Gratitude Sunday: Complaint And Desire

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week
– “Once poor, always wanting. Rich is just a way of wanting bigger.” Lily Tomlin as character Wanda Mae Wilford in her video Lily, a 1973 variety show television special with Alan Alda and Richard Pryor

Sunday Haiku
Buckets of cold rain
hit blooming cherry trees, pink
petals snow shower.

Sunday Musings
Often when I sit to write this post I don’t know where to start or what to say. I want to have a positive progressive message, but I am distracted by the sadness and stress of poverty and ill health. I sound whiny, irritable, cranky even.

I’m probably just tired. Tired of wanting to see the good in people and having faith in people and the faith being repeatedly broken. Tired of trying to trust a federal or state government that seems determined to find ways to distort the needs of constituents with the very money we constituents pay in taxes. Tired of those who have blaming those who don’t for not having, yet offering no aid or aid only with strings attached. Tired of working toward a better world and feeling like the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland, running backward, getting nowhere.

Maybe I’m angry. Angry at working hard all my life with so little so show for it. Angry at how little has changed in the society I’ve worked to improve these last 50 years. Angry at people being left behind, blamed for their own poverty in a rigged economy. At least my anger is not misplaced, as I’m not looking for revenge, I’m working for relief and resolution.

There is joy in my life and I hang onto those moments like a life line. The smell of fresh air. Clean water from my tap. Sweetly scented flowers and trees blooming all over my neighborhood and not being very allergic to most blooming things. Close, easy access to a swimming pool, swimsuits, and my three-night-a-week commitment. The neighbor’s trees that shade my home from the summer sun. Crows watching me from those trees. So much more.

There’s always stuff to want. I want help taking care of my house. Eventually it will happen, in the meantime I get done what I get done. I want a flat belly. Hwell, that will never happen (some things are truly fantasy or dream accessible only). I want to make some changes in my house. Eventually it will happen. Making plans while waiting to make stuff happen gives one time to be creative about funding, since liquid capital is not forthcoming in my household. Resource and enterprise is what built this United States of America and I come by tenacity genetically. Also when there is no funding, some things get done later or don’t get done.

In my little magical fantasy world, I keep planning, because I can’t suspend my disbelief enough to pretend the changes are already done, and the real life stuff to make it happen (money) doesn’t exist in my life right now. I vicariously enjoy the improvements of neighbor’s yards or of my family and friends. I content myself with minor changes because it’s what I can do. In my little magical fantasy world, I have an efficient magic wand to improve the lives of all of us.

Aging is fun (said facetiously or not depending on how you are aging), and not one bit of fantasy about it. One does what one can, enjoys what one can. I’m trying to value what I do now in the same way I valued all I used to be able to do. Competition isn’t always good, but I’ve always thought the one legitimate competition was being better than one was yesterday, rather than trying to be better than somebody else. Aging might not be a valid comparison. One’s abilities change, just as one’s abilities changed when one was learning and growing older. And everybody is different. Just because you can doesn’t mean I can, and vice versa. It’s hard to maintain oneself in that space, where whatever gets done is what you get done and be satisfied with it, when we come from a culture that behaves like the work ethic is the only value of human abilities.

Here’s another thing I wanted. After retirement I wanted to be able to help other people, yet I find myself in the position of still asking for help just to live. That’s really undignified, but if asking for help is what it takes in this United States, and the help in not forthcoming without the asking, then the asking must be done. Living under a bridge is not an option for me these days; I’d be dead in a week. I often feel that’s what our society would be happy to do, just throw all the oldies under a bridge somewhere and let us die. What I just said is entirely morbid; elders have undervalued value in this world. We know history. We’ve tried things youngers might not have thought of, and we can still learn.

One cannot be happy all the time. One must feel a full range of emotions to be truly alive in this world. If one doesn’t acknowledge and experience sadness, or anger, or discomfort, how can one distinguish happiness, or contentment, or security and fully experience those feelings?

My mom used to tell me I was whiny. She was pretty blunt about my shortcomings. She also told me to keep my chin up, and she was my biggest supporter even as an adult. She meant for me to keep going with my head held high despite my anger, fatigue, and discontent. One must keep going. And one can put on a positive face while bearing anger, fatigue, and discontent. We might not want to show our range of emotions to the public, but we should feel free to experience them.

Twenty-one years ago I attended my college graduation dinner with Mom and youngest brother, and we shared the table with a classmate and her family. Classmate was much younger and we’d met at the transfer student orientation; she had heart shaped glasses with purple lenses which I told her I loved and she was amazed an older student would talk to her. She was Latina and was the person who did me the kindness of teaching me “Not all Hispanics are Mexican” (I merely enjoyed Hispanic cultures, but I’d never thought much about it before; that’s privilege – to not think about it; also what college is for: to learn to think); she also helped me practice my Spanish. During graduation dinner we chatted and learned a bit about each other’s families. At the end of the dinner classmate’s mother told me she’d never heard anybody complain so much in all her life and we’d only been at table a couple hours.

Mom and I laughed, which surprised classmate’s mom, knowing this is my style. I explained, as usual, complaining is my way of defining problems, challenges, or issues. Granted, it’s an inelegant method, but nonetheless that’s how I roll.

You know what? Sometimes, after defining the problem, as inelegant as the complaint method is, the definition spells out the resolution.

Isn’t that the root of the issue? To fix something you must know what is broken. The more clearly you define what is broken the easier to see possible resolutions to the problem. That’s another part of the problem, often there is more than one solution. And another part of the problem: when working with other people, not everybody will agree on a solution, yet often the solution requires more than one person.

Is it any wonder I’m cranky? So many things to think about, so many things to fix, so many possible solutions, so much wanting. So much wanting bigger even without being rich.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – I don’t think this photo quite captures the neon quality brightness of these red tulips on an early spring late afternoon. Love the pale baby blue of these bluebells. Pink cherry blossoms against their coppery-orangey leaves. How this tiny yellow flower creeps over the red lava rock, against the green geranium/begonia (?) leaf. How wild azaleas feel, this one in baby pink. Neighbor has great clumps of baby blue forget-me-nots, like a ground cover.

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.} Tiny Furniture (2010, not rated), written, directed, and starring Lena Dunham. A new college graduate struggles to find her way after graduation; movie views like a precursor to her more recent TV series Girls. * Green Book (2018, rated PG – 13) with Viggo Mortenson and Mahershala Ali, who took the 2018 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Several years ago through some fiction reading, I became aware of The Negro Motorist Green Book, a paperback publication listing safe places for Negroes to spend the night when traveling, whose final publication was 1966. 1966. I was just starting to learn about the injustices of humanity against humanity at that point; in 1966 I was becoming aware (though as I age I am stunningly naive sometimes). African and African-American culture fascinates me, as do several other cultures; the African-American journey makes my heart ache; I’ve never understood treating people other than you would treat yourself. I love learning. As I stated in last week’s Current View, I view this movie from “white privilege” because I don’t know how to say it other than I’m white. This is the story of a classically trained pianist who happens to be Negro and must travel in the southeastern areas of America in the early 1960s (1960s!) when Jim Crow laws were still very much alive and well. He acquires a driver/bodyguard who has a reputation for resolving issues. The bodyguard has some underlying biases, as does the pianist. They learn from each other that they are, when all is said and done, men together in this ugly world of racism, and they develop a tentatively trusting relationship. The movie is from a true life story, and the movie is Hollywood. It is very much a “white person’s” movie, from the white person’s point of view which seems normal considering the son of the white driver/bodyguard produced the movie. That’s OK because this is the movie it is. We could tell the story from a different point of view and that would be a different movie, just as valid for its own sake. Even if they took literary and life license with this movie, I enjoyed the message of growth and learning to live with different cultures and different people. * Year of the Woman (1973, not rated) a documentary by Sandra Hochman, a poet’s eye view of sexism and feminism at the 1972 Democratic Convention when Shirley Chisholm was the first black woman to run for the Democratic presidential nomination. Important history, and available on Youtube.

Currently ReadingMr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore (2012, fiction) by Robin Sloan (American author). A fantasy grounded in today’s real world reality, this would be a fun and easy breezy light summer read for fantasy enthusiasts. No spoilers. Recommended. * Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger (2018, sociology) by Rebecca Traister (American author). I have a girl crush on Ms Traister. She says it all so well. I’ve never understood why men would cut off half their resources because of what we have between our legs, nor do I understand why we still have to fight for any advantage, as they continue to undervalue women.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Hearing the geese flying north for the season, looking up from my work, and seeing them through the open door. We had a really nice day this week and several of the flocks circled back around to a local wetland. I enjoy their working voices.
  • The sound of neighbor kids playing outside. Outside.
  • Getting so many spaces cleaned while chasing a sour smell in the kitchen.
  • Finding a short pile of long forgotten clothes in my quest to clean my room.
  • Five minute work windows. Breaks. And more five minute work windows.
  • Consulting with a physical therapist who helped me understand more about chronic pain and how the brain functions differently when dealing with constant pain.
  • A friend’s granddaughter being safely delivered of her own daughter. Mama and baby are safe and well. So excited for their four generations of girls.
  • A short walk on a warm day.
  • How much it sounds like the birds are enjoying the warming weather.
  • Rescuing Mister Kitty aka George Murphy when he fell into a tight spot behind my dresser, without needing help from the family.
  • A semi-successful/semi-failure gouda garlic chicken sauce. It wasn’t the best but with pasta we ate enough to be sated.
  • Rotisserie chicken and how many easy meals I can make from one.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: Opening Imagination; or, Proactive Thinking

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “The reason we have poverty is that we have no imagination. There are a great many people accumulating what they think is vast wealth, but it’s only money… they don’t know how to enjoy it, because they have no imagination.” Alan Watts

Sunday Haiku
Breeze chills warm spring air;
constant sprinkles feed blossoms.
Color explosion!

Sunday Musings
I’m not an economics major. I’ve learned money the hard way, by not having any. Being low-income is more expensive than being middle class, because you rarely have the money when the best sales take place, and being low-income often limits your choices. I’m political by default because I need to understand how elected representatives seem so disconnected from their constituents and use of our tax investments (our money) is one of the elements of politics. I may have only vision and voice left to me but I also still have the ability to think and generate ideas. Science fiction books and films have taught us if you can think of it, you might be able to make it happen.

In America we have the myth that if you work hard you can become wealthy, or at least financially secure. One must only pull up one’s bootstraps with every failure and keep on keeping on and eventually success will be at your door. Except we know this isn’t true for everybody. When we begin thinking proactively to define what we want as the United States of America, rather than reactively, we might begin to relieve poverty in America.

I’ll give one simple comparison. Yes, I know it’s not good to compare oneself with others, but that’s what capitalism is about. I’m not saying it’s good.

I have one sister and one brother who have been able to earn enough. They bought homes, and provided for their families. They provided well. Music lessons and instruments; sports participation, equipment, and game attendance; proms with nice suits and gowns; youth groups like Boy Scouts and church with camping equipment and event participation money; swimming lessons and suits; college educations, tuition, books, and living expenses; health care, when and as needed, like sports or summer camp physicals; family vacations away from home to experience places beyond one’s own home; movies and dinners out for special occasions or the rare treat; individual hobbies and the money it takes to support a hobby; new clothing as wanted instead of when needed. Still, they watch their expenses, and fret about their security.

I’m not sibling bashing. To their credit, they are frugal, DIY people. Sister is a master shopper and finds most of her family’s clothing at Goodwill and thrift stores, including formal wear. She and her hubbers have done 90% of the remodeling and maintenance on their house. She has an artist’s eye and a decorator’s sense, and her home could grace the pages of House Beautiful. Much of what she decorates with she has created herself.

Brother has invested some of his money in woodworking equipment he can use after retirement, and he has re-done all the floors and molding in his fixer house on the lake to the point you can’t tell it was ever a fixer. He stores the equipment in what his family lovingly calls the Garage Mahal, because it’s so nice and clean you could live in there.

What they’ve done with what they have is admirable and I do admire them. They’ve had their struggles and challenges in life just like everyone. They are decent, honest, hardworking, accountable American workers.

How did they do it? Sister has a husband who is able to work full time, who went back to school, and was able to work his way up in his chosen career. Sister also worked full-time while birthing and raising her children. Both were able to work their way into administrative level jobs. Every minute was full and busy, but they had to have a combined income, two working adults earning administrative level incomes, and a committed marriage to do so, and every non-working minute was spent raising their children. It hasn’t been easy breezy.

