Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Saturday, July 28, 2007


Nif and I finished our memoirs today! Turns out it was oh, so simple! We were making it WAY too complicated with all the dialogue, "putting it on the body", bringing nature into it, blah, blah, blah! I've boiled my memoir into one word, because I am just that efficient. Jennifer, of course, is more verbose (and competitive - I'M not, that's what makes me "better"), hers goes on and on a bit more. Nonetheless, here it is. Tada!


by Carrie


So, what do you think? Did I say all that needs to be said? I could take out "by"!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Just signed up for a "Celebrating Rage" retreat in September taught by Ruth King. I had the pleasure of meeting Ruth in May when she was in Portland on her book tour. She is a dynamo, to say the least, and has obviously walked her talk, as the last thing this woman exudes is rage. She is peace. She is joy. She is love. I think I am well on my way to being those things, too, but I'm certainly not "there," and so, I'm hoping this retreat will give me a big shove in the right direction.

Turns out, the two types of women that have the most unexpressed rage, typically, are the survivors of sexual trauma, with whom I work, and the "good girls", perfect daughters, got it all togethers, of which, I am. Unexpressed rage? Me?

I took Ruth's on-line questionnaire, DISGUISES OF RAGE and guess what? My disguise is "Devotion" with a couple of impressive "Distraction" tendencies, too. Hmmm...

With new eyes I look back at my life, and my responses to stress. Got some eggshells you want me to walk on? No problem! Got some problems too big for you to solve and you'd like me to solve them for you? Happy to! Treat me like shit? I'll dedicate my life to making that work. I know you can change if only I love you more/better/differently. It's all up to me. You don't have to do a thing, and I wouldn't dream of asking you!

For far too many years I've taken this responsible thing too damn far. I've had the weight of the world on my shoulders, and I've got the dents to prove it. Here is where I'm stepping off. Who do I think I am to exaggerate my "importance" in the scheme of things? Isn't that the same as arrogance? The whole world will spin out of control if I let go? Hardly! In fact, it is fascinating to sit back and observe how little/much things change when I do let go.

As I sit at this kitchen table again this morning I marvel what my husband has been able to get the kids to do in my absence. Rojo has made major milestones. Major. Two things I'd given up ever seeing him do he is doing. No problem. My tight grip was actually the problem, not THE solution! Can't wait to see what else happens while I'm over here massaging the deep grooves from my tired shoulders.


She won't recover from her losses
She's not chosen this path
But she watches who it crosses
Maybe move to the right
Maybe move to the left
So we can all see her pain she wears
Like a banner on her chest
And we all say it's sad
And we think it's a shame
And she's called to our attention
But we do not call her name
The girl with the weight
Of the world in her hands

Cause we're busy with our happiness
And busy with our plans
I wonder if alone she wants it
Taken from her hands
But if things didn't keep getting harder
She might miss her sacred chance
To go a consecrated martyr
The girl with the weight
Of the world in her hands

I wonder which saint
That lives inside a bead
Will grant her consolation
When she counts upon her need
It makes us all angry
Though we feign to care
But who will be the scale
To weigh the cross she has to bear
The girl with the weight
Of the world in her hands

Is the glass half-full or empty
I ask her as I fill it
She said it doesn't really matter
Pretty soon youre bound to spill it
With the half logic language
Of the sermon she delivers
And the way she smiles so knowingly
At me gives me the shivers
I pull the blanket higher
When I'm finally safe at home
And she'll take a hundred with her
But she always sleeps alone
The girl with the weight
Of the world in her hands

I wonder which saint
That lives inside a bead
Will grant her consolation
When she counts upon her need
It makes us all angry
Though we feign to care
But who will be the scale
To weigh the cross she has to bear
The girl with the weight
Of the world in her hands

I'm starting month two of "Operation WTF is Carrie?" I'd heard a lot about this whole memoir writing process, and I thought I was well-prepared. I'd already been writing about my life, more or less, for over 2 years, how hard could it be? Afterall, it's MY life, I'm familiar with it, there are no surprises to ME, certainly! I LIVED the damn life, certainly writing about it would be little more than clerical work, right? Just taking down the information and putting it on paper? Well, you know what they say, when you want to make God laugh, tell Her your plans!

