Sunday, March 29, 2009

The trip to London! No, Amsterdam! No Hawaii.....

Top Ten True Things about Stand-by Travel

10. Spending two days in an airport at the beginning and end of a trip is "normal".

9. Burger King for breakfast, lunch and dinner is SO a balanced vacation diet.

8. Stand-by travelers who miss flight after flight together come to be a rumpled, tired kind of family, and shake hands and pound backs when one of them finally makes it on a plane.

7. Finding a place to sit with an outlet to re-charge your lap top, bingo!

6. After a couple of days of missing flights, flying into an airport 14 hours away from your home renting a car and driving home starts to sound like a really good idea.

5. Airports have memorial gardens, giant meeting rooms, chapels and lounges. Who knew?

4. If you know where to look in the airline computer system, you find out which stand by passengers will get on the flight before they do.

3. Large families who show up for a flight at the very last minute break the hearts of a whole crowd of stand-by passengers who are hoping they'll be stuck in security.

2. Flying for "free" isn't actually free if you count four days of food and extra hotel stays, but hey, not complaining.

1. The very best airport to be stuck in is the Honolulu airport. Live music, open hallways, gentle breezes and the nicest airport staff anywhere. Detroit? Yeah,

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Gen X Feminist?

I was raised by a feminist, a new feminist just figuring out what this all meant; liberation, equal rights and yes, freedom. My mother was always a champion of the underdog and the oppressed, she still is with her work at the VA pushing vets to and from appointments and her work at the local food shelf/services agency. But when I was a little girl this Women's Movement was all new. It was the 70s. Mothers were leaving the house and the kitchen and headed out into the work force. My grandmother had run a small daycare center in inner city Minneapolis for 20 years, and my mother took it into 10 more years of growth and expansion. By the time I remember being there it was full of kids, lots of kids. White kids, black kids, Native American kids, Egyptian kids, blind kids, kids with CP, kids who sometimes spent the weekends with us because their single mom needed a break--it was kind of a daycare center/social outreach program. But it was clearly a daycare center where kids were dropped off at 6am and were picked up at 6pm.

As I grew up, the expectation was that you left your children. Not from my family of origin, but from society. "Delay getting married, having children. Focus on career, advancement, freedom. Don't let a family hold you back, bring you down. Your children will be fine in day care, after school care, fine!"

I took a Women's Studies class at 23 and when they asked the people who identified as feminists to stand, I sat. Most of us did. I had been married for three years. I was yearning for a family, for children. Some people feel called to the ministry, I felt called to be a mother. The two female instructors, "baby boomers", were furious. "Why? Why don't you call yourself feminists?" We had clearly expressed opinions and beliefs in our discussions and writings that would lead them to believe that we were feminists. But I felt absolutely abandonded by the movement.

Where was the advocacy for women who wanted to be home and raise a family? Social Security benefits? Health care?

I was, infact, pregnant during that class. I highly recommend that everyone announce a pregnancy in a Women's Studies class, I was celebrated with joy and delight! I had my oldest son at 24 in 1991. And until I was in my mid 30s I didn't even realize that other people felt like I did, like feminists who had been left on the road, shunned by the movement because of our choices.

Now I'm old enough to realize that the "male" way was the only model available to those early women fighting for equal rights. To them equal meant to be like men, out in the work force, leaving family behind for long stretches of the day. But for some of us, nothing is further from the truth. Our highest aspirations are realized in raising children. Many Gen-Xers bought the line that you have to go to work, have to leave your babies in daycare, you have to go work in the world, all these women before you worked so hard to get you here, don't let them down.

Some of us, some Gen Xers knew that it was just wrong for us. Some of us know in the depth of our soul that it is an act of extreme feminine power to trust your partner to support you finincially while you give all your power, creativity, heart and mind to the art of Mothering. Some of us painfully stayed seated when the women who identify as "feminist" were asked to stand. If the choice was follow heart and soul or hold the label, well....I had no choice, if mothering the way I chose made me lose my "feminist" card, well so be it.

I have never regretted it, not for one nanosecond. I can see that what the Women's movement needs is some of the Gen X "early adopter" mothers who stayed home and still identify as feminists to come join the movement and speak their truth out loud. We have felt marginalized. No one is going to come re-claim us. We have to go re-claim them.

