Archive for February, 2010

Jaren’s stone …

With timing that has me wondering why things have to come in bunches … like snow that builds into mountainous drifts obscuring the comfortably familiar … yesterday, Jaren’s birthday, brought me long-sought-for photos of the headstone that now sits on his grave.

It was supposed to be placed a couple of months after his burial, but has apparently taken a bit longer, and I’m sure it stands out amongst the staid markers in the tiny cemetery in Paskenta where he lies aside my father and very near my grandparents and great-grandparents.

Jaren’s dad and I had to chose from a wide range of shapes, sizes, materials, designs, fonts, texts, styles, and so on back in June when we buried our son, and it was no easy process, and certainly not one we had any practice in beforehand.

At one point, we thought to ask if it would be possible to have a guitar engraved somewhere on the stone and were surprised when the funeral director pulled out a book of tombstone clip art … yes, those exist … and showed us a drawing of a fat mariachi guitar with three cheesy notes issuing from it. Although I was sorely tempted to saddle my son with such cheese for the foreseeable eternity, being not one bit happy about him being dead and all, it was decided to investigate the possibilities of emblazoning his marker with something much more him. What is there is a representation of one of his guitars … the one his brother Sebastian now plays.

I know many of his friends plan to make a pilgrimage to Paskenta to visit Jaren’s grave, and I will be thankful to hear about those trips. It is in a lovely place, very peaceful under giant old oaks, and I plan to spend many hours there as soon as I can.

There will be no trouble finding him … his face and his guitar mark where he lies.

Jaren's stone

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Jaren kissing me goodbye on his way to a party

Another year has passed and today would have been Jaren’s 45th birthday. That is almost as hard for me to grasp as the fact that he’s not here for it. It is the day to repost this …

February 17, 1971 … 7:41 am … welcome to the world, Jaren Eli Combes!

I’ve written a lot about Jaren, but one story worth repeating comes from the day of his birth and is one he liked to hear, so I’ll repeat it:

Once upon a time, in a decade and hemisphere far, far away …

Delivery of my second bio child was pretty easy. Only seven hours of labor, then a straightforward delivery (Yes, I suppose there’s a pun in there somewhere.) was a welcome relief after the twenty-four-plus hours I’d put in bringing his older sister into the world. It had been only eighteen months since I’d done all this before, so I was much more relaxed and quite happy to hand off my new son for his after-birth cleanup having conducted nothing more than a quick count of fingers, toes and other appendages, assuring myself that everything was in the right number and the right place.

A couple of hours later, I was resting comfortably and chatting with the new first-time mom in the bed next to mine. Feeling quite the old hand … at all of nineteen … I was experiencing little of the anxiety my roommate suffered as she waited for the first post-birth contact with her newborn. With a toddler at home, I was happy enough to have some peace and quite for the very short time I’d be allowed.

Soon enough though, a nurse entered the room with an armful of bundled baby that she carefully placed in my arms. Once again using the skills I’d mastered over the past year and a half, I easily unwrapped the little tyke for his first thorough inspection.

Sure enough, the fingers and toes were fine and he looked the picture of health. That was, as it always is, such a wonderful relief after nine months of involuntarily conjuring some worst-possible scenarios in a hormone-overloaded mind.

What he was not, however, was pretty. In fact, he was pretty ugly. His face resembled a road-squashed potato as much as anything else, and straggles of black hair wove around a veiny, lumpy, scaly head. He was very long and ropey, with scrawny arms and legs and a distended abdomen that sported a red and puffy umbilicus anyone could see would end up being a very prominent outie.

“Oh, my,” I’m sure I sighed loudly while I examined my homely little bundle of joy. “And his sister was so pretty when she was born…”

My roommate took serious issue with my evaluation, insisting that all babies are beautiful. I explained that his unfortunate appearance did not in any way hinder my deep and abiding motherly love, nor did it mean he’d not eventually become less of a gnome, but he was certainly NOT beautiful in any classic sense of the word.

“Just look at him,” I said, holding the tiny guy up so she could get a good look from her bed. “Really now, all love aside, he is an ugly baby.”

She was on the verge of agreeing when, right about then, the nurse came back with another bundle.

“Sorry,” she announced, “but I’ve made a mistake.”

Uh oh.

“This baby,” she said, indicating the one she held, “is yours, Sandra.”

Please, no. Please, no. Please, no!

“So, this one?” I barely could bring myself to ask …

“Is hers,” the nurse said sweetly as she reached to swaddle the naked little baby I held.

