Thursday, August 30, 2007

NFTN #6: Lifeguards of Mantoloking (Ken & Kevin)

I saw someone drunk only once in my life before going to Mantoloking, New Jersey. On my first date, when I was 16 years old, the guy took me to a variety of places in "the big City" (we went to dinner, to the Church of Elvis, to a rose garden...) and ended the night by pulling me into a Greek bar where a male bellydancer with a turban on his head did a strip-tease down to his puffy pants, to the delight of a table of drunken folks and my utter shock; I remember watching an inebriated woman there lick ketchup off her table. I didn't see another drunk person until I was 18 years old as a nanny at the Shore.

The Thebaults were drunk after returning from a nightclub once or twice. Ken, one of the lifeguards, partied regularly. Ken asked me to meet him at his house and when I got there he was passed out. He lived with his parents during the summer and his Dad sort of ushered me in and kicked at his son, scowling about how he was drunk. I was stunned. A real-live-passed-out-person (boy, was the East Coast crazy!). Besides singing "Lyin' Eyes", the lifeguards loved to belt out Bruce Springstein tunes and Jimmy Buffet. I heard "Margaritaville" more than once.

For the entire summer, Ken and Kevin manned the beach until another female lifeguard joined them at the end. I don't remember her name. But she arrived about the time the husbands started making their weekend trips from NYC and mainland Jersey to join their families. Ken and Kevin talked to me more than anyone else on the beach, until the female lifeguard appeared. I noticed Ken watching me when I was getting out of the water one day and he was quipping about how "I'm going to put you on my lay-away plan". He talked about making me his "wife" after he had sown his wild oats. I was the sweet Christian girl, but he didn't ask me out until I started wise-cracking with him. I said, "I don't think your credit is any good," in response to his lay-away plan line. He laughed, looking surprised to find I had a comeback. So he said he would put me on his credit card and I told him he couldn't afford me. Then he said he would put me on his gold Mastercard and I said I only took Visa. As we bantered on and on, Kevin was cracking up next to him, ribbing him. After that, Ken asked me out.

Oh, but before he TOOK me out, he got permission from the slave-owners. Which really pissed me off (even if I didn't use that vulgar expression "pissed" then). He asked Brian Thebault if he could take me out, while I was standing there. Brian wasn't my father, and I was a grown woman (18 years old!). But I suppose Ken knew Brian would appreciate knowing where his property was going. Brian had a broad grin and wink for Ken. I think Brian thought we were all going to "score" or something.

On our first date we went to see the Bill Murray movie "Groundhog Day"--which is when I fell in love with...Bill Murray. It was love at first sight.

Ken kept falling asleep during the show. I was sitting on my hands because I figured Ken couldn't start anything that way. After trying to hold my hand and realizing I was sitting on them, he kept offering the popcorn and putting his hand in when my hand was in. So I went back to sitting on my hands. And then Ken gave up and fell asleep. He was snoring and when I laughed at something in the show, he'd say, with his eyes closed and head back on the seat, "Haha, that was funny." He made commentary the whole time, as if he was watching. He would jostle awake and then, clunk, his head fell back and he was snoring again.

After that he took me to meet his parents and family. At their house. We all went to church together. He said he didn't go to church anymore but thought I would like to go. I knew Ken really did like me, but I was very religious at that time, and Ken was into partying and it wasn't going to go anywhere. He complimented me, saying I was the most sincere "christian" he'd ever met. I can't remember if he stopped asking me out or if I refused him. It was amiable and mutual, however it was. I had actually been a little more attracted to the other lifeguard, Kevin, probably because he was always reading and I figured we had something in common. Ken was such a womanizer and was louder than Kevin. Now, I would probably go for Ken, and have fun. I actually think we stopped hanging out when I found Ken passed out.

Ken's family was very nice. His sister was great, and she liked me. I do remember being shocked by his mother. She was extremely high maintenance and looked it, with sort of a televangelist hair-do and lots of Tammi Faye make-up, and a pretty good body. Whenever I saw her she was wearing white.

I went to Kevin's pad once, which was a little beach shack rented by him and some buddies. There was a party and I was invited. I don't know if Ken was there or not. I felt intimidated because everyone was drinking and I didn't drink, and they seemed so much worldlier than I was. There were a bunch of guys and we talked a bit. There was another lifeguard, on an adjoining private beach, that I met and spent an evening with, and that's a funny story.

Kevin was Philip Thebault's hero and idol. Philip really looked up to him and was always excited to see him.

I still have a couple of photos of Kevin and Ken in their red lifeguard shorts. Whoo! I look at the photo now and think, "They are HOT!" I've wondered about them from time to time since.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Bear: Running Together

Hello Little Bear,

When you wake up in the morning, you pull me to the door to go outside. When we go out, you hold my hand and run and want me to run with you. Or, we run side by side, together down the roads in the orchard. Sometimes I break away to run ahead, back and forth, and you stop and stand still, with a big grin, watching me. I'll look back, and there you are, standing in the middle of the road with apple trees framing you, with your big brown eyes framed by your hair that is turning copper with the sun. When I come back to you, you take off, showing me how you can run too.

When I sing, "Down to the River" about the little ducks, you clap your hands, and wave them, and sway back and forth when I sing.

Yesterday you walked across pallets that were lined up, with holes inbetween. You were careful to walk over the holes. 1, 2, 3, 4, step over the hole/1, 2, 3, 4, step over the hole...You kept a rhythm as you did this, with your steps.

The last time we were at the library, a week ago, when a little boy took a car from you, you protested. Yay! I was glad to see you knew your rights.

You look at yourself in the mirror and try out various expressions. Flirtaceous, angry, surprised. You'll watch yourself talking and sticking out your tongue. When you cry and there are tears, you go to the mirror to see what it looks like. You look at yourself from the side, front, and every angle, and try new postures. Then you'll start screaming high-pitched squeals and watch yourself.

We play hide-and-seek behind the towers of apple crates and trees. A couple of times you tricked me, baiting me to chase you in one direction and then changing direction instead of following the expected course.

Love you!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

NFTN #5: Lisa Thebault & The Wicked Things They Said At The Shore

The private beach that was set aside for the elite was called "Mantoloking Beach". I still have a button a lifeguard gave me, from this beach, with these words on it. It's white with a red stripe across it. This part of the Shore was separate from the public beaches and was either miles long or connected to other private beaches. The public beaches were packed with people, tighter than a can of sardines and this was where you could find the boomboxes, ethnic mixes, and the Jersey girl (skinny girl with big boobs, dark brown tan, hot pink lipstick, long painted nails, curly big-hair (it was 1993), and itsy-bitsy bikini). The Jersey girl is sort of like the Valley girl, except the Jersey girl is a brunette.

A few of the people who came to this beach I liked. Well, actually, there was only one. I don't know his name but it was an older man who came on the weekends towards the end of the summer. He was a bit portly and I had heard he was some major big wig in NY, but he was absolutely unpretentious and never conscending to me. One time, everyone had left the beach for dinner, and it was during the effects from Hurricane Andrew. The waves were 10 feet high and I wasn't going to miss it! Of course I stayed closer in. The waves were so forceful it turned the sea into a huge bubble bath. There was thick froth by the shoreline, and I body-surfed the waves for the hours, until it grew dark. I remember the worst sand-grinding of me life--being curled up into a wave and pummeled down, on my head, emerging with sand in my hair and suit. I remember being so happy--just to be out there in that wonderful water. This other man stayed out with me, sometimes reading, sometimes watching me, but in a friendly way, and we chatted a little bit. Other than that, I don't think anyone ever talked to me unless it was to ask me to fetch something for them, or to try to get dirt on Lisa Thebault. Except, of course, other nannies and the lifeguards (and I'll get into that later).

On the first day to the Shore with the children, we took the kids and a bunch of toys and an umbrella. I put 30 SPF sunscreen on the children before we left: Coppertone (water baby, in the pink bottle--it stank). Maritza always stayed at the house. The Thebault's house on the Shore wasn't waterfront, so we had to walk a little ways, which was a nightmare. Actually, it was waterfront to an inlet or lake but not to the ocean. Phillip always wanted to carry his boogieboard. Lauren usually stayed with her mother, but ventured out to make sandcastles and dig in the dirt. I sometimes took her in the water too, swimming while holding onto her. Christie played in the water, but wanted to explore and run around, and Phillip was always in the water on his boogieboard, getting out only to explore. Exploring meant I went with the kids as they ran or walked quite a ways down either side of the beach. They poked at shells and rocks, and Christie especially, would take some to keep. Usually, if there was even one child in the water, I was in the water with them, for safety.

There were a few other kids, who came with nannies, who I got to know. I was the only thin nanny on the Shore and I think some of the women resented me because their husbands looked at me when they were there. Even Brian took an interest in how I looked in my black one-piece (I didn't have or wear any bikini's or 2-piece suits--I was too modest).

When I told Lisa I had a sweet-tooth and couldn't resist, and would gain weight if she had too much "junk" around the house, she started buying and keeping donuts and cake out in the open, on the counter. Many times she'd bring me back an extremely high calorie and rich brownie (made with butter and cream) and leave it for me. I started gaining a lot of weight. When I realized what was going on, after I'd already gained 20 lbs, from 105 to 125, over the summer, I quit eating what she left for me. So then she would point out the brownie and say, "I got this for YOU," exasperated, and want me to eat it. I refused to eat it and started to run/walk (couldn't run much because of my broken knee). Even though I wasn't fat, I noticed the decline in interest from the husbands when I put on more weight. These men liked their women skinny. I didn't care what other women's husband's thought about ME, but I realized the pressure their wives were under, to look a certain way. Because these people are all about control and self-control, being skinny was one way for a woman to show she had the proper virtue of restraint.

