although during the day it is difficult to tell which houses had lights on. When we got to Montesano we stopped for a bathroom and snack break and that is where we were when my aunt called to say that the power had just come back on. She’d spoken to my mother who was fine. At that point we could have turned around and gone back to Gig Harbor, but we decided to complete the trip and take her the telephone. Although we will be going to Ilwaco for Thanksgiving the fact that the coast has had storm after storm the past week my knowing that my mother now has a phone that should work even if the power goes out again.

Life on the Washington/Oregon coast makes being prepared a necessity. It is difficult to care for an aging mother from 150 miles away and the time will come when we will have to move our mode of operations to Ilwaco. We are wrestling with out desire to live their fulltime vs our desire to help our children who live with us. Can’t put a cute grandson to the curb, but don’t like leaving a great-grandmother sitting in the cold for days at a time.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Aunt Bee's Sweet 'Tators

Today I continued my Thanksgiving preparations by baking yams. When we were living in California my mother cut out an ad (or maybe she saw it on TV) and ordered a copy of Aunt Bee’s Mayberry Cookbook. My mother loves to cook and loves cookbooks. Not only does this particular cookbook contain literally heart-stopping recipes, it also has pictures from Andy Griffith’s Mayberry show. Because the recipes are very down home, but very unhealthy, I don’t use the cookbook much, but at holidays I figure calories and fat don’t count. Several years ago I was fishing around for a sweet potato recipe that did not involve marshmallows because my husband thinks that they are disgusting prepared that way.

To me Thanksgiving is a time when it is okay to eat those old fashioned high calories dishes so I pulled out Aunt Bee’s and discovered “Raleigh’s Budding Executive Sweet ‘Tater Casserole.” This recipe is not exactly sugar free; on the contrary, but there are no marshmallows so I made it. My husband says that it’s still pretty sweet for a side dish, but the children fell in love with it. I use yams only because they are prettier. I also double the recipe because it will generously fill a 9X13 inch pan and maybe leave you some to have with leftover turkey. I’m freezing my yams for transport to Ilwaco next week where I will put the whole thing together, but I have also baked the whole thing ahead and frozen it.

Raleigh’s Budding Executive Sweet ‘Tater Casserole

3 C. cooked, mashed sweet potatoes (my daughter-in-law has taken canned yams in her suitcase to make this recipe in Brazil and it worked fine.)
1 C. white sugar
2 eggs
1tsp. vanilla extract (if you use imitation, which you shouldn’t, use twice as much)
1/3 C. milk
½ C. butter
1 C. brown sugar
1/3 C. all-purpose flour
1/3 C. butter
1 C. pecans—chopped

In a mixing bowl combine the sweet potatoes, sugar, eggs, vanilla, milk, and ½ C. butter. Beat until smooth. Turn the mixture into a casserole dish. In a bowl combine brown sugar, flour, and 1/3 C. butter. Crumble the mixture over the potato mixture and sprinkle with pecans. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. You can do this while the turkey is standing.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thanksgiving Memories

Next to Halloween, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. What I like about it is that Madison Avenue hasn’t figured out a way to commercialize it. Oh sure, Safeway and Fred Meyer will try to get you to spend a lot of money—$150 this year—to get a free turkey, but for the most part they have had to resort to whipping up the buying frenzy for the day after Thanksgiving in what has become known as Black Friday. We are untraditional in that we don’t participate in Black Friday because that is the day we celebrate Thanksgiving.

We started doing that a number of years ago when the children lived in Tacoma and there was only one bridge across the Narrows. Apparently every grandma with family in Tacoma must live in Gig Harbor or the Olympic Peninsula because it took the children two hours to make a twenty minute trip. Finally, my middle son asked if we couldn’t just have dinner the next day. It seemed highly unorthodox, but we quickly discovered that the turkey and stuff and all of the trimmings tasted the same on Friday as on Thursday and a new tradition was born. Now we have moved our celebration 150 miles to the Long Beach Peninsula where my mother, her sister, and my cousin live. It’s a logistical battle plan to get everything to our old Victorian in Ilwaco, but otherwise my little extended family is alone and resort to Thanksgiving at Denny’s or something equally as sad.

