Gratitude Sunday: Call Me

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week
“Telephone, n. An invention of the devil which abrogates some of the advantages of making a disagreeable person keep his distance.”
Ambrose Bierce in The Devil’s Dictionary (satire)

Sunday Haiku
Cloud, sun, breeze, more cloud,
cold, wind, dark cloud, rain, so cold,
snow flurry, sun, done.

Sunday Musings
Technology has been the bane of my existence all my adult life. I’ve spent many hours crying in this love/hate relationship. It has made me a life-long learner, at least.

I straddle two completely different eras. I come from the time when food was made from scratch and butchering often took place at home, half my friends’ families didn’t even own a television, phones were party lines (shared!), long distance calls were charged by the minute, the only way to get privacy on a phone call was to stretch the phone cord into the garage and speak as quietly as possible. Research for schoolwork was done at a brick and mortar building called a library that contained paper books and the knowledge of the world, and we walked to get there.

My first computer was a TI-99 from Texas Instruments. It was a pyramid scheme where they wanted us first-in-buyers to sell the computer units to our friends. Of course the computer needed all sorts of add-ons to actually function, modems, routers, additional hardware, software, etc, and that’s how the company (not Texas Instruments, but the shysters) made its money. Once we sold the initial unit to our friends they needed all the extra stuff to make it run. We bought our computer at the discount price and told the company to take a flying leap; we just wanted the sale price on the unit. Wasn’t but a couple of months before TIs were available in retail outlets like Radio Shack and the shyster company went bust; had we followed their program we would have lost out as well. At least we had our one computer in hand and it worked.

The first word processor I used was so clumsy. I worked diligently to teach myself how to make it work. It was so laborious writing long-hand was still simpler. Each new package of word processing software meant days spent increasing my learning curve. I’m self taught, no dollars for classes, and usually stuff comes with a manual. Reading is good.

I used to write and brainstorm with pen and paper. I realized, with no transcriber at my beck and call, I was doubling my work when typing the hand written drafts onto the computer, and then I’d still spend time re-writing, editing, and proofreading on the computer. I was long done with typewriters, though my collection of used typewriters is enviable. I learned to write and brainstorm directly on the computer only after the software became halfway as accomplished as my brain. I’m not sure it saves time to compose on computer, but this old dog can and continues to learn new tricks, and I have fewer scribbled scraps of paper lying around.

When my sister turned 50 a few years back I had found a copy of National Geographic from her birth month and year. The advertisement on the inside back cover was about the new innovation of corner telephone booths in every urban neighborhood. We showed the picture around to the party as each person proceeded to pull out their cell phone. I laughed because I didn’t own a cell phone yet. Some of my nieces and nephews have never had anything other than a cell; they don’t know the joys of a land line.

Today there is a cell phone in every purse and pocket. They are great for emergencies as this old dog does not like to be stranded at the roadside when the car breaks down in the rain. Now most of those neighborhood corner phone booths have been removed, cell phones are a societal necessity. However, in certain social situations I think cells should be temporarily banned, such as family parties or dinners (talk to each other!); in cars (or use a truly hands-free method and unless voice activated there is no such thing as hands-free texting); at certain restaurants, art venues, and performances; I could go on, but boring and another essay.

All that said to announce my latest techno-ditz challenge. I kept getting information from my service provider they were not going to support my 4 year old phone any longer. In my life I have learned one must read every piece of mail and information that comes in; sometimes advertisements look like the real thing, and sometimes the real thing looks like advertisements. So when this information started arriving, I read and I researched; sometimes the information is a ploy to get you to spend your money, and when it comes to my money you have to prove to me why I have to spend it. I didn’t want to give up my phone unless I absolutely had to.

Being from that older era I am, and from the DNA of depression era ancestors, I think things should last forever if you take care of them. Cars and washers and water heaters shouldn’t break. If they do I should have the parts lying around to fix them and a handy-man in my pocket to do so (I don’t). Over the last 70 years the attitude of reusing everything changed to one of disposability. Re-use and recycle is in vogue again. It never should have left.

I do what I can. I am one person. I make only the impact I make, and I can share what I find with others who might use the information. Or not. My small choices build when others make small choices too. It’s not like we can make a hugely significant difference like a corporation or industry who changes its processes to protect people rather than to just increase their profits.

I digress.

My phone company wasn’t lying. My phone was going to fail whenever they decided to stop the service and since I have Murphy’s luck I had to jump ahead of disaster.

Et voilà. I own a new phone.

I’ve had only four cell phones. I insist, from an old woman’s point of view, on keeping my land-line. If all hell breaks loose maybe one of the three phone choices in this house will work.

My first two phones were hand-me downs. The hubster got one for when he is out fishing alone, in case he needed to call for help or rescue. If hubster could afford to be one of those folks who buy new technology the minute it’s released he would. He can’t, so he does his research to get the best bang for his buck, and waits a while til prices come down to a reasonable amount. When he upgraded, so did I by getting his old phone.

I’m not married to my phone, never have been. When I worked, many co-workers would carry their phones in their pockets and they’d be ringing all day long. I locked mine in my locker. I figured if the news was something my family had to share, family had my work numbers and could get me through the work channels. Tragedy or sorrow always comes from family getting hold of you at work. Anything other than that can wait.

During hubster’s next to last upgrade six years ago he said the hand-me down wasn’t good enough, and insisted I buy a phone similar to his; it took me two years. The purchase was a good thing because he could tune me in to the phone reception on our car radio. One button live talk. That’s my speed. I don’t even fuss with the radio station or the heat settings while in motion. When I’m driving, I’m driving, and conversations will be kept to a minimum as well, thank you very much. I’ve had enough crashes to last for the rest of my lifetime and those were before the advent of cell phones. You just can’t be too careful when behind the wheel of a one ton murder machine wailing down the road at 50 miles an hour.

Again last year hubster decided he needed an upgrade, saved up his money, and got a new phone. I didn’t need the hand-me-down, mine was still fine, worked fine. I’m pretty basic: I’d learned to make calls and keep a contact list, take pictures with it, how to text, and how to use a couple apps like Safeway where if you are savvy you can download coupon savings on shelf and in-store. That is, until Safeway and Fred Meyers upgraded their apps and required a more expensive phone to support them. That’s elitist behavior and gave me one more reason to get on my high horse and not buy every year’s new phone.

However, if your service provider suddenly announces your service will no longer be supported, it’s do-or-die time to be doing research and getting a new phone. I don’t need fancy stuff, I cannot care less if I can talk to the darn phone. I need to call family and friends, I need to text, and occasionally I need to call for roadside service. Once again I went for the basics, and even though I skipped the bells and whistles it’s still a handful of tricks.

Despite the claim all my contacts and pictures would be transferred, that did not happen. I had taken the time to upload all my pictures to my laptop, and hand write all my contact numbers. I didn’t mind the pictures not transferring but I thought it a bit redundant (or in this case I mean stupid) for the contact numbers not to transfer. I mean what did I expect after the two days it took to activate the phone. Two days! Now that’s fast technology for you (said facetiously). Two hours would be the maximum time I would expect, but what do I know? I’ve been crying over technology for 40 years; learning is best retained with tears it seems, and one thing I’ve learned is most projects, technology or otherwise, always take longer than projected because of those lovely bumps in the road.

It’s been a week of learning, as if I don’t have enough to still learn and do in this world. The phone is now activated, I can call and receive calls (I kept the same number, one thing that makes it all a little easier), I can text and receive texts, I have uploaded the app (application/website/whatever, seems all of technology is about reducing language) for my car insurance and the roadside assistance number is prominently displayed. Tackling Safeway and Fred Meyers next. Or I might try my local lending library; that’s always a good app to have.

Hubster thinks I should be having fun playing with my new phone. It’s a tool, not a toy. I have plenty (an abundance!) of tool/toys: my laptop, the KindleFire my sis gave me, my big screen TV, and I have no need to take a screen of any size into the bathroom to watch a movie. I have other business there.

So, hubster is charged with the next task of getting me synchronized with the hands-free radio in the car. His car, his radio, his knowledge. Poor thing, sometimes he can’t avoid doing tasks that are for and about me. After 45 years together, he better be getting over it.

New Year, new decade, new phone, new knowledge. We are off to a good start.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – This cold weather is not fooling Mother Nature who is preparing for spring with tiny green hyacinth heads springing from her buried warmth. Pale green lilac buds aren’t fooled either. I keep a dish of water outside with rocks for bees and birds, shiny with ice for them to skate on. Looking for color in all the right places: the convergence of the fence with shades of green mosses and gray lichens. A gathering of fronds, colorful bits and pieces of the trees around my neighborhood.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} Finished Ken Burns’s Country Music (2019, rated PG) a documentary and history of the evolution of country music from the early 20th century. All music is connected. I grew up on country music and liked it well enough, but I remember the first time I heard Janis Joplin sing Kris Kristofferson’s song Me and Bobbie McGee. Her voice was so raw and so real, and the story felt palpable, in your skin, on the back of your neck. That’s country, that’s rock, that’s soul, that’s music that changes the cells in your body with its vibrations. Listening to all those hours of music my brain has been re-countrified and I wake up in the morning with those tunes in my head. It’s a good thing. * Westward The Women (1951, not rated), with Robert Taylor. This old black and white film is one of the first significant feminist films. A group of women defy the odds and go to California by wagon train in 1851 basically as mail order brides; they prevail. Included is one of the most interesting commentaries I’ve encountered: a verbal analysis of the director, the scenes, the feminism, the photography and photographers overlying the movie. It enables the commentator to point out scenes, points in photography, dialogue, or characters in real time as the movie progresses. Quite a feat in timing to write your analysis to coordinate with the timing of the movie and a fascinating presentation of critique.

