Friday, February 11, 2011

Garage Door!!! :)

This is certainly a departure, but hopefully a funny one. There's not a lot 'funny' going on around here at the moment, so if I'm the only one laughing, I'll take it!

We lost a spring on our garage door last spring... about the same time I had what I thought would be my usual spring-time visitation of a chronic back injury which lasted through September.... :(rrrr!! From April to last week, it was up to me or the Boy to jump out of the car and do the 'raising of the door' by hand. There were times when I thought I'd need a stretcher to raise myself up afterward, and poor Stef is growing so fast his Dolphin-sized flippers were always getting caught under my seat. I called it 'clown-car time' whenever we hit the remote because the passenger side doors would blow open in case we were needed.

Add to this we don't really know how old Creature was because he was here when we bought the house. His motor would smoke if he got stuck. He made noise that I thought was normal for an opener, but was informed that he was LOUD by the installer of the new one. The only clues to his age was the fact that his remotes looked like something from the seventies when 'remote' was something to brag about... like the old cell phones that came with their own purse? ... These things were plastic, 60's colors (beige/white) and so big they covered half a visor. I think that clip could've so-macked a mouse in a pinch, too. These groovy plastic covers, and the one over the unit itself were all falling apart, too. The 70's was NOT the decade for plastic that broke unless it was the neighbor's Green Machine while you were borrowing it, that is. Neither was the 60's, for that matter. The guy looked it over, whistled and said "You got an antique, here!" "No, buddy, you do! Maybe you can sell it on ebay?"

My new door opener is cool! She's nearly silent, but not the 'whisper operation' model I could've gotten. As it is, the dogs haven't adjusted to the change and get freaked out when hubby comes in the door without the telltale pre-rattle. She's a third the size of Creature, which one should expect with 40? years of innovation. Even so, hubby wanted to know 'where is it?' when he got home. She's got more lighting, too. She's also got sensors so nothing's getting squashed when she closes. It's ironic that my garage door now has better vision than me, but oh well! It's for a good cause, yes?

And the person to thank for this is John Rice. He gave me the recommendation for Overhead Door. He's a realtor here in Lexington, and a good one, too. If I ever have any real estate to sell, or money to buy my retreat/training/birthing center land, I'm going to him.

So, if you catch me in my driveway, arms raised, laughing like Dr. Frankenstein while my garage door opens chanting a name I haven't chosen yet, I'm just happy to have a door that works. And John's behind it all!

I'll be back to more 'serious' stuff next time, but I thought I'd share.

Now... for a name...


Have a blessed weekend, all!
Daughter O'Batala

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The TruthRevealed... in an insult! :)!!

Two short explanations will help with this one. Bear with me, and enjoy the punchline. :)

I've made mention of my mother-in-law's moving in with us in previous blogs, and on Facebook. It has been an easier transition for me than I thought it would, but I still have my moments. I am one of two birth siblings, with the intermittent smattering of fosters. Later in my life I've been blessed by being included into two other families, and have likewise adopted, or recognized the existing relationships with other siblings --none of these by marriage. I have no shortage of children through this process, either. This greater-than-genetics connectivity, my Spiritual Family is my human Web. These later connections were/are forged without the growing-up history that 'traditional' families have, so my perceptions, expectations and tolerances for sibling rivalry, family drama and the like are not in synch with my husband's life experiences. He's had all his siblings since birth and didn't get to 'choose' any of them. This is not a bad thing or a better one, just a different experience from mine. This is not to say that I don't understand it all. I'm a trained Behavior Therapist. I'm just not the go-to for facilitation.

My husband has four siblings. They're a divided family in that 10 years spans between the first three and 'other' two. My husband is the youngest. Sibling rivalry is a full-time occupation among some of them. Allegiances, plots and whatnot abound. At times, I could use the inner workings of this group as training for a behavioral progression flow chart. I do this for a living, sometimes, so having it go on in my 'off hours' is no picnic. Suffice to say that an all-sibling consensus about Mom living with us is non-existent. One sibling in particular is completely against the arrangement. Mind you, she is not jumping up to welcome Mom into her home. She's just not happy with us being her caregivers. Basically, she's not willing to adhere to a rule that prohibits her entry into our home. She has options and opportunities to see her mother, and has made choices that ignore any of those options, and so we're at an impasse.