I asked some friends what their favorite Thanksgiving memories are. One said that her brother made a “pie” of marshmallows, peanut butter, candy bars and every other sweet he could get his hands on when he was a child. Another said that her mother let her and her siblings chose their favorite food and prepared everything from tacos to spaghetti for Thanksgiving.

One of my favorite memories is of one of our first years during our stint in California. The holidays made me more homesick than I was on a daily basis, missing the green of Washington and my extended family of uncles, aunts, grandparents and my dad. We had only my husband’s cousin, who being from Iran was a little fuzzy on what Thanksgiving was supposed to be, so we did what we could to make the day seem special. At the time I was working shelving books in a library and had brought home a book of children’s poetry just before this one particular Thanksgiving. My middle son decided to read a poem to entertain us after dinner and I still remember him getting dressed up in his best clothes and putting on a red bow tie. Suddenly the thousand miles between California and home shrank and Thanksgiving came to where we were. It was priceless.

Our first Thanksgiving back in Washington was pretty special. After some help from my cousin we were able to secure a house to rent in Chinook. My uncle in Beaverton, Oregon had sent us a turkey and the Elks in Long Beach gave us one, too along with boxes and boxes of food. Our table groaned that year and my mother’s sister and my cousins and their children all gathered at our house and it was reminiscent of years long ago at my grandparents in Vancouver.

When we began taking Thanksgiving from Gig Harbor to Ilwaco we began another tradition that just happened as a result of the long, usually dark, drive from Gig Harbor to there. Wednesday afternoon after school I would take my daughter and my youngest son, the dog and the turkey and whatever else we needed and we’d head out. After stopping to eat along the way I’d turn on KGO talk radio. That’s a San Francisco station that I got into the habit of listening to during our six years in the Bay Area. Bernie Ward was the late night host and the night before Thanksgiving was always a discussion of cooking turkeys. While Amy slept in the backseat, Nadir and I listened to all the calls and all the ways people were cooking their turkeys. Because KGO has such a big broadcast tower they would get calls from all over the Western and Southwestern United States so there were lots of opinions. We made our trek this way several years in a row until one year Nadir cooked the turkey himself after having soaked it in brine.

Buying our 15.5 pound organic turkey yesterday was bittersweet because now Nadir lives in the Bay Area and won’t be with us this year, but I can already feel the merriment next week will bring as most of the rest of us gather in our old house. We have friends whose only child lives elsewhere and have been adopted by us. They are in charge of the turkey and have been ever since they persuaded us to let them barbeque one. It was and always is the best turkey I’ve ever put in my mouth. They have trucked their Weber all the way from Gig Harbor to give this gift of a succulent bird to us.

As with most other Americans, my weekend will be filled with preparing for next week. One of the beauties of Thanksgiving is that it is something that every American participates in. Since it is not a religious holiday, no one need feel left out. I know as I bake my cornbread for stuffing and make my sweet potato casserole to be frozen and then driven, that there are others baking pies and polishing silver. We are a part of a huge celebration of remembering our blessing.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Getting Twice the Husband at Half the Income.

For about a year we have been living with the knowledge that my husband’s job was going to end. The only question was when. Dave works at Seattle Flight Service briefing pilots on the weather and filing flight plans. This is a job he’s done since he was in the Army in the 1970s. During the 1980s he went to work for the FAA when Regan fired all the air traffic controllers. He’s been at the Seattle facility since 1989. Three years ago Lockheed Martin won the bid to take over the flight service section of the FAA. The result of this effort to save money has been reduced staff, inferior equipment, and unhappy employees. Fortunately, Dave had enough time in with the FAA to retire from the government before he went to work for Lockheed Martin. We’ve not touched his retirement which has gone into an ING account. We all know how well the economy’s been doing so we are not going to be living in the lap of luxury.

Over the past year the skeleton staff at Seattle Flight Service has been rife with rumors and interpretations of everything Lockheed did, trying to discern which facilities were going to be closed and when. We’ve joked that they’ve done everything to read the minds of the Lockheed executives, but hire a gypsy to read tea leaves. Yesterday, as Dave says, the hammer fell. February 1st has been set for the closure of the Seattle facility. Scheduling the closure just before the Olympic in British Columbia is as mysterious as everything else Lockheed has done since they took over.

