Location: Oregon, United States

Monday, May 22, 2006

Week 6

May 8th.

There is an Association meeting tonight and I want to go and check it out. Paul is still recovering, but rallies enough so I can make it. It is BORING, and I don't plan to go again unless I have an item of business to bring up. The board members sit around a large table and discuss whatever is on the agenda and make decisions according to official meeting rules while three of us sit and watch. But it is good to meet the people making the decisions so I will know who I am talking to if I have any questions.

Friday, I get to go on a field trip with Thomas' class to the formal Chinese Garden and the Japanese-American museum in downtown Portland. He won't let me sit on the bus with him, so I sit by myself all the way there. I am assigned a group of four kids to keep track of, which I think sounds manageable. On the way there, I notice that one of the girls in the class is yelling, "There's one! There's one! That makes four!" and I realize she is counting homeless people like they are freaks of nature. This really sticks in my craw but I remain silent, thinking it will pass. It doesn't. There are homeless people everywhere and we see several more as we walk to lunch from the Chinese Garden. The girls point and giggle and screech and a boy in my group tries to take a video of one with his camera. The man he is trying to film starts to follow us, talking loudly and unintelligibly, and the kids and the other mothers in the group start to panic and rush forward. I am appalled at their behavior - how would you feel if you were being filmed like you are a freak? This time I do say something. I tell the kid to put the camera away and treat the people like they are human. I tell another mother that I used to work with homeless people and they are just normal people up against a hard time. I tell a group of girls the same thing. The girls actually listen and ask questions, which I found encouraging. I want to get into the classrooms and advocate on behalf of homeless people.

Besides this, the field trip is great. The Chinese Gardens are beautiful, and I want to turn my courtyard into one. We have a guide and learn a lot that I would not have picked up on had I gone there alone. The garden is only 6 years old and took a year to build. Wow. It looks ancient. The Japanese-American museum is somber and informative, covering the time from when the first Japanese immigrants came to the area, through the internment following Pearl Harbor and to the present. We are guided by a gentleman who was sent to a camp with his family at the age of 11. They were there for four years. His brothers, on the other hand, were sent to fight in the war. So, he wonders aloud, were we spies or patriots?

Saturday, I go to an inter-faith forum on homelessness in the Hillsboro community. After my experience on the field trip, this is totally refreshing. The people organizing the forum are not just do-gooders. They have done their homework, have coordinated with the agencies serving homeless in the area, and have a workable plan. I meet a woman that works for a community service agency and get her number so I can find a way to plug in. I am ecstatic! There will be work for me to do here, whether it is paid or volunteer for a time, and there are others out there that care about homeless people.

Sunday is Mother's Day and I am forced to stay in bed while the kids make me breakfast. I tell Thomas how to make my latte and he does a good job. William makes 'snails' and Stephen makes everything perfect. They give me their gifts, hug on me a lot, and try their hardest to obey the first time. Stephen wants the entire day to be PERFECT and nearly smothers me with love. I work in the garden and find that the ground is seriously full of clay and roots. I can't plant things where I planned to because there are too many roots in the way, and I have to chisel out a hole for some of the larger items. Maybe I won't plant so many bushes after all. This is exhausting! I talk to my mom and she hasn't gotten my card and she is utterly pitiful as my dad is out of town and my sister is having her own mother's day events. She does her best to sound fine, but I can hear it. I wish I could have her over for some chocolate or something, but it is a four hour plane ride at best. This is the first time the distance has really bothered me. I can't do a thing about it.


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