I planned to "escape" to Sisters for a couple weeks, no big deal. I'd go to the house my mom had bought 18 years ago. The only house she'd ever bought all on her own, without a man. The house she'd lived in longer than any other house in her life. The house where I'd brought my babies and nursed them in the dusty blue wing-backed chair. The house with windows revealing nature from every angle. The house so quiet the buzz of the refrigerator is annoying. The house my husband had been threatening to sell as long as we'd taken over ownership. The home with all the "seconds" housed in it. Our rejected furniture, bedding, appliances, dishes and towels. The house where even reaching for a coffee mug evokes powerful emotions.

This one right here? Little Lucy as a 1-year-old making a silly face and hair so fair and whispy it couldn't be contained in any sort of "way."

How about this one? The Marimekko mug that I had to have in college. The one that matched the sheets I had to have on my bed on that cold, cold sleeping porch in the sorority.

What about that one over there? The white mug with the royal blue ring around the lip? The one where my brother threw something, a pen I think, at me playfully, and it landed right on the spot where I like to put my mouth, right there where if you hold the mug in your right hand and pull towards you, fits right between your lips. The object managed to chip a bite-sized piece off the mug. I put Super Glue on it and saved the mug, but the fit is not the same now. There is friction where once there was only smoothness. The mug is "wrong" now, but I can't part with it. I love that damn mug.

And how about the extra large one a friend gave me because she knew I loved big mugs. She used to know a lot of other things about me, too, but she doesn't know me like that now. I don't know "what" happened. I know "who" happened that got in the middle of our friendship and made it one we could never put back together again in just the same way. I still love her, just like that damn mug, but there is friction between us now, where once there was only smoothness. The friendship doesn't fit anymore. It is "wrong." We grew apart and putting our two pieces together now just reveals the cracks that must have always been there, but we weren't able to see at the time we were "whole."

Each mug takes me down memory lane, and that lane is full of obstacles and unseen dips and turns. The further I get into my memoir, the more I see what still lies ahead. I am a super organized person. Hyper-organized, one might say, if one were my mother or husband, for instance. Yet, this body of work has no organization. It is organic. Each piece is pulled and spilled on the page in the order it sees fit. I am not in any sort of control.

The "plan" to write each day for "X" amount of time in a linear, sequential, chronological order has been blown all to hell. Bad plan, it would seem. "Bad," being relative. "Different" plan would be more appropriate. "Better" plan? Maybe. Probably. Who knows. Who cares. "Different" is one thing I know I can deal with, after coming to terms with the learning differences both my children have. "Different" is not "wrong," it's different, that's all. Not the same. Unique. Special. Original.

I'm here at the kitchen table again this morning. Every morning here I am, in my pajamas, today the ones given to me by a dear friend. I feel that friend as though she were right across the table from me, typing on her own computer. And some mornings she actually is, but not this morning. Today it is just me, earphones on my ears, Indigo Girls playing around and around inducing a meditative state with their words. Hair poking up and I don't care. No one will see me today, not unless I decide they get to. I am calling my own shots today. I have the whole day to do just as I please, when and where I please. There are no boundaries imposed by others, just me. I have effectively removed all the human boundaries, now all that binds is me, myelf and I. How tightly those chains to the past and fears of the future clutch me. How relentless their voices and influences. "No matter where you go, there you are," reads a bumper sticker I say recently. I have "left," but I'm not "gone."

As I come to the point in my memoir where Stan and I broke up and didn't speak for 6 months, prior to our engagement, I can't help but wonder if this time here, apart, will last that long, too? What will "we" look like after that amount of time? I hardly recognize myself now, after only one month of being Carrie again. Not Wife Carrie. Not Mother Carrie. Not Daughter Carrie. "Just" Carrie.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Floating down the lazy river with my cousin, Julie, she lying on a neon green "floatie", me on neon pink, our daughters and cousins, four 13-year-olds, floated too. The best part of the 4th of July WUG reunion each year is the time for good 1:1 talks, and nothing provides that opportunity better than a long float on a hot day.