Twenty-ten promises to be a very different year for us as I gain twice the husband at half the income. I intend to share our journey with you and the decisions we make. Our first is to not panic. Last year we made a commitment to my son, daughter-in-law and grandson, who live with us, to stay in Gig Harbor for three more years. That is to give them time to develop a little nest egg toward a place of their own when we sell the family home and move to the coast. We’ve two more years on our commitment and intend to make good on it. We just have to pull together. And there's always the Top Ramen. Hee, hee. Just kidding.

A Quilting Blog to Comfy Up With

Blogonia buddy Lorraine Hart sent me the link to a new blog, An Appalachian Quilter’s Blog. It is managed by a semi-retired councilor and quilter who also has a book blog. According to her profile she lives in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, fifty years in the past, in “Mayberry” and not far from the real Mayberry the show was based on. I am adding her to my list so when you visit here you can see if she’s got something new and click right over to the blog.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Swimming in the Stream of Consciousness

Yesterday when I went out to walk Loki in the morning darkness, the wind was singing in the Doug Firs. I love the sound of the wind in Doug Firs and I felt that I could stand outside much longer than I had. It made me think of another storm long ago when I stood outside listening to the wind in other Doug Firs. My reminiscing about that night drew me into the stream of consciousness and I floated back to a very different part of my life.

The Fall of 1987 the children, my mother and I were living on Top Ramen in a drafty old house in Chinook, WA after having run away from my Iranian in-laws in CA. Despite being frightened, desperately poor, and much of the time without a car, there are things from that period that I find myself getting nostalgic over. When you’re living on the edge, small things can take on a heightened sense of importance.

After six years in CA I was very glad to be back in WA. It is not that I hadn’t attempted to love CA. I had, but no matter how hard I told myself that it would be my home for the rest of my life, on some cellular level I don’t think I had ever believed it. I was homesick in every fiber of my being for six years, so even being cold and poor I was happier in a house with no phone or cable two blocks from the Columbia River where the East wind could bring the bitter wind out of the Gorge, racing for the ocean.

So, frequently when Autumn arrives, I think back to that one we spent in Chinook and how different our lives are now. I would not return to those days for the world, but I do long for the simplicity of that time, minus the Top Ramen. This morning the wind in the trees took me back.

Come out into the storm,
You said to me,
And listen to the wind
Singing in the fir trees.

You stretched your arms
Toward the blackened sky
While Doug Firs swayed
In the Autumn storm.

A warrior you were,
Come back with
Wounded spirit
That fed on the energy
Of the tempest.

For a moment then,
Outside in the dark,
The drafty old house on the river
And meals of Top Ramen fell away,
As we danced with the trees.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Virtual Farming

I play Farmville on Facebook. My husband thinks it’s kind of cool. My son Frank and his wife think I’m nuts, but my youngest plays, too and gives me tips as to how to make the most of my virtual farm.

Saturday morning on NPR Scott Simon interviewed Dean Takahashi, a blogger who writes in the Bay Area about gaming and technology, about the Farmville phenomenon. It turns out that I’m one of nearly 64 million people who have a little virtual patch of earth. Three of my coworkers play, too. They, along with my son, are my virtual neighbors on Farmville. One stopped me in the hall last week and we chatted about the blessing and curse of technology. “We just end up fertilizing each other’s fields,” Pat said. “I know,” I told her, but I really enjoy it!” “I do, too,” Pat laughed. We concluded that we’d each like simpler lives, but would never give up our technology.

I’ve spent the weekend thinking about why I like Farmville. In his interview with Takahashi, Simon theorized that while farms are declining in the United States, people yearn for what appears to be a simpler life. A fanciful simpler life. That’s part of it. Personally, in my early 20s having a farm was my fantasy. It never happened, but I can have a virtual farm on Facebook. Are you ever too old to pretend?

