Gratitude Sunday: Hard Choices, Tough Decisions

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “You write your life story by the choices you make. You never know if they have been a mistake. Those moments of decision are so difficult.”
Helen Mirren

Sunday Haiku
Black cloud, gray cloud, white,
March lions on, pours rain down,
greening thirsty earth.

Sunday Musings

Trigger alert: women’s bodily processes, abortion, and adoption

Sometimes when I finish reading a book that touches me deep inside, one that makes me cry, or laugh, or wonder, I have to sit a while and think. I have to let the words flow through me, envelope me, wash me clean. I have to let new thoughts in relation to the novel come freely without restraint. I have to let the tears complete their exit or they bubble inside until they come another day. May as well honor the author and the art by letting the tears and emotions free.

A recent novel, The Light Between Oceans, set me back into my seat for some weepy sorrowing, because as fortune would have it I am dealing with something vaguely similar in my own life. In the late 1920s in the aftermath of WW1 and the horrors men and women faced, a lighthouse keeper and his wife are the only residents of the lighthouse island. After the wife’s three unattended miscarriages, providence sends a small boat to the island with a dead man and a crying infant in it. Rather than report the incident, the couple chooses to keep the child. Of course, it’s all more complicated, as the biological mother of the child lives on the mainland not far from the island, and mourns the lost child and husband. I read the last half of this novel in one sitting, firmly planted on the couch, and sat through the waterworks as well. Recommended reading, by the way.

In my own life I only got to have the one son. I was fairly regular with my cycle, and if I had any miscarriages they came early after a conception in the form of a delayed and heavy flow. For the record I dislike the term “period” for the bleeding part of a woman’s monthly cycle. The blood flow time is not a period, not a full stop of any sort. If it were, women would be honored for their troubles and would not be expected to proceed with their days as if nothing was happening with their bodies. It’s more like a week-long, uncomfortable, sometimes painful, hiccup.

The son came late in my middle age, a miracle defying modern birth control efforts, after the conscious decision not to have children because of financial poverty. I supported a disabled hubster who did not qualify for the safety net called Social Security Disability, and being an uneducated poor white woman, I had few tools in my kit to earn me any kind of wealth; it was always a struggle just to pay rent and the other basics. I am grateful to have the son and to know the joys and heartache of parenting a child. I was grateful to share with the hubster a child of his own blood, as the hubster was an adopted child and did not know his biological family. At least with his own son, without any question, he had somebody of his own blood who would be in this world with him. We were lucky to have a successful pregnancy, a fraught but successful delivery via a last minute C-section, and a child who has suffered little in the way of illness or other physical or mental health challenges.

I’ve never had to make the choice between abortion, adoption, and having and raising a child of my own. When I was young and babies were still romantic, and not a physical reality, I wanted a baby of every color. When I told the hubster, he wanted to know how I would function that. I meant adoption, as there are plenty of unwanted children out there, but he thought I meant I wanted to make those babies myself and he wasn’t at all comfortable with sharing me with other men. I can’t blame him for that piece, but it also helped me realize I needed to be realistic about babies I might bring into this world. Our financial situation would have never qualified us as adoptive parents. For me the choice of keeping my baby was simple but not easy, as I could never give back the one miracle human being I had conceived, though my doctors and medical care-givers advised abortion because of my “advanced” age. I was 37.

I’ve known many women who have had to make hard choices. Women whom I have accompanied to the clinic because they needed a driver after the procedure. Women who have given their babies to other families. Women who mourned as their bodies rejected fetus after fetus until they could no longer conceive. Women whose arms and hearts ached for babies they would never conceive. Women who carried to term only to have the child stillborn. Women who kept babies conceived by rape or violence, because the child was not at fault. Women who had to make hard decisions for the sake of their future in this wild crazy world where we exist as second class citizens and even considered as property.

We put together the pieces of the hubster’s adoption and his biological parents after his adoptive parents died, Mom in 2000 and Dad in 2003, when we inherited all the paperwork about the adoption. We researched his biological family and knew who they were and what they looked like; the hubster made a couple attempts at getting in touch. He could have chosen to be more aggressive in his efforts, but he did not.

After more than a decade of knowledge of their existence, the hubster’s biological family have come back into his life. His biological parents had to make that hard choice. They were very young; he was 17 and she was 19. They weren’t married yet. They had to be realistic about the imminent changes in their lives. When the hubster was born in 1953, attitudes and the way things were done were different from now. Times do change things, and perception is half the battle. In those days an unwed mother was shamed, and if the father was known he usually suffered few, if any, consequences. Adoptions were private, sealed, and closed. Information to reconnect biological families was difficult at best, and impossible much of the time. Perceptions, however, do not stop the heartache of a tough decision or the blood bond of family. His family had no way to find him; they didn’t know the adoptive names or the names of the lawyers involved. Only upon the death of his adoptive parents did the informational pieces come into our lives. In 1953, all parties involved in this story were sworn to secrecy.

Now young women keep their babies even if they are not married, and there is less stigma involved. Adoptions are open with the birth parents remaining active in the lives of their adopted children. The decision to choose abortion is not any easier to make, and still not easy to obtain, though many people think it is their right to make that choice for other women.

Choices are hard. Decisions are tough. Sometimes there aren’t any good choices and life hands you the rough end of the stick, but you make your choice, and you stand by your decision, and you get on with your life, regrets and rewards and all of it. I’m not completely convinced things happen for a reason; it often seems to me life is random and chaotic out there, like my internal life, in here. The chaos is randomized by choices – like a throw of the dice, you never know what you might get. As hard as choices are, I am grateful the hubster’s biological parents chose to share him with a childless couple. As hard as his life has been, that they chose for him to live and experience this weird world. I am grateful they never forgot him, even if they couldn’t be with him.

We were in a public place when I recognized the hubster’s biological father. It was a prime number day for changes, March 3rd. I chose to be brave and walked up to introduce myself. After he got over the shock of an unsettling introduction, he shared that the family had been looking for their first-born. It’s been a wild ride the last couple weeks and a long wait, as the hubster will soon be 65.

I am grateful now to have his biological family back in his life as he deals with the aging process. I am grateful to have made the choice to be instrumental in facilitating their reunion, rather than walking away as if his biological family didn’t exist. They did not know how to find him because of the sealed and closed adoption, and it was only because I made the choice to introduce myself and provide them with information they did not have and could not find that they have found each other. I could have chosen to walk on by and let the past lie in the past. I did not have to be brave, but I chose another adventure instead. Their reunion was because of my choices.

Families, of course, are mixed blessings. You may love them, but there is no guarantee you will get along, or agree with each other, or like one another. People are people with all our quirks and foibles. In this case they are family, but they are strangers as well. We’ll know one another soon enough. I have a tendency to think it’s nice to have more people in our lives as we age, regardless of challenges, if only to tell our stories.

Now, with one introduction, one choice, my families have more stories to share.

Color Watchcolorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – The variety of sunny yellow daffodil faces.

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.} When Harry Met Sally (1989, rated R) with Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal. I’m watching some of these old classics because I didn’t get to see them when they came out. Going out to movies wasn’t in the budget, nor was renting them from a movie store, and I never could afford cable; I still don’t pay for these things. When a $5.00 matinee at the movie theater can buy a week’s worth of bathroom tissue for my three person household, you can bet I’m going to buy the clean. Ever so grateful for my local lending library where, because of my property tax investment, I can borrow movies and watch them at my leisure. Harry and Sally have a 10 year history after their first meeting in which their love blooms. * Binging through season 4 of Grace and Frankie (2017, rated TV – MA) with Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, and grateful to see the lives of affluent families have a bit of chaos as well as the rest of us, they just have a better financial cushion. * The Man From London (2007, not rated) with Tilda Swinton, whom I usually enjoy, and generally I enjoy foreign films. I fell asleep two nights in a row watching this Hungarian film done in the film noir style. By the third night, I just wanted it to be over. The slow pace was likely part of the art of the film, but it was so irritating I watched most of the last half on fast forward, which was still agonizingly slow. Much of the language was French, and I know just enough French to know many of the subtitles were only close to what was said. Could not figure out the plot, until the film was over and I read the blurb on the DVD case. Meh.

Currently ReadingA Secret History of Witches (2017, fiction) by Louisa Morgan. Early 1800s and a Romani family must flee France after an attack by a Catholic priest. The family history and traditions are carried on through generations. * Wanderlust: A History of Walking (2000, history) by Rebecca Solnit, one of my favorite contemporary authors. Ms Solnit’s lyrical and thoughtful writing makes all her subjects fascinating.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • The soft sweet scent of sun warmed plum blossoms.
  • The songs of little birds after the rain stops.
  • Those same little birds who tweet and twitter me awake in the morning.
  • The yellowing, pinking, purple-ing, and greening of spring.
  • Looking forward to the Vernal Equinox this Tuesday.
  • Getting to meet the hubster’s biological father, two sisters, and a brother. More to meet later.
  • Old women helping older women.
  • Running through a downpour and enjoying the feeling of soft rain on my skin.
  • Looking forward to a couple quiet weeks at the pool. I love my work-out when the little tadpoles are having lessons, but it gets loud sometimes. Breaks are nice.
  • Napping when I need to or want to.
  • A safe hunting-gathering journey while the Check Engine light blinked on and off.
  • So many books and the luxury of time to read them.
  • Choosing to be brave.
  • 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, Nature, Parenting, Photography, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Gratitude Sunday: Daylight Saving Time Dilemma

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “I don’t really care how time is reckoned, so long as there is some agreement about it, but I object to being told I am saving daylight when my reason tells me I am doing nothing of the kind. I even object to the implication that I am wasting something valuable if I stay in bed after the sun has risen. As an admirer of moonlight I resent the bossy insistence of those who want to reduce my time for enjoying it. At the back of the daylight saving scheme, I detect the bony, blue-fingered hand of Puritanism, eager to push people into bed earlier, and get them up earlier, to make them healthy, wealthy, and wise in spite of themselves.” Robertson Davies, Canadian author and journalist

Sunday Haiku
Awesome wind, so loud,
so forceful, so destructive,
mellows out to breeze.