Currently ReadingHollow Kingdom (2019, fiction) by Kira Jane Buxton. Just when you thought you were safe from zombie gore, there it is smack in the middle of the humor. Deep breath, set jaw, read on to the next witticism. * Blowout (2019, non-fiction world politics and the oil industry) by Rachel Maddow. One of those books where the more I read I more I know I don’t know. My needs are simple, I want to pay my bills and mortgage and taxes. I have no concept of one million dollars, these people deal in billions and hold other peoples’ lives and the state of the planet in their hands. Frightening.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Getting the last of the coats behind the front door relocated to the coat closet.
  • The hubster having a project outside the house so I was able to get some stealth cleaning done.
  • Those five minute work windows, a blessing and a curse.
  • Having the door open for a few minutes while I was dusting. The house and I really needed the fresh air; I’ve been closed up too long this winter.
  • Getting some dust busted from a long unseen corner.
  • Getting the last of the kitchen walls and cupboards washed.
  • Deciding not to put the kitchen wall stuff back up where it was.
  • Taking my time to decide what I want to put up on the kitchen walls. I could (think about it!) even have a theme. Like strawberries. Or Coca-Cola. Or both.
  • The Snowpocalypse that was predicted and did not happen. Not that I have to go any where.
  • Having the few extra dollars to be able to budget out a new phone before I lost service on my old one.
  • Cardigans. I like sweaters that don’t squeeze my neck, and I can adjust a cardigan to my comfort levels.
  • The soft gray colors of winter days.
  • How many days of the year I have access to the local aquatic center. They blessedly remain open on some holidays, and it feels like it makes up for the few days when they have to close the pool for swim meets.
  • Laughing at solutions that turn out to not be solutions and require a new solution. Sometimes ad nauseam. Bad enough at home, appalling at the national level, and inspiring to search for new solutions rather than giving up.
  • Learning. And learning. And learning.
  • The Techno-ditz prevailing.
  • Some acceptable greens and a bag of mandarins at the grocery store. This batch is sweet and juicy; the last two years tangerines have been dry and flavorless.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

Posted in abundance, Aging, Education, Family, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, History, Homemaking, Nature, Photography, Poetry, Technology, Work and Labor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gratitude Sunday: Ms Clean A New Way

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week
“What would be the point of living if we did not let life change us?”
spoken by the butler, Mr Carson (actor Jim Carter) in Downton Abbey

Sunday Haiku
Snow teases, threatens,
children hope, beg, pray for it.
Parents: “Not today!”

Sunday Musings
There’s that phrase: you cannot expect different results if you always do something the same way.

That includes cleaning.

I’m not the best cleaner. I don’t like cleaning. Actually I rather detest cleaning. Whatever you clean always needs to be cleaned again waaaay too soon.

The only way to not clean is to either live with your dust bunnies or be a minimalist.

I am not a minimalist.

I got the double whammy. I come from depression-era farm folks who were poor several generations before the Great Depression happened, so keeping stuff is in my DNA; and I inherited the intelligence to be curious about and love anthropological history – the stuff of days gone by, especially if it belonged to ancestors, and primitive doesn’t matter. The whammy is amplified by not inheriting the tidy gene as well.

I am the embodiment of a low-income person surrounded by a wealth of stuff; good and bad. I am a person of abundance, magical abundance when you start digging through cupboards and drawers; my house is vaguely related to the TARDIS, like fourth cousins twice removed. The more you clean or dig the more you find. This year I’m digging, getting a jump start on the non-existent spring cleaning I’ve managed to avoid for the last couple decades.

I am also a person of over abundant thinking. I have to. Embracing my abundance means living with my stuff and moving my stuff is the game of 14, or 15, or 37 depending on the day. If I don’t plan it out first it takes twice as long with thrice the mess. Visualization and a tape measure are required.

The hard part is the sloth-like time it takes me to change. Not bragging.

And then. I share my home, so I don’t do this all by myself. The cleaning, yes. The mess-making, no.

I have a small coat closet just off my living room. My house is a simple three-bedroom, two-bathroom single story ranch style. Perfect for me to retire and die in.

When we moved in more than twenty years ago, the coat closet began as a coat closet with mostly the hubster’s coats. A few years later he removed his coats and the “coat” closet became a “cleaning” closet. It housed brooms and swiffers and extra light bulbs and the vacuum cleaner. Efficiently. Neatly.

Hubster cleaned his personal clothes closet and decided more than a decade ago to put his coats back in the coat closet. Chaos ensued. Suddenly the vacuum cleaner no longer fit and diving through the coats to find a dustpan or a broom was a full faced, shoulder grabbing adventure in leather and wool.

To make matters worse, coats and outdoor gear began to pile up behind the front door several feet away from the coat closet. How to embrace this abundance? Every piece of outerwear has an application so elimination does not apply.

For years now I have been mentally contemplating the game of 14 to get the cleaning items out of the coat closet and into the laundry area. I have a lovely laundry area. It’s not large, but it’s enough. There’s a nice cupboard hung over the washer/dryer, and a shelf mounted to the right of the washer. The cupboard is my mess. I stash dead clothing, towels, and other textiles there to be used as rags for cleaning. Nothing like an old cloth diaper for cleaning, or a bit of linen tablecloth for polishing.

The extra challenge? Stealth cleaning. If I clean while hubster is around he has this unwarranted need to tell me what to do and how to do it, or he complains about the noise, or the dust flying, or the time of day I choose to clean. I won’t argue, but by god if I’m doing the cleaning I’m going to do it my way. He wants to clean, he can do it his way. He’s not used to having me home all the time yet. I find it psychologically easier to clean when he is gone or when he naps. I wonder if he will ever catch on to why I encourage him to go fishing. Sometimes his trip to the local lending library or the post office perfectly matches my five minute work window.

There were some decidedly dead items in the cupboard begging for the trash bin. Easy peasy. Done. Other items broke in my haste to get the job done; another easy choice: into the trash bin. Some regrets, thank them for their service, allow them to retire, and let them join the great garbage dump we call our world.

With a little consolidation, voilà! A whole shelf clean, ready for light bulbs, and swiffers, and a couple bins of cleansers and brushes. The laundry room cupboard was key to this particular game of 14.

I won’t bore you with the details (I found a paper shredder under the coats by the front door among other surprises including previously unreleased odors) but today, (hubster doesn’t know it yet) I have a dedicated coat closet for coats and hats and a tidy vertical cleaning area for brooms and mops in the laundry area. The coats and outerwear stored improperly behind the front door have moved to their (hopefully) forever home in the coat closet. The cleaning tools are soooo much easier to access in their new space in the laundry area. I found a new space for the paper shredder; now to figure out how to use the shredder.

Now, I’m bragging.

I have persisted and I have prevailed. Warrior Queen wins again.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – A sparkle of sunlight on evergreen ivy. It’s a little frosty on the hardy sage green hen and chicks. Ghostly gray fairy cups snuggle up to a fat soft green moss cushion. I love all the shades of gray and blue and white and light in this old picture at the beach.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} Desperately in need of some relief from the state of the world and the echo in my home, I watched the latest season of the Canadian production Schitt$ Creek (2015 – current, rated TV – 14). This series pokes fun at a wealthy family who loses all their money and moves to the only asset remaining to them: a town named Schitts Creek, where they soon learn how the rest of us live. Make no mistake though, with Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy this is full-blown humor comedy. * Ken Burns’s Country Music (2019, rated PG), a documentary and history of the evolution of country music from the early 20th century. These images and tunes hit me hard. I grew up with the music: gospels and hymns, old fashioned foot stomping hillbilly music, Irish lullabies. The pictures of unpainted shacks on cement blocks and barefoot boys in overalls and barefoot little girls in threadbare dresses made from flour sacks all feel like home to me, and it is so poignant it leads me to tears now thinking of that level of poverty. Back then though, people had each other, not screens. We often don’t know we are poor until after the fact.

Currently Reading – As with my video viewing I was totally in need of lightness to read, I can’t even handle Winter Classic this year, I’m so distracted. To the rescue is Hollow Kingdom (2019, fiction) by Kira Jane Buxton. I’ve just started this novel but so far every page is a belly laugh. A plague has beset the world and turned all humans into zombies. (I don’t normally choose zombie stories. Yechk.) This story is told from the point of view of the pets and animals left behind and if you like crows you will like the main protagonist. The author is clever; I was hooked by the line: “Winnie (the poodle) was raised to talk about herself in the third poodle.” * Blowout (2019, non-fiction world politics and the oil industry) by Rachel Maddow. Oh what a tangled web we weave when we deceive in the name of profit, at the expense of the planet.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Created space.
  • Found time.
  • Clean corners.
  • Finishing tasks. Even if it is days later.
  • Changing the way I clean.
  • Embracing change.
  • Embracing abundance.
  • A dedicated coat closet.
  • Cleaning tools easily accessible in one place.
  • How a little work now makes future work easier.
  • Finally finding space on a couple bookshelves to integrate some books that were trying to live on the chair. Got them moved before they got too comfortable and settled in.
  • Still having a few projects within eyesight waiting to be done.
  • Thinking ahead a bit to plot the next project.
  • Having the patience to not run to the store or goodwill every time that “I want” balloon pops into my head. Digging through my magically abundant house first.
  • Recognizing the “I want” balloon brain bubble which steals my money.
  • Found a box of flavorful fragrant raspberries at the store. Disregarded the carbon footprint. Yummy!
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

Posted in abundance, Aging, Entertainment, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, History, Homemaking, Nature, Photography, Poetry, Work and Labor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gratitude Sunday: Hope For 2020

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week
“It is hard to interest those who have everything in those who have nothing.” Helen Keller

Sunday Haiku
Black clouds waver past
bright clear moon, hiding, winking,
brief glimpses of light.

Sunday Musings
Last week I was looking at the bright side, trying to stay positive about America, Americans, and the state of the world. I want to say the state of the world has little impact on our lives, but that’s a lie, because everything is connected. It’s that butterfly effect thing. In the past I hesitated to delve this deeply into politics on this blog (not terribly successfully, I’m afraid) because politics is individual like religion, but simply put, I fear for our country and our world. I was worried during Vietnam but not like the level I’m experiencing now. I’ve even avoided watching the news and it doesn’t seem to help. There is a vibration of fear and anger in this nation like I’ve not experienced in my adult life.

In the highest governmental office in our nation the United States of America has an uneducated, narcissistic, impulsive, non-politically trained man with the language skills of a third grader and the thought patterns about the same, who is behaving unilaterally without advice from career professionals. In normal language he is behaving as a dictator. I did not vote for him. I saw who and what he was the minute he came down that escalator. I’ve been conned before, and as the saying goes, once burned twice shy. I recognize con-men and run away screaming from them.

We have 17,000 troops now in the Middle East with the newest three thousand being sent this week. Troops is such a non-descriptive word. These are men and women with families and from families, who chose the military as a career, people who eat and sleep just like us, not replaceable robots. If you ask your friends and extended family my guess is you will find at least one person with a family member deployed in the Middle East; in the past three days I’ve learned of three families with a soldier in the Middle East. The family members here in the US are deeply concerned. They are now all at risk because one man, without discussion with Congress, decided to assassinate a leader in another country. Trump made this decision and ordered this action while partying with his friends at his country club (on taxpayer money). He told his children, but not Congress.

I am simplistic. I’m not a political science professor, or a history or sociology professor. I can’t explain all the political details of why what he has done is so, so wrong. I can tell you America was not set up to operate under the word of one man. He is breaking norms I am not comfortable being broken. For whatever golden spoon trump was born into, he has turned it into a lead shovel and is digging us all into a deep unfathomable hole.