Hard core gamers are not attracted to Farmville. It’s not action packed. It’s like…watching vegetables grow. It’s only as competitive as you want it to be. Mostly you’re competing with yourself to get the most out of your plot to be able to expand and to “buy” things for your farm. The game is free although you can spend real money to get some of those things. I never would do that. I’m shooting to get to level 26 so I can buy the farm house I want. When I have enough “money” I will also expand my farm so there’s more room for crops and animals.

And you get to help your neighbors. You fertilize their gardens so they get more “experience” which translates into virtual money and you also get to send them gifts of animals, trees, and farm equipment. In most games the idea is to obliterate your neighbor. I like the gentleness of Farmville and it helps me to unwind after work. It’s a place where I have some control (the animals will walk around if you don’t make them stay or contain them) and it’s replaced solitaire on the computer for me.

For a long time I resisted signing up for Facebook, but it’s been a wonderful way for me to connect with old friends and new, and play games.

Excuse me. I have to go harvest my blueberries and decide what to plant next. Gotta get that farm house!

A Rambling Rose

Reader’s who followed the posts I put up for Pat Kurz, Tacoman and Gig Harbor High School teacher, who spent a semester during the 2007-08 school year teaching in China, will be happy to know that Pat has continued to write. I am here to introduce her blog, Roseman’s Ramblings. Among her talents as teacher, writer and gamer, Pat is a gardener, particularly of roses (hence the name). In her blog she examines life as a Baby Boomer in a new century. She’s eclectic and gritty. She tells it like it is.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembering Veteran's at Tahoma National Cemetery

My father was a survivor of Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Midway. He served his country as a civilian aeronautical engineer during Operations Red Wing and Hardtack. The plaque that memorializes him is a thousand miles away in the Missouri Ozarks. I can’t take him flowers for Veteran’s Day, but since both my husband and I have the day off from work and like to do something meaningful to honor those who have served (so did my husband in peace time) we decided we would attend the ceremony at Tahoma National Cemetery in Covington, WA where the father and brother of my best friend are buried. Our families have known each other since we were very little girls and I knew she could not attend herself as she lives and works in Oregon. She did not get the day off.

Gail’s dad was a pilot in the Army Air Corps during WWII, flying a Liberator over Germany. He went on to be a Boeing Test pilot and carried his love of flying into retirement by building his own airplane. Both of his sons became pilots, one for the Air Force and one for the Army. The younger son, Neal, whom we took flowers, did two tours in Vietnam as a chopper pilot. His sudden death this Spring was the latest loss in a string of them for the family. All are buried at Tahoma.

I hate the fact that commercial enterprises turn Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day into sale days meant to line their pockets. I sent Amazon a nasty email at Memorial Day because of that and emailed the History Channel complaining because they turned Memorial Weekend into a Monster Quest marathon. Having said that, I was disappointed to find that Safeway had not made up any very patriotic looking bouquets and had them cobble together a bouquet of red carnations and one of baby’s breath into two, which the floral department clerk tied with red and white ribbon. It would have to do.

My girlfriend had suggested that I wear red, white and blue for the occasion which proved a problem since nearly everything in my closet is purple. I dug out my red jumper, generally reserved for Christmas and Valentine’s Day, and a white blouse. Carefully I pinned the WWII Sweetheart pin my mother wore onto my red sweater. No matter that they divorced when I was 18. For me it symbolizes my love and honor for my father.

Because it had been extremely rainy all week I asked my daughter-in-law to help me find my good umbrella. The sun was out, but I wanted to ensure that it would stay out. It turned out that it was a wonderful day for a drive and to wander around Tahoma National Cemetery. With my girlfriends directions we found first her father’s grave and then her brothers. People are buried in the order they arrive at Tahoma. Spouses can be buried together, but there are no “family plots.” After we had placed our flowers and taken pictures we walked to the flag area where there were formal ceremonies going on. When a cloud obscured the sun and the ceremonies were winding down we moved toward the car.

On our way out of the cemetery we stopped and paid our respects to Dave’s friend from the FAA, Chris Beal. Chris emigrated from England right out of school and joined the U.S. Army. He went to Vietnam because he wanted to really feel like he was giving to his new home country. He became a citizen and stayed in the Army to retirement. After the military he went to work for the FAA from which he also retired before his death in 2007.

