Monday, November 29, 2010

on empathy, even for the bad guys.

There was a case locally over the past couple of weeks that consumed our area and made news nationally.

You may have heard of 20 year old Jenni-lyn Watson who went missing on the morning of Friday November 19th. They found her body in a storage shed at a local park a week later. Hours after, they arrested her 21 year old ex-boyfriend.

I grew up and lived in a few apartments minutes from the neighborhood where Steven Pieper, the man accused of Jenni-lyn's murder lives. It's a very nice, sort of upper middle class neighborhood. I lived in an townhouse minutes from Jenni-lyn's home. I spent many a summer night listening to local bands on the stage right in front of that storage shed. Both my boys played soccer at that park.

Both Jenni-lyn and Steven went to the high school that I graduated from (though they are a decade younger than me).

While the search was on for this young girl, talk often turned to who did it. The police weren't releasing really any information in those regards. It sort of terrified a lot of people to think that the person could live locally.

He did. Does. His family does.

I don't want to be another person just spouting off their opinion on this case. There are enough of those people. And that's the problem.

Everyone (very, very rightfully so) feels sympathy for Jenni-lyn and her family. People, complete strangers, are heartbroken for them. I understand. I am too. I can not begin to imagine the pain and grief and heartache that that family has to go through. You know, you worry about your children when they are gone. At the mall. At a friends. At college. Living on their own You are not supposed to worry about them when they are home with you. That is when they are supposed to be safe. It's a terrifying thought that she was not safe in her own home or safe from someone who was supposed to love her.

But too many people forget that there are two tragedies here. I understand peoples anger. I get it, really I do. It makes sense. Feeling anger and disgust towards the person that did this is a completly valid emotion.

So why don't I feel anger? I don't know. All I feel is a heavy, horrible sadness. There are two families destroyed. Sometimes people forget that there are victims all around.

Maybe I'm too empathetic. I think sometimes that's true. I sensor myself from a lot of news stories because quite honestly, I can't handle them. So maybe the fact is other people simply don't care. Maybe they're right. Maybe I'm the odd one out here.

I can't help but think of this young mans family. Does he have brothers or sisters? How are they supposed to face their classmates or their friends? His parents - my goodness can you imagine? To face your neighbors, your community, to go back to work? If there is one thing that has to be almost equal to losing your child to a violent crime, I think it would have to be being the parent of the person who committed a violent crime.

I think I would be constantly questioning myself. What did I do wrong? Were there warning signs? Could I have stopped it? Is it my fault?

I know there are parents who don't care about their kids. Parents who neglect or abuse their children. But in my rose colored world, when I hear stories like this, one thing I always think about it what that person was like as a child. I imagine his mother loved him and sang him songs and tucked him into bed at night. I imagine his parents cheered at baseball games and took pictures before prom and had family game night.

Maybe not. Maybe the parents were monsters. Maybe he is a monster too. I mean, how else do you take another human beings life?

I don't know.

You worry about your kids in relation to other people: drunk drivers, kidnappers, rapists, murderers, child molesters. Most parents worry about keeping their kids safe from other people. It's a terrifying thought that your child might grow up to be the 'other person'.

Reading comments on other forums is sickening. Again, I get the anger. I'm with ya. But when people say that he (Steven) 'should fry' or when they blame the family . . . it makes me cringe.

He is still someones child. That family is already reeling from what their child did to someone elses child. To have to live with that would be awful enough, but then to have to live with it under the heavy glare of  so many accusing eyes?

Man, I don't know. I guess there's no tactful way to get these thoughts out. I feel like it's somehow wrong to feel empathy all around - yes, even for the 'bad guy'.

The whole story just makes my heart hurt, and makes me want to hold my kids close forever.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

quote for the week

Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit.  Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.  ~St Francis de Sales

well, hello there. I know I've been quiet this past week. I imagine I'll be quiet still for at least a few more days. 

We've been living very slowly, very quietly. There seems a bit of chaos in our lives, in the lives of those we love. We've been taking time to play games, cook together, snuggle, nap, watch movies and watch the bread rise in front of the woodstove.

I normally need to talk everything out, in excruciating detail. Right now, I'm feeling the need to be quiet. To be still. To not just keep, but first to find that inner peace. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

i am thankful day 7

Today I am thankful for

new england clam chowder, kitty cats, cozy blankets and being half way through my work week.

handmade holidays: gifts for men and boys

 Because I know my husband and kids don't read this blog, this handmade post will be the easiest to share, though even here there are a couple of handmade gifts that you'll have to wait until after the holidays to see!

I find that crafting for boys is sometimes pretty hard! Last year we did ok, but it felt like we used up all our good ideas! Here's a small list to kick off the handmade holiday season!

Handmade by others:

Beer Soap - search Etsy for all sorts of fabulous 'manly' soaps!

I like this shaving kit. There are homebrew soaps and homebrew shampoos.   How about a chocolate stout soap?

Custom Guitar Picks for your musician. They're metal and it says they are easy to play with. I don't play guitar, so who knows. But they're still neat.

You could probably make this on your own too, but inspiration deserves credit too! The Husband loves homemade popcorn, and I could see this going over very well.
Popcorn Spice Kit

The Husband also dabbles in making beer, but even if your guy doesn't - these Homebrew Ties are pretty dang cool!

Handmade by you!

Sports Cans. I think these are a super neat idea. I think depending on the size of the can, you could stuff them with goodies and snacks, or maybe slippers and a matching team fleece blanket.