Now you can never really know what is in someone's heart, but I wonder if this is what's really at the root of the misunderstanding going on with some of our UU women. When I read this blog by CaliforniaGirlinMassachusets, I heard her anger. But I understand the back story in a way that no one but "stay-at-home-mother, life-long-UUs" can. Yes, all 12 of us! I understand.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Hittin' the Road

My family loves to travel, any place, any where, any time. One or the other of the adults in the family have had jobs with an airline for the last 15 years, so we don't travel in any normal sort of way. Nope. We pack, we prepare but we never really know how things are going to turn out.

Take the time we went to Hawaii. I had just put in a two week notice with the airline, so we figured we'd better do one of the trips we'd always meant to. So on a Thursday we decided to go to Hawaii, and on Friday we left. We found a hotel when we got there, and a big box store to buy all the things we forgot plus some boogie boards and had a great time.

And the luggage. We have lots of luggage, and for ease of communication, all our pieces of luggage have come to have names. Yes, names. Recently we had to let go of "The Smuggler" the name of the company which was on the rollerbag which started everything. The poor thing had really just fallen apart. But we still have "Her Eminence", "Porsche", "Fred" and "George" which, funny thing, look exactly alike, "Pegleg" and of course "The Monstrosity" big enough for small children to fit in, and they have tried.

We're getting ready for a trip, I'm not going to jinx the flights by saying where we are trying to go, but it's going to be dicey getting there, so we decided everyone should just have a rollerbag of their own in case we have a last minute switch of flights, we can move fast with just carry-on luggage.

So we have new additions to the suitcase family. I want to name them "Rusty" and "Slice" but we'll just have to see which names stick. This naming craziness is also how we wound up with a cat named "the baby kitty".

Want a hint about where we're trying to go? Sorry, it'll jinx it!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Vegetarian's Dilema

I live in a house full of men who like their meat and potatoes. They really do. No, they're not awful ogres who want me to cook and clean for them, well, we all want someone to cook and clean for us, right? But they appreciate a nice dinner and if it's meaty and covered in gravy and all, they will do the laundry without even being asked. It's all part of the big plan I have.

But I'm not a meat eater. And people always ask me how we do this, live in our dual identity household. We're a mixed race family and a mixed food identity family!

Really, it's not a big deal. I usually just make two versions of the same thing. Like tonight, we had meat pie. I'm sure that I'm missing some fancy name, but that's what we call it. It's easy to make for all of us.

I boil a pot of diced potatoes--OK, today I dumped my whole tea boiler water in a stock pot because I am never ahead of the ball these days. It takes all of 20 minutes to peel 8 potatoes, and boil them up when you start with almost boiling water. I saute stew meat or ground beef with onions until it's good and burned on so I have a base for gravy, add some of the potato water, add a cornstarch slurry and dump all but one ladle of the potatoes into the pan. Salt, pepper, two grated carrots and one Pioneer Woman pie crust pulled out of the freezer an hour earlier, and there it is.

For the veggie version I use the ladle of potatoes, some carrots, spinach, lentils or "fake" chicken or boca crumbles with a milk slurry. This one leaked a little, but it's still super yum. The prep happens at the same time, they bake together, they come out at the same time. It's easy-pleasey.

And if you're lucky and you happen to pull one of the BIG pie crusts out of the freezer, look what you get with the leftover pie crust. Mmmmmm..... cinnamon braid (butter, cinnamon and sugar, yum!).
A happy dual identity family! And good eatin'!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Varsity Worrying Team

'Tis the season of budgets and stewardship dinners and canvass meetings one-on-one in homes, and this year, tis a season of sweaty palms and much worry.

Wouldn't it be great to trust? To know that all will work out? That just the right person will get a big windfall or promotion and will help everyone else out for the year by tossing lots of extra funds into the collection plate?

Yep. It would.

But I'm from midwestern stock. I think worrying was a sport at my high school. And I think maybe I lettered. Twice.