This sister was a nun, before meeting her then-priest husband and deciding to forego a life-long committment to her Savior for the carnal knowledges of secular living. They both went through the procedures, which I'm given to understand are nothing short of needing a Papal Dispensation to finish off, to marry and have a family. These are not forebears to the marrying-priest movement in today's Catholic church, mind you. The topic of marrying priests is a no-touch with them. They also present themselves as very conservative -even virally evangalical- in their religious beliefs, and are not afraid to tell other family members the deportment of their own souls and their assessments of the souls of the people they're talking to. Seems to me, being a deity's x-wife/husband while being married to a counterpart and living the mortal life, while invoking the perks of the Cloth (baptisms, marriages, etc in the case of the former priest) is a hard line to walk, but they seem to do it effortlessly.

The other stripe in this scarf is that I'm no stranger to name-calling. I grew up a one-eyed, skinny, way-too-smart, psychic, otherwise spiritually DIFFERENT, financially anorexic, child of a blind single mother in a neighborhood full of pirahna -to name a few of my distinguishing characteristics. I looked forward to the days when name-calling was the ONLY form of abuse. Batgirl, One Eye, Dead Eye, One-eyed-flying-purple-bootie-eater, Cyclops, Soulless, Critter and Cootie Woman is a good sampling. I remember arguing with a group of tormenters repeatedly that I was NOT four-eyed. Maybe three-eyed, but not four. Realizing that these individuals were not mentally capable of making that connection was a lesson in compassion, believe it or not. Also, when Cyclops came along, I was impressed, since these were my Language Arts classmates, and clearly they were paying attention to Homer's Odyssey. Smarter bullies weren't any less painful, but somehow it gave me hope that a day might come when they'd grow out of the activity, or the insults would be a challenge to decipher.

The Cyclop-ians were the same ones who figured out I was 'religiously' different. I was not ready to be a Witch outside the broom closet yet, but definitely, with support, or kindness, I'd have willingly identified myself with Wicca. Certainly, in retrospect, that's what I was. Without that Elder Voice, though, I was desperate to be as far from the radar on any topic as possible, especially religious affiliation. This is the Bible belt, after all, and I was raised immersed in the understanding that anything 'else' was predestined cinderhood. So, when the preacher's boy, the Jew, the skinny short (only -besides me-) black kid in class, and the obese, angry, rich kid needed entertainment, they turned to me and my co-target, the Jewish one-year-younger-than-them girl. Our guidance counselor (we called her Goose Neck) advised us to hide our religious beliefs from these four lovelies and that would alleviate our troubles. I realized that I'd have to work really hard to hide who I am. I realized that it was impossible, really, to hide an entirely different mindset, belief system and relationship to humanity from nearly everyone in my life. This is why I moved away from KY, and daily miss my heart's home, NYC.

What Santera wouldn't miss NYC after being raised in KY?

The aforementioned 'punchline.'
You've kept up, yes? :)

My sister-in-law's husband made arrangements to visit with Mom this morning. He called before he came which is what we ask everyone to do. (This was a point of battle before she moved in.) We were suspecting a problem, but sincerely hoping it would not occur. Sure enough, though, s-i-l-h was not alone. This is the sibling who is permanently and completely banned from the premises. The porch is probably too far onto the property for her, but we made concessions to reassure Mom. She tried to push her way past my husband to gain entry, knowing she wasn't allowed. Words ensued, and ensuing drama ensued. After a little more ensuance, these two left. The Sister, dropped her cane on two occasions, turned to see if she was being watched, and decided, both times, that instead of staging a fall, corrected her trajectory and hustled to her toaster. (I am sooo loving my camera phone!)

Wait for it!!

Before the first 'trip', Father B-I-L turns to me and says "Have a nice day, ... Wiccan!" (There's no font that adequately expresses the venom in 'Wiccan' so I left it au naturale.) He was loud and proud in his well-wishing. My husband was NOT smiling like me, though, and some more ensuing happened. "So, isn't that something!! Coming from an X priest, married to an X nun you probably !%$#'ed in the confessional!!! Goodbye Father (name removed for privacy)! Goodbye Sister (same as previous)! Get the f-- out of here!"

