Tree of Crows

Memorial Service (lack thereof)

After an very stressful Tuesday, my father (Atara's ex-husband) and I decided it would be best for both my brother and the rest of the immediate family to not hold an official service. It pains me knowing that all of my mom's friends who would have been able to make it to a memorial service won't be able to say goodbye in the traditional way. But in the end, I have to think about what's best for my brother and the rest of my family.

Please feel free to consider an informal service of sorts or even just sharing memories on livejournal.

I also want to thank everyone for your letters. It's comforting to know that my mom was so well liked by so many people.

If people are interested, in a few weeks I'll be posting a list of books, cds, and movies that belonged to my mom. My idea was that if someone wanted a book/cd/dvd, they'd make a small donation in Atara's name to the MS Society, another small donation to help with shipping, and I'd send them the book/cd/dvd. So if this appeals to you or if you know anyone who might be interested, please leave a comment or email me. Thanks.
Tree of Crows

Please read


My name is Sarah and I'm Atara's aka astarte59's daughter.

On Friday morning Atara passed away. I'm sure she wouldn't want any of you to be sad, but for those who truly were her friends, I have no doubt you will be.

I'll post the memorial plans tomorrow under a friendslock. So far, it looks like it will happen on Friday evening. If anyone has any questions feel free to send me an email at or comment on my LJ: angelwen99.

I don't plan on canceling this or the fading_coal blogs, but I don't know what will happen when I don't pay for the upcoming month, so it might be wise to save any icons or fics.
Angel blue by palest_sepia

Cut off from the world

Hey there! I'm at the Chino Library using a puter here b/c mine's been in the shop for a while, and is likely to be for another week? Anyway, consider me officially out of touch, and I'll be posting and responding to comments and, better yet, finding time to respond to other folks' posts, but for now I'm just using this puter to let people know I'm not dead or being terribly rude, and so I'm off to my Yahoo Mail account and see how many of my friends' email addresses I know by heart. :-) Wish me luck.

Oh, and I'm reading the Qu'ran. I'll 'splain later.

Bye-eee! I'll be back. I miss you all!


Happy Belated Birthday dasenergi!
Wes phone beautiful liar by masquerade_a

The long and winding road to SSDI and good fences make

good neighbors

So over two years since I first applied for SSDI (that would be Social Security Disability payments, for the non-US folks here), and was turned down, and appealed, and was turned down, I had my hearing last week. My long term disability insurance co., that's been paying a large part of what I'm (barely) living on arranged for an attorney for me--they do this for everyone; if I get granted SSDI, then the LTD co. has to pay a LOT less and they get a fucking huge retroactive payment that SSDI would pay me--this all makes sense since their job is is essentially to fill in a gap: they pay enough so you get 2/3 of your former salary. If SSDI and my retirement don't add up to 2/3, they pay the rest. Except I haven't been getting SSDI, and the LTD co. has been paying the biggest chunk of what I get monthly. So they provide an attorney for the hearing, and the company for which the atty. works does a lot of paperwork for me, and I mostly just have to show up and answer the judge's questions. My atty. told me they want you to be comfortable, so wear sweats if I want (I'd hardly want to walk in there looking professional). The hearing was in a city next to the city where I used to teach, but it was a little beyond my comfortable driving range, so I drove to campus, and two of my former colleagues drove me to the hearing. It was really, really stress-free after all the bullshit they've put me through. The hearing was like half an hour. The judge had very specific questions--could I lift 5 pounds? could I do that 8 times a day? They just want to know if you can work at anything no matter how low the salary; if you can work, you don't need SSDI. My atty thinks we made a good case that I can't work. I have the concentration span of a flea, and I have to nap twice a day or more, and actually whenever I go out one day and do something, say, w/ a friend, I crash the rest of that day and the next day too, so working full-time would be hard.

So half an hour and then my friends and I went out to breakfast. It's pretty weird for me being w/ my former colleagues, even good friends. I want to see them, natch, but they're Real Girls, and I'm not, and I want more than anything to be a Real Girl again, and I hear them talk about English Dept. stuff, and I already feel waaaaaay out of touch. I managed not to cry till I got home at least, and the SSDI thing was so less awful than I expected. A big part of the stress was getting there, and it was really nice having company. My blood pressure had been way high for the past couple months, and by three days after the hearing it had dropped a LOT.

