Friday, December 19, 2008

A Call To Action

On the Connor and Tavi front, the brief respite that gave us all a little hope is fading back to confusion and fear. No one seems to have answers when it comes to motive or reason. This is the email I received today, on behalf of Steph:

From: Organic Internet
Subject: A Call To Action - and a thank you for all of the support
Date: Friday, December 19, 2008, 10:22 AM

This is a Call To Action.

Many people have asked “what can I do?”… I have really left it up to individuals to come up with their best way of participation, as I am not really good at asking people for things, and I am not sure what support is needed. As things have progressed, and through suggestions from others, I have come up with several different ways that our community (both locally and nationally) can help Connor and Tavvi in their struggle to stay with their family.

The following is a list of directions and a plea for help.

Case # is HN18847

Judge name: E. Preston Grissom
Presiding Judge Chesapeake Circuit Court

Contact Pat Cannon.

The children's GAL, Pat Cannon, can be reached at 757-409-8189 cell, e-mail

She is a legal advocate for the kids in the state of Virginia , and she opposed this decision to move the children. She helped pave the way in Virginia as we were working here, in Oregon , to oppose the removal of the children Tuesday, December 16th.

Due to the legal nature of this situation, Pat cannot give out much information, but she can listen. If anyone wants to offer their support to the children and have it represented in court, please email Pat Cannon.

What we need now is jurisdiction transferred back to Oregon . We need any and all folks who know these kids, have seen their progress to write letters on their behalf (some of us have already done that and are on record with OR DHS, but need to do it again).

We need to be loud, assertive, respectful, and peaceful. Please mail letters to Pat Cannon the children's GAL, who is fighting this fight by herself in VA. She needs as much support as we can muster in OR.

Anyone who doesn't know the kids, but are moved by this story please write an opinion piece and send it to Pat Cannon. She needs all of this for court. Anyone who have any ideas for legal support, community awareness now is the time even more than before for action. We want to keep these kids home.

You can e-mail letters to Pat Cannon.

Help Get Legal Representation

I will be calling and emailing today. Timing is so horrible; I understand that it is going to be hard to get anyone’s attention right now, before Christmas. We only have a few days to move some pretty big mountains. I would appreciate help in calling and emailing legal aid and assistance people and groups. If these groups are contacted respectfully by a community, instead of just an individual, we may get a crack at some attention even during the holidays.

CASA (child advocacy) contact Leslie Roemmer at 503-988-5115
Oregon State Bar Problem Solvers (this is for kids to access from age 11-18)
Attorney for Youth, contact
Lewis and Clark Legal Clinic, contact Richard Slottee at 503-768-6500
St. Andrew Legal Clinic, Joel Overlund at 503-281-1500
Helping Hands at 541-386-4808
Bradley-Angle House, conact Karla McFarland at 503-282-9940
ACLU, Jann Carson at 503-227-3186.
These are attorneys that work with family law/ child custody cases.

Randy Phil Oetken 503-659-4440
John C. Moore 503-675-4300
Steven Edward 503-636-3595
Jon Thomas Pixton 503-968-2020
James Elery Carroll 503-245-5003
Bruce Grant Thompson 503-226-6491
Robert Harris 503-228-6099

Contact State Representatives

Help us lift our voice up the chain!



Contact Virginia DHS

Now, this one is a bit sketchy. I have put some thought into this, however, and I think that if the DHS system in Virginia is consistently reminded that there is a community loving, protecting, valuing, and advocating for these children, that it looks a lot different than two kids that can just be bullied and then snagged.

I IMPLORE you… I beg. Please, if you choose to contact Virginia DHS, use non-violent communication, respect, and be polite. What I am asking for is this:

Call and/or email.

Keep it simple.

“Hi, my name is __________. I am part of Tavvi and Connor’s community and I need to voice that I support them and value their family connection. I oppose efforts at removing them from their home. Thank you.”