As the lovely adolescent girls twirled around on their floaties, their long, lean, straight spines revealed themselves.

"Hey! You girls are in luck," I shouted from my floatie, I'm offering free scoliosis checks today!"

One by one I ordered each girl to bend over, fingers touching the other end of their floaties, giving me full view of each and every vertebrae, and how it lined up perfectly to the ones adjacent.

"You all check out. No 'C' curves or 'S' curves for you!"

They all looked at me like I was crazy. Scoliosis is not a word in their vocabulary. They do not have friends in back braces. And obviously, they aren't reading enough Judy Blume!

Neither Julie nor I had that problem. We had Margaret informing us about breasts and periods. We had Karen giving us insights into divorce. Deenie taught us the realities of a curved spine and the impact on a girls' self-esteem. Katherine taught us about first love and the loss of virginity.

I don't know what I would have done without Judy Blume in those years. Almost like a curse, my life followed the course of these characters. One by one I experienced each of these life-changing events. Fortunately, I'd been prepared, as much as a fictional character can adequately prepare you for anything.

"There's a new book out," Julie informed me right after the on-the-spot scoliosis check, Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume. It's an anthology of young adult writers and how they were influenced by Judy Blume growing up."

So, being me, I went to the local library and put my name on the long, long, list, totally willing to wait as long as it took to be my turn. NOT! I ordered that puppy from Amazon and had it in my hands within 48 hours.

As I read through the collection, I am overwhelmed with the wanting to read all those old books again. And, to my horror, I realize there is one that I missed somehow, Summer Sisters. That won't do. I'm sure I'll find some aspects of the books dated, but not the essence. Fortunately, I need only go into the basement to retrieve those dusty favorites. Through all the ages and stages of my life, through all the moves, those books have never been more than 2-stories away from me, and their lessons, much, much closer.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Driving home with Rojo in the car, having just left his Behavioral/Developmental Pediatrician's office, we stop at a traffic light and our eyes turn to the homeless man with the cardboard sign, crouching, weathered, dirty, neglected looking, on our left.

I roll down the window, offering a Power Bar and a bottle of water to the filthy, outstretched hand.

"Thank you," the man says, eyes red and tired, face lined and sad.

"You're welcome," I say from the comforts of my car.

Ten minutes and ten different threads of conversation pass between Rojo and me, when he interrupts, "Will we see another friend?"

"Another friend?" I ask.

"Another friend we can give food and water to?" he clarifies.

I'd say his behavior and development are in good shape, wouldn't you?

Saturday, July 14, 2007


"I am going to get Bart when I am one one, Mom. On Saturday, July 14th at 12:00 I am going to get Bart, Mom. Did you know that? Did you know I am going to get Bart when I am one one, Mom?"

"That's right, Rojo, you are going to get your Bart Simpson toy on your birthday, when you are eleven."

"Are you excited for me to get my Bart, Mom? Are you excited that when I am one one I will get Bart for my birthday, Mom? Aren't you happy, Mom?"

"I am super happy, Rojo, I am super, super happy," I say, smiling, and meaning it.


"Mom! I have a great idea! Let's go to Toys R Us at 11:59 PM tonight and get my Bart Simpson! Promise you will wake me up at 11:59 PM tonight and we will go to Toys R Us, Mom?"

"Sure," I answer.

"Promise you won't forget to wake me up at 11:59 tonight so we can go to Toys R Us, Mom. OK? Promise you won't forget?"

"I promise," I say, lying through my teeth.


"MOM! You did not wake me up at 11:59 last night! Why did you not wake me up at 11:59 last night, Mom? You were supposed to wake me up at 11:59 last night and take me to Toys R Us to get Bart Simpson! Why did you forget to wake me up last night, Mom? Wake me up tonight, and DO NOT FORGET!"