I am realistic. I’ve watched the pattern of this man’s behavior because he loves to be on camera, and when he thinks he is at risk he makes a distraction. No matter the distraction, it is usually a bigger mess that must be cleaned up and he never does his own clean up. He is impeached; that much is fact; he missed his window to resign with a modicum of dignity. He will be going to trial in the Senate this month. Distracting with an assassination seems a perfect deflection to him.

I am not a predictor. I cannot guess what a narcissistic psychopath might do, especially one who thinks he has the power to do whatever he wants. He said he alone could “fix” America; it’s on film. He’s indeed doing what he said but he’s fixing it to his own benefit and to the detriment of so many of the rest of us, never thinking about the constituents he’s supposed to represent.

I’ve spent 50 years of my life trying to help leave this world a better place than when I arrived. I did not have the great fortune to be born into wealth, instead I have the joys, pitfalls, and triumphs of fighting against generational poverty. Then this man comes along, a man who has had more blessings than most in his life, at least financially, and he wants to erase every advance we’ve made for the good of the greatest number of constituents. I cannot remember being this upset over politics in my adult life time. I loathe seeing an ignorant wrecking crew gangster family destroy our democracy for their own personal profit, and that’s what I see happening.

I dislike politics. Politics are convoluted, twisted, and easily distorted by the news. Somehow what should be simple black and white are all these crazy shades of gray. It’s like statistics. Statistics can say anything you want them to; it’s what you say about the numbers and how you present the numbers to say whatever you are saying about the numbers, and the statements can be twisted to say anything with the numbers to back them up depending on how it’s stated. See how twisted that was? I’m not sure I understand what I just said, but I know what I mean. It’s like a game of “telephone”; when we share political information every person puts their own twist on it and in the end nobody is sure what really happened or what actually was said. Then there is “spin” on purpose, which I see and hear coming from the mouths of so many career politicians in the last three years, and I fear what nefarious deeds will be revealed in the future.

I am helpless. I cannot do anything about what is happening. I’m an old fat white woman who doesn’t drive after dark any more, whose income is barely enough to keep ends together. My job doesn’t involve politics, but my work insists on it. We have a duty as citizens to say when our nation is being violated.

I am pragmatic. I have to rely on the people I pay to represent me to stop this lunatic from killing our world.

I am hopeful. I hope clearer headed adults will step in and stop the current actions of a man who thinks only about himself. I hope citizen opinions prevail as I’m sure Americans do not want more war. I hope to keep my mind on positive healing energy, to put my actions to supporting voting rights and the forward action of a truly democratic nation. I hope to keep this man from four more years stealing our tax money and ruining peaceful world progress.

I have only my voice and hope. I won’t be beating you over the head with my opinions for the rest of the year; how boring! I am going to limit what I say, though I will encourage you to vote, every time you can, for everything you can; we want out voices to continue to count. Onward into the future. No one knows what will happen next. I hope the right, and justice, and morality, and ethics prevail.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Shades of blue and gray as technology supports nature. One of my favorite gray-brown fences strung with green lights. Sunbeam reveals shades of gray on a lovely fat rock with a mossy cap. White naked tree is beautiful. The enticing curls of brilliant yellow dandelions.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} In Cold Blood (1967, rated R), with Robert Blake and Scott Wilson, from the Truman Capote true crime novel about the 1959 murder of a family of four in Holcomb, Kansas. The actual home the murder took place in was used to make the film. Filmed in black and white, we look into the criminal mind. * Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008, rated PG – 13) with Scarlett Johansson, about two young women who get to have a couple months of adventures in Barcelona.

Currently Reading – I’m in between fiction novels right now, but I’m only one library visit away from a new read. * Blowout (2019, non-fiction world politics and the oil industry) by Rachel Maddow. It’s about politics. It’s about greed. It’s about nefarious shenanigans. I’m taking my time learning how the wealthy rip us off to line their pockets.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Spending my first ten minutes of the new year, new decade in the fresh midnight air, feeling the wind against my skin, watching the fireworks neighbors were sending off.
  • The fireworks being over quickly. In past years they’ve gone on for hours keeping me awake. I think it reflects a subdued sensibilty for the new year.
  • Spending some time organizing my computer files and deleting old emails.
  • Distracting myself with cleaning. I have an abundance of cleaning to be done.
  • Hubster’s contributions to my own tool box so I don’t keep bugging him for his tools. What’s that they say about a newly retired spouse getting underfoot? Somebody has to clean.
  • Automatic next day projects as yesterday’s still faces me where I left it.
  • So many treasures tucked away in corners.
  • Old toothbrushes for cleaning tiny corners and crevices of treasures.
  • Finding stuff in my magically abundant house.
  • Finding stuff I wonder why I kept.
  • Finding stuff that has definitely died while not being used for who knows how long.
  • The boxes and bags set to go to the trash bin and goodwill.
  • The relief of being rid of some stuff.
  • Mastering the vacuum.
  • Changing the looks of freshly cleaned spaces, by not putting it all back the same way it was.
  • A mild winter so far.
  • Craving Oregon asparagus and Oregon strawberries, only five months!
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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Gratitude Sunday: Re-use, Recycle, Re-purpose, Resist: 2020

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week
“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” Marie Curie

Sunday Haiku
Low light, cool soft mist
diffuses vision, winter
chiaroscuro.

Sunday Musings
I hope you all had a lovely holiday. Mine was wonderful and included people I get to see only once a year. It’s an odd perception, but in the metro area it seems like most of us live at least an hour away from each other, so as I age when a visit is planned it includes planning for more time traveling. When one doesn’t drive at night, one finds an over-nighter to be a comfort relieving answer.

We had so many “lasts” this year. Christmas Day was the last new moon of the year and the last of the decade. This is the last weekend of the month, the last of the year, the last of the decade. December was the last month of the year and the last month of the decade. 2019 was the last year of the 20-teens decade. All those moon cycles and solar eclipses, sunrises and sunsets come and gone.

The last day of the month is a few days away. That day is the last day of the year and the last day of the decade. The next day we burst through to 2020. A new day. A new year. A new decade. The Twenties.

Will these new years be as rebellious as the 1920s? The “Roaring Twenties”? Will this be a decade of great change and progress? Dare I say, upheaval and rebellion? I prefer not; I prefer to think intelligent, sensible, civil people should be able to transition progressively in a peaceful manner. Maybe I’m an idealist; I don’t think violence should have to prevail when we are merely trying to make things better for all, including the least of us. My idealist self forgets the politics of greed.

As much as I love history and honoring history, the best way to go through time is with progress, which indicates change. We must preserve the best of the old ways and look for improvements as well. Change, in my mind, should be focused on helping the most amount of people possible because we are all connected. Greed is silly, even stupid, when there is more than enough for some to have a bit more and the rest of us to have enough. I’d be happy with enough. I could be even more happy with a bit more. Maybe, as I’ve never experienced either I don’t know.

So, no whining. Change and progress can be good. If it goes awry or doesn’t turn out as planned it can be changed. As I’ve said for the last couple years, I feel big changes coming. Maybe the 2020s will have its own roar.

I hope we are looking at major change for 2020. The current American administration is so out of touch with the American people, especially our younger people, I hope we are going to have a multi-colored youth wave, much like the blue wave of 2018. Don’t blame us older folks who have been working toward a better world for 50 years on the world we leave you. The wealthy and the corporations finagled choices away from us and the few advances we made are once again being reversed in the corrupt name of greed. We need to re-use old ideas, recycle old ways, re-purpose old things that aren’t working, and we need to work together to resist the death of the middle class and keep the earth alive. There are more people living in poverty than there are wealthy folks; we have to communicate and work together. It’s not going to be easy.

Our youth must realize the power of their numbers. We no longer need grandfathers who think they know best taking advantage of the least of us. We need strong, progressive, inclusive ideas and programs to strengthen our workforce and infrastructure. If it takes a bit more government for a while to get it done so be it. We have the power to change it if we don’t like it.

I hope we are also seeing and welcoming the strength of women. I see changes in how our youth run their homes and households, on a more gender free, everybody contributes basis. I see women of all ages stepping up to run for office, to be a part of the machinery that helps our country work alongside the global world. I see women, tired of doing it all, standing up and saying “What the hell, I already do it all. And if I’m going to do it all I want a say.”

Women represent more than 50 percent of the American populace. If we were able to talk with each other we could coordinate and win leadership positions. We could finally make the Equal Rights Amendment approved by more than two-thirds of the United States because, jiminy cricket, we can’t function the world without women. It’s time for men to learn to share properly. Obvs. If we had a pink wave and women stood up for families, and health, and education, we could win those battles too.

At one time or another in our lifetimes most of us will experience being disabled in one way or another, even if just temporarily. Disabled people are nearly 13 percent of the populace in America; a white (for healing) wave would go a long way in changing the tide of thinking toward health care, and helping others.

2020 will be an important year in our history. It’s a leap year; we get an extra day! Summer Olympics will be happening in Japan late July and early August; I love the Olympics; swimming, archery, beach volleyball, dressage! I am the best armchair spectator, and I can totally hold down the couch watching. In America on November 3 we will have a presidential election, probably the most important of my lifetime.

I feel lucky to say I was alive when Janis Joplin was, and Maya Angelou, and John Lennon, and David Bowie, and Mother Teresa, and Gandhi, and to experience the presidencies of John F Kennedy and Barack Obama. I don’t feel so lucky during the trump administration, and it will without doubt be an interesting year as I resist his influence and policy. As Maya Angelou said, “Nothing works unless you do.” If one wants truth, justice, morality, and ethics to prevail, no matter what administration or regime one lives under one must work to make it so. We have our work cut out for us. It might not be easy, but it will be worth it. We do not pray for easy; we pray for strength.

Happy New Year. Happy New Decade. I intend to re-use, recycle, re-purpose, and resist. I resolve to stand for right and justice, for ethics and morals. I pray for strength. Here’s to 2020.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Looking for green in all the right places. Sunlight too. Thistle glistens. Green leaves reaching to the sun. Green sunlight. Sunlight peeks through naked branches. Fluffy beige dying cattails are pretty too. My favorite bronze dragon leaf, flying high above the red lava berries and deadly prickles.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} Watched a few classics: White Christmas (1954, not rated), with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera Ellen. I watched with my sister, and my brother-in-law was grateful he didn’t have to. The next night we watched Christmas with the Kranks (2004, rated PG) with Jamie Lee Curtis and Tim Allen, and Elf (2003, rated PG) with Will Farrell. I watched The Christmas Chronicles (2018, rated PG – 13) one last time for the season on Christmas Eve, and once again enjoyed every minute. * Doctor Foster (2015, rated TV – MA), series in which a woman begins to suspect her husband is cheating on her and it looks like most of the town was covering for him. * Merry Happy Whatever (2019, rated TV – PG), TV series, with Dennis Quaid, of a family getting together for ten days around Christmas.