One nanny worked for a couple of teachers who had a house, and she was part-way through studies at Wellesey. The family she worked for was one of the closest to Lisa and Brian and they all went out to nightclubs together. I heard about Lisa and Brian through the other nannies, who heard what their employers said about them and told me.

These women all came to the Shore, and for an entire summer, I never ONCE, saw one of them dip a toe into the water. They sat under umbrellas, read leisure books (trashy novels or something from the NYT bestseller list), and gossiped. These women came to Shore with make-up on, hair done, and jewelry on. Lisa was one of few who didn't wear jewelry except for her emerald wedding ring and maybe diamond studs. There was a "Jersey Pink" color of lipstick all the women wore--which was notable in that this was typical of the set--there were dress codes and not much individuality, even down to the lipstick. Lisa wore a one-piece, always black, with one of Brian's oxford shirts over as a cover. She also wore sunglasses and a wide-brimmed straw hat.

While the women were friendly with Lisa to her face, some had resentment that Lisa was not from an upper-class family, that she was not Old Money, and had only married into money by snagging Brian. Most of the catty things that were said, were about Lisa's naivete. Lisa, for her part, did not backstab others the way they did her. I don't think Lisa even knew how two-faced these women were. She made an effort to be friends with them, asking their advice and sharing stories, and the minute she left, the same women who were laughing with her like intimate friends, tore her to shreds with their french manicured analysis. They didn't like her. Everyone knew the story about how lower-class Lisa seduced her rich husband; they paid her the superficial respect of one who does not believe the marriage would last. Some of them thought she was "very lucky" and others called her, in polite conservation, a gold-digger. When Lisa returned to the group, they transformed into confidantes and mother hens.

The lifeguards, on the other hand, certaintly liked Lisa. Kevin and Ken. They called her "poor little rich girl" and more than once Kevin broke song about her: "a rich old man and she won't have to worry/she'll dress up all in lace and go in style/...You can't hide...your lyin' eyes/and your smile/is a thin disguise..." They sang this Eagle's song, "Lyin' Eyes", in its entirety, more than once. I think they had fantasies that they were the "warm hands" she needed. How could I forget them? They sat on their plywood thrones, with radars for anyone in a bikini. I highly doubt the husbands who frequented Mantoloking were responsible for hiring the studs to man their private beach. Kevin and Ken were eye-candy for the women. Lean, muscular, tan, and good-looking. Kevin was always reading a book. Both of them were teachers and life-guarded during the summer. They asked me how it was to work for Lisa and I didn't bad-mouth her. Kevin glanced at Lisa walking who had already passed by with a smile and wave, and said, "Man, and she's had 3 kids!" I think Lisa had a minor crush on Kevin as well--she talked about him to me and brightened up and was just a little bit flirtaceous with him. But Brian had nothing to worry about.

Both Ken and Kevin had a thing for Lisa's backside. I guess all men did, because once when I looked at her high school yearbook, it appeared from her mainly male friends that she had been very popular. Her nickname was "The Ass" or something like that and almost all the Senior year comments were about how the guys would miss it. Then there was her husband, Brian, who smacked it in the kitchen when she was next to me, bent over to get into a cupboard. Brian is very reserved and I never saw them exchange hugs or even kiss. Lisa got a little smile on her face. It was sort of a "thank you" slap. Lisa's backside was not flat, it was full, and she had rounded hips and a tiny waist. I'm guessin' this is what she used to her advantage in her "seduction" of Brian--I'm sure it meant more to him, on those late nights, than the coffee.

Lisa Thebault had siblings. She told me she was the "black sheep" of the family, and based on comments about partying and her body, she wasn't lying. The Thebault's had many houseguests that summer, and one couple was her brother and sister-in-law. Her sister-in-law wore poorly made clothing and had a cheap hair-cut. One afternoon, feeling lonely, she started talking to me. She began to cry, saying she was happy for Lisa, but that she felt bad because her husband, Lisa's brother, worked so hard and they had so little. They could barely make ends meet and Lisa knew the financial state of her mother and siblings. She said that she was shocked to see how much Lisa had and that Lisa never gave back anything to her family. I guess Lisa gave her sister-in-law's kids some hand-me-down clothing and that was it. The sister-in-law went into great detail about how Lisa had abandoned her former family and it seemed she wanted to distance herself now that she had money. This woman sounded alternately sad, angry, and bitter. I don't remember her husband, Lisa's brother, at all.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Harvest! Details of the Apple Orchard

Today is the first day of the apple harvest. My grandfather told me yesterday, as Bear and I watched the guys drive the tractors, move the bins, and line the bins with plastic, "Tomorrow we'll be picking apples". My son will want to watch. Until I lived in an orchard, I had no idea how much went into keeping one up. I sort of had this impression that the trees just grew their apples, and then they were picked. But an orchard is a LOT of work and the work is year-round. When harvest is over, then there's pruning, and maybe thinning. If it's a cold day in winter and there's nothing to be done with the trees, the tractors require maintenance. My favorite days of the orchard cycle are the "Days of the Bees".

One day, I went out into the orchard and heard the loud, constant hum and buzz of ? I asked my grandfather what the noise was. "Bees!" he said. They actually pay for millions and billions of bees to be set loose on the orchard to make sure the flowers get pollinated. There are bees everywhere during this time and when they're done, at nighttime, the bees are lured back to their containers and taken back. They don't buy the bees, the bees are rented! I found this the most fascinating part of the orchard.

My son's favorite part is the tractors. Hands-down. He wanted to watch the tractors yesterday for hours. Roooom-rooom!

There are different orchard pieces of property. We live on one that goes all the way down to the river. The state parks and towns were trying to get a path that cut through all the riverfront orchards, and it looks like the orchardists, who have been fighting this for 7-10 years in legal battles, have finally won. I met and talked to Jack Fiele yesterday--him and his wife. It was a pleasure to speak with them. They spearheaded the fight, but my grandfather and other orchardists joined in. While Jack was in good spirits, my grandfather, his brothers, and Pat (one of the brother's sons) were much more pessimistic. They all said they were sure it wasn't over and that the state wouldn't give up and would try to appeal.

I have to say, when you see all the different kinds of work and knowledge that is required for an orchard or farm, if you're running it yourself (and are not a "gentleman farmer"), you gain a lot of respect for the farmers. These are smart guys. You think of farmers as unsophisticated, but then you realize how smart they are, and think about how almost all the framers of The Constitution were farmers and realize these guys deserve to have a high seat of honor in our country. I can understand now why farmers get incentives. If we lose the farmers and the farmland...I don't know...For one thing, it will be a Hell of a lot hotter.

When it's blazing outside and one can hardly breath in downtown Wenatchee, if you walk into an orchard there is instant relief. It's not anything like the shade from one tree...the farther you go into the orchard, the cooler it gets. Significantly cooler.

As for the farmers themselves, I just know that these guys have to know how machinery works; how to repair it; how to keep up on the latest orchard news; when to pull trees or a crop to plant a different variety; what fertilizers to use; all about insects and pests; how to care for trees and fruit, and then they also dabble in grafting and trying new things like creating new varieties. Then, they have to be people savvy enough to form strong business relationships with buyers. They've had the same buyer, who loves their fruit, for almost 50 years. That buyer sends out a horticulturist to check the fruit periodically and sample it. It's a routine part of the buyer relationship.

When many apple orchards were going under a few years ago because of a fruit market crisis (fruit was coming in from overseas, cheaper), my grandfather's orchard held up. He and his brothers are exceptionally frugal and have always made money, even in the worst times. The reason is because they're hands-on and do alot of the work themselves. The brothers are now all in their 80s and they go out to work every single day. Pat is younger, in his 40s, and he calls himself "the grunt", but I have a lot of respect for these guys and so do their workers. All the brothers go out and work with the workers, side-by-side. The brothers can't afford to pay as much as many orchardists, or choose not to, but because the brothers have humility, some workers prefer to work for the brothers. I'm sure some of the workers feel the way I do, that respect is more important than money.

Two of my grandparent's daughters married Mexican men who were former employees of the orchards. (A sidenote: When you marry someone Hispanic or Latino, I think, in some ways, it's like marrying into the whole community. I tell you, one thing about the Mexican familia, is that word spreads like wildfire. News and gossip gets from Washington to California in one day flat, just by word of mouth. I am not even kidding--Their grapevine is like no other).

Anyway, the guys showed up today at 5 a.m; the brothers go out there with the workers early in the morning and stay with them until they're finished. Year-round, my grandfather works at least 10 hour days. A little less in the winter. Everyone who knows them comments on their work ethic. People have offered to buy their properties many times and they've always refused. I think, even if I don't profit from it, that it would be nice to keep it in the family somehow. One of the neighbors, Rick Baken, wanted to buy one of the properties that adjoins his own orchard.

Rick Baken is a former FBI agent. I always thought it was peculiar that after being in the City so long, and having such an exciting job, he wanted to be an orchardist. I even thought maybe it was his latest gig, in some kind of undercover work, but then I found out his uncle or great-uncle was the former owner of McDougall's, one of the largest orchard owners in Wenatchee. Rick grew up in this area, and if his uncle had an orchard, it makes sense to me that he developed an interest.