Brother was able to secure a career military job. What they sacrificed by moving often according to the needs of the military they gained in income, which enabled his wife to be home with the children and gave her the luxury of donating some of her time to the church. Not that she ever had much time on her hands as she did much of the military moving and the household refurbishing herself; her children are healthy, highly educated, and her home is also House Beautiful quality, and we know what kind of time that takes. Essentially she earned half his salary doing the physical labor of taking care of him, their family, and their home. He was able to retire with pension while in his late 40s and went on to another high paying job. So, pension plus salary (and again that committed marriage) equals enough. And their church benefits from their freely donated labor. Life hasn’t been easy breezy for them as well.

Nobody shares financial information these days. I don’t know if it’s considered bad taste, or jealous making or what, but I think that’s a societal fail. Honesty and transparency in most money things makes everybody better off. For the last 40 years there has been a concentrated effort to not teach personal finance in schools, and capitalist marketing encourages poor workers to regard all earned income as spent income. The wealthy know that some earned income needs to be saved and employed in creating its own income. My mom encouraged us to start retirement funds, so I’m sure both these siblings are still building retirement cushions as both are still working.

Youngest brother and I are different stories. Neither of us ever had the income to provide more than the basics for our families. After an early divorce, he encouraged one daughter to earn a college degree, and one to buy her own home, and his boy still lives with his mom. Brother recently semi-retired because of health issues resulting from the physical and noise effects from his place of work. The road through a disability claim is rocky and full of pitfalls with no guarantees despite working and paying Medicare and Social Security payments for 40 years of your working life. Mom passed the family home to him when she died so he’d always have a place to live. His small savings won’t last more than two or three years; it’s relatively easy to keep expenses down being a single man who isn’t as able as he used to be, but he’s going to need to keep his house up and we know how much that will cost now he can’t do as much on his own.

On my wing and prayer I’ve managed to support a disabled husband, who never received Social Security Disability despite repeated applications, and raise a child on one para-professional salary, which ended suddenly, and trying to pay my bills and keep my house since then has eaten up what little retirement savings I had. I earned a bachelor’s degree in my 40s, but I still wasn’t able to break the poverty line in my life; we always just get by. We did Boy Scouts, because of the traditional values in the program, but we always seemed to obtain the gear (often used) after the need. It seemed like I could never catch a break, having to move 20 times in 24 years. One time I sat down and did the math and figured out for all the rents, non-refundable deposits, non-refundable application fees, key fees, pet fees (please don’t begrudge pets, one must have some comfort in one’s life), utility hook-up or change fees, and moving expenses like truck rental, gasoline, extra cleaning expenses, and food for people to help me in those 24 years I could have paid for the house I’m in now twice over. At least I found an owner-carry contract on a home and have avoided moving for the last 20 years. Moving is a HUGE expense for low-income people. I can’t sell my house now to make a profit because of all the work the house needs, and with the way housing expenses are either renting or buying I can’t get as good as what I’ve got. I don’t qualify for a bank loan to effect repairs. It’s just as well. I hate moving. I don’t like the word hate.

For youngest brother and I, though we worked as many hours and at jobs with equal value and risk, our lesser incomes didn’t stretch far enough. We paid our bills, our mortgages, our taxes, we fed our families. We were and are always behind. We have no cushion against financial disaster. There is no retirement savings because the contingency fund keeps eating it up. You fix a gutter, and the car needs something, you fix the car and the washer goes out, you replace the washer and property taxes are due, you pay the taxes and it’s Christmas again. We can’t get ahead for all our running. We were and are decent, honest, hardworking, accountable American workers same as our more successful siblings. So what do we face in retirement? More scraping to keep up and make ends meet.

I don’t resent my siblings who have enough. I’m happy for them and proud of them that they made it all work. It wasn’t just about having enough money, they were clever and careful as well. I resent not being able to provide that for my own family. I worked hard, I was clever and careful. I was even enterprising on occasion, which sadly didn’t go far either.

That’s the problem with comparisons. All four of us own homes. As my mom said about us, all our kids work. Our culture has changed enough that the work they do is sometimes unpaid, and it has no “value” because it doesn’t come with earned income. It is valuable work nonetheless.

If our society and our culture is changing how do we give additional opportunities to those who have less? How do we do that without outrageous amounts of bureaucracy, paperwork, and tax investment expense? How do we do it without stigma to the people who need the help? And who might we be missing out on because they are poor and don’t have the opportunity: The ones who might cure cancer? The ones who might solve climate change? The ones who might design inexpensive, solar powered, non-emission flying cars, or brilliantly re-design urban water systems, or figure out how to feed people in cities fresh food grown on site rather than imported from other countries?

I’m thinking we must change our thinking. We must open our imaginations. We must look forward to what we want and decide how to get there proactively. Instead we are reactively flopping around doing the same old things that for the last 40 years have left Americans stuck with a dysfunctional GOP and the same old stale ideas that don’t work. We’ve even spent money on studies that show what doesn’t work and what does. It’s called history. We learn history so we can plan for the future, not just float along on a tide of dysfunction. Re-thinking gives opportunity to lift up all of us, instead of letting more and more of us slip into the abyss.

For my siblings and I, we are fine. We will be fine. We plan, our plans fail or succeed, we re-group and try again or make the next plan. We are tenacious. We are like 80 percent of decent, honest, hardworking, accountable Americans who would have been much more comfortable and secure if wages had kept up with inflation these last 40 years, yet we are still always scrambling, not necessarily for the newest car or the biggest house, but to just make ends meet.

I’m speaking for us, but I’m also speaking for others who don’t have the wit. Who can’t read enough to fill out an application form or to find out help is out there. Who end up living under bridges because the paperwork and stigma of asking for help are too much to bear. Who are judged because they lived without for so long (often generationally) their brain chemistries have changed and their health issues become extreme and they no longer are capable of rational thought or self control. Who fall through bigger cracks than I’ve been through.

People want to work. We want to care for our families, we want homes and food, and entertainment. We want to pay our bills and have some left over. We’re not all going to choose the same stuff or the same ways to live and that’s the spice about the whole deal: so much to choose from. We want to know we won’t have to worry about our security in our old age as well, whether we retire or not. It’s not too much to ask. We can have that for all of us if we think about what we want and how we can get there. And none of it has to be a them or us choice if we begin by thinking all of us.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – One of those dimed-sized daisy spattered lawns. Love this lantern style perennial with its muted color, neighbor says it’s a bulb but she couldn’t remember the name. A creamy white patch of sunny yellow-centered narcissus. Pretty peachy pink tulips. My current favorite perennial bulb. I don’t know the name but I love the pale yellow and the splayed open bellish sort of shape.

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.} After Life (2018, rated TV – MA), season one, with Ricky Gervais as a man whose beloved wife dies and he no longer sees any point in living. He adopts a rude, offensive attitude to deal with his distress. His dad is dying from Alzheimer’s but he visits every day. His wife left him videos telling him not so lie in bed and dwell, to feed the dog, open the curtains, and everyday life stuff she knows he will try to avoid. Totally dark humor. * Crazy Rich Asians (2018, rated PG – 13) which earned several film awards. There was much controversy about the nationalities of the actors and the places and details of the filming, so I’m going to say from the white privilege perspective (I’m not sure how to say this other than I’m white), I couldn’t tell any of those details and differences anyway. Let me explain that, and I certainly mean no offense to anyone here: I can’t tell the difference between a Chinese person, Japanese, Korean, Malay, or any other of the Asian cultures. (I also can’t tell if you are from California, North Dakota, Georgia, or New York by looking at you, maybe by your speech, but maybe not. I’m aware Asia supports a multitude of languages and regional variations as well.) The title says “Asian”; that covers the entire area, so I don’t care where the actors are from or what their heritage is. It matters to Asians, of course. [In my last employment I took diversity training every chance I could get. One of the trainers was Chinese, and she really helped me understand about the differences of behavior in cultures. I felt comfortable enough with her to ask how to tell the difference, and she replied “you can’t unless you live it.” It’s like not being able to tell what religion a person chooses to believe by their appearance.] The title says “Asian” so I don’t care where it’s filmed, though being the poor traveler I am I was delighted to have it be filmed anywhere Asian rather than on a set in some non-Asian country. So all that said, from my perspective of “white privilege”, I thoroughly enjoyed this classic love story. Boy and girl fall in love, but girl doesn’t know boy is crazy rich. Boy invites girl to meet crazy rich family and neglects to tell her about the crazy rich part, there are some cultural and financial difficulties, but they are resolved with a happy ending as love wins in the end. Love beats difference every time in my book; you love whom you love. The movie wasn’t Hallmark sweet or trite, and I really like happy endings. Especially with crazy rich money (a fantasy of mine). Recommended. Just enjoy the love story and ignore the controversy.

Currently ReadingMr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore (2012, fiction) by Robin Sloan (American author). This novel reads like the Young Adult genre; that’s OK, it’s about the quality of the story not the reading level. A bit of fantasy within a real world setting of a bookstore and Google in the mix as well. Entertaining enough so far. How can you miss with a story about books? * Utopia For Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal World (2017, sociology) by Rutger Bregman (Dutch historian). This has suddenly become a popular item at my local lending library, and I might not finish by due date. I’ve made so many notes so far, it may do me well to find a used copy somewhere. I have so much to learn! The author’s suggestions for resolutions are rather loose and ill-defined, but I’d like to ponder them more and I’d like to see him and others who think progressively develop his ideas which include redefining what we mean by work with the advent of technology and automation; universal basic income with the aforementioned in mind; how we value work and education; how we must make better use of tax investments and require the wealthy to pay their share.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • The son stopped by for a visit, being away for a nanny-type job.
  • The son bringing one of his charges home so I could make baby googly-eyes at him.
  • Knowing when one pulls a back muscle one must continue to move, albeit more slowly, and not go to bed and stop moving. As I did this week. Kept moving that is.
  • The cat surviving a bout of sick from a food change. Dr Mom had to make an executive decision.
  • My private fantasy life of ideas I cannot yet bring to fruition.
  • Patience.
  • Not buying cable TV. Much too tempting to stay up all night watching a screen.
  • A recent store return, though time consuming, was eventually effective.
  • As much of a mess as my Social Security stuff is, it is only what it is, and not worse.
  • Finding another swimsuit in my style and size at a price I was willing to pay. I like to be a suit ahead in case of material blowouts. I’ve tried to find suits that last longer but they don’t make them for my unique shape.
  • My Thanksgiving cactus making a surprise appearance for Easter. I must have given it the proper spring rain.
  • The way the late afternoon spring sun light comes in through my kitchen window, low and shaded behind my neighbor’s tree.
  • Sugar pea pods while waiting for our first local farmers market of the season in a week and a half. Looking forward to asparagus, spring peas, some fresh picked leaf lettuce. Too early for Oregon strawberries yet.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: Spring Warrior Days

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “A warrior acts as if he knows what he is doing, when in effect he knows nothing.” Carlos Castaneda

Sunday Haiku
Calm, warm, sunny day
interrupted by wet gale
retreats to peaceful.

Sunday Musings
Here we are again. One fourth of 2019 is gone. Twenty-five percent of the year is behind us. I know, math, right? Wasn’t Christmas just yesterday? Only half a year before HalloThanksMas is upon us again.

Spring is a good time for renewal. Like the blossoming of the vast variety of flowers returning after a bleak cold winter, and the promise of fruit and vegetables to come, spring is a good time to reflect on how we survived this winter, what trials we faced, what we rose above, what we may have accomplished. A time to look forward, perhaps make some plans (with built in flexibility), clean some old stuff out (both physical and mental), and continue the process of opening up to possibilities. A time to re-vitalize and look at our strengths. Our weaknesses are often all too obvious.

Three years now since my unexpected unemployment trauma. Good days and bad days are part of my semi-retired world. Sometimes the body cooperates, sometimes the brain does, on the best days both happen at the same time. When we feel strong we should speak and behave strongly, and when we feel weak we should take the time to rest and restore ourselves. We never give up even when feeling weak.

Spring is the best time to remember we are warriors. We survived another winter and to be alive at all is to have won the fight. Many fights are harder than others. Some of us don’t have the ability to speak for ourselves and need others to do so for us. Some of us cannot bear to speak of what we carry with us as we move mightily forward against the current. Some of us speak loudly because it is all we have left as we search for answers in this crazy world we’ve made. Some of us fear to speak because we’ve been silenced or denigrated in the past.

