Mt. Rainier and Lenticular Clouds - Dec. 2008 copyright: JMM

January 31, 2011

They Like Me! They Really Like Me!

It's clear that there is no way in bloody hell I will be able to get away with not going back east for the 3rd year in a row.  This trip is tedious at best, and I just hate, hate, hate flying.  The whole process just sucks out loud.  I hate the thought of those all-too-revealing x-rays, but the molestation pat down is even worse.  The flight itself blows too.  Going east you lose 3 hours, so a 5 hour flight feels like 8 hours.  On the other hand, going east you get a decent tailwind, but still, when I get in, no one wants to come get me at Logan Airport.  And I honestly can't say I blame them.  I love my friends; I would never ask anyone to navigate through that clusterfuck in Boston to get to the airport.  It took them over 20 years to finish that disastrous "Big Dig" and I'm not entirely sure how it has helped streamline traffic to the airport.  But I digress...

On the upside, my cousin Sharon lives there and we have a lot of laughs together.  Thanks to Facebook, I'm back in touch with a lot of people from my youth.  I can't deny that it's bringing up a whole lot of nostalgia, lonely childhood notwithstanding.  Sandwich really was a nice place to grow up and I'm not the only kid who felt lonely or like an outsider.  I mean, that's all part of growing up.  Who doesn't feel lost and alone?  But I have, apparently, had a very skewed picture of how I was viewed by my peers.  Diane always used to tell me I was crazy whenever I told her that I remembered being friendless.  Invisible.  Wanting to be invisible, at least until my senior year when I was so alienated and angry that I provoked my classmates into taunting me for my blue hair, wild make up and army jacket covered with Sex Pistols and Clash pins.  I was recently told by an old friend that not only did he have a huge crush on me, he thought I was unapproachable and one of the most popular girls, b/c every time he saw me, I was talking to someone or walking w/ more than one person.  I was not only flattered, but floored. He had a crush on me?  ME?  Popular?!?!?! If he had told me that in person instead of by message, I would have turned around to see who he was actually talking to; like to the person standing behind me. And for the record, if he'd asked me to be his girlfriend, I definitely would have said yes. It is possible that my life would have turned out extremely differently had that happened.  The unapproachable thing made me feel kind of bad, because this is the second time I was told something along those lines, the first being by a guy in my class (his exact words were, "You were the girl who wouldn't talk to me."  Ouch).  Apparently my shyness and fear was misunderstood as aloofness. 

I decided to put a status up on Facebook, asking if I were to go back east this spring, would anyone want to hang out?  The responses were amazing.  So much so that for the first time since I can recall, I am actually looking forward to going back east.  I would have to stay there 3 weeks in order to visit everyone who asked me to, and these include stops in Vermont and Maine. 

I'll be leaving SeaTac on Thursday, March 24.  It's an all day flight and I get into Boston right smack in the middle of rush hour.  I'll be on the Cape till the following Thursday, March 31.  I don't care how broke we are, I'm flying first class both ways.  I refuse to tough it out with the plebes in coach anymore.  Coach sucks.  Last time I flew coach, I passed out.  It's a wee bit pricey but if I'm gonna be forced to put up with the draconian security procedures, crowds and an interminably long flight, I'm gonna be comfortable.

This situation reminded me how I've always thought how unfortunate it is that a dead person can't see the outpouring of love for them at their funeral.  I always think how sad it is that all those people didn't make it a point of telling the person how important they were to them, before they died.  You can go your whole life and never find out how much you have touched someone else's life.  While I thought I was largely forgettable....convinced I was largely forgettable, it turns out that I was well liked.  People who I thought tolerated me at best, or didn't like me at all, really did like me.  I can thank Facebook for that opportunity to talk to so many old friends.  I was so terribly insecure about my personality and was scared of anyone who was out of my comfort zone, which was pretty much everybody except for my small group of friends, who were mostly the children of my parents' close friends.  During my darkest days, and there have been quite a few of them, I had considered checking out for good. Felt backed into a corner.  Fight or flight.  No one would miss me anyway, no one would care, everyone would be better off.  "Hey!  Didja hear Joanne Mendonza died?"  "Who?"  You know, the whole George Bailey thing.  I never would have known that people did care because I'd be dead, and it'd be too late to realize that I had something to live for after all. That I'm not destined to die alone and friendless, a hermit crone in the rain forests of the Olympic Peninsula. 

