Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Children and War

My new friend's experiences (see Gitmo post) prompted me to do some research concerning children and war.

I found that most of the world's children do not experience childhood in the same way the U.S., Canada, or England and some of the other westernized countries experience childhood.

For many children around the world, childhood has become non-existent except for physical body development. Research has shown that the brain of a human being is not fully developed until at least late teens or even early twenties. What happens when a child experiences war as a victim or as a child soldier? Truthfully, I don't know - but I do know that around the world millions of children are abducted and forced into fighting wars and they lose their childhood very early in life. Some studies have shown them to be unable to integrate back into a non-war life, probably because of the ongoing horror and trauma of war.

Other research has shown that trauma experienced as a child through abuse, accidents, any trauma - may actually change the chemical structure of the child's brain which affects the bodily systems as well.

The U.N. has certain standards that, when captured in war, child soldiers must be returned to their own country. A friend of mine recently informed me that the U.S. did indeed return some children who were inducted by the terrorists and captured with those terrorists, back to their home country from Gitmo. In researching this subject,it seems the U.N. is busily working on an organized system to make this happen world-wide, as much as possible. Some countries refuse to comply with any U.N. standards.

Since my blog acts also as my "diary," I think I will use the next few posts on this, while much of the world mourns Michael Jackson's demise, I'll swim against the stream as usual and mourn for children who have lost their innocence and even their lives. In a way, this will also be my tribute to Farrah Fawcett, a valiant woman, also a celebrity of an era who stood for several causes, including the mistreatment of women and children....and later, cancer.

Here we go......"Many underdeveloped countries are involved in ethnic conflicts in which many innocent, unarmed civilians are killed. In recent decades war victims who are civilians has gone up incredibly high from 5% to 90%.(Defense Monitor) Worst of all, children are increasingly being used as combatants and fighting in these wars themselves. In most armed conflicts right now the number of children under eighteen are active in the army, and in many countries these child soldiers are under fifteen. (Defense Monitor) According to the most recent annual human rights report the U.S. State Department an estimated quarter of a million children, even as young as six have served in armed conflicts. These children are invisible for they spend most of their time in remote conflict zones that are away from the public and media. It's hard to find the children after wars for either they are killed, they vanish, or have been abandoned. What is really sad is that these children grow into teenagers and become more invisible from the outside world. These little children become adults locked within a child's body. Child soldiers are usually recruited because there aren't enough adults who are available or willing to become soldiers. Some are kidnapped, others are forced to join groups, and some even volunteer. Once recruited as soldiers children generally are treated as adults and are often inducted into brutal ceremonies, and are often humiliated and embarrassed. (Defense Monitor) Child soldiers suffer many of the same physical and psychological effects that war brings to noncombatant children. They are separated from their parents and lose their homes. They are exposed to violence, death, and are often permanently disabled. (Defense Monitor) Physical injury also carries additional emotional, psychological, and social disadvantages. (Defense Monitor) Yet the most severe long term consequences of children serving as soldiers may be their moral development. When the fighting ends it's very hard to place these kids back in a home surrounding, or school surrounding and expect them to adjust. They are in fear all of the time, and have a difficult time switching over from a non-violent life style if they are even to adjust at all. Governments must take or assist in the appropriate measures to promote children's physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration."


More Later......

Monday, June 29, 2009

Brain Eating Alien Victim

Grandson's first video creation:

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Gitmo Tale

Well, it sometimes takes hearing something directly from someone who experiences it, doesn't it?

Last night we went to a wine tasting at a unique place - a cafe, complete with art gallery, bookstore, studio (that used to be one of my dreams!) and I met a man who is retired military nurse. He served in Guantanamo. There is a lot of controversy here over the president wanting to close the facility in Guantanamo Bay that acts as a holding prison for many suspected (and known) of terrorism. We listened a long time and felt that this man was sort of debriefing -

Certainly he had suffered a lot of abuse from the prisoners that he treated as best as he could to honor his oath to his profession and his country. He was abused by prisoners - many are mean beyond our comprehension, many are deadly and finely tuned killing machines -- he related stories that were frightening and those afraid of maiming and death were not necessarily just prisoners, but those whose jobs it was to take care of the prisoners. It is interesting to me that the stories of the prison staff's injuries and attacks on them by prisoners and the daily stresses on the staff of dealing with what they had to deal with did not make the news.

He, the nurse, was abused by his own countrymen as well because he did meet the requirements of his oath to treat those injured and sick according to his nursing oath. After all, some reasoned it is easier to kill a direct threat so the daily threat and fear does not erode your life away, but we are supposed to be more humane than that, especially those who are sworn to heal: the doctors and the nurses.

