Thursday, December 28, 2006

HNT: Favorite of 2006

The good Os, founder of HNT_1, set us the task of finding our favorite HNT from the past year, no matter how short or how long we have been joining the gang. Hands down, my Grandma wins. I get so much more pleasure from looking at her than at me. When I see her hair, I remember visiting her hairdresser with her at an age before I understood that her hair would naturally be grey but the hairdresser kept it dark. When I see her hand, I see her ring and I am reminded of her long comfortable relationship with my Grandpa, but that after his death she became her own person again, and she seemed to enjoy that. Her papery wrinkles remind me of the many years of my life she has blessed with her love. The old Vaseline jar reminds me of her house filled with large and small mementos of a life and a family, my family. I am reminded of how soon she will die, and her family...her daughters, her grandchildren (including me) will sort through the remains of her life, and how hard it will be to throw away such things, even as we say, "Ew."

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But, if I have to pick one of myself, I would pick the one from the week of the Boobiethon. Meant to be a hint of the photos to be found there, I liked this cropping, as did other HNT folks:

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Happy HNT all, and Happy New Year.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Polyamory is not more work

A monogamous friend of mine responded to my post on Steve's and my declaration of unconditional love for each other. I asked my friend if I could quote him, because he sparked a response in me. He said, "Try to be kind. I'm off the cuff."

So my friend said:

I am so glad you had the epiphany regarding Steve and being "stuck" in town on Monday night. A lot of folks would tell you that you wouldn't reach that loving understanding unless you were monogamous. But see, you can as a polyamorous couple too- if your intentions are pure. I think we monogs tend to view the polys as sluts looking for a lay, or as people looking for acceptance through multiple sexual encounters- so why get married? Well, I think you answered that question admirably- just seems like a lot of work to come back to realize you have what you want right there in front of you.

I am so glad you had the epiphany regarding Steve and being "stuck" in town on Monday night.

This is just a tangent (or is it?) but it wasn't really an epiphany. I think we both knew this, and we were finally getting a chance to say it to each other. Lest people think we didn't have time to say it because we're too busy with other people, not true. It's Steve's job that is the whore (I kid) keeping him from spending time with me, and with Krissy. Regardless, when we do have the chance to spend time together like this, quiet, sharing, undistracted, it is a treasure. There's something to be said for yearning for more time together, rather than too much time together.

A lot of folks would tell you that you wouldn't reach that loving understanding unless you were monogamous.

And here I was trying to convey my theory that I don't think we could have achieved this depth of understanding if monogamous. There are various reasons my first marriage did not reach this depth of love, but I know my first wanted this condition on my love, that I not look at other men as desirable or attractive.

My love with Steve has been tested through all that. I have fallen in love with other people, I have made mistakes many people make when giddy in love. Any fears I may have had, residuals from that first jealous marriage, melted away when I experienced this one loving me through it all. Any fears either of us may have had that love for others could lessen our love for each other fell away when we found this love only got deeper and stronger.

Indeed what I was trying to say that with each new experience of love I have found the capacity of my heart grow bigger. New doorways open in my heart, and because they are not secret or closed off, my internal heart house just keeps expanding. I have loved some who I would have turned away from if I expected them to be my one and only. I have learned it is possible to love more intimately those who I do not get naked this friend. My precious moments I find to spend with Steve inform my attitude toward those precious moments I spend with my platonic friends that I have loved for much longer.

These things are possible in monogamy, but I witness many monogs riding on the coattails of expectations. Many monogamous relationships wither and die or become bitter or worse because people expect the form to carry them through, not the effort that any relationship takes. There is no guarantee that love gets deeper, and I'm not quite sure why folks think monogamy brings this depth of love about, in and of itself.

But see, you can as a polyamorous couple too- if your intentions are pure. I think we monogs tend to view the polys as sluts looking for a lay, or as people looking for acceptance through multiple sexual encounters- so why get married?