If you email, please “cc” Pat Cannon onto the email (

Ethel Hassell

Email Chain

Everyone on your contact lists are fair game!

Subject Line:

Child Welfare Emergency


(You can add your own content, if you rather)

Two children, Connor and Tavvi, are being threatened with forceful removal from their family – right before Christmas.

Please, help us pass along this information by forwarding this email to everyone you know.

Thank you for the consideration.

Websites and Blog and Bulletin Repost

You can copy the email above, and keep it simple, or write your own opinion piece on this situation. When you post it, please ask others to do the same. If you are comfortable with it, I will post a link to your blog on to show a chain of support. If you do NOT want a link to your site or blog posted on ours, please do not let that stop you – the link is optional.


Oregon Media

I will work on a press release that can be posted far and wide. I will also update with more media contacts (numbers, specific names, more sites) as I do some research. If you have any ideas of media outlets (radio shows, etc), please let me know. I would be grateful if a LOT of people contacted the media… help us get the exposure that we need right now.

Evaluations and Conversations

Do you have a degree or certification in a field that can lend its legitimacy to our situation? Talk with us! We are trying to compile documentation, and connecting with help is very important to us right now.


Does anyone have experience with building websites or have webspace for hosting a site? I have some know how, but my resources are limited right now, and time is a factor. I will be trying to get an actual website put together in the next day. I would be grateful for any assistance.

Do you have a video camera or a digital camera that we could borrow this week? Our digital camera has some serious technical limitations, and we have no video capacity. We really want to create some video media on our own.

Do you have a skill or talent that can help? I am totally open minded… If you have a website, please drop a small blurb with a link to our blogs.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


The trailer is worthwhile just for the Nina Simone.

But I'm also captivated by the potential of the story. It could be a very worthwhile movie. I know I'll be seeing it as soon as I can (not sure if it will open in The Homeland... and I won't be back in the great PNW until January).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Connor and Tavvi Update

Tavvi and Connor are still at home - for today.

I was unable to be there (between sick baby, icy roads, and our own schools' late start, I couldn't make it in time). But apparently Steph held her ground with well-spoken grace and confidence and the VA social worker left without the kids and without involving police. What now? I don't know.

M Lewis at the Shame on Virginia blog seems to be keeping a pretty thorough and timely series of updates. I highly recommend reading her entry: How It Happens.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Education Bubble

"[...] the people that need help now are not leaches. They are not, as a group, stupid or even any greedier than any other consumer in this culture. They are not shiftless or lazy or in any other manner inferior."

So what are they/we? Suckers for the "American Dream" BS? For all the reasons you mention, I think higher education will be the next bubble to pop.--Anonymous Comment

What are they/we? I'm not sure. I think it's possible that anyone from the working poor through the upper middle class can or does fall into this, to some extent.

I think you may be right about the higher education bubble. It seems our society is in for some shifting and restructuring and the growing pains (assuming that we are progressing, somehow) may be widespread.

I'd love to hear more about what you forecast. :o)

Tavvi and Connor

There's a family, here in the greater PDX area, that I've known for a while now. It's a pretty crazy story with way more drama than anyone should ever have to deal with. The short version is that there's a young mother with a preschooler of her own, who jumped through every hoop necessary to become a foster parent for her three younger siblings. These foster kids have been through worse abuse than most of us could ever imagine.

This is Conner.

This is Tavvi.

Connor and Tavvi's older sister, Steph, has done amazing things. The kids have needed serious therapy. She made sure they got it. They are currently in a private, therapeutic school with friends and a real chance at stability. These are not things that the state (or anyone else) casually offered. Steph has gone to extreme effort and expense to provide the best care possible for these kids. What I consider even more important, they love each other. They are a functioning family, now.