He related that the prisoners received the best of food, the newest and best of medicines and medical care that many of our own citizens can't afford. He related that workers could not play their own music if it was patriotic or religious, but the sounds of prisoners worshipping five times a day would echo day after day after day through the facility staff's heads and there was nothing they could do about it but endure it while being deprived of their rights to worship and listen to what they wanted to openly. Their rights were stripped while the prisoners weren't, in that particular situation at least.

He spoke of fear on a moment to moment basis as prisoners sought to kill and/or maim even those who were trying to care for them in a medical situation. Their networks would often extend to soldier's families being threatened even here in the U.S.

And he spoke of his love, photography, and showed us photos of beautiful sunsets - places he had found refuge from the horrors of serving men trained to kill and hate, and made art in order to heal from his ordeal. This man, this medical corps nurse, had been in many places, served in several modern day wars, including the Gulf War and Kosovo. The threat of daily harm and mental pressure for guards, medical staff and other staff in that prison from the prisoners was the worst he had been under he felt.

I really hope those prisoners aren't dispersed into our various prison populations on the mainland. We'll see. And I hope our new friend eventually heals. He will - because he is a healer himself.

I have a new perspective on the situation there. The terrorists came to our country first, killed 3,000 at least of our citizens. I'm not saying the response was right, I'm not saying certain acts of cruelty that our soldiers are accused of were wrong or right, (after listening to this man, I could only imagine the stress and pressure our soldiers face every day and still could never have a good understanding of it - sometimes we retaliate in incorrect ways, but none of us are exempt from that - it is a matter of scale). What I am saying I am thankful for being given a first hand account from someone who "has been there."

Right now everything associated with Guantanamo is being so strongly criticized and some politicians are considering dispersing the ever present danger that is resident there to prisons in other states, at least last I heard. Some of those prisoners were there because in war, prisoners of war are a result. This is one side of the controversy from a non-combatant personnel that often is not heard.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dog Days in June?

Well, I don't understand it, but it has consistently been over 100 C. degrees by afternoon for over a week running now. Even my garden is wilted! We are wilted. Thank God for air conditioning, but I don't want to see the bill when it comes. No way.

I've just paid a ridiculous bill for TV that I rarely watch. But, of course, it covers the internet as well and a house phone. I'm thinking of getting rid of the house phone, I don't use it that much.

Youngest daughter gave me her Blackberry because she wanted the new touch screen one - I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this phone. All the keys work, I can hear, I can read the screen even while out in the sun! It never hangs up on me or flips me into conference calls with the first person on my call list, all irritations of the old phone. Super easy to use, interfaces with Facebook and all my emails can be read and/or sent from it, I can download music, take pictures, videos - WOW!

Maggie came for Father's Day and we had fun sitting around talking, watched Tyler Perry's Madea, laughed a lot and traded health hints. Maggie got me started on a cleanse which I am already not being very successful with, but we didn't start it right either. Its called "Master Cleanse" and I think only for the very brave and very strong in willpower of which I am neither. But I am sitting here sipping maple syrup, lemonade spiced with cayenne pepper and eating asparagus which was gloriously on sale.

This weekend coming up is our Leonissi paintathon slumber party - that will be loads of fun, we have a condo on the beach and I will take lots of pics to post. We paint a large canvas, and then raffle to see who takes it home. I'm praying to win! This will be a great getaway before the Wyoming trip.

I don't know how to pack for the Wyoming trip - the two years I spent out there, the summers were stifling hot, but my mother says its been cold and rainy. Guess I'll know more as July settles in. I don't feel like taking a lot of luggage or "stuff." Layers, layers will work. My sis and I are avid coffee drinkers - we will have to sneak out for coffee or figure something out as we both like a fabulous cup of coffee - ordinary coffee won't do, but I'm sure we will be grateful for ordinary coffee. I really could take a lot - like my water filter and my coffee maker - and magnetics so I can sleep better - but my gosh - I'm not able to lug it around. Could mail it out and back I guess.

Summer is going way too fast and I imagine even faster for my northern friends. Before school starts once again, I would like to rent a condo over night - just to have a getaway and let grandson swim to his heart's content. He's at the age however he would want to take a friend...and should.

My daughter, Maggie, has been great letting her kids have friends, friends, friends around. Her house has been, and is a grand central station for kids. Even when broke she's managed to take the kids on vacations - they'll always have great memories - vacations are one of the opportunities I regret not taking.

I want to host a painting party before the summer is over. I smile, it would probably freak PawPaw out to have that much estrogen running around the house...I would have to rent him a condo on the beach to pull that off! Actually since tourist season kicked in full swing, he is so blooming tired when he gets home, he could probably sleep through, not only a dozen or so women high on estrogen, but a hurricane as well.

Soooooo - back to pouring more lemonade and doing some Southern languishing.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Summertime - Heat Index reaches over 104 C

Since we can't afford a Koi Pond, perhaps a Mushroom Pool? Actually these guys are soaking and cleaning for a diet version of Stragonoff - that is under 300 calories per serving!

