Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Falling Down

Since I didn't have a chance to call Mom over the weekend, I called her last night.

"I fell down."

I hate hearing those words. More than that, I hate the sad, pitiful tone of my mother's voice when she tells me: "I fell. Again."

This time, though, she didn't pass out and lie on the bathroom floor for some unknown period of time. She got nailed by a little kid running at church. This was good news!

"What did you fall on? Your butt?"

"My knees."

"Are you okay? Do you have bruises? Are you able to walk okay?"

"I'm okay. I have a couple of bruises, but I seem to be able to get around okay."

What a relief.

"The little kid -- just didn't see you? Did his mother apologize?"

"I guess. He was just running all over the place and I didn't see him coming and he crashed into me. I fell down onto my knees. His mother didn't say anything. She didn't even apologize."

PSA: If your child is running around and old people with canes are in the area, this is not good. Some of these seniors can't see your little kid zooming toward them and can't move fast enough to get out of the way even if they can see. They are doing well to be upright. Give them a hand, huh? Send your kids outside to run. Away from people using canes. Also: If your child actually knocks an old person down? Have the kid apologize. Then you apologize. Profusely. Stop by with a goddamned homemade cake later and thank your lucky stars the oldster isn't in the hospital with a broken hip, talking on the phone to her lawyer. Because she's not that kind of person. She's a good, religious woman, not the kind to hold a grudge or come looking for you if a serious injury results. She's not, but her daughter is.

Monday, June 27, 2005


Over the weekend I completed the Shambhala Heart of Warriorship program, along with about 40 other people. At our graduation ceremony, we were all given pins symbolizing the Great Eastern Sun. I put mine on and was wearing it when I rode the train home.

Also on the train were two Mormon missionaries. They sat across from me. Each wore a missionary badge (just like the ones worn by these young missionaries).

I looked at my pin. I looked at their badges. I had to laugh. I'm pretty sure they thought I was crazy. Which could explain why they left me alone for the duration of the trip.

They both looked worn out, though. A little discouraged, maybe. Yesterday was Pride here in the city. Poor kids must think they've been stationed in Sodom. Or Gomorrah.

Thursday, June 23, 2005


Old folks' homes are in the news today. The first story I heard on NPR's "Morning Edition." It was about the Green House Project in Mississippi. They're basically reinventing the nursing home concept, scrapping the old model because it doesn't serve the needs of elders. Instead of packing seniors and people with profound disabilities into big, institutional facilities (which the Green House director calls "prisons"), these folks are building small homes for up to 10 residents and their caregivers. They've even re-named caregivers -- instead of "CNA" or "assistant" they use "shahbaz" -- a "made-up" name that forces everyone involved to start thinking differently about the nature of care-giving. Elders are thriving in these new spaces, where they have freedom and comfort they only dreamed about in the old facilities. One dear senior began talking and feeding herself after being moved from the old institution to the new home. It's a great story. If you have a few minutes, you should have a listen at NPR's website.

Speaking of creating homes for elders, the Supreme Court is doing exactly the opposite. With your tax dollars. In a 5-4 ruling, the (let's just say it -- elderly) Court gave a Connecticut city the right to take away property from its citizens when it's believed the community will benefit. According to USA Today, "The New London neighborhood that will be swept away includes Victorian-era houses and small businesses that in some instances have been owned by several generations of families. Among the New London residents in the case is a couple in their 80s who have lived in the same home for more than 50 years."

But wait -- there's good news: "City officials envision a commercial development that would attract tourists to the Thames riverfront, complementing an adjoining Pfizer Corp. research center and a proposed Coast Guard museum."

Maybe some of those seniors who used to live along the river can go to work selling trinkets to the tourists. That would be nice.

If you're a legal geek, the opinion's here.

If you're pissed and wondering what to do about that, send some love to the Institute for Justice , even though they're libertarian. They're representing the homeowners of New London. Finding lawyers to take cases like this one is tough. They're good people for taking on Big Government.

You can direct your anger toward the National League of Cities (Executive Director: Donald Borut), which is helping New London kick the homeowners out. How do those guys look at themselves in the mirror? When their mothers or people at cocktail parties ask them what they do for a living, what the hell do they say? Do they have trouble sleeping at night? I hope so.