I'm not a lawyer. I'm not sure how or why this is being done, but apparently the state of Virginia, where the biological parents who caused all this pain and trouble currently reside, are taking these kids to Virginia on Tuesday. Not to live with rehabilitated parents, mind you, but to be split up and placed in foster care with people they don't know so that IF the bio-parents decide they are willing to perform the necessary rehabilitation, the kids can be returned to them. But it's been over two years and as far as I know, these parents have made no move to participate in any rehabilitation efforts... so I have to say this sounds like a horrible failure of a system put in place to protect children.

If you look back to my birthday entry from last year, you'll see a bunch of people sitting around... those blue-haired ones... that's who I'm talking about. We're talking about a lot of time, growth, love, security and stability, all gone.

Of course, they can tell it better than I can, so check out:
Tavvi and Connor want to stay home
Mothering.Commune forum discussing this story
Shame on Virginia Blog I don't think I know the woman who's running this one, but Steph and Urban Princess (HRH UP is one of Steph's close friends and is also going to the mat on this) recommend it.

Check it out. If you have advice, suggestions or words of support you can leave them at Steph's site. If you'd rather just comment here, I'll pass them along. Thanks!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Reality Bites

When I think of strength, or of motherhood, or of desperation, or of the future, this is the image I can't get out of my mind. Dorothea Lange captured so much in this portrait; far beyond any other description.

This recession, this financial nosedive the talking heads like to cluck about on the news... This is what they're talking about.

A while back, I was watching Anderson Cooper on CNN, "reporting" on the criminals responsible for this financial crisis. After a series blasting various CEOs, the featured jerk was... You.

Yes, this highly paid newsman actually had the gall to report that the extreme greed and irresponsibility of the average person was at the heart of the matter. I find that disgusting.

What has the concept of "Middle Class" been, other than a trap?

I'm no economist, but it seems to me that it has been quite profitable to hook people into credit traps and essentially force them into indentured servitude. Before anyone gets out their fiscal conservativism combat manual, think about when most "middle class" people fall: college. With higher education essential for finding employment and therefore access to a middle class lifestyle, one must be able to pay for college. And anyone who's had to go through the financial aid gauntlet knows that it is assumed - expected - that the student and/or the student's parents will take out any loans necessary to bridge the gap between aid packages and income. So, many of them take out these loans that are exempt from bankruptcy relief because what other shot does a kid have to break out of the paycheck-to-paycheck life?

So the kid goes to college and in the welcome package given out at the bookstore are several credit card offers tailored to students. And heck, a kid's got to eat. And feel grown up. And pay that unexpected fee or buy that essential supply that ran out too early. Mom and Dad already had to take out a mortgage to send the kid to school, so there's not much more blood to be squeezed from that stone... So assuming the kid finishes with a bachelor's degree (heaven forbid a student doesn't finish the degree - like if they get blasted with a crippling illness, physical or mental), they're already loaded with so much "good debt" that they will probably be paying the rest of their lives. Plus the bad debt, where all money will go from that entry level job that doesn't pay nearly as much as expected... and which will probably build, bit by bit, as the now-worker must have a car and food and business attire... And with every promotion, or even every year that goes by, there's more pressure to appear successful... better cars, spouse, kids, "starter home" mortgage...

What happens when one of the parents can't work? Or one of the kids has cancer? How far are they from the streets? A month? A year? What happens when jobs start drying up and someone who followed advice and sunk deep into good debt, while responsibly contributing to the 401(k), finds that all their responsibility can not control very much - and if the expensively educated person can find a job, it's comparable in pay and benefits to the person who lives on the edge of poverty, even without a student loan and college degree?

They are forever stuck playing catch-up, while the bigwigs who got the whole credit fiasco started manage to just get richer. And richer. And richer.

It's the middle class lie.

The poorest and richest among us find the view about the same. And both can mock the hubris of the people who believe that whole "American Dream" thing.

Contrary to the Neocon BS that's been spread pretty thick the past several years, the people that need help now are not leeches. They are not, as a group, stupid or even any greedier than any other consumer in this culture. They are not shiftless or lazy or in any other manner inferior. And I consider highly suspect those whose judgement turns up anything less humane. People need help. Not them. Us. Because we are all in this together.

