Family Moab

Family Moab
In Arches National Park

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Only in Montana

Arrived home from Montana at midnight last night, then sent all three kids off on a mission trip to Alamosa this morning. Feeling slightly guilty about their hasty turnaround -only getting one night in their own beds - but also jubilant at the time, space, and quiet that allows me to blog, as well as unpack, do laundry, clean and catch up.

Still feeling slightly euphoric as well as guilty, having passed an unexpectedly wondrous eight days split between the northern California coast and the Montana mountains.  A dinner with high school friends filled a Menlo Park restaurant with laughter and it was startling and rewarding to watch Aden cheering for Mark's son, Weston, on the shady grass next to Stanford's pool. Mike's wife, Gina, was there to cheer for Shore water polo, and she had stopped by William's game for the Mountain Zone the night before to cheer and applaud his fast-break goal. So odd to realize I was Aden's age (16!) when I met Mike and Mark at Rolling Hills High School. (Was I ever really that young?)  The longevity of those friendships is a great gift.

And my family is a great gift. The four days spent on Flathead Lake with Mom, Dad, and Karen were spectacular. Amazing weather that allowed for hours on the paddleboard and multiple 2 km swims across the bay and back.  The boys golfed every day and only threw the clubs once, and we got to visit favorite haunts (The Cove for ice cream) and spend downtime reading or making art or hearing stories of old from Mom and Dad. Recording their memories and hearing their laughter gave me goosebumps, and more than once I had to shake tears from my eyes. Karen made cakes for Rob's birthday, directed our yard work duties, and took Dad and me out on the golf cart for a hair-raising spin around the Preserve.

Only in Montana can you ....
- Get huckleberry fudge ice cream
- Watch an eagle fly in circles above as you swim across the lake
- Discover that Dad stole his parents' car at age 13, only to drive it to Confession
- Reminisce about Mom's grade school nemesis, Lois
- Eat cherries for breakfast, lunch and dinner
- Witness forks of lightning sweep south down Flathead Lake as you watch from the living room

We're so grateful for the moments and the people that made the trip memorable.

Monday, July 9, 2018

The Big Terribleness

"No one wanted to leave and go out into the world, which had changed so stunningly. Even now, years in, no one could get used to it; and conversation at parties still centered around the ways that no one had seen it coming. They just could not believe what had happened to the country. "The big terribleness," said a tall, spindly, and intense woman."
- Meg Wolitzer, The Female Persuasion (p 437)

The air conditioner labors to exhale air of seventy-six or fewer degrees as the sun beats down on our porch and west-facing walls. The cat sleeps curled up in the box-top of "The Game of Life," which I won against Daniel earlier this afternoon. As he snores away and I type, Aden and Daniel swim at Willow Way pool, where William works today from 2 - 8. It touches me that Daniel wants to go swim wherever his big brother or sister are working, and that he's willing to bring them cold drinks, snacks and a neck-cooling towel when he goes.  Wanting to avoid the baking temperatures, I hide in the house.

In the blessed silence, I just finished Wolitzer's book, The Female Persuasion, an excellent and thought-provoking read that dwells not on the politics of today but on a loose history of the women's movement and excellent characters who find their place in this confusing world. The quote I borrowed comes at the very end, when Greer and Cory, two protagonists, arrive in the present.

Though it wasn't the theme of the book, this phrase, "The big terribleness," shot me off my seat and to my computer, its resonant meaning driving me to say something about this time, when the ever-hotter days of summer collide with omnipresent, strident headlines to weigh on us all. Or not on us all, which is even more confusing.

The separation makes me think about an evening when I met two lovely couples at one of Rob's work dinners. Over the course of the evening, they asked what I did, and this blog and my book of blogs surfaced and were examined. I gave little away about the content, self-conscious to growing strident or political with new acquaintances, but when one of the women contacted me later, via LinkedIn, she mentioned that she was off to read my blog and I wondered, will I ever hear from her again?  Re-reading the past few entries leaves nothing to the imagination about where I stand with this government and its actions.  Readers of The Post editorial page are also clear on my positions, and I have, in the past, received hate mail because of it.

At the advanced age of forty-seven, I don't need to be liked  - would not want to be universally liked - and yet it makes me sad that such great differences divide us. Wolitzer and I and many of my friends agree on "the great terribleness," but others do not, and that alone seems terrible.

On the plus side, life has amazingly shifted arranged itself to enable me and some of my close friends to go on a mission trip to McAllen, Texas, where many of the separated immigrant families are detained. We will be volunteering at a location that provides aid to families who have been released from detention, and it's been arranged by a lovely women who works at our church.  The fact that my three children will be on a different mission trip at the same time - also through our church - seems not merely providential but ordained.  And so we rest, and we gear up to go out into the big terribleness, in the hopes that we might make it for a time less terrible.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Updates, Links and Opportunities Re: Keeping Families Together

I participated in a Rally to Keep Families Together over the weekend with two friends and staunch rally companions from the neighborhood. We knew a few of the excellent speakers and our hearts were warmed by the large crowd raising up the sanctity of families, the brotherhood of all peoples, and the need for love and compassion in all situations. A twelve-year-old girl introduced herself in English and Spanish and belted out "Imagine" in ringing tones, leaving me, Paula and Heidi to wipe our sleeves across our faces and draw deep, shuddering breaths. 

Today the Denver Post printed my letter objecting to senseless injury, illness and death in private, for-profit immigrant detention centers. Here's the text:

"What are we paying for?
When I volunteered as an (English as a Second Languate) teacher in a for-profit detention center, I met a man who lost the use of his legs from a bad fall. He was provided with a wheelchair but not appropriate treatment that would have enabled him to walk out when he was ultimately released — innocent. (Kate) Morrissey’s article tells the sad truth — our tax dollars are going to the companies that run these detention centers and ruin lives. They charge the U.S. government $165 per person per day to “care for” people in their charge, while saving pennies for profit by withholding proper medical care from detainees.
I do not consent to my tax dollars lining the pockets of private prison companies while people suffer. We must stand up to the egregious abuse of human rights done in our name and with our money. Call and write your elected officials and let them know that they will be replaced if they cannot reform this system."
Other people and organizations continue to fight for sane policies and family reunification. Sarah Jackson at Casa de Paz ( raised enough money to reunite a Guatemalan woman with her six-year-old son, and will host a Family Reunification Happy Hour Fundraiser on Friday, July 13, from 4 - 9 at Cerverceria Colorado. 
Jennifer Piper and many wonderful friends are working on circulating the People's Resolution ( to help Coloradans understand the legal plight of four women who are in sanctuary in this state: Rosa, Ingrid, Sandra, and Araceli. Because of changes made to immigration law in 1996, legal channels that used to be open to these wives and mothers have either closed or become impossibly long and difficult pathways. We, the people, can make changes to the law to make a path to legal citizenship more attainable, and we can help all families stay together and contribute to this country that they love and have sacrificed so much to join.