Currently Reading – Sometimes one has to be brutally honest with oneself. I decided to delay my plan to study Colette for my Winter Classic reading. I got my big toe wet and it is much too intense for my brain space right now. It might be on the syllabus for next year, and that’s fine. Detours are the story of my life; Colette’s work will still be there when I am ready. I am challenged to understand why I feel so overwhelmingly busy since I am semi-retired, but those five minute work windows pile up, and I am so easily distracted by the news cycle and fear for the state of our country I can barely keep a straight thought in my head. I’ve always been aware of politics, but in a residual sort of way. I’ve never been frightened by the governing of men before, and the corruption and greed I see brings out the warrior queen in me. My new path is not planned yet, but I will be replacing Colette with works of resistance, history, and social organizations. If we have to pay taxes at least we can define how we can help the most people with our tax money. As a woman who created a new pathway for women I hope she would approve. My challenge: I can only read one non-fiction and one fiction at a time. If I read two fictions at the same time I get them mixed up. If I read two non-fictions at the same time, unless they are extremely different disciplines, I get the information mixed up. This “bleed-through” has happened progressively as I’ve gotten older, so I’ve learned to work with it. I take a little more time now to read than I did before, but it doesn’t matter. My brain is wired to never stop learning (I’m nosy/curious!), at least so far. Things can change in the blink of an eye and change is the only constant. * That said, I’m still reading Blowout (2019, non-fiction world politics and the oil industry) by Rachel Maddow. Poor people are so naive about the nefarious deeds the wealthy are guilty of in the name of profit, and the oil/gas industry is pretty much unregulated in the sense they do whatever they want to do create revenue. With impunity.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • The four five minute windows it took to clean the grease and stains from the wall behind the stove.
  • Getting some pictures cleaned and re-hung.
  • Living in a neighborhood where the children still play outside. What joyful noise!
  • Every day when I wake up.
  • Every night having a safe warm dry bed to sleep in.
  • Sister gifting me a new set of sheets, and oh so clever, the top and bottom are marked so less fussing the sheet around to the right place.
  • How clever “Santa” was this year, finding three pairs of glass, silver, and cloisonné earrings in my colors at a local thrift store for my stocking.
  • Finally finding a method to keep my ears from reacting to earring metals: I use alcohol on front and back of my ear lobes, then the post and back, or the loop. Then I run the post or loop through some almond oil. I have good luck with them sliding right in (I have crooked holes thanks to home piercing as a teenager) and no reaction to the metal.
  • The son coming home Christmas Eve night and spending the night with us.
  • A gift card that enabled me to justify the purchase of a couple office items I needed to have on hand.
  • Creating my own personal (I’m hiding it) tool box, so I don’t have to ask hubster for tools; adding a couple new tools with that same gift card.
  • A semi-graceful recovery from mis-labeling a Christmas gift.
  • Tackling the walls and cupboards in the kitchen, which haven’t been touched in years. Not ready to paint, but at least wiping them down. When I asked for help doing the higher parts of the wall, hubster offered me an appropriate step ladder.
  • A neighbor who said her bulbs are sprouting already and she will be planting peas soon.
  • All the Christmas treats and goodies I brought home from the family weekend. Three quarters of the food loot went into the freezer for later – spreads out the Christmas cheer.
  • Craving Oregon strawberries.
  • Water.
  • Hoping you have a lovely week.

    Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

    Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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Gratitude Sunday: Time For Christmas

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week
“The only certainty is that nothing is certain.” Pliny the Elder

Sunday Haiku
Fog lies low over
valley, hill, town, and country;
weather always wins.

Sunday Musings
When a person suffers PTSD, anxiety, depression, dissociation, loneliness, grief, poverty, financial or housing insecurity, or any combination of these challenges, it’s hard to see beyond today. Frankly, sometimes I’m grateful to see the next hour. If we look at the reality of being human and are transparently honest, there is not one person in the world who does not suffer one or a combination of the list above and some of us are afflicted by even more. If we would know this about each other, one would think there would be a whole lot more compassion and empathy in this world. Unfortunately we add in people who suffer anger about dealing with any emotion and feel entitled to take advantage of the rest of us in the name of greed. They complicate the whole mess of us.

The experience of time distortion is familiar to some people. Many elements can cause it. See above; add to list. Maybe it’s not a bad thing, to perceive time differently. Losing time can be disconcerting: when you planned to spend half an hour on a project and suddenly two hours have passed, though it can also merely mean you were in your groove, had reached the zen of your project. Or it could mean you were determined not to stop until the project was done, whether the doing killed you or not. I work at home now and depending on how my body and brain are working at the time I can be working at 3:00 in the afternoon or in the morning. It’s not only hard to remember what time of day it is but whether it’s time to go to bed; I like naps so bedtime could be 4:00 in the morning, or 4:00 in the afternoon for a nap. Or not.

Each year when we arrive at December, I have the oddest feeling of, hwell, how did that happen? Where was I all year? I know there were days, and days, and days, but what did I do? It wasn’t much different before I became semi-retired, except I was a bit busier from a work schedule outside the house and a raising a child schedule. I’m still busy: I work, I clean, I shop, I cook, I read, I write, I swim, I occasionally get to socialize with friends or family. Where does time go? Does time dribble merely into memory? Is that what memory is, a time recording tucked away into a tidy little package of brain cells, easily accessible, yet sometimes as fluid as blood?

I digress. Maybe that’s where the year goes. Digression.

My Decembers include a feeling of sorrow and grief, of goodbyes and leave-takings. The year is gone, forever, never to be repeated, unchangeable. It’s a good time to balance those sad emotions with accomplishments one has achieved over the year. The hard, ugly things are easier to remember and reflect on because they are so traumatic. We should balance those negative feelings with time spent reflecting on and reveling in the warm fuzzies as well. If one took the time to make a list, most people would find for every negative, one can find a positive for counterweight. (Parents who skipped washing dishes to snuggle or read with their kids get bonus points, not demerits for skipping the dishes. Kas says.) For example, for all the distress I have felt this year over politics, poverty, financial insecurity, Medicare, and Social Security, I still have managed to write more than 40 essays to post in 2019. That’s not nothing.

So speaking of nothing, I will be publishing nothing next week, as I know nobody is dependent on these posts to get through their week. I was able to think ahead (for once) and realize I have the great luxury of spending that weekend with family, some of whom are coming from out of state, and if I’m lucky I actually get to see them once a year. One must take advantage of these events when they occur as they only happen once. It’s one of those choices one makes; I will take the pressure off myself to publish next week and not regret changing my discipline for the week. I have far too much to do to get ready to travel (I’m a poor traveler) for the weekend, and I have to be SantaMama ready for our own Christmas morning before I leave. None of the getting-ready part is hard, it’s the challenge of the five minute work windows. If I don’t pace myself, I’ll get sick, and be out of the game altogether. I still want to play.

I will post one last post for the month of December 2019, one last post for the year 2019, and one last post for the 20-teens decade. I’ll bet you’re looking forward to that. It’ll be a blast!

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Nature has her end of year celebrating colors on: smooth green leaves and red berries. Silvery gray lichens and golden green moss. Spiky, shiny holly with bunches of red berries for the birds. A late blooming ruby red rose.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} Bonnie and Clyde: Til Death Us Do Part (2016, rated TV – 14), a PBS documentary about Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow and how they became infamous and dead before they were thirty. They never married, but were inseparable from the day the met. * Bonnie and Clyde: The Real Story (2013, rated TVPG), a documentary from A&E. Same information. * And the season’s go-to-happy movie; I’m on my third or fourth viewing of The Christmas Chronicles (2018, rated PG — 14) with Kurt Russell as Santa Claus. No spoilers.

Currently Reading – For Winter Classic this year I am studying the works of Colette. I’ve decided to read her works in the order she wrote them, hoping to experience her maturation as a writer. That said, I am dependent on the local lending library and the first of her works (the Claudine series, which her scoundrel husband took credit and payment for) is currently checked out to another library user. I have time for one biography before I proceed to her fiction and hoping the library item comes back into circulation sooner rather than later. * Still reading Blowout (2019, non-fiction world politics and the oil industry) by Rachel Maddow. It’s rather disgusting how the wealthy can buy themselves so much “legal” crime.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Finding corners.
  • The crease tool on my vacuum.
  • Hubster’s patience when I repeatedly couldn’t remember how the pieces of the vacuum fit together.
  • Five minute work windows.
  • My local aquatic center after I put too many five minute work windows together in the same day.
  • Watching the full Cold Moon rise over the neighbor’s house. Last full moon of the decade.
  • Knowing my neighbors after 20 years in the same place.
  • The neighbors’ Christmas lights.
  • My Christmas lights.
  • Finding a couple coupons to Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Perhaps they will inspire a journey and adventure; they certainly have inspired dreams.
  • Being so, so happy with my Egyptian cotton sheets.
  • Finding a kit quilt (pre-cut pieces with instructions for assembly), already pieced and machine quilted, edges well bound, at the thrift store. Machine washable and dryable, not quite my colors, but acceptable, size perfectly fits my bed, if a tad shy. Ten dollars. Deal.
  • A couple dozen fresh eggs at farmers market, farmer had some young hens who decided it was warm enough and still light enough outside to lay some nice eggs, to my advantage.
  • Some nice sweet potatoes, the right size for quick baking, then a fat pat of butter, salt and pepper. Mmmmm.
  • A big bag of fresh spicy greens. Nothing like a handful on a sandwich, or a few leaves sprinkled on soup.
  • A baked and buttered sweet potato with a fried egg on it and a splash of greens for spice. Flavor burst.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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Gratitude Sunday: Altruism And Selfishness

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “Think of the flu shot as installing virus protection software.” Unknown author

Sunday Haiku
Pale sun stripes between
gray clouds, white, silver, fairy
lighted sky stair steps.

Sunday Musings
I got my flu shot this week. I’m sharing because I do flu shots for you, not for me. Hwell, that’s partly true. It’s a sort of Mobius strip of thinking. One part twists back around to the first. We should be able to choose if we want a flu shot without impunity. Or not. Either way it should be OK. I didn’t used to get flu shots though I’ve worked in retail and customer service industries all my life. Only after my semi-retirement have I chosen to have flu shots. I have mixed feelings about vaccinations, and as my education has increased my feelings have evolved, however still mixed. I am pro-choice on vaccines. The choices I make are right for my body; the choices you make are right for your body.