This is a website worth browsing: One Dollar Diet Project.

Some Jobs Just Aren't Worth It

My wonderful husband sent me the link to this:

(Warning: Does contain some profanity.)

Up for Air

I'm doing better. Cautiously optimistic.

It's gray out, sunless and cold, the air dripping splats of freezing rain. My window reveals a blurry view of brittle variations of green, from diseased blackberries to skeletal trees bristling with moss. Winter is here.

I don't have to be anywhere. I'd have already made my legendary pumpkin bread, but I'm out of eggs. Ah me, from all that I have seen and heard, the course of true love (baking) never did run smooth. (I'm sure Shakespeare was really thinking about baking. He was a smart cookie. heh)

Thanks to those who emailed, called and texted. I feel loved. And supported. And a little embarrassed. ;o)

So here's hoping that was an aberrant glitch and I can get back to my normal levels of neuroticism.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Rapid Cycling?

For the past few days the mood swings have been absolute hell. I go from OK to well above baseline to so ghastly depressed that I seriously start fantasizing about "falling" off bridges. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

This is scarily similar to what was going on in Hawaii the last year or so I was there. It hurts like that and I don't know why.

Yesterday afternoon I sat on my couch, wishing I could wish myself out of existence, while my kids got increasingly grumpy and needy. I know how I'm supposed to feel and act. I forced myself to smile and cuddle and answer questions, all while the noise level in my head increased to an unbearable crescendo. Somewhere in there I managed to peel myself off the sofa and made sugar cookies with Bayba. They're her favorite. And I almost ruined the whole effort by snapping at her about putting the cookie cutters in her mouth. Poor kiddo was crushed. I apologized, but it's not like an apology really fixes anything. I think she still had fun. And I breathed through minute by minute, trying to just surface between waves without drowning. I made it through. Even made dinner.

And now I have another whole day ahead of me. I had one little jag of OK-ness in which I got laundry and dishes going. Then the wave crashed down and I'm under water again.

The shittiest thing about depression is looking ahead and seeing an endless parade of days... knowing you can't count on anything ever getting better. Sure, I know it can be better than what's going on right now. But I also know I have only minimal control over this. I've been doing all the right things - I think. I've been taking my meds, exercising regularly, meditation... and I was doing so well for so long. Now what?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Protest Much?

Wow. That title is about as far away from Shakespeare's line as one might get while still using any of the words. Oh well.

So there's been a kerfuffle of protest at the Capitol. More signs. Moving the atheist sign to a less obvious place. Rabid "Christians" protesting. Signs.

As for the signs and protests - hey, more power to 'em. They're wrong. But they can say whatever they want, no matter how idiotic. I'll forever defend their right to do so.

But if you want a little chill with your threat of dystopia, look up a news article or two covering this and read the comments. It's scary how many people in this country think the only good atheist is a dead atheist (and I'm not sure they really approve of those).

Sunday, December 7, 2008


I don't think I've mentioned, in my bloggy ramblings, how much I love the teacher G-Rex has, this year. Mr. G and I agree that we now have to live in this town until all our kids are at least done with middle school because the magnet program for the "gifted" kids is so freaking awesome. When G-Rex was offered this opportunity, we had no idea how huge it was going to be. Gifted programs have come a long way since our old Bloom folders and boredom days.

Anyway, the project that comprises all homework until Winter break, is a series of smaller projects designed around the concept of heritage. So one thing we've been working on at home, this week, is coming up with a recipe for Gwennie to make to share with her class during their Winter Break party.

After deciding we were going to go with her Polish ancestry (technically, she's got more Scottish in her, as a total percentage, but we have a lot better access to the Polish information and traditions), I began emailing back and forth with my mother about Polish dishes she remembers from childhood. So, today G-Rex and I made kolache. Right now it's still in the oven. It will be fun to eat it.