Sunday Musings
Time again for my twice yearly rant about the silliness of Daylight Saving Time. Clock games are a huge waste of time, detrimental to our health and productivity, and totally unnecessary. I’ve recently read a couple surveys that say the majority of the American population is not “bothered” by DST. Of course, surveys only record the opinions of people who bother to respond, so I usually discount their veracity. Perhaps the physical/chemical damage of years of DST has already been done and people (probably youngers who grew up knowing nothing else) don’t know how they might feel different. As many people I listen to complain about it, I’m not sure I believe the surveys. I’m not sure I can ever adjust, but then I’m old enough to know the difference.

I don’t care which one we choose, though if I had my druthers I prefer we stay on the Daylight Saving Time hours rather than Standard Time, as long as we stop the clock game. It would make me happy if we stopped the clock game either way.

Originally the excuse was farmers’s productivity, but farmers denied to be blamed even when the notion of DST was first proposed. Animals and plants don’t give a whit about the clock; they respond to the amount of light hours and the amount of dark hours. If children had year round school, DST might have a small applicable point, but most harvest takes place in the summer when children-helpers are not in school. Teens and youth helping with harvest has decreased in the last few years, as this honest labor is claimed to be exploitation, which I don’t understand at all. Nothing wrong with having young people know how farming happens whether or not they are paid minimum wage. I’m not talking about volunteerism (that’s another essay), I’m talking about farming as a basic life industry so our youth knows where their food comes from. Don’t blame DST on the farmers and the harvest. This lies entirely with legislators and legislation.

On Wednesday this week I spent time on the phone talking to my state legislators and my federal representatives. If you don’t tell them your opinions, they don’t know what our concerns are. They are good listeners. The way legislation is set up, however, simple things like stopping a clock game are slow and tedious. It shouldn’t have to be so hard.

DST waffled in the first place. Some states went for it, some didn’t. Some states flipped back and forth, having DST for a while and then not, until the federal government stepped in and made it nation-wide. Arizona and Hawai’i are the only states who don’t participate. I suspect they are the states who retain a modicum of sanity compared to those of us who have our body chemistry disrupted twice a year since the 1960s.

Florida is fed up with DST. Florida state House and state Senate voted to end DST, though I am stating this poorly as they want to stay on DST, and not go back to Standard Time. They want to stop the clock game by choosing the time frame that works best for them. The legislative process requires the bill to be signed by Florida’s governor and then it must still go through an act of Congress to end the clock game in their state. To my mind this is an enormous waste of legislative time and tax investment dollars to deal with this issue, when it could be as simple as a proclamation, and done with it. Any citizen or politician who argue for keeping DST is as wacko as the silly clock game. We certainly have more pressing issues that require the intense attention of our legislators, both state-side, and federally.

Oregon has two DST bills that have languished in the state House for several years. What’s the delay? Certainly there are more pressing concerns to deal with, but this would be an easy one to resolve if they set themselves to it with some determination to finish it up. That’s where the citizen constituency comes into play. If we don’t tell our representatives what our concerns and opinions are, how can they fully represent us? Even for introverts, people can learn how to take a few minutes out of their lives to call, mail, or e-mail our representatives and tell them. They listen.

I forgot to post my tips for an easier change to DST last week. The tips won’t do any good for anybody now, mid-day on Sunday. If we are still on DST in the fall, I’ll try to be better about posting those coping tips ahead of time. In the meantime, now it’s on us to tell our state and federal representatives what we want. I’ve learned to be comfortable calling; as a natural introvert it’s not been easy; it is truly learned behavior. I write a little script or make a couple notes about what I want to say. The interns are paid to listen and they reassure me they give a daily report to the representatives. It takes mere minutes to call. I have one federal House rep, two federal State Senators, one state House rep, and one state Senator. In less than ten minutes I can cover them all. If we all called our reps just once a week, how long might it take to put an end to DST? It’s up to us and I’m counting on us. We can do this.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Tiny jewel-toned purple violets. How yellow daffodils and blue grape hyacinths complement each other. Pink blossoming cherry blooming out all over town. Love the interesting shape of these pale yellow blossoms. I think they come from bulbs but I still don’t know their names.

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.} Paris, Texas (1984, rated R) with Harry Dean Stanton and Dean Stockwell. This strange “love” story dragged slowly on for more than two hours. I’m think this has to be one of those “significant” movies, but I didn’t get it. Meh. * What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? (1994, rated PG – 13) with Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio, about a young man who is responsible for his family which includes an obese mother and a developmentally challenged brother. A love story of a different kind, but I connected much more with this story. All families have their foibles, trials, and tribulations.

Currently ReadingThe Light Between Oceans (2012, fiction) by M.L. Stedman. The life of a lighthouse keeper is hard, and becomes harder when deceit takes place. No spoilers on this well-written book you need to put on your must read list. * Learning To Be Old: Gender, Culture, and Aging (2003, aging and psychology) by Margaret Cruickshank. Older people suffer from a deficit of information about growing older. It’s like we are in denial that it will happen to us, so we fail to study it. What studies are out there come under the medical model; we don’t know what honest aging really is.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • An overwhelming amount of new information about the hubster’s biological family. He was an adopted baby.
  • A friend who was able to lend her ear when I needed to share some new information about my family.
  • Changes in my family. More later on that.
  • Getting a few corners cleaned so I would feel more comfortable having some company come to my home.
  • A cleaned table and fresh tablecloth upon which to serve a meal to guests.
  • My guests, who were visiting my home for the first time, who seemed to be comfortable.
  • Having the time to prepare for the guests and the meal ahead of time so I wasn’t completely exhausted when they arrived.
  • Getting to admire my sister’s house refresh: new hardwood floors, paint, and furniture. Letting go of the comparison between her magazine perfect “House Beautiful” home and my cluttered granny-style.
  • Looking through pictures of my family from my dad and his mother, putting together faces with names, and attempting to get the lineage straight.
  • Lovely old photographs.
  • The people who took and saved those lovely old photographs.
  • Novels that engage you in the story and can take you away from your immediate concerns. Especially when you are kind of overwhelmed by real life.
  • 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, Nature, Photography, Poetry, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Gratitude Sunday: March Is On

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “The future begins today. It is a gift to which we wake every morning. Make use of it, don’t throw it away.” Daphne du Maurier in The Scapegoat.

Sunday Haiku
Yellow, yellow, bright
faces bring relief from gray
days, lighten spirits.

Sunday Musings
March already! And spring is marching in, a bit early, but welcome all the same. The return of the light, the warming of the soil and air, the last snowy efforts of winter. So many changes in March I sometimes think this should be when we mark the new year instead of a week after Christmas, but then when would we celebrate Easter?

Changes for me this year? New babies in my family: one arrived in January, one is arriving in June and another in July. I’m so excited for (and a little jealous of) these young families who work so hard for what they have, knowing the work, joy, and love they have set in front of them.

Today marks two years survival since a traumatic event causing me to lose a long-term employment which created a decreased ability to work: unplanned, untimely, and disheartening. That event has created for me not only a financial hardship, but also a time of slowing down, contemplation, reflection, permission to myself to have a less productive but more wisdom-sharing life.

Moving the hubster and myself into Medicare this year for our Medicare birthdays. I haven’t figured out how we are going to do this yet, as despite what we are led to believe all our working lives, Medicare is not “free”; even though we have paid for it in every paycheck there is a monthly ding. Since my income at this point does not cover my mortgage or other expenses, I have lots of math to do and questions to ask. What I’ve found so far for extremely low income people is it sounds like Medicaid picks up the tab for Medicare, and then they take whatever “estate” you may have upon your death. That’s comforting (not) to know I’ve worked all my life to buy my home to turn over to the federal government when I die. Not like I wanted to have a legacy or inheritance for the son (how dare I have the same aspirations of the wealthy elite who don’t even pay taxes when they give their assets to their children).

The fifth anniversary of this blog was a couple weeks ago. I don’t have a lot of readers, but that’s OK; I realize my voice is unique. I’m not upbeat, or funny, or even all that entertaining. I’m the voice of poverty, dissent, and forgotten old women. I peruse other blogs by aging women. Most of them are about make-up (covering wrinkles), health tips (how to get or stay slender or “anti-aging” tips), fashion (what not to wear if you are over 50 or how to choose “flattering” outfits), travel and vacation suggestions (what are those words?), and how to make your money grow (because they are assuming you have it like they do).

What’s the difference between them and me? I don’t care about fashion or make-up or not aging or what your body looks like. They are the voices of affluent white privilege, voices who have not struggled with poverty or working for a living or plans gone awry or being the only income in the family. They know what a vacation is. They know financial security, don’t have to worry about paying the mortgage, or property tax, or food, or health care, or bills; they pay them, they just don’t worry about where the money comes from. They know the comfort of being able to call the mechanic when the car fails, and have a back-up car in the garage for the meantime, or the cushion-funds to replace a vehicle when needed.

Mine is the voice of the poor, of plans disrupted and failed. You won’t find another voice like mine. Many who live in poverty don’t have the words or the means to share them. Nor do they subject themselves to honest self-evaluations. Poor old women rarely have the time to share their thoughts; they are still too busy scrambling to stay free from homelessness or total dependency.

And yet. Even though every day is a scramble, I don’t live in abject, grinding poverty. I still have my home. I’m getting by, but there’s a cost. My car is of legal age plus one now (19 years old). My house needs more health care than I do, no broken bones yet, but cosmetic surgery and yard maintenance is definitely in order. I have an abundance of worthless stuff inherited from family that pleases me to look at and live with. My health, while challenged and challenging, is as good as it can be for me. Same for my guys. My vacation and travel aspirations are modest, but they do require a reliable vehicle and enough money to get there and back and still pay my bills. Odd how the bills don’t go away when you go on vacation.

I am the voice of the poor who prevail. The ones who keep on despite tons of failed plans and set-backs. In the past we had families for safety nets. People honored multi-generational households and took care of elders and youngers. The myth of self-sufficiency has destroyed this. Despite all the lip service, you cannot make it on your own in this America. I’ve survived because of help from family, whether resented or not, and begging for public assistance.