Also on the Evildoers List is the New London Development Corporation (Chief Operating Officer: Dave Goebel). When you visit their website, you will see that "The New London Development Corporation (NLDC) is committed to creating public-private partnerships that act as an engine for economic development in New London. The goals of this private, not-for-profit organization are to increase the city's tax base, to promote an increase in the number of jobs available in the city and to enhance the quality of life for New London's residents." Well, some residents. Not the residents who worked for 30 or more years to pay off their mortgages. Other residents. Like, say, Pfizer.

Secrets Revealed

It would be a stretch to make this topic seem even remotely related to the overall themes of my blog (aging parents, Mormonism, all that). So I won't even try.

Now tell me this isn't the same person:

As this:

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Who is Sally Denton and What's She Doing With My Axe?

It seems Sally Denton has it in for the Mormons. How did I not know this? She's written a book about her great-great grandmother, who got snookered by the church leaders back in the 1850s. Seems they neglected to tell Denton's ancestor (Jean Rio, who gave the church all her belongings and left her home in England to travel with the Saints to Zion) about a couple of teeny-tiny doctrinal matters. Like polygamy and blood atonement. This upset Ms. Rio (can you believe it!?) and she headed for California just as soon as a railroad was built to take her there.

Denton also wrote a book about the infamous Mountain Meadows Massacre a few years back. The massacre has been on people's minds more since Under the Banner of Heaven came out last year. It would seem that the One True Church has a history of some violence. And deceit. Surprise.

Both Carolyn See and Bookslut mention Denton's bias against the church. If you're writing about atrocities and misdeeds by a religious organization, should you remain neutral? I haven't read either book. And naturally, since Denton's bias is virtually identical to my bias, I'm not inclined to feel too troubled. That's the way biases work.

I have added Faith and Betrayal to my book list. Any enemy of woman-hating churches is a friend of mine.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


Sunday, when I talked to my mom, I asked her some questions about her mother: "Did she have a temper?" "Did she hit?"

Mom laughed.

"Oh, she yelled! She had a temper. I can't remember why, but one time she broke a broomstick on LM!" LM is Mom's younger brother. Mom kept chuckling. "I remember her chasing after him. He told me last year why she beat him, but I can't remember."

"Did she ever hit you like that?"

"Oh no. I don't think so."

"Because you were better behaved?"

"Oh yes."

"You never did anything to 'deserve' it."

"Not that I can remember!"

Once when I was about five or six, I broke Mother's stick -- the one she used both for pushing laundry down into the washing machine and also for hitting us. I balanced the stick on top of a rubber ball and stood on both ends. I probably got the idea from some book or T.V. show. The stick broke. She replaced it with the leg of a disgarded chair.

Lately, she's been heard telling relatives she never hit or yelled at us when we were small: "My husband wouldn't allow it!" Nobody corrects her. And she's not lying -- she honestly doesn't remember hitting us or yelling at us. She also doesn't remember being hit by her mother. I'm not sure what really happened to Mother when she was small. Neither is she.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Name That Tune

When I made my weekly phone call yesterday, Mom was listening to her new CD from my sister J. It's a compilation of different duets sung by country artists. Neither of us had much to say yesterday, so it was mostly small talk and reminiscences of past Father's Days.

Every so often she'd pipe up with, "Who's this singing now?"

She can't see well enough to read the CD cover. So she doesn't know who she's listening to.

Since I couldn't hear her stereo I had to tell her I didn't know. Repeatedly.

"Oh you know," she coaxed after I gave up for the third of fourth time. "It's that girl who had all those brothers. Oh, what's her name? Oh! Osmond! She's an Osmond! Who's she singing with?"

Again, couldn't hear. Since I was sitting at my computer, I Googled it by the name of the song.

"Is it Dan Seals?"

"Oh I don't know. I've never heard of him."


"Yeah. That sounds about right."

She likes me to call every weekend, even if this is all we have to say to each other.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Where Would Jesus Shop?

A while back I ranted about Mormons and tithing. I recently read about the church's plans for putting $1 billion in tithing (and accrued interest, of course) to good use: They're building a MALL! In downtown Salt Lake City! Interestingly, the link is no longer working at the SLC Tribune Site. However, here's an excerpt from the original story, by Heather May:

The LDS Church will invest close to $1 billion when it remakes downtown Salt Lake City's two malls -- which will be closed on Sundays -- according to Salt Lake City Council members.