Back in Tacoma we went out for a late lunch in Old Towne. The ladies went to the Hawthorn Tearoom and the fellas across the street to the Spar for fish and chips. Our timing was perfect in that we all finished at the same time and the weather was deteriorating by the time we got in the car to head home to Gig Harbor. It was satisfying to have participated in the ritual of taking flowers to soldiers and to remember my father, even if he is buried so far away. I still have some of my father’s ashes that I’d intended to take to Pearl Harbor, but am now thinking of asking the VA if we can put them at Tahoma. Then his family would have someplace closer at hand to go for Veteran’s Days.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Day of the Dead

This post is a week late. My excuse is that we’ve all been under the weather to a greater or lesser degree in our house and actually it was a little more than a week ago that I began to feel punk. Better late than never, my mother always says so here goes.

On the 1st of November the children, grandbabies and I attended the Tacoma Art Museum’s “Day of the Dead” exhibit. Left to my own devices I probably would have stayed home and might have been the better for it, but my oldest son Joshua had a painting that was part of one of the altars in the exhibit and it being a sunny Sunday after Halloween I felt that as a mother and someone who truly feels the nearness of the dead at this time of year I met Josh and his family at their home in Tacoma and we drove to the park and ride where we rode the little train to the museum. It would have been easier to park at the museum, but five-year-old granddaughter Linda wanted to ride the train and since it was free we decided to indulge her. Frank & Ana brought five-year-old Gabriel in their own car and parked at the museum. Although they had to pay for parking, the entrance was free that day so it made up for the parking.

In the lobby of the Tacoma Art Museum was a bright sand painting welcoming us and the dead who were being honored. The Day of the Dead is a largely Hispanic practice, but after attending the exhibition daughter-in-law Ana and I have decided that it will become our family practice as well.

Upstairs were the altars. Some were created by individual artists, some by groups including school classes. As we walked around looking at the imaginative things on the altars, most decorated with marigolds, the traditional flow for the Day of the Dead. Each altar was as individual as the person for whom it was created. The artist who had created the one that Josh’s painting of a skull was incorporated into had placed many, many corks on it as well as an empty beer bottle. We concluded that her grandfather was fond of drink, but his picture in uniform from WWII was respectfully displayed in the middle. There was no judgment.

Besides the display of altars there were activities. Granddaughter Linda first wanted to get her face painted while the rest of us waited in line to decorate sugar skulls. Children and adults alike enjoyed creating colorful sugar skulls to take home. Another room was given over to the making of tissue paper flowers which the children enjoyed.

Downstairs in a small performance room dancers and bands performed. Being a small room there was not room for all those who would have liked to see the performances. The babies sat on adult shoulders and got to see some of it, but when the press of the crowd became too much we all wandered off to look at other museum exhibits.

The day was a great success. My high school art teacher son got ideas for next year and his Clover Park students and Ana and I came away with ideas for an altar in our home next year. To have the opportunity to go to the museum for free and to experience the Day of the Dead exhibition was wonderful. I highly recommend that more people take advantage of the gift Tacoma Art Museum give to citizens by making this event (and others) free.

Two tired museum goers ride the train back to the park and ride.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The massacre at Ft. Hood is tragic and possibly a demonstration of how difficult it is to live up the ideals of our founding fathers as outlined in the Constitution and to which we aspire. There is no possible justification for the actions of Nidal Hasan and one could strongly make a case for people with personality disorders being draw to the psychiatric and psychologically professions, but there is something in American society that disenfranchises citizens who are not of Northern European dissent.

With the exception of the Native American population we are a nation of immigrants. Some families have been here for more than 400 years, some, like Hasan’s, since the 1950s, some since the Vietnam War and many we are “welcoming,” with more or less success, as a result of the wars the United States is currently embroiled in. Unfortunately there is an element in this country that because they descend from that Northern European stock thinks that other immigrants, legal and illegal, is changing the fabric of the United States. That’s true, but it doesn’t follow that the change is bad. If we aspire to be the land of equality and opportunity we surely ought not to be the land of stagnation. Each person who comes here with aspirations of bettering themselves not only are following in the footsteps of those who arrived on the Godspeed or the Mayflower, but bring with them new colors and traditions to enrich what is already here.