This spring is especially good to take stock. To seriously evaluate your education, your belief system, your relationship to money, your ability and joy in whatever work you do, perhaps add your connection to others into the mix. It’s quite a task to think about those elements of oneself honestly and openly with thoughts toward improvement. Nobody is above improvement. It’s really the only valid competition.

Why this spring, this particular spring? Our world is changing. America is changing, the United States of and all the other Americas. The next year and a half the United States of America will be fighting for democracy and progress. If we are still able to vote in 2020 we will up for the fight of the century.

What do you mean “still able to vote”? I mean we have a whacko (who knows? Alzheimer’s like his father died from? delusions/mental illness? spoiled brat/bully/rape mentality? who knows? I might not care why, but I fret about the consequences) con-man in the White House who seems to think the position he got by default makes him above the law and any other rule he declares himself above, a man who lies and shows his ignorance every time he opens his mouth and steals directly from the tax investments of decent, honest, hardworking, accountable American workers. And he seems to have a whole raft of paid sycophants supporting his hateful manipulations. We must be prepared for the worst (he declares himself president for life or otherwise rigs voter suppression on a massive scale) and for the best (he leaves office peacefully, without hassle or question, hopefully relieved to be done with the last four years).

Are we strong enough to look democracy in the face and say yes, I stand for democracy? Are we ready to move progressively forward into the rest of the 21st century, where we can’t keep doing things the same old way and expect different results? Can we, as a nation, evaluate what is working right in America and what isn’t working that used to work? Could it be that simple, to start with what isn’t working and prune that out?

The current GOP administration’s version of pruning hasn’t worked as they bumble around mucking things up by doing nothing and lying about it or doing something extreme and lying about it. This experiment is only two years old and half of America was already on edge on election day 2016 knowing it wouldn’t bode well. With any luck at all this part of the American experiment will be over in November 2020, and we will be on to the next chapter, maybe progressively re-setting standards and ethics as we go.

To do so we must be strong warriors. We must not let the lies, which are lied about the next day and the next, deceive us, keep us befuddled, or be the shiny distractions they are meant to be. We must be seekers of truth and light. We must be persistent and consistent. Even if we don’t know what we are doing.

I don’t. Know what I’m doing, that is. Just like these United States, I’m making it up as I go along. I didn’t get issued a manual on how to do me, just as no country comes with instructions. Which task is easier, figuring out how to be me, which as hard as I try I can’t seem to manage without help despite the myth of self-sufficiency, or figuring out how to live in a society that expects something from you but resents helping you when help is needed? In America right now it seems the current administration is making it up in extremis, violating every established norm possible, and rapidly running in reverse like the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland. In my quest for knowledge there is so much I’ve learned and so much I don’t know.

So what do we do? To quote Pema Chodron, start where you are. So many ways to do you. I am like water, never the same twice, yet always the same. Like water I have low days and high days, muddy days and clear days. Like water I have a voice. We are all of us made of water, and we all have a voice; some days my voice is loud when I am feeling stronger and my banks are full, some days my voice recedes when I am drained and empty. I admire people who appear or truly are constantly confident; my confidence is as wavering as water.

Like the Lorax who speaks for the trees some of us speak for others who cannot speak for themselves. So many people are marginalized for whatever reason, and then blamed for their own plight. We must speak for ourselves and each other. If we are to remain a democracy or even a democratic republic, we must retain the right to vote. The poor and every other marginalized group must have a place at the table. We must learn what we’ve done in the past, and move forward. Whether we know nothing or learn something there is only forward; there is no “again”. Let’s start there.

As we move forward let’s also imagine the lives of our grandchildren’s grandchildren whose lives lie within us at this very moment. We share with each new generation. We might not get to meet them, just like we didn’t get to meet some of our forebears, but we carry them in our blood. We are all connected and only as good as the least of us. On our warrior days we stand and speak for us and we use both our indoor and outdoor voices. We can be so much better than this.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – The soft red blossoms and shiny green leaves of the camellia. Glorious purple tulips and one golden yellow interloper. Love my naturalized white wood violets that return every year defying the scorched earth policy of the hubster’s lawn mower. Yellow clouds of Oregon grape along many highways and in many a road divider as well. Another shade of pink of what a reader (thank you!) identified as andromeda. I’ve seen many in creamy white; pink is one of the fancy versions.

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.} The OA (2018, rated TV – MA), season two. I watched season one three times it was so fascinating, a fantastical story about kidnapping, death experiments, and multiple dimensions of alternate realities. This is a tough series to get hooked on. Because of the intricacies of production it took them two years to create the second season, and it looks like two years before the next. * Agatha and the Truth of Murder (2018, TV movie, not rated), an uncomplicated story about Agatha Christie and a fictional projection of what she might have done during the days of her infamous disappearance.

Currently ReadingMr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore (2012, fiction) by Robin Sloan (American author). As a victim of the recession a young man has to find a job and answers a help wanted ad he sees in a store window. * Utopia For Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal World (2017, sociology) by Rutger Bregman (Dutch historian). Bregman lays out his progressive ideas through the lens of history and shows past examples of successes. * The Witch Elm (2018, fiction) by Tana French (American-Irish novelist). Murder mystery. No spoilers. Recommended.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Being gifted three bags of big girl’s clothes, some are my size, and some please my color sense, and a couple pieces will be passed along to another big girl.
  • Tiny sharp scissors to cut tags out of clothing.
  • My sensitive skin.
  • Pockets! Great big fat pockets on my new fat pants.
  • Weeding a couple things out of my old wardrobe to go with the couple gifted pieces that are moving on to the next big girl.
  • My silly perversion of looking at houses on-line whose property taxes are more than I will ever make in a year. It entertains me.
  • Having a blood draw this week with no big hole or bruise in my arm.
  • A doctor visit with good numbers. Peculiar how doctoring and medicine has become about numbers. Sometimes it seems it’s only numbers. At least we have good numbers.
  • Report on the blood draw was all good as well. Because inquiring readers want to know.
  • The rain.
  • The sun.
  • How fast the grass grows in the spring and how it looks like the hair of a newborn, wild and every which way, before the lawn mower gives it the first cut of the year.
  • A really nice small pineapple. Small families need smaller amounts for less waste.
  • Artichoke hearts and cream cheese.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: Train Music

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week
– “Sure, jets are fast and economical, but, oh my, what fun we’ve lost and what leisure we’ve sacrificed in the race to efficiency. Somehow, stepping onto a plane and zooming across the United States in a matter of hours doesn’t hold a candle to the dear, old-fashioned train ride.” Ginger Rogers

Sunday Haiku
Too many choices
in spring, more brilliant colors
to delight my eyes.

Sunday Musings
The early spring night is warm enough to crack the window open an inch to let in the fresh cool air. As I drift off the train whistle blows and I am drawn to a memory from my childhood.

Every summer my family visited my maternal grandparents. We lived in the Portland metro area and they lived in Caldwell, Idaho. The trip was always an adventure: how to get all the kids, the dog, the stuff, and the food packed into the family station wagon in the days before the third seat in the back of minivans. Were any cousins going and how do we fit them in? Sometimes all the logistics flew out the window despite my dad’s obsessive control about stuff and all the accoutrements of a family of six got thrown in alongside us kids.

One year when we were small Dad couldn’t get off work. There was no way Mom was going to skip her only annual visit to see her family. Mom made arrangements with her brother to take all us kids on the train for the trip to Idaho. That was Mom and Uncle, two adults, us four kids and Uncle’s two, six kids. I don’t remember how old I was but I know I wasn’t in my teens yet, so that meant there likely were one or two of them in diapers still.

That blows my mind, six kids and two adults. Granted times were a bit different in the early 1960s (what did people do back in the day when it was customary to have a dozen kids?), but I could barely manage handling one son when we traveled, which we didn’t do much of because I am the world’s worst traveler (though I always have traveled in poverty on a wing and a prayer, so we shall never know if I’d had the insulation of finances if I would have enjoyed traveling. I predict this will not change in the future because: no money). I was a protective parent, letting the son explore within limits. Now as an adult he is busy exploring. It’s a good thing.

I don’t remember that train ride like I remember the Coast Starlight Express that took me down the Pacific Coast to the Monterrey Jazz Festival in 1974 when I was exploring early adulthood. It was one of the first trips on my own; I was meeting a young man I’d met in Portland whose family lived near Monterrey. As the sun set in the west it was supposed to relax you along with the rhythmic chug of the engine and the singing of the rails so you could sleep the overnight hours it took to get to Monterrey. I was so wound up from being on my own I didn’t sleep but spent the night trying to look beyond my reflection in the train windows, looking for any glimpse of the ocean. I arrived in San Jose (Do You Know the Way to San Jose? Dionne Warwick, 1968), which was near my young man’s house. He was actually there to pick me up so I was already impressed after having been stood up for dates routinely most of my life. I was so lucky the young man’s family were lovely upper middle class hosts (I’d never experienced upper middle class before!) and gave me my own room and bath, conservative people who treated me like I was a guest in a first class hotel. The young man and I drove to Monterrey, where he was able to get tickets into the show I had pre-purchased. Man, California September evening, a Sarah Vaughn concert, and everybody grooving. The flight home wasn’t nearly as groovy as the train ride there.

I don’t remember if Dad dropped us off at the train station that year, if we took the bus, or if Uncle drove us and left his car in the station lot. I don’t remember saying goodbye to Dad at all. I was such a poor traveler as a child the first hour or two going away from home was always like trauma. It took me that long to relax into the rhythm of the vehicle. The train was no different.

Mom was a clever woman. We left in late afternoon and traveled overnight. We slept most of the way. So much easier to keep track of six sleeping kids than six awake, vacation manic/new experience/on the edge kids. I suspect Mom and Uncle may have taken turns staying awake while the other slept so somebody always had one eye on the littles while we were all in a strange place. I would have, but as I say times were a little different then.

Here’s what I remember: Mom waking us as it was still dark. Gathering up our things. The close but far away sound of the train whistle from inside the slowing train car. Stepping off the train onto a vast (little kid vast) gray concrete tarmac. The sun coming up over the horizon as we stepped off the train and the feeling of stepping into a whole new shining world. How chilly cool the first hour of morning was. The smell of cow manure, rich and ripe, from the local Simplot’s farming operation, which Mom said smelled like home. The train pulling away with a long slow whistle that sounded as sad as being left behind. Grandpa pulling up in his battered old pickup truck. Six kids climbing all over Grandpa in his ubiquitous denim over-alls and khaki workshirt, like puppies who haven’t seen their mother all day (well, we hadn’t seen him for a year!). Piling into the open bed of Grandpa’s pickup truck (in the days when nobody had given it any thought, especially farm folks) for the ride home to the farm.

We were in a new world. To us. I’d grown up a suburban kid. My family and many neighbors had victory gardens, but inside city limits no livestock was allowed. A local dairy delivered milk, butter, and eggs every day before we got a local grocery store. We had indoor flush toilets and running water. We had electricity and electric stoves. Visiting our family was like going backward in time. They’d grown up as country kids. They lived on farms that included chickens, pigs, and cows. Grandpa managed farms for other land owners and part of his compensation came in the form of housing. One house Grandma and Grandpa lived in had a no electricity, an out-house, and a water pump in the yard. Grandma had a wood cookstove and as it was summer that’s what heated the house in the morning. Canning was done outside on makeshift tables, and carried indoors for water bathing in the canner on the wood cookstove first thing in the morning as soon as the harvest came in to limit the heat in the house. We carried a lot of water and wood at that house.

Most of the houses I’ve lived in or spent the night in have been within earshot of a train. Both sets of grandparents, my parental home, so many of the rural and suburban houses I’ve rented, and now, what I hope will be the last home I live in. My little burg is near the mapsite of Carnation where local milk was condensed and canned beginning in 1902. The place doesn’t exist anymore except on maps but there was a train station and post office and the train still runs through its once most important stop. The way the smooth hills and dales of my community lie I can hear the whistles from more than a mile away. Every time the whistle blows the memories of other homes and other times return.

I don’t remember the train ride home. After acclimating to the vacation place, traveling home again has always been just as hard as the going in the first place. We had so much fun playing with cousins, being fawned over and over fed by aunts, and teased and laughed at by uncles. Grandma and Grandpa were good for a snuggle any time. I wanted to go home, but I didn’t want to leave; the feelings were the same every year. Ambivalent traveling. We must have taken the train home.