There is something sentimental about an orchard. There is this smell of the dirt and trees and fruit; there is the feel of the cool protection the trees provide from the sun and a wafting of the air when the sprinklers are on; there are the branches and grass underfoot with the occasional fallen fruit, and the powder dirt is a thick black mud beneath the green trees. (You always hear about the great mud and dirt the pioneers found in the Willamette Valley in Oregon but I never saw dirt as rich and black as it is in Wenatchee, Washington.) If you've spent any time in an orchard, as I did when I was a little girl, you never forget it--.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bear Running Down a Hill (15 months--photo)

Here's the Bear running down a hill with the family orchard behind him.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


After that first night of collecting fireflies and lightening bugs, I was awakened at about 5 a.m. the next morning. Christie and Phillip ran into my bedroom and started talking all at once. I was so tired! and jet-lagged! I think the only unsympathetic thing I did while there, was, after this happened a couple days in a row, I locked the door. I didn't start work until 7 a.m. and needed my rest to be effective. I think the parents didn't like it, because then the kids were back in THEIR bedroom.

For the first weeks I was at the house in Bedminster with the children. We were all going to the Shore after that, for the summer. It was dreadfully hot in Bedminster, muggly mainly, and I looked forward to being near water. While at the house, I explored the grounds with the children, and learned about the neighbors and the rest of the Thebault staff. I met Maritza, the housekeeper from Venezuela; Jack, the caretaker; Freddy, the gardner and Maritza's husband; and then there was another family (Jack's family?) and there was at least one boy, Phillip's age or a little older, that Phillip played with. Maritza and Freddy had their own guesthouse and then there was Jack's pad.

There were about 150 acres of "farmland", and Lisa named their property, "River Run Farm". A River Runs Through It" was a popular movie in that household, and, inspired, Brian got deep-water boots and did some fly-fishing in his creek, okay...river.

The house was a little over 5,000 sq. feet and was built in the 1920s if I'm correct. I was told it had formerly belonged to the McGraw (McGraw Publishing) family and was a wedding gift to their daughter. There was a large English garden and a pet cemetary, with tombstones for deceased pets. The house I liked, it was sort of a Nancy Drew type of place, with hidden stairwells behind bookcases, secret passages, and hidden vaults. There was a huge old iron elevator as well (what everyone needs!). The Thebaults had purchased the house before I arrived, and Lisa set about hiring a personal interior designer. Much of her time away from the house and children was spent in New York looking at wallpaper, and carpeting, and some of these things (samples) were brought to the house.

I don't think the Thebault's had been there very long because on the 2nd or 3rd night I was there, a large bat flew up from the basement, and into a room off of the kitchen (sort of a family room where the T.V. was). "A BAT!" Brian yelled. Lisa screamed and gathered her children, covering her head. The bat was circling around, and I stood to the side, watching Brian with a rolled up newspaper, exclaim, "I'll call Jack to get it out!" So, he called Jack up at about 9 or 10 at night, to catch the bat. Like Jack is a bat-catching expert and could do a better job than Brian. But it was clear that Brian wasn't used to this sort of thing. The bat was caught. Lisa seemed to think it was exciting--she was breathless and laughing. It probably WAS the most exciting thing that had happened in awhile there.

From the house, I took walks onto the patio, through the garden, and down a trail into the woods with Phillip. Christie tagged along, but if her mother was ever home, Christie liked to stay with her mother. I spent more time with Lauren and Phillip than Christie, probably. I took Lauren on stroller rides out on the gravel road outside the property. Once, I saw the most ridiculous thing--an entire group of equestrians decked out in "hunting gear". Fox-hunting was a popular sport in Bedminster. I didn't even know it was legal. But when I say hunting gear, I do not mean proper riding boots. I mean, shirts with ruffled necks, and hats with feathers, and tailored jackets, jodphers (msp. I'm sure)...One woman was actually wearing a full-length skirt and riding side-saddle. It was bizarre. Where was the costume party? But these people were dead serious. It's not that I don't know what English riding gear looks like--my mother had horse magazines and owned some gear herself. I'd been to horse shows. My family even lived in a very "horse-country" part of Oregon, where there were many barns, horse shows, and every neighbor had a bunch of horses. But these outfits were something from the 19th century, with frills and lace, and one woman even looked like she was wearing a corset (the one riding side-saddle). Not to mention, if this was for their little private party "fox hunt" who was going to see them? Perhaps they felt it made such a cruel and gruesome sport appear civilized.

The children didn't have horses at that time and Lisa and Brian didn't ride either. I do think they went to a fox hunt though, so maybe they rode on occasion. I never saw them get ready for it if they did.

Maritza thought the costumes were ridiculous as well. She told me Lisa had asked her to wear a black and white maid's uniform and she had refused. "Can you beleeeve it?" She said in her Spanish accent, "These people are unbelievable!!" Maritza said "unbelievable" often when she speaking about the Thebault's. I couldn't understand why they wanted her to wear a uniform because no one was hardly ever there to visit and see her. As far as I could tell, she was an excellent housekeeper. She told me she and Freddy were told not to tell people how they were paid, but because Martiza and Freddy were illegal immigrants with no papers, and for whatever reason, instead of just paying them under-the-table, he put them on his busines bill and gave them a check. Maritza said he had them appear to be employees for his business. I don't know why exactly. Sometime after I left, Maritza became pregnant. She and Freddy had been trying to have kids for years. Over 7 years. Finally, when she told Lisa, Lisa fired her, telling her, "I can't have a pregnant woman in my house." That was the only reason she gave. Maritza said at first Lisa just made her work harder and longer hours after she found out, and then she fired her outright. Because Maritza and Freddy were illegals, they were subjected to a lot of abuse or exploitation because, as it is with most illegals, if you don't do what the employer asks, they threaten to turn you in and deport you, or fire you at an inopportune time.

Maritza had known the German au pair that was before me and told me about her and what the German nanny thought about the family. I know Phillip adored her. Phillip had an initial crush on me (his parents and their friends commented on it) and the children were perfect angels for the first couple weeks and then the honeymoon was over.

I can say sincerely, that every child I was ever a nanny for, I cared about and loved. I wasn't with the Thebaults very long, but when you're with someone every minute, you get to know them fast. Lauren was a little too young to talk with, but she was adorable. Christie was spunky and "the boss", and even the lifeguards would comment on how beautiful she was going to be, and Phillip was the one I got to know the best, through conversations, and thinking about him still touches me. Phillip was a sensitive boy who loved nature, loved the water, wanted to be like any other kid (and wanted to wear comic T-shirts instead of the polo shirts his mother made him wear), and he loved his father. For some reason, I can't remember how he addressed Lisa (maybe "mom"?) but I still remember exactly how his voice sounded when he said, "Daddy".

I asked Lisa if she thought her kids took after them and she said Phillip was like her and Christie was like Brian. Phillip and Christie were so different in appearance too. Phillip had big brown eyes, shiny brown hair (bowl-cut then), and was dark with a tan, and Christie had flaxen blond hair, blue eyes (? I think), and, Kevin and Ken (the lifeguards) commented, "long legs".

When we went to the Shore, Maritza was asked to come along. Freddy had to stay home for 3 months without Maritza, and they couldn't see eachother. Maritza wasn't allowed to drive but I was, so I took Maritza out on the weekends so she didn't have to sit at home alone when she was off. That is, until Lisa told me I couldn't take Maritza out with me. I asked why and she told me she didn't want her help to socialize together. She also forbade us to even speak to eachother.

I learned what people thought about Lisa while we were at the Shore. Sometimes, I even felt defensive of Lisa after hearing what was being said. Lifeguards talked, other nannies told me what their employers (friends of the Thebault's) said, and women sitting around at the Shore, under their umbrellas with their pink lipstick, 3 carat diamond rings and earrings, and a trashy novel or last NYT bestseller, talked about Lisa when she wasn't there. The cattiness of the "upper-class" is something to see. I had thought soap operas on television were a big joke until I worked for the Thebaults. Soap operas actually imitate life, as it is, in Far Hills and Bedminster, NJ. On one side of the Shore, you had the Jersey girl--and on the other side--the Jezebels.

What was said behind Lisa's back up on next NFTN.

Roses 2: Granny Asks Why I Did It!

Yesterday I was talking to my grandmother about the Rose's and she was mortified that I'd stayed there. She asked if I actually did what Lorraine asked, and said she hoped I did NOT clean the toilet when they wouldn't even flush. I told her I did. I flushed their crap and then cleaned the toilet with gloves on (as usual). She asked if I had fished the container for duck marmalade out of the dumpster. I did not do that. I was asked repeatedly to do it, and I just ignored the request. Lorraine said she needed me to dig to the bottom of a dumpster to find the bottle so she knew what brand it was. I knew as well as she that if she wanted to find the brand again, she could go back to the store. I was not going to rummage through her trash that had been sitting out there for a week.