My roommate had the nurse pull the curtain between our beds and never spoke to me again. Her husband shot me furious glances when he visited over the next couple of days, but never said a word, either.

I often wonder if they tell this story.

By the way, my son was beautiful! He still is.

Jaren lived only thirty-eight and a bit years … today would have been his 39th birthday … and I can so easily pull up those moments of the first meeting between us … his huge blue, blue eyes that just got bluer as he grew … sugar bowl ears he eventually grew into … baby boy all pink and new and smelling sweet … tiny hands and feet that gave no clue of the 6’5″+ frame he filled out … the smile that never stopped lighting up any room …

I miss him.

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I live on an island. That is my only excuse for being caught off guard by the preposterous news that a fundamental function of America’s founding fathers is under attack.

The separation of church and state is about as basic as it gets as far as making and keeping the USA a sane and livable nation, so the information in this piece in the NYTimes Mag is like a ball-peen to the brain case:

To conservative Christians, there is no separation of church and state, and there never was. The concept, they say, is a modern secular fiction.

The fact that headway … although that seems completely the wrong word to use juxtaposed against such brainlessness … is being made in efforts to remove the vital barrier between gods and government is testament (Like that one?) to just how stupid people can be.

I know. I know. Using words like ‘stupid’ shows no brilliance on my part and I should attempt to wax eloquent when referring to those so determined to limit … ban even, if at all possible … thinking, but, sorry, they piss me off, and stupid fits so well.

A couple of days ago I wrote about the poperific dude’s take on the UK’s efforts to take the “in” out of religious intolerance …

The effect of the government’s proposals, he said, in an address to Catholic bishops in Britain, has been to impose “unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs”.

… and mentioned the dangers of slopping religion all over governing:

… freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs” is an old saw that has cut deeply over the centuries since religion was invented, excusing everything from mass exterminations to female genital mutilation, serving up the Kool-Aid in one form or another and forcing millions to stop with the thinking stuff and take a big ole swig.

A couple of days later, I picked up The 19th Wife, a novel based on fact by David Ebershoff woven around the true story of Ann Eliza Young, one of the many wives of Brigham Young, prophet for profit of Momons and a staunch and paunchy advocate and practicer of polygamy with more than 50 women tethered to his bits and hundreds of children spawned … the guy the university is named in honor of who is well-revered to this day amongst the Latter Day Saints, as they like to call themselves.

Have been forced to sit through hundreds of hours of LDS claptrap as a child … this after hundreds of hours of Catholic claptrap … I am more than familiar with the tale of the golden books and magic sunglasses that delivered the message of the Moron angel to Mr. Smith, eventually leading thousands of those with thoughts of something to gain to Utah in much the same way Jim Jones got San Francisco folks to head for South America and for many of the same reasons.

Ann Eliza’s tale is rife with horrid consequences of life under a government controlled by a “faith” where abuse of all flavors is considered part and parcel, so condoned, then … eventually, when forced into the light of day by those who passed on the Kool-Aid … concealed, excused, apologized for, and finally condemned.

Today’s news brings reports on decades of sexual abuse by Catholic priests … and it’s about time.

An investigation last year revealed that church leaders in Dublin had spent decades protecting child-abusing priests from the law while many fellow clerics turned a blind eye. A separate report in Ireland released months earlier documented decades of sexual, physical and psychological abuse in Catholic-run schools, workhouses and orphanages.

The popester is reportedly “”disturbed and distressed” by the report and shares the “outrage, betrayal and shame” felt by Irish people … but still insistent, as we saw in the article last week, that government should keeps hands off.

Yeah. Right.

Does anyone think that any religion would come clean on anything if there were no secular government to grab it by its over-starched lapels and shake?

The days of religion running nations should be as far behind us as the possibility of owning other humans … but we all know many countries have a faith-shod foot on the controls and slavery happens every day in our world. The trick is to keep from backsliding in places that have moved beyond these archaic, abusive methods of ‘leadership’.