In my household we know there is no going backward. You can only move forward with each new day, with every passing minute. Yesterday is gone, done, can’t be changed. We can work as hard as we can work, and sometimes it is only because of the ridges on the skin of our fingers that we are holding on to what we’ve worked so hard for.

So for now, we’ll keep Marching on and I’m going to keep on writing. It’s what I have left. Words, and a little time.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Yellow daffodils popping out all over. Piles of crocuses. Pretty periwinkles.

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.} Dreams Rewired (2015, not rated) narrated by Tilda Swinton, a creative documentary about the beginning and development of media technology, telephones, radio, and television. * Wonder Woman (2017, rated PG – 13) with Gal Gadot and Chris Pine. Can anything be better than Greek mythology? Amazons have got it going on. If girls and young women received combat training, there might be less war in the world. I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but what we are doing right now isn’t working for me, peace-wise. I’m depending on women to save our world, but we need the help of men.

Currently ReadingThe Light Between Oceans (2012, fiction) by M.L. Stedman. Just started and I’m in Australia just after the end of WW1. * Learning To Be Old: Gender, Culture, and Aging (2003, aging and psychology) by Margaret Cruickshank. So much disinformation about aging, so much pressure to be productive or “busy”, so little honoring of the aging mind and body.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • March coming in like a lion. As expected.
  • New calendar pages. Fun little ritual changing them every month, like having new art on the wall every month.
  • Saving cans and bottles to purchase my own copy of Walking to Forest Grove (2014, local history) by Ken and Kris Bilderback.
  • The hubster getting the kitchen sink to drain more easily without having to crawl underneath and undo the pipes.
  • The boogalou in my hip responding to hot packs, ibuprofen, and water work-outs in the pool.
  • The joy I experience watching the littles at the pool.
  • The opportunity to walk the halls of my old high school before they tear the building down.
  • Getting to spend some time with my sister.
  • Winter Olympics being over for another season.
  • Soft, warm socks.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

Posted in abundance, Aging, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, History, Medicine, Nature, Photography, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gratitude Sunday: Do You Feel Me?

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou

Sunday Haiku
Yellow daffodil,
snow defier, green stalks bright
against steel gray skies.

Sunday Musings
Do you know me? Do you read my words and think you know me? How do those words make you feel? How does my face and body make you feel if you know me in real life? When you are with me, are you on edge wondering what wild thing will come out of my mouth, or do you trust I’ve done my homework and know of what I speak?

Does my resting bitch face make you think I am unapproachable or even scary? It’s just my face. The way my eyes and mouth droop at the edges does not mean I’m angry. My eyes don’t shine with love and joy, though my heart carries those emotions as well as the weight of sadness and struggle of everyday. It shows on my face. I cannot deny it because it is right out front there to see.

Does my fat body make you feel ashamed to be seen with me? Fat means nothing. Bodies are not within our control despite the myths the beauty and medical industries have created. Fat is not contagious and should not be a source of shame. A body, whatever its size and shape, is a vehicle for the soul.

An unattractive face or body does not indicate a defective soul. A beautiful face and body can disguise an evil heart. Neither, however, are hard and fast rules about evaluating people from their appearance.

Does my voice upset you? Do my words make you feel uncomfortable, provoked, offended? Do you hear echoes of your disapproving mother or your strident grandmother or caustic aunt? Or do my words of dissent inspire you to do your own research, to learn and think critically for yourself, and not just take my word for it? Do my words leave you feeling like you’ve spent time with some wacky crank who blows smoke through her hat? Does my sarcasm upset you? Is my wacko sense of humor alienating?

My intentions are good, though I feel I don’t always have quite the result I seek. My social skills are such that I struggle for the right things to say and the right way to say them. Sometimes I open my mouth when I shouldn’t and vice versa. What I say and mean is often filtered by what you hear or want to hear and like the game of telephone, bizarre twists can happen between words and feelings.

What I want you to feel when you are with me or from reading my words is I see you. I hear you. You are glorious. You are loved. I don’t care if you stand before me with spotty green hair, blue smurf make-up, sleeved with tattoos, quarter-sized gauges in your ears, layers of mismatched clothing, and have never succeeded at anything. I don’t care if you stand in front of me with your thousand dollar suit, your hundred dollar haircut, and your arm’s length list of recognized social accomplishments. I don’t care if you share my beliefs, spiritual, political, or otherwise. I don’t care what color your skin is, what shape you are, if you speak with the accent of another language, who you love, what you are able to do or how smart you are, if you are old or young or in-between.

I see you in the beauty of you. Nobody else is you. You are unique and special and a treasure and resource for our society. I may not know your history or understand you, but I’m not sure I need to. I don’t know your story. I haven’t lived your life, though I know the weirdnesses of my life so I think we probably all have weirdnesses we deal with. I don’t need to know anything about you to see you and hear you and honor you as you are. The past is the past; it is what made us the people we are today. The future is unknowable, as much as we plan and set goals and work toward successful outcomes events are not always in our control and crazy derailing stuff can happen in the blink of an eye. We have only this very now, this moment in time, and now is when I see you. I have lost a bit of naïveté here though: if you show me lies, or cruelty, or hate I see that part of you as well as the beauty of you.

If you know me or if you read me, know that I’m for you. I am not waiting for you to become a better person or fulfill your potential. I hope you don’t hear only the cranky part of my words, but know that as you are right now, I see you. I hear you. I stand beside you and for you.

Alternate Museland
Possibly you noticed all my quotes for the month of February were from Maya Angelou, whom I’ve always had a writer’s crush on. I thought it was appropriate for Black History Month, though I’m sad we haven’t gotten over all those differences and are able to honor everyone despite skin color, nationality, or difference. It also makes me sad how blacks (and all people of color, considering our entire nation is built on immigrants) have been treated in American history and to this day. We can’t change the past, we only move forward. I’ve admired Ms Angelou’s work for many years as a voice for all people. If I’d known her in person I’m guessing I would have had a full blown crush. She reminds me of my paternal grandmother who was as white as a woman could be, and I can’t quite put my finger on what makes them similar in my heart.

Here’s something you may not have suspected about me. Don’t judge me for my naïveté. When I was in high school, besides protesting the Vietnam war and getting into trouble for helping to organize walk-outs and sit-ins, I wanted to be black. I thought Billie Holiday, and BB King, and Sarah Vaughn, and Tina Turner, and Diana Ross, and Stevie Wonder, and Ray Charles, and Gladys Knight, and Aretha Franklin, and other musicians were glamorous. I thought the color of their skin was rich and elegant, their facial features full and soft, and their curly hair like angel’s halos. I didn’t know enough about history yet to know how they were so heinously mistreated and exploited, and when I did learn it crushed me that people could treat each other like that just because their skin was different. When I discovered authors of color, of course, the incontrovertible truth was laid bare as I read their stories. Reality prevails. One cannot change the color of one’s wings and mine are and always will be white, though only in color, not in purity. I am, by no means whatsoever, a perfect person.

I know better now, and assumptions and attitudes about differences don’t stand and aren’t taught in my house, because that is the thing: hatred, bigotry, prejudice, or discomfort with difference is learned behavior, just as acceptance and honoring each other is learned as well. My dad tried to indoctrinate me into the racist bigotry attitude after his experience serving in the military, because he was taught to hate the “enemy”, but I don’t remember him hating or hurting another person. The indoctrination didn’t take with me; I resisted.

I’d rather teach my family empathy and caring than hatred and division. I think the words of Ms Angelou are right there with me.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – A sprinkle of snow this week on my hardy sedums. Bright yellow harbingers of spring, daffodils bloom in spite of this last week’s snow. Wavy frothy forsythia branches with yellow blossoms. Love the soft heather purple with the spears of nearly blooming daffodils.

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.} 2018 Winter Olympics are almost over. Back to our regularly scheduled programming soon. * Enter the Dragon (1973, rated R) with Bruce Lee. How I admire those crazy-mad martial arts defense skills. As long as the good guys win.

Currently Reading – I started Walking to Forest Grove: The Life and Times of the Prettiest Town in Oregon (2014, local history) by Ken Bilderback with Kris Bilderback. Our local lending library system owns only two copies of this book which is shameful because it is local history, and our youth should know from which they came; it should be required reading in 6th grade, but I can’t imagine our school district owns more than one copy. With only two copies there is no way I can complete this before somebody else requests it, as is the way of libraries: we share. The Bilderback’s do not write dry history; they create pictures of the past in which our town and the people in it live and thrive. I’ve read enough during this short check-out period to know I will need to own my own copy of this book. * Learning To Be Old: Gender, Culture, and Aging (2003, aging and psychology) by Margaret Cruickshank. Do not believe everything you’ve been told about aging. It is more likely to be a cultural construct than have real basis in reality.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Ibuprofen and microwave hot packs for the boogalou in my hip I woke up with this week.
  • Still being able to move, boogalou and all.
  • February being the shortest month and yet it brings the light.
  • The difference a few degrees makes.
  • The high school I attended offering an open house before they tear down the old building. I still dream about that building and will miss it with mixed feelings, the good with the bad. Sadly the building, built in 1925, is one of the oldest still standing in the town I grew up in, and was falling apart when I attended in the late 60s and early 70s. I’m glad and sad progress is taking place.
  • Not having to go anywhere in inclement weather. In Oregon’s Willamette Valley, inclement means any threat of a dusting of snow or ice. We just aren’t used to it.
  • Not having any power outages during our “inclement” weather.
  • My local lending library who granted a special renew period for an item I could not return because of the “inclement” weather. Read: I was too chicken to drive with the threat of icy roads.
  • A renewed interest in Neighborhood Watch programs in my community.
  • Appreciating other cultures and heritages beyond my own.
  • Chocolate.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: It’s In The Blood

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “Does my sassiness upset you?” from the poem Still I Rise
Maya Angelou

Sunday Haiku
Fierce wind pushes trees
down like wooden dominoes,
wreaking wild havoc.

Sunday Musings
Nationally that was one disastrous Valentine’s Day. I can’t go there. It’s too horrible, and should have been responsibly addressed decades ago. The greed that supports tragedies like the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida is unconscionable. It’s been nearly 20 years since Columbine. At this point it’s not about automatic weapons, or mental health, it’s about how we are failing as a nation. My thoughts and prayers are dead. We grieve. We grieve.