Because I am my mother's daughter, I had a lot of fun with Gwennie, working on measurements and discussing what purpose each ingredient serves and what the various actions/manipulations did to the ingredients. FUN! My Mom made every activity a science lesson. The kolache is fun, but the seeing the science in everything is the heritage I really hope to pass down.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Little Life

Still rantless. Don't worry, though... one is aways churning under the surface.

Today I took G-Rex out on a date. She chose to go to the mall. Hmm. Malls at Xmas. Lots of hipsters/emo kids. That's fun to watch. I thought they were too cool for such suburban destinations. heh Apparently they think they are too... which is why they slouch and scowl while waiting in line at Sabarro. And I'm loving the disenfranchised would-have-been-goth girls sporting Twilight gear.

Speaking of Twilight. May I please just point out how scary it is for me as a feminist mother to see that teens' concept of love and romance is just as idiotic as it was when I was a kid. Our marketers are wicked good. (Yes, I realize many teens have a better head on their shoulders, but I'm guessing those would agree with me, more often than not... ah hubris, thy name is (me).) But COME ON. How can a controlling stalker vampire really be considered so fabulous? Blech. Pining is so overrated.

One funny people-watching moment... Middle aged man accompanying young teen (probably 13 or 14 year old) girl in the food court wearing a T-shirt with DAD in big letters on the back... included smaller print details about fixing stuff with duct tape and other such things. I wondered if this was strategic. I've never really thought, before, about what it might be like to be a Dad accompanying his teen daughter. I remember, when I was about 14 or so, going out to breakfast with my Dad. He mentioned, as we were leaving that the waitress had been giving him the stink-eye throughout the meal. He wondered if she thought I was his girlfriend or something. At the time I found that quite amusing. Now, not so much. Yikes. Anyway, I wondered if that Dad in the food court had planned ahead and wore his "Dad" T-shirt to protect him from harsh judgement.

It points out to me, yet again, how the sexism in our culture hurts both the sexes.

Anyway... it's been a nice day. G-Rex had fun at Sephora and is now all be-glittered (thank the flying spaghetti monster for makeup people with kids of their own... our wonderful warpaint guide successfully steered G-Rex away from the clown makeup and captivated her with clear gloss and discrete face glitter... ah!!!). I was able to usher her through the gauntlet of kiosk salespeople (AAAAAArgh!) without having to be too gruff. Hopefully G-Rex is picking up on that. But it's a pain and I suspect if they (especially those stupid scented pillow people and the stupid fingernail lotion people who come awfully close to assault) don't back off a little, we're going to see a rash of salespeople being beaten to death with their own fingernail buffers. We bought fudge and ate caramel apples.

And that, as they say, is that.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Goddesses and Wiggles

First, just too cute not to share with everyone... This afternoon I played Memory with Bayba the Dynamatrix. I went a little easy on her (yeah I'm a sucker for that whole "kid" thing when it comes to competition). She was ecstatic. Literally. Jumping, giggling, wiggling, VIBRATING with joy. I need to spend more time focused on her. She so RAWKS.

And the whole "goddess" bit of the title: No, I don't believe in goddesses, per se, but I do love pondering the values, imagery, etc. of various goddesses. From time to time, one will strike my fancy and so I examine myself and my place in society (and the world) through the lens of archetype. My favorite to date has been Saraswati. I grew up afraid of the notion of goddess. To dwell overmuch on female deity was blasphemy. Such a taboo. Maybe when I've healed all those wounds I won't need mythology to help me adjust my misfit brain to the rest of the world. Until then, I enjoy pondering what women are, and what has been expected of them both in the mundane and mythological realms.

