YFZ Debacle – a follow up

In a prior post, I ranted on about the situation at the now world-famous YFZ Ranch.  I rather judgmentally concluded that, yes, CPS must have been right, so I was surprised by the decision of the Texas Supreme Court this week.  Obviously, we outsiders don’t have all the facts.  Maybe the evidence wasn’t sufficient for CPS to remove all the children from their parents, but there is evidence of child sexual abuse in at least some of the cases.  Plenty of evidence of polygamy, however, teaching polygamy to your kids isn’t a good enough reason for CPS to act.  It’s pretty creepy in my mind, but creepy isn’t enough in the Court’s opinion.  Should teaching polygamist values to children be considered child abuse?  After all, the girls will grow up brainwashed like their mothers, and think that they have to consent to these marriages, be submissive to men and do whatever men tell them to do for their entire lives.  The boys will grow up believing that women are somehow less than men by virtue of the fact that women must submit to men’s marital and sexual whims, sometimes as young girls…and so the cycle will continue.

Granted, removing children from a home is extreme, and the circumstances should be extreme before this step is taken.   Why do we care?  None of this interferes with my rights, or anyone else’s rights except those persons directly involved, but we could say the same for any other child suffering abuse at the hands of an adult.   If it’s not someone we know, why does it matter?  We care because in America, that’s what we do.  We’re the land of the free, and we want others to have the same freedom.  Especially those living on American soil!  The difference is, apparently, these women and children are happy living this way.  So, should we enforce our standards on them when they are happy?  I don’t know, it’s complicated, but I lean towards the freedom camp.  In my mind, these women don’t know they’re not free, because they’ve probably never experienced it.

Breaking up a home is a terrible thing to do, and if no harm is being done, these kids should certainly remain with their families.  I am glad to hear that the situation will be monitored, and that the investigation will continue.  If real abuse is occurring, this isn’t over yet. 


Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson

This story is set in the 1950s, on San Piedro, a small island off the coast of Washington.  The story revolves around the death of a fisherman on his boat and the subsequent arrest and trial of the man accused of killing him.  It begins with the opening of the trial.  A beautiful but harsh snowstorm descends on the island, from which the novel takes its title, and endures throughout the trial.  The central character of the story is Ishmael Chambers, a man who ran the town newspaper.  He had a childhood relationship with the accused’s wife, Hatsue, and their breakup had a profound effect on his adult life. 

The most prevalent theme in the novel is racism.  The dead fisherman, Carl Heine, was a white man, and the accused, Kabuo Miyamoto, was of Japanese descent.  Years before the two men had been childhood friends, but Carl’s parents had never approved of their friendship.  The Heine’s owned the land that the Miyamoto family grew and harvested berries on.  Kabuo’s family had been close to making the final payments to the Heines for this land, but after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Japanese Americans were rounded up and sent to internment camps.  The internment resulted in the Miyamotos being robbed of the land they had mostly paid for.  The Japanese Americans were not treated kindly during this time, and thus the motive for the accused murder was already set, years before Carl Heine died. 

As children, Ishmael and Hatsue, became close.  Hatsue was also of Japanese descent, and as they got older, the two began to meet in secret because Hatsue’s parents disapproved.  Ishmael’s feelings were stronger than Hatsue’s, and she had the additional familial pressure to stay true to Japanese culture.  After Hatsue’s family was sent away during the Japanese internment, Hatsue broke off her relationship with Ishmael and later fell in love with and married Kabuo.  Hatsue’s rejection of Ishmael colored his view, and he struggled throughout the story with his memories of Hatsue, and with his responsibility as a journalist to remain detached. 

The pulse of San Piedro was fishing, a type of fishing called gill-net fishing.  Gill-net fishermen worked alone and were protective of their interests, but had a silent understanding between each other.  Carl Heine was a gill-net fisherman.  Berry farming was another key industry on the island.  Although Kabuo was a gill-net fisherman, he longed to return to berry farming, as his family had done prior to Pearl Harbor, and to repurchase the land his parents had lost.  When the land came up for sale, Kabuo claimed that he and Carl had reached an agreement for Kabuo to repurchase it.  All of these things, the unwritten code of conduct between gill-net fishermen, the agreement Kabuo claimed he had with Carl, his predetermined motive to kill Carl, the evidence on Carl’s boat, and the town’s distrust of the Japanese, were bearing down on the trial.   Then Ishmael stumbled on crucial information, and it was impossible to see which way he would go with it…

I hope I haven’t given too much away.  I am a fan of legal dramas, so this book appealed to me.  David Guterson writes beautifully.  This is a visual novel.  I could see the snow that is so central to the story.  I could see it blowing, drifting and downing power lines and trees.  I could imagine the cold.  When Ishmael and Hatsue were together, they met secretly in a hollowed-out tree.  I imagined this tree as a young person in their circumstance would have seen it, with their innocence and fear of being caught.  On the night that Carl Heine died, I could imagine the fog so thick on the sea that I wouldn’t have seen my own hand.  So blinding that I felt the fishermen’s fear that they might be lost at sea, even when they were no more than a few hundred yards apart.  The story and dialogue flowed seamlessly from the trial to the different story lines and back to the trial.  While racism was the predominate theme, the author explored others, including love, rejection, honor, cultural differences and human conscience.  For some reason I felt the most empathy for Ishmael.  Although Ishmael did not tell the story, I felt it was told primarily from his viewpoint.  I thought it was a great book!  