I muster an unconvincing nod every 10 minutes.


"Mom! I have a great idea! We will just go to Toys R Us right now and get my Bart Simpson! Isn't that a great idea, Mom? Can't you believe what a great idea that is, Mom? We will just go right now to Toys R Us! We don't have to wait until 12:00! We can just go right now!"

My tall, crew-cutted blond, skinny, darling of a boy is eleven today, one one. I'd like to say, "I can't believe it's been eleven years since the day he was born," but I can believe it. So can my grey hair, lined face, high blood pressure and caffeine addicted body. I can believe it. What I can't believe is it hasn't been longer. I must be a hundred, maybe more. It's only 7:34 AM, 10:34 EDT, and today already feels like a week.

"Aren't you excited Mom? Aren't you excited that it is my birthday today, Mom?"

"I'm super excited," I answer as enthusiastically as one can be on 5 1/2 hours of sleep.

Thinking how glad I am that the party is at 12:00 and not a minute later, my eyes check my watch, wow, 7:37 AM already. What is that they say about time flying?

I look up from the computer, set my love mug full of love down on the coaster to my right, turn my eyes towards the window in front of me and look to the heavens.

"Thank you, God," I say, meaning it. Thank you for this boy that is so full of love. Thank you for this boy that at "one one" only wants a $10.00 toy and will be over the moon with it. Thank you for this boy that has no ego, the purest soul on the planet, nothing but love shooting out of him at all times. Thank you for somehow thinking I am up to this challenge. I'm hoping you know more than I do, because it is now 7:40, and I am already fantasizing about his bedtime."

"Mom! I almost forgot! I love you!" he says, eyes bright, smile wide, dimples deep.

"I love you, too, Rojo, I'm so glad you were born! You're the best thing that ever happened to me," I answer, eyes bright, smile wide, wrinkles deep.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


This looks nothing like the vegetation around my house, but it's the closest I could come to finding a picture of the family of quail that "lives" with me. After 3 cups of coffee and 21 pages of Google Images rejected, this will have to do. Patience is not a virtue to which I've ever been attributed. Never. I am many wonderful things, true, but patient? Not even close. This family of quail, however? Amazingly patient. I've been watching them daily for a month now. They have distinct patterns, coming each day at 6:30 AM to eat whatever falls from the blue jay's sloppy attack of the "good stuff" in the feeder. The adult quail huddle around the ground with all the various babies, eating to the point of fullness, then moving on. They will be back. Their dust bath in my dirt pile (got me some fancy landscaping) will be this afternoon. They'll be back for an evening feeding around 6:30 PM. By then the piggy blue jay will have left an entirely new scattering of rejected food on the ground for them. He's great that way, always thinking of others!

I am so impressed with what I've seen of the nature of quail! They seem to have the whole marriage/parenthood thing really dialed in. You either see both Mom and Dad with all the babies, or one or the other with 1/2 the covey, the other, presumable, elsewhere with the other 1/2. Mom and Dad take couple time each evening. They must leave the babies with Grandma and Grandpa, because each night they take a stroll, just the two of them, catching up on the news of the day.

I'm pretty sure Mama Quail never left all the babies with Dad and took a month-long retreat to "find her voice." I'm pretty sure she was either born with her voice firmly planted in her heart, or was happy with less than I seem to require to find happiness. By the same token, quail are given wings but they seldom fly. They CAN fly, but they don't unless they are in danger. They are ground birds.

Am I a ground bird? Do I have wings to fly, but I prefer not to use them for such? It doesn't feel that way. It feels like I have been walking around with a powerful set of wings all along, oblvious to their presence, and am now taking a hard look and asking myself, "What good are these damn wings if all they do is add weight to my already heavy shoulders? Let's get this show off the ground!"

And so I preen and admire my wings until such I time I am ready to fully take flight. I'm not just sure where my flights will take me. I have some ideas, but they are still in formation. Formation, interesting word, one that is not just reserved for birds.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


I'm a great starter and finisher, where I struggle is in that whole middle area. The thrill and newness of starting something is enough to get me going, likewise with the finishing. Nothing, and I do mean nothing, brings me greater satisfaction than "check, checking," that is crossing something off my never-ending "To Do" list.