I thanked B-I-L for the blessing. That's what it was, after all. I have been Wiccan since infancy but never recognized as such by anyone so near to (Catholic) vestments. Doubly hilarious to my thinking is that, while I'm degreed in that tradition, my Spirits have taken me through other initiations in other traditions far less palatable to his mentality. Certainly he doesn' t know I'm a Santera, or that my home is full of sacred images from faiths across this world. He'd be as incapable of recognizing a Cross of St. Brigid as an African one, or knowing the difference between House Ghost altar and Spirit House. His maliciously-intended words of condemnation, his declaration of his knowledge that I am either soul-less or damned and consigned to a well-heated afterlife (his true belief is not mine to know) were not missed, but I've heard all that before. If I were a member of his faith, I would know whether I conformed to this declaration. As I am not, I have no fear of such proclamations. What struck me was that this man, of questionable destination by his own relationship to his claimed doctrine-of-faith recognized, even if superficially, that I am different, and tried to put a name to me --AND GOT IT 'ALMOST' RIGHT!!!!!

For the lay person, the ability to spot a witch is iffy at best. But here this laid priest was! And here I am!!! BANG! I'm a 'Wiccan'!!!

Truth spoken, dear brother-in-law. Incomplete as it is, you've blessed me with the hoped-for event every bullied kid secretly aspires to. You spoke the truth! You called me something I AM, and I'm not afraid, or ashamed, or hurt by it. Finally, I have come to a point in my life where I am past those insecurities. Those wounds are gone. Your nastiness didn't have the effect you expected on me, and certainly, you weren't expecting my husband to speak Truth, however so-like-your-own maliciousness it was. Someday, you will be in this place I've found. May it be soon.

Until then, I'm doing my own Happy Dance. "I'm a Wiccan! I'm a Wiccan!"

Merci, Bondye, pour l'amore!

Dancing Daughter O'Batala!!!!

Two things... My husband is a devout Catholic, and has supported and welcomed my beliefs into his life. Since Mom's move in was decided, he's been better adjusted to my having my altar room dispersed throughout our house than I have. He reminds me when he hasn't seen 'enough fire' or thinks the Spirits need attention. He's been adamant that my faith not be set aside or hidden, even though his Mom is far more conservative in her beliefs than he is. It has been a learning process for me, having a life partner who not only supports me, but cherishes and is even proud of my differences. Today was reaffirmation of these lessons. Happy Dance!!!

The second, is Mom's generous blessings in thanks for my helping her. She has said 'God Bless You, Gretchen' daily. My unspoken response is "I Serve." I have never censored 'who' I cared for, nor the quality of that care for any reason. Service is Blessing enough, but I am grateful for her reminders that she's happy here and feels safe and cared for. I will not allow anyone to impinge on her quality of life. That she repeatedly asks God for His kind attention on my behalf is more than vaccine enough for the Unvested Duo's malificience.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Where to go from here?

Ever been at a point in your life where you're doing so many things, and yet... ?

My son turned 13 last month. I remember it not being such a magic number for me, and it seems so for him, too. He's getting his first official head-shaving within the week for repeated disrespect, inattention to directions and general nastiness. He also got an advanced lesson in aura cleansing and meditation formation, so I'm not 'just' a hair nazi, here. In discussing the length of what will remain of his hair -I thought this was a no-hair-left-behind action, he asked me to 'leave something there so he wouldn't be bullied so harshly'. This led to his admission that a classmate has been calling him a child rapist and asking him if/when/how many rapes he'd committed for the day. He informed me that this behavior has been going on for 'weeks' in the presence of his classmates and teachers.

So, while I've been adjusting to my mother in law living here, and learning more than a few things about her family's structures that will make my life ve-ry interesting for the forseeable ... stressing over religious differences among my house's residents ... celebrating two clients' births and helping them with related issues ... helping other clients with their diagnoses ... and otherwise maintaining proper functioning of a household during the Holy Days season (which is my base job, no?), my son has been processing this atrocity against his soul.

Perpetrated by a child HIS OWN AGE, in their classrooms, daily, in sight and hearing of their teachers, without reproach, correction, or intervention of any kind. My son says "They know. They've heard. They won't do anything. Why repeat it? Nothing will change. It will likely only get worse."