But in general, I did what I was told to do because I was somewhat naive, very sweet, very religious, and believed what I did was a service to God. To me, even though I was doing the worst jobs, if I could do them cheerfully, I was working "as unto the Lord" and I saw Jesus as my boss, not the Rose's. I figured if Jesus could make sacrifices, so could I, and felt I was sharing in His suffering when I did so. So did the woman before me, from whom I got the job, Penny. We went to the same church at the time. I was very sincere. I was 23-24 years old. At the time, I never watched rated-R movies (which is why the lesbian erotica shocked me), I was a virgin (which I mention because the media coverage about Clinton and Lewinsky was on full-time at the Rose house and it bothered me--Lorraine said, "We're all adults" but I did not and preferred not to hear about "adult matters" I had no experience in and was saving for marriage), I had no enemies, went to church 3 times a week, and I prayed for the Rose family (health, wealth, happiness) every time I went there to work. A repairman was working in the house once the same time I was there and he asked me how in the world I could tolerate Lorraine. He went on and on about how I must be a saint. I just smiled. However, even with the patience of a saint, when it came to legal matters, to discover the tax evasion, I was not happy that my employers had tried to steal from me, while depriving me of the benefits of self-employment and in fact, firing me when I did something for myself (enroll in college classes to take after work hours for Lorraine).

I worked for the Rose's in 1997-1998 (pretty sure)for a little over one year. I remember working before one Passover to the next.

They say people don't change. I've changed. I'm the better for it, I might add.

Roses 1: Rabbi Emmanuel Rose and Josh Rose on Catholicism

I mentioned wondering if the Rose's had anything to do with getting the Willamette Week story published about me, after finding out I'd been talking about their tax evasion. I just did a search now and see Rabbi Emmanuel Rose had invited the Portland Archbishop (in 1986) to preach at a Sabbath. I do remember Rabbi Rose felt a particular connection to the Catholic church. He also held joint dialogues with the Archbishop of Portland, for colleges. One I knew about was at the college I went to, because I got a newsletter about it. That dialogue was held right after I was slandered by the The Willamette Week. Because my problems at that time, and the only abuse I can say ever affected me, was by a couple of clergy there, it raises some questions. Rabbi Rose and the Catholic church leaders, whom he already had a special connection with, had me as their common "enemy" (in that I was exposing what they had done) it would be in their common interest to work against me. I had wondered then, because I looked up who owned the Willamette Week once and it was an organization called "the Rose something or other). I believe the editor was Jewish. Would have to double-check that. The only other contributor I can think of, may have been a former attorney who disliked me (because I turned HIM into the Bar). I remember reading the story, and not only was it flat-out slanderous, and contained completely made up statements, a couple of things they mentioned followed a time-line that former attorney's I had, had presummed and was inaccurate. When I get into the story that was done about "me" and how libelous it was, any member of the public should, after reading, keep in mind that the Dan Rather falsehoods about Bush (which led to the end of his career as a journalist) are not uncommon with the media, and I don't think the average person will hardly be able to believe how bad it was in my case, and exactly what was going on. But I'll save that for a later time, after I actually tell the story of what really happened with the monks and clergy of Mt. Angel Abbey.

Back to Rabbi Rose--I remember one time the Rabbi's son, Josh Rose, was home from Harvard and he asked his father this question: "If you were going to write only one book what would you write about?" Josh's question was something to this effect. Rabbi Rose's response was that he would write about the Catholic church. I saw the look on Josh's face. Josh didn't like what he had heard. And well, I can imagine. I was a little shocked too. One of the foremost leaders of the Jewish community in Oregon had a dream to write about, of all things, the Roman Catholic church. Josh asked why and his father went on to explain how Pope John Paul II (is that right? anyway, the last pope before Benedict) had apologized to Jews for the past wrongs the Catholic church had done, and he also talked about Vatican II. All was forgiven, from the Rabbi's standpoint, because of the apology. Josh talked about the harm done to Jews by the Catholic church.

It's an interesting scene to remember, because at that time Josh had no interest in being a Rabbi. I can't even remember what his major was, but I do remember he and his mother thought Harvard was beneath them and had slacked in their education of students. His mother, Lorraine, was talking to a friend over the phone about it. When Josh was home on break I remember being shocked by his textbooks and books about lesbian erotica. I wondered if perhaps Harvard was not to blame, but rather Josh's choice in electives. I mean, if it was classical education he wanted...

Another time, I saw a letter that Josh had written to a customer service department, which he then faxed to his mother who left it on a desk where I saw it as I cleaned. She was talking about it excitedly over the phone to a friend and laughing. It was as if she thought Josh had written one of the great 18th century satires. I read it and the entire thing was a condescending rail against some customer service he'd been dissatisfied with. He was letting them know, in no uncertain terms, HE was no longer a buyer of their goods. In the letter, he mocked and jeered and wrote exaggerated descriptions. It wasn't very well-written, but the air of superiority to the tone, and the way Lorraine responded, AND the fact that Josh had faxed this bit eagerly to his mother, made it clear he felt he had put them in their place, in quite a clever style. That was when I thought, "My goodness! And he's the one at Harvard?! and I'm his mother's lowly housekeeper?" All the world seemed awry. ;)

Later, I heard that after college and trying out the real world, Josh decided to follow in his father's footsteps and go to rabbinical school in Israel. So off he went. That was the last I heard about him from a friend. Does he too, share the dream to write a book about the Catholic church? has his father been published on that topic yet? We shall see.

Explanation to the Guardianship Matter

I found out what happened with the words appearing on the screen about guardianship. I don't know my own computer file got mixed up with clicking from one screen to the next, but I didn't intercept someone else's e-mail--"Guardianship of _____" is the name of a document I created long ago and it's a will. I had forgotten about it because it was so long ago that I wrote it, right after childbirth practically in the first sleep-deprived months when I thought I might literally be on the way to dying. I wrote a will. I felt AWFUL. I had a horrible and traumatic delivery which should have been a C-section and was forced instead. I will definitely be writing about that experience down the road, and namin' some names, but right now I've got two "threads" going on being a domestic worker so I want to get into that. I named one "NFTN" and then maybe the stuff about being a personal assistant for the house of Rabbi Rose will be "Roses (1,2,3,etc)".

Oh, but I DID intercept other e-mails all the time when I worked for a computer company. So it reminded me of this--when switching from one thing to the next, I'd get someone else's page or e-mail in the middle of it. Still kind of weird this document of mine came up bc it's been buried and haven't opened it for ages. But at least I wasn't imagining things!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Guardianship of My Son (here in photos)

My mother and the Bear and me.

What is completely bizarre is that when I was clicking from one screen on my computer to the next, the words "guardianship of (name of my son" came onto my screen. I must have intecepted someone else's e-mail or something? I've heard of this happening when online, but this if so, that would be crazy. But those are the words that came up.

Bear Necessities: Trees and Ladders (photos)

I took these two, and the headshots, and my mother took the rest. My mom was like, "Some of them are really cute, but the top of the head is cut off!" I just wanted to get some personality photos, close-up. You know what I'd really like to do, if I could, or had the money? (And was up to it in other ways not explained here)...Filmmaking. I'd love to do a character piece. I am into people. Landscapes...I can't do without, I would die without the beauty of nature. But I'll leave it to someone else to capture that on film. I've photographed flowers (peonies mainly), which I'm obsessed with, but people and animals are what I like to focus on best. When I was little, I only drew people. And trees. That was it. Now, my favorite thing to write about and photograph is people. What is more interesting?! I like Russian authors because they're so into the psychology of people. Crime & Punishment was a great read. I also like survival stories, ever since I was little I've read them. True stories where people survive the elements or a personal trauma (of any kind).
But I would like to be the one holding the camera for filmmaking. At least for a handheld documentary or something. I like trying to capture natural shots of people and their facial expressions. I wanted to do a documentary, a funny one, on cat obesity when I lived with roommates who had two ENORMOUS cats. On their level. Like, film from ground level, from the cat's perspective. Now I want to film my son, just for memories, not really as a movie. But if I could go back to school with unlimited resources, I would go for filmmaking. And I would write my own scripts with lots of character.

Who needs a country club?
(surveying the orchard) So cool...

From the womb, he's favored sucking his left thumb...A leftie? I don't know, but you're a CUTIE!

Trees and ladders
Better than Chutes and Ladders
The outdoorsman

I still don't know how to edit or fix lay-out.

Tax Evasion by Rabbi Emmanuel Rose & His Wife

The dirt. I want to get at least some of the dirt out of the way so I can tell the rest of the story in a natural way, without always thinking about how to lead up to "the dirt". By dirt, I mean tax evasion.

Again, as with lying, it is understandable someone would cheat on taxes, as it seems most Americans do, when it seems "the enemy" is just this non-human entity, the IRS. For some cheaters, it may be a little bit of skewing numbers for their own benefit, but it may not affect others. However, for people paid under-the-table, or domestic workers, it is not just the IRS that is affected. Not paying Social Security tax for a worker affects their rights and takes a substantial amount of money out of their SSI savings, which will be needed at a later date. If the domestic worker is illegal, it may not matter as much to them because they wouldn't get SSI anyway, but for an American citizen, it is actually stealing from them...ESPECIALLY if the citizen is not simply paid under the table, but told to file their own taxes as "self-employed" when that worker, in NO way, fits the definition of self-employed. In my opinion, that ruse is even worse. And what is worse, is when it's a high-profile Rabbi and his wife who pull this scheme and then speak on national television to make social commentary about moral issues.

I had a former boyfriend get absolutely angry with me when I told him I had reported the matter, or was thinking of doing so. I figured he must cheat on his taxes and thought I was just a mean zealot, trying to ruin lives. But what he didn't seem to understand, was that the tax evasion does not just hurt the IRS--it was stealing money from my pocket and from the pockets of their former employees, by fraudulent means.