We cut in our Religious Education budget request this year. Oh man did we cut. Our RE program has no fuss, no muss, no frill and not one bell or whistle. But our staff (nursery, Story Time teacher, Spirit Play teacher and Associate DRE) will be retained and if things go well, will even see tiny increases in pay. My atheist husband keeps saying "Buddha provides" but I know Buddha was a rich prince who woke up. We need more than him.

We need our folks, our peeps, our dear ones to donate. Not what they can give easily, but what makes a dent, leaves a little space in life. Maybe one or two less dinners out a month. Maybe take a month off from Karate. Maybe downsize the vacation. Maybe put the donation they mean to make each month on the automatic bill payer.

When I was a young mother we were broke. I mean really broke. It was the last really big recession after the Berlin wall fell, we had a baby, my husband was 8 credits away from a degree in Aerospace Engineering and there was not one job in his field. Not one. We pieced together a living. I worked for Eddie Bauer in bits in the evening. The other evenings he worked at a liquor store. During the days he drove a parts truck for a car dealership. Afternoons I coached a swim team with the baby in a backpack. (Those teenaged girls on that team got a real life lesson in breastfeeding, no doubt!) We paid the rent on our run down, wrong-side-of-the-tracks apartment. The month before the baby was born we paid rent with work, my husband painted the outside of the apartment building. The money was so tight. We bought food (WIC bought some food). But we had nothing extra.

It took a long time before we could give any real money to our church. But we got there. When we moved here to Seattle and turned in our pledge card the assistant treasurer told us that we only had to pledge for half the year, since we'd come in half way thru the fiscal year. I knew that, the total on our pledge card was half a year's pledge. I got it. Money makes the church go round, and to me, the church was worth it.

My children have grown up in UU churches. From birth on. They are fine young men. Really fine. Growing up in a church community is no small part of who they are. In fact, it's huge. Second only to family. Our faith has influenced them in a huge way. I think I know why. They saw that it mattered to me, and so it mattered to them. I valued church. I brought them even when they were crabby about it, I worked hard in the church long, long before I was paid to. I ran soup lunches and Halloween parties and taught years and years of classes. And I pledged. Not a number that was easy, but what was needed.

At church my sons heard good stories, learned good values, saw what community means, came to know people from different walks of life and learned what it is to live a covenant. How could they not grow into fine young men with all of that? It was worth a million times more than I paid for it.

I am going to hope that Buddha provides some of that kind of energy in my dear congregation this year. And that it all works out. Until then, I guess I'll just wear my jacket--you know the letter jacket from the Varsity Worrying Team, class of 85.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The most important things

There have been some interesting conversations zooming around UUCyberland. Class! Entitlement! Radical Hospitality! And how do we all, we funky, broken, well intentioned lovely humans do this? This living in community without hurting each other?

Oh my, if you think I have the answer you really better hit the back button and go on to the next blog. I don't.

I do know that in our quest to be a deep, spiritually meaningful religion we sometimes look for validation in places that feel real and solid, like rock under our feet.

I think this is part of our focus on Transylvania "See? We're not some fru-fru, fly-by-night religion!" No we're not, and yes we have beautiful roots and they do not justify our existence, we don't need justification. We're fine as is.

This could be where our focus on credentials and labels and degrees comes from as well. Education, of course, is very important, and no I do not want an under educated physician. But some of the wisest folks I know have almost no formal education. They listen to their hearts and to the wind and to the person sitting in front of them. We Unitarian Universalists may just be trying to prove that we really are a worthy group, "See all our degrees? All our labels? See who we are? See? We must be OK. We have letters!"

No. As Mister Rogers would say "they're just beside you".

For years at the General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association ministers would have a box to check to add "Rev." to their name tag, but Religious Educators would have to enter their name as "Joe Blow, DRE" to have the appropriate title displayed on their name tag. Last year, or maybe the year before they added a box for us, although not all our combinations and permutations (LRE, DFM, DLRE, etc...).

Maybe as step one this year at G.A. we could all just be "Joe Blow." Person. Unitarian Universalst. Body and Soul.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Good Work

When my family lived in Minnesota, we did a few builds with Habitat for Humanity with a group from our church. There were January builds with roofing and siding work that we did in the freezing cold.

"Oh good!" we said when our church got involved in Habitat here in Seattle, "no more freezing cold builds, no more snow at the work site."