The Last One

In my house, no one will eat the last cookie, the last chip, or the last piece of cake.  It’s a race to the finish to see who can eat the most of these delectables…until the last one.  Oh, can’t eat that one.  The lonely treat will sit on the counter, or the considerate person who would never eat the last treat will place the all but empty bag or container back in the pantry, or in the refrigerator, where it will remain for days and days and days.  As if it is rife with a deadly mutant bacteria, no one will touch what remains.  Indeed, if enough time goes by, it could become toxic.  More likely, it could be used as a building material.  Over the course of a few months, I might have enough of these rock hard lonely treats to polymer them together and replace my countertop.  Instead of spending thousands of dollars on granite, I could have my very own solid surface chocolate chip cookie countertop.  Appropriate in the kitchen, and certainly unique!

My thoughtful family members, who shall remain nameless, extend their “can never eat the last one” generosity to liquids.  No one at my house will drink the last one-half ounce of liquid in any form, be it milk, water, juice, soda, whatever.  As if the next person could quench their thirst by swallowing what amounts to a spit-sized froth of fluid, the thoughtful person will always leave this little bit in the container, and then place the container back in the refrigerator.  At any moment in time, I probably have enough milk, Sunny D, juice, or soda in my refrigerator to provide an almost adequate drink, when mixed together, of course.

Occasionally, one of my considerate family members will risk reputation, broken teeth and good health and, in a fit of desire, will actually sneak into the kitchen and eat (horrors!) the “last one”!  This crime might go unnoticed, except that the culprit always returns the empty bag that held the “last one” to the pantry or refrigerator.  Does he/she feel guilty and actually want to be caught?  Doubtful.  Maybe he/she loves a drama, and wants to create the “whodunit” mystery that always follows such an incident?  Possible.  Maybe he/she is lazy and operating on auto pilot, and doesn’t actually even know where the trash can is?  Bingo.

Teen Toast

A toast to teens.  To their carefree spirit and their bubbly selves.  To their ability to stay up all night long and sleep all day.  To their cranky disposition upon being awakened.  To their fashion sense and their young bodies that give credence to their fashion sense.  To their ability to live and thrive in colossal disorder amidst heaps of clothing cast off and items discarded in haste.  To their love for music, and to the music that they love.  To their love for their friends, and their loyalty.  To their love for family and to the creative ways they express it.  To their superior know-how.  To their insistence upon doing things their own way.  To their debating skills.  To their excitability and mood swings, but most of all, to their gusto for life.

Toast ’em or roast ’em, either way, you gotta love ’em!

Soccer Rules!

My youngest, Daniel, loves soccer.  He loves it with his heart.  A 12-year old boy is still at that wonderful age wherein he can be king of sports, or whatever he chooses to be king of, or king of as many things as he wants to be king of.  Right now, Daniel is king of percussion in the middle school band, king of air soft gunnery, king of guitar (& guitar hero, of course), but most of all, king of soccer.  It’s good to be king, so I hear, and my wish is for him to keep that “I can do” king attitude for a long, long time. 

Here’s the curly King now, Lucky No. 7, walking confidently onto the field ready to kick some bootie:

…and here’s his fancy swivel-hip kick.  Does the trick every time!

Even when you’re King, you can’t always be Mr. Nice Guy! 










The King scores!  He knocked this one in, although you can’t tell so much from the picture.  His team got 1st in their division this season – go Patriots!!!

…and here he is, the King of percussion in the middle school band, right in the center of the picture where a king should be.  Well, he’ll tower over the flute players and music stands by next year! 


Now, that’s a…hiccup…flower!


Spring Break was an intoxicating experience for Sara and I this year!  Yes, Sara got intoxicated with her mother of all peopleIt’s not what you’re thinking!  No, ours was a quiet affair, but intoxicating was the word that came to mind when I tried to think of how to describe our day together.  At Sara’s suggestion, we spent a day of Spring Break at the Dallas Arboretum, a place I had never been before.  I’ve been living here for almost 28 years, and that was my first trip to the Dallas Arboretum.  I should have visited sooner, but I’m happy that I shared that particular first with my Sara.  We strolled amidst the flowers, and spent the day talking, taking many, many pictures and enjoying each other.  You can find out so much about your kids when you are one-on-one with them.  No distractions from siblings or husband.  They become not only your kids, but real grown-up people you love to spend time with.

Here are a few more pictures:   


Can you find the ladybug?:



We had lunch at the DeGolyer Garden Cafe, and since it was our lucky day, we were seated at a table outside on the veranda.  It’s the kind of place where the food is served on small plates (so as to remain dainty looking), but filled so completely with food that if you take a bite you risk toppling everything!  In our case, we both had a salad, actually an assortment of three different salads, all of them wonderful, and of course, the fruit-flavored tea.  We topped it off with dessert (I’m still thinking about the salads, so I don’t remember much about the dessert).  Let’s just say, we had plenty to eat!  I wish one of us had taken a picture of the food!  Afterwards, we took a tour of the DeGolyer Mansion, and we decided that, if pressed, we could both live there.  Somehow we missed taking pictures of the mansion also, so here is a link that has a few pictures if you’re so inclined:  http://www.pbase.com/mrd/image/28188528




Sara took these amazing pictures of the ducks and the squirrel, just to prove there are more than flowers and mansions at the Arboretum.


This was our wild and crazy girls day out!