Thank goodness this green drink is almost used up - it didn't taste good, but its good for you!

Fighting over who gets to lie down next to me.

Grandson's birthday party - his stepdad catering to a little girl guest who insisted on riding in a pink "Hello Kitty" car - now that's a real man, one who will ride in a pink hello kitty car and smile! Grandson seems to have hit a marker - 12 years old. Awwww, my baby is one year away from being a teenager!

Yes, I've fallen asleep at the kitchen sink. Not really, just having back pain, and leaning back for a breather. Yeh, yeh. Thank you, "H" for the flattering picture....not. Oh well, its real, eh?

The video cam I was so excited about quit functioning after two days so I have to go get a refund. Cheap not always better. I will put a good one on prayer list right next to a new classy storage cupboard for study/studio, ceramic tile floors, and the disappearance of twenty more pounds. For "Someday Isle."

Garden is gorgeous, but the battle with evil bugs continues - I do not like to use poison as the dragonflies, an occasional bumble bee (they have disappeared around the world), and butterflies are enjoying it too. So maybe I have to give up some produce and go to the Farmer's Markets. Will post pics soon.

Preparing for the trip to Wyoming - our family has two surgeries this summer to deal with - one being my mother's hip repair. My sister and I will be taking care of her and her dog pack though neither one of us should probably be traveling so far. My sis was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and is in the midst of treatment changes, and there is no air conditioning allowed in the house because "the dogs might get cold." It will be hard for me to keep up my health care regime. I probably will be posting elderly care stories in about a month. Besides, the hospital is scary.....I remember my IV coming out, and the staff refusing to give me any pain killers the day I came out of surgery - a night nurse finally came on, an efficient angel she was, checked my chart and went ballistic when she discovered the day nurses were too lazy to clean me up from surgery or bring me my meds (I never did get the preventative antibiotic dose) and I quickly had my pain meds, heat packs, a clean, blood free gown, and was able to sleep. I would not leave a dog alone in a hospital in this day and age - - - so I am taking camping out gear for the hospital. A foam piece to sleep on if I have to.

Have to update important papers and put them in our "hurricane evacuation box" - a plastic box with insurance, etc. papers that will be packed during an evacuation. I have a gut feeling though, despite dire predictions, that we will have a quiet season here.

Prep for Father's Day is underway. Will be low key.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Having fun!

I am just being naughty. Just sent this Utube to an old friend. Ahhh hem.
Anyway, I just love Jelly Roll. I like to put on my filmy robe, put flowers in my room, string around the Mardi Gras beads, have a glass of wine and listen to Jelly Roll. No one ever said I wasn't a bid odd. Oh well!

Oh, it is sooooooo beautiful here. Another magnificent beach day. Grandson is here for a couple of days - yay, and I didn't feel like doing much, but decided I had better never waste the moment, so we went to his favorite place, the beach, then on to Publix for sushi and cucumber and dill hummus, green & yellow squash slices, a carton of olive salad, fruit for the trip home, and, of course, he talked me into buying him one of their fabulous chocolate, chocolate, light fluffy, cakes.

I've showered all the sand off, he's next to hit the shower, we'll have more snax, and he can watch a movie while I try to figure out the software for my new toy. We watched The Tale of Despereaux last night and we LOVED it.

The video cam is a snazzy little cigarette package sized, a bit narrower, video camera (can take pics too) that has an USB connection that pops right into the computer - no messy hookup! I have figured it out - except there has to be a way to edit the video....and I can't track it down in the software. It was incredibly inexpensive, I just hope I can edit. "H" saw it and thought I'd fancy it - I did. I have long admired "The Minx's" videos as an art form.

Well, grandson is in, coughing like crazy and begging more cake. Better find the inhaler and the cake.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Brushstrokes of Life

Bits n' Pieces:

....World Convention of our company is postponed because of "bans on international travel?" Eeek. (Swine flu).

....Monday and Tuesday were great days with a friend who is my hero. She and her husband began a ministry in Guatemala in the early 80's and now 8,000 plus children are being fed down there, in addition to children in Albania, and widows in Egypt. Our other friends stopped by...he had been in an awful accident in Egypt. We listened to the story of moving from the hospital in Egypt to Albania, and then back to the U.S. I am amazed he is alive, let alone traveling as he is. Among other injuries, he has three fractured vertebrae in his neck.

We talked non-stop!

....Saturday and Sunday were lazy with not much being accomplished. I did not get downtown to get pictures of the Spanish Ship. My garden looks ratty, I tried to put too much in it. I need to fertilize it today. But I have been eating lots of jalapenos and cherry tomatoes - my prime producers, besides the flowers. I'm closely watching the eggplant hoping to get it at peak of maturity, but before the bugs.