I am not troubled by my lack of memory. It indicates how young I was and the degree to which I remember having issues with traveling even at a young age. I remember the best parts, the vibrant color of the sky and the chill stepping down into the dawn, the nose tingling tang of cow manure, the lonesome sound of the train whistle as it pulled out of the station, Grandpa being so happy to see us. We were, after all, his first born son and daughter and all their passel he’d not seen for a year, and he’d come to take us home.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – What is the name for the soft shade of red in the flowering quince? Baby pink Tinkerbell sized fairy bells. Yellow daffodil faces the color of sunshine. I don’t know what these hot pink and creamy floral earrings are; they remind me of the fairy bells above only on steroids. Raindrops sparkling on my favorite purple azalea.

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.} Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018, rated PG – 13), the follow-up to Ant-Man (2015, rated PG – 13) obviously, another Marvel Studios production and the same humorous fun, though it became obvious I’ve missed part of the story involving the Avengers. I’ll have to figure out which order to watch these in to get the whole story in order. Or not. I don’t care about the story or the characters all that much, they are sheerly entertaining and fun as stand alones even if you don’t know the whole story. * The Last Movie Star (2017, rated R) with Burt Reynolds as an aging movie star who is invited to a small film festival and the adventure he takes when he gets there. Kathleen Nolan, who played Kate McCoy in the TV series The Real McCoys (1957-1963, TV series, not rated), plays a guest role, as his first wife now debilitated with Alzheimer’s. Recommended. * Girls (2012, rated TV – MA) starring Lena Dunham. Created by Lena Dunham. Written by Lena Dunham. Produced by Lena Dunham. Some episodes are even directed by Lena Dunham. Today’s twenty-something young women are going through the same but different experiences of my twenties. Dunham has a brilliant way of expressing it.

Currently ReadingThe Witch Elm (2018, fiction) by Tana French (American-Irish novelist). At that place where the story is this close to being done and I should lock myself in the bathroom and just finish. But oh, the glory of delayed gratification. The author is wrapping me up like a spider wrapping her prey in sticky silk. Each time I think I have it figured out up comes another plot twist to tweak your thinking, and yet, all the clues have been laid out already. * Utopia For Realists: How We Can Build The Ideal World (2017, sociology) by Rutger Bregman (Dutch historian) who maintains with a world of automation coming we have to figure out the best way for people to have a basic living income, if it can’t be through earned wages. His ideas are not communistic, nor are they radical, but they are based on historical successes and pragmatism.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Cleaning. No matter how long it takes.
  • Being easy on myself during a week of gadolinium headaches.
  • Beach dreaming, even if not beach going.
  • The variable invariable weather. Sun and rain of early spring.
  • How I love an open door. And screens.
  • Spotting a loose gutter and the hubster tackling the fix before I said something.
  • The smell of freshly mowed grass, even though it means the sweet little grasses are complaining about getting their heads cut off.
  • BIRDS SINGING! OH MY GOD. Birds singing.
  • The sweet fragrance of plum blossoms. I wish I had smell-o-vision to share.
  • Spotting bees among the plum blossoms.
  • What my plum tree gives me every year, but most of it is going to have to be removed soon, as the main trunk split from an ice wedge two winters ago and it now hangs precariously over the driveway.
  • Creating more with what one already has.
  • How much I love when things click. I used to follow an Oregon blogger and knitter who makes hand made buttons. When a local yarn dealer opened the year I was looking for work I went in and talked to them to see if they needed counter help. I figured if they needed to refresh me as a knitting teacher, I’m in, too. There was no job, but the type of store it was and the accessories she carried suited the work of the blogger so I wrote down the blog site for the shop owner and gushed about how pretty the buttons looked in her pictures. This week I randomly looked up the writer’s blog to see if she was still writing and found a recent post about the local yarn store carrying her buttons and I am brilliantly pleased it clicked. It seemed like the perfect fit.
  • A success with some chicken thighs and an Italian dressing/Dijon mustard marinade trying to use up odds and ends in the fridge.
  • Avocados.
  • 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, Homemaking, Nature, Parenting, Photography, Poetry, Vacations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gratitude Sunday: Cleaning On My Mind

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week
– “You cannot make women contented with cooking and cleaning and you need not try.” Ellen Swallow Richards

Sunday Haiku
Oh, the wild days of
early spring when new flowers
nod to sun and rain.

Sunday Musings
What a wild, fast world we live in. I’m grateful to pay attention to the life and changes springing around me. Mother Nature is spinning spring faster than Charlotte could spin her web and is coming on with robust energy here in the Pacific Northwest for another year. Despite the sustained effort of certain corporations and persons of wealth to continue profiting from fossil fuel use, each spring I maintain those who champion the health of this planet that supports us will prevail. We have to. For our grandchildren’s grandchildren. And selfishly, for however many years I have left I want to see the spring come around every year.

Every spring I am bitten by the cleaning bug. Every year another corner or two that’s been neglected gets found and revived. It’s a good thing. Every corner gets its year, just not all in the same year. It’s lovely to have enough corners to clean. I’m not a natural cleaner; I’m easily distracted and instead of moving logically through a cleaning process, I jump from task to task (there’s also the game of 14) and have to concentrate to make sure I finish something I’ve started. Because of my five minute work window occasionally you can see every project I’ve started and haven’t finished. It’s distracting. Even though I love when it’s clean, I don’t love the task of cleaning. If I had my way I could live comfortably never having to clean anything again, but I’m not willing to live in filth. Even the Queen pays a staff to care for her, so until this queen can pay, I clean.

Part of why I’m cleaning averse is I’ve been through so many cleaning techniques, so many products, so many cleansers, and sprays, and detergents. I’ve developed allergies to most of them, either skin reactions or breathing reactions. I could fill a couple of recycle bins with all the mops and brooms and scrubbers and vacuum cleaners that have broken within a few uses. We limit what we use because of fragrance or chemical composition. We don’t use dryer sheets, or scented detergent of any kind. Rubber gloves rarely last beyond one use and don’t help with breathing issues. At this point a reaction is not worth trying a new chemical commercial cleanser. I’m not at all convinced that our homes are any cleaner because of the application of a chemical commercial product.

One of my first jobs after berry picking and baby sitting was cleaning houses for elderly women Mom met through her Avon route. My employers were vetted by my mom so I never dealt with flakes who didn’t pay, people who made unreasonable cleaning requests, or people who behaved in otherwise untoward ways, and I came highly recommended which kept me on notice to do my best work as I couldn’t let Mom down. Other than a bit of Comet and some Dawn detergent that’s all I remember using in the half dozen homes I served.

I have considered what my grandmother would have used. She didn’t have expensive cleansers full of harsh chemicals and fake fragrances. When she was growing up they didn’t even have electricity, so no vacuums, no dishwasher, no clothes washer, no dryer. I’m grateful I don’t have to cut firewood to make outdoor fires for boiling clothes in lye soap I’ve made from the ashes of the fire from the last batch of laundry. I’m grateful I don’t have to hang heavy clothing like she wore on a line, though with my light weight clothing and sheets I miss having a secure outdoor clothesline (still an unfulfilled goal). By the time I knew her she had electricity and an electric clothes washer, and I remember helping her run the wet clothes through the wringer to squeeze the water out after the machine had swooshed them all around with the detergent and then the rinse water, and hanging the clothes and bedding on the outdoor line, which had to be done in the early morning to give the clothes all day to dry before you dashed out just before dusk so you could bring them in before any dew started.

Amish girl helps with wringing clothes

Grandma had baking soda (bicarbonate of soda), salt, vinegar, hot water, rags, maybe borax or washing soda (sodium carbonate, or soda ash), and elbow grease. She knew how to make her own soap. She spent much of her day all her life with the drudgery of cooking and cleaning up after, but she was a thoughtful, organized person and had her ways. That’s what it takes to manage a home: having your ways.

Over the years I have found a couple products I can use without reaction if I dilute them enough. The challenge is whatever I don’t react to it seems the hubster or the son does, so it will be wise to test all who share your home. These are not product endorsements, because I think you must try products for yourself and see what works for you. These two work for me when used occasionally and sparingly.

I like Dr Bronner’s mostly organic products; the liquid soap lasts forever. A few drops and it cleans like a whip and leaves a refreshing fragrance. I like the peppermint fragrance especially as a bathroom scrub. Hubster prefers a commercial bleach product for his bathroom so he uses what he prefers.

I also like Mrs. Meyer’s products. The lemon verbena is my favorite but the hubster clogs up within minutes and huffs and snorts for hours after. I only use it when he is going to be away from home for a couple hours and I can have the doors and windows open the whole time. We are considerate.

I’ve been avoiding bleach when I can as well. Grandma didn’t have much bleach. I’ve begun experimenting with hydrogen peroxide as a disinfectant as I recently read that is why hospitals don’t smell like bleach.

I’m picky about detergents also. I want them biodegradable like grandma’s lye soap was, but not lye, of course. I tried using a mix of borax and washing soda for dishwasher detergent with only limited success, and still using a commercial product there.

Awareness means so much and I could go to great lengths to avoid supporting the chemical cleaning industry. For the most part I stick with baking soda for an abrasive scrub with salt as a kicker and vinegar to cut grease. Both are more natural in substance than commercial cleansers; I don’t need to name brands, you can smell the colorful array when you walk into most stores, and oh, the bright plastic containers! Grandma likely wouldn’t have had much access to lemons, but I use them in place of vinegar sometimes for a fresher smell.

I’ve never been really happy with any commercial wood polish either and I don’t have a good wood polish yet but I’m leaning toward coconut oil and have been experimenting with some lesser pieces of furniture. Don’t want to take chances with my few really good pieces. Grandma would have had bacon grease or lard, maybe access to lanolin or beeswax, and I’d never use those on fine furniture (maybe the beeswax), but I doubt she had any fancy piece of wood furniture that needed polishing. Dusting every-day pieces only needs a rag and a twist of the wrist.

Like I say I’m no cleaning wizard, so certainly do what works for you. If you are trying to eliminate chemicals, or voting with your dollar and avoiding supporting the chemically derived cleanser industries try baking soda, vinegar, and lemon as organic, natural cleaners.

The most important part is water, and I like mine hot to clean with. As my favorite chemistry teacher said, water is the universal solvent. Many times all it takes to get something clean is hot water and some scrubbing. That’s pretty much the one rule I have about cleaning: Try plain water first, hot water second. Funny thing, that’s what my chemistry teacher said when the boys complained they couldn’t get the glass equipment clean enough or get the detergent to rinse off. He’d yell at them, “Hot water. More hot water. Then more detergent. Then more hot water.” It was quite amusing the girls team often passed the cleaning parts before the boys. Not saying it’s a gender thing, it’s a teaching thing.

Who did you learn your cleaning techniques from? Did you develop your own way? Did you teach your children to clean? How did you do that? Did you say “clean the kitchen” or did you demonstrate, first the dishes, wipe the counters, rinse the sink, sweep the floor? Do you clean as a family or does one person take all that on? There are easy ways and there are confusing ways to teach cleaning. We are missing an opportunity in public and private schools by not offering Domestic Science courses, on the easiest and fastest ways to clean and why, and having students steward their own schools; invest a few minutes in learning to take care through stewardship and you earn pride of ownership.

Neat freak would not be a descriptor for me. Daily clutter is a struggle. I am grateful I have not crossed the line to hoarder and able to recognize I have some things that can go away and some treasures that will stay. Grateful to have such an abundance of home and treasure to clean.

Color Watchcolorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – One of the pink rhododendrons by my aquatic center. The simplicity of yellow dandelions. Lawns filled with dime sized white daisies. The pink tinged daisies are my favorites. My plum tree sneaked up and bloomed suddenly, soft creamy white petals layering the driveway, sweet fragrance scenting the yard. My other plum pinked at the same time. A whole schmess of daffodils in shades of yellow. The peaceful feeling of this dada, mama, and baby grape hyacinth.

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.} The Favorite (2018, rated R), with Academy Award winner Olivia Colman. Her performance was worth the viewing. Historical films often pique my interest, and I am compelled to do a bit of research. I find it prurient that movie production companies feel they need to sexualize so much of their product to such a degree in order to profit. Yet, the film does provoke the question of how much one’s sexuality affects one’s ability to be an effective leader. * Antman (2015, rated PG – 13), a Marvel Studios production. I’m not that into the comics/fantasy/fantastical elements of Marvel movies but they always amuse me.

