Thursday, September 28, 2017

Autumn Journaling, Sept. 28th

I'm back in my quiet art/craft room, journaling and listening to Pandora classical guitar. Today, I'm painting. It is the most calming thing I can do, combined with cups of tea and guitar music. Here's what's in the journal today:

 I like both the pumpkin and the leaf. They turned out well. I still debate about outlining in black, but for now I'll leave them unmolested by ink.
I also wrote a quick page about today's activities:
I adjusted the idea shared by Marcie at The Quiet Country House. She made columns, but I did boxes for today. She had different categories, but I liked these four: Inside, Outside, Myself, Others. So -- What we did inside the house, what we did outside the house, what's going on inside my head, and what we did for others. It's only 3:20 now, so the day's not done, but it was helpful to write it down.
Update: Sept. 30th now. Here's some nice, relaxing watercoloring I've been adding to my journal this weekend:

If you're doing a journal, how's it going?

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

All the Usual Happy Things

When I came home, Adam was beside himself with happiness. We'd been apart for a week and a half, and we both are relieved to be together again. He decided I would need some spoilage when I got home, so he was ready! At the airport, he had a delicious, fresh salad from Harris Teeter in the car for me. (I hadn't eaten anything since a slice of banana bread at 6:00 a.m.) Then he took me for an ice cream cone. And when I got home:
 Flowers. And he made me a tray for the bathtub. We both love a good soak. He made it from slats from an old pallet. It has bracing boards underneath so it doesn't slide from side to side.
 He made me some bath salts with lavender oil and rose petals, so sweet! He bought a jar to put it in. Please note that WalMart, our own Proud-to-be-American store, sells jars with the U.S. flag on them, which is breaking the U.S. flag code and technically is dishonoring the flag. Hmm.

He bought some frankincense wands to burn. I love incense, but I've always avoided buying it or burning it at home because I somehow felt it was an old hippie/braless/Eastern mysticism thing, and as a good Christian girl ... I didn't do incense.
But Adam attended high church services years ago -- Episcopal and Greek Orthodox. So incense reminds him of church. So I said, "Hey! It's churchy! I love it!" It makes the house smell like a Renaissance Festival or a really nice tea shop. He made a quick tray for it.

And he bought me pumpkins too.

I went to the thrift store this morning because I find it calming and therapeutic after stress. I found the cutest twin bed quilt! $5.00! It's bright and cheerful. It needed washing, but now it's perfect:

I also found a fun tea towel with sailboats on it for 75 cents:

Plus, here's my chicken-lady skirt I made weeks ago. I think I forgot to show y'all:

I'm knitting a new scarf; love the rusty/red brown. The pattern is a *YO/K3/lift first K over next 2 K*. 

Before I went to Iowa I took Adam's homemade marmalade in hand. He made a lot, but it was all too runny, and he wouldn't eat it. So I cooked it down. Old marmalade on the left; new on the right:

It became darker when I cooked it down. I added a bit of pectin, but mostly I forgot about it until it boiled away for a bit. See how thick it is now?
We're having soup and salad for supper, and I picked some of the very last cherry tomatoes from our bush by the back door. It looks pathetic:

Oh, and my peaches ... well, actually Max and Anne's peaches. I finally thawed them out. I added tapioca and cooked them with a little pectin and lemon juice, and put them into jars. They are fabulous! I slather it on buttered toast. Mmmm.
That's all for now. Please do not think I do all this stuff in one day. I am not Wonder Woman! These are things I've been dabbling at for the past few weeks. I hope your autumn days are full of yarn and outdoor beauty and yummy foods and a bit of spoilage from your hubby, if you have one. These things smooth the rough bumps of life, don't they?

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

My Teavana and the T.S.A.

Today I'm flying home to North Carolina. My flight from Des Moines, Iowa left at a headache-inducing 6:00. I did the pre-check-in online. I did not check baggage. I'd flown on Friday without any difficulty. I have a backpack, a knitting bag, and my small purse that I put inside the knitting bag.

As I approached the TSA check-point, I removed my laptop and my ziploc baggie of liquids and toothpaste, placing everything in the trays. I stepped through the metal detector without incident, and I waited for my bags.

My backpack was cleared and came through, as was my laptop. But they kept my knitting bag and my purse. And I waited. And I waited. They would not tell me anything, which is fine. I had 30 minutes until my plane flew away.