So it's off to Sandwich I go, in late March.  But not without a fully stocked prescription for Xanax. 

January 29, 2011

Snoqualmie, Washington - Gateway to the Cascades

Here's a funky little house along the main drag in downtown Snoqualmie.

Lots of cool stuff in their front yard.  I'm surprised no one has stolen anything.  Isn't it sad that we live in a society where the first thing that came to my mind when I saw this is "Wow, no one's stolen their stuff!"

It's not the Unst Bus Shelter, but it's still a pretty cool salmon-themed bus stop.

These cross walks are really cool.

Snoqualmie River.


I question the structural integrity of this building.

The Snoqualmie Tribe is also known as People of the Moon.

January 27, 2011

The Family Law Community Takes a Hit

The family law community in Pierce County is pretty small.  We work with the same attorneys over and over again.  Staff knows staff.  Everyone knows the Judges, their Judicial Assistants and Court Reporters, and they know us.  That's not to say that there isn't conflict because there is, and a lot of it.  Sometimes with family law, the lawyers are sniping at each other as much, if not worse, than the divorcing couple is.  

But when something really bad happens to someone in the legal community, even one who has been in an adversarial position with you, it hits everyone hard.  Because it could just as easily happen to any lawyer or Judge that works in this field.  I don't believe in god or anything, but that expression, "There but for the grace of god, go I" comes to mind.

We had a terrible tragedy come to light over the past few days.  Back in October, a woman filed a Petition for an Order of Protection.  The Temporary Order was granted, which restrained the other side from harassing her, but only until the hearing.  At the hearing, the Commissioner heard her testimony.  She told him that the man was the father of her child, but he had been violent in the past and she had taken out Restraining Orders in Thurston County about 5 or 6 years ago when he'd hit her a couple of times, but mostly now he was just calling her incessantly and occastionally making threats.  He was in and out of prison, she did allow him to see their kid, and even visited him while he was in prison.  He was going to be out in 3 months' time, and she was afraid of him.  The Commissioner ruled that the reasons she stated for needing the Order of Protection did not meet the statutory requirements, and denied her request.  Technically she wasn't in imminent danger because she'd even visited him about 6 times while he was at the work release center. 

Weeellll, the other night the guy got out of prison. Apparently she told her friends that since she couldn't get the Order of Protection, she felt that she had to be nice to the guy, in order to keep him from going off on her.  So she invited him over to discuss the Parenting Plan she was trying to get in place, which would allow him residential time with their kid.  And while their 10 year old daughter hosted 4 friends for a sleepover in the room next door, they argued and he stabbed her to death.  The children heard the fighting and screaming.  The little girl saw her mom covered in blood, dead on the floor and will be traumatized for the rest of her life.  

The Commissioner did his job, but he's starting to take a beating in the media, especially from the family of the murdered woman.  It's easy to obtain the transcript of the hearing and all of the documents if you go to the Courthouse and request them. That said, I'm not going to name him here, because plenty of news agencies are covering this story, if you want the specifics.  This Commissioner a tough nut, I will say that for him.  He puts family law attorneys through their paces when they enter final divorce documents on the Ex Parte Docket.  He will refuse to sign final papers and assign case law for the attorneys to look up; in essence sending the attorneys back to the drawing board, even when all of the parties agreed on the documents.  

But right now, I feel really, really bad for the Commissioner.  I do.  I empathize with this man and this situation.  He doesn't have an easy job.  No one who works in family law will say it's easy. It's definitely interesting, but extremely tragic.  I learn new things every day.  I have seen some really fucked up situations, including DV.  But only because some people can afford to hire an attorney, we are able to ensure that the request for a Protection Order meets the statutory requirements.  Unfortunately, this has happened before, and it will probably happen again.

It's a horrible position to be in, as a Judge or Court Commissioner, in family law.  You literally hold the future of these people's lives in your hands, and you have to sift through the all of the vitriol and bullshit, and try to find some middle ground.  You have to consider the law and all the statutes, and see who makes a better argument.  If the woman had an attorney, all the i's would have been dotted and the t's crossed.  But who can afford a lawyer?  Hardly anyone.  More people than not try to do it themselves, with little to no guidance.  You have the lack-of-education-factor with many of them.  The Commissioners and Judges have to struggle to not show their frustration outwardly at the Pro Se people that show up for the 1:30 DV Docket.  Now this Commissioner has to live with the media backlash that's already started.  It hits the whole family law community hard when something like this happens.  I don't know the Commissioner personally, but I feel like I do.  I cannot imagine what he must be feeling now.  I'm sure that there will be plenty of vocal detractors in the legal community with an axe to grind, but we won't be among them.  My boss is as distressed as I am about how he is being treated by the media.  This kind of thing is a judicial officer's worst nightmare.  No matter how often you grumble about what the Judges and Commissioners did or did not do, you don't want to ever see something like this happen to a colleague.  