“Secular” … Latin saecularis, from saeculum ‘generation, age,’ used to mean ‘the world’ (as opposed to the Church)

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Valentine’s verse …

Today is the day we all think of hearts
But, in actuality, there’s more focus on parts
a bit further south
(though, also the mouth)
where love is a’throbbin’
inviting a bobbin’
… like for apples, she teases
as she knows how this pleases …
Since biology tells that all parts are linked up
it makes some good sense to attempt to think up
south and down north
and, for what it’s worth,
all is driven by pumpin’
from that heart that’s a’thumpin’
So here’s wishing to all
a good Valentine’s humpin’ …

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Sometimes this stuff just pops out …

There was a brief time
when I was a whore
Which was all the more better
than being a bore

I have, in my dotage,
developed approaches
that have the advantage of
seeming reproachless

A serial monogomist
(no longer have to keep a list)
I’m able now to concentrate
upon whom I consummate

(which is not the same thing
as eating him up
but can be just as filling
as any good sup)

I detest being single,
like being attached,
but have the slight issue
of finding that match

who can keep me smiling
high water or hell come
and knows all the ways of
making me well cum

So, yes, I’ve slowed way down
put the brakes on for sure
but still linger fondly
on those days as a whore

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I’m not a big fan of popes, although I will admit to admiring their art collection. I’m largely suspect of the whole name change thing, even if it does work for subsequent Bozos and Ronald McDonalds, and I resent the hell out of their tax-free status.

Add the papal nod to the Nazis, coverups of abuse, opposition to reproductive rights for women and personal fallout from years of Catholic upbringing, and popes get a big thumbs down from me.

For the most part, I’m able to ignore the popeular press as it asks the old git du jour for opinions on just about everything happening in today’s world out of some misguided bow to hierarchies long beyond their sell-buy dates, but Papa Benny’s recent reaction to the British gov’t move toward a level playing field for gays is more than I’m in the mood to let slide this morning.

The Pope has sparked a major political row in Britain by speaking out strongly against the government’s policies on equality.

The effect of the government’s proposals, he said, in an address to Catholic bishops in Britain, has been to impose “unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs”.

For starters, that “freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs” is an old saw that has cut deeply over the centuries since religion was invented, excusing everything from mass exterminations to female genital mutilation, serving up the Kool-Aid in one form or another and forcing millions to stop with the thinking stuff and take a big ole swig.

It’s also just bloody rude for the popester to come out swinging when his upcoming trip to the UK is going to cost a bomb, as pointed out by the head of the National Secular Society:

“The taxpayer is going to be faced with a bill for £20m for the visit – in which he has indicated he will attack equal rights and promote discrimination.”

On top of it all, the elephant in the room … pink, of course … securely tethered to Ben’s insistence:

Pope Benedict XVI has condemned British equality legislation for running contrary to “natural law” as he confirmed his first visit to the UK later this year.

We’ll call that pachyderm “gay priests”.

There is no question that homosexuality in the priesthood is widespread … so to speak.

One can only wonder what Ben would have to say about ChurchOuting.Org, a website set up to out gay priests who “… stand silent while Archbishop Wuerl and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops increase their dogmatic war against gay families.”

Openly acknowledging and addressing the elephant, however, isn’t likely, but we can expect more papal bull.

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Two things came across my desk this morning almost simultaneously. One is about international adoption. The other is not.

First, the not.

Ten pinheaded Idaho bible thumpers attempting to illegally, unethically and immorally grab Haitian kids and bus them out of the country is NOT about international adoption, no matter how many times the term is slotted into the story.

It is about arrogance and ignorance, and I hope all of them, except perhaps the child who looks to be about 12 in the photo, see what life is like inside a Haitian jail.

What is about adoption came from my dear friend and hero, Adam Pertman.

A Webinar featuring Dr. Bruce Perry

Monday, February 1st, 2010 from 7:00 to 8:00 PM Central Time
(a recorded version will be available subsequently)

This free webinar features Bruce D. Perry M.D., Ph.D., the Senior Fellow at The ChildTrauma Academy. He will discuss the likely impact of the many traumas children coming home from the orphanages in Haiti have experienced.

The webinar will help prepare families who are now awaiting or have already received placement under the United States’ expedited program.

Dr. Perry will cover the impact of the multiple traumas on this group of kids, explain what parents can expect, and give advice on how they can ease the transition for their child. The webinar will have practical advice for adoptive parents, adoption professionals, and interim caregivers.

Please forward this invitation to any family awaiting a placement from Haiti as well as staff and/or interim caregivers for these children. In order to give priority to families who will benefit the most from this live webinar, we ask that you refrain from inviting those who are just starting to explore the option of adopting from Haiti.

Dr. Perry will address specific trauma-related questions from the audience as time allows. We ask that you submit questions in advance through the registration form.

PLEASE NOTE: this session is intended for those families who were in process of adopting from Haiti prior to the earthquake and are therefore receiving an expedited placement of their child. The Haitian adoption process itself as well as advice for those looking to start the process of adopting from Haiti will not be covered.

This webinar is brought to you by Adoption Learning Partners, the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, the Joint Council on International Children’s Services and Heart of the Matter Seminars.

If you wish to register for this webinar, click here.

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