Sunday, July 30, 2006

Are you "in"?

Are you in the "in group"? One of the "popular people"?

Today's sermon spoke of our need as humans to control God. We often do this through prayer. Those we pray for are the "in group". We are bargaining with God on behalf of an ill family member or a friend during hard times.

The "out group" are all those people we don't pray for.

Right now I know of someone who is being prayed for. The anthropologist in me watches this with great amusement. See.... this is a new "in group" person. There was someone else who caused this same kind of reaction in the same group of people. She was frequently prayed for and much sympathy for her situation was freely given. Her situation hasn't changed. She just isn't the one that's "in" anymore.

It could be argued with absolute logic and reason, that the prayers for this person haven't worked. Her situation is unimproved. Despite many prayers by many faithful people, her situation is not much different, if at all, than it was a year ago. Or two years ago. I suspect the same will be true for the new subject of great prayers as well.

How is it that prayer becomes a weapon. A divining rod of who is worthy and who is not. I am a lousy pray-er. When asked if I would like to lead the prayer, I decline. Not really... no thanks. I am told there are no bad prayers. Yea? You haven't heard mine. Cause sometimes my prayer goes along the lines of: Dear God, please give me the strength to not tell her to suck it up already and fix it. Thank you. Amen.

I am often asked to pray for This or That. I usually don't. I usually pray asking God to be with that person and give him/her strength. I don't like praying for healing..... if someone isn't healed, does that mean God said "no"? Does that mean God didn't listen? Does it mean God doesn't care?

When Pastor Carl gave his sermon today I could totally relate. I often feel that prayer and the request for prayers deliniate who is in and who is out. Who deserves favor from God and who does not. When public prayer is offered for one person and not for another who might be suffering more.... why? Why does one deserve prayers and another does not?

Several months ago (a year or more) frequent requests for prayers came to me for an ill child. Tragic, to be sure. Don't get me wrong. But one request came for another ill child. This woman was someone's child. She was an adult with children of her own. She was just as terminal.... and just as loved... as the preschooler that was prayed for more often and by more people. What made that child "in"? Why would she be more deserving of God's grace than the 20something year old young mother (and daughter and wife)?

Shouldn't we all be "in" with God?

Aren't we?

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Voting Rights

No. Not the kind from last Thursday. Which, by the way, doesn't mean jack if all you get is the right to vote without the right to have your damn vote counted. But I digress.....

The kind of voting rights I'm talking about is the kind that is before the Sacramento Board of Supervisors on August 2. The right to vote on the aforementioned quarter cent sales tax. There is a lot of talk about whether or not the quarter cent sales tax and resulting arena is good for Sacramento. Something like 60 people spoke on the matter last week. From what I could gather from the news, half spoke in favor and half spoke against (no doubt by design...usually they have a one in favor, one against rule at such hearings).

I am considering going on Wednesday to speak on the Matter Before The Supervisors. To wit: To place the matter before the voters. One supervisor voted against. She is not my personal representative to the board, but I will remember her anyway. I don't take kindly to supervisors or council members saying "no, the people shall not vote".

I realize they make these decisions every day. And not every matter should come before the voters. Most of the stuff that does, shouldn't. It is how California got into the ungovernable mess we are in and will be in for a very long time to come. But there are things that should go before the voters. One of our city council members voted to NOT put a library bond measure on the ballot a few years ago. That was BEFORE his dirty re-election politics. He lost my vote on that one matter alone. Telling me that I did not have the right to vote to tax myself for a new library was a fatal mistake in my book. Sadly, the majority of Elk Grove citizens don't pay attention to what the City Council is doing. Again.... I digress.

We, the citizens of Sacramento County, have the right to vote on whether or not WE think it is worth another quarter of a cent on every dollar we spend. If Supervisor MacGlashan thinks it's a bad idea, she can vote no when she goes into her voting booth. It is her right. If enough people agree with her, then that will be that. If enough people disagree with her... well, her shopping decisions will be her own.

The next trick will be getting all those people who think it's a fine idea out to vote in November. It is always the trick.

Monday, July 24, 2006


In our cable internet, fast food, instant message world, it is difficult to teach children about delayed gratification. "I've been working on this for 2 minutes and it is not finished...I give up." Teaching them to work hard at a project, over time, and wait for the results is difficult.

It is even more difficult to teach them why they should...why they MUST... do such a thing when there is no tangible reward for them personally. Even the simple act of doing chores (see... you have a clean glass the next time you want something to drink because you loaded the dishwasher now) doesn't drive that point home very well. Doing homework today so one has the knowledge for the test at the end of the week is terribly abstract. We often resort to "because I said so". It works... but is the lesson learned?