This would be outrageous standing alone in his life. But it resonates with countless incidents already in his memory. He's absolutely right in his assessment. It also shows, clearly, exactly what FCPS means when they tout their Zero Tolerance Policy toward bullying. No past issue has ever been satisfactorily resolved, mainly because the people trying to get things done don't have the authority to do them and get blocked by supervisors who do. The reason for this is statistics on bullying are meticulously collected and reported to higher-ups AND accessible by the public. What doesn't get labeled 'bullying' need not be reported and therefore isn't subject to action. The penalties are stiff, the attention is fierce -or perported to be, anyway. I've never seen it. I don't think I know a parent who has. Certainly no one was suspended or SAFE'd for the incidents I know about. We parents hear a lot about the LACK of bullying in PS classrooms in this system. Anyone with sense knows better.

To this foundation of shameful inadequacy, add the fact that he's in a magnet program where such behavior can get a student expelled from the program. Think of it as a football/cheerleader team mentality applied to academics. Not only do the children have the attitude that no one can touch them, but host schools' hands-off approach reinforce the belief. NOBODY wants offended magnet parents, bad behavioral statistics or bad publicity so you get stolid inaction.

Don't get me started on 'guidance counselors' either. It's sad, because some of them might be passable, or even -dare I exaggerate- good. May one of those 'good' ones pass a child's path when they need them, but to date, in my 35 years' experience with this school system, I've heard tell of ONE helpful GC. Not personal experience, mind you, but he did help my brother out, and I will give him props for that. My son has yet to be so blessed. This is a strong component of why he has said nothing, and is reluctant to see what I do about the situation. He's seen some stuff in his years in this program that would send some parents to their attorney's office. So what's supposed to be a 'first line' of support for bullied children is a farce at the best of times.

So, when I'm finished with this blog, and I've prayed Gratitude to Legba for the right words to approach this issue with a system from which I have no expectation of cooperation, I am left with considering my options.

In the bigger picture, though, I find myself smacked squarely with the reality that my son is as isolationist about his school life as I was about mine, for similar reasons. My son has decided that this kind of harrassment is 'just a part of living with these people.' He says nothing in school to avoid repercussions. He doesn't tell me, because he knows I could Vodun the whole lot of them, and he doesn't know quite where to begin imagining what that would entail. He also knows the rest of what's going on around here, and is thinking he's doing his part to provide some peace.

My son turned 13 last month. I was looking for some sign of recognition of the milestone. Since he didn't display this self-found sense of self-control, perseverance and thick-skinnedness in my presence (hence the hair cut), I didn't know he's grown up in a way I'd have preferred he not have to. I suppose it's a good thing he didn't plough the kid back to 1876, but I'd be almost glorious to be in his principal's office answering for his actions -and addressing their cause. This is why children have parents, yes? It's a proud disappointment I feel that I missed this step in his growth. To be sure, he'd have been grounded for three eternities, but might it have facilitated a resolution better than 'putting up' with continuous harrassment? I will likely never be in the principal's office because he lost his temper and cleaned some nasty-mouthed skrunk's clock for his disgusting words. I can deal with that, really.

But I do NOT want him to suffer in silence and grow up believeing that silence is his only option. Being the 'bigger man' is not always about ignoring an assault. To look at it another way, my son's speaking out may have the effect of getting this bully help before he speaks against someone who caps him outright. The people they live with daily are nowhere as permissive with disrespect as their school system leads them to believe.

For those wondering, I have asked him every year at registration time, whether he wants to continue in this program. His response? "There are stupid people everywhere, Mama. At least I know these stupid people. I'll stay here and finish up in an environment I know." He's right about this, too.

I am grateful to Legba, for bringing this situation to my attention. I am a vigilant listener. I did see that he was having issues, and we have been very diligent in intervening. The magnitude of this particular issue, however, took some prodding to expose. So, if the threat of a hairless pate is what is necessary to get my son talking about what's really going on, so be it. He now has some very useful tools, a soon-to-be-clear Karmic Store, and one truly Angry Black Mama going to wreak Change on a situation.

Blessings, all!

Daughter O'Batala