I know that the lessons come from finding grace in the middle, but I resist, none-the-less. That middle area can be so tedious, so seemingly circumvented, interrupted, and unproductive. I like to "see" the fruits of my labor!

"I'm doing a medium wash," she calls from the laundry room to my ears in the kitchen, "do you have anything you want me to throw in?"

"A medium wash? WTF is a medium wash? I do darks and lights. Doesn't everyone? Isn't that what you're supposed to do? I don't even know what I'd put in a medium wash - what do I have that's medium?"

All that noise runs through my busy head until I move my body from the kitchen to the laundry room to take a look through the hamper. With new eyes I survey the scene. Wow. Who knew? Lots of my stinky, dirty clothes are in that medium category! I just never looked at them that way, trying always to make grey either dark or light, and finally landing on the excruciating decision that light grey is a light, and dark grey is a dark.

"She," the one with the new age laundry ideas, has taught me much about the middle. The middle ground of two opinions. The middle of breathing, that space between exhale and inhale. That magical space of breath that when meditated upon can actually lead to enlightenment. That middle stuff that makes up 90% of everything we do, and choosing to be good with "middle" and not resist. "What we resist, persists," I invoke my own mantra. What is so damn hard about "middle?"

Buddhists have taught for centuries that "The Middle Path" or "Middle Way" is THE way to go. Middle does not mean equal, middle means neutral, upright and centered, according to Buddha Net. Hmmmm... neutral? Upright? Centered? Those don't sound all that bad. Maybe those Buddhists have a point.

I'm off to do laundry, the "new" way.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Astrology divides our story into 12 houses, nine planets, and the way they all interact. Fascinating stuff. You'll learn about your inner mother, the relationship with your outer mother, and all kinds of infuriating, confusing, liberating and otherwise consciousness-raising stuff that you'll spend the rest of your days trying to integrate. Since I believe the Universe has a hilarious sense of humor, the moon is the planet that represents our inner mother. Moon = lunar, lunar = that which makes us looney. Coincidence? I think not.

I sit at my mother's table this morning. I drink from her coffee cup, rest the cup on her coaster, grab the cream from her old frig. I open her sliding glass door to let my friends the quail and deer distract/inspire my writing efforts. When the blue jays finish every last bit of their seed I slide into my mother's old, left-behind, too big, very stained, hideous yet super comfortable sandals and walk the 20 feet to the feeder to re-fill it for the day.

Tomorrow will be the same. I will sit at her table, drink from her mug, walk in her shoes to go feed the birds that live on her land.

The land is in the town of Sisters, and that is what I am to my mom, her little sister. Through some convoluted chain-of-events and life's funny way of working, she is in a home that I own in Portland, I am in this home that she owns in Sisters, three hours away. Three, the holy trinity number, the number of perfect balance. The triangle. A number so sacred and steeped in all world religions I come close to tears just reflecting on that magical number.

Magic is happening to me here, too. Three hours away from the three people in my immediate family, husband and two kids. Three hours away from the three elders in my life, mother and father-in-law, and my mother. Three hours away from my three closest friends. Three hours away from my three greatest challenge areas, parenthood, partnership and primitive attachment to my mother.

Down goes the coffee cup, taking a look at the scratches and nicks on this antique table. How many times did my mother sit right where I am sitting and do just what I am doing (minus the Wi-Fi)? Settle herself into her day, into her skin, into her part of the collective? How did all these scratches and nicks earn their way onto this table and into the story of this woman?

Right knee crossed over left I catch a glimpse of my painted toes as my foot bobs up and down, unable to contain my itchy, restless nature even as I sit without a "legitimate" distraction in the world.

