It has been suggested that the reason my barista will receive $34/hour to hold a stop/go sign at highway construction sites - as opposed to the pittance I am paid to handle abused and delinquent kids - might have something to do with her age and attractiveness. Well, I never! No, I really mean it. I never had that going for me so how would I know. I was born with the Sereni ass which means I have none. It’s a genetic deformity that apparently doesn’t skip generations.
“My son” went to his prom last week. It’s nice to see kids dress in something so elegant, isn’t it? Casual is fun but every once in a while, elegance is what is called for and really works.
Yesterday, I found out that the young lady who makes my latte every day, a very nice young lady I might add, just got a job making $34/hour holding a sign that says Stop/Go at highway construction sites around town. I make $35/hour working with abused and neglected kids and kids in the juvenile justice program in this state...and I have to bill the state in six minute increments. What is wrong with this picture? And why does it make me wonder...nothing specific, just wonder?
I thought that by getting a big TV where I could see all those clues they are always talking about in CSI that I would finally be able to follow a story from start to finish. Apparently not.
Don Young is threatening retribution against those who voted against the feds building roads for logging in the Tongass. What happened to the supposed fiscal consdervatives that were once the Republican Party? We spend $2.5 million building the roads with our tax dollars and get $105,000 back from the timber industry for timber sales. Boy, I want to get in on that deal. My company is more than willing to let the feds pay me a million dollars to clear a path to my office that is frequently inaccessible because of bird poo from the parrots. And I would be more than willing to pay them back the first $10 I make on my next job.
My gardener for some obscure reason has decided that it’s more important for her to be in Fairbanks for the birth of her great granchild rather than in my yard deciding what are weeds and what have the potential to be called flowers. One of the three trees I planted last year looks like it gave up on life sometime this past winter. The moose have nibbled on the other two causing them to show great signs of growing into bushes rather than trees. And I’m figuring that if my family eats dandelion salad, then I don’t have to count dandelions as weeds and attempt to stunt their growth. I’m just going to consider my entire yard a garden till Pat gets back. I feel distinctly uncomfortable making life and death value calls on these poor struggling little green things.
Bird TLC is pretty much an all volunteer organization. This means not having staff to do some routine stuff that should probably occur on a yearly basis. That would include cleaning out the mew yard next to the building. In my six years as a volunteer there, I have watched as each winter faded away and the yard went from a slightly ugly snowy wonderland to summer in Calcutta ....and not the upscale section of that town.
So it was with some excitement that I heard about plans to finally take rake to ground and try to make the place a little less scary.
That news was quickly followed by the realization that as a volunteer organization these clean up plans might just impact my weekends. I went out to look at the yard with a more jaundiced eye after that and saw that without the help of some army of strong and willing young people, us old folks were going to be facing quite an uphill task. And that task could take all summer to accomplish assuming we didn’t start falling to the wayside as our chiropractors and Rolfers raked in big bucks fixing up what we were destroying when we tried to lift rocks and sod and wood and branches and items unrecognizable that all needed to be tossed.
So my thoughts inevitably turned to the Church of the Latter Day Saints - the Mormons. Of the many groups that lay claim to helping their communities and encouraging the volunteer spirit, the Mormons simply rise head and shoulders above all others. Not only do they get the work done when they’ve made a commitment, but they take the definition of community very broadly and seriously. You don’t have to be a Mormon organization to benefit from their help. You don’t have to even be a religious organization. You just have to be a community organization that needs a hand. And they have some of the best helping hands in town.
I wasn’t surprised when I heard from Dave Dorsey, our lead volunteer on this project, that his call to the Mormon Church had scored us a group of Elders to help. Elders in the Mormon Church are, for some reason, young people. They came in two shifts, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. They tackled the yard as though it was their divine mission in life to make it a part of God’s beautiful earth again and not the slightly seedy back lot it had become.
I’d seen young Mormon Elders do this before. When the Mormon Church arrived in Barrow in the eighties, they quickly ascertained that going door to door to spread their faith was not something that would be well tolerated. So their young people came up and became free summer labor for the community. They did everything from cleaning yards to laying down a new floor in Piuuragvik, the city recreation center. The only time they proselytized in the traditional manner was if they were asked into someone’s home who wanted to hear more. Other than that, the only way they spread the word about their church was by just being kind, polite young people who pitched in to help our community be a better place.
I’ve watched Mormon families take on some of the hardest cases on my GAL caseload and never give up on the kids. At a time when other foster parents would have, rightfully perhaps, thrown up their hands and given the kids back, these families seemed to dig a little deeper into some well of strength and hang in longer than anyone would ever expect.
I’m the first to admit I don’t know much about the Mormon Church except for what’s out there in newspapers and magazines. I know that at some point in their history they believed in polygamy and that it is still practiced by some of their adherents. I know they believe in an angel called, I think, Moroni and in books written by a prophet of the 19th century. I know that many mainstream Christian churches consider them a fringe sect at best and barely real Christians at worst.
And I know that when I need a hand that is offered with no strings at the other end, when I need people who really believe in the spirit of community, when I need strong, willing backs to muck out ten years of bird poo in a mew, I go to the Mormons and am never disappointed.
And while I’m at it, a big thanks also goes out to Alaska Industrial Hardware (AIH), Home Depot (Northway Mall), OB McCreay, and Lenny (the electrician) Landis, all of whom helped make our yard safer and cleaner for the birds and their volunteers.
It’s garden season here in Alaska and once again I’m being told that paving over my entire yard is not technically considered gardening. So I guess I’ll have to get supergardener Pat over to help me. Otherwise, I’m back to considering dandelions pretty yellow flowers.