....Suddenly grandson hasn't come over much - feels like having a child and losing it at age 12 - I'm having a very hard time. Number one is his well being, of course, and not mine, but still.....I am trying to resist going to movies and eating popcorn, laying in bed in a depressed mode and trying to utilize the extra time to paint, garden, and work on business and be a happy fun person when I will get to see him.

....One set of neighbor kids were here for babysitting one morning, and the little girl stayed to to art......the other kids are in Bahrain for a while. I'm told they desperately need help in the program in Albania and my ears perk up.......

....We went to a 30 year anniversary of a pastor we dearly love! I've made it through buffets and bakeries and I've been super at staying on the eating plan, but in four to six weeks only four pounds have toppled off and I'm discouraged. My visiting friend was smiling though, she says, "H" looks at you like he's seeing you for the first time".........although he is careful to assure me that I was beautiful 60 some pounds ago....uh yeah. So, why all the attention now. Well, enough of that thinking - its a new day, a new life!

Our pastor friend has a condition that left his bones crumbling in his legs, and he couldn't feel it and continued walking on them - now is in a wheelchair - I'm trying to think of how to approach him on using the water and the energizer in hopes he'll walk again. To see friends in pain is emotionally painful for me....so partially selfish motives here!

Our "Leonissi" all beautiful, sexy girl 24 hour painting party on the beach is coming very soon and I am sooooo excited. We'll incorporate a baby shower and a birthday party in the midst of it as well, and exchange wisdom, lessons learned, and revel in our "woman-ness" and return to life as usual, refreshed.

Life is unfolding like a series of paintings - my friends, upon seeing my house were delighted with the artwork. I am delighted they were delighted. Friends are becoming more and more important and I'm loving seeing friends I've had for years and have a rich history in our relationships.

Friday, June 05, 2009

I'm Star Struck

Remember the superman body builder I was so struck with? "H" felt a connection and offered him water a few months back, now here we are. He drank "the water" for 24 hours and absolutely could not live without it. He now is an estatic alkaline water drinker! For body builders, it appears that the water absorbs deeply and does not lie upon the top of the muscles for a while, which enables the competitor to look so sleek and not "dried up." He's pictured here with my up-up line, Fred and her cousin Carlos, who also appear to be quite star struck. His manager is on the right. I am going to be closely following the career of this guy for sure! This is my prediction only and I'm no expert on body building, but the rumbles going around with this sport is that he is on his way to the Mr. Olympus title.

Things are starting to move, just when I was starting to think, well, I'll just paint full time and forget all this! He joined our team! And I'm thinking, yes, people are listening. . . it will happen.

I'll share a secret - I have dreamed, do dream, of sending this water all over the world. I keep reading how many people die because of lack of drinkable water. Where there is a faucet and electricity - clean water that enables the body to withstand diseases and food borne illnesses COULD be made available and at the same time disinfect surfaces and wounds, I can't even imagine the impact - I wish for a miracle.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Cleaning the Unthinkable

When "H" opens the refridg and says it stinks, then it is time to do something - like clean. He has a 90% dead zone nose after working as a meatcutter and cutting dead things up for years. Sorry all you meat eaters out there. Actually I've been craving a T-bone - they look real purty and smell real good grilled, sans blood, with garlic salt and pepper. However there are some things I can't stand - the odor of a raw chicken, the smell of cooking hamburger (unless on a grill). I want an outdoor grill so bad I can smell and taste almost. I digress, back to "H'" "nose"...if HE says it smells bad, it smells bad.

My sister is the one who cleans refrigerators. She's amazing. Cleaning fridges has never been my forte, yet it is important to be able to find things and keep a certain standard of cleanliness going. So, Sistah, if you are reading this - be at peace, it's clean. Well, there is the freezer........

Anyway, the inside of the fridge is now perfect. Perfectly stacked, all pull dated food thrown out - all fungus growth on the leftovers pushed to the back went down the disposal - all containers soaked in 2.5 acid water to disinfect - I'm having so much fun cleaning with WATER! I scrubbed down the silver metal blinds with 11.5 alkaline water and it removed the grease from the table top grill perfectly. Doesn't take much to make me happy does it?

I moved on to Elvis and the tree with the birds on it - a gift from a friend who travels to Guatemala often. Elvis, a reject from my daughter when she moved. Now I am moving on to baseboards with the 11.5. Don't ya wish you were having as much fun as me?

The future seems to be holding room for me to schedule my time around other people's surgeries, colonoscopies, etc. I think this summer will go so fast, my head will spin...except for the month in Wyoming.

After Weds. and a Mexican dinner I am hosting, I'm going to concentrate on the beach for a few days! The water has turned from a dark color to the emerald green that our coastline is famous for and is as still and calm as silk.