Currently ReadingThe Witch Elm (2018, fiction) by Tana French. Sunday lunch at the family home and the children find a human skull in the garden. The healthy wych elm and garden must be excavated for evidence. The victim is identified from a death ten years ago and suspicions begin as the family reminisces. Oh, the suspense! * Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health (2013, nutrition) by Jo Robinson. Good thing the author provides a bullet pointed cheat sheet for easy remembering. I think I’ll make copies of that part and make a little booklet I can take to farmers market with me.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Hubster fixing the vacuum cleaner and then banning me from using it.
  • Hubster vacuuming what I wanted to vacuum.
  • Getting the kitchen floor swept.
  • A 75 degree no jacket no sweater day.
  • Turning the heaters off for the first time in the season.
  • Getting the doors and windows open and a bit of cleaning done that day.
  • Looking at house cleaning as “always having something to do”.
  • Five minute work windows. Multiplied.
  • Microwave hot packs for when I string too many of those five minute work windows together. Sometimes I forget to pace myself.
  • Turning the heaters back on when the day after the 75 degree day was 45 degrees.
  • That crazy illusion of getting stuff done when it never looks like anything has changed. Evolution is good.
  • The ease of doing my own research and wealth of information on the internet instead of spending the whole day in the library for a pittance like the old days.
  • Laughing at myself when a whole bunch of texts flew by while I was being thick about what was said. Realizing it wasn’t just me but a miscommunication from the start. Sometimes the best way is simple and straightforward. Though I like my la-di-da over-thinking world, thank you.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

Posted in abundance, Aging, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, History, Homemaking, Nature, Nutrition, Science | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gratitude Sunday: What Do You Do For Fun?

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “Live and work but do not forget to play, to have fun in life and really enjoy it.” Eileen Caddy

Sunday Haiku
Whiffs of sweet spring breeze
exchange spaces with winter’s
dust. Open windows!

Sunday Musings
A friend from college stopped by last week. I hadn’t seen her in three years and was so happy to have her visit. We chatted for hours catching up and sharing lunch; I know members of her family, she knows members of mine, we’ve both lost both our parents in the 20 years since we graduated college, and there was tons to talk about. Never enough time with certain friends, right?

Somewhere in the conversation she asked what I was doing for fun these days. I kind of went blank and didn’t have an immediate answer for her. Fun has always been problematic for me. As a kid I was never coordinated: heights made me feel like I was falling, ankles twisted under when I tried to run, eyes that can’t follow a ball. Dodge ball? Last chosen for the team, first to be bombed out. Climbing trees? No way. I don’t understand competition unless it’s about me being better than I was yesterday. I’m not much of a risk taker, I’m a poor traveler and the world’s worst camper (but I’ve never had the financial wherewithal to camp or travel with any degree of confidence, it’s always just been a wing and a prayer, so who knows about that part), and as I’ve gotten older I don’t sleep well no matter where I am. Even eating, walking, and sleeping, such simple pleasures, have become problematic. So, there’s that. Reading snuggled up on an outdoor chaise with 14 pillows under an old tree, that’s my speed. Or manatee-ing in a warm pool of water where nothing hurts if you fall.

Then I have this weird thing called anhedonia. It means I don’t feel much in the way of pleasure, anticipation is often dread even over events others would consider fun. This is amplified by a lack of trust in others, other people in general, not just friends and family. For example, I don’t do the trust game where you fall backward and the rest of the group catches you any more. I’ve been dropped too many times. And now when I decline people don’t understand. Then I decline to explain for personal reasons and that furthers the misunderstandings. So, problematic.

I think this distrust goes way back to grade school when I was bullied. One incident I remember was visiting a friend’s home. We were second or third grade and her house was on my route home. Her father was my family’s optometrist so I had permission to play at her house after school as long as I called Mom when I got to my friend’s house. Her next door neighbor was a girl one year ahead of us in school and often played with us. Mom usually only allowed me an hour to play so I could be home in time for dinner, and we liked board games and card games, easier when a third, or fourth (her older sister) joined in.

One day as I was getting ready to leave the neighbor girl told me the only way I could leave was if I jumped out a window. My friend chimed in and went along with her. I was terrified. I didn’t like heights for one. They gave me the impression the window was the one in my friend’s second story bedroom. They blocked my exit at the bedroom door. They blocked my way down the stairs. They blocked my way at the bottom of the stairs until my friend’s mom caught wind of the fracas and she hustled me out the door and on my way home. I heard her behind the closed door scolding the girls for being mean. The next day at school they told me they meant the first floor window and it really wasn’t far to the ground and they did it all the time and it had been all in fun. Fun. They never said “sorry”.

Hwell, fun for whom? Not for me. I was never able to say yes to another invitation from that friend and after a while she stopped asking. Is it fun to be mean? I’m not sure about that. I’m sure I’ve been mean over the years and I do not remember feeling any degree of pleasure, even when it might have been warranted. Here’s the other thing: I’d be willing to bet neither of these now grown women would be willing to admit they did this if they even remember it, but I haven’t forgotten their names. The incident may be over with now but there is still a weight of meanness carried in this world.

My college friend’s visit got me thinking about what I do for fun. I swim three nights a week, and while I’m not sure it’s fun, I enjoy being able to move my body so much more freely in the water than out. I exercise during lesson time for 6 months through 8 year olds, and they are entertaining and also a joy to watch. I don’t/won’t make dates for swim times so we’ll count pool time as fun.

I have a couple “hobbies” I also call entertainment, but fun? I don’t know.

Now that I’m semi-retired and home I am aware of the volume of scam calls. These are people attempting to take control of your computer and then charge you money to repair it, though they never repair it and often install a virus, they just steal your money. I have a caller ID and I’ve gotten pretty good at telling the difference between automated robo call numbers, and scam call numbers. The giveaway is the voice on the other end of the line who does not speak “American English”, not a southern drawl in all their varieties, not a California valley girl, nor any of the American regional eastern accents like Chicago, Boston, New York, or New Jersey. I’m not a voice actor by any stretch of the imagination so I could not imitate them for you but I know what they sound like. No, these people sound like they are from India, or some obscure Asian or Slavik country. Thick vowels and slipped consonants.

Kudos to them for learning English, but I can’t understand them. I know only a smattering of Spanish and French and could not make myself understood in either language, so I’m not disparaging that part. When they begin talking about my computer or my credit card or my Social Security I know they are trying to cheat me, and since I can’t understand them, I start out by asking them to repeat everything two or three times, then I ask them to spell stuff. I move on to asking the name of their company, phone number, and where they are located, repeatedly. Then I ask then to repeat the name of the company and why in the world are they calling me. I have been accused of hosting Russian hackers, I’ve been threatened with shut-down of my computer, my internet access, my Social Security card, and my bank account. I continue my inquisition as they continue trying to take advantage of what they think is an old stupid woman. I ask them how much they make, if their company gives them minimum wage, health insurance, pension benefits, union representation. I never admit to owning a computer, an iPad, iPhone, or tablet. When they ask if I own one, I tell them it’s none of their business and ask them (repeatedly) why they are calling me. It goes on until I get bored (record is 20 minutes! That’s a persistent thief!) and as the conversation goes on I tell them I’m not going to fall for their lies and thievery and ask if I’ve wasted enough of their time yet. I never use profanity. Boy, do some of them get mad! I’ve been cussed out and I don’t cuss back, I just laugh and when I’ve had enough I hang up. If enough people scam the scammers maybe we can stop them and they will go on to honest work. Or not. In the meantime, I am amused to use up the time of cheaters and thieves so they have less time to cheat somebody else who might not be savvy to their ill intent.

Another thing I enjoy is looking at houses. Virtually. Zillow, or Christies, or houses of the rich and famous if I’m feeling fantastical. I can look anywhere. I can look inside and outside. There are satellite views, and street views, and virtual tours. And I can critique the house without a sales person hanging over my shoulder. Now, understand, I’ve not done a lot of house shopping and I’m not in the market to buy. Mostly I have kind of just happened upon opportunities, and none of which was more than decent simple roof-doesn’t-leak homes. Even a poor woman can dream and I do have house fantasies, though most of my house fantasies include (trusted) maids and house staff, and I’m nowhere near that kind of financial bracket.

I know what I like and I’m critical. Worse, I’m picky. I like hardwood floors, but I like them a certain color. I like dishwashers in kitchens but the placement is important. I don’t like cupboards over the dishwasher because I can’t reach the cupboards without unpacking the dishwasher onto the counter and then into the cupboards, which is double duty having to touch the dishes twice. I don’t like cupboards over a washer/dryer unit either because of limited accessibility. I like fireplaces but I don’t like them crammed into corners, and some of what they call mantels, oh brother, or the brick or stonework they have chosen I don’t grok. I don’t like TVs mounted above fireplaces, especially irritating if the TV is not to scale with the fireplace or the room. I like toilets with LOTS of space around them, ditto showers, and big bathtubs that are easy and safe to get into, and if I had my druthers the toilet would have a distance of several feet away from the sink or the tub. I don’t like microwaves mounted above cooktops, too high and too easy to spill hot foods on cook or cooktop. I think every cooktop should have a range hood over it, even if the cooktop is in an island counter. If the staging is wrong or furniture isn’t to scale with the size of the house or the room it makes me crazy.

All kinda uppity fancy of me to say since I’m currently not a woman of means and all I’ve ever done is make do. I’ve never had an art, architecture, or interior design class. I’ve never done construction or remodeling of any kind other than what Dad let us do when we were kids during dormant times in the garden space with a few pallets of wood and never a hammer or nails because he was sure we’d lose them. Frankly, even painting is beyond me. There are simply some things that feel right to me. I laugh at some of those remodel shows, when I shudder at what they do new and think, oh I wouldn’t have done it that way. I can’t do the work, but I sure would like to tell somebody what I want it to look like.

It’s all a dream; I can barely take care of what I have and I just want to keep the roof from leaking. Looking and critiquing amuses me, so I will have to put that into the category of fun as well. I might enjoy going to open houses, but I’d need to have somebody I trust to drive, and take the time I would like to kvetch while I’m there. Haven’t done it, so I don’t know. Maybe I wouldn’t like it. I wouldn’t be shopping, I’d be playing.

I love live theater but that costs money to attend. I love garage sales and thrift stores, but I don’t like spending money since there isn’t any fluid capital in my life and I really don’t need more stuff, but it’s fun to look. If I go I almost always find something I love. I already have an abundance of stuff I love and I only have to clean to find lovelies I’ve forgotten. I’m learning how to love stuff with my eyes without a desire to own and find more enjoyment in spending time with whoever drove me. I’m not crafty but take me into a fabric or craft store and I want tons of material and yarn, and I know better than to spend my money because the material sits around looking pretty and gets dusty and rarely turns into a (finished) craft project.

Last summer in honor of five years since the death of our mother my sister and I embarked on a quilt adventure. Mom was a master quilter. I can’t sew a straight stitch to save my life, and my sister got the art gene from Mom, but not the sewing gene (fortunately the sewing gene skipped a generation and one of our nieces sews up a storm and quilts as well, and her daughter is interested so we might have hope for the future). In my county many of the barns have a wooden panel with a quilt block pattern attached to the barn. There are more than 60 in my county alone and more coming. We research addresses, and with her trusted driving and GPS device we devise a day’s tour finding the addresses and getting pictures. It’s fun spending the day reminiscing, fixing the world and our families with our words, and listening to each other’s so, so similar challenges. And we have a quick one day road trip. Not quite like the Sunday drives we used to do as a family when were we all small in the family station wagon, lunch packed into the back and kids everywhere as we often had cousins along. But I’ll take it. Time with a sister you trust after all the things you’ve been through, that’s not only lucky, that’s priceless.

Enough about what I do for fun. I’m sure if I gave it more thought I’d come up with a few more items. What about you? What do you do for fun? Do you like family trips to the beach? A romp in the park? Camping in the woods? Visiting museums or art galleries? Quietly reading a good book? All of the above, or something else? So much to do, so little time.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Winter is slow to leave this year, though the equinox next week comes around as usual. I guess it only takes two early springs to expect spring to come early. The earth is taking its time warming this year, but it will come around with a riot of color by the end of March. I hope Mother Nature agrees with me. In the meantime she leaves me with my favorite brown and gray mud puddle which the birds love. Another view of my favorite yard, belonging to a neighbor, with the little white and purple crocus heads popping up all over. A row of pretty pink heather and yellow daffodils in a hellstrip near City Hall. The pink rhododendron by the aquatic center that blooms first in the season has been spotted. Spring is on!

