Sunday, September 30, 2007

Letters, Madness and Hope.

After I wrote about reading Snow Falling on Cedars, I thought that I should also mention that Cam and I watched Clint Eastwood's Letters from Iwo Jima, recently.

I don't watch many war movies. They can be incredibly disturbing and leave me with haunting images. If a movie can leave you with haunting images...

This one won so many awards, I wanted to find out why. I was intrigued at the idea that the story was told from the perspective of the Japanese.

Eastwood directed the story beautifully. The character development was rich. I can think of one character I cared about in particular.

There was another I respected and appreciated. Another was impressive, loyal and honorable.

I cared about and sympathized with others and was surprised by one. I don't want to give away too much. If you haven't seen the movie, do. If you have, you likely know who I'm talking about already.

The bad guys in this movie were equally striking. I appreciated that the story shows how there are people with compassion and good character in every culture.

Unfortunately, despicable people are on all sides too. I would like to watch Flags of our Father's, to see the same battle from the US perspective.

My dad wrote a book about his experience serving in Vietnam. In A Taste of War, he says, "War is Hell. It is the absolute worst thing in the world and should be avoided at all cost."

Like my dad, many of the men who fought in WWII were drafted (or enlisted because they thought they were going to be drafted anyway).

They were forced to leave their wives and families behind to fight, be injured (emotionally, physically or both), possibly be killed or made to kill another human being. All this for a cause they may or may not have believed in or even understood.

It is madness to me. Unfortunately, war is not just ancient history. Only last month, Bush's new war adviser said a return to the draft was worth considering.

As a mother, I can not fathom that some government official could call my son into war.

We need to figure out how to move to Canada or Holland if something like that ever gets close to happening. (photo credit)

This weekend, Cameron participated in an international partnership project. The Lily Project brings design students from Japan to San Francisco to team-up and work collaboratively with Academy of Art students.

I'm proud of Cameron and the work his group did yesterday. They rallied around the idea of giving a Gift of Hope to the world.

I'll close with another quote from my dad. "I hope that you and your loved ones never face war and know only peace."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Fabulous First Day

"Just because something is hard doesn't mean you shouldn't try. It just means you should try harder." (photo credit)

I saw this message posted in a junior high classroom, last week. It seemed relevant and applicable to my decision to take this new job.

Cam's right, it has to be one of the best commutes in the world. We rode in together, which was lovely.

On my way home, while crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, I saw the full moon suspended, over the city, at dusk.

It looked different than this picture but was equally stunning.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Snow Falling on Cedars

Unintentionally, I seem to have been on a bit of a historical fiction kick, lately. I'd heard good things about both The Hummingbird's Daughter and Snow Falling on Cedars but didn't really know the premise of either until diving in.

Part of Snow Falling on Cedars is told from the perspective of a Japanese American citizen. Around the time of the attacks on Pearl Harbor, she shares her experience of being sent off to the internment camps with her family.

Another of the main characters takes us long with him on his unit's devastating attack on an island in Japan.

Both experiences were unbelievable.

I am not as enamored with this book at I am with THD but it is worthy of a mention. I just put the movie near the top of our queue.


Something strange happened here last night. Something I don't remember seeing since we arrived in California.

In the middle of the night, I was awake and saw lightning. Then, I heard thunder. Then it happened again.

Lightning. Thunder. Then, rain. (photo credit)

Not a lot of rain but considering we haven't had any in eight months or so, it was remarkable.

For a minute, I considered getting out of bed and going out to dance around in it. I considered waking the boy.

Then, I remembered that the rainy season is approaching and we may have more than enough rain soon.

The dark early season is here. My husband is asleep on the couch and it isn't even 9pm.

Usually, it is me. Last night, it was. Soon, I won't be able to stay awake past 7:30pm because it will be dark at 5:30pm.

"Rain. Feel it on my fingertips, hear it on the window pane... Wash away my sorrow. Take away my pain... Rain."

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Happy Birthday, Brother

Happy Birthday, John Wesley Powell.

No fair.

You've been to the Grand Canyon, with our folks, twice without me.

Good to talk with you today.

Chatting and photo sharing has been fun.

Soon you can beat me at chess too.

I hope you and Johanna enjoy your lunch.

32 is a good age.