On the home front, my Valentine’s Day was quiet, as preferred. Boxes of chocolates were had by all, and by happenstance, we were all home at the same time and shared a meal when our timing is usually every person for themselves.

Grief makes me crankier than usual. I’ve been thinking about my crankiness for a few weeks now. What annoys me and why. Sometimes I have no immediate psychological/emotional answer. Then I recall my lineage. It begins with the DNA. Blood tells a story.

From my mother, I am descended from the first Bradfords on the first few ships full of British immigrants to America. We were among the first undocumented immigrants in America. These folks were risk-takers to say the least. They were escaping what they perceived to be oppressive government and in those days there were still land discoveries to be made, and the early immigrants thought all land they stepped on was theirs for the taking. No matter the effect on the native people. They were searching for freedom to live their lives the way they wanted, and they weren’t going to be stopped. They left behind all they knew and grieved for the loved ones they left. They grieved. There’s the injustice and voice against oppression gene.

Somewhere along my line, the oral story goes, on my maternal side we added a little native blood. I don’t have proof, but that’s the family legacy. Natives, of course, knew and respected the sacred mother earth, knew the mysteries of her ways. They were abused by usurpers. They grieved the abuse of their peoples and their land. There’s the not understanding disrespect for our earth and native peoples gene.

On my father’s side of the family I am related to the Donner family of the California tragedy. I won’t judge what they may have experienced or resorted to during that hell-trip, but these people were tenacious. They set a goal and embarked and persisted with every mistake that could ever happen on a cross-country wagon journey. They endured watching each other die along the way, and they made difficult choices I would never want to face. Either way, they were fierce to face the wintery elements of the Sierras and they grieved their family and fellow travelers who died on the journey. There’s the endurance in the face of adversity gene.

My paternal grandmother walked from Utah to Idaho when she was a child. They came with a group of wagons with more success than the Donner Party. Anybody who was not driving a team walked, so as to not tire the animals. Women in the late stages of pregnancy were allowed to ride, my grammy said, but the way those wagons were rigged and with the staggering steps of the animals over the rugged land, I imagine it may have been more comfortable to walk. It would make sense to me when a woman went into labor all progress of the wagon train was stopped until the infant arrived. Gram’s not here to ask any more; details of the story are gone with her. I remember her saying they plundered the land for native foods, and camas lily was a favorite; they dug the bulb and boiled it. There’s the you can’t stop me gene.

Side note: most summers we took a vacation in Idaho to visit family. In a few spots along I-84 you can still see traces of the Oregon Trail, ruts in the land from the wooden wheels on the wagons, though it’s not as easy these days at 55 or 70 miles an hour. It was much easier to use an established trail than to create a new one, so the ruts are to this day fairly deep. Both coming and going Mom cried during that section around Baker City. One year I finally asked her why she cried. She said she always thought of the journey of the women, how hard it must have been for them taking care of their families; their monthly cycles and those of their growing or young married daughters; their pregnancies and lactations, miscarriages and stillbirths; burying their children and relatives and friends along the trail; accommodating their husband’s “needs” in the midst of a group of people with only a canvas cover separating you from the elements and prying eyes; rough camp style cooking over open fires; dwindling supplies, questionable sources of food, and limited sources of water; grieving the families they left behind. Mom grieved the women. We have a few women’s diaries from then, but women spoke in shrouded terms about the issues and functions of being a woman because of modesty and propriety.

A few generations ago, my mother’s family married into the Dalton family. You can easily google the Dalton Brothers, infamous bank and train robbers. The men in my family married Dalton sisters who probably didn’t do any actual robbing, but still, blood is blood. Perhaps the sisters grieved for brothers living lives of crime. There’s the outlaw gene.

More recently, when my mom was three and her brother was six, in the midst of the Great Depression, their dad packed them, and his wife, and his brother, and his brother’s wife into a model T Ford truck filled with the possessions they could carry and still get the humans in, left half their family, and drove to Idaho from Oklahoma for a new start. Grandpa had 200 dollars in his pocket to get them started in their new home, not wealth by any means, but a fair amount of money in those days. The Dust Bowl forced him to make the decision to pursue a new start, though I suspect from hints Mom dropped he was just as glad to get away from his mother-in-law. I have a picture of my great-grandmother and knowing a few stories about her I know she lived a fierce and challenging life; you can see it in her face. They drove several states away to where there was soil and water enough for a man to farm the land and make a living. Grandpa didn’t own his own farm; he made his living managing farms for other owners. They started over each time they changed owners, as the manager’s job often came with an on-site farmhouse. They grieved the family left behind. There is the start over gene.

My dad was the first of his family to go to college. My mom read insatiably across all disciplines (where do I hear that echo from?) with her high school education. I was encouraged to pursue and research all my interests, which in a low-income family takes place with hours spent reading the big family purchase of the World Book Encyclopedia or in the local lending library. After age 12, I was allowed to spend many hours at the library. So many books, so little time.

As I’ve aged, I’ve learned for me grief does not heal. One does not “get better”. It’s not an illness; it’s a hole in your heart or your soul or the middle of your stomach or wherever one feels that grieving feeling. It’s a deep and abiding sadness for things one cannot change. There’s so much to grieve beyond losing loved ones: how people treat each other; that one country subjected another country to a nuclear bomb, not once but twice; that one man coerced others to try to exterminate an entire religion along with disabled and challenged people to “cleanse” their country; angry people thinking they have the right to hurt others in the name of their anger; people who think they have the right to hurt other people in the name of their god; war; loneliness; climate and earth abuse; I better stop now. I’m grieving. There’s the curiosity and intelligence and empathy and grieving genes.

I can’t say specifically which part of the blood makes me annoyed and cranky at hurting behaviors. I come from freedom seekers, undocumented immigrants, outlaws, tenacious pioneers, and fierce women, from the kind of stock that keeps going in the face of adversity, from people of poverty who eked out livings while rarely achieving the American Dream of comfortable wealth, but we get by. We grieve, and we prevail.

Maybe keeping a cranky on keeps one always prepared. I’m fond of a few platitudes and here’s where that one about being “prepared for the worst, and expecting the best” applies. Bad stuff can happen in the blink of an eye, but one thing I’ve learned with people is if you expect the best from them, in most cases they live up to your expectations, even though I’ve been disappointed more times than I want to say. I guess that’s not being too cranky there, merely cautionary optimism or open-hearted pessimism.

I come by my crankiness, my sassiness, my intellect naturally. It’s in my blood; I’m genetically predisposed. I nurture it, reading widely, civilly expressing an informed opinion while honoring and embracing the thoughts and opinions of other people as well. I’ve earned my cranky facing adversity, set-backs, failures, and re-starts many times in my own life. Like my ancestors I’ve never had the luxury of setting goals, making plans, and having excellent outcomes from those goals and plans. I’m the one who breaks a wheel in the deepest wheel rut in the middle of the desert, and has to fix it before the snow and the baby comes while the pack of wolves howl waiting for the inevitable death ahead. Resourcefulness, tenacity, and the ability to wake every day and put one foot in front of the other are good traits to have in one’s DNA.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Spring is really starting early this year, and this weekend we expect a big freeze and a bit of snow in my area. The ground next to my aquatic center is really warm because of the heat the building generates and has inspired pale pink rhododendrons to burst into bloom. Camellias are early bloomers any year; here’s one in muted red. Another camellia in clean pure white. My plum is early-fooled into pinkishly white buds.

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.} Viewing is on 2018 Winter Olympics hiatus. Love me some winter sports, though I cannot perform any of them. I could get the gold medal for Armchair Spectating. My other competitive sport is Falling Off My Own Ankles; I know, it’s really clever being clumsy.

Currently ReadingRed Clocks (2018, fiction) by Leni Zumas. This is one of the most significant novels of the new wave of women’s literature I have read in the last year. Recommended for your Must Read List. No spoilers. * Learning To Be Old: Gender, Culture, and Aging (2003, aging and psychology) by Margaret Cruickshank. Language makes the frame in ageism; words like burden, gray menace or gray peril, geezer glut, and crone all undercut any perceived advantage to the experience of aging.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Mr Kitty aka George Murphy who only wants food and snuggles, in that order, and could not care less about anything of social and political import, though he is a bit counter-productive when he wants to lie in my arms or on my computer when I am writing.
  • Avoiding a sniffle turning into the full-blown crud by burning it out with huge applications of hot jalapeno salsa and Chinese hot mustard and hot ginger tea, and a few well placed naps. Knock on wood.
  • Not having been sick (influenza, a cold or upper respiratory infection) for more than two years since I left my last place of employment. Knock on wood.
  • The joys of the 2018 Winter Olympics on TV.
  • My indoor electric heat.
  • Mild winter despite the cold snap this weekend.
  • Running the dishwasher late at night to warm up the pipes before the cold blows through.
  • All the women I know who are expecting babies this year are doing well.
  • The hubster getting new screens in place over the attic vents after getting the squirrels out of the walls, just in time to prevent the annual invasion of the starlings. He was in his room when the squirrel ran up the side of the house and tried to get in to his usual entry. Hubster says he heard a squirrel-language expletive when he couldn’t get in.
  • My own box of Valentine chocolates so I don’t have to share if I don’t want to.
  • Claiming a new cousin after mentioning on social media being related to the Dalton Brothers and a local woman responding she was as well. Blood or not, it is fun to claim cousins.
  • Actual cousins where there is no doubt whatsoever about blood relatives.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

Sunday’s heartfelt tradition.
A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful.
A list of gratitudes, our gratefulness feeds one another.
Quoted from Taryn Wilson
Joining the Gratitude Sunday Tradition at Wooly Moss Roots.

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

Gratitude Sunday: One Smile

Gratitude * Sunday
Sunday’s heartfelt tradition.
A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful.
A list of gratitudes, our gratefulness feeds one another.
Quoted from Taryn Wilson
Joining the Gratitude Sunday Tradition at Wooly Moss Roots.

Quote of the Week – “If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love.”
Maya Angelou

Sunday Haiku
Small cold blast arrives
on southerly winds, startling
nearly budded plum.