When I write later, more about the Rose family, there is a lot of good tobe written and some funny stories as well. And, I genuinely LIKED them, er...well, not their son, but the rest of them (their son rummaged through my bags, checked out my ass, and then treated me like a slave and was rude). Laura did nothing but good and made an effort to be conscientous, and Melanie...Well, I heard A LOT about Melanie, from her own family when she wasn't there, and from others when I was no longer working for the Rose's, and she may have been the black sheep, but she had a lot of heart. I thought she was endearing (and, while she may not have made the best social choices, she struck me as the brightest of the kids). Anyway, Rabbi Emmanuel Rose...and Lorraine....there's some good to be said about them. But one area they certaintly failed in is respect for their household employees. And I was not the only one, and the woman before me has the exact same story and was "paid" in the exact same manner.

Where the Thebault's paid-under-the-table, and didn't compensate me for overtime, they didn't really sneak about it. They acted as many, many, employers do on the East Coast. And, in a weird way, they're suffused with such an Old Money air over there, it's hard not to breathe that air and be affected by it. Even I, as just a "nanny", did not escape pure. I remember coming back to Oregon, and my first thought, when I was back in the Pacific NW, being driven home, was, "What are all these used and trashy American automobiles doing on the road?!" The freeway was littered with junkers and I couldn't believe how many! I was used to seeing brand new foreign (sometimes American--GMC) cars on the road. This is just one example of how money, or even being around it, can affect you, whether you like it or not.

The Rose's, on the other hand, were sneakier. Maybe it's because the Rabbi, is, well, a Rabbi, and had more to hide. They did not ask me to agree to an "under-the-table" arrangement (I had later gone back and paid for my share of SSI--I felt guilty--, without reporting the Thebault's or giving the IRS their name even thought I was asked for it, repeatedly), they asked me to file for taxes as "self-employed", which meant they didn't have to pay for any of my SS. So, I thought it was all on the up-and-up. They mainly wanted to pay me in cash. Lorraine kept asking me if I was paying my taxes. She hounded me about it a lot and said to pay quarterly. I had found out I didn't have to pay until the year's end if I didn't want to, so I was waiting. But I lied to Lorraine, just to get her off my back, and told her I was paying the self-employed taxes, quarterly. THEN, at tax time, I got the form for self-employment. I read it. Now, wouldn't everything in life be just wonderful for the rich if the poor were illiterate?! (those were the days, sigh).

The tax form, and a brochure I got about self-employment, made it absolutely clear that in no way was I self-employed, and that to claim self-employment you had to meet certain conditions which I did not meet, and it was obvious the Rose's KNEW this. I realized the reason Lorraine was always hounding me to pay me taxes, on a quarterly basis, was because SHE knew what she was doing was dishonest but that if I went ahead and filed anyway, they would be covered and it would look as though...Well, anyway, Lorraine was not interested in me filing my taxes because she wanted ME to stay out of hot water.

The worst of it was that there was no way I was even close to being self-employed, as I read, because if you're self-employed, you have all these liberties and are your own boss. I didn't have that. I was a slave to that house, and when I told Lorraine I was going to college PT, she fired me shortly thereafter because she didn't want to have to work around my class schedules. If you worked for Lorraine, you were on a chain. There is a pillow on her bed that says, "I'm the Queen" and you'd better believe it. I'm not saying she wasn't charming and delightful at times, and sometimes thoughtful--but if she needed you, you'd better be available. "I neeeeed you," she would say. She needed me for housecleaning, organizing, picking up laundry, shopping, serving at parties, enduring sexual harassment by old male guests at their parties (I'll never forget that one, with her son and the Rabbi laughing with the guest in his advances towards me--basically telling me I would be great in his bed), ironing, making her bed with military precision, cleaning her toilets when she crapped in them and didn't flush, fishing out a jar of apricot-orange marmalade she used on the duck from the bottom of a huge 4 ft. high garbage receptacle, and washing her windows inside and out, by hand on a ladder.

I did not decide my own hours (I was fired when I tried to get flexibility for collge classes), I did not bring my own cleaning supplies, I wasn't allowed to work for anyone else (I let her know a neighbor had asked me to help out at his house, and she said I couldn't work for anyone else when I was working for her because she might need me at other times), and she told me exactly what I was to do for her and how to do it. In fact, she had the former assistant, Penny, "train" me for a week before working on my own. I wasn't training myself. Lorraine provided job-training. She and Rabbi Rose acted as my employer and knew I was not self-employed, all along. The woman who worked before me got the same treatment and had to do the same thing, so anyone doubting my testimony could ask her as well, about the job description.

When I found out I had never been "self-employed" I consulted a tax person, who, I noticed had a Jewish last name (an obvious one) and he told me he knew them. He didn't give me any advice, well, except to pay all the taxes myself anyway. When I went to the desk at the Portland, Oregon IRS and asked them what to do, same thing. So I didn't know what to do, but I was NOT going to file self-employed, and I did not. I DO know I could track down Penny, who worked for them before me, and I also have the back of the checkbook where Lorraine released me from her employ with a single sentence.

For me to pay self-employment when I was allowed NONE of the benefits of being self-employed, was, in my opinion, just not right. I was denied the right to even work for another party when I wasn't working for the Rose's. And I believed it was fraudulent of the Rose's and it was not just Lorraine, but her husband, who paid me and knew of the arrangement. But Emmanuel Rose is consulted by the media for national news commentary, and is one of the figureheads in Portland, Oregon society so of course they would try to conceal this. And I still remember hearing Lorraine brag over the phone to a friend about what a good deal she got on her "help" ("Only $13 an hour and she pays her own taxes!"). Indeed.

After that, I once tried to call Rabbi Rose at his office to ask him about something, after I was slandered by the newspaper The Willamette Week, and he wouldn't return my call. It was then that I guessed someone had tipped them off about the tax matter and he was mad. Who knows, maybe they even knew people who worked for The Willamette Week and were in on slamming me. That was in 2004, I believe.

All I can say is, there are other people who can back up my story.

Now, the rest of the story about the family is rather fun to tell. Talk about quirky. If any family was interesting to work for and observe, it was THIS one. They assumed I was not very intelligent. Once, Lorraine was telling me I looked too thin, and I said, purposefully, "Oh, these pants just make me look longer". I said longer as an exception to the rule in English usage, in a playful way. But Lorraine and Josh, her son, exchanged looks and raised eyebrows and then Lorraine said in a superior tone: "You mean you look taller." Another time I was talking about how I paid my mortgage, and Lorraine assumed I couldn't own my own house (when I did) and said, "It's not "mortgage", it's "rent"". Then there was the time Laura ate off of my fork because out of two forks on the cheese tray, mine was the one with the tines down (I was finished) and she assumed it was her mother's fork because of course, the maid wouldn't know anything about etiquette). She had just come into the house, and hadn't seen either of us with a fork in hand but made a guess from the tray. Her mother told her it was my fork and Laura said she'd thought it was her mother's. I never said a word. I hardly ever opened my mouth. I just did what I was told, polished the silver, kept my ears open, and made observations.

As for my working for them, at least they can say they got their money's worth. In fact, maybe even more than they bargained for.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Misc. on Development

Hello Little Bear,

Diapers. It's a big deal when you go through so many! I decided to see if bladder pads (for adults) fitted into your cloth underpants, were cheaper and worked. They work, but they're not cheaper. So I went back to diapers with the plan to use cloth when I'm up to handwashing about 12 times a day, and accidents (I tell you, I think it's a better idea to ask the landlord for new carpet in the Spring. We were told we'd get carpet, the color of our choice (I want deep red) this Fall, but I may hold off, for practical reasons.). So I just shrugged it all off and decided you'll let me know, and whaddya know?! when the pressure if off, you're a champ! Yesterday you saw me sitting as I told you what I was doing, and you crouched down too, and then patted your little toilet. I thought the minute I got your diaper off and set you down, you'd arch your back to get off again, but...Nope. You just sat there, and smiled at me. And, as I had the dresser mirror down on the floor by the toilet, you looked at yourself in the mirror and smiled. Big boy! You wanted to be on the potty all by yourself, of your own will and accord. So, if this continues, we've got the green light again.

You suddenly seem so big to me. You've matured the last few days--that's how it seems! You have the attention span for watching full-length movies...up to an hour and a half. Yesterday, I popped in The Land Before Time to see what it was about. I took it out when it got scary. I am going to have to prescreen before you see a minute of that stuff. I can't belive what is allowed in G-rated movies. So violent!!! I think there should be a new rating system for kids. "G" for age 7 and up, and a pre-G, or before-G, for ages 4-7, and then a beginners rating for up to age 3. Would little boys be pretend-fighting with guns and weapons so young if they didn't see violence on T.V. or in movies and cartoons? I don't think so. They wouldn't even know what a gun was for. Movies that are funny or very gentle, or which show a little natural anger or sadness and how to resolve it, should be the mainstay until kids are 7. When they're 7, then maybe a scene of fighting and killing and the death of the mother (as is shown in Land Before Time) is something to discuss as a fact of life.

I babysat for one family that asked me to stop Bambi at the scary scene of the forest fire and death of Bambi's mother. I thought that was so wise. Their kids were 2 and 4 (or 5?). This mother was also one of few I've babysat for that had a bookcase full of books about child development and parenting. That was Laura Rose. She was quite devoted.