There are cries from some quarters to “take back the country” meaning roll back the clock to the 1950s or farther where only certain people enjoyed the freedoms of the Constitution. Instead, it is the liberal minded people who need to rally for taking back the ideals upon which this country was founded and be having tea parties of their own demanding that every citizen be given a fair shake at pursuing happiness in health.

During WWII the United States Government rounded up Americans of Japanese decent and put them in concentration camps for the duration of the war. One of the few tickets out was for men to join the Army as part of the 442nd, the mostly highly decorated unit in American military history, all the while their parents, wives, sisters, nieces and nephews were living through one of the country’s most shameful episodes. Following 9-11 I feared that the hysteria over people of Middle Eastern decent would cause the Bush Administration to do something similar. My own fear was personal since my youngest son is of Persian decent. Fortunately Bush kept his concentration camp small and located on the Island of Cuba.

The American media are not guiltless in perpetuating stereotypes of people who don’t fit the European model. For years Hollywood used Italian Americans to play grunting American Indians or even more ridiculously blue eyed Jeff Chandler who played no only Cochise, but Jesus as well. Even if you suspend your disbelief to swallow the notion that there was a time in this country when whites believed that all the Indians were gone, I have no clue where Hollywood thought the Jews had got to since many of them were heads of studios. Since they were still being excluded from country clubs maybe those movie moguls thought it better not to rock that boat. Now we have a new movie, Prince of Persia, based on the video game of the same name. Who has Hollywood cast as the prince? A Swede. Go figure. Persians have a hard enough time getting Americans to understand that they aren't Arabs. Now they have this whole Swede thing to deal with.

Unfortunately, much of the bleating masses in this country get their history and cultural lessons from movies and television including the faux news on FOX. Those entities have the power to shape American opinion even if they claim only to entertain and can do more to damage the American aspiration to live up to the ideals of freedom, democracy, equality, opportunity and rights.

As the two American holidays of Veteran's Day and Thanksgving draw near, it is up to ever right minded American to do whatever they can to ameliorate injustice where they find it and pray that there is no backlash from this most recent tragedy in Texas.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Working for the Ideals

Yesterday my husband Dave and I chose to spend part of Halloween standing on a street corner in Tacoma, demonstrating for equal rights for all citizens. Those who put Initiative 71 before the people sought to over-turn the State of Washington’s “everything, but marriage, law” passed last year. Just when it seemed that Washington had struck a blow for fairness and enlightenment, the unenlightened Born Again Hypocrites in the state thought that they’d make and end-run around equality.

What drew us out despite our overwhelming belief that 71 will pass was the experience last weekend of a coworker who had demonstrated in front of Border’s Books on 38th in Tacoma. He was verbally abused by a church group demonstrating to reject the initiative. The story made its way around the local Facebook community and another rally was born. We were all excited when Dave decided to go across the street and stand with the Reject group. He left when they brought out a bull horn, but the Tacoma Police Department made them put it away.

Dave and I fail to see how allowing committed couples to make decisions about end of life issues, inheritance, and benefits impacts their lives. If anything, we see it as strengthening of the entire community of Americans. We also honor every American’s right to an opinion and free speech so we were respectful of the Slavic church group who showed up with their “one man, one woman, protect the children,” but really can’t understand how Initiative 71 is damaging to anyone’s children or marriage, especially since it has nothing to do with marriage. Of course they had the “slippery slope” theory which also doesn’t hold water since the fact that the heterosexual couple down the street gets a divorce or our homosexual friends are allowed to marry, impacts our marriage not in the least.

One of the beauties of American democracy is not only the right to free speech, but freedom of religion which means that no one can force their religious values down the throat of any other citizen. The Declaration of Independence was about the ideals of equality, opportunity, liberty, rights and democracy. We did not begin as a nation adhering to all of these ideals for every citizen, but we are an ever evolving society, seeking to make the dream come true for everyone.