Sunday Musings
As stated, I’m a self-admitted cranky person. Rude people annoy me, as do stupid, unthinking, or selfish behaviors. I learned while growing up to think beyond myself and that has been a repeated mantra in my household. This week we have Valentine’s Day and the focus is love. What is love other than thinking beyond yourself?

Love can be selfish, focusing only on being loved, rather than giving love. Love can be lonely if one defines oneself by others. I don’t really understand phrases like “soul mate”, “better half”, or “completes me”. Love is more than “falling in love” or being “in love”. Perhaps I don’t understand love or loneliness, as our culture presents them anyway.

I am fortunate to not spend my life alone. The hubster and I will mark 43 years together on our anniversary this Valentine’s Day. We committed to lives together and lived together for 17 years before legally, officially marrying 26 years ago. We rarely agree on much, and quite possibly TVs in separate rooms may have made for a stronger relationship: no nightly viewing disagreements.

Our relationship is rocky to say the least, but overall we have an abiding love. He has never supported me financially. In fact, the opposite is true. He has physical challenges and for most of his adult life has not had gainful employment. I have lost count of the number of (women) friends and acquaintances who ask why I didn’t dump him when he failed to support me.

Is that how we define relationships in American society? Definition of marriage: a man must provide all financial support for his partner. I know it’s tradition, and perhaps a lovely thought when the man is able, though it seems to me it leaves the woman beholden or obligated. Since we don’t have a social safety net, somebody, whether male or female, has to provide an income for the family if one does not inherit money. I always liked the equal partnership idea, but that seems contrary to current culture even with the changes to tradition over the last 50 years. My counselor thinks it’s a generational thing, and tells me tides are changing for our younger generations, who communicate and agree upon how they run their households, more the nurturant family instead of the strict father model.

I reminded those “friends” I took a vow, and my vow says, “in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, for better or worse”. You don’t stop loving somebody because they cannot financially support you or because they are physically unable; neither of those reasons is an excuse to abandon a spouse. You might stop loving somebody if they are abusive or cruel, and in the end you must keep yourself safe. The other side of the card is a man of his generation who daily carries the weight of not providing financially for his family. There were trade-offs, for sure, such as we rarely had to have a babysitter, and one or the other of us was always available to run the son to school and events, and we raised our own child without day care.

I’ve never bought the notion that I need “another half” to “complete” me. I’ve had to take care of myself and my family; it’s been up to me. I took care of myself before the hubster was in my life. There is no one who “completes” me. Someone who complements me might be a better concept. I am one whole entire wonderfully cranky person all by myself. A cranky person who is lucky enough to have a person in my life who tolerates all my foibles, farting, and verbal forthcomings. He doesn’t always agree (he hardly ever agrees), but that is what is honorable in our relationship. We don’t agree, we move on, and we don’t kill each other.

We don’t have a commercialized relationship. Consumerism on Valentine’s Day is far from our minds, anniversary gifts non-existent. There is no expectation between us of flowers, or chocolates, or commemorative jewelry, or romantic dinners out. They are simply not in the budget and I refuse to go into debt for “love”. What we have is more like a timeless endurance. I can count on that person being there. He will not solve our problems, and sometimes doesn’t even help me feel better about difficult situations, but he is there nonetheless, standing beside me, maybe not even a champion for my efforts, but at least witness to the daily struggle together.

We are hardwired to care about and for other people. Desire is promoted through novels, TV, movies, and advertising media, however there is much more to love than passion and desire. Sex might be over-rated in our society, aided by the media who uses sexuality as a sales technique. Endurance, tolerance, compromise, contentment, and sharing might be be better aims for the long term love, the ever-after-grow-old-together kind of love. It’s lovely to have someone there, but it doesn’t work that way for everybody. For whatever reason, some of us spend our lives alone. No shame in that, of course, and no fault either. Some situations cannot be helped (or are out of our control) despite our best laid plans or wildest fantasies. It doesn’t matter because in the blink of an eye you may find yourself alone or engaged. Change is the only constant.

For better or worse, for cranky or crankier, the hubster and I celebrate another year together. We are making the adjustment to my semi-retirement, and after years of him being mostly alone in the house, suddenly I am thrust upon him, in his way and space all the time. He is faced with my constant physical reality instead of only enduring me during a few evening hours. He’s learning after all these years how to think beyond himself. I don’t know if it’s a guy thing or a retirement thing or not even a thing. It doesn’t matter. As soon as we get used to it, the dynamics will change and we will accommodate other differences in our growing old together. While I may be cranky, I save my smiles for him, and I hope we get to have many more anniversaries.

Alternate Museland
Civilized behavior has deteriorated in the last several years, and never more so than the last 13 or so months since the 2016 presidential election. We forget our please and thank yous, we forget or distort the words of revered philosophers such as Buddha and Jesus Christ about caring for each other, we show our hate and anger like badges of courage when we could be thinking beyond ourselves and honoring the dignity of each other, even strangers.

After many crude, weird experiences this last year (elder women yelling f-bombs in parking lots, elder men giving one-finger salutes in traffic after cutting me off and coming within inches of clipping my front end, extremely disconnected customer service, I could go on but I’ll spare you), my encounter in the hot tub at the local aquatic center this week was refreshing.

I like to soak in the hot water. Plain, no bubbles. I rarely (like never) turn on the jacuzzi jets. It is a shared public pool and most people enjoy the bubbles. To each his own. I don’t complain because it is a shared public pool. If the bubbles are on when I get in, I don’t ask if folks mind if I turn them off, because they would look at me as if I were from Mars. Who doesn’t like the bubbles, right? Hwell…

If I am in the pool and a newcomer sees the bubbles are off, they usually walk straight to the timer and pop the bubbles on. I don’t complain. It’s a shared pool, even if I was there first. Mostly if you try to teach “common courtesy” it falls on deaf ears anyway, as most people adhere to the “I’m the only person in the world” attitude.

In the 10 plus years I have used the hot tub at the facility, I have been asked maybe six times if I minded the bubbles. To which I always respond, “Thank you for asking. I prefer it without bubbles, but it is a shared pool, and if you prefer bubbles, please, go ahead.” Every person has then turned on the bubbles.

So, Friday night I’m in the pool alone, finally warm to the bone, starting to relax after my hour and a half workout, and a man’s voice behind me says, “Do you like the bubbles on?” I turned and responded as usual, to which he said, “I can wait then”, and he got into the tub.

Good thing there isn’t far to fall in the hot tub, because I was knocked over. “Thank you. Thank you for asking. You are sweet,” I say. He says, “Isn’t that’s how it should be? You were here first.” I said, “Hwell, that’s how I’ve always thought it should be, but that’s rarely how it goes. You are too kind.” And he’s like “Not at all.” Then we proceeded to have a conversation about civility, manners, thinking beyond yourself (specifically when it came to fishing and how people could choose the whole lake to fish from rather than right beside you), courtesy, and sensible direct communication.

When I was ready to get out a few minutes later I thanked him for our conversation, told him I was leaving and did not know how to work the bubble timer (truth). He nodded and followed me up the steps so he could turn it on himself.

That, right there, is how we think beyond ourselves. Sometimes it only takes a few kind honest words, no cranky voice needed.

Color Watchcolorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Focus on crocus this week as they are popping up all over the neighborhood. Sunny yellow. Faded royal purple. Exotic purple and white stripes. Pristine white with saffron center.

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.} Binged through season 7 of Game of Thrones (2017, rated TV – MA) and the theme for this season is “It doesn’t matter”. Sounds much like the current American administration or a philosophy for life. No spoilers. * The Scapegoat (1958, not rated) with Sir Alec Guinness adapted from the novel by Daphne du Maurier. Several characters and plot elements deleted from the story as written by the author to fit the time elements of a movie, and one of the great surprises is Bette Davis portraying the morphine addicted dowager. * Season 3 of Gotham (2017, rated TV – MA), a guilty pleasure because of the violence element, but the characters are darkly compelling as this is the story of a young Bruce Wayne, his butler Alfred Pennyworth, James Gordon before he is police commissioner, and other Batman characters like the Penguin, the Riddler, and the Joker, only in a vastly different light than the movies, or the TV series with Adam West, or the animated series.

Currently ReadingRed Clocks (2018, fiction) by Leni Zumas. A world where the President of the United States gives the rights of life, liberty, and property to an embryo at the moment of conception, abortion is illegal, and how four women deal with the changes in policy. The writing is poetic, the premise is frightening. * Learning To Be Old: Gender, Culture, and Aging (2003, aging and psychology) by Margaret Cruickshank. Class issues, the elephant in the room, are a major element in the health of aging Americans, more so for women, and especially women of color.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • The kind, civil gentleman in the hot tub.
  • A safe journey on my four hour grocery shopping trip after the check-engine light came on.
  • The 2018 Winter Olympics. I am the best armchair spectator. I can do all the sports…in my dreams. Such lovely dreams.
  • Admiring the bodies and skills of the Olympic contenders, optimal physicality. My body has never cooperated that way, I am graceful in my clumsiness.
  • The creativity and variety of the skating costumes.
  • The extremely cold weather being somewhere I am not.
  • My TV antenna which gives me access to local digital TV channels. I don’t watch much but I want it when I want it.
  • My random queenly attitude. See above about wanting.
  • Coca-cola, for me the nectar of the Gods, for that occasional treat. See above about wanting.
  • Watching the progress of the children-tadpoles at the swimming pool. Each child is different, some afraid, some brave, but each one gains skill or confidence over the 5 week course.
  • The skill of the swim instructors at my pool, who each have learned and individualized techniques for behavior correction that does not include shaming.
  • Satisfying my asparagus craving, even though it wasn’t local.
  • Tacos.
  • 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, Nature, Photography, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gratitude Sunday: In The Presence Of

Gratitude * Sunday
Sunday’s heartfelt tradition.
A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful.
A list of gratitudes, our gratefulness feeds one another.
Quoted from Taryn Wilson
Joining the Gratitude Sunday Tradition at Wooly Moss Roots.