Yeah. Shouldn't have said it out loud.
Seattle has these funky convergence zones that are caused by the mountains and the water and the funky micro climates, I guess. Sometimes there will just be wild weather in one part of town and nothing anywhere else. So as we drove up to the work site from our house, there were a few flurries, then a few more. Pretty soon the snow was blizzard-like and accumulating fast--right over our home site!But it didn't matter. We had fun anyway. I was so happy that I got to work with my good friend (and our Associate DRE) we didn't even plan it, just happened to sign up to work on the same day. It was nice to work with someone I enjoy lots.

My husband got picked for more skilled work which made him feel great, and they let him work alone which he also appreciates.

After a really nice lunch served by some folks from a local church I wound up with a group of women tearing down some of the wooden supports that go up as they build the real walls. We had hammers and crow bars and all was going really well until we hit this monster 2x12 plank that was nailed to another one. The wood was swollen from the rain and snow, and it was really stuck together. My friend said "wouldn't it suck if we had to get a guy to get these apart?" Well, bring on the determination of Queen Esther and all the force behind International Women's Day--there was no way we were calling in a guy.

We took turns, and used all our tricks, and yep, got the stupid boards apart--pulling one nail right through the board! Ha. And it was the one of us who is 4'11" (that's not me!) who did the final puuuullllll.

Good stuff. Good fun. Good work.

It's a good life.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Religious Education Leadership School--don't miss it!

Religious Education
Leadership School

with Helen Bishop
Cedar Ridge Retreat Center
Vernonia, OR

July 26—August 1, 2009

Experience a whole new level of Unitarian Universalism!

Sponsored by
Pacific Northwest District Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations and Pacific Northwest Chapter of Liberal Religious Educators Association

Want more information? Click here.
or post a commet , or email me at dre(at)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Envy, enlightenment and laundry

Oooo, I can be so wickedly jealous sometimes. I WISH I was finishing up an exhausting visit at the ICUUW. Just like Lizard Eater. I wish I was fighting with flights and making my way home. I'm green. Envy.

Instead I'm here, holding down one of the forts. Coming down with something that makes my head throb and swim, not quite knowing what to do for children's worship today except take dayquil and just go. Calling in sick isn't really an option. Calling in with a whole bunch of plans that someone else will have to try to throw together seems so unkind. It's all good. I love service time with children. Even squirrely boys who would rather be silly than pray. It's their own version of praying.

But, still. I wish I'd been there with my sister-UU-women. One thing I really wish I'd heard was Gini Courter's closing at the ICUUW. She shared it in her blog post today. (welcome to my blogroll Gini, you rock) If you haven't read it/don't want to read it let me share what it means to me. We have a moral obligation to be here, to do this, to create these interconnected ministries that serve and provide a safe home for beloved souls.

Even if the beloved souls wiggle during prayers. Or talk in the kitchen while a group is trying to have a worship service in the fellowship hall. Or sometimes forget to be gentle to each other. All souls means, well, all souls.

Our service today was on the theme "We are the ones we've been waiting for" We had readings from one of my favorite UU musicians, Dr. Ysaye Barnwell, well we read the lyrics to the song "We Are..." from "Sweet Honey in the Rock" --Dr. Barnwell's lyrics. And I taught them a song I learned someplace, my oldest son and I sat at the table last week, him trying to teach it to me from fuzzy memory, me fumbling, and then Andrea Learner sent me a youtube link in response to a call out on the LREDA list. The kids learned it and liked the song enough that a middle schooler told me he want's to make a rock remix out of it. Lyrics are "we are the rising sun, we are the change, we are the ones we've been waiting for and we are dawning". Fit right in with our theme.

So even though I'm not flying home from an enlightening conference. Even though I'm just here, home, running ministry for children, youth and families. Even thougth I'm the mom of one of the members of the Youth Minstry Working Group, waiting for my son to come home inspired and hauling a whole suitcase of dirty laundry. Even though this is my time in the trenches while my UU sisters float home on wings of enlightnement, there is no place I'd rather be. This is holy work, holy ground, holy prayers puncutated by giggling and shoving. This is good stuff. And I wouldn't trade it for the world.