My sister has officially confirmed her trip here along with two friends. While I look forward to offering them my home after their hospitality to me every time I’ve gone East, I have to wonder if, in the general scheme of things, it will matter that I ran out of money while redoing my floor and so it abruptly stops in the hallway and reverts back to ugly utilitarian gray carpet from the lovely fake tiles I’m putting down. You can always tell a home where the animals rule. All the carpet has been replaced with easily cleanable floor surfaces.
On Mother’s Day I can only think of one thing...guilt, the gift my mother gave me that keeps on giving.
My sixteen year old dog. who is blind in one eye and has a cataract growing in the other...my dog who routinely stands facing the closet door waiting for me to open it so we can go on our walk because he can’t remember that it’s the door on the other wall that leads to outside...my dog who barks at all the trash cans in the driveways on trash day because he thinks they are other dogs...managed to somehow see the new puppy across the street playing in the circle from his second floor balcony window and now spends most of his day standing at that window growling in the general direction of the mailbox across the way jn general warning to that puppy to keep his distance. The sad thing is, he’s never managed to really spot the puppy a second time. But that mail box has had a complete disclosure of his intent towards it should it ever decide to pull up roots and become my mailbox.
I now have a 42 inch screen on my TV. I thought for sure once I could see things more clearly I’d understand what was going on. Yet I still find myself halfway through CSI wondering what the hell is going on and why everyone thinks the little purple dot is significant. Sigh...maybe it wasn’t the size of the screen after all. Maybe I’m just not meant to understand that show.
I don’t know how you get rid of the crap in your house. Maybe you don’t. Maybe when you die you will be found surrounded by remote controls for TVs you haven’t owned in thirty years and paper bags that were too pretty to throw out because you knew that someday they would be the perfect wrap for some as yet unpurchased gift...that would probably come with its own pretty bag anyway...unless you got it at a rummage sale in which case don’t give it to me. Anyhow, this all comes to mind because I have recently done the three step shuffle with the mounds of stuff that seem to find their way into my home every year no matter what I do to prevent the accumulation. And so this week stuff went from visible in my home to being shoved in a closet. To make room in the closet, the items shoved there last year were removed to the garage. To make room in the garage, the items shoved there last year were brought to the curb for trash pickup. And the dance continues.
There is that knee jerk part of me that not only wanted to see Zaccarias Moussaoui put to death, but wanted it to happen in a particularly painful way. The rational and civilized part of me, of course, is horrified by that that thought.
The biggest part of me, however, is glad he got a life sentence instead. Why? Because it galls me to think that by imposing the death sentence we would have given him exactly what he wanted - martyrdom.
It is clear from following the stories about this man that he is an incompetent bumbler who, if he’d actually managed to get on a plane on 9/11, would probably have accidentally locked himself in the bathroom and tried to use the hot and cold faucets to bring the plane down. His history certainly makes him sound like a wannabe braggart who made everyone who dealt in the secret preparations for 9/11 very nervous.
So why should we have given him the martyrdom he couldn’t achieve for himself? Why should we have given him the one thing his incompetent life denied him - credibility? By executing him and making him a martyr who would find those 72 aging virgins supposedly waiting for him, we would have given him standing and stature that he does not deserve. We would have made him what he could not make himself - a sacrifice to the cause of religious extremism.
How much better it is to imprison him for life. Yes, he’s going to be living off our taxpayers’ dollars. But he’s also going to be forced to sit around and watch his cause come crashing down around his ears. Because make no mistake about it, Islamic extremism will eventually flame out and crash to the ground, burning as badly as the Twin Towers once did.
No philosophy based on murder, mayhem and destruction can long survive no matter how strong it feels at the moment. As my driver in Vietnam, a veteran of their war told me about the new generation growing up, “They aren’t interested in the revolution. They just want jeans and rock and roll.”
Radical Islam is more deadly in many ways than the enemies we have faced in the past if only because they are not so easily pinned down to a group or location. But eventually the fun of blowing everyone and everything up is bound to wane. Eventually a generation will grow up wondering where their piece of the pie is and why the only answer their elders have to getting it is dying. If we let Moussaoui live long enough, he’ll see Western and Eastern cultures come to a living accommodation that is unthinkable in today’s reality. But then, when I was growing up in the fifties, it was unthinkable that we would ever be trading partners with the “yellow horde” that was just waiting on our borders to take over and destroy our way of life.
So let Moussaoui live in a maximum-security facility where his roommate will hopefully be a big beefy guy named Bubba who’s very lonely. Will he eventually give up his radical beliefs and admit to errors in his thinking? Maybe even express some sorrow for the death and destruction he helped to cause? I doubt it. To do so would be to admit to a completely wasted life and he can’t really afford that.
But deep in his heart as he watches America not only survive but continue to prosper; as he watches Europe continue to mend relationships that for hundreds of years caused so much warfare on that continent; as he watches his Islamic faith reclaimed by adherents who understand the peace Mohammed was really preaching; it will occur to him that none of his dreams will ever be likely to come true.
I want him to experience that. I want him to know that despair. I want him to understand how thoroughly and completely the ideals of freedom for all peoples will prevail in this world and how thoroughly fanatical religious extremists who kill in the name of a loving god are repudiated, not only by the world at large but ultimately by their own people.
I think I’ll get much more satisfaction if he gets to spend a lifetime behind bars in America watching his insane cause go down in flaming defeat than I would in watching his death. The judge was right. He doesn’t deserve to die with a bang. He deserves to die alone, with less than a whimper.
My new TV is very big. There really isn’t that much more you can say about a new TV, is there? Especially when you don’t understand the 4000 functions it apparently has. I think this one can actually make me pregnant. But since I only want to watch Serenity on a big screen, I think I’ll forgo that function.