Quote of the Week – “The most important thing I can tell you about aging is this: If you really feel that you want to have an off-the-shoulder blouse and some big beads and thong sandals and a dirndl skirt and a magnolia in your hair, do it. Even if you are wrinkled.” Maya Angelou

Sunday Haiku
Slate, steel, battleship,
gun metal, dove breast, sky hung
clouds, layered color.

Sunday Musings
Occasionally one finds oneself in the presence of grace.

This week I had to go to a local medical facility for a blood draw for some lab work. As I was checking in, the door behind me opened and two women walked in arm-in-arm. The younger woman could have been any woman of middle age, slender, kindly, caring, supporting the weight of an elderly woman at her side. The elder was tiny, four foot eight, maybe, and about as big around as a stalk of asparagus, dressed and coiffed for a day in public, earrings and lipstick in place. I could tell from her non-stop dialogue that in her day she’d been feisty as hell and her day hadn’t stopped any time recently.

Her voice, not harsh or rough, rather like a little bird twittering because the rain shower was over, carried the melodic accent of her youth and original language, maybe German, or Yiddish, or Russian, or Middle European. I can’t differentiate accents without asking and this was not a moment to declare my curiosity and ask. I wanted to turn around and stare, to absorb this delightful older woman into my skin and cells, but I only opened my ears, giving the women private time. We were, after all, in a medical facility and medical issues are still considered private.

The elder spotted her nurse behind the check-in counter, and clearly said, oh there’s my nurse, and her name; obviously she was lucid and totally coherent. The nurse came out from behind the counter and greeted the elder woman, re-introducing herself with the question, “Do you remember me?”

The elder woman, who had not stopped talking for one brief second even while the younger woman and the nurse had spoken, said, “Of course I remember you. This is my daughter” and she introduced her daughter to the nurse.

Then the elder woman said, “And this is my husband. You can’t see him, but he is right here with us.”

I got goosebumps, chills up and down my spine, and the hair on the back of my neck stood up. It was everything I could do not to turn around, as I was sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that had I turned I would see him standing there clear as day, holding her arm on the opposite side as her daughter, with his little nearly bald head tufted with soft bits of white frogfur (a technical description in the barbering/hairdressing industry), the curve of his stooped back matching hers, his eyes full of love to still be with the only women he had loved all his life. I didn’t turn, but I “saw” a tidy warm house full of children and now grandchildren, a garden out back, and a pot full of chicken soup on the stove.

The nurse, the elder woman, and her daughter went through the door into the hallway beyond. I grabbed a tissue from my pocket and started dabbing my eyes. I began thinking too much.

No, I didn’t think too much about “seeing” the old man, or “seeing” a house and family. Those “visions” could have been super-cognition or imagination. We “receive” more of this kind of information than we realize; we just don’t have a name for it, or we don’t acknowledge it.

I started thinking about aging, which because I am beginning my older years, I seem to be thinking about a lot these day. Like I can’t believe I’m really aging (denial), I don’t think I’m doing it well (uncharted territory), I can’t afford to be old (fear), everybody around me is aging too (yikes!). Experiencing new things about my body like differences in walking and bending and body temperature and digestion, changes in thinking and sleeping, and altered abilities in stamina and endurance are a bit frightening to tell the truth. We don’t talk about aging because we generally marginalize elders rather than continuing the millenniums-long tradition of multi-generational living, at least here in America.

We have few studies to rely on when it comes to understanding aging, and in the modern medical paradigm the model is the middle-class white male. And the model has been medicalized over the last 75 years of the pharmaceutical industry, so we have little information on what “natural” aging looks like. What do we truly know about aging? Does one’s vision change? Does one see different things one didn’t used to see, or things other people around you don’t see? Do the things one sees change as one nears the end?

Here was this dear woman, lively, engaged, lucid, seeing life and after-life and not letting one bit of it pass her by, still spending her time with the man she adored. Maybe that’s the clue. We need to pay attention and talk about aging. Share our “organ recitals”, you know, all the things that have gone wrong with the body, and then sharing how we have coped, or figured out new ways of moving, or thinking, or how to gain relief from the unrelenting body pains of aging.

We need to share. We need to see each other and see what they see. We need to share our time, our owies, our stories, the different things we see and how we see differently. And as in past generations, we need to share those stories with younger people so maybe they can have a clue of what to do or not to do as they move inevitably toward those older years as well. If you get a chance to be with older people, listen to what they have to tell you and try to see what they see. Time creeps by so fast.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Once again those hardy sedums give us luscious shades of non-edible lime green. Green and blue-gray pine needles. Spring is coming early in the Pacific Northwest; spotted the first of the pinkish heathers. Last week’s picture of snowdrops was wishful thing, this week I spied with my little eyes one of the first batches of snowdrops in the 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.} A Long Way Down (2014, rated R), with some favorite actors, Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, and Aaron Paul. Four strangers trying to commit suicide meet on New Year’s Eve on the roof of the building. * Pretty in Pink (1986, rated PG – 13) with Molly Ringwald. It’s been many years since I originally watched this movie, and it was fun to see all the actors who have gone on to make their careers like James Spader (the ultimate rich bully-boy) and Jon Cryer (forever the “friend” boyfriend); they were so young then, as we all were. * We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011, rated R) with Tilda Swinton. A child is ill-conceived, traumatically birthed, fails to bond with his mother, and ends up performing heinous acts of destruction. His mother survives. Chilling: this is a scary Halloween style movie, psychologically devastating.

Currently ReadingFinding Tom Connor (2000, fiction) by Sarah-Kate Lynch. Ms Lynch likes to go places. In this novel we start in New Zealand and end up in Ireland. A betrayed bride-to-be runs away from her ne’er-do-well bridegroom-to-be (not a moment too soon) in search of a long lost uncle. Learning To Be Old: Gender, Culture, and Aging (2003, aging and psychology) by Margaret Cruickshank. I am so her demographic: aging, female, poor.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Having only the challenges I have.
  • Relieving the house of invading squirrels after they figured out access into the walls.
  • A new month and the subtle return of the light.
  • The relief a hot shower can give.
  • Cooking shows on TV. Still learning.
  • Avoiding the local viruses going around. Knock on wood.
  • Hand washing. Soap and hot water.
  • Paper clips, scotch tape, staples, Sharpies, and file folders.
  • Noticing I was feeling puny-er and starting my tai chi exercises again, after a two month hiatus because of broken toe, now mostly healed. I’m still a beginner, but this time I’m familiar with some of the exercises.
  • Ibuprofen and microwave hot packs because the first week of any new exercise makes my body think hell is a nicer place to live than my body.
  • Seeing, vision, and extra vision.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

Top picture borrowed from free internet

Posted in abundance, Aging, Education, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, History, Medicine, Nature, Photography, Poetry, Science | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gratitude Sunday: Babies Be The Best

Gratitude * Sunday
Sunday’s heartfelt tradition.
A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful.
A list of gratitudes, our gratefulness feeds one another.
Quoted from Taryn Wilson
Joining the Gratitude Sunday Tradition at Wooly Moss Roots.

Quote of the Week – “A baby is God’s opinion that life should go on.” Carl Sandburg

Sunday Haiku
Gray cloud blows eastward,
climbs over coast mountains, slides
into green valley.

Sunday Musings
I am so angry about health care and Medicare today, I am overwhelmed. I’m being inundated with “Medicare options” in the mail and on the phone because the hubster turns 65 in May, and we can’t pay for any of it so there’s that whole other layer of concern. My goal is to embark on a health series for this blog, but I don’t want to do it in my Gratitude Sunday post. Sunday is the one day I try to take a break from all the weird and wrong parts of America, like American health care which is so messed up (such an easy thing made so complicated and it’s about profit not health, not that I can “fix” anything). Because I’m so cranky, taking a break is hard, and I’m not always terribly successful. Watch for the new health series coming up, probably not on Sunday.

Instead today I want to celebrate the one thing that gives me hope in this society. I’m not saying we do everything right, as even with this issue there is much to be improved on medically/health-wise, but the only thing that seems to me to be a positive note in the world is babies. More precious than any gold or silver or gemstone.

That’s right. Babies. Families are still making and having and raising babies. What a miracle! This cell and that cell merge to create a new human being, a true case of weird math when one plus one equals three. As much work as it is to have and raise a contributing citizen in this world, as hard as the job is, parenting is the most important job. Anybody can have babies; parenting is the hard and important part.

I made a list and I know eight women right now who are expecting babies in 2018. The first one arrived in January, my brother’s son’s son. I like recounting the lineage of family. The new baby’s father is cousin to two of the other women I know who are expecting. I wonder if those three young women, all cousins by marriage, are aware of their connection during this year.

The year the son was born I didn’t know any other women having babies. I’ve since moved towns, took a different job, met other people, and have discovered I am acquainted now with about eight women who had babies the same year I did, unbeknownst to us at the time. At my last place of employment, for example, out of a group of 14 female employees (we had no males then) three of us had babies that year, and one other co-worker’s mom, who visited our public space regularly, had twins that year as well. Through volunteering in the son’s grade schools and our local Boy Scout troop, because of the forced same-age cohort groups, I know a few other women who had their babies that year. One of the joys in a smaller town is watching those children grow up.

Even though we didn’t go through our pregnancies together, friends forever, learning each new stage of parenting with each others’ shoulders to cry on, we do share a certain common knowledge now. Birthing experiences 25 years ago were different than they are now, just as the ones 25 years before ours were different. One thing that has remained the same is how hard it is to get support during pregnancy and birth and the fourth trimester of breastfeeding and adjusting to a change in your family. Gone are the days of birthing being a women’s experience. In America pregnancy and birth now is the province of men, a medicalized, drug induced, knife slicing male approach to managing a natural process. Female obstetricians are indoctrinated into the male model of birthing. Part of the health care issue is the medical modeling of natural processes. Sometimes you must let nature take its way and the outcomes will improve.

This natural process women have been managing since the beginning of time. We scare the wits out of men with the power of life we contain in our bodies. We see success rates of infant mortality in nations with national health care to be higher than in America, and one reason is they are more inclined to let nature have its way. In America we reach for the drugs or the knife. It doesn’t have to be that way.