So many sad judgments and assumptions found in this. Not only that poly people are sluts, but that it's bad to be a slut. That it's bad to want sex for sex's sake, that it's bad to feel good about one's self through sexual encounters, that seeking multiple sexual encounters means you feel incomplete. Saddest assumption of all, that marriage is defined by sexual commitment, and not a love and compatibility that includes sexual attraction. Certain monogs think of polys this way because this is where they focus their attention. Yes, my friend, I have noticed you like to hear about my sexcapades. I like to please, so those are the stories you get.

Similar things can be observed about some monogs: they are looking for a guaranteed lay; they seek acceptance through the appearance of a lifelong commitment; they don't trust that someone can be committed unless that someone has sex with them exclusively.

Monogamous people see polyamorous people as indulgent because that's how they view sex with more than one in their framework. Sex outside a commitment means betraying that commitment. It means making a mistake and coming back to the default, monogamous. If they have not experienced honest open relationships, they cannot know that it takes more responsibility.

In the framework of polyamory, sex outside a relationship is not a mistake, it is an affirmation. Love for more than one enhances, doesn't take away, from pre-existing loves. Sex is not a commodity, but an intimacy that can be shared as meaningfully as confessions. It can be a gift. It can be a sharing of wealth.

Love need not be withheld due to unworthiness of monogamy. I have learned there can be a certain stinginess to love in monogamous thinking, and I learned that because that stinginess clung to my experiences in loving others, causing mistakes that I could have avoided if I simply allowed the love to be what it would be.

My understanding of the Buddhist precept 'do not misuse sexuality' has been profoundly informed by my experience as a poly person. For me to expect others' sexuality to conform to my own as the more righteous form, that would be misusing sexuality. For me to hold the sexuality of another bound to me and me alone, that would be stealing their autonomy, their right to decide what they can do with their own body. To me, that is indulgent.

Well, I think you answered that question admirably- just seems like a lot of work to come back to realize you have what you want right there in front of you.

It may be a roller-coaster ride at times, my friend, but it is not work. Ultimately, it is a joy. Steve said the work is in convincing people like you that this works just fine, thanks. I find the work has been getting over the traps set for me by monogamous thinking, and well-meaning monogamous mentors. I hope I have convinced you that my joy in my love with Steve comes from my heart-opening experiences in polyamory. While I cannot know for sure I could have come to this without that...that is another lifeline some other Heidi in some parallel universe has experienced...and while it's possible me being me I might have got there eventually...I truly believe that this is the graduate school of the heart. The more practice at loving with various people I get to have, the better I am at choosing love, simply love, without conditions and with wisdom.

Love you!

Christmas Cookies

Today I had my second annual cookie-making fest with my friends, the family of my Little Sister in Big Brothers Big Sisters. All the girls, me, and Mom. This year though, the sister who loves to snap photos wasn't there. All I have is this that I took after everybody left:

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I liked the way the frosting dried in the bowls with this cool snowflake pattern. The scotty dog looking cookie started out as a reindeer, but he lost his antlers.

I'd recorded Christmas specials on the Tivo in case any of the girls needed to chill in the living room. I turned out to be the 'cookie captain' making sure we got this rolled out or that cut out or the other thing washed so we could keep feeding trays of cookies to the oven. We made a double batch of cut-outs...I use the Christmas Bell recipe in the Betty Crocker cookie book. (All of these came from there.) Mom's and my favorite are the toffee squares. Brown sugary crust with chocolate chips melted on top. mmmm. We also made Russian Tea Cakes, but to this family, Daddy being from Mexico, they are known as Mexican Wedding Cakes.

Oldest sister fell asleep on the couch. Youngest sister wanted to get to the presents, until Mom said she wouldn't get to open them at all if she heard "present" one more time. So then youngest sister started saying, "I'm bored." Since I was so busy Captaining I didn't pick up on that until my Little Sister friend clued me in. We all, except the one who slept through it, had a blast frosting the cookies when we finally got to that. Little round sprinkles everywhere, and very red frosting. Oh, and we made Chocolate Crinkles, also one of my favorites as a kid, but I should have made my grandma's recipe rather than Betty' grandma's calls for more eggs so they're denser and more like brownies. (I made almost all the dough last with the Kitchen Aid I am so happy that Steve bought a couple of years ago.)