For the second summer, Kaitlyn is far away from our home. Trusted to the care of good friends who will watch over her as if she were their own.... for she is. She is part of their families as their children are part of our ours. Our church family. She has terribly restrictive rules that will serve her well. We allow her to self-medicate when she feels the need for allergy medication. We do so because she needs to learn to be able to listen to her body and care for it. They do not allow her to do so because some might have issues with controlled substances so all substance are controlled. This chafes but lessons are learned. She must be taught how to use the power tools before she can use them. Again. Everyone who is using a power tool must have instruction even if they use them every day the rest of the year. This is the only way they can be sure no one goes uninstructed. "I KNOW...!" I know you know. Everyone knows. Except the new people. And you might have forgotten. The worst rule, hands down, for all of them is the No Cell Phone rule. They must be left at home.

Teens don't think outside themselves naturally. It is a time of self-centeredness. We all go through it. Some of us are fortunate enough to be taught to think outside ourselves ANYWAY. Others grow up to be the same self-centered teens in adult bodies. But that's a blog for another day.....

Last summer Kaitlyn put a new roof on a house (with her team) that needed it. It was a house far different from those Kaitlyn and her team live in. Fractionally smaller certainly. No granite counter tops. No SubZero appliances. No internet hookups. No wide screen TV's. No swimming pool in the backyard.

They stayed late the last day and finished their roof. They were within their rights to leave it for the next week's team to finish. They nearly missed dinner that last day in their quest to finish. But finish they did. They made their counselor's proud, the leadership proud and the family who owned the house happy. They also made their families proud of them. More importantly, they made themselves proud. We finished the roof. They worked hard. They worked long hours. On a roof in the summer. For someone else. Their decision to stay and finish that roof was a good one. A new team was expected the following week. But something happened. Illness or something. I don't remember now, but it meant that the worksite was shut down for the summer. The full time volunteers (they are there the entire summer) had to finish all the incomplete projects. But not that roof.

We won't know what Kaitlyn did this week until she gets home. The only communication we get is "they have arrived safely". No further communication is good because we would only hear if there was an emergency. No news is good news. We send communication to THEM... and they must sing and dance for their mail. So she might be roofing, she might be painting. She might be putting on a deck, repairing a porch or adding a wheelchair ramp. She will do what is needed and necessary. From what I am always told, she does so without complaint. She gives a full effort. She is careful and conscientious. This is, of course, far from our experience at home!

But we are still proud of her. She has mentioned that she won't be going to SSP next year. Summer school and summer homework is on her list next year. She has been spending and will be spending long hours working on summer homework that is due on August 11 in payment for missing a week at home. (Which I think is just wrong, but there it is) We shall see. I know that the thought of being out in the heat working on home improvement projects does not appeal to me in the least. Nor does it appeal to Emma. She asked if she "had to" go to SSP. I told her no.... she did not.

That won't absolve her from Service however. We will just have to find something a bit less sweaty for her.

Friday, July 21, 2006


There will be a lot of talk about priorities here in town between now and November. Talking about priorities is a good thing. It is especially good before an election. But talking about priorities without vision and the ability to see The Big Picture is pointless.

Priority. Improve schools. GREAT idea. That always sounds good. How to do so? Usually it means "more money". Which also sounds like a good idea. But again, priorities. Sacramento City Unified School Board put "new building on prime real estate" as a priority over spending the money they had in classrooms. Elk Grove Unified, on the other hand, spends more of their allotment in the classroom. It doesn't matter if more money is raised if it is prioritized into the classroom.

Priority. Poor people and the homeless. I absolutely agree that the poor and homeless need services. We do a pretty good job of that in Sacramento County. We can do better, to be sure. But we DO have some solid services in place. So much so that we have a problem with the homeless from other places coming here because of these services. We cannot house all the homeless. Simply because some of them might be HOUSEless, but they are not HOMEless. Their home isn't a building but a camp along the river. There are those who have no desire to get sober and move off the river's edge. That's fine. We can still be sure medical care is provided, food is available and services are offered. There are those who would disagree with me, but I think a priority of our society should be to care for those who don't care enough about themselves. We cannot solve the problem, but we can manage it.

Priority. Affordable housing. This is tricky. Housing is a for profit business. And when the house is worth less than is owed, times are bad. "Affordable housing" has often become the ghetto. The problems of the facilities and the people that live there are myriad. There is no single solution and no amount of money will solve the problems. The will of each individual must be there. That can not be legislated, mandated or bought.

Priority. Fill the potholes. Guess what California and Sacramento County.... we pay for our potholes to be filled. Every time we buy a tank of gas and every time we make a purchase and pay our sales tax. The money is THERE. It has just been spent on NEW roads instead of repair of old roads. We keep building new communities needing wider main roads, new main roads, wider freeways, new freeways. Sacramento County is working to add a freeway/expressway between Highway 50 and Highway 99. It will take a tremendous amount of money. But it is agreed a new freeway in that area is a priority.