While in Des Moines, I drove across town to their Teavana store. For you non-tea-lovers out there, Teavana is some dreamy, lovely, expensive tea. I went to smell the store, and hopefully to find a pretty decorate tea canister. I've never lived near a Teavana store, and won't have a chance to visit one again, so it was a special experience. This was their last pretty little tea canister:

Teavana has sold itself to Starbucks, so this was my only chance to shop in their store, and they had items discounted up to 75% off! I found some interesting tea -- Oprah Chai Herbal Tea. They had a 16 oz. bag, 75% off. I was so excited. This is very, very pricey tea, and normally I could never afford their tea. This bag is a $90 item. (Can you imagine??) Even at 75% off, it was a big splurge for me, but I knew the tea was high quality and would last for months. I wanted a chai that would be absolutely caffeine-free, so I could enjoy a cup in the evenings. I was thrilled to find it.
Image result for teavana oprah chai herbal tea 16 oz.
This is not my bag of tea. As you'll read, I never got a chance to photograph it, until it was no longer mine. But this photo shows the kind of packaging Teavana uses: a stiff plastic bag with a tear-off top and a ziploc closure. The girl told me their teas are all organic without preservatives of any kind, so they are sealed and packaged well.

So I went through the T.S.A., and apparently they did not like my tea. They removed it from my other bags (it was in the knitting bag), and they scanned it, and they called over other agents, and they spent lots of time examining some charts behind their desk. I asked, "What's wrong with the tea?" And the agent would only say, "It set off an alarm." I'm checking my watch as the minutes tick away.

Meanwhile, because my tea was suspicious, I guess I became suspicion-worthy also, because then they had to pat me down, even though I'd already passed through the metal-detector. I had to remove my shoes, even though I'd pre-checked-in. I had to wait a long time (while nervously checking my departure time) for a female agent to come. As she described the procedure, I grimaced, and I told her frankly, "I'm never flying again." I don't like strangers telling me they're about to touch my groin. There is nothing in this procedure that actually protects Americans. It does alarm and dishearten us though. I told her I would prefer to have the pat-down in public. I figure other Americans around me need to see what happens. If something is de-humanizing in our society, it needs to be happening in the open so we can all know. Before she began, I asked if I should move my backpack (which had passed muster) down with me. She said I could not touch it, because I had not yet been cleared. Really? I had JUST CARRIED THAT SAME BACKPACK 5 minutes before, and set it down. And now, somehow, magically, I was so tainted that I was not allowed to touch it?

I also told her, as she reached around my thighs, that I knew she didn't like it any more than I did, and that she was only doing her job. And even though it's a nasty, degrading job, I felt she did her best and was not particularly inconsiderate of me. So I pulled myself together, reassembled my possessions -- except the one-pound bag of tea -- and waited.

The agent had told me I had three options with that tea: 1) take it back outside to my car, 2) check it with Delta as checked baggage, 3) have him throw it away. Of course, those are all bad options. I did not want to lose my lovely tea! You may call me shallow or silly if you like, but that bag of tea was my personal property, I'd paid $23 for it, it was a splurge that I would never be able to do again, and frankly, it's my right to have it on an airplane if it is not dangerous to anyone. So I rejected option #3. Since I'd been dropped off at the airport by a sleepy niece at 4:45 a.m., I could not take it to a car outside. I didn't even know how that would work. So, no option #1. With my plane flying away in less than a half-hour, I wondered if I would miss my flight.

So I looked hopefully at him and asked, "Oh! I can check that?" (I haven't flown since 2009, and I wish TSA agents would realize that some passengers culprits might need helpful advice and assistance. But of course -- it's NOT the TSA's job to assist you. It's their job to be suspicious and remove anything they want to.

He said, "You'll have to check with your airlines. I don't know."

"Can I put the tea back in the Teavana shopping bag? I don't have any other bag to check it in. Would they let me check it like that?"

"You'll have to ask your airlines."

I wondered if anybody had  a stapler so I could secure the top of the bag while it was jumbled around with everyone's suitcases and baby strollers. I mean -- can you even check a little gift bag like that, on a flight? I had no idea. I needed help.

So I told him I'd like to try to check it. Silly me -- I assumed they would have a mechanism to facilitate that, like a Delta agent nearby to help me. The man, still carrying my tea bag, guided me across the TSA area, toward the exit. I really did not understand. Why was he making me leave?