Making Christmas cookies with my mom was one of those very special memories that I was sad I couldn't create with kids of my own, having none. This way I have a whole family to create these memories with. This was a happy day. Tiring, but happy.

We made better time than we expected, so we all 5 played a quick game of Yahtzee. The youngest sister won with her magical throwing of a yahtzee, a bonus yahtzee, and a large straight.

I said "I love you" to my Little Sister when she called me after they got home. She said, "I know." I think that's the first time I actually said that to her. She's growing up, my little friend. We've been matched over 4 years. I'm the only Big Sister in Portland who has stuck with a match that long. As I told her and her family, she's got me for life.

Friday, December 15, 2006

New York: Brooklyn

On this my fourth day of vacation in New York it was a little harder to get moving. Not sleeping well without my own bed, a backache, not really being able to relax. I begin to feel old, not much made for prolonged travelling. So, my companion was slow to find his way from Brooklyn, and that was ok because I was slow to get my creaky body out the door and down the street four blocks to Starbucks for that daily coffee. Let's not forget noon in New York is 9 am my time.

So I was late getting to Brooklyn to see the Art Museum there, and the Brooklyn Library a block away.

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Yeah, I'd have been better off going to the Met, but I wanted to see the library where my former big boss was wooed to, Ginny Cooper. (She's now been hired in Washington DC, where our current library director, Molly Raphael, came from.)

I found the Brooklyn Library getting a face lift. The front entrance was closed, and we could enter at the side through the children's library. Now that was a noisy library, about 3 times noisier than my busy library branch, even if the busiest in the nation. There were moms with their kids waiting for a program or a storytime. There were about a dozen teens at the tables in the back. A security guard was discussing a conflict that had arisen between the teens. I heard that same "but he did this..." "but she..." thing that I'd heard from teens when I worked on the reference desk.

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I wanted to check my email and check in for my flight the next day. I'd found when I went to Wisconsin checking in online is almost absolutely necessary...airlines are cancelling flights that aren't full enough. I found that I could either get a library card or get a guest card that cost $2. I got the guest card, which expired in an hour and gave me a half hour or so of internet access, but I didn't have to do any registering. (I wasn't able to check in online after all. Something odd happened to my e-ticket. When I got to LaGuardia I rushed about in the wrong line here and there and finally got my boarding pass and through security and got to the gate just as they began to board passengers.)

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I found the section called the Popular Library. I wonder if it has always been called that, or Ginny Cooper changed the name. In our Popular Library we have fiction, recorded books, teen materials, dvds and videos, and a few internet computers. This one seems only to have media and computers. While I was there a couple of teens managed to accidentally topple one of the bookshelves standing next to the information desk, cd jewel cases snapping and shattering like they wanted to be glass houses but couldn't find the noise. I couldn't imagine that happening in one of our libraries. The safety czars would never allow freestanding tall furniture like that.

My friend was supposed to meet me, but called when he couldn't get through to me in the thick-walled building, so he gave up and went home. Yeah, well.

On my way back to Flushing, people were flooding the subway for the final Mets game of the season. I realized later that my friend probably wanted to watch the game with greater baseball fans, thus he blew me off. I tuned in to the game on the radio for the tension-filled bases loaded, two outs moment. Here's a little something I wrote in response to a baseball lover on one of my email lists:

that was sad about the mets.

i was on the subway headed back to my hotel when people were getting off the train at shea stadium.

what a neat time to be on that train.

two young men had their tallboys in paper sacks, sitting across from me. they were getting a head start.

the operator annouced "shea stadium. ....shea stadium? i believe that is the word of the day....shea stadium!" (cheers)

as people got off a lengthier salute, well-spoken. more cheers.