Currently our sales tax rate is 7.75%. So when I bought my Sacramento Bee yesterday I paid 54 cents. If the sales tax rate were to be raised to an even 8%, I would pay.... 54 cents. On a $1 purchase, the sales tax PAID will be the same. On a $2 purchase, it would be a penny more. Yes, I know those pennies add up. I might be bad at math, but I'm pretty good at arithmetic.

Priority. Raising the sales tax one quarter percent (to an even 8%) for the next 15 years. There will be much talk about the taxpayers financing "millionaire playboys" and their basketball team. The only problem with that is that it is, simply put, wrong.

Normy and I were trying to think of the basketball games we've been to. We remember going with the Australian Air Force. (not ALL of them, just those stationed here for a bit) That might have even been before the Maloofs owned the team. We have a vague recollection of going before that... but neither of us can clearly remember if it was another time or not. So maybe we've been to two basketball games. Why haven't we been to basketball games? Because basketball isn't our game. And we aren't really good with planning ahead. That's why movies are good. We decide right now to go catch a movie, we go, we get tickets, all is good. We've done that with River Cats too. One morning last summer I sent Normy an email and said "River Cats game at 11. Wanna go?" He took a vacation day and we went to the ballgame. Got there after the first pitch and got a ticket. The Kings would be sold out.

However, we have been to Arco Arena many times. I've been there for Paul McCartney twice. Garth Brooks. More Disney on Ice than I'd like to think about. Graduation. Someone told me recently that she wasn't going to go to Arco for a concert anymore. The acoustics are horrible. Well.... yea..... And it's expensive. Well.... yea..... But that's Paul McCartney or the Eagles. Cause Disney on Ice is affordable. And our floor Garth Brooks seats were less than our nose bleeder McCartney tickets.

So why should we spend $5/person/month (the projected amount) for a new arena? Because it will be the cornerstone of the railyard development. A new arena will be bigger. It will require more people to run it, on all levels. Restaurants will spring up nearby. The bonus to this quarter cent is that it will also fund other things. A portion of the sales tax will go to the cities that generated them in about 7 years. Seven years is a long time, but that's how we get back to vision and The Big Picture.

In seven years (2013) a new arena will have been open for three years. Emma will probably have her graduation at the new arena. Yea... Emma's graduation. That seems forever in the future and just around the corner all at the same time. In seven years we will have had 2 presidential elections. Seven years ago we were worrying about the Y2K bug. If we had done this THEN, we would have that sales tax money NOW. Money that could build a new library in Elk Grove. Or help with those annoying median weeds. It could be used to finish paving that last few blocks of Elk Grove Blvd that is determined to shake my car apart every time I drive over it. Right. Now.

The question that will be facing us in November, as a county, will be very simple. Do we have vision? Can we, the taxpayers, see The Big Picture? Can we set aside the narrow view that this all about Joe and Gavin (because it isn't) and understand that it takes money to make money. Funding the new arena will attract private investment in an area that is currently an ugly swath of land in the middle of Sacramento.

The money out of each person's pocket will be marginal. Some will feel it more than others. Some will pay more than others. Frankly, I don't buy the $70 t-shirts I see in stores anyway. So when I spend $5 on a new t-shirt I won't be putting as much into the bucket as those that have $70 to spend on a white t-shirt. Nor will I feel it as a family living closer to the edge. But unless we are growing, we are dying. We can complain about growth, but the fact is we need it. We need to attract more families and businesses. We do that with good facilities. A new arena now. Maybe a new theater (the live kind, not the movie kind) in the future. Children's museum? Children's theater? Maybe a new zoo. Perhaps a hotel (with a hefty hotel tax).

The Maloofs are putting their money in. They will get it back out over the next 30 years the guarantee the Kings and Monarchs to be in Sacramento. We will get it back too. Not only in the sales tax, but in the taxes and revenue generated by both the arena and the other 'attractions' that will be at the Old Railyard.

Vision. Do we have it?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them... (my apologies to Al Franken...)

Why are we so quick to believe the lies? It doesn't matter if dozens of people, known and random, says the new hair do is wonderful! cute! ... what is heard and remembered every morning in the mirror is that jealous woman who said "what the hell did you do to your hair?".

I heard someone ask recently "How do get over caring what people think?" or something along those lines. She wasn't asking about the big things... like your children thinking you're a good mom... but the little things like "am I being judged for wearing grubbies in the garden?" Her question is a good one.... Why DO we care?