Here's wishing you love, health and happiness in the coming year.

Welcome Home

Most of the people who read my blog also read Cameron's.

Many of you read Eric and Sarah's too.

So, you probably already know that Avery Mae and Ian James arrived on September 10th. Mae is Sarah's maternal grandmother's name. James is Eric's paternal grandfather's name.

Avery weighed 6 pounds 3 ounces and was 19 inches long. Ian was 5 pounds 15 1/2 ounces and 20 inches long. Everyone is fairing remarkably well.

We wish we were able to be there with them. Until then, we greatly appreciate the photos and videos they've taken the time to capture and share.

I saw this photo of the family together at home this morning and wanted to officially welcome them home. Congratulations, everyone.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

At least we got one in.

When Cam took his new job and learned he wouldn't have class or have to go into the city on Fridays, he suggested I plan to regularly take a Friday off too. It would be our date day.

It was a very sweet suggestion. I'd already agreed to work the next Friday but marked myself unavailable to work on the following one.

Then, I decided to take my new job. I will be working full time, 40 hours a week in an office in the city. My commute will add another two hours to my day everyday. I'm sure all of it will be worth it but I do wish I were able to have our date days. Heading to the beach at 4pm on a Friday is a good thing too.

Who knows? There is some flexibility built into my schedule. I need to be available to meet with volunteers before or after they go to work, even over their lunch hour, whatever works. And, the next few Tuesday nights, I have training from 6-9pm. (Also Cam's late night.)

The idea is that I work from 12-9 on those days. Maybe I can come in at my regular time, take a few breaks throughout the day and bail a few hours early on some Fridays?

Anyway, I'm not complaining. I'm thrilled to be starting soon.

The point of this post was to say, "We had a date day and it was fun."

Avatar's, yum.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Making Friends, cont.

Last Friday, on his way home from school, Sam ran into a kid in from his class. Stefen is new to the school. His family just moved from the Detroit area. It turns out they live just up the street from us. We were all excited to learn about our new neighbors.

The kids played all last weekend and we throughly enjoyed the little boy laughter coming from Sam's room. They spent a lot of time scootering and skateboarding around the neighborhood too.

Cam suggested we take the kids to the beach on Friday after school.

I love this shot of Stefen and his 7-year-old brother, Nickolas soaking in Stinson Beach.

They said they'd been to the beach one other time since moving here but it was only about 50 degrees that day. Friday afternoon was gorgeous.

Sam broke out his skimboard right away.

Check out Cam's blog for skim-
boarding pics from Labor Day

Being at the beach together was lovely and relaxing.

Cam thought to pack the boogie boards we brought back from Myrtle Beach.

Sam took his out and was having a blast. Cam decided to join him.

Brave, soul.

This week, at back to school night, I read that Cam is Sam's hero.

Part of what he wrote said, "He plays with me."

Stefen and Nick played in the sand for awhile.

Soon, all three of them were out in the surf.

Had enough.

Drying off silliness.


Playing Frisbee with Cam is so much fun.

He throws it right to you, making it as easy as possible to catch.

And he doesn't mind if your throw is lousy, that just gives him a chance to sprint for an impressive catch.

Sam has become a really impressive skim-
boarder, in only three outings.

I enjoyed watching him im-

He would glide along for quite a distance, sometimes.

Way to go, Kid.

You're my hero.

Despite the enjoyable weather, I didn't even want to get into the cold water.

Seemingly unfazed, Sam kept at it for hours.

When he did join us, we enjoyed chilling on the sand together.

Stefen launched into an impressive narrative about an amazing, supernatural person he invented, named Mr. Fibbs.

Cam snapped this shot on our ride home.

What a wonderful way to kick off the weekend.

I hope you enjoy yours.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Unite Again

Because I believe that we can accomplish more when we work together to help one another, I'm supporting Barack Obama. (photo credit)

I've never been involved in a political campaign before but I believe this man wants to do right things and make a worthwhile difference.

On Saturday at noon, I'm meeting a handful of other people at a woman's house in Mill Valley where we will share food, conversation and help build momentum for Barack. (photo credit)

They are asking us to reach out and make direct contact with voters in the states with early elections. That sounds like we'll be making phone calls but I don't know for sure.