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.} BlacKkKlansman (2018, rated R), a Spike Lee production taken from the autobiography of Ron Stallworth in which the first black police officer of Colorado Springs sets up an infiltration of the KKK. Opening scene is the scene from Gone with the Wind (1939, not rated) where the dead and dying lie covering the streets of Atlanta, and the final scenes include recent film from Charlottesville, both meant to encompass the vast amount of time some of America has invested in creating social difference because of the color of ones’ skin. * Colette (2018, rated R), a period biopic with Kiera Knightley as the French author Colette famed for her 1944 novel Gigi which became a stage play adapted by Anita Loos, and a 1958 movie directed by Vincent Minelli. Her rotter of a first husband stole her work, claimed it as his own, cheated her out of her work’s income (oh, this happens so much!), and she re-created herself as a performer and divorced him to resolve her situation. Considered a radical author and woman in her time, she prevailed.

Currently Reading
The Witch Elm (2018, fiction) by Tana French. A young man who has everything going for him, good looks, good job, good girlfriend, good luck, is attacked in his own home and suffers a brain injury. Anybody who has been through a brain injury knows it can radically change one’s life. The story is just beginning as the young man moves in with his dying uncle in the old family home for a few weeks. Portentous? Possibly. * Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health (2013, nutrition) by Jo Robinson. Everything we should be taught about food while in elementary school. (Me: rip out half the school “play yards” kids don’t play in anymore and plant gardens to use for math and science lessons, let the students tend them, teach them how to prepare and eat what they grow, then let them write and draw about what they grew and did and ate. Creative education with real life applications. Everybody has to eat. Win-win-win.)

This week I have been grateful for:

  • My mostly quiet life.
  • Thinking. As long as it takes.
  • Civil discourse. Conversations about controversial subjects without anger or name-calling.
  • Some things that feel like luxury in my life, like rising in the morning when I feel like it.
  • My yard filled with fat robins and little black-headed brown birds enjoying my favorite mud puddle.
  • The greenness of spring and the number of birds in my semi-suburban/rural/smallish town area. Hopeful for the survival of this planet.
  • How nice the staff at my aquatic center are.
  • Finally remembering to soak my new swimsuit in vinegar (for color retention) so I can wear it next week before the other shreds in public. Been there.
  • The swimmer’s dad who bragged to me when his daughter moved to the next swim level. She might be about eight years old and I’ve watched her through three or four sessions now and the skill and confidence she has gained is priceless. You’d think I was her grammy, I’m so proud of her. Just part of the village I believe in.
  • Using up an almost expired package of biscuit dough with an almost expired can of apple pie filling to make yum-o-fake-o pies. They turned out OK. And I made them on March 14, pi day (3.14). We’re eating them any way.
  • Fixing my favorite zucchini, garlic, and mozzarella dish, and it was as good I remember.
  • Vinegar, baking soda, and lemons. Nature’s best cleaners.
  • Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

Posted in abundance, Aging, Entertainment, Exercise, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, Nature, Photography, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gratitude Sunday: Who Controls All My Ducklings?

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “As long as I live I will have control over my being.”
Artemisia Gentileschi

Sunday Haiku
One daffodil pops
out, a crocus follows, and
suddenly, it’s Spring!

Sunday Musings
It’s nearly Spring; March is coming in like that proverbial lion. In the Portland metro area the weather keeps teasing us with random dustings of snow and it’s cold still.

Are your ducklings in a row? Mine are wandering all over the place. Story of my life. Some of life you can go with the flow, but I have learned to make an effort to be proactive. When I was granted the opportunity to go to college as a 39 year old adult one of my best lessons was about procrastination, which is my natural inclination, but it’s not my friend. I learned to do my homework immediately after class or as soon as it was assigned, which had benefits. First, it reinforced the information just presented. Second, I could mark it off the to-do list and not have the task hanging over my head. The relief of knowing that 15 page research paper was done and turned in early and I could go on to the next project was priceless.

We are led to believe we are in control, that we can keep those duckies all lined up, neat and tidy, no detours, nothing out of place. What do we really get to control? I may have been in control of when I got my homework done and turned in but it seems to me we all start with the same lottery and we throw the dice with everything that comes next.

We don’t control our conceptions. We don’t control whether our parents were healthy when we were conceived, or their parents before them. We don’t control our DNA. We don’t control which genes we inherit from which parent. We don’t control our genetic combinations. We don’t control any spontaneous mutation that might occur when sperm meets ovum.

We don’t control which family we are born into. We don’t control whether we get to stay with our birth families, or the families into which we might be adopted or fostered. We don’t get to control whether we have siblings.

We don’t control our intelligence, or our ability to learn, or our degree of curiosity or creativity. We don’t control how our body functions, or when it gets sick, or when it fails us miserably. We don’t control when all things physical or mental go awry in our systems.

Women don’t control when their first menses occurs, or when the monthly cycle takes place and presents. Women don’t control the onset of menopause, how the body responds physically to the change in hormones, or when the cycle finally stops. Men don’t always have control over erections or ejaculations. We don’t have control of when our bodies join the sperm and the ovum and creates a new life.

We make plans. We set goals. We pursue education, employment, adventure, and pleasure. We don’t control whether our experiences provide us with the skills and fun we seek. We don’t control if the path is smooth or easy despite our plans, goals, and pursuit. Even if we do everything according to our plan, it doesn’t mean educators or employers (or even friends and family) have any investment in our plan. We cannot control our educational or employment success. I can control when and how early and how well (I think) I do my work; I cannot control whether an educator or employer deems my work acceptable or exceptional. Sometimes it works out great, other times not so much.

We can do everything in our power to control what we think we can control. For example, I can control what food and drink goes into my mouth. I can control what kind and how much exercise I take. Contrary to popular belief, that does not make me in control of my body. How my body reacts to food and exercise is entirely out of my control despite the lies told to us by doctors and advertisers. We don’t control our appearance or our bodies, though modern marketing techniques, the beauty and diet industry, and the medical paradigm insist we can control the size and shape of our bodies. We can put layers of clothing on but that doesn’t mean we will get warm. We can take clothing off, but that doesn’t mean we will feel cooler.

We don’t control how quickly we age or when our bodies wear out. We don’t control when Death comes in search of our wayward souls and abused bodies. We don’t control the method of our death whether through years long debilitating disease, the tragic incident that happens in the blink of an eye, or an easy, peaceful release into that good night.

We cannot control the earth’s orbit around the sun, or how far we are from the sun. We cannot control the weather, though we might be able to have an effect on the climate. We cannot control when mechanical things break and need to be fixed or replaced. We can control our personal carbon footprint by recycling plastics, reusing or repairing items, and reducing what we purchase or waste, but we cannot control the pollution corporations are allowed to perpetrate upon our planet every day in the name of profit. We can control whom we vote for, but we don’t always get to control who wins the right to serve us, as evidenced by recent electoral college flukes and subsequent presidential appointments.

The things we can control don’t necessarily bring us what we need to live in this world. We can take education and put it together with hard work. We can do our daily tasks and fulfill our employment with moral and ethical behavior. Just because we make that effort doesn’t mean others will, as we see clear up to the highest levels of government in the United States these days. We don’t control other people. We can control our behavior or what we think about others, but we can’t control what they think or how they behave.

Back in 2016 all my duckies were kicked out of the water. I had been employed in the same job for more than 16 years and had plans to retire at 20 years. The quirk of a cane (a walking assistance device) and the slip of a word (the parts I was in control of) and the interpretations of others (the part I wasn’t in control of) resulted in employment termination and the duckies nearly drowning.

Judith Beheading Holofernes by Artemesia Gentileschi

Fast forward three years. While no new employment has been obtained some of those duckies have to be forced back into line. Not a nice straight line. My duckies find every crack, and chute, and ladder, and rope to slide down and climb up you can imagine and some you can’t. Any kind of wavering line will suffice at this point.

One has to have income to live in this society, even if one does not have employment. The other choice is living under bridges, as living with family still requires income or one gets labeled a free-loader. I had the bridge experience when I was younger; that was plenty, I’m too old now, it would just kill me. Neither income nor employment gives one perfect control over one’s finances unless one has enough; enough financially has not been the story of my life. My last place of employment at least earned me a small monthly pension, and I am grateful for the comfort of knowing if I die first, the hubster will have that income through his lifetime as well.

Having stretched my savings as far as I could (the savings that was meant for after my retirement), I recently decided I needed to claim my Social Security Earned Retirement Income. The current federal administration and the GOP wants us to think this is some kind of benefit they benevolently bestow upon us, but do not be fooled. Decent, honest, hardworking, accountable Americans pay for their retirement in every paycheck with tax investments and it is specifically labeled thus; it is our earned income we invest in our retirement while working for as many years as we are able. American government uses that particular tax investment interest free for other needs until we claim retirement.

Less than a year ago I applied for the hubster’s Medicare on-line, and because he doesn’t qualify for his own Social Security Earned Retirement Income, it resulted in a face to face appointment. Then I applied for my Medicare, resulting in a face to face appointment. Then I applied for my retirement, and because I didn’t apply for Retirement and Medicare at the same time the system thought I was attempting to defraud, so another face to face appointment, and a resolution after five weeks of case worker attempts and technological experts to address the crack in the system. This week we applied for the hubster’s spousal retirement, because we are in the age group lucky to still qualify for that much needed income, and which is tied to mine because of his work history because of disability, and once again the face to face appointment resulted in finding the cracks in a system I don’t get to control. The wheels of government turn slowly, but I have a feeling this crack will be smoothed away rather soonish.

As the case worker applied herself to our application, once again things did not go according to routine. Under her breath she said to the computer, “Why is this not working right?” Hubster and I could not help it, we simultaneously said, “Story of my life!” and burst out laughing. Sometimes laughing is the best one can do.

So many things are out of our control, even if the illusion of control is there. In the Buddhist tradition nothing is permanent, everything changes. We might think we are in control but anything can change in the blink of an eye. We have only this moment of reality, and I have a modicum of control over what I do with this moment.

Do I choose to write or clean? When I chose to clean recently I killed the vacuum cleaner so now I’m cleaning averse. When I chose to write recently I achieved a timeless space; hours faded away through the cosmos and the words flowed. How do I choose? Cleaning needs to be done but now it’s also an expense (repair or replace) and the pleasure factor is only after the cleaning is done, which is a never ending process. Writing wants to be done, and though there’s no profit in it right now the pleasure factor is vaguely more rewarding. The control is in my choice for this immediate moment, this very now, as a co-worker’s son used to say when he was small.

Do I choose to jump through hoops to get assistance or go without? Since I am the best crack finder I should probably keep jumping. It will keep me on my toes. Besides my commitment to flopping around the swimming pool, jumping through hoops and finding cracks are good exercise, of which I get to control how much I take. I have a few faculties and wits at my disposal still, so with the tenacity of a good border collie I’m going to keep herding my duckies with as much control as I can maintain. As long as I can.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – A bright patch of yellow daffodil faces. Blue periwinkle brightens the day. My favorite yard is full of purple, yellow, and white crocus, and shooting stars come right after.

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.} The House with a Clock in Its Walls (2018, rated PG) with Jack Black and Cate Blanchett. A young boy loses his parents to a terrible accident and goes to live with his mysterious uncle in a creepy old house. This Universal production has the flavor of a Disney movie without being subjected to the music. Story and plot are acceptable; be warned there are more poop and potty jokes than I care for, but then the movie is designed for 10 year olds.

Currently ReadingThe Witch Elm (2018, fiction) by Tana French. I hesitated to read this because I’ve read one by this author previously, and it was really good until it wasn’t, and it was disconcerting because I could not put my finger on what happened to put me off the story at the end. French is known for crime fiction, creating stories of mystery and intrigue. Like her other novel, she captures me quickly and I feel like I’m being seduced by her web, drawing me in, taking me deeper into the story, quickly leading me down the rabbit hole, hints of what has happened in the past to get to this moment of the plot woven through the story. I’m trying to ignore my distaste at the end of the last novel of her’s I read because I couldn’t figure out why it bothered me (so then I think it’s just me); I’m ready to give her work a fresh go. Hoping to be pleasantly surprised. * Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health (2013, nutrition) by Jo Robinson. This is so chock full of healthful tips I might need to own it as a reference item.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Having to drive while it was lightly snowing (I’m a driving wuss), and I was fine. And that everybody around me seemed to be cautious as well.
  • A trip half way across town without incident.
  • That day about once a month I don’t bother to get out of my jammies until it’s time to go to the pool, and the hubster hasn’t complained.
  • Finding a swimsuit in my size and style at the discount store. The material pattern is blah, but it covers the body parts I need to cover at a price I was willing to pay.
  • How much I love being able to move my body in the pool. Body zen.
  • Getting most of my room vacuumed before killing the vacuum.
  • How exciting life is when you use mechanical appliances. Will it, won’t it? Keeps the blood warm.
  • First 50 degree day of the season so I could open a window and get some cobwebs dusted out.
  • How fresh the air felt when shaking out the cobwebs.
  • Taking time to put a spring tablecloth on the dining table even though it’s not technically spring. Feels hopeful.
  • Remembering a fire hose does not fix cleaning issues; it just makes the whole mess messier. Patience and persistence is good for the tortoise.
  • Five minute work windows. Multiplied by hour, day, and sun.
  • A juicy mango even if it did come from Mexico.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: Time For A Time Change

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “You will never find anyone who can give you a clear and compelling reason why we observe Daylight Saving Time.” Dave Barry

Sunday Haiku

Gray, grayer, grayest.
Bright blue, gray, grayer, grayest.
Bright light cold white sun.