The quote above is a somewhat clumsy analogy because though our “hardware” might be similar, some of us have unpredictable reactions to any new installation, software or otherwise. I don’t generally get the flu. I get upper respiratory infections, otherwise known as colds (when will we have a vaccine for the “common cold”?!?), which sometimes develops into bronchitis. The bronchitis used to be chronic, happening three or four times a year until I realized it was being caused by drinking commercially produced milk. I drank raw milk for five years without one bout of bronchitis and only a couple colds. I’d drink raw milk now if I didn’t have to travel a hundred miles round trip to get it. I drink/use very little commercial milk. I’d change if I had quick, convenient access to raw milk. Live food helps wellness.

In my years of semi-retirement I go out less than when I worked full-time; in the public service job I had I came in contact with all kinds of people. I learned to compulsively wash my hands with hot water and soap. Now I go to the local aquatic center, local grocery stores and thrift shops, the local lending library, and sometimes other adventures. That’s plenty of opportunities for the flu virus to hitchhike a ride home.

I’m not so much afraid of getting the flu, though like anybody else I don’t prefer being sick. Here’s my first reason for getting this invasive treatment: somebody told me their doctor said the people dying from the flu were people who didn’t usually get it. I don’t usually get it, and I’d like about twenty more cranky years, so I got the shot. Second, if I get it, I could give it to someone else. I’m the person who stays home from everything I can when I’m ill, but one often is not aware one is contagious during the first stages of the disease. I’m around many groups of babies and littles and do not want to be responsible for sharing nasty viruses.

Getting a flu shot is both altruistic and selfish. I want my twenty more years, I don’t want you or yours to get sick. Honestly, I’m not even entirely convinced they work at all, but I’ll decide each year as I go along and learn more.

There are occasions I advocate delay of a flu shot. For example, before I got the flu shot, I had a cough from hell for a couple weeks, so bad it kept me out of the pool a few nights; coughs are not friendly to share. It wasn’t quite bronchitis, but I’ve never had pneumonia before (knock wood) so when I couldn’t catch my breath a couple times I decided to see the doctor. I had done all my old home remedies with limited relief. Doctor assured me I didn’t have pneumonia and we brainstormed some additional relief methods without pharmaceuticals. Doctor offered me a flu shot while I was there. I declined. I was already sick and did not want another insult to my system. Such a relief for her to honor my decision about my body, and not apply the I-am-doctor-god-I-know-best pressure. Parents should be able to delay vaccines when their children are ill, without question, and not be restricted to a time schedule for vaccination.

I hope being proactive prepares me for the rest of the holiday season. I’m still a hand washer. Though I attend only a select few holiday events, I want to be well enough to enjoy them and not pay any illness forward. I like that my choice is respected as well: when, where, and if I should choose to have the shot.

Whatever your choice, I wish you health and comfort during this holiday season!

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – We had a brief sprinkle of Oregon snow: a flurry, a dusting, gone by morning, still pretty. A winter blooming red camellia. Snow in the crevices of my hens and chicks sedum. Like powdered sugar on my coral bells. Red poisonous berries of bitter nightshade hosting a tiny spider home.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} RFK (2004, not rated), a documentary about Robert Kennedy’s short life, brief, not in-depth, no sub-titles. * After Life (1998, rated R), a Japanese movie with English subtitles. The newly dead arrive at a motel in which they have three days to choose their favorite memory, that they then get to live with forever. With a twist. * Beware of Mr Baker (2012, not rated), a documentary about the life and music of percussionist Ginger Baker, who passed away in October 2019. He was one wild drummer, whom I loved in Cream and Blind Faith, and a wild man in real life. No subtitles, and British English and slang is enough different than American my old ears have trouble hearing the nuances.

Currently ReadingThe Butterfly Girl (2019, mystery fiction) by Portland’s own Rene Denfeld. I love the use of place in this novel; one is often partial to the place one grew up. The author’s descriptions take me back to my youth when I explored the downtown areas, with its many different neighborhoods: the old vast central county library, the restaurants, the gay bars, the multi-storied department stores, the new industrial areas and the old industrial areas, which now are in their third evolution in my lifetime. Progress can be both good and bad. The author provokes us with a few plot twists at the end. * Blowout (2019, non-fiction world politics and the oil industry) by Rachel Maddow. I like being smart enough to understand the nefarious greedy shenanigans of the wealthy. I am annoyed it bothers me so much. I am frustrated by being able to do nothing about it. I am grateful my academic and self-education have allowed me to think for myself and understand this history and the business of rigging systems to work for the rich and kicking the rest of us to the curb.

Salsa Dance Update
I have most of the steps down. It amuses me how some days I immediately catch the rhythm and all the steps move smoothly, all feels well and fluid. Other days I can’t catch the beat to keep from falling, and every step is off by a half beat. I also am laughing because I realize I learned the dance backward, like I’m a mirror image of the video. Doesn’t matter; I’m moving, and whether I catch the beat or not I move the whole four minutes; the pain remains either way, but I have the music in me. It’s something.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Being able to have a flu shot for the hubster at the same time as mine. He is terrified of getting sick because he weighs about a hundred pounds when he’s wet and less when you dry him off.
  • Our community holiday light parade, which I have the luxury of being within walking distance, and a beautiful night for it, cool but not cold, cloudy but not rainy. Nearly as perfect as perfect can get!
  • Seeing an old friend I’d been thinking about in the parade. Hoping I can amateur detective her phone number since I can’t remember her last name at the moment!
  • My magically abundant house: the more I clean the more I find to clean.
  • Clean stuff, even if it’s only clean occasionally.
  • Finding more proper places for items to live in my house.
  • How a simple change like moving a mirror eight inches to the right can make such a difference in organizing stuff.
  • A new love affair with Command Strips wall hangers.
  • Not being restricted by the clock when cleaning or reorganizing.
  • Amusing myself with my dysgraphia, my brain thinks one thing, my fingers type another.
  • Experimenting with some essential oils seeking relief from dry skin and other pain. Sometimes it just feels good to massage your own muscles, at least the ones you can reach.
  • Discovering how much more I enjoy washing dishes in the afternoon light; I have the luxury of a window over my kitchen sink. I also changed my method of dish-washing I learned as a child, used all these years, and am much happier with the results.
  • Embracing change. Embracing abundance. Embracing the light.
  • Dark chocolate.
  • Excellent Comice pears this year.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

Posted in abundance, Aging, Education, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, Medicine, Nature, Nutrition, Photography, Poetry, Science | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gratitude Sunday: Who Gives A Sheet?

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “You know, young actors say all the time, ‘Should I use my own life experience?’ And my response is, ‘What choice do you have?’” David Mamet

Sunday Haiku
Cold dry air wind-chaps
my sensitive aging skin,
coconut oil soothes.

Sunday Musings
What a difference a sheet makes! And what a luxury choice is.

I am the voice of intelligent poverty. I will remind you, I don’t live in grinding poverty. I have the safety of a warm home with an intact roof and walls, no rats or other pests other than sugar ants and a skunk under the shed, and mostly we are able to have enough to eat. It’s true, one eats less as we age. My poverty includes not being able to care for my home as it needs (I’m in need of both electrical and plumbing repairs, plus my roof and gutters need attention along with carpets, and paint inside and out), and our transportation is old, getting older, and disintegrating as we speak.

Financial security gives the comfort of knowing one can handle any needed repairs, or replace stuff that breaks beyond fixing, or not get behind on the mortgage because one chooses to pay the property tax to get the three percent discount when the tax is due. Knowing one has unlimited choices, and doesn’t have to scrimp to be able to afford simple pleasures, like a movie out, or new sheets, is a major stress reliever. Ah yes, stress. The bane of America.

Credit is such a tease. With the swipe of a few purchases one can be in enough debt that, with interest and minimum payments, one might never get out of debt. Even when one stops purchasing, the interest charges feed the debt and unless one can somehow pay the debt off in full, it may take thirty years to pay off the interest charges on old debt. If one charges food purchases, one is paying interest charges for years after the food is long gone. Banks love that kind of debt.

In the 1950s and 60s when I was growing up, my grandpa repeated the mantra: If you can’t pay cash, you can’t afford it. It is an interesting way to go, and if one applies appropriate budgeting it can work very well. However, times and bank and mortgage processes have changed such that one needs a credit score in many cases. Because I have always paid for most things in cash, or inherited used items, when it comes to qualifying for a standard bank loan for a car or a house I am out of luck because of a lack of credit score. Fortunately I don’t have to care. My home is on a personal contract, and so far so good; I escaped damage from the 2008 crash because of the contract not being a bank loan.

Interestingly, this poverty of fluid cash flow prevents my identity being stolen, or so far at least. I received a denial notice for a new card, and a bank loan in my name from a place I knew I had not applied to. I called and got it straightened out, blocking my name from being used with them again. I wondered who had bothered to dig through what trash to get my information. Now I routinely cut out name, address, and any bar-coding around my information, and you have to look through all parts of mail as sometimes the same information is hidden on a page inside. Even being poor requires diligence.

It also requires resourcefulness. Along with whining, which I am so good at, I like to find solutions. I entertain the thought as one of the elements of being Libra born, how to balance one side with the other. It’s only now in the older days of my life I am beginning to be comfortable with the unbalanced part of things never being equal.

I was a Merit Badge Counselor for Boy Scouts when I volunteered to work with them. One of the merit badges I counseled for was Personal Management, how to manage both time and money. I probably learned more than the boys. Counseling merit badges is easy as long as you remember it’s black and white. The question or requirement is exactly as written: if it says tell, the scout must tell (talk to you with words), if it says “discuss” the scout must be able to have a conversation with the counselor, and if it says keep a record in writing the scout must show the record to the counselor. The counselor cannot require any more or less than what is written in black and white in the requirements; no assigning extra reading or writing or research or application beyond what is written as requirements. When done properly in black and white the counselor signs off on the achievement. Only once did I send a scout back for a re-do. I didn’t require the scouts to do all the extra reading I did about budgeting and money management, because it wasn’t in the requirements, but all that extra reading helped me in having ideas for suggestions when the scouts would ask how to do the requirement.

Often scouts and the rest of us struggle with finding the item that best suits our needs (choosing what I want), budgeting for the item (maybe choosing to forgo other purchases for a while or taking an extra job), saving for the item (choosing how to acquire the money, and where to save it) , and waiting until the item goes on sale at the best price; choosing delayed gratification is usually the hardest part at least until one becomes accustomed to paying the least amount of money. Knowing your numbers puts you in control of them, and when shit happens as it always does, no matter how much money you have, at least you know what your current numbers are, and where you might be able to recover from the latest warm pile of poo. A scout is thrifty and prepared.

All this to say, patience is sometimes rewarded. I enjoyed spending a night at my brother’s home a few years back, and my gracious sister-in-law provided the best sheets ever. They were so soft it was like water (if water could be felt dry) on one’s skin; you couldn’t really feel them they were so smooth, but you could really really feel them because they were so smooth and soft. It was a skin comfort I have desired ever since.