After the heart-breaking emotion of the past week at my niece's funeral, it was just too much. "Wait!" I said, turning emotional and teary. "All I want is to keep my tea!"

He stopped and turned to me. "Fine," he said, and he thrust the bag to me. For a split second, I thought perhaps he'd changed his mind (which is ludicrous, I know). But then he lifted his arm and pointed to the exit of the airport, as if to show me out. Then I became terrified that, because I'd raised my voice in distress,\ and insisted on keeping my tea, that he felt I was some sort of a threat, and was telling me to LEAVE. That I wouldn't be allowed to fly home. Then my emotions truly overcame me.

I dropped everything I had on the floor -- backpack, knitting bag, purse, driver's license, boarding passes -- and I began to cry. "I don't care! Throw it away!" I cried. I was trying to show him that I was not a threat by dropping everything in my hands. I was terrified they would not let me fly at all.

In my fear, I scooped up all my belongings, leaving him holding my tea, and walked the other way - through the TSA toward my gate. No one stopped me. I hollered back at them all, "You're not keeping anyone safe!" And I believe that -- they're not.

One family member said of the TSA this past week, that their actions in the airport are not designed to make Americans safe; they're designed to make Americans FEEL safe. All the machines and metal-detection and searches and agents standing around gruffly -- all to make us feel they're doing a good job. But it's a farce, and I don't think it makes Americans feel better. I feel much, much worse.

I feel violated. I feel dehumanized. Since when is it the government's job to steal my personal property without any proof at all (or really any attempt at proving) that the property is any danger to anyone? The tea was just dried leaves -- was it the packaging that was scary? I would have happily opened the packaging, dumped the tea into a ziploc bag, and showed them that it contained only dry herb leaves and dry spices. But that as not an option - they wouldn't let me touch the bag. I would have happily checked the item, if I'd had help to do it and could be sure I wouldn't miss my flight in an attempt to keep my property -- but that wasn't an option either. I would have loved to have some support and help from the TSA, but clearly, that wasn't an option either.

I cried all the way to my gate, and I cried on the plane at 6:00 a.m.

I wonder what important, precious items other Americans have had stolen from them -- more precious than a $23 bag of herbal tea -- without any proof that it was harmful. I think the TSA should have to prove that an unopened item from a reputable company, is threatening. That tea bag was shipped all over the country without question. I followed their guidelines. I had no liquids, no pastes, no gels, that they could not inspect. If someone had told me that that bag would be taken, I'd have addressed it ahead of time, dumping the contents into a ziploc, and leaving the Teavana packaging in a trash can. But nobody told me until I was in a TSA line, forced to decide between my personal property and returning home to my husband.

That kind of forced decision, that kind of coercion, is wrong. Our government cannot simultaneously insist that they value and protect us, while treating us that way. And I still say, as I told that woman -- I will never fly again.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Loving On Each Other

This post will be full simply of photos of family I've taken the last three days. This is for my parents and any other family who could not be here for Lorien's funeral. We held babies a lot, and we enjoyed the boys running around, and we loved being together.
Justice, Michael, Nathan, Peter, Shani, Aleya
Hannah and Katie

Arne, Adrian, Lane

Adrian, Suzy, Marshall, Kesse, Kyrie, Mark, Lane

Adrian, J.C., Kesse
Hannah, Peter

Anne, Winnie
Nathan, Winnie

Corran, Tom
Tom and baby


Peter and Shani
Michael and Hannah

Katie and Ilana
Kayren and Ilana

Kyrie and Ben and one of those babies

Marshall and baby
Mark and baby


They were looking at lots of photos of Lorien, choosing ones to be posted at her visitation.

Some went outside when the living room got full.
Lane, Kesse, Adam, Tom, Arne, Jathan

Mark, Marshall, Kesse, Alynn

Tom and Aleya

Leisa and I
Leisa and Sonya

Beorn with a chip bowl
bigger than he is.
Corran in a rare moment of calm.

Michael, Hannah,
Aleya, Beorn
Peter's curls

We returned home to a huge table full of flowers. So much love and support were poured on the family.
We have cooked no food for ourselves in many days because their church has brought food for all the meals for all extended family, including a meal for all who wanted to stay and eat after the graveside service.
We must first suffer and grieve before we can be comforted.
We must first die before we can be resurrected.