What if babies were considered the most sacred or most valuable things in the world? I’m not going to get into the abortion argument. That’s a discussion between a woman and her doctor, nothing for society to globally decide any more than any other individual medical issue. In the natural process when there is a successful outcome of a live birth, that is point number two of the miracle, conception being point one. When I was pregnant, and reading everything the local lending library had on pregnancy (after I had read everything they had on menopause because at 38 I thought I was going into early menopause, but surprise, there was a conception instead), I learned 75 percent of conceptions result in spontaneous miscarriage or stillbirth. That’s way more than I would have guessed. If three-quarters of those little buggers don’t even make it out of the chute, then being born at all is an anomaly, therefore even more precious.

I’m not going to do the over-population argument here either. For some reason there are all of us people and it might be for some reason, or it might not. Whatever it is, we need to embrace each other as humans, not as differences. My radical notion, which isn’t all that radical as other people have posited its possible benefits, is subsidized motherhood. I’ll explore that as one of the topics in my planned health series.

Every new human who arrives is a miracle, for lack of any better word, a little starburst of hope against an often scary world. It is a miracle you are here, and a miracle I’m here, and a miracle I get to personally know at least eight new human beings arriving in this world this year. Eight new people who have the power to affect the lives of their parents and families and communities, as no baby is born in a vacuum. Right now eight is feeling like a lucky number, or maybe it’s a miracle number. Nothing is better than babies.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Daffodil greenies pushing through brown mulched soil. Layers of blue-green evergreens on a gray day. Spiky green chives defying the moss. Leafy early lily fronds. Reliable hardy sedums provide winter magenta color.

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.} Blade Runner (1982, rated R) with Harrison Ford. It’s been many years since I watched this and with the new version coming out I wanted to see it again. Still rather eerie with Replicants being nearly undetectable from humans. This movie provoked an interesting discussion in my household about fear, slavery, and when sentience becomes a life form. * Sleepless in Seattle (1993, rated PG), with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. The mom in the family dies and the eight-year-old son seeing how sad his dad is tries to hook him up through a radio talk show. I’m not terribly into rom-coms, but sometimes you just need to lighten up. I didn’t watch this movie when it came out, so I needed to watch it to understand the cultural references. * Dean (2016, rated PG – 13), another story of grief where the mom in the family dies. The father sells the family home, and the grown son, who is an illustrator, has to come to grips with grief along with his father. The illustrations, drawn by actor Demetri Martin who plays the role of the main character Dean, are sprinkled throughout the story and are most entertaining. * Fist of Fury (1972, rated R) with Bruce Li. Nothing like a good martial arts movie to help one deal with anger.

Currently Reading – I have not finished Poe’s short stories, but I can only read so many stories of premature burial and rotting purification before descending into the depths of despair. To counteract the horror, I resort to a tried-and-true author in Sarah-Kate Lynch. The first novel I read by her was Blessed are the Cheesemakers (2004, fiction) and I fell in love with her style of telling love stories. Her love stories are not romances in any conventional sense, but full of quirky, humorous conflict and barriers and roadblocks. I’ve since read Cheesemakers three times and listened to the audio version also. One of the author’s talents is grabbing you into the story on the first page, and in Finding Tom Connor (2000, fiction) I was hooked by the second paragraph when Molly’s boob falls out of her wedding dress. I have never been disappointed with any of her stories. * Learning To Be Old: Gender, Culture, and Aging (2003, aging and psychology) by Margaret Cruickshank. From reading this author’s take on aging, I see am going to be one cranky, cantankerous, noisy old lady. No surprise there. Already I have been questioning the need for medicines doctors who won’t even touch me with their hands say they think I need. I always counter with “I’d like to try other things first”. Our American society is over-medicated and elders are a major target, and we don’t seem to care about elders obtaining age without a medical model of aging equaling ill health. Of course, the pharmaceutical industry makes buckets of money off medicalizing aging, like many other aspects of health care. Resist.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • The azalea by City Hall that is spring confused and popping out little red flower buds already.
  • Little brown juncos feasting on the bugs on my grape vine.
  • Spotting a few daffodil and hyacinth heads.
  • Spending some time just watching the wind move the tree branches in my back yard.
  • Having a flashlight within hand’s reach when the power went out recently. I wanted to go to the window and see if it was the whole neighborhood. Everything was back on before I could sit back down a couple minutes later.
  • How helpful energy assistance programs can be for income-challenged folks to stretch their bill paying dollars.
  • Learning easy ways to fold clothes a few years back, and enjoying folding warm clothes fresh from the dryer.
  • Finding a piece of my bedroom floor I haven’t seen since my last beach trip (gahk, last October), but oh well, ’tis cleaner now.
  • Asking the son if he knew where to look for my stash of gold coins when I die. He said no, and I assured him there is a pirate’s trove, if he looks in the right place. Ha-ahargh, like 20 dollars collected over the years, but it’s still growing and I may have to find a different container. I’m grateful he takes my off-beat sense of humor well.
  • The freedom to lie down on my own bed in my own home when I need to, and nobody saying otherwise.
  • Each moment of pain, glorious reminders of being alive. And that I can still deal with it.
  • Hot showers, microwave heat packs, warm swimming pools, sturdy walking shoes.
  • Carrots, bought at the last winter farmers market I went to in early November, sweet and crispy as the day they were bought, thanks to modern refrigeration.
  • Taking the time to de-string celery, because I like it better that way. Few chefs remember about the strings. I love celery. It’s so refreshing, especially when de-strung.
  • Laughing that my spell-checker didn’t like de-string or de-strung. Tweedledee and Tweedledum.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: It’s All Good; It’s Just Me

Gratitude * Sunday
Sunday’s heartfelt tradition.
A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful.
A list of gratitudes, our gratefulness feeds one another.
Quoted from Taryn Wilson
Joining the Gratitude Sunday Tradition at Wooly Moss Roots.

Quote of the Week – “If you don’t become the ocean, you’ll be seasick every day.”  Leonard Cohen

Sunday Haiku
Diamond raindrops hang
from lichen covered branches,
sun sparkled jewels.

Sunday Musings
We are complicated people, aren’t we? I spend time trying to understand myself, thinking about events of the past, how I (or others) might have behaved differently, how the outcome might have been different, how I felt about what was happening at the time, and how I feel about it now. Then I think about all the time I think about the past and how you can’t change the past, ever, you never get to go back, get a re-do, or a do-over, so why spend time thinking about the past and how it made you feel at all.

Wouldn’t it be just as good to ignore the past and only move forward? Only problem there is the experiences of your past make up who you are now. You don’t learn new skills by ignoring the past, and they don’t bloom on their own, even though being present in the present is a good way to live.

See how complicated? Then there is goal setting. This includes the myth of choices. We don’t all have the same opportunities, advantages, or successes, so we don’t get the same choices, and we may have the same goals but not all of us will reach that goal. There are some of us who set the goals, do the work, put in the time, and the goal somehow still eludes us. I’m not saying we shouldn’t make efforts to improve ourselves, I’m saying the dice don’t always break the same way. It’s not only complicated, it’s complex.

I don’t know if it’s hormones (I’m an old woman), random physical pain (you don’t want to hear the organ recital, boring), financial challenges (I’m in the never-quite-enough level), the short dark days of winter (one day at a time), the pull of the moon (blue moon month), Mercury in retrograde (it’s not), or the sign I was born under (Libra), but my moods these days are all over the place. I apply the remedies I know, simple old fashioned notions of exercise, sleep, the best natural healthful foods I can afford, water.

Yet, there is nothing “wrong” with me. Of course there isn’t. If I tried to explain this odd feeling to my doctor, she’d recommend a counselor. My counselor says I’m old enough to do whatever I like. Maybe it’s spring fever. Maybe I was born with it. Maybe I’m just getting older. We don’t talk about the changes of aging, changes of ability, appetite, attitudes, aptitudes. Most of us are surprised to celebrate our 60th birthdays, but life doesn’t just stop because of a natal day. We go on living and learning. We could compare notes. Friends don’t let friends get old alone.

I thought I’d taken care of myself well enough that I’d be working much longer than I have. It’s distressing the plans and goals didn’t go as planned and many goals were not achieved. It rather forces a pivot, but the pivot is limited. I must learn something new.

I’m an old dog, always have been. It’s hard for me to learn new things. I want to be a creature of routine. But life can’t be forced. Sometimes pushing and striving is not what is required.

Sometimes you must go with the flow. Allow the current to carry you. Glide with the waves. You must accept yesterday you were an octopus, today you are a manatee, and tomorrow a river otter, and the next day you are a crab. Having all those critters in you might make your skin itch, but what it means is all that striving doesn’t get you further along the path, it makes everything feel more stressful.

We are complicated creatures. It’s OK. If routine falls apart or remains the same, it’s OK. It’s another day, another night, another book, another movie, another conversation, another opportunity, another rain, another connection.

Color Watchcolorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Green is the color of the week. Hardy sedum overflows its aqua pot. Light green moss fingers on an old homemade birdhouse. Rely on sedums for winter colors jade green and pink. Looking forward to harbingers of spring like these white snowdrops.

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.} Burn After Reading (2008, rated R), with many of my favorite actors: Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, George Clooney, Brad Pitt. Quirky humor with a self absorbed woman trying to raise money for cosmetic surgeries getting mixed up in a wacky conspiracy to gain money through blackmail involving government agencies…Well, it’s complicated. And worth the time. * Occasionally I need totally inane humor to sustain me through dark days. Somehow the nights seem less dark than the days. Season 2 of Netflix’s Disjointed (2017, rated TV – MA) with Kathy Bates, another favorite actor, and stereotypical stoner humor, still laughable, but unlike most cannabis users I know. * Discovered Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (2014, TV series not rated) with Jerry Seinfeld. I was not a fan of his TV show Seinfeld. I didn’t (still don’t) get the New York City humor (and had a university professor who scoffed at me when I told him so, as if I was naïve, or not sophisticated enough. I am, so be it, I own it, but not deserving of a scoff; I certainly didn’t scoff at him when he tried to come off as intellectually superior because he understood and liked this kind of humor. I might put in more effort watching and understanding Seinfeld, if I could get him to appreciate the cultural nuances of being poor and white like in My Name is Earl…). Comedians always leaves me smiling, which is what I need. Jerry has a different fabulous classic car in each episode, and he takes another comedian out to coffee in the cool car, just two comedians talking about cars and comedy and coffee and you get to go along for the ride. Pure fun.