And now for something completely different.

My house was built in 1984. My fence around my very large back yard was built in--yep, you guessed it--1984. And has been falling apart for a long time. I've worried off and on about what I'm going to do when the folks who share the fence want to replace it, which I wouldn't mind, but wouldn't have money for either. The fence on one side has been replaced, and we and that neighbor had gotten an estimate from another neighbor who does stuff like that. At first the neighbor next door was going to go with that, but then he decided he wanted something more elaborate, so all I had to pay was half of the original estimate.

So the back fence. Memories. For Bradley's 3rd birthday, I spent a lot of time sanding down a big section of the back fence, and the kids' dad and I painted it white, and at the birthday party, everyone could paint whatever they wanted. One friend painted, in very neat capital letters, "Clapton is God." The oldest kid there painted the Big Bang. The little kids painted all sorts of stuff. I painted one of my all-time favorite U2 quotes (you can see it on the right side quote box part of fading_coal). It was totally fun, but of course by now it's completely faded. Anyway, I got a call from the woman who lives along the longest stretch of that fence, and she wants to put up a brick wall and pay for all of it herself. (!!!!!) Problem fucking solved! They needed my permission, and will have a paper stating that they're choosing to pay for the whole thing, and I'm delighted. Brick wouldn't be my first choice, but those w/out money to replace a seriously leaking roof can't be picky. Robert Frost must be right. Anyway they're very nice, and apparently Tyger has been visiting their yard (there are many openings in the fence big enough for a kitty), and their cats are indoor cats, and Tyger sits outside their glass door, taunting them, "I'm outside and you-ou're not!" Actually the neighbor said they just sit and stare at each other. And we both complained about Evil Gray and White Kitty who is constantly invading yards and wanting to start fights. For some reason Evil Gray and White Kitty and my next door neighbor's cat, Figaro, were sort of fighting in my yard. Figaro is a big bruiser but a total wuss, so I went out and shooed Evil Gray and White Kitty away from him. Anyway, I'm blathering. But the fence being replaced w/ out me paying for it is another big relief.

Now if I could just find someone who wants to redo my roof . . .
Love Triangle w/ rectangle by masquerade

Wanting to be President

In yesterday's L.A. Times there was an article about seniors and whether they thought John McCain (71) was too old to be President. Not surprisingly, there were opposing opinions. But I was struck by a particular answer since it's something I've believed for a long time anyway--regardless of age. So I wrote a letter to the Times. I think it's probably too long, but I thought I'd share it here anyway. Again, it's nonpartisan commentary.

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Heaven's falling by cdg

Death of Baby at Honolulu airport

I don't keep up with the news at all well these days, but normaltrouble pointed me to the story of the very young baby who died in Customs, in a warm room, when he should have been on his way to the hospital for a possible heart implant. There were, "irregularities in the mother's paperwork," apparently. It's so shocking in some ways it's hard to know how to react, but I posted the following on another site and thought I'd post it here too:

I'm so shocked and appalled I don't really know what to say. No matter what reason Customs had for detaining the baby and his mother, they should have been rushed to the hospital where the baby was to be examined for a possible implant, and then they could have checked paperwork to their hearts' content. How does a human being not see that a child's life is so much higher a priority than paperwork that they exist in different dimensions? Did anyone in Customs call the hospital? Clearly not, or they would have been told that the baby needed to be transported there by ambulance immediately. I can't SEE how this can happen. And to think these people are a first line in maintaining our nation's so-called Homeland Security . . .

I can't imagine how parents must feel at the unnecessary death of a child--of course there were medical risks, but paperwork risks! I can only feel what must be a fraction of their grief, helplessness, anger, and loss. Maybe winning a lawsuit will help alleviate some of the anger and helplessness, but this grief must tear at them more than the possible loss of the baby in surgery when they knew they'd tried everything possible. My heart goes out to the parents and the baby's siblings. Can you imagine trying to explain why this happened to the baby's teenage brother and sister and what do you say to the baby's 3-yr old brother? Baby Michael is now free from the stupidity of this world; his parents and siblings have a long road ahead of them, and all I can wish them is some growing moments of peace as time passes.
Admiral Cain

OK, so it's not a front-page issue, but . . .