I had already heard about the comfort of luxury sheets, and I’d done some research. After the experience at my brother’s I began research in earnest: the best recommended brands; differences between threads, thread counts, and types of material; what brands luxury hotels use; the most popular brands with wealthy people; reviews by people who had spent the money; and I’d begun researching availability and watching for sales. I’ve been doing that for several years now holding out on the possibility I might come into a freak bit of “extra” money or the random gift card to Bed, Bath, and Beyond might come my way. I’ve loved textiles for years, but I would not purchase any textile without feeling it first. BB&B is not going to let you open brand new packages and let you feel the material. Perhaps they have samples out, but I was afraid to shop for fear of falling prey to the omg-I-love-it-I-have-to-have-it-now feeling. That’s precisely why I had to stop garage sale-ing. There is always something to want, always something to spend money on. FYI, my favorite book on budgeting is Elizabeth Warren’s book All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan (2005, personal economics), because her 20/30/50 budget was easy to understand and allowed for everything: immediate living expenses, contingent expenses, retirement savings, and play money. This life hardly seems worth it without some play time.

I was gifted a new queen sized bed last summer, with sheets. The sheets were fine, they fit, but I started thinking (not always a good thing, ha) maybe this was the bed I would die with and now would be the time for fine sheets while I can still enjoy them. Don’t get all morbid now, everybody dies. It’s part of life. We’re talking about enjoying while we can.

Goodwill to the rescue. Our local is close and on my regular shopping circuit. Since it is so convenient, and their items change so often, I’ve been taking a few minutes on shopping days or library days to stop in. I feel the sheets, I compare prices and textures, I look at edges and edging, the quality of the elastic, I look for stains and worn spots. The best part is feeling the material. The hardest part is being willing to choose NOT to spend money. I found several flat sheets that would work. There’s one of the signal phrases to watch for: “it will work”, “I don’t love it, but it fits”, “maybe I can fake it”, “it’s almost right, I can alter it to make it fit”. All those thoughts are Big Red Flags to say NO to the purchase. If your brain does that to you, make it a habit of getting receipts and knowing return policies. Sometimes you can recoup wasted money. Every one of those thoughts is wasted money, also it’s settling for less than what you truly want. One does not wear what one does not love, nor what does not fit; not using an item one purchased is the definition of wasted money. One can end up with piles of stuff that could have worked “if”, if one was craftier than one is. Truly crafty people might not have this challenge as they re-craft stuff and it works.

Occasionally, patience and persistence finds a treasure. Sorting through the sheet section recently, my hands found this lovely material and revealed a queen set in 100% Egyptian cotton, and there was a pillow case too. I had a budget of twenty dollars for sheets tucked into my purse, saved from a birthday gift. From the tags, I could afford the sheets on my budget, and even better, when I got to the register they rang as five bucks. I washed the Goodwill smell from them (I’m not creeped out by used sheets after I’ve run them through my detergent a few times). I am in sheet heaven. Now I desire a second set for the ease of trading out on washing day. I admit to being as spoiled as Martha Stewart; I would love fresh sheets every day, but I don’t want to do that much laundry, so I settle for twice a week. I will find a new set. For today, though, today I have a bit of luxury around my skin every night.

Patience, Grasshopper. And persistence. Be prepared. Keep looking.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – My neighbors have caught pictures of some pretty pathways locally. Early morning late autumn yellow and orange light and leaves at a local rural bus stop.

Photo by Lindsey Swan

A fog-grayed pathway at a local wetland.

Photo by Sherri Mead

The pathway changes to dirt as you walk along the trails at the wetlands; here some orange leaves delight beside the path.

Photo by Sherri Mead

The path leads to silhouettes of brown teasel beside a foggy pond.

Photo by Sherri Mead

Chiaroscuro view of heron and saplings.

Photo by Sherri Mead

Another neighbor grounded his view with a shot of amanita muscaria, a red/orange/or yellow mushroom with a classic shape; beautiful, but not generally recommended for eating.

Photo by Jason Vandehey

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} Discovered a couple of series I had watched had new seasons out, but when I started watching season two I had only the vaguest memory of the series. So back to season one and a quick re-binge and onto season two. Which series? From Netflix: The Kominski Method (2018, rated TV – MA) with Michael Douglas, Alan Arkin, and Nancy Travis, about an actor who teaches acting. * And from BBC Killing Eve (2018, rated TV – MA) with Sandra Oh as Eve, the detective who discovers a female psychopathic serial killer, and the killer turns her sights on Eve.

Currently ReadingThe Butterfly Girl (2019, mystery fiction) by Portland’s own Rene Denfeld. How delighted I was to find the author using characters from one of her other books, The Child Finder (2017, mystery fiction). This novel has its own merits but it is Denfeld’s standard, provocative writing, a plot with a twist, and compelling simply written characters. * Blowout (2019, non-fiction world politics and the oil industry) by Rachel Maddow. I’m a slow reader when it comes to history and economics, especially if there is any greed involved which makes me angry. I don’t mind people making a profit but greed at the expense of others is annoying. I like to understand what I read but sometimes I am so angry after understanding what happened and why, it makes it that much harder to read. This is one of those books where I just have to be patient and take my time reading for absorption. So much greed goes on in the oil industry. I’ve known that since I was seventeen and pumped gas for 25 cents a gallon, and then waiting in line during the gas “shortages” in the 1970s. Maddow is skilled at putting the pieces together.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Not having to go any where in the cold that I don’t want to.
  • A no-incident, safe journey over to Costco when I wanted to.
  • My son enjoying Thanksgiving dinner with friends and coming home early enough to spend a little time conversing with me.
  • No longer having any excuse to keep me from watching The Christmas Chronicles (2018, rated TV – PG), a new favorite movie.
  • Looking forward to my sheets every night. As if I didn’t already like my bed enough.
  • Knowing a friend who is going through a tough time has some family to help as well.
  • T-day dinner with the hubster was a simple, quiet meal. He is not fond of turkey; instead, we had rotisserie chicken, hand smashed potatoes, box stuffing, hubster’s famous gravy (to this day I cannot make gravy to save my life), jellied cranberry sauce, and some reheated artisan rolls from the freezer. Not a green or a yellow to be found in the food groups.
  • Leftovers.
  • Fresh chicken stock. And the bits of chicken I recovered from the carcass for soup.
  • A mysterious secret well-wisher who sent me cash inside a lovely card with a handwritten note but no signature. The amateur detective I am has not revealed the donor. It’s rather delightful just knowing somebody was thinking about me.
  • Surprise cash!
  • Creamy juicy Comice pears.
  • Little baby bananas, just the right size for me. Regular sized bananas upset my stomach.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

Posted in abundance, Aging, Education, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, History, Homemaking, Nature, Photography, Poetry, Psychology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gratitude Sunday: What’s On Your Thankful List?

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “For what I have received may the Lord make me truly thankful. And more truly for what I have not received.” Storm Jameson

Sunday Haiku
Yellow leaves dangle,
wind-dancing, sparkling, tipping
branches like glitter.

Sunday Musings
It’s showtime! The holidays are on. I can’t wait for January 2nd.

Isn’t it interesting how some people love the holidays and some people don’t? What happens in the lives of people who don’t that they have such difficulty dealing with these celebratory events?

We know families suffer all kinds of trauma and it affects our interactions, our trust levels, and our ability to communicate. We have difficulty letting others be themselves. We want them to be like us, but the delight of being human is the fact we are different. We will never be the same or think the same or behave the same. And it’s all good, because when each person has different skills we can bring many talents to the table.

My current (and forever) issue is dealing with overthinking. It’s bad enough to dislike commercials and consumerism. I start thinking about the history and “dis”-history of the event. Thanksgiving is a case in point.

If we talk about the first Thanksgiving, what is the true story? We don’t know. We have a myth that has come down to us and somehow it has turned into a huge national forced holiday. Like Columbus Day or Indigenous Person’s Day, whatever we want to call it, this is a holiday of mixed feelings. We don’t know how the native population was really treated by the white men who came here insisting on manifest destiny, yet the myth of the native celebrating with the usurpers persists. Perhaps they really did bury the hatchet. Or not.

The myth has developed into this holiday that seems to force families together whether they like it or not. For everybody to purchase and eat the same (or almost) meal on the same day. I realize I’m being gloomy. It’s good for families to spend time together as long as it’s not destructive, and so many families are.

This sounds like I have a totally dysfunctional family. I don’t. We have our challenges but nothing major, and mostly our challenges are geographic and logistical.

I don’t need to be told to be thankful on one day of the year. I’m thankful all the darn time. I have to be. I’ve been through plenty of hard times, still going through them, as a matter of fact. But in between the bad times there are good times. The bad times can be so loud it’s hard to remember the good times.

So, enough cranky for today.

I am thankful for kicking this cold-thingy I just had. That it didn’t turn into bronchitis. Or pneumonia.

I am thankful for my doctor who was able to get me in immediately when I panicked about not being able to catch my breath.

I am thankful for being able to communicate my concerns about my reactions to pharmaceuticals and a doctor who honors my concerns instead of foisting drugs upon me.

I am thankful for having the time I need to rest when I am ill, and a safe warm home to do so in.

I am thankful for a counselor who listens and lets me vent every nasty and loving thought I have without judgment.

I am thankful for invitations and people who understand when I can’t attend.

I am thankful for my sister’s early discovery of a health issue and her routine recovery without new challenges.

I am thankful for the people who organize the local farmers market, and the winter indoor markets they provide.

I am thankful for the local gardeners and farmers who are willing to sell their produce to their friends and neighbors.

I am thankful for long distance relatives, even though I don’t get to see them more than once a decade or so, including some I haven’t met in person yet. Somehow comforting to know people who share my blood and heritage are all over the United States.

I am thankful for family, no matter the challenges.

I am thankful for knowing that because we came from the same source we are all connected, whether we claim it or not.

I am thankful for choice, for yeses and nos.

I am thankful for the freedom to read and learn as I please.

I am thankful the first nation people didn’t kill the white people who arrived on strange ships, who brought illness and oppression to their people, as some of the usurpers were my ancestors. It is likely some of those indigenous people were my ancestors as well.

I am thankful for the few people who think I’m worthy, because I struggle everyday trying to remember that.

I am thankful for access to my local aquatic center and the patroness who subsidizes my membership fee.

I am thankful for water at my tap, hot or cold, any time I want it.

I am thankful for the patience of getting through the holidays with as little stress as possible.