later, in flushing's chinatown, people in sportsgear shop, people in bubble tea cafe, eyes glued to television.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

HNT #9: Tree Santa

I've always liked Os's peek-a-boo photo from behind the plant, so I took this one for the HNT theme of Christmas Trees. My father-in-law carves these goofy santas every year for his family. There's one where Santa is flying on a giant duck. On the um, err, tall and err, shapeless Santa he painted the names of all the recipients of the carvings that year. I fuzzed those out, don't want to volunteer other people's names for this half-nekkid thing. He carves somewhere around 20 a year, I'm not sure. He inspired his granddaughter to start carving.

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Sometimes there are angels. I really like the snowman. Not so crazy about the egg-shaped Santa (not shown) that holds a stars-and-stripes decorated shield. I was trying to get more of my hair in this photo, but this was the best I could do. I like that the photo of my Buddha shows up in the background. That was taken for a local paper's article and people's home altars.

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Visit more Half Nekkid Thursday folks here.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Few Notes on Libraries

Web-searchable card catalogs
Casey Bisson just noticed and commented on my post from back in May on his take on the google economy. He said it just showed up in technorati. I think that's because I just added labels (ie tags) and re-published almost all my posts. So I tootled on over to his website, and I find he's won the Mellon Award. Mr. Bisson talked that day about his software application that allows library collections to be searchable on the web. He works at PSU, that's Plymouth State University...not PSU, Portland State University.

Wireless in Libraries? People have been asking...
Free wireless is now available in Portland. Right now just close in to downtown. It's possible people will be able to connect from within the Central Library. I learned from a library memo that we are seeking ways to make it work inside buildings, as well as bring wireless to the non-Portland MCL branches. Meanwhile, the Personal Telco Project continues to work on blanketing the city with ad-free wireless.

Satisfied Customers
According to the County Auditor's Survey, people are very satisfied with the Multnomah County Library. Our director said her favorite stat was that "81% of those surveyed said that they were "very satisfied" with the "assistance provided by library staff". Add to that another 16% who were "somewhat satisfied" and you will see a 97% total satisfaction rating." No wonder we're the busiest public library in the nation for the 4th year in a row.

American Library in Burma
The New York Times recently had an article about the library provided by the American Center in Burma. The junta tolerates it even though the US is their enemy. There used to be more such libraries in many countries. It seems they were a cold war weapon, and after that ended, they were dismantled. In 'war on terror' countries, the libraries must hide behind protective walls. Burma seems to be in that diplomatic grey area where the library is still needed, but still safe to be openly available. The library staff person that brought this to our collective attention had herself witnessed the "thirst for books" in Burma, with people sharing books two readers at a time.

Library E-News
Local readers, have you signed up for your MCL library E-Newsletter yet? Here's where you can do that.

Oh, and one more thing. You can now rate books in our card catalog. Some people are using that as a way to remember what books they want to place on hold, because a person's ratings are attached to the library card account. Personally I've always wondered how useful online ratings could be, since they aren't random samples, but people who care enough to share their opinion. But this, this could be useful for personal booklists.

Movies Seen

The L-Word

OK, not a movie, but as good as. I watched the first 2 seasons on DVD. Lesbians. Love. Los Angeles. A Lot of sex, and not just lesbian sex. Shane is the player, everybody sleeps with Shane, Shane doesn't do relationships, and everybody, but everybody, wants to get in her pants. One character finally explains it as that wanting of the unattainable. Somehow, she is the sexiest, most desirable of the characters, my favorite. Perhaps it is also her androgyny. Jennifer Beals is sexier now than her Flashdance days, and she alludes to the bad fashion from that time in the DVD bonus features.

The Mudge Boy

A woman with two full flats of eggs in her basket pedals a bike uphill on a gravel road. She gets off the bike to walk, and flops over dead. Later we find out she is the mother of an odd boy who is just beginning to be sexually aware. Country boys in big trucks rattle through while I as viewer cringe at his vulnerability. The boy finds a way into their circle (money for beer) but the tension of barely contained uncaring violence skirts around the edges. This is a movie about straddling that thin edge where things could go horribly wrong, or things could be all right.

Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train

Howard Zinn became an historian with the understanding that the people's experience of history in the making would not necessarily be the history in the books. He found this out as a young adult during his experience as a labor organizer in the Brooklyn shipyards. After WWII he got his degrees and went to work at a black college....just when the Civil Rights movement was gaining momentum. He was right there with his students.

I was impressed with their civil disobedience in a court in which the judge attempted to retain 'separate but equal'. Howard sat on the black side, his students on the white side. The judge ordered them to move. They did not. Howard stood up and said, "The Supreme Court has ruled that it's illegal to segregate in any courtroom in the United States. Would you mind following the law of the supreme court?" And the judge did.

His wife Roslyn Zinn was there throughout, a wonderful presence. She was always the first to read his books, editing with the eye of a lay person and a reader.

When Howard received an award in France, in his speech he said, "I don't want to invent victories for people's movements but to think that history writing must simply recapitulate the failures that dominate the past is to make historians collaborators in an endless cycle of defeat. Now if history is to be creative, if it is to anticipate a possible future without denying the past, it should, I think, emphasize real possibilities by disclosing those hidden episodes in the past when even if in brief flashes people showed the ability to resist, occasionally to win. I'm supposing, perhaps only hoping, that our future may be found in the past's fugitive moments of compassion rather than the solid centuries of warfare."

Just like that moment in the courtroom, I would say.

I've been inspired by this documentary to actually read my People's History, a little bit at a time.

(Just a side note: I don't know why I didn't make this connection before...Jon Kabot-Zinn is the son-in-law of Howard. JKZ was instrumental in bringing Buddhist mindfulness meditation to American medicine.)

Van Helsing

Vampire hunter meets Indiana Jones with a little bit of 007 mixed in.

Off the Map

A girl grows up in the sticks of New Mexico. Her parents live simply, while she wants what she hasn't got. I kept seeing my cousin Jo in Mrs. Grodin, the same weathered stretched-back smile, the same hint of expansive internal landscape. Jo lived much of her adult life in that enchanting land of northern New Mexico.

Scene from movie, the jewel through which the whole can be seen:

"It was like the cornerstone of my childhood...the event upon which I built everything was pulled and everything is toppled. The only thing I can hold on to, right now, Mrs. Grodin...the only thing I know to be my love for you."
"Mr. Gibbs."
"New Mexico is a very powerful place. Often when people first get here it's a little overwhelming."
"Oh. Ah. Well. I do feel a little...displaced."
"You're welcome to stay here, with us. As long as you like, until you get your bearings."

Sunday, December 10, 2006


guaranteed enlightenment experience....

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Oregon Coast Journal

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Our day was beset with obstacles. Steve had some errands to run before we came to the coast. We managed to get up and going by noon, but then the errands took longer than expected. He met up with a former co-worker in a store, someone he'd 'shared the trenches' with, someone he didn't want to blow off and say, "I'm in a hurry." Then he almost didn't go to the battery place, but he did because he wanted to get the alternator checked, and sure enough, it wasn't working at all. He was just running on the juice of the battery. They fixed that, took him over an hour at that. At both Jiffy Lube and Les Schwab they told him the alt was ok. We were relieved that we didn't attempt a drive to the coast without a working alternator.

But then after he got home he still had packing to do. He wanted to pack his computer and see if he could set up wireless here, hitch a ride on somebody's connection. We didn't take off till after 6:30, and we needed dinner.

We got Subway sandwiches in Hillsboro after he picked up some new allergy meds. We started seeing emergency vehicles everywhere. Overpasses icy, accidents everywhere. We kept wondering if we should keep going, each not wanting to disappoint the other. We probably went further than we should have, went about 10 miles on icy roads. Skating rinks, really. Finally we turned back. We got back home at about 8 pm.

We spent a quiet night talking, packing those things we'd forgot. We played Rummikub. Steve told me how much it meant to him that I love him unconditionally, I confirmed that I do. And I told him too how I felt he too loves me unconditionally. "It's incredible," I said. He said, "Yes." I can't convey what was contained in those words, what was conveyed in that exchange. How do I share the timbre of our voices, the message contained in the fullness of the notes, the love that we could indeed confirm in the deep honesty. How can I convey the naked honesty as our eyes meet and hold and say these things? We say we love each other so often, in a lesser relationship we might wonder if we are trying to convince ourselves, but as we confirm beyond the words, it is an attempt to express our delight at this incredible love we have for each other. I doubt we could know the depths of this love if we were not polyamorous. Whether other loves come or go, stay or leave, they increase the capacity of our hearts, and there are no walls in the heart. There is not a compartment for Krissy, for Steve, for Brent, for my closest friends, but that heart capacity just keeps growing, and the fullness is available for each one of our loves. My love for my friends is richer for this love with Steve, and with Steve, richer for the openness allowed through love without limits, polyamory.

What did it matter that we were not at the coast? We might have played another game there, same as here, and we might have had that same quiet time together. Even though we missed the road deadline, this night at home together was just right.


The next day we got going at a decent hour. We didn't have to pack after all. It was then we realized what a gift it was, the necessity to turn back the night before. Even without those obstacles, without the icy roads blocking our way, we would still have had to make the 2 hour drive in the dark. This way we made the drive in daylight, and the snow-covered vistas were breathtaking. I do not miss the days and weeks of snow in Wisconsin, but it fills me with a childlike freshness to see that unspoiled snow on evergreens.

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We stopped at a rest area where I began to see the snow splash from the branches. Little tufts of white making that dive to the white ground below. White running from green, meeting white, so delicate, so perfect.

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We could not have had this the night before. Mid-afternoon we made it to Cannon Beach, where we stopped at the Wayfarer Inn where we've been before. Late lunch, early dinner...for a bit we were the only ones there. Deep fried avocado fingers and stuffed mushroom caps...heavenly. One of the waiters remembered us from a year before. He must have an eye for customers, he said he got in trouble the week before because a woman said he was handing her a line.


I had a leisurely day. Woke up after a full nights sleep at 11:30 am, made coffee, ate Krispy Kreme donuts and sipped cream-laden coffee while watching the ocean. I woke Steve up and we watched the dogs romp: strangers meet each other, kiss noses, wag tails, pee and sniff, and run exuberantly up the beach and to meet other newcomers. It was such a delight to watch these creatures so enjoying the free space of the beach, and to see how they clearly enjoyed it more for having other dog companions.

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The brush mower came along while we were sitting there. The mower part looked like an upside down scoop, inside chains dangled that spun around when the mower was cutting. I saw the roadwork sign when I first sat down, but no mower. Back and forth the tractor moved. Raising the arm to shred the brambles on the banks. Finally the driver carefully trimmed close to a 6-8 inch pipe sticking out of the ground, then backed up and picked up the sign, which I could now see said, "MOWER AHEAD". He strapped it on the back and took off. I figured he must have been on a lunch break when I first came on the scene, as he only did a portion of the bank in front of our windows.

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While we were sitting there I told Steve about my phone call in the afternoon. He told me he was thinking of driving back to Portland and back. Why? Because he forgot his CPAP machine. He managed to keep this secret from me. Me, I could never keep that quiet.

So it took him about 3 hours to get back to Portland, still ice and snow in the mountains. Coming back, he took a longer route so he could avoid possible freezing rain and the icy roads on the higher elevations. My poor Steve, spending so much time driving in nerve wracking conditions. Again it took much longer, and he had to stop less than an hour away to stay at a hotel. The fog was too thick, and roads getting icy.