Pajama Pants are quickly becoming a Christmas Tradition in our house, last year just the little guys got them, this year The Husband will be getting a pair too. We do fleece, but you could make them in whatever fabric you wanted. There are tons of tutorials online, here's a fairly easy one: 15 minute pajama pants

I made all the boys heat packs last Christmas, but these are always a great standby. Mine weren't this fancy - just a standard rectangle, but here's an idea on how to make them: Homemade Heat Packs

Bookmarks inspired by Soulemama. You can find the instructions in Handmade Home or here

Of course if you knit there are many more ideas! Socks, hats, scarves, sweaters (oh my!).

Or, if you don't knit - how about making a hat from a recycled felted sweater? Or a brimmed hat from an old sweater?

Every time The Husband comes to the market with me, he remarks on the felted slippers one of our meat vendors sells (she also spins and knits). Now my knitting skills are beginner on a good day, so knitting and felting slippers is out of the question. But how about felted slippers from sweaters? yay!

I think it's possible that crafting for the kids can sometimes be harder than crafting for The Husband. They're always appreciative (and seem sincerly so!) with handmade gifts. But. They're boys. 12 and 7 now. Coolness is definitely a factor! Pillowcases, blankets, pajama pants - all safe handmade gifts. But not surprising, or super special. So, that list will have to be continued as I find and add ideas!

If you have any handmade gift ideas for men and boys, please share them in the comments below!

Can't wait to see what everyone else is coming up with as the Holiday season gets into full swing!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

i am thankful, day 6

I am thankful

that I have a stove at work. Seriously. I work 12 hour Sundays and till 9pm every other night. I didn't use the stove the first couple years I worked here, I just heated up leftovers. Now I can't imagine how I got by. I love being able to pack ingredients and cook a fresh dinner, especially on these loooong 12 hour days!

quote for the week.

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; 
we must die to one life before we can enter another.  
~Anatole France

I keep typing out posts, and blogger keeps eating them. It's getting quite frustrating. This post got eaten somewhere between pressing publish and view published post. So here's the cliff notes. 
We are going to be facing quite a few changes here. I'll share them with you soon, but not yet.

I try not to rush the seasons, I am very much aware at how quickly the years can speed by. I try to embrace and savor every season. The scents and sights, the flavors.

That's not always easy. I was cursing our long winter when it snowed (a lot!) on Mothers Day last year, but then soon whining about the heat during our very long and very hot summer. Often enough though, it seems the seasons begin to turn just as I'm longing for the next. When fall began this year, I couldn't imagine wanting it to end. I think the same thing every year, since autumn is by far my favorite time, but this year especially. I was dreading the inevitable and too quick return to winter. We have long winters.

Yet here I am with the last leaf having barely touched the ground, and I'm ready for the snow. I'm ready for snowstorms and sledding and hats and mittens and cocoa and woodstoves and cozy-ing under blankets and slowing down and the silence and calm that winter brings. 

This winter, I'm especially ready for the opportunity to slow down. To nap. To dream and plan. To get ready for all the seasons ahead.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

i am thankful days 4 and 5

So generic, totally a cop out but:

I am thankful for my family and for my friends.

They count as two days. Cause I said so.

It's true though, really. They are what makes up the best parts of my life. Sure, I find joy in things like hiking and crafting and other solo activities - but the relationships I have with my family and my friends are what create fullness and wholeness in my life.

Cheesy, but true.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I am thankful, day 3

Whew. Today was a long day!

Today, I am thankful for:

time for napping!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

i am thankful, day 2

Today I am thankful for:

especially libraries with online systems 
that allow me to place holds on any book 
at any of the county libraries 
and have it delivered to my local library. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

:month of gratitude:

I had this big, long, wonderful post about handmade holidays. And I worked on it for a really long time (so I know it was auto-saved in addition to me saving it) and then I had to leave and come back, and when I did, it was gone. Blank. Blogger clearly doesn't want me to talk about my handmade holiday ideas. So, you don't get that post. At least not today, since I have to do it all over again! :whine:

Anyway, a couple of friends on Facebook have started posting one thing on every day this month that they are thankful for. I happen to think that's a marvelous idea so I'm going to copy it here. I hope you join in too!

Today, I am thankful for: 
a husband who still surprises me (in the very good way!) and is compassionate and kind and loving, especially when I least expect him to be.

Monday, November 1, 2010

the things that change.

I normally work 12 hours every Sunday. This year I switched with a co-worker and worked 12 hours Saturday so I could have Sunday off - thought being that this was probably the last year my oldest would want to go trick or treating with us.

Turns out, last year was the last year he wanted to go trick or treating at all. These small milestones seem to hit me harder than the bigger ones. They sort of sneak up on you and knock you off your feet. You expect loose teeth. The disbelief in Santa Claus. First girlfriends. Puberty. Those are all things that are sort of major and you are prepared for them, you know they are coming. But then there are the smaller things, that you sort of forget about until they happen. Like the little boy that you have dressed up and walked house to house with for a decade deciding that he is way too cool for that now. It's like every Halloween for the last 10 years is suddenly etched so very clearly in my mind. The toddler in the Tigger costume. The years spent as some form of a ninja or skeleton in a robe or some variation of the two. My favorite costume, last year, as a wizard. The early years spent making it around just one block. Coffee in hand, sometimes in the rain, sometimes in the snow - reminding him to use his thank yous - prompting the saying of trick or treat.


Oh, my youngest still loves the holiday, I think he may love it even more than Christmas. So I still trudged through the streets last night, hot buttered rum in hand instead of the coffee of my younger years. Since my youngest was born, 7 years ago, we have had lovely Halloweens. No snow. Warm nights. This year we returned to a day of hail, rain and snow - with a dash of sunshine. The night was as cold as when I began the yearly ritual.

 it's hard to tell with all the layers, but Colin was Ash from pokemon. he's currently obsessed.

So Evan spent this year sitting on Nana's porch, in full costume - scaring the kids that came to the door. I guess a new tradition begins.