Now that I'm a mother myself, I'm shocked by what passes as children's entertainment. I have babysat for other families who allowed their children to watch more adult movies (in one case, a 7 yr. old was allowed to watch, and loved, "Dick Tracey", in another case, the two girls, ages 5 and 9, were allowed to watch horror movies with their mother and grandmother, such as "Poltergeist" and "Stigmata"). The mother who allowed her girls to watch horror movies was a powerful business executive (I worked as her PT nanny) who was exceptionally gifted and smart (and, unfortunately, a pathological liar).

So, I suppose, if someone as intelligent as this last mother I mentioned, ignored ratings, what good would it do. It would be helpful to someone like me, though, who wanted a better idea of what we were getting into if we were looking at movies to rent.

Lately, you've wanted to help with chores, even with pushing the shopping cart at the store. You won't even run off if I get you out of the cart, because you want to push it for me. The other day, when we were at a clinic, I asked if we could borrow a wheelchair and I let you push me, which you thought was great fun, and then I pushed you around in it.

You are independant but then you want to be my baby. If I pay attention to another baby or child, you are later imitating their unique expressions or vocalizations. Recently, you drank from a cup by yourself, but although you've known how to do this for months, you don't WANT to. You want me to hold the cup for you, and your spoon sometimes, and almost always, your bottle. Most of the time, you refuse to eat or drink unless I'm feeding you partly. You also want to be close to me at bedtime, lying down beside you, with your hand curled around my finger. If I leave to do other things, you usually awaken at some point and can't go to sleep without me. But you sleep well and are a sound sleeper too. You never fuss at bedtime, ever. I never put you down, for a nap or for bed, until it's obvious you're tired. We don't have a set bedtime, which I think is unnatural. Sometimes you need more rest, and if you've had a longer nap, you're not tired until later. So we play it by ear. Pretty much, though, you rise with the sun and are ready for bed after it is dark.

You have a serious personality, for example, if I give you a ride in the wheelbarrow, you don't even look like you're having fun, until I take you out and then you demand to go back in! You are more serious, but you're also content and happy, and easygoing. When you get mad though, boy do you screeeeamm! You have lungs like no other.

A couple of days ago you wanted me to hold you up to the paintings you made, which I have on our walls. You touched the dried paint and especially the dried blobs. This morning, when we were in the tub, you laughed out loud everytime I made a "blub-blub-blub" noise while we watched the bubbles of air escaping from a toy with a small hole in it. We take our baths together. I tried giving you one on your own, and you won't have it and want out. If I'm there with you, you relax and have fun. We rearrange little fishies that stick to the walls, empty and fill containers, see what floats, read bath books, and wash hair.

You pull my hand or pants or skirt when you want me to go somewhere with you.

I think we should get a hamster for you, maybe for Christmas. I just read that dwarf ones don't stink. Or maybe a lizard. I read they're good small pets (where you can't have a dog or cat). A hamster would be soft to hold...but then I guess a lizard would just be a different texture. Will have to find out more about them. I had a friend once who had a regular "animal house". She had multiple dogs and cats, and a bunny running freely throughout a tiny little apartment. The last time I saw her, though, I didn't see any pets--just orchids.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Photos of Me and The Bear (#2)

I have a lot to learn in how to do the lay-out on this thing. Some of the photos I didn't want but don't know how to get rid of one and not all, so I'm leaving them for now.

These photos were supposed to be in higher pixels so they're fuzzy.

Photo of Me and My Bear

I figured out to post photos! And decided to add some.
This is me and my beautiful Bear, taken last week on Wednesday.
I'd like to put the other photos on this page, but I think I'll just publish this one first and then figure out how to add a bunch. Then I need to learn about adding links.

Imperfect Writing, Imperfect Me

I am already embarressing myself with my writing.
Today I checked the search engine and what comes up with my name is:
"I was identified as having "impressive running form" by ..."
Blech. I may as well have a beer in one hand and be drawing the outline of the size of the huge fish I caught with the other. It's true what I wrote, but I know how it sounds. I could edit it, but that would spoil my intentions here.

When it comes to writing journals and e-mail, I am really an advocate of automatic writing, or free (whatever it's called) writing. If I edit here, it will be to fix simple errors. I'm not interested in making this blog perfect or trying to make myself look and sound perfect. I'll be writing about imperfections of others, so it's only fair that I not try to retouch myself.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

When to Lie and When to Break the Law

Hello Little Bear,

I woke up with three things on my mind:

1. A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall by Bob Dylan,
2. Japanese film makers,
3. This last thing I can't share here (but you can refer to the Key).

After watching another part of Milo and Otis, I was reminded how much I like Japanese (and some German) cinematographers. Scenes from Milo and Otis, of nature, reminded me of some black and white classic pieces done by Japanese artists, where the camera focuses on natural beauty/lighting/and shadows and sits upon inanimate objects (a black kettle ((Ozu, Tokyo Story, the ripples in a pond). I think most of them have no dialogue. The one I'm thinking of with the nature scenes and ripples in a pond may be from a black and white film from India. Or Ozu, I can't remember and will have to find out. It's a shot where the camera rests on trees that partially obscure a shining rippled pond--the trees are blowing...absolutely gorgeous. Someone's gotta know what I'm talking about but this is why I miss living in the Big City (any big city). You'll have to look these up when you're older. The German filmmaker I like is Wenders (The American Friend). The panaromic views and'll see what I mean. I'll tell you more about what films and artists I like, but I was only thinking of Japanese at the moment and for some reason, Wenders just falls into the same category almost, in style.

Bob Dylan is one songwriter whose lyrics I can relate to, or inspire me. I don't know why, but the lyrics, "'s a hard, and it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a haaaAArD! rain's a-comin." Read the lyrics though, Bear.

On another note, I learned from the last visit with my mother, that you will probably keep all your hair and that you won't be gray for a long time. No one loses their hair on my maternal side, which is what I think is looked at, but actually, on my father's AND mother's side, all the men kept their hair. It thinned, but it's there. No receding hairlines until 50s or later, and no grays until 40s or later.

As for weight, there is no obesity. There is only one family member, oh wait, two!, on either side, who is even slightly overweight. So it has to be genes and natural diet. Everyone likes and eats fruits and vegetables. My tips, other than to have good genes and high metabolism, is to be active, choose water over soft drinks/juice, drink lots of skim milk, and don't deny yourself snacks and sweets (no diets or you'll just crave the junk more).

My philosophy on lying and telling the truth: In the old days, when I thought everyone was as good and decent as I was (haha! :) at least then!), I thought everyone else thought like me and that we were all driven to "do the right thing". If the Bible said everyone has a conscience, then by-gone-it, I certaintly believed so! And even if everyone, according to the Bible, was predisposed to doing what they didn't want to do ("the law that is at work"--Paul from Romans), they still knew good from bad, wrong from right, and the golden rule as well as the 10 commandments at least. So, at that time in my life, there was no justification for lying, ever. I was completely against it except for extreme situations, such as, I believed it was okay to lie to the Nazi's if you were hiding anyone Jewish in your house. As for good-intentioned white lies, like, "I love your outfit!" or "You look great!" I avoided them. I didn't give compliments unless I really meant it, and if someone asked me how they looked, I generally told the truth, in a couched way, by focusing on at least one element that was good. But my best friend at the time told me I was the only one she could shop with, because I was the only one she knew who would give an honest opinion about how clothes looked on her. I didn't just do this with my best friend, I would do it for anyone.

I remember I used to lie, at least white-lie, about things but felt it was wrong, so I disciplined myself to tell the truth under all circumstances, which took time to perfect and was a serious discipline. Everyone lies, and most of us lie a lot, just naturally and without thinking. ?Quitting the habit is like trying to get off of cigarettes, and probably harder.

What it comes down to, is that if you have a personal policy of telling the truth, you know if you do something wrong and are asked about it, you'll have to admit it. (It's like being under your own oath, to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but...) So if I was late to work I wouldn't make an excuse up about traffic, and told the truth, which forced me to get to work on time (because there was no excuse to be late). When you practice this in small ways, your character strengthens enough so you are able to practice the truth in bigger matters.

Examples (not necessarily big): At work for a computer company, the CEO told me to tell a caller he wasn't there and I told him (in the nicest way) that I couldn't lie, but I would tell them he was "unavailable at the moment". That same CEO respected me for it, and hired me to babysit his kids at his home. Is it really that big of deal to lie about whether he was there or not? Not really, but my belief was that it was unnecessary. We could find good reasons for him to not take the call without lying. And it's just good practice. Telling the truth is like exercizing a muscle. I think I just totally spelled exercising wrong. Ok, moving on, despite being a bad speller...

When I went to college, and joined the debate team, my professor remarked before the entire class, that I was the most honest person he'd ever met. My classmates didn't argue with him (pretty good, considering we were all there to argue every point). I don't know how he came to his conclusion, because I never said or did anything, I thought that stood out. The only thing I can remember was that during a team debate, there was a break where we got our argument and then had to come up with info and my teacher told us we could talk to him but I said I didn't want to cheat. He said it wasn't cheating, it was learning, but he respected me for not wanting to get "the edge" in the competition. I was only on debate for one season, and I was a LOUSY public speaker, but I could argue, and I and my team partner won a trophy for 2nd place novice something-or-other for the region; it was my second time (I think) ever debating. By the way, I just added that bit so you'd know how your Mama held up, but, also, another sidetrack--I would really like for you to take debate when you have the opportunity. Critical writing is important, and philosophy (for outlining arguments), and debate. Debate requires you to think on your feet, under pressure. Of all the classes I ever took, my one term of debate packed the most punch and real-world value. And I forced myself to take it because I was NOT good at speaking naturally. I always had shaking legs/knees and my eye twitched from nerves. I was used to singing publicly, but you know ahead of time what you're singing. Debate is different. Okay, back the honesty lecture, and the reason I'm telling you all this stuff, is to give some practical advice and also let you know how my opinions on this matter have CHANGED...