Currently Reading – I enjoyed The Scapegoat so much, and I will read more Daphne du Maurier. That Winter Classic read so fast I have moved on to the 18 Best Stories of Edgar Allan Poe. January often feels scarier to me than October. In October summer has faded, the nights are getting longer, cold weather is starting, wind sounds spooky with all the dry leaves rattling together, but a few hardy flowers still bloom. But January, it’s cold, it’s been cold, it feels like it will never get warm again; the trees are naked of leaves and the nude branches sound like dry hollow bones striking each other; the nights are still long and you can’t tell they are getting shorter even at the end of the month; it’s wet and you can’t walk on the squishy grass. January is scary. Great month for Poe whom I first read as a 14 year old high school sophomore, introduced by a teacher who loved Gothic literature; his favorite author was H. P. Lovecraft. I remember Mr Bouthilet reading aloud to us teenagers who thought we were too grown up to listen to someone read us stories, and then he would lay out these horror stories and even the boys would stop giggling and goofing off. Oh, the power of words. This book is scarier still because the 3 point font size looks like a zillion no-see-ums squished on the page in a precise marching order. We’ll see how long I last with these tiny letters. * Learning To Be Old: Gender, Culture, and Aging(2003, aging and psychology) by Margaret Cruickshank. Growing older doesn’t have to be threatening or feared or medicalized or expensive. It’s how we look at it culturally and how we promote it and what we make of it. If you are told all your life you will be sick when you are older, you very well may be. I suspect we can change aging as we go along.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • How coastal the air smells after a freshening rain blows through the valley.
  • Rainy mild winter here (above freezing, at least), but can’t walk on the ground without sinking. Too early yet.
  • Having enough sense to not eat Tide pods. It’s not about hunger.
  • Calendar sales and not having to pay full price.
  • My local lending library system that keeps my review shelf full of a variety of books and movies, and if the system doesn’t have what I want they have access to libraries outside their system. I almost always get what I want. Oh, the power (might go to my head).
  • The fierce energy of aging.
  • Those 5 minute work windows.
  • Getting word my newest grand-nephew has been safely delivered of his mother, and the new family is tired but otherwise doing well.
  • The young people I know who are having to work two and three jobs to live. I remember working 80-100 hour weeks (I was self-employed) before I was 35, then the body started slowing down. Work all the hours you can while you can. It makes for great stories.
  • Listening. You can hear great stories.
  • A friend, who desperately needed a car because the car she loved died, and finally found a new-to-her car at a price that fit her pocketbook. A stressful wait, but going with the flow, you know.
  • Craving asparagus, honoring the craving, and knowing it means it won’t be long before asparagus season in Oregon.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

Posted in abundance, Aging, Careers, Education, Exercise, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, History, Nature, Photography, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gratitude Sunday: Hawks And Violets

Gratitude * Sunday
Sunday’s heartfelt tradition.
A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful.
A list of gratitudes, our gratefulness feeds one another.
Quoted from Taryn Wilson
Joining the Gratitude Sunday Tradition at Wooly Moss Roots.

Quote of the Week – “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”
Helen Keller

Sunday Haiku
Warm winds, no hard freeze,
early winter plum branches
swell with spring flowers.

Sunday Musings
What can you see? Is your eyesight still clear and true? Do you ever look at something more than once to be sure you see what you see?

Are your eyes wide open? Do you see the world around you? Do you see the people right in front of you? Are you seeing physical characteristics or are you seeing who the person is?

Or do you see with your heart? Do you have an open mind about what you see?

As we speed to work at 55 miles an hour, what do we see? As we fly between soccer games and music lessons and play dates and dentist appointments, who has the time to look at the sky and see the clouds?

I like to look at the small stuff. Individual blades of grass, petals on a flower, dime-sized mushrooms sprouting in rain soaked lawns. Growth cycles in trees, the movement of the sun, ripples in the rapidly flowing river and eddies in the slow moving creek. These are a few of my favorite things.

I saw a small flurry of white fall from one of the pine trees at the end of my driveway. It wasn’t cold enough to snow. It wasn’t spring with the plum tree blossoms floating sweetly toward the ground. My brain had to analyze what my eyes were seeing. The white bits suddenly began traveling across the drive to the tree across the road. Fluffy flurries. Finally the light bulb went on. I was seeing feathers.

The little hawk landed in the tree across the street, white feathers still dropping from his beak and talons. I hadn’t noticed him before. He isn’t big, maybe 10 inches tall, but he is regal, fierce, muscular; he lives in my tree and owns the neighborhood. He evidently helps himself to the little birds for lunch. Little birds with white feathers.

We used to have mourning doves, pretty birds, but the loud cooing every day could occasionally be annoying. I haven’t heard the doves for a while and it slowly dawned on me perhaps the hawk had dispatched them either to another neighborhood or to his stomach.

I didn’t believe my eyes when I saw the feathers. I had to look at them twice, three times, to understand what I was seeing. My mind went through things that couldn’t possibly be true before I could see what was before my eyes.

When we look at people do we see what they are or do we look at their bodies and stop there? Do we look at them twice or even a third time to see who they are rather than what they look like? Do we bother to see what they do, how they treat others, if they follow through on their words? Are we quick to judge on what our eyes see, instead of seeing the person with our hearts?

Open your eyes when you take a walk. Notice changes in the neighbor’s yard. Pay attention to the life cycles of plants. Look for nature in your neighborhood even if you live in an urban area. My driveway is long and old and cracked. Weeds grow freely in the cracks despite my efforts to make them stop. When I look closely I see tiny beautiful flowers, just the right size for fairies or fairyful imaginations. In one spot a violet grows, forcing its way through rocky aggregate, rewarding me with lovely purple flowers that could be gowns for those same fairies playing with the tiny weed flowers.

See people when you look at them. Look at them as closely as you would your own newborn child. Even if they do not have a “conventional” beauty, look for what is beautiful in them. Look past their faces and their bodies; see what they do and who they are. Watch children, who have no assumptions about what is beauty and goodness. See teenagers as the future-makers they are, the visionaries of each generation. Look into the eyes of elders and see how your wisdom will show when you are old and how your skin will wrinkle carrying every experience.

Look with your heart at your beliefs. Do you judge by what you see or by what you believe? Do you accept others for the unique beauty of themselves or do you reject them because they do not look like you or act like you? How does knowledge affect what you see?

I know, I know. I think too much. I also see too much and understand too much, and I don’t see enough or understand anything.

A little hawk living at the end of my driveway makes sense to my eyes, because I live in a semi-rural area. We are close to farm land and forests. Purple violets seemingly defying nature by growing through concrete makes sense to my eyes because I’ve learned over the years nature always wins, in one way or another, often unpredictably.

Violets and hawks are beyond my control, but they look a part of the way of nature. One voice from our federal administration is beyond my control, but after watching him for years, he doesn’t look to me like he sees any part of nature or other people. Also beyond my control is the silence from the people around him who support him, and after observing them for years, I see they don’t have their eyes open either. They are blinded by greed, and beliefs, and misinformation, and even disinformation.

I’m glad I see what I see in this administration, as difficult as this period of history is proving to be. I’m glad because I see flurries of white feathers and little hawks adapting to burg life. I see violets growing in cracks in the sidewalk. I see gleeful children learning to swim and impressing themselves with new abilities and new confidence. I see white hair and softly wrinkled skin on slow moving older people as they enter the library, still reading, still learning. I see teenagers and millennials with their eyes wide open and their hearts set on seeing each other and creating a better future. I see newly concerned community citizens who now see what they do in their own communities matter. I see people who are looking at other people and seeing there are more similarities than differences.

I see a moment in history. I see a tidal wave coming. I see a fresh wind blowing through town. I see a tectonic shift in the nation. What do you see?

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Brown sporophytes sprouting from green moss beds marching along a fence line. Gray and green microcosm decomposing my gray deck wood. Abundant variety of gray lichens and emerald mosses.

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.} Mudbound (2017, rated R) a Netflix movie. Two WW2 veterans from Mississippi return to family homes, one a white man and one black, their lives intertwined, and racism in all its ugly violence ensues. I had only a general idea of what this movie was about. I’ll put it into my African-American movie studies. * Lady Macbeth (2016, rated R), make no mistake, this is not Shakespeare, not Shakespeare at all. The family’s name is not Macbeth. I didn’t even get the connection except the female protagonist discovers sexual passion and will kill anybody in her way of her physical gratification. (Oh, I so want to use the common four letter expletive, but, you know, civil discourse.) A loose connection to Shakespeare, at best. Put this one in the psychological-sorta-gruesome-horror-movie-for-Halloween category.

Currently ReadingThe Scapegoat (1957, fiction) by Daphne du Maurier. In seven days time the imposter positively affects the family he’s been thrust into until a tragedy changes it all again. With the village a short distance away and the count’s country mansion with the glass factory family business, the mood is semi-Gothic; this novel is like reading a black and white film noir. * Learning To Be Old: Gender, Culture, and Aging (2003, aging and psychology) by Margaret Cruickshank. I like to read above myself, and this material is rather like that. I mean I understand what the author says, but it is so scholarly the sentences are somewhat overwhelming. This one is going to take me a while. I like to finish reading material that is above my level because you still take it into your neural net and the dots may connect at a later date.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Hawks. Little birds. The life cycle.
  • Marty Stouffer and Wild America.
  • Purple violets.
  • A mild winter here so far. We could still have a late winter freeze.
  • The patience of customer service people.
  • Civil discourse (though I admit a fondness for expletives as well).
  • Thinking too much.
  • Seeing the flower buds on the plum branches beginning to swell.
  • Working out a kink in my shoulder I woke up with.
  • Microwave heat packs.
  • Remembering how good it feels to be able to get into the car and go when I want to. I’m conservative about my car journeys, but it’s a when-I-want-to thing. Like when my body is cooperating and moving around that day.
  • Small things like lichen fruits, and moss flowers, and dust particles.
  • Dusting my laughing Buddha because his bald pate had grown enough beggar’s velvet to look like hair.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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