Why do we care about the opinion of someone who would think "look at her getting muddy in her grungies! How TACKY!" Martha Stewart can just shut the hell up. And I'm guessing that ol' Martha isn't camera ready when she's stirring the compost....

It is the lies that reverberate in our heads. Some friends of mine are working their way through the book The Artist's Way. I have the book too. One of the exercises was to list and then purge the "monsters" that told you that you weren't creative or artistic... at all, enough, the right way... whatever. One is to also list "Champions"... those that championed all things artistic that you produced. We listen to the monsters and dismiss the champions. The point of the exercise is to reverse that. Listen to the champions, dismiss the monsters.

The problem with lies is they are so good at masquerading as truth. Often, they have just enough truth to make them appear to be whole truth. Far too often they are told by someone who is trusted and would be in the position to speak the truth. Sometimes they are told in a vacuum... away from any one or any thing that would contradict the lie. Lies hide under rocks an leap forth unexpectedly from new sources.

Recently I have both been fed up with a particular lie (for all the usual reasons one would get fed up with a lie) and fascinated with this lie. As this lie resurfaced recently I was watching Court TV and half listening to the talking heads. One of them said, speaking of Andrea Yates, "does it matter if it was God or Satan that told her to kill her kids?" I thought how true a statement that is. Does it matter WHO tells the lie? If it is a lie, it has no validity no. matter. who. repeats it. The Lie resurfaced from another source. It was not shocking as I have always believed The Liar and The Repeater are in communication. It was surprising that The Repeater to the special effort it took to repeat the lie. I am also sure that because The Repeater said it, she felt it took on truth and authority.

No. It is still a lie.

The Liar and The Repeaters (there are more than one... without many Repeaters, lies die) find authority and truth in their own repetition. Pointing to The Lie as proof of The Truth. "The Lie said it, so it must be." and "The Liar said it, so it must be true. The Liar has always spoke truth." Yea. Until The Liar lied.

When I first heard The Lie, I thought it was a joke. The Liar SURELY did not say such a thing. That is ridiculous! Who would believe it! I giggled over The Lie because it was so outlandish. But The Lie took root and now has a life of it's own. I suspect I will be reminded of The Lie for many years to come.

I can, and have been sorely tempted to, offer a line by line rebuttal. But that is just fertilizer on the weed. I can only continue on as I always have. Being the same person I always have been. For it is not I that has changed. I continue to pray for The Liar. I continue to pray for The Repeaters. For unlike them, I have heard both The Lie and The Truth. I also know my own actions and words. The Repeaters don't have that privilege.

A couple of months ago I read an advice column that runs in our paper with a letter from someone who could have been The Liar. It wasn't... the circumstances were vastly different. But the story was, of course, only her point of view. I could absolutely understand why she felt hurt. Why she saw her friends the way she did. But I also heard her voiceless friends.

In the past I would have heard that one side and made a judgment on her friends. Now... I hear the other side. I can see that there is far FAR more to this story. Even if the written story was precisely accurate, there is a lie lurking in those words. A lie of omission perhaps, but a lie nonetheless.

I have never been one to believe what is said just because of who told it to me. I am even more wary now. I also am more sure of who The Repeaters are. People who not only should know better but who would be ever so quick to condemn others for doing the same. Respect for such folks is at an all time low, even as they look at me with increasing disdain. No worries.... judge me on the words of others if you wish. Your action as a Repeater speaks more to your character than of mine.

Such it is with lies. They catch up people who would never dream themselves in the middle of such pedestrian webs.

Fortunately, lies are pretty easily dealt with. Continuing being the person you are and proving that The Liar is indeed a liar is the best cure. It's a long process, but the most effective.

Guarding your heart? I still don't have an answer for that.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Party At The Palms

What? Me & Marfy don't look like Paris and Tara? Hmph.

No matter.... we don't want their blonde, skinny butts hanging with us ANYWAY.

But we floated around the cement pond. We drank adult beverages. We ate (HA! Paris and Tara don't get to do THAT) steak and corn picked fresh that morning.... topped it off with homemade vanilla ice cream.

Good times..... Good times indeed.

....and this time we let the children and menfolk join us!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Happiness Is.....

When your husband fills the car with gas and cleans the windshield of all the bugs too.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


Background: We have several (4) of those over the door bracket things to hang your clothes on.. use it for visitors or when you are ironing or need something to drip dry.... One is facing outward on the bathroom/bedroom door. One inward. One is on the WC door. One on the closet door.


I walked into the house and asked Kaitlyn to go hang Norm's shirts, fresh from the dry cleaners, "on the door upstairs".

Later I go upstairs to find both shirts neatly hung....

On the moulding around the door to our bedroom.

"You SAID "on the door"!"


my bad.