This isn't the first time God's True Church has used its members' 10% for retail improvements:

During the 1960s several commercial and service centers were built in the suburbs, drawing business away from downtown. To help counteract this movement, the Mormon Church invested $40 million in development of a downtown shopping mall. The ZCMI Center Mall, named for Zions Cooperative Mercantile Institution, a prominent retail chain which was begun in Salt Lake's pioneer days, is the result of that effort. (Link)

I'm intrigued by the overlap of religion and consumerism.

Evidently, Our Lord and Savior doesn't favor Nordstrom or Target:

As it redevelops its two malls on Main Street, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints doesn't want the city to allow department stores to locate in The Gateway and property surrounding the shopping center west of downtown.

In a letter Thursday, the church's attorney for its real estate company urged the Planning Commission to keep regulations in place that would prevent anchor stores such as Nordstrom and Target from opening in The Gateway.

Church attorney Alan Sullivan, who helped his client gain the city's easement through the Main Street Plaza, also suggested that allowing department stores to locate west of the core downtown could harm the church's ability to redevelop the ZCMI Mall and Crossroads Plaza. His letter to the Planning Commission -- a volunteer citizen board -- and the City Council and Mayor Rocky Anderson says the city's current zoning that forbids department stores in The Gateway district is "crucial to attract the investment necessary to strengthen the downtown area."

Do you wonder what church leaders are doing meddling in retail decisions? Should we assume from this action that the One True Church (and therefore God Almighty Himself) considers Target and Nordstrom tools of Satan?

The Almighty apparently favors Walmart. Less than 10 minutes after leaving Temple Square, with the heavenly voices of the Tabernacle Choir still ringing in your ears, you can be shopping at Walmart. (Proof) Maybe our Heavenly Father has it in for labor unions.


Tagged by Emilin, so long ago maybe she's forgotten. She has other things on her mind right now, as you'll see when you read her blog. Which you should do. Right now.

List your 6 favorite songs and tag 6 others to do the same.

1. Big City (written by Merle Haggard, but sung by Iris Dement)
2. Pride and Joy, Stevie Ray Vaughan
3. Simple, sung by kd lang
4. Case of You, Joni Mitchell
5. Excursions, Abdullah Ibrahim
6. Forever Young, Joan Baez

That's today though. My list would be different tomorrow. Probably an hour from now, for that matter.

I'm not tagging six people, because it's an impossible task, really, limiting yourself to just six songs in a world of so many wonderful pieces. And most folks I'd tag have been tagged already.


May 10?! My last entry here was over a month ago?? I'm sorry if you've checked here expecting to find something new during that time and I promise to try to do better. I've started to write entries a few times and then deleted them because they sounded too bleak. Honestly, things with the family have not been going well.

There will be a family reunion of the descendants of my mom's grandmother at the end of July, in Salt Lake City. This reunion happens every couple of years and Mother usually goes. It's her chance to catch up with her remaining cousins and to see my sister K and her family, who live in Utah and southern Idaho.

This year, my sister J is going with Mom for the first time. They're flying together from Arizona, where they both live. Also going to the reunion is my sister L, flying out from Michigan with her youngest daughter. This will also be their first year attending the reunion. So, yeah. There's going to be a big family reunion without me. Because I'd already planned a vacation up to Seattle earlier in July, and can't really take more time off than that, and because my sister L and I are still not speaking to each other after last year's blowout, I'll be staying home while they're having their reunion.

"Mixed" doesn't describe my feelings. On one hand, I know it would be a disaster for L and me to be together. I want to give up on our relationship because I can't see any way for it to be repaired. On the other hand, my family is having a reunion without me! This solidifies my feelings of being the outcast, the black sheep, the not-quite-a-member.

This is something that needs dealing with in my life. At 46, I believe it's time to once and for all relieve myself of the fantasy that our family can be whole, and healthy, and loving, and unconditionally supportive. That they can accept me just the way I am. Without expecting me to become Mormon again. Without judging my life and decisions against the Official Mormon Checklist of Acceptable Behavior. It just ain't gonna happen. The unfortunate thing about learning these lessons seems to be that they're never learned "once and for all."

My husband tells me, "Embrace your status as outcast!" It's true that the club isn't one I'd especially choose -- I would be the only non-Mormon at the reunion, for one thing.

I do have a deep hatred of Jello "salad." Maybe I can start by embracing that and work my way up.

[Heh. I just realized I've already blogged about the family reunion. Forgive me. We tend to repeat ourselves more as we get older. Also, an issue. Clearly.]