How like my mother's foot is the one I see in my periphery. Same boniness. Same narrow shape. Same high arch. Same long toes, same second toe on an even keel with the big toe, not shorter, not longer, it's equal match. Even our taste in polish is the same, although I have a sparkly pink and hers would be a sparkly pearl-esque color. Toes stay covered in polish year round, fingers only on special occasions.

Sisters in Sisters, is that what we are, my mother and me? Are we the big and second toe? Are we peers? An equal match? My mother has a sister, actually, a perfectly good one, I do not. How did our stories combine in the cosmos and come to play out in this lifetime? How is it that I have been my mother's confident, her back-up plan, her right-hand-gal, and she is not mine? How did it happen and why do I care? Why must I know why? Why isn't "just 'cause" enough to satisfy my dissatisfaction and a deep longing for more? I have more self-made sisters than I can even shake a stick at. Why isn't this enough? I am greatly blessed with any number of women I could call on and have by my side in a matter of moments. Why do I perpetually pine for the one that is unavailable to me?

Why is the one you can't have always the only one you want? How many relationships with men have I unintentionally, yet with veracity, chased because they were completely unavailable? First the gay men, then the aloof. The ones that called and adored? BORING! I didn't want anyone that wanted me - unbearable to be with such a pathetic person! No, give me the one that gave me nothing but inferiority complexes. Give me the ones that left me to feel they would abandon me at the slightest provocation. Give me the ones I couldn't have, then "give" them to me, let me think I "have" them, only to discover that all I have is a panic disorder!

My stuck-in-my-head song of the day is "Straight Lies, Crooked Secrets" by Ariane Lydon. Gorgeous lyrics, my favorite are these:

"Well you know there are reasons
And you know they are stale
But straight lies and crooked secrets
Take the wind from your sails"

What part of my "story" about my mother and me is a lie? Perhaps walking in those god-awful sandals this summer will tell me. I'm all ears.

Saturday, July 07, 2007


Remember all the bruhaha over James Frey and A Million Little Pieces? Remember Oprah's outrage and public defamation? Remember how we all LOVED the book, but when we found out he "lied" we HATED the book, hated James Frey, and hated the horse he rode in on? Well, my friends, that horse he rode in on is called "memoir" and perhaps now that the flames of outrage have settled a bit, we can all stand to take a second look...

I, like so many, read the book, devoured it, actually. Loved everything about it. When I learned he had "lied" I felt cheated, too. What with the whole discrepancy between time in jail, blah, blah, blah. I still think he crossed the line in a couple of key places. He moved off the "essence" of the true story towards fiction. His "bad." Our total dismissal of his writing, his humanity, his amazing story, and the whole genre? Our bad!

While the relatively new genre of memoir continues to take the heat, the genre continues to EXPLODE. Women, especially, are hungry, starving, ravenous for story, connection, for some truth that no other genre delivers in quite the same way. We want to know that real people have experienced what we are experiencing, or have experienced. We want to know we are not alone. We want acknowledgment and validation. We want illumination and hope. We want company on our lonely journeys. Memoir, when done "right" does this, and it does it well. Perfectly.

My friend, Kario, has turned me on to the wonders of Anna Nalick. Her hit song, "Breathe" speaks to this issue. As a songwriter she, too, is pouring herself out in her art, and slapping it front of all of us to criticize, on one end of the spectrum, and deeply resonate with on the other. Don't forget, what we resist, persists. That which causes the most ire tends to have the most growth opportunity if we choose to look at it closely.

"2 AM and I'm still awake writing this song
If I get it all down on paper it's no longer inside of me threaten' the life it belongs to.
And I feel like I'm naked in front of the crowd
Cause these words are my diary screamin' out aloud
And I know that you'll use them however you want to.

What if some of our most famed and adored painters were completely dismissed for these reasons? I'm sure in their lifetimes they had plenty of people saying, "But that doesn't LOOK like anybody!" "I've never seen a sky look like THAT!" Thank God we've come to expand our thinking and make room for different views, different ways, a moving outside of the tradional boxes that bind us into remaining "as is", without allowing for what is emerging.