But before I get to what I believe NOW, I'm going to go even further back to when I was a child:
When I was in the first grade, we had a spelling test and I cheated. I felt so bad about it, I confessed, sobbing, to the teacher. The word was "February". She put her arm around me in front of the class and made an example, saying she was so proud of me for wanting to be honest.

The only time I stole anything, was before school-age. I still remember everything. There was a half of a pack of Grape Bubblicious sitting near the check-out and I reached over and took it. I was chewing my gum in the car when my mom smelled it and asked why I had gum. I told her where I got it and she drove straight back to the store, where I had to apologize, in tears, to the checker for taking the gum. That was a lesson learned and never repeated.

When I was 9 years old, my Dad found me in my room, with tears streaming down my face, because I had just read the book of Romans from the Bible, about "why do I do what I don't want to do?" I remember thinking, as a child, that I wanted to do the right thing, but then why did I choose not to? My Dad sat down with me, on the floor where I was, with my Bible in hand, and we discussed what Paul was talking about.

Later, I was like any kid or teenager and just told the truth when it was convenient. Until I decided to practice and make it a habit, regardless of circumstances.

Once, when I was "let go" from a personal assistant position, the woman "told me" by writing one short sentence on the back of a checkbook (which I've saved to this day) and left a couple of extra dollars. Throughout my employment with her she had never tipped me. So, I refused to take the extra dollars and wrote a note back that I had not worked as many hours, that day, as she had assumed.

Being honest and having dignity are pretty much the same thing to me.

My philosophy on being honest changed after I experienced a very serious breach of trust, deceit, and abuse, which revealed to me the very worst in human nature. After the shock, from which I've never recovered, I was forced to change my philosophy on telling the truth. Everyone is NOT as honest or good-natured as you would like them to be, and some people have no respect for another life. People like this, use deceipt as a weapon, and lie and slander to harm another person and cover for their own wrongdoing. When they lie and claim YOU have done things you've not done, or when they slander you, or pretend to be one thing and are not, to protect yourself, it is necessary to lie--and I am not advocating returning evil for evil, but in exposing the evil, and to do this, sometimes people have to be caught.

In no way do I advocate lying in making up stories that are false, about another person, or in claiming you've done things you have or have not done, for the PURPOSE of trying to get out of things. I do NOT falsely accuse, under any circumstances. And, I would not falsely defend myself either. When a person falsely defends, they, in effect, call the other party liars and of bad character. It was not so bad for President Clinton to lie about what he done with Ms. Lewinsky as it was that his lie affected the case of Paula Jones. Having this relationship with an intern was relevant to the Jones case and he would have known this. To try to conceal this made the claims of Jones look like lies, and later when Lewinsky told the truth, and Clinton denied her story, calling her "that woman", he was also disparaging her character and calling her a liar. I would not ever, to protect myself, try to bring someone else down by lying. If a police officer gave a statement that I did such and such and I lie and say it's not true, I am attacking the character of an officer and calling him a liar. If someone does that to me, it is unacceptable as well.

However, when a party lies about you, and makes false claims, or is stalking you, or is trying to get information about you in order to harm you, it is okay to lie. It is okay to lie about where you're going next, and about your personal history (if you know they are just trying to get gossip to share with others or to write about, claiming they have insider info), and your plans and strategies. It is also okay to get discovery by pretending you're someone you're not, such as making calls and getting information in order to get to the TRUTH. These are tactics P.I.'s and detectives use, but these days, especially if you haven't money or connections, they must be used. Business calls and personal calls with others, when you know they've lied about conversations you've had in the past, should be recorded. For someone with more power than you, they can rely on their connections to back them up when they lie about you. If it comes down to he-said/she-said, who will people believe, you have to be keeping track. It is not possible for every person without money or influence to hire a lawyer. They can't afford it, and the volunteer legal services are stretched thin and don't take all cases. If the legal circle is small, some lawyers will persuade others not to take your case. The justice system works for the rich and white, period. Black, poor, mentally disabled--you're screwed. The least the disadvantaged can do is to keep records of communications. Because so many claims and so much fraud happens over the phone and can be caught that way, the average citizen should be able to use this to protect themself. And you never know when you'll need it. If you can't use it in court, you can take it to an organization to make a complaint, or submit your evidence to an investigative agency (if you think they'll do something). At the very least, you'll have documentation to back up your side of the story, and if you want to write about it or publish or share your information down the road, you can. Every State is different in laws about taping telephone conversations.

Some states require all parties to consent to being taped, and other states have a one-party law, which only requires one party to consent. So, that means, if you want to tape and not let the other end know, you don't have to. Some states change their laws after being challenged. In Oregon, there was a two-party requirement, and lawyer Dan Gatti was getting information about a chiropractor who had allegedly made fraudulent claims. Gatti posed as a chiropractor and, I believe, taped the conversation as well. He was sued but won, because he said if police and detectives could do it, why not lawyers who also needed to catch people in confessions, and the regular citizen. So the law in Oregon changed.

It's illegal to tape without consent from the other party if you live in a one-party state, like, for example, Washington state. However, I'm sure this could be challenged, just as it was in Oregon, and won.

I believe all states in the U.S. should have one-party laws or that it should even be a federal law. There are very few tools for catching people in their dirty work, and if it affects the lives of average citizens, who need protection, it should be available. If you live in state where this is illegal, you can get permission first to keep the facts straight and all parties accountable, you can put people on speakerphone (where they are then talking in public, more or less, I don't know that the same rules apply), or you can weigh the cost and benefit of taping anyway. If what is going on, and has been going on, is pretty bad, I believe it is more important to get a record than to obey polite privacy laws. I'm not advocating taping your best friends, but when certain people violate your civil rights, they waive their shield of privacy right, and I am certain that the general public would agree. You can't count on police to do the detective work...How many times are minorities and poor people written off? and how often, really, do detectives do the work to get a court order to tap the phones and lines of the other party? I think it is so important to have accountability, that if a problem is particularly bad and involves more than one person, and just persists, a person should think about moving to a state with one-party consent laws, for their legal documentation. That is, if they don't want to make a case in their state and try to get the two-party law changed.

So this is where I think "lying" is acceptable--when you need to do it in order to get to the truth, but not ever when it's simply to defend yourself when it will harm another person. Also, lying, when it is to help someone, in a substantial way, in rare circumstances, such as, lying to the Nazi's (authorities) about hiding the mentally ill or physically disabled, is not only acceptable, it is a social responsibility and moral obligation.

If you don't, what is your excuse? "It was against the law"? If you refuse to tape record things that are going down, which hurt your family and children, what is your excuse? "It was against the law"? The Bible doesn't say, oh, for example: "The law will set you free". It says:

The truth will set you free.

Little Bear, may you always be on the side of the truth.

That said, I must confess, I goofed twice in the last couple of years and/but they were very minor, involving make-up. It was ridiculous I lied, because I had nothing to be ashamed about, and should not have even defended myself by lying.

Friday, August 17, 2007


Hello Little Bear,

I'm letting you watch Barney right now. There is a song called "Just Imagine" and it's probably the only one I like. Hearing it reminded me of last night when we were watching part of Milo and Otis together, snuggled on the couch, with you on my lap and head against my chest, in your jammies. All of a sudden, I noticed you were keeping perfect time with your foot. The music in this movie is wonderful and I looked it up last night to find out who the composer was, and it appears the music is a bunch of classical pieces. I'll have to get a list or something to find out which ones you like most.

The other day you were cranky and I hadn't thought to turn music on for half the day at least, so I decided to turn on the radio, and crank it up. I don't like country music much, but you stopped fussing, squealed with a laugh out loud, RAN across the kitchen floor, stopped and stamped your feet quickly (like the little holy roller jigs I used to see in a church I went to long ago), and then began to sway back and forth to the music. I was stunned.

It was the most spontaneous expression of dance and appreciation of music that I have ever, in my entire life, seen. What was shocking to me, was how little and young you are, and it was like I had pressed a button, and you came alive. I'm still shocked when I think about it. I've seen staged dancing, and I absolutely love that show, "So You Think You Can Dance", but I've never seen such a reaction before, that was so pure, unplanned, and exuberant. It was a man singing with a low voice, but I don't recall the song.

I wondered what it meant. I wondered if you are craving more exposure to music, or dance, and I suddenly felt inadequate. What if you turn out to be like your grandpa (my Dad) and can play everything by ear after hearing a piece once, with no musical training, and I've nothing for you to play? What if you're like my Dad's grandpa, who was a talented violinist and taught violin at a university in Virginia with only an 8th grade education, and yet I've no violin. My father picked up guitar and piano, they were there for him to play. I wish I'd never sold my piano. I kept it for years but it was such a pain to move (so heavy and took 3 strong men to budge) I sold it. It had been one of my father's pianos--the one he played on when we grew up--a really good Yamaha. I really regret selling it now.

Even I am able to play guitar, but I don't currently own a guitar. So I feel sort of bad about these things. I'm sure it's normal for a parent to feel this way. To see something that excites your child so much and not know how, with little resources, to encourage and be able to support the interest.