Sunday Musings

March already! It’s time for spring, though I was ready for spring in January. I am tired of being cold, I’m ready for spring, I need to open doors and windows and bust some cobwebs. I’m grateful we have had another mild winter, even if a mild winter means more insects in the next couple of seasons. It’s time also for my twice a year rant about something totally unnecessary: Daylight Saving Time (DST). Next Sunday, March 10, 2019 is spring DST this year.

I love losing an hour out of my weekend. I love having to re-set my internal clock twice a year. I love having to re-set all the clocks throughout my house twice a year. I love knowing everybody else is discombobulated from the time change. I love risking being in public the week after the time change knowing everybody is addlepated while out on the roads or serving me over a retail counter or at a medical facility, way more than usual.

NOT. Said nobody ever. Many people like more evening daylight hours over the course of the summer, and that’s all good and fine, nothing wrong with that, but those two days of time change in the spring and fall, and the two weeks that follow after, are just devilishness.

Tons of research is now available on how bad DST is for us. DST has been in place long enough for us to have actual science on how bad it is for us and we know this clock game is a failed experiment. It took legislation to make it consistent and uniform throughout the states back in 1963, with only Arizona and Hawai’i declining to participate. It will take legislation to get rid of it. Seems suspiciously like an experiment in worker control. I suspect people who live in Arizona and Hawai’i are a bit healthier than the rest of us because they are not messing with their bio-electrical clocks twice a year.

Oregon has had two bills on deck at the state level for many years to stop DST. One of them has come to the floor again, the one that would keep our clock game set forever on Pacific DST rather than returning to Standard Time in the fall. It would leave us with more evening daylight hours through nearly half the year, and without the dreaded twice-yearly time change. It’s progress.

However, for this to work, I think Washington and California would also have to change. In the Portland metro area many people travel across the Columbia River to Vancouver and vice versa to work. Intel is so interconnected their employees are often flying on a weekly and even daily basis from PDX or the Hillsboro airport to Seattle or points in California (don’t get me started on what I think of that business practice in this world of modern communications techniques; I’m sure they have their reasons and I’m willing to learn and understand their reasoning, but sometimes businesses need a re-think especially when it has such an extreme carbon footprint).

I don’t know how this would affect Idaho and Nevada, but Arizona is already there. One out of three is a good start. Travel between these states might be less confusing if we were all on the same time frame. Then again it might inspire a wave of change across the United States of America.

I like to imagine the new stability our bodies and brains might feel, secure in knowing we never have to worry about playing clock games again. How much more productive might we be? How much more efficient? We would gain two weeks of productivity. Because of bio-electrical security in not having to re-set our body clocks to match the clock game we might have a yearly increase in productivity.

I haven’t found any studies on the anxiety one might experience awaiting the clock game. Could the week before be just as damaging as the week after the time change? Is it harder for people with mental health challenges, those who suffer anxiety, panic attacks, or depression, for example, to re-set their bio-electric body clocks? I doubt this question has been posited yet, though I’d appreciate if anybody could point me to relevant studies. If there might be such a thing as pre-DST anxiety, that means a possible full month of reduced productivity out of the year. For those of us who are already anxious, and now are dreading the time change next week because of reading this blog post, sorry, but not sorry. Awareness can sometime provoke change.

So picture this. We stop DST. People are so much more productive with that extra month of bio-electrical body security, companies can afford to give a month’s paid vacation. Hwell, I do have a fanciful imagination. But what if it worked? I say we all benefit in some way from no more time change even if this is a best case scenario.

In the meantime, here are my suggestions for making the transition easier next weekend. If you share your home with other people these suggestions are easier if you communicate about them. Unplanned time surprises can be disconcerting.

1. I set my clocks forward Saturday, the night before, sometimes as early as 6:00 in the evening. And to make that effective I
2. Don’t watch TV that night, so I’m not on a “programmed” schedule. Sometimes I even skip the news, which doesn’t hurt twice a year. Instead I
3. Watch a DVD or Netflix, or READ a book, or take a long hot bath, or gasp, have a conversation. And then I
4. Go to bed at my regular time. And I
5. Get up at my regular time on Sunday morning. I also
6. Go to bed at my regular time on Sunday night.

Read a more detailed version of these simple hints to ease your time change for a better Monday after, and change the details from autumn to spring. On Monday spend five minutes and call your state legislator to let them know your opinion about ending DST. If we succeed changing this one thing that could have such a huge impact, perhaps it might give us the confidence to stand for what is right for American workers and make other important national policy and procedure changes.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – A neighbor caught this magnificent low light sun photo.

photo by Jose Geo Cassady

Evidence in the white snow of a canine trespasser next to the Mister Kitty’s path. Terracotta angel and sea bird friend snuggled in fluffy white snow blanket. Love the little green moss tuft just above the bird’s beak. Puff of snow on green and red sedums. First yellow crocus spotting of the season.

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.} Like Stars on Earth: Every Child is Special (2007, rated PG), a Disney production (lots of music and songs) about an undiagnosed dyslexic child, and the teacher who discovers his challenge. This foreign language Indian film (Hindi, with English subtitles if you don’t understand Hindi) came highly recommended from a friend, and was delightful in the way the information was presented, which included how dyslexic people are often bullied and dismissed as stupid. * The Sandlot (2007, rated PG) about boys, baseball, and friendship. Fun kids movie, I’m a bit surprised at myself for not having this on my radar when the son was little. * The Last Laugh (2019, rated TV – MA) with Chevy Chase and Richard Dreyfuss. A dying comedian and his agent decide they have another show tour in them, ditch the senior living facility, and set out to amuse the states on their way to New York City. Humor about aging and death makes so much more sense to me these days.

Currently ReadingDIY Rules for a WTF World: How to Speak Up, Get Creative, and Change the World (2018, sociology, self-realization for women) by Krista Suh. Miss Suh is responsible for starting the Pussy Hat Project after the electoral college election of trump. She shares some of her insights on creativity. * Getting ready for the farmers market season so I am reading Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health (2013, nutrition) by Jo Robinson. The author explains how the last 400 generations of farmers have bred nutrients out of food to suit our palates, and why it is important to seek some of these nutrients. She provides lists of modern foods with the most nutrients, how to store them for maximum retention of nutrients, and how to prepare them for the same. Always looking for adventures in eating now that eating is problematic. One tip right off the bat: wait ten minutes after chopping garlic before cooking for maximum nutrient retention. Now I know. Another I knew: the darker the greens the better, and the nutrients in greens are better absorbed when combined with a fat, so always add dressing, and fatty veggies like avocado, or a few olives, nuts, or a sprinkle of cheese, to salads.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • A little snow. Very little snow. Enough to be pretty.
  • Not having to go anywhere when the little bit of snow was on the road.
  • The snow revealing a large dog trespasser.
  • Surveillance cameras to reveal the dog so I know which neighbor to talk to about the safety of his critter.
  • A couple of interesting days where the light went from light gray to dark gray during the day, and another that began with bright blue sun light that faded into various shades of gray. I love to watch the light.
  • The many shades of gray.
  • Learning how to attach photos to text messages on my phone. The techno-ditz prevails.
  • Taught myself to use the memory card slot on my new laptop, and how to save and find photos. Total techno-ditz prevail.
  • That my spell checker recognizes discombobulated, but fails to know addlepated. I like knowing more than my computer.
  • Learning my family is expecting three new babies this year: one set of fraternal female twins who are arriving to an older brother, and one unknown who will also have an older brother. So excited for them and for us in their extended family.
  • The hubster finding an extended arm swiffer cleaner I knew we had and hadn’t seen for a while before I broke down and bought another. Yup, in his stuff.
  • A friend I hadn’t seen in three years stopping by to see me. Her visits are too far apart, but I’ll take any of her minutes she has for me.
  • Patience.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

Posted in abundance, Aging, Education, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, History, Nature, Photography, Poetry, Politics, Science | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Gratitude Sunday: To Our Health

Gratitude * Sunday


Quote of the Week
– “In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.” Confucius

Sunday Haiku

Sun, rain, snow, sleet, hail;
late winter does not confuse
Mother Nature’s wit.

Sunday Musings

Let’s say it out loud because many of us are afraid of the word and the condition. Poverty. There. There it is right out front.

We fear poverty. Many of us are poor but we won’t admit it because we live under the myth of self-sufficiency, which means we are living the best lives we can with our chins held high, never admitting we’ve worked our asses off all our lives and are still only one illness or injury away from living under a bridge. We also live with the myth of bootstraps to pull up, and rags to riches success if only one works hard enough. It doesn’t work for everyone.

I’m not talking about dirt-floor-leaking-roof-wind-through-the-walls-no-blanket poverty or living-in-your-car poverty, though there is embarrassingly plenty of that around. I’ve done both. I don’t know why it embarrasses me, except America is supposed to be the richest country in the world and yet some people who work all their lives continue to experience housing and food instability.

I’m not whining just for me. Even with every moment on the verge of collapse, I live with abundance, I have a modest home whose thirty year old roof does not leak (yet, thank you universe!), and the carpet is serviceable and not yet threadbare. The leaking toilet is fixable. I’m cranky for the people who can’t find work or can’t qualify for jobs they want. I’m whining for people who are much less able and need help to get through their day. I’m bitchy because people working 40 hour weeks cannot afford to rent a modest home for their family. I’m freaking out because high quality national health care would cost us less in taxes than we are currently paying, and the current administration is sloth-like moving toward making sure the least of us are cared for.

I didn’t know we were poor when I was growing up. I was lucky to have parents who made good with what they had. We lived a modest life with few dull moments in a two bedroom, one bath, a little over one thousand square feet of post World War II suburban tract house. When I was 12 they turned the attached garage into a bedroom and added a carport. Sister and I were older than our brothers and suddenly in need of our privacy. We got our own room to share, the car got a new home as well. Over the years Mom refinished the hard wood floors at least three times and hand stripped and re-finished the moldings throughout as well. When it came time for a new roof after the Columbus Day Storm of 1962, Mom did most of the work replacing the roof with the help of male family and friends who spent most of the time on the roof drinking beers.

Mom worked a part time job to pay for “extras” for us kids like scout dues, summer camp, music lessons, Christmas presents, and hand made fashionable clothes. Dad had a side hustle making police leather which funded the boat and camping equipment. Dad made sure we went camping every year, learned to fish and shoot, and when us four kids got older we got to go on a trip to Disneyland. We saved for a year for that trip. Summers we often met extended family at the beach for day or weekend trips.

We ate well because Mom was home part of the day to cook. She cooked from scratch, using vegetables from the garden they raised, and meat from the half beef they bought a couple times a year to fill the freezer. It takes planning time to cook out of the freezer because some things take days to defrost. Some of the meat was venison because Dad liked to hunt. We had lots of freshly caught fish in the summer. Mom spent the last half of the summer canning and pickling whatever came out of the garden. When I was little, raw milk in glass bottles was delivered to our doorstep, along with butter, from a local dairy. Mom made bread every week and fruit pies almost every day. Dad loved pie. We were never hungry.

Dad did much of the work on the family car and around the house. Mom made our clothing, our quilts, and costumes needed for school or play. Mom volunteered as room mother for us in school, as a Camp Fire Girl leader, and after she got her driver’s license when I was 12 she spent much of her time as chauffeur. Both Mom and Dad volunteered with Boy Scouts when my brothers (both Eagle Scouts) participated. (Historical note: though she’d driven farm equipment since she was a child and could drive a team of horses, she was 36 when she got her driver’s license; this was 1965. She did not have her own bank account, though she was family bookkeeper, and she did not own her own credit card.)