Bah Humbug

Missing atheist sign found in Washington state (CNN)

I would like to point out that, "An atheist sign criticizing Christianity that was erected alongside a Nativity scene was taken from the Legislative Building in Olympia, Washington, on Friday and later found in a ditch." is not correct. The sign did not criticize Christianity. It criticized religion. But I can see how monotheists might assume incorrectly. The text of the sign read:

"At this season of the winter solstice, may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."

I hear it has since been replaced, complete with attached note citing, "Thou shalt not steal." I haven't verified that part, though.

I just don't get why this is an issue. Remove ALL religious paraphernalia from government buildings. Duh.

If You've Run Out of Rant and You Know It...

Pass a meme! lol

I'll get back on my atheism rant wagon in the next day or two, now that I've shrugged off a couple of days of pretty dark depression (a whole other rant: "break-through" depression... and people and doctors that think the "right" pill will prevent it altogether), but for the moment I'll take a mental break and pass along Possum Momma's meme. Which is to say I'm shamelessly stealing her idea because I'm feeling creatively impotent. (Creatively Impotent - that's almost as good an alter ego as Anomic Entropy!)

What makes you happy? The rules are simple: list ten things you're happy about or thankful for. Tag ten people who you're happy to call friend at the end of the meme.

1. I am thankful for the www. I learn so much EVERY STINKING DAY from brilliant, thoughtful people... mostly in the form of reading "real" blogs by people who didn't go crazy and drop out of college. Every day I gain insight into my own intellectual weaknesses and illogical/prejudicial ways of thinking. This makes me a better person and a better mother. This makes me happy because it's free and I can gain knowledge from the comfort of my own home, regardless of emotional/social capabilities.
2. Being "old" makes me happy. I've pretty much become my Self and am finding it easier and easier to discard old angst and baggage.
3. My stand mixer makes me happy. A couple years back I bought a refurbished Pro series Kitchenaid mixer. It kneads my bread dough... even the pizza dough that has to have the holy hell kneaded out of it (quite a long process). It mixes cookie dough, cakes, and makes Swiss meringue buttercream do-able.
4. My new coffeemaker makes me happy. I finally bought one with the thermal carafe. I just had a cup of coffee. At noon. It was still hot and not scorched. A moment of beauty. Ahhhhh...
5. My dog makes me happy. She's a pain in the butt and sheds all over the place. But watching her interact so gently with the kids interrupts even my pissiest moods. Plus, she lets me stick my perpetually-cold feet on her furry belly in the morning while I check my email. Best footwarmer ever.
6. My cast iron skillet makes me happy. I cook everything in it. Even the stuff I probably shouldn't. I didn't roast the T-day turkey in it, though. It wouldn't fit.
7. My relationship with my geeky husband makes me happy. There's something to be said for hooking up with someone whose neurotic baggage complements your own.
8. My children make me happy. Even when they're trying patience I never knew I had, I can't help but admit that becoming a mother catapaulted me into a whole different, richer life than I had imagined for myself.
9. Strong friendships make me happy. Through every twist and turn of an all-too-often tumultuous life, the variable that tipped the scales into surviving and thriving where others too often do neither is the support of the strongest friendships ever. Always better than I deserve.
10. I am happy that, ten years ago, give or take a day (or month, possibly, I have a few chunks of time missing right around there), I made the decision to save what Self I had left and walk away from an abusive marriage. None of the happiness I have now would be possible if I hadn't. Sometimes I have little bouts of anxiety that blogging or in any other way being visible will bring my current life to his attention. So I'm also happy that hasn't happened yet. Ten years. Still have the souvenirs. But I'm here, dammit. Yup. Pretty happy about that. :o)

How's that for being able to Debbie Downer a happy list meme? heh

I tag Western Warmth, Urban Princess, Tamar, Sarah Free, Butterfly, Rob, Wendy Darling, Aimless, Woozlefreak and Eunice. :o)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

One of the Few Things...

...that could worm it's way through the depression muck I'm stuck in:
Proposition 8: The Musical

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Candlelight Blues

This is the first birthday in recent memory that leaves me feeling... meh...