Picasso's "The Red Arm Chair"

Van Gogh's "Starry Night"

Like Anna Nalick says, "If I get it all down on paper it's no longer inside me threatening the life it belongs to."

We memoirists know of what she speaks. That's why we do what we do. Not because we are gluttons for punishment, but because the holding of the story is more painful than the releasing of the story and the subsequent fall-out. We write because we cannot stand NOT to write. We write to discover what it is we are really thinking and feeling. We write to process our lives, and with any luck, ourselves. We write to illuminate our past and look brightly to the future. We write to awaken ourselves, and if possible, each other. We write. If you read us and like us, all the better, but no matter what, we must write. It's what we do. We are writers. We write.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


As I sip my little (well, giant, actually) cup of heaven and check in on all my friends living in the animal realm outside my sliding glass door this early morning, I think about what today is, and what it means to me. 4th of July. Independence Day. Freedom. WUG.

"What is WUG?" you might ask? Well, WUG stands for Wilson, Urbigkeit and Goodwin. And the story of WUG goes a little something like this...

Forty years ago my Grandpa Ted, a retired Baptist minister, learned of this opportunity to purchase over sixty acres of "God's Country" along the banks of the Little Deschutes River in Central Oregon. He rallied his three Oregon-dwelling sons and two Oregon-dwelling sons-in-law to all go in together and snap it up. They did. Grandpa Ted then named it "WUG", using the combined initials of the three last names making this purchase. My dad, provided the "W", the other son-in-law the "U", and the three Goodwin brothers providing the "G". WUG, get it? Four of the five "brothers" were lawyers. Nothing says fun like a group of loud, highly opinionated, drunken lawyers sitting by a river bank out-pontificating one another!

Anyhoo, it was decided that this land (and the 25 adjacent acres we've since added) would stay rugged and in the family. That is to say, we are no closer to having the modern conveniences of running water, nor electricity, than we were 40 years ago. And we like it that way. It allows for us all to perform "The WUG test" on any potential lifemates. Nobody can unofficially join the family until they've proven to shine in the WUGgiest of conditions. We show no mercy. It is a long-standing tradition that anyone considering marriage must first bring the person in question to WUG, and let us all watch them sink or swim. How bad do you want to be in OUR family? We throw you straight to the wolves. Once in, however, you're SO in you will wish you weren't.

My grandparents lived in Santa Cruz, California, and only made rare appearances at WUG. They were good Baptists and eschewed and denounced the sins of smoking, alcohol and gambling. All card playing was considered tempting the devil, what with all those wicked looking face cards and all. Taking away the smoking, drinking and card playing, Bridge and poker, (just when they were around) was akin to killing all that was fun about WUG for the adults. Not so much the kids. I was only four when we started WUGging, my brother an infant. My twenty-eight first cousins and I all grew up on that river bank, together. We were the little ones playing on the banks without sunscreen and life jackets. We were the teenagers unsupervised and smoking pot in the tepee. We were the older ones joining our hands in marriage in the meadow, wearing hippie clothes and waist-length hair. The 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's and now the 00's have all been celebrated at WUG. We've buried beloved family pets at WUG. One set of human "remains" also rest in peace under the pines, with the intentions of many of us to join, eventually.

Now we are the parents of the children heavily sunscreened, life-jacketed and watched, playing by the river. We are the parents of teenagers that can't get by with anything under our watchful eyes. We are the grandparents of these children. Many 4th of Julys you will see three generations of WUGgers WUGging it at WUG, some years even four.

Uncle Ted, named after Grandpa Ted, left home at 14, more or less. The oldest of eight rambunctious kids. He worked on ranches and never outgrew his love of horses and the wild country. As his career took off, his outlet was the rigors of ranch work. Cutting dead trees, clearing brush, building fences, working horses, this kind of harsh physical labor was/is his preferred method of relaxation. He built a coral at WUG and kept horses there during the summer months. Rocky, Rigby, Star were the three I most remember. Uncle Ted taught us all to ride. He built a tepee on part of the land forty years ago, and we lovingly refer to this spot as "Tepee Island" these many years later. The tepee saw and heard things I'm sure would make your hair curl. It remained up for years until finally disintegrating under the harsh weather conditions of the high altitude of the Cascade Mountain Range.

Uncle Ted moved swiftly through the lower courts until landing as Chief Justice of the Ninth District Court of Appeals. He was considered for a Supreme Court nomination at least once. Many in the world of law and order have known of him, but a few years ago he became known world-wide for his highly controversial opinion on the Pledge of Allegiance. Is any of this ringing a bell? What happens when I say, "Under God?" On which side of this debate do you land?

"60 Minutes" did a profile on Ted during this time of heated outrage on both sides of the issue. The camera panned his Pasadena office and landed just long enough for the audience to read the words on one of his framed pieces of art hanging on the wall. "I should like to be able to love my country and still love justice," it said, quoting Albert Camus by one of his favorite artists, Sister Corita Kent.

I love my country. I love justice. I love that I am loved by a man that has done much to ensure my ability, and those in successive generations, to go on loving these two, simultaneously and inclusively. Grandpa Ted often said to those that questioned his strong belief in God, something along the lines of another Albert Camus quote, "I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn't, than live my life as if there isn't and die to find out there is." I'll get you a t-shirt with that printed on it, Uncle Ted. Then you'll have the complete set. Your father would agree with you. You've done him proud.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


My new best friend, aka, NBF, is this hunky dude, Eckhart Tolle. He's Mr. Power of Now. I've been listening to his book, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose.It's so profound I have to listen over and over again hoping that some seeds of understanding are finding their way into soil minimally rich enough to allow growth in my soul. My soul soil. I toss a Corona with lime on top of the soul soil occasionally, finding a day of intense mulching in need of an adult beverage.

My soul soil turned and worked all yesterday with this one: "The ego wants to want, more than it wants to need," and this one, "...it is an addictive need, however, not an authentic need."

www.kriyayoga.com defines ego as:

"The Ego is that part of your present personality and your wholesome being including your astral body, Causal body and soul that is different from God and prevents you from becoming instantly one with God.

The ego is the sum of many spiritual blockages that you collected during your journey far away from God-Union. The ego also consists of all the wounds and psycho-traumatic adventures you experienced during the present childhood and incarnation as well as during all previous incarnation.

Experiences made during separation from God may lead to traumatic wounds and shocks received and accumulated, while being consciously separated from your Divine home.

Increasing devotion to God and spiritual progress replace the Ego with Divinity - leading to and permanently increasing enlightenment of your consciousness.

Dissolving the ego means replacing your present personality with a God-made personality of everlasting Love and Bliss. During the process of dissolving ones Ego in the fire of Divine Love, spiritual ignorance is replaced by wisdom and God-consciousness.

The Ego can fight, feel pain and suffer. A fully enlightened soul may be aware of suffering, however never can suffer or feel any pain on its own."

I awaken this morning, tension between my eyes. Like a hamster on a wheel, my ego runs in vicious circles, trying to get ahead of what it can't possibly, my soul. Today's going to be a two Cornoa day, I can tell already.

Sunday, July 01, 2007


10. Her father wanted her to marry, she wanted to be a nun.
9. She is the Chinese goddess known as the compassionate rebel.
8. There is a form of healing in which the healer taps into the higher frequency of Kuan Yin and healing is magnified.
7. Her name translates to mean, compassionate listener to the cries of the world.
6. She is often depicted with a weeping willow branch. The ever-green aspect symbolic of her fertility, and love for others like a mother with her child.
5. Also like a willow, she has the ability to bend during the most ferocious winds and then spring back into shape again.
4. She has more names than you can shake a stick at, and they all have cool meanings.
3. She is sometimes a he, depending on the religion, she/he doesn't get too worked up about gender identity.
2. When she was born, her body glowed with an almost unearthly light so much so that the palace seemed on fire.
1. When she was sent to hell, she played music and flowers blossomed all around her - she turned hell into paradise by her presence.

All I'm sayin'...