If you have a full tummy, a roof over your head with a dry clean bed to sleep in, a creative mom and dad to keep you busy, lots of love and little drama in your life, you might not know you are poor until you go to school or church. In school you learn about comparisons: appearances, clothing, sizes, colors, belief systems. There you learn about difference and if you are lucky you survive. Some people survive because they learn to assimilate, others survive by not giving a flying diddlydoo about what other people think.

I was forced to know from the start assimilation would never function. I was let to know by my classmates my body was not acceptable, my face was less than beautiful, my clothing was wrong, our home and car and family were not as good. Fortunately I was loved and supported inside my family, so I was able to learn how not to give a flying diddlydoo. I also come by compassion and empathy naturally and I was struck to the core about those of us who have less, and are treated as lesser persons even though our poverty was not in our control. Every kid I knew who was judged to be lesser than or poor had one or more parent who worked to support them. Some of those poor parents were hiding alcoholism, but I learned in church the kids with wealthier parents dealt with the same issue.

How is it that people can work 40 hour weeks (or more) all their lives and not be able to rise to the next level or even create stability? How is it that this can happen across generations even when drugs and alcohol are not involved? Does past generational poverty set up the next generation for poverty? And if so, how do we break the cycle?

We need only to look to history to see that for some of us the game is rigged. Despite the myth of self-sufficiency, some of us don’t have the wits. Then some of us who make strides and plans and goals don’t seem to achieve success no matter what we do or the quality of our work. Some do, though I’m not sure why some succeed and some don’t.

I like to propose resolutions when I bother to complain. Complaining is how I define issues and challenges. It’s not the most elegant way to go about defining issues, but there I am, mired in poverty. Did you know there is a “poverty mind-set”? I learned about it in a diversity class I took. Because poor people have so much instability in our lives, planning skills are poor as well. We don’t know what we can count on so we don’t count on anything. We can’t plan for the future because we don’t know what we are doing right now and we’ve been burned in the past. We have not learned success in the past so we have nothing to build on.

We no longer have the benefit of small town, village style community support; we are isolated in our single family homes with our screens and our fenced yards. More than 50 percent of Americans are now living under the poverty line. There is no cushion: we can’t plan; we can’t save; we don’t take risks or vacations; we can barely take care of what we have and we can’t replace it when it breaks; retirement is a unicornian myth. Your neighbors and friends and family are living this way and you might not even know it because of that ugly myth of self-sufficiency. We don’t talk about poverty and the class issues poverty hides. Many of us work very hard to rise above our poverty to look on the bright side of the abundance and gratitude we do have, like love of family and friends, a wealth of insatiable curiosity and the intelligence to find information when needed, morals and good work ethics (harder and harder to find it seems; it’s not that hard to know what is right and what is wrong), tenacity in a swirling dervish world, and any modicum of stability we might have within our grasp. We may be cash poor, we are not character poor.

I would like to have more than one solution in my tool box, but right now, my sights are set on sharing the tax burden. If you are fortunate to be wealthy, whether it is inherited or you’ve convinced yourself you are a self-made person, pay your share of tax to the country that supports you. That’s patriotic. If the country that supports you is Russia and you live in America, you should probably consider you are living in the wrong country. If you own a corporation that is fortunate to be thriving on capitalism, pay your workers a living wage (I know enough about economics to know wages are a deductible cost of doing business, and in my opinion the most justifiable expense a business can have), and then pay corporate business taxes. That’s patriotic. Don’t go paying lawyers to figure out ways to hide profits or cheat the country that supports you. If you are wealthy by birth, never have to work a day in your life or worry about meals or housing, pay a “wealth” tax to the country that supports you. You’ll still have enough to pay for that fourth house in the Bahamas, and the yacht to get there, and the private plane to jet home because you forgot your pedigreed dog. That’s patriotic. The tax you pay is the price of living in a society. The poor and the wealthy use the same roads and public services. Fire fighters are paid to save your home as well as mine. We all pay a share for public services.

Notice I didn’t say fair share. I mean, how much do you need to live comfortably, in stability, without concern for paying your monthly bills (not talking yacht, personal jet, or third house payments here)? Many wealthy people spend more on lawyers to get them out of paying taxes than they would if they just paid the taxes. For it to be fair, mathematically, the wealthy would be paying far larger percentages, but because of their wealth they could still lead comfortable even outrageously extravagant lives. And as a poor person I don’t mind paying some tax, because I am a member of this society. But math again (I know), ten percent of $33,000.00 is a huge annual difference (like a couple months’ utility bills or even a month’s rent or mortgage), while ten percent of 20 million is not even the breath I took just now. If we were talking about fair share, we would be having an entirely different conversation. I know better; Mom always told me life is not fair. I believe her.

Poverty kills us all, for both the upper and lower classes; it eats away at the way your body and spirit works, and changes your body chemistry and how your brain functions. What I’m asking is we treat people of poverty with as much dignity as people of wealth. Not everybody has the wherewithal to create wealth in their lives, and certainly very few of us are born to it. But as a wealthy nation we could manage our combined wealth (taxes, natural resources, human labor) to take the edge off for those who have, or are able to do, the least, to the benefit of us all. The poorest of us already pay our share of tax with little benefit.

If we are going to keep increasing the wealth of the wealthy the least we can do is provide national health care, so honest, decent, hardworking, accountable American workers can have the health to be more productive and continue working hard. Since it’s been shown national health care would save money compared to what we are spending on health care now, to me it seems a no-brainer: better system, better coverage, less expense for all Americans: win-win-win. I hope I’m not the only one to realize if our work force is not healthy, our nation fails. The more healthy individual people are, the healthier and wealthier a nation is. We may not be able to end poverty through health care but it is a step up and in the right direction.

Color Watchcolorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week –Late winter is the time to appreciate ghost bushes. Whitely silhouetted ghost leaves on gray sidewalks. The dried beige fluff of phantom cattails. The burst of green of new spring weeds. The yellow budding promise of spring on hold because of cold.

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.} Needed some safe mindless light-hearted viewing this week, so I finished the last available season 4 of Schitt$ Creek (2017, rated TV – MA) with Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy. The adventures of a wealthy spoiled family who loses everything they own except a run-down hotel in a little po-dunk town and the cognitive (and reality) dissonance they face when lifestyle differences abound. * Nothing beats The Great British Baking Show (2010 – current season, rated TV – PG) for mindless viewing. No real teaching about cooking takes place, though there are a few tips and tricks sparsely sprinkled, along with an occasional short history segment. You can watch any season and it won’t be out of context, the participants aren’t particularly compelling (little drama), the failures are as exciting as the successes, and what it lacks is sample-vision so one can taste the goodies created along with the judges.

Currently ReadingLook Alive Twenty Five (2018, fiction) by Janet Evanovich. Side-splitting humor with multiple shenanigans gone wrong. The protagonist, Stephanie Plum, bounty hunter by nepotism, is a train wreck and subject to Murphy’s Law. This series is so much fun the novels read too fast. * The Last Lecture (2008, psychology, death, grief) by Randy Pausch. I don’t know whether I feel disappointed, ripped off, or full of admiration for an author who insured a future income for his spouse and family through the publication of this book and the availability of his web-site for viewing the lecture. **Spoiler Alert** This is not a transcript of the author’s last lecture. This is the story of how and why he wrote his last lecture plus a mini-autobiography. The author is up-beat, easy and entertaining to read, if you don’t mind knowing the end for this dying author. The last lecture can be viewed on-line. I guess I don’t need to read it.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Wild ducks floating on a flooded field.
  • Being safe while driving in a sudden hailstorm.
  • The full moon rising and shining right in through my front window, telling me to be aware of it.
  • The sweet little baby-mermaid who joined my pool work-out Friday night. Her parents are pretty cool as well.
  • A friend who brought me my favorite canned tuna because she’d gone over to the store that carries it, and she knew I was waiting to get my car fixed before driving that far.
  • A phone conversation with one of my newly-found sisters-in-law, where she shared about herself and allowed me to learn more about her challenges while she kindly listened to some of mine.
  • Hearing from a friend I rarely get to see or talk to, even though it was brief.
  • Losing my place on a work project, and with some help figuring out where I was. Thankful I keep a work log. Getting back on track is good.
  • Recognizing my distractibility, and writing stuff down so I can remember where I was and where I should be going.
  • Accidentally discovering a software capability my computer has that I had no idea about. So exited to try it.
  • Pens and scraps of recycled paper.
  • Nearly March and only a couple more months until my local farmers market opens for the year.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: To Be Or Not To Be; or Random Duality

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “At the end of the day, Wonder Woman is a peace seeker. But when fight arrives, she can fight. She’s a warrior, and she enjoys the adrenaline of the fight.” Gal Gadot

Sunday Haiku
Noisy mourning dove
confronts hungry hawk, green grass
strewn with white feathers.

Sunday Musings
Some days I am fierce as hell. The fire of confidence burns bright in me, words fuel the fire, the world needs to beware the anger of this nasty woman who has always had to fend for herself.

Other days I am complacent, sure none of my words, deeds, or actions make any difference whatsoever. My confidence curls into a tiny ball of shivering, raw, electric nerves capable of no action.

Both people are me. There are probably more than two. No wonder I have a large body; it has to be big enough to contain all of me, all my various parts, the duality, or possibly the tri-ality, or quadr-ality, or quintr-ality that is me.

I suspect we all have some version of this duality, you know, the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other. Some days I know I am a good caring person, other days I’m sure I’m a horrible mean person. Maybe I feel it more strongly than others. It makes keeping an even keel a tough proposition when one day you function well and the next day not so much.

I’m not talking about the deepest end of this feeling. Some folks experience the depths and manias of bipolar disease, or dissociative identity disorder, diseases that are so hard on the people they affect; this feeling is neither of those and mental health is not a game; one needs help with that kind of stuff.

At least 20 percent of our society experience emotions in an extremely extra sensitive way, which can be good and bad. Knowing I’m that person makes it somewhat easier to function. It doesn’t keep me from getting my feelings hurt, or having a difficult time dealing with strong emotions and difficult times. Knowing helps me guard my feelings and to know when I might be over reacting because of my sensitivities.

Multiply that by being one of those folks weird stuff happens to. That’s difficult to explain if you have one of those lives that go according to plan with few bumps in the road. I don’t get bumps, I get seemingly insurmountable mountains and abysses and yet fortunately here I stand, survivor of massive mountain climbs and abyssmal plunges. The stories seem unbelievable if one has never experienced the depths of life. I’ve been accused of lying about my life stories, but as the saying goes, truth is often stranger than fiction. Nevertheless, no matter how weird or absurd, the stories are true. I survived and learned another day.

I always believe the stories people tell me because of my own experiences. Listening helps me realize there is all kinds of weird stuff out there and mine might not be the weirdest. Many times one is not in control of the experience, it is something that happens to one. Sometimes one can fix a problematic experience, sometimes not. Sometimes the experience is there for a lesson and one must continue the same experience until the lesson is learned.

All this above blather sounds a little existential, but I do live in a society where right now stuff is really weird. Recently I had a societal experience I would not wish on anybody: trying to collect my Earned Income Retirement from Social Security. After four months of being accused of fraud (for timeline and my questioning issues, also for applying for Medicare separately from Retirement), software flaws, paperwork mangles, caseworker confusion, and having to call in the upper echelon of paper-pushers and correctors of software glitches, I am finally relieved to say I am successfully on the retirement roles after 50 years working in this United States. It took long enough. And I’m still at that stage where every penny counts. That’s not to say I am retired; I’m still working, I’m just not earning any money.

On my mean, nasty, or bitchy days I had to be careful engaging with any of those worker-people to get the weirdnesses of the system straightened out. One must be on one’s best behavior when asking for help especially with the federal government. Nobody likes to help screaming, cussing, fire-spitting warrior queens. Most people have patience with quiet confused old ladies. So if the sword wielding warrior queen has to put on the costume of the confused sweet old lady, so be it. This confused old lady will keep asking questions until the answer comes. And we will have the truth while we are at it, thank you very much. Don’t be blaming me when your software sucks.

I’m getting better at battles in my older age, recognizing them and picking them. I’m more able to understand my triggers, and my extra-sensitiveness. I’m more able to see the wisdom of patience, and the waste of energy that is anger. I’m more able to know when it’s time for the fierce warrior queen or the fierce warrior queen wearing the sweet old lady costume. I contain multitudes.

Color Watch colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Thanking the gods and goddesses and all the energies of the universe that Mother Nature is still working to maintain the status quo, while praying for the reversal of human caused climate change. Glorious Spring is coming around as usual! Spotted my first patch of golden crocuses. Pristine white winter camellