Monday, September 21, 2009

tibetan (peace) prayer flags

(originally written monday, september 21...)

today is the international day of peace. we had plans to combine some guerrilla goodness and pinwheels for peace by making pinwheels and handing them out to neighbors. didn't happen--neither khary nor i were feeling it. i had gotten an update from a friend's recent endeavor about kids making tibetan prayer flags. to my knowledge, khary didn't see the pictures of the beautiful flags. but this morning, he tied together every scarf he could find in his room and hung them on the bannister. they really reminded me of the picture of the prayer flags! seeing as how it was a dark, dreary, rainy day where we had no plans at all, and how we had failed at preparing a celebration for the day of peace, i saw the universe's writing on the wall: make tibetan prayer flags with peaceful intentions.

now, prayer flags are supposed to be printed with ancient prayers that are carved into rolls of wood, then rolled in ink to be transferred to colorful rectangles of fabric and hung outside for the wind to carry the prayers to the world. the project calls for making patterned stamps out of pieces of leftover styrofoam glued to a cardboard background and painted with acrylic/fabric paint. we skipped that part. it also showed how to "paint" with shredded crayon like tibetan monks paint with colored sand--only to make the prayer flags this way, you fuse the crayon to the fabric squares with an iron (and waxed paper or newspaper).

so that's the plan--to make some crayon-painted prayer flags while we talk about peace and love and all that good stuff. while finding the appropriate craft supplies, khary also found his glitter glue--so we had to make about 20 squares with that, too. they obviously will not be waterproof, but will join the others.

pics to come...6 weeks later, i finally have them added!

the boys and i grating (non-washable) crayons:

the crayon palette:

while i ironed the flags, khary built this "international peace house" for all the world to share. it even has a fence so the little kids can place "safe-wy" outside.

all of the flags after being ironed to melt the wax into the fabric. (you can see the glitter glue ones farthest from the camera, too.)

tibetan peace prayer flags, as displayed on our porch railing:

Saturday, September 19, 2009

mutton busting

we were supposed to drive to my hometown last night for a family reunion that is taking place today, as it does every year at my favorite time of year. unfortunately, i couldn't stomach the thought of driving 5 hours each way for a visit less than 36 hours and no place to take the dog, to boot. anyway, since i had the day off already, we took advantage of the oak grove youth rodeo mutton busting clinic.

go look up mutton busting. i'll wait.



okay, now that you know what it is, picture khary atop one of those big ole sheep. cute picture, huh? now blink. that's about how long he stayed on the first time. he landed on his side, scraping his ribs up a little. and he cried. and i missed the whole thing because our other friend's son was riding at the time & had a great ride. they're not supposed to let 2 sheep go at once, so i didn't expect my bubba to come out of the chute so soon. :( he said he didn't want to do it anymore, but we'd paid for 3 attempts, so we hung out and discussed how he could wear a glove, borrow a rodeo vest and some knee & elbow pads. (he was already wearing his bike helmet, per recommendation.) he said he'd go if daddy could go next to him and make sure he didn't fall so hard. yay. so he went. and i got a video. it's very short, too. and daddy was slow, and it looks in the video like he pulled khary off the sheep, but khary was already falling. really. but he fell on his back and got scraped up some more.

he says he never wants to ride sheep again. good deal--agreed. we'll see if he says the same thing next weekend when he has the opportunity to ride again at the mahaffie farmstead festival.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

out of touch with illness and death

yeah, it's been forever. get over it.

i've had some ideas floating around in my head for the past few months that seem to have congealed into a very rough theory this week: we are so far removed from death and dying that we don't understand the the difference between being sick and being gravely ill.

case in point: a few weeks ago, i had a virus hit me really hard & i developed viral meningitis. i said that "m" word to several people and was shocked at the magnitude of their reactions--i swear they literally thought i was going to die or something. it was VIRAL, there's nothing to be done but rest and fluids; some magic pill isn't going to make it all better. i had to suffer...big woop. life has its suffering.

but i don't think people like that answer. they like the vaccination--oh, excuse me: "immunization" panacea. (which , btw, does not confer immunity. just so you know. so calling them that is misleading--they are vaccinations; there is no such thing as immunization.) so now we can't deal with our kids getting itchy spots. let's vaccinate them for chicken pox. then have to give boosters every x number of years because it might rear its ugly head as shingles. or get more injections of the shingles vax now that we have to deal with the aftermath of taking a virtually harmless illness almost out of the naturally occuring cycle of childhood illnesses. same for rotavirus. and i know from rotavirus. khary got it THREE times the summer he was 2. sucked donkey balls. but as long as he was hydrated (thank heavens for nursing & the electrolyte properties of breastmilk!), he was moreover a healthy kid, just suffering through an illness.

even as recently as 50 years ago in rural areas, maybe a century in metropolitan areas, folks regularly dealt with loved ones dying at home. and preparing the bodies themselves, maybe even having the wake and/or funeral at their home. we were not so far removed from death; ironically, it was a very natural part of the life cycle. we're born, we live a life, maybe suffer some illnesses, and die, hopefully in comfort and from natural causes after a life well lived.

today, we send sick people to institutions--hospitals, nursing homes, hospice. now i'm not knocking the institutions, just making an observation about how we no longer personally experience nearly every moment of a loved one's passing. we remove them from us and thereby remove ourselves from their mortality. how is it preferable for a sick or dying loved one to spend his or her last hours in a sterile, impersonal environment? i, for one, would like to spend my last moments in my home, with my memories, and my loved ones. even if it means they share the suffering of my passing a little.

without the valleys, we cannot know how high our peaks really are.

which brings me back around to vaccination and to americans' germaphobia. it's as if we don't personally experience others' illnesses/suffering so we no longer recognize it as a normal station in life. everyone gets sick. it's okay. in fact, there's mounting evidence that it's *GOOD* for you to experience the natural courses of many illnesses, particularly upper respiratory and intestinal illnesses. even if you submit to germ theory (which, btw, is being shown everyday to rest on faulty logic), these illnesses are mild for the vast majority of people who contract them. why must we be so terrified of the microbes around us?--we've evolved alongside them. our bodies are not supposed to be kept sterile. our attempts to achieve sterility have given rise to resistant strains of illnesses, including mrsa.

none of us truly enjoy suffering. and more certainly, none of us enjoy watching the suffering of loved ones (especially children) when they are ill. but aren't we missing the point if we don't allow illness to enter our lives? that point is that, to fully appreciate our lives and function optimally, we must understand the suffering of illness and the suffering of mortality.

thankfully, i don't have immuno-suppressed kids or close family members. for those in that situation, vaccination and sterility measures can indeed be life and death. but let's face it--the vast majority of germaphobes have no good reason to be that way (barring psychological issues). i'm decidedly *not* a germaphobe. i go to the store, to run errands, to take my kids places, when i'm sick and probably contagious. my kids are often out when they're probably contagious. the world could do with some more contagion of these small things--colds, sniffles, etc. maybe we're doing a public service. even if it IS the dreaded h1n1/swine flu, we'll likely experience it as a cold. it's not a death sentence. my great grandfather died in the flu pandemic of 1917-18, so i understand the fear, but this is not 1917. we can treat the secondary pneumonia that was the primary killer in that pandemic. we wash our hands regularly (hopefully with NON-antibacterial soap, though!), live closer to hospitals and have easier access to health care if we do become unusually sick. the vast majority of us don't have to live in fear that every little cough is sending microbes of death our way.

it irks me that social codes are shifting from the phobic person to stay away from contagious situations to so many people being phobic that the person with a mild cold is shunned.

so maybe these swirling thoughts have nothing to do with one another, but in my head there are some connections among them.