I am most righteously PISSED-OFF.

In the L.A. Times Real Estate Section, there was a letter to the "Rent Watch" column which reads as follows:

The apartment complex I own has a state-of-the-art laundry room that includes dry-cleaning machines and appliances for ironing. There always has been a minimum age restriction of 21 on who can use this facility. A tenant is having her teenage son do the laundry while she is temporarily laid up with a broken leg. My concern is for the safety of other tenants as well as protecting my investment. How can I enforce the age restriction for the laundry room?

That is *so* BO-gus!

The reply was sort of wishy-washy, but sometimes when I get peeved, I feel the need to express myself, even if one person maybe half-heartedly reads it. So,

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Lucy gold/green

Clear the Roads!

If you live in Southern California!

My son passed his driver's test today and is thus licensed to drive. I gave him many congratulations. When I said I'd better stay off the roads, he told me he'd already heard that joke at school today. :-) I told him it's traditional. He's actually very responsible, so I'm very happy for him.

I reminded him that he used to be a baby. He said, "So did you." And I said, "But I don't remember that." And I told him that when he was about 13 months old he used to walk around and growl at random moments. He said, "Sounds like fun." It was pretty damn adorable.

And now he's driving. Good for him!
Xena/Herc just the two of us

Pick my best? Pretty please

pickmybest is an icontest comm I can actually approve of b/c you're competing against yourself. (For those of you who don't know, I have a thing against fanfic and icon contests--if you wanna know why, just ask, and if I haven't posted about it earlier, I'll explain.) And it's been over two years since I got together a group of icons to post which gave me enough for a batch to submit to pickmybest.

So, please, please, go take a little time and pick the ones you think are the five best in the group and tell me why. The comm has a particular code for voting, which you can find here and voila my batch of icons.

Naturally, I'm eager for your comments, but take a look at some of the other batches too. So far, I've found some really great icons by megathy27 and beauty_untold, have snagged a few from each, and after I have dinner or a nap (can't quite decide yet), I'm going to look at some more.
House incognito

A random query and election blathering and Molly Ivins

OK, I truly hope I don't offend anyone, but I wondered this as a kid (not in the same words or terms), and I'm wondering again: What on earth possessed Mattel to name Barbie's friend "Midge"?

So, the 2008 election is o-ver for me. I have voted, mailed my ballot, and I'm done. I mean, I know whom I'm voting for in November: whoever the Democrat is, no matter how appalled I may be that this is the best the party can come up with b/c, ultimately, what really matters and makes a difference is who is making the Supreme Court appointments. Yes, there are a lot of other current important issues, and I can't tell the difference b/t the major Dem. candidates on them, and I'm bound to agree w/ the Dem. candidate in November on those issues more than with the Republican candidate. But presidents are in office a maximum of 8 years. The Supremes can be in office for bleeding decades, and when you come down to long-term issues that I'll care about when the war is finally over (if ever) and have cared about ever since I was in high school and Phillis Schafly of orange juice fame was beginning her campaign against gay teachers (this was the late '70's), and I was too young to vote for Jimmy Carter, those issues are abortion, civil rights for whatever groups are being denied them, and the environment. And on the first two, if the next President gets a chance to appoint a Supreme, I want that Prez to be a Democrat, even an almost-a-Republican middle-of-the-road Democrat. And I hate political campaigns; I hate polls, I hate articles about who would win if the election were today, I hate campaign ads, I hate the whole campaign system which is designed for maximum corruption. So I do my patriotic duty (remember, if you don't vote, you can't complain for four whole years--and frankly that would be a major sacrifice), and say, "Wake me up when it's over." So, since the vote I'll mail in in November has practically nothing to do with the vote I just mailed in, all I can say is, Wake me up when it's over.

And now, behind the cut, some words from someone I would genuinely call one of my heroes, the late Molly Ivins, writing about the 2006 election, and it seems like it could have gotten published today.

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