At one point in my career transition, I made phone calls for a plastics manufacturer. I figured if I can call people about plastics, I can call people about hope. (photo credit)

I'd be honored if you wanted to join me. Or, click on this link to find a house party near you.

To read things I have written about why I support Barack, click here or here or here.

Click on the next link to read a statement Barack made today in remembrance of September 11th asking us to come together again so hope may triumph over fear. (photo credit)

Thanks for your consideration.

Thanks, Brother.

My brother, John is a photo-
grapher. He does other things for a living too but one of the things he gets paid for doing is taking pictures, video usually but capturing images is one of his gigs.

He caught this shot while we were walking down the trail to Agate Beach. I'd just taken their picture. Then, Sam ran ahead to me and John caught us looking peaceful, happy and relaxed, which we were, which is cool. Anyway, I like it. Thanks, Brother.

Good to "chat" with you yesterday. Thanks for being open to a new form of communicating and teaching me new things about it already.

Eric and Sarah, I was just thinking that IM might not be a bad way for you guys to communicate with the outside world while you are home with the NEW BABIES.

You can be on when you are open to receiving messages and off when you aren't. You don't have to hold it in your hands and can walk away from it and come back whenever you want. You can type as much or as little to someone as you like.

Anyway, I'm sure you are going to be focused on communicating with those babies, primarily but when you want to say hello or hear from others, it is a though.

Congratulations. So happy everything went well.

Welcome Avery and Ian.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

I'm going for it.

Almost a month ago, I learned about an organization called CASA. They provide volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) to children who have been abused or neglected and are now living in foster care.

The nation-wide program was started by a judge who noticed that children who have someone to speak on their behalf faired remarkably better than those who do not.

The idea was (and is) that if everyday citizens could be empowered to spend a little bit of time with a child each week, listen, talk, care and pay attention to how they are fairing, then speak-up on their behalf, their chances of living a happy healthy life improve dramatically.

The benefits that a CASA volunteer provides a foster child have been well documented. A recent audit conducted by the US Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General demonstrates that once a CASA volunteer is assigned, approximately:
  • 95% of children do not languish in long-term foster care.
  • 90% of children do not reenter the child welfare system.
Knowing someone cares enough to look out for them makes all the difference in the world.

What a cool concept. I wanted to know more right away. I picked up the phone and found out that the next day they were offering a volunteer information session. Sign me up.

There, I learned that in San Francisco alone, 2000 kids are living in foster care. Currently, only 10% of them are paired with a CASA volunteer.

They explained that social workers and lawyers are often asked to serve 40-60 kids at a time. While they do their best to meet those kid's needs, normally, they see each child only once every six months.

That isn't enough to really know what is in the child's best interest.

They explained that if I had 2-4 hours a week to dedicate to improving the life of a child, I could become a CASA. (You could be come a CASA.) It seemed like something I absolutely wanted to do.

At the same time, I learned that San Francisco CASA was hiring. They needed a Case Supervisor to work with and support volunteers.

This sounded like the kind of job I have been searching for these past few years. Not only would I get to be a child advocate, I would help others advocate for kids. I applied for the position.

During the next few weeks, I went back for two interviews, they considered other candidates and checked my references.

We spent time talking and thinking about what would be best for our family. As excited as I was about the idea, I realized the job would mean longer days with less time off.

I would also be required to commute into the city. I was excited about having stimulating new experiences but worried about having to leave home earlier and getting home later and honestly I was a little intimidated. (photo credit)

This week, my summer ended and I went back to work as a substitute teacher. It was fun being back. I went to three different schools and was greeted warmly with hugs and praise at each one.

I have really enjoyed working as a substitute teacher. Interacting with a large community of teachers and kids, stepping in when they need help and having the same schedule as Sam has had many benefits.

Then, yesterday afternoon, I received the call, I had been told to expect from CASA, along with a job offer. I decided to take it.

I have decided that having something challenging and stimulating in my life is a good thing. Instead of worrying that maybe I can't, I have decided that it is better for me to know that I can. I have decided to work full time on one of the problems that matter.

Cameron and Sam have been incredibly supportive of the idea from the beginning.

Yesterday, one of the teachers at Sam's school told me about a conversation she had with him recently. When she asked him what I was up to, he answered, "She's going to be a child advocate."

I'm going to be a child advocate.

Can you believe it?

I can.