I am thankful for being able to offer you wishes for the holiday of your choice, that you get to share with those you love and who love you, and that you can have peace in your heart.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Great globs of green moss. Burgundy leaves against red berried cotoneaster. Shades of naked brown lilac branches against my faded brown fence. My favorite red rock decorated with green moss and sparkly rain drops.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} Season 6 of Showtime’s Ray Donovan (2018, rated TV – MA) with Liev Schreiber. Fascinating how watching violence on the screen makes me feel grateful for my safe placid life.

Currently ReadingAdvice for Future Corpses (and those who love them):A Practical Perspective on Death and Dying (2018, death, terminal care) by Sallie Tisdale. Hwell, my plan of being laid out on my bed and burning my house around me won’t work. The fire will not be hot enough to dispose all of me. Also embalming is not a legal requirement. Ms Tisdale has provided inspiration to find an eco-friendly manner of my body disposal. * Blowout (2019, world politics and the oil industry) by Rachel Maddow. The nefarious deeds of greed, greedy, power hungry people, and how they use the long game.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • On an errand this week I sat at a stop sign and watched a a sparkly gold glitter tree. The tree was large, and had shed most of its bright yellow leaves. The leaves that hung on were wind dancing and the way the light hit them it looked like the tree had been showered with gold glitter.
  • The angle of the light.
  • The few minutes I spend outside everyday.
  • Having my own private yard to look at the neighbor’s trees from.
  • The wildlife in my yard: crows, jays, other birds, squirrels, skunks, possums, raccoons, frogs, and all the little creatures I can’t see.
  • The son sticking with his new job.
  • The abundant feeling of having my own home, even though it’s hard to keep making the ends meet.
  • Rubber bands. Cheap fidgeters.
  • Costco’s rotisserie chicken.
  • Creamy, sweet Comice pears.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

Posted in abundance, Aging, Family, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, History, Medicine, Nature, Photography, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gratitude Sunday: Holiday Kitty Litter

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “I will go out of my way to avoid the shopping crowds and the extreme consumerism – I hate all that.” Annie Lennox

Sunday Haiku
Squint at clouds, layered,
gray battles silver lining,
tiny hole of blue.

Sunday Musings
Get ready for the ride! Here come the holidays!

People have different approaches to the holidays. Some folks are full tilt boogie everything for the holidays love every minute folks. Some folks are total Grinches and don’t enjoy any of it. Most of us fall somewhere in between. I’m likely a few notches above Grinch level.

It’s OK. It’s OK to make a big deal out of holidays. Or not. You should, in the words of the 70s, do your own thing, find your bliss, be one with the universe. Find your own comfort zone. Do what makes you happy. If you like going all out, do it as long as you don’t go into debt for it. If you feel like doing nothing, that’s up to you as well.

I do less each year. It’s just that time in my life where my wishes exceed my abilities. I didn’t think much about it while I was getting here because I was busy living my life, but aging creeps up on you and suddenly you can’t do what you used to be able to do. I don’t drive at night if I can help it. Hwell, that’s a lie. I drive to the pool and back; it’s about six blocks and I’m hyper-vigilant because my pool date is non-negotiable. I can’t walk as much as I used to though I keep trying; I avoid step stools, and I don’t have the muscle to force open the sticking shed door where we store the Christmas stuff. The two guys in my support system don’t care about decorations (as least they won’t bother to help) as long as they get a present. We prioritize. Presents it is.

I’m all for celebrating. In your own way, whatever that means. Maybe it means lighting a candle and sharing a phone call with your child who lives across the country while your kitty sits on your lap. Maybe it means an Ethyl Kennedy style Christmas with a spacious, financially secure home beautifully decorated by staff, with all your dozens of family members around you. Like every other family the Kennedys have suffered their own tragedies. Maybe your entire celebration might consist of sitting in a recliner next to a window reminiscing about Christmas past. Maybe your celebration is something in between or nothing at all. Hopefully you get to celebrate with other people, because that’s the whole point. Connections.

I know you’ve been waiting for it. The part where I whine, or complain, or grumble about what I don’t like about the holidays. It’s pretty simple. If you’ve been reading me you’ve heard it before.

Commercials. Marketing. Consumerism. Capitalism.

Each one of these things in and of itself is not a bad thing. Even a couple of them put together aren’t bad. However when you add them altogether and multiply it by greed, the psychological damage is potentially exponential.

Letting people know you have items for sale is not bad. Discounts are good. Here’s where the greed comes in: marketing sets us up for unrealistic expectations. Commercials take advantage of that, and market the psychology of spending and purchasing.

In commercials everything is perfect. The village is picture perfect. It’s snowing but there’s no wind and nobody is shivering, and all are smiling while enjoying the shopping adventure. Everybody has a beautiful new wool coat, and gloves, and boots, and scarves. The family gatherings take place in large well appointed spotlessly clean homes. Party goers are coiffed and coutured, all the women spanxed and heeled and the men are dressed in suits. The food on the table has been food styled to be camera ready. Grandma’s fully abled, and there is nary a differently abled relative or friend in site. Commercials are making progress showing some same-sex couples/families, but they still all have these perfect homes and lifestyles. And of course, you wear your LL Bean clothes and own a vintage pickup truck to drive to the perfect spot from which to cut your Christmas on the perfect day when the snow is dropping lightly but not cold or wet.

In commercials people are so financially secure they can buy a $40,000.00 car for both adults in the household, it’s all good. Want diamonds? On it. A new tractor for your gentleman’s hobby farm? Coming right up. Flying home for the holidays? No problems, no delays. All the presents on the wish lists for all your kids, who needs a budget? Easy, peasy. If you want the lifestyle in this commercial, buy this product and you will surely achieve the same as what you see before you on the bright shiny TV set. You will have the perfect holiday and the perfect life.

That’s not unreasonable, right? To want more, to desire, to work to be better. Not necessarily better than the other guy, but better each day, better than the persons we were yesterday. To want the goodies being made available to you? It’s certainly not unreasonable.

It’s not unreasonable, but it is unrealistic; commercials paint an unrealistic view. Not many people in this rigged economy can achieve the level presented in commercials.

I want to see a thirty second commercial (imaging the flashes) with a modest three/two ranch, or a WWII tract house with people stepping all over each other, like a game of roll over, whenever any one person moves makes a chain reaction with everyone else having to move as well; the guests in torn jeans, ragged sweaters, and flip-flops, guzzling down beers; kids screaming and beating each other up when the parents aren’t looking; the teens have sneaked off to the back yard to smoke cigarettes and the “college” kids are in the side yard smoking cannabis; grandpa’s slugging down whiskey hiding in the rickety old shed they call a garage where the old ’69 Dodge Charger sits on blocks; grandma’s blissed out on bible verses and Jesus’s birthday; sister is fussing about the food (thank god somebody is), but with all the fuss, there is not a can of cranberry sauce in the entire house and she’s on the phone with the cousin who made the last minute run to the store who has been to four stores and they are trying to brain storm what obscure local store might still have a can or two on the shelf. The sister-in-law who never shows up has called to say she is on her way; a niece and her kids have fetched a disabled auntie and they come busting through the door, relatives scattering ahead of auntie’s cane which she wields like a sword separating the crowd because she thinks she’s some kind of warrior pirate queen; one uncle is drunk already and fortunately passed out in front of the football game turned up loud for the deaf uncle sitting beside him; another uncle is lecturing about horticulture, in French, which nobody understands except for one great-grand-nephew who is all puffed up because he is taking first year French in his first year of high school and he thinks flowers are stupid but he’s trying to keep up with the French because he’s at the age he knows everything. The gay cousin is hanging out with grandma, better Bibled than bullied, she loves him the best anyway, and since he’s the only one who can make gravy since grandma quit making it, the family keeps him. The cousin who got out of prison in August brought his new wife and their new baby who has Down’s Syndrome and the baby is the only one who smiles at the cat who ripped down most of the Christmas tree, the only decoration in the room. Zoom in on the cat, a piece of tinsel still hanging from his mouth, the only one paying attention to the baby and from the vaguely Christmassy music we can’t decide if we are looking at the cat from hell or a loving kitty. What are we selling? Maybe, Holiday Scented Kitty Litter, your choice of fragrances: Pussy Pine or Calico Cinnamon. And real life. Realistic life. I’m sure wealthy people forget the cranberry sauce and need kitty litter as much as the rest of us, we just don’t get to see it my way.

Commercials assume financial security. Few of us have the financial security portrayed in commercials so marketing through commercials psychologically stimulate unwarranted desire. If the item had not been presented you might not even know you need it. Correct term: want it. There is little in the commercial, consumer, capitalist world we NEED.

I’m not going to drag on and on about the evils of overspending and over-consuming because of unwarranted desire because I have a cold and I’m going back to bed. Suffice it to say, as I’ve said in previous years, buy used, recycle, re-purpose, encourage history (give grandma’s bracelet to a family member who will remember the story) or knowledge (grandpas’ old tools) sharing instead of buying more stuff. Re-gifting is honorable, but the most important part of the holidays is the connection with others. Spend time with those you love. It’s so much sweeter when you have company along for the ride.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – A neighbor caught some colorful pictures at our local lake. Love the creamy white fog over the hills and all the natural shades of grayed green.

Photo by Tina Carlson

A bright tree illuminates the pathway.

Photo by Tina Carlson

Last of the summer roses; white seems appropriate.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} Sometimes a Great Notion (1971, rated PG) with Henry Fonda, Paul Newman, and Lee Remick from the novel by Ken Kesey. I’ve been watching old movies I haven’t seen so I can recognize the cultural references. This movie is about a family’s struggle to keep making a living in the Oregon logging industry. Fabulous photography of the land, and like construction or demolition, I could watch logging all day (not do it, watch it). I particularly identified with the last scene. I didn’t figure out the meaning of the title but the alternative title (Never Give an Inch) resonates with me as I continue swimming upstream. * Because of sick leave on the couch I re-binge-watched Breaking Bad (2008-2013, rated TV – MA). I also watched the new follow-up movie about the same series, El Camino (2019, rated TV – MA). This series is about the development of a man who was a high school chemistry teacher with a family has always lived a mild average life who finds he has late stage lung cancer and begins to make some choices he would never have made otherwise, including production of methamphetamine and the violence that goes with the drug world. The compelling characters, plot twists, and the neat wrapping up of details at the end kept me watching.

