Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Since I finally finished stuff I had to do for my students, I have a little time to say a quick welcome to those of you visiting from ICLW! I love this time of month, even if it does fall when I'm already busy. Not much to update here. You can see things that I've already said over in the archives. I'm a mama, doctoral candidate, wife, daughter, sister, friend, writer, teacher, researcher, herpetologist, ecologist, activist, feminist, gardener, hiker, biker, tattooed, cooking, picture-taking, music loving, pacifist, communist, pagan that is involved with the Jewish and UU community. And when I have time, surrogate and egg donor. Yeah, so, a simple life I lead, right? That's all I'm going to say for now, because really, the better way to get to know a person is through their own eyes, I think. So here are a few photos.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Religion and Respect

There was an article that I found really interesting on National Public Radio yesterday that opened a deep can of worms with a very dear friend of mine. The short of the piece was a discussion of the schism among old and new atheists. The old guard believes that atheism is one option for individuals, and religion is another, but both deserve respect. The new guard blatantly calls for the end of religion, and denigrates believers. Not just Christians, but all believers. If you've visited this blog before, you probably can bet where I stand on this issue. Got that right- I stand on the side of respect, thus the title. Respect on both sides, those of any faith and those of no faith.

Imagine my dear heart breaking when the discussion I was having with a loved one ended up being a litany of "I respect your view, but...", and "If you don't mind, I'd like to pray for you" and "Just give God a chance, and He will answer all your questions." I was torn. I know this sentiment comes from a place of love, but the utter disrespect and disregard for my opinion was shocking. This person finds solace and comfort in her faith, and that's good. I'm happy for her. I was raised fairly religiously, went through Confirmation, went to Bible school, even taught Sunday school for a while. I even read the Bible. (Gasp! Shock!) For me, there was no comfort there, only more questions and a deep pit of angst. I tried, I gave God chances aplenty. It wasn't for me.

Now, I'm not going to say that I'm definitely an atheist. I participate in the campus Jewish community. I have helped out at the local Universal Unitarian church. I celebrate the pagan holidays. Heck, I celebrate other religious holidays just so our family can be exposed to other cultures and traditions. I see some form of divinity in many places, not the least of which are my husband, son, family and friends. And of course my wetlands and amphibians. I still think religion has it's benefits. It has inspired great good. And great evil. The same as science and reason. Neither deserves to be mocked and made fun of. Both options work for people.

I think, for me, the worst were those interminable "I'll pray for you" comments. Once again, I understand that this is her way of showing she cares. Prayer is a big part of our society. Even non-religious people I know in times of need will ask for kind thoughts or say something along the lines of "you're in our prayers". Prayer, thoughts, sentiments, whatever you want to call them- are not inherently bad. They have meaning and show compassion. But to pray for someone to be other than who they are- that's hurtful. Respect, and love, don't have but's associated with them. It's not "I love you, but..." To tell a minority "I pray for you" when discussing their race is not acceptable. For my cat to tell the neighbor's dog "I pray for you" when discussing the catbox- well, that's just wrong on many levels. To tell a homosexual "I pray for you" when discussing their sexual orientation is not acceptable.

To tell a person of another faith, or no faith, "I pray for you" when discussing belief systems is not acceptable. I would never tell her "I wish you reason" or "I wish you logic". Her belief works for her, and mine works for me. And that's the important thing. We are both good people (for the most part- my pagan side does have its moments to shine). We both love each other. No buts. No prayers necessary. Only respect. I wish she could understand that, and respect my beliefs.

Is that asking too much? Have I gone too far? Any thoughts- from those of any faith or no faith- are greatly appreciated on this topic.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Canning and the Phoenix

I think I'm finally done with canning for this season. Lots of veggies put up, including tomatoes, pickles, sauerkraut, kimchee among others, and fruits consisting of jams/jellies, apples, and peaches. I love canning, and cooking in general. It's a divine act of creation. Especially when it's taking food which you have grown from the soil, and feeding it later to the child which you have nurtured into being. I like that feeling, that I am responsible for creative energy. It's one of the things I like about research- you start with nothing and later have some new idea that hadn't previously existed. Creativity is really the vein in which all of my passions reside- research, pregnancy, nursing, families, art, gardening and cooking. I love creative energy. I love creating.

But I am humbled by the friends I have found in the infertility community. I'm on the periphery of that group, I know. I haven't resided in that place. My only experiences with it are second hand and in assistance. I've never known the heartbreak of it in my own life. This makes me feel extremely fortunate, and forever grateful. It also fills me with admiration.

Those of you who have walked through the valley of the shadow of infertility, you are my heroines. You make me realize all that the human spirit can do, and all that it takes to break the human soul. You endure what I know I could not. You go on where I would give up. You toil and sweat where I would give in and walk away. You do me one better.

For me, my fertility is like secondary succession. The field is ready, everything is there that needs to be and the processes have begun. Things are simple for me, and I realize that.

For you, my sisters, you are primary succession. Only the rawest of materials are there. Life has not existed in this place before. There's a reason the word "barren" has been applied to both people and places. But you struggle on. You begin with a dream, and create a child of your own. You do me one step better. You are the ultimate act of creation- bringing to fruition that which was once no more than energy and wishes. You move universes to bring your child into the world. You prove that life springs from the ashes. You show the strength of the human mind. You prove with all your pain that the Phoenix does rise from the ash. I hurt for all you go through, but awe at the beautiful people that this pain can create. Beautiful adults and children, and beautiful relationships as well. Please don't be upset, I hate the pain that any of my sisters have suffered, but can't imagine my life without your friendships. We are all the summation of our experiences, and you give me comfort that joy can come from pain.

I hope that none of these words hurt any of you, for that is not my intention. These words come from a place of love for all of you, and I hope they come across as such.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Autumn Bog Colors

I'm feeling like a silent Sunday. Enjoy.