The system is broken.  It needs to be fixed.  I'm the first person who will admit that a piece of paper labeled "Order of Protection" is not going to help, and any victim of DV will tell you it's a joke. However, and unfortunately, if one isn't on file with the Law Enforcement Support Agency (LESA), the cops can't take the offender to jail if they break the Order.  That is, if you can get the cops to show up.  The instances of DV are increasing and the law enforcement budgets are shrinking, so cops are stretched thin.  The Commissioners and Judges are bound by the statutes to issue, or not issue, Orders of Protection.   I don't know what the answer is.  Everything in the legal system is so convoluted, especially went it comes to family law.  Issues have gotten so complex that the forms have gotten longer and longer.  How are uneducated people supposed to figure it out? Even with the help of the staff at the Family Justice Center, it's very complex.  Hell I couldn't even figure out the latest version of the Order of Child Support, and I've been working in law since 1990!  That form has grown to TWENTY PAGES!!!

Now a woman is dead because her fears came true, a Commissioner is under fire & being vilified in the press, and more likely than not, feels just horrible about it.  A little girl has lost her mom to murder and her father to prison for that crime.  He's been charged with Murder 1, which means they may seek the death penalty.  The 4 girls who were in the house that night, and their families, are going to be dealing with the psychological ramifications of this for a damn long time.  

And so will we.

January 26, 2011

Train Town

The town of Snoqualmie, which is just a short drive east of the Falls, is home to the Northwest Train Museum.

I love old locomotives.

I admit to being in a bit of a snit over this fence.  That's why I didn't take a lot of pics of the cool old railcars. I understand the need for it, but it really ruined my shots.

Weyerhaeuser Timber Company car.  Brian used to work for Weyco, till the company imploded in 2008.

January 24, 2011

Day Trippin to Snoqualmie

We've had a ton of rain over the last month and the rivers are swollen and flooding has been a problem.  That also means that the waterfalls are going to be extremely impressive.  I'd heard that Snoqualmie Falls was raging, so I decided to go check it out.  The Snoqualmie/North Bend area is the gateway to the Cascade Mountains.  

Pedestrian Bridge over the road.

Salish Lodge , which is perched on the cliff above the falls.  (pronunciation guide:  Salish = SAY-lish).

If only I could have gotten audio of the sound of the raging water.  I got soaked from the mist.

Snoqualmie River below the Falls.

My friends ask why I don't move back to the east coast.  This is one of the many reasons why.  I could never leave this scenery.

January 22, 2011

Fairyland Diorama

I've gotten a bit hooked on a Facebook game called My Fairyland.  We grow cute plants in our gardens, and try to attract cute critters by watering the plants in other people's gardens as well as our own.  Let's face it, this is about the only kind of gardening that I have time for and enjoy.  

I've had this black faux leather box in my craft closet for the longest time.  It's 2" thick with a window in the lid and a hinge.  I decided to make a fairy-themed diorama for it.

I covered the inside with some pretty bluegreen paper.  I cut out the background fairy and attached her with foam tape so that she sticks out from the wall a bit.  The hinged part of the box bunched up a bit, so then I decided to glue the front fairy to the bunched up part, to make it look like she's sitting in the window.  Then I attached the dragonfly w/ a wire from the top.  I painted the wings of the fairies and dragonfly with silver glitter paint.  I also added jewels and a couple of butterflies to the background.

In retrospect I wish I had planned the outside elements better, but oh well, live and learn.

I used some fuzzy green ribbon to make a grassy effect against the fairy on the wall and in the window.  Then I spread glue along the bottom and sprinkled glass beads on the glue.

It's hard to see but I glued a silk rose bud in each bottom corner, in the back.  The one on the left is orange and the one on the right is yellow.

And now I have yet another knick knack to collect dust in my already cluttered house.