Currently ReadingBlowout (2019, world politics and the oil industry) by Rachel Maddow. I’m just starting this and I’ll be a while with this one. Maddow is brilliant at putting the pieces together, and I’m slow with the uptake, but I am nothing if not persistent.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Not being expected at work.
  • Not having to call my ex-supervisor to let them know I’m sick.
  • Chicken soup.
  • Popsicles.
  • Cold sheets.
  • Expectorants.
  • Analgesics.
  • My bed.
  • A warm house.
  • TV remotes.
  • Little House on the Prairie. Just the best way to be sick, snuggled up with Ma and Pa Ingalls.
  • Hot tea with honey.
  • Being able to taste some strawberries.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

Posted in abundance, Aging, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, Nature, Photography, Poetry, Psychology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gratitude Sunday: Veteran’s Day: Remember The Ladies

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “I spent 22 years in the Navy, and sacrificed numerous holidays and birthdays so every American can hold tight to his own beliefs and to be able to speak his mind…even if I don’t agree with him!” My brother (name withheld for privacy)

Sunday Haiku
Fog dips, undulates
around camera, obscures
lens, reality.

Sunday Musings
I ran into an acquaintance this week as I was leaving the grocery store. Since we hadn’t seen each other for a while we chatted, caught up, shared a few opinions and a few minutes, checked to make sure we had each other’s phone numbers, and decided we’d find a time to get together for coffee. I’m a late riser. Since forced into early semi-retirement I go with the flow as far as my body goes: I go to bed when I’m tired, I get up when I have to.

She admitted to being a late riser also but it’s taken her years to learn how to do so. She spent thirty years in the military before her body gave out. In the military you learn a schedule. You get out of bed at the crack of dawn, and you work til after dark. You are scheduled, disciplined, regimented, obedient. No naps, no lollygagging, no dillydallying.

I know half a dozen ex-military women. They are women like any other. They fell in love and out of love. They married; they divorced; they became widowed. They birthed and raised children and dealt with bodily monthly cycles, theirs and their children’s. They helped their elders die. The career they chose was to serve our country in one of the hardest service jobs there is. Women make great leaders; if we had more women leaders in our world we’d have less war. It’s as if the biological imperative of the female body keeps us more grounded, more steady, more connected to others and reality.

For many in the United States today, military service is the pathway to a decent guaranteed living wage income and retirement income, with caveats of course. I’ve watched many young people finish and polish their educations while serving, improving themselves and the quality of service they can give at a living wage. My younger brother, for example, was able to get into NROTC, and during his more than twenty years of service in the Navy earned his Master’s degree while serving at Annapolis, along with other posts. Like other men, he fell in love, married, raised and educated children, he went where the military told him and took his family with him. His retirement pension is more than I was ever able to make while working. We have good-natured disputes about how my tax payments are part of his retirement pay (though he still pays taxes as well, that’s where it gets muddy), but that’s another essay. I do not begrudge his income because he served. He worked; he earned it.

I was never able to make that kind of commitment. I was the dissenter in our family. It’s their fault; they taught me to read and think for myself and then they didn’t know what to do with me when I did. Well, Mom did. Her solution was getting me a library card and introducing me to the local reference librarian. When Vietnam started I was already versed in the military industrial complex and objected to the political machinery, so from a moral and ethical standpoint I was not suited for military service, though I have always advocated mandatory civil service (another essay). While my self-education and academic education might not have earned me much money, I know how to research, think for myself, and draw my own conclusions. That’s something.

The brother I mentioned above told our mom several times he thought I would have made more money and had more opportunities if I’d gone to college right out of high school. He’s likely right. I didn’t have proper guidance; because I came from a poor family, was female, and already on the rounder side of traditional women’s bodies, I was abandoned. It may be hard for young people to believe but in those days young women were still only encouraged to college in order to find a husband. Yes, not that long ago. From the way men treated me I didn’t think a husband was realistic and prepared to support myself in a trade. Platitude: hindsight is sooo 20/20. Obviously the opportunities and adventures would have been different had I been guided and encouraged to the college path. It’s a “what if” rabbit hole; the past is the past; it is what it is, and one does the best one can with what one has in the moment, because for some of us the best laid plans seem forever thwarted.

I wanted to honor women in the military with this post, not whine about me. I’ve talked in past posts about how I think every American has served America, just in different ways than military service; this is connected to the civil service idea. Dad served in the Philippines as a rear tail gunner, he got that particular job because he was skinny enough to fit the little seats they put in the read end of the planes. When I was a pre-teen Mom and Dad served in the local Civil Defense Corps. Most of the volunteers were families, some of them were neighbors and friends. They trained in rescuing people from rubble after a bomb or destruction situation, how to apply first aid, and emergency preparation. Families took their children with them. We were often used as “models” made up with wound make-up or fake broken bones, and fake buried under piles of real rubble (we were perfectly safe), so our parents could “rescue” and “treat” us. I advocate now for a resurrection of Civil Defense programs, because none of us knows how close we really are to such tragedy. When Mom died I found her Red Cross First Aid books and gave them to her granddaughter whose career is in nursing, another service career.

I think about women who have served similarly to the way my mother felt about the pioneer women who came across the Oregon Trail. Every time we’d drive through the Baker City area Mom would start crying as she thought about the women who helped their families move across a continent. In a covered wagon. With wooden wheels. Dragging kids, and horses, and cows with you, all who need feeding and cleaning. Cooking over an open fire. Doing laundry on the run, if at all. Having discreet sex with your husband within earshot of fourteen other families, only bits of cloth and darkness separating you from them. Cleaning rags to catch the blood from your monthly menstrual cycle. Birthing babies. Nursing babies. Nursing the sick and injured. Leaving loved ones for the unknown. Throwing your stuff away along the trail because the horses no longer have the strength to pull the heavy wagon. Mom cried, and it took years for her to tell me why. Would I have understood more had she been able to tell me her thoughts earlier in our lives? Rhetorical, of course, as it is what it is.

I cry thinking of the service of women. We carry that extra biological burden. The one with the monthly reminder our bodies can make babies too. When we leave our babies or loved ones behind we grieve. I can’t say we grieve more than men because in this lifetime I’ll never know that, but I suspect we grieve differently. Men often don’t recognize the connection between us the way many women instantly do. Life comes out of our bodies after spending a significant amount of time inside us. The life coming out of a man’s body he experiences for a few seconds, and once freed it’s like that tiny sperm cell has its own program beyond its producer, a mind of its own, if you will.

I do not want to imagine being in a foreign country thousands of miles from home, serving in a military issue uniform with Kevlar, hauling around a 40 pound pack and a 30 pound weapon, where it’s 100 degrees every day and so dusty you can barely breathe, and surprise. Nature bleeds from you. Or the surprise of no bleeding when expected and knowing in the next few months you will have to change your form of service.

I am such a spoiled modest queen, I totally prefer dealing with those personal women things in the comfort and privacy of my own home. After menopause one still deals with personal women things. So much to look forward to!

Women do it every day. We deal. We serve. In uniform and out.

Why should any less be expected? We are human beings. Male, female, or whatever else you come equipped with, we come with the same basic parts. Some of us are average, some exceptional, others not so much. None of it matters. If we think we can accomplish something we should be enabled to try, and if we succeed we should be honored. If we fail, we should be encouraged to try again, or move on to the next adventure. If we are women who choose to make the commitment of military service we figure out how to deal. Or we don’t and choose another path.

In honor of my aunt (name withheld for privacy), who served a career in the Navy: Thank you. I want to thank you now, out loud, in public, while I am lucky to still have you in my life. I couldn’t have done it without you doing the part you did in protecting and serving our country. I wouldn’t have the freedom to do my own research, think for myself, and draw my own conclusions. We couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you for serving.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – It’s the little things: from the smallest brown acorn cap cradled in green grass. To the burgundy shamrock shaped leaves and quarter-sized white flowers of oxalis defying the early frosts. To the complicated patterns of red berries and white starburst seeds backed by shiny green leaves. And the sage green and burgundy Fibonacci spirals of sedums against stone aggregate hosting gray lichens. To a wet webbed veil catching rain for another sedum. To the bigger pictures of translucent rain-dropped glass graying the autumn-fired day.

Photo by Sherri Mead

And a local walking trail caught on a foggy sunrise ever so like an impressionist painting.

Photo by Ashley Roth

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} Committed (1985, not rated), a stylized black and white mockumentary style production about a period during the 1950s when Frances Farmer, a movie star of the time, was committed to a mental institution and her mental health status was questioned. I thought the production well done, but the littlest things about movies can bother me; continuity and details annoy me. Farmer was a heavy smoker, which is portrayed in the movie. Lighters were not so popular then and disposable lighters were a thing of the future; everybody used matches. Prior to 1973 the striker pad on the matchbook was on the front, same side you tear the matches from, and by law that year it was changed to be on the back, the opposite side you tear the matches from to prevent accidental combustion. The movie is a 1985 production about a 1950s time period and the strikers were on the back. So wah, bah, details. * Don’t Bother to Knock (1952, “passed”) with Marilyn Monroe, Anne Bancroft, and Richard Widmark. A film noir story about a young woman who is not entirely mentally stable. I think as an actress Marilyn had unrecognized depth.

Currently ReadingAdvice for Future Corpses (and those who love them):A Practical Perspective on Death and Dying (2018, death, terminal care) by Sallie Tisdale. Ms Tisdale isn’t kidding when she says practical: how we or our loved ones might change or be during the last days, during lingering and sudden deaths. This treatise is so frankly informative in such a dignified and respectful way, it should be required in every health class, and a reference item for anyone in health or nursing services, better yet it is in layman’s terms. * Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams (2017, sleep science) by Matthew P. Walker. Frightening to know most of the folks driving on the road with you are sleep deprived, including truck drivers, and the occurrence of sleep deprived car crashes are higher than drunk driving crashes. If you add alcohol to sleep deprivation, it’s not additive, it’s multiplicative. That’s a sobering thought. What counts as sleep deprived? Anything less than eight hours of quality sleep every night. Elders included.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Veterans.
  • Still having my own home to take care of.
  • Still being able to do much of that taking care of.
  • Finding some old jewelry I had tucked away.
  • One of those days I stayed in my bathrobe all day. Headache.
  • Getting a box full of the past moved out of the living room into storage. Out of sight, out of mind. Still available if needed.
  • Setting small goals and getting them accomplished.
  • Those five minute work windows and the days that allow for more than one or two of them.
  • Our community having two neighborhood clean-up days a year, during which we can dispose of extra waste at no charge. They accept a limited number of mattresses and appliances per household as well. I finally decided I had a mattress and box spring that could not be used again and have waited all summer to get rid of them. Hubster made it happen before the son could get his shoes on. To prove he could. I’m grateful he could.
  • Getting rid of unusable stuff.
  • Little Christmas lights I can put around the house without having to go full-tree. Bright and cheery on these dark nights. So easy on remote controls.
  • How lights placed behind you give another dimension to light in the room.
  • Appliances. I am so happy they are working.
  • The magically abundant and magically disappearing qualities of my house, though I would prefer to find the stuff I know I have when I want to find it, not when the house decides to cough it back up.
  • Craving Oregon strawberries already.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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