At least I have a decent singing voice. You get to hear me sing all the time, and I notice that YOU notice the slight nuances and tone--if I sing something particularly well, you are focused on me and interested. When I was 15 years old, I was heard singing The National Anthem (a capella) at a high school game and was approached by a rep for The San Francisco Conservatory of Music, for a scholarship to be trained in classical voice. My parents said no, because I was only 15 and they didn't want me to be on my own. I remember I was very disappointed I had to turn it down. Later, a rep for Disney watched me audition at church, and I was very religious and he told my mother he could find me a job with Disney but that he was afraid I would be eaten alive--he told my mother it was cut-throat and that I was so innocent and sincere, and so sweet and religious, (it's true! he said all these things) that he didn't recommend it, based on my personality and character. He thought people would take advantage of me and that I wouldn't know how to protect myself. All of this happened before I was 18, before I left my parent's house, to be a nanny.

I understand more about life now, that's for certain, but it's true what this guy thought about me. I really DIDN'T know how to protect myself, and people did do some terrible things (in other situations) but in the last few years, I've figured some things out. Some things I didn't even figure out until a year ago. But everything I know about human nature and how to protect yourself, I'll pass on to you. And I will support any opportunity that comes your way that you may want to take. It's different for us because there are not other family members to consider.

Even if your expression of dance was simply a showing of passion for life, you know I'm sharing that same joy with you. Thank you for feeling so free around me!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Natural Ability

Hello Little Bear,

I don't know that I'm comfortable with a full-face shot of you online, but we got the cutest pictures of you yesterday! ;) You got to see your other grandma, my mom, and you seemed to remember her. You were shy at first, hiding your head in my arm.

I'm so torn! I don't mind showing my face, but I like to protect you, generally (which is why I don't use your full name here). I want to show the world how adorable you are, and then I question whether this is prudent, in the long run.

I was shocked to see myself in some of the photos...looking very well! I haven't felt good, health-wise, and had pretty much hung up the I'm Pretty! party hat. But the photos of me are alright too. I gained an entire 100 lbs during my pregnancy with you. From 115 to 215. NUTS. But now I'm down to 130, I think. I'm still 20 lbs more than I used to be but everyone is telling me to quit losing right about now.

When I was in high school, I ran cross-country, track, and did cheerleading. I became addicted to running. For 3 years, in high school, my weight never wavered. I was a solid 105 lbs. And I had more muscle and less bodyfat than most of the football players. I think I didn't have my period a couple of months because I was so athletic.

After practice at school, I would go for a run, at dusk, at home. There is NOTHING that matches the euphoria of a good run. I can't really run now, but it's weird to try, because I have so many parts of me that are out-of-sync. My butt used to be a rock, fixed onto my legs. When I ran, nothing jiggled. I was flat-chested too, so literally, nothing jiggled! It felt so good though. I was ONE. Everything worked together. Streamlined. butt feels like it has a mind of its own and there is nothing I can do to make it obey me ("GET back in line!"....nope!)

I'm getting it back together though. My mother was shocked that I have zero stretch lines on my stomach, after expanding so much, and no loose skin either.

My entire life I weighed 105 lbs. Until I was a nanny, and went up to 125 which was HUGE for me. The housekeeper said, "Mmm-hmm...your thighs and your BUTT" (were enlarged). Then I lost it in a couple months, after escaping the Brownie-bearing employers. Then I was back to 108-110 lbs until a couple years ago when I went up to 115. So, my entire life I've been a stick. Until I got pregnant. I've walked in the fat-lady shoes and they hurt your feet! I didn't want to lose fast though, and have loose skin, so I didn't panic.

I have always had high metabolism and been athletic. I am telling you about this because you are going to get some of your athleticism from me and my side of the family. I am not suprised you like the balance beam, now that I think about it, because I was very good and balance and flexibility. Flexibility can be worked on, but I think it's mainly genetic. I could still do the chinese splits, right now, having done nothing for a long time. Balance too. I think people are born with a sense of balance, and then it can be improved upon.

The first time I ever tried waterskiing, at age 13, I got up the first try (good boat driver, I might add--it's a team approach). The first time I ever tried windsurfing, I got up first try (I think it was a kid's rig so I'm sure that helped). First time I went downhill snowskiing, I went to the intermediate zones, skipping past the bunny hill (maybe cross-country skiing experience helped). I was trying out black diamond runs the same season and doing pretty well. I am very good at working the ravines and jumps, and I suck and HATE moguls. I did try snowboarding after that, and COULD'NT get up first try, and didn't want to waste my day learning. I just stuck with skiis and had fun.

I was identified as having "impressive" running form when I was in middle school, by Grandpa Garrett who was a teacher and a coach. Running is in the family on that side. Your grandpa, my dad, still holds some records (in a small town) for hurdles and the 400 m. At that time, he had times that were close to qualifying for the Jr. Olympics, but he didn't work at it. That's another thing--we've got a lot of natural ability and a lot of impatience and laziness too! I ran cross-country and track in high school, but I did it first because I was recruited, and then later for the feeling of it, but I never looked at my times. I didn't work at it either. But I went to State for CC and for track (my best event was the 800 m.). My coach told me there were a bunch of scouts from good colleges watching me, right before the first race of my senior CC season, and 5 minutes into it, I broke my knee and had to withdraw. Osteochondritis dessicans.

By that time in my life, I loved to run. I loved running way more than I cared about my boyfriend, and it was "the valve" for all my energies, passions, and frustrations in life. When I couldn't run anymore, not only did I lose scholarships, I lost a part of me. I don't think anyone, not even another athlete, can understand this loss unless they're a serious runner. After a year, I was able to work back into running, but after a car accident, it's shot. I think. There is missing cartilage. My last sports Dr. said the pain didn't matter, that running wouldn't affect it. I asked him if I would ruin my knee more if I ran through the pain and he said no. But I think I need a second opinion on that.

In grade school I spent recess playing soccer with the boys (and being the first to be asked to be on the team!), and then twirling on the low bar (and I did backwards flips and dismounts all on my own, without anyone showing me how or spotting me). I excell at individual sports, and preferably not a sport that involves "a ball". I hated "dodgeball" in school. It was punishment. And volleyball--I hated having burnt wrists and getting hit. And I hated baseball (flying balls coming at my head, chasing me on the way down). Basketball was okay. And soccer, as long as the ball was on the ground, was okay. I liked tag football a lot. And I like to play hockey and floor hockey. In junior high I got the Presidential Physical Fitness Award thing. I think it was because I could do all these pull-ups (it helps to be skinny).

Swimming. I'm a competent swimmer. Took a year of swim team and always get A's in classes for swimming. I wish they had music earphones for swimmers though (maybe they do and I don't know about it? if not, someone needs to get on that patent). I wouldn't have enjoyed running as much if I didn't have music to run to.

I always wanted to dance, and take dance when I was younger, but my parents didn't see the point of dancing, so I didn't have lessons. Your grandpa Baird used to love to dance. Music, dancing, and whiskey. Then he quit the whiskey, cold-turkey, after or during the War.

My mother is an equestrian. She has always loved riding. English mainly, and she took dressage. She's had a horse since she was a little girl. For the first time in years, she doesn't have horses (usually we had at least 2) because she's busy with other things. When I was little, the house was packed with horse and dog magazines (shetland sheepdogs, AKA, shelties).

I've gone windsurfing a few times. If I could choose to practice only one sport, it would be this. Windsurfing engages every muscle in your body, including your brain. You have to be strong, have balance, and be thinking about which was to turn the mast; it's outdoors and on the water. I can't think of anything better than that. I almost got the gear, several years ago, but decided not to because I didn't have any friends who windsurfed, or had gear, and you pretty much need a partner for safety reasons (especially out by The Gorge, in Oregon).

I guess cheerleading was kind of fun. We weren't the typical cheering squad. We were the nerdy cheerleaders, who all did our homework (except me) at breaks, and took Advanced Placement classes (check) and were virginal (check), and didn't drink or party (check). I was Captain of the squad. We did have a lot of fun. I got my first traffic ticket running a light at age 16 with a stationwagon full of cheerleaders. It was actually yellow, but I guess the officer thought he'd make an example of me. I burst into tears and took 15 minutes to collect myself. They've been profiling me ever since.

Yesterday we got photos of you running down a hill (in motion) and climbing up an orchard ladder. You are very athletic and seem to be natural gifted in your motor skills development. I don't know what you'll enjoy most, but it will be fun to see.

Now that I can't run, I write more.

Very grateful to be able to write. There are many people have horrible things happen to them, unspeakable things really, and they can never document what has happened, whether the inability to write is because of language barrier, age, lack of education, learning disability.

It's good to run, but it's better to write. Or run, and then write. Or write...and then run (ha!). It's good to have a private journal, and to also publish some things. No one is afraid of the secret diary that is never shared. Someone being treated like crap will continue to be treated this way, and those who started it will continue to harm others, unless they fear their actions will be published. Some people have an internal compass, and many others, will work like the Devil unless/until they know word is getting out about their actions. Some people can hold themselves accountable, and others need help. Journalists, and now, any blogger, has an incredible power previously unavailable, to speak up and make a difference.

How many times did Dan Rather report purposefully inaccurate details, before he was finally caught? In a country that is increasingly custom-fitted for the rich, it is essential that there be a forum, and that people who have little power, money, and connections, be able to articulate and access that forum. Being able to articulate can be a gift, but it can also be learned through reading and practice. I am shocked by the inability of some college graduates, even, to write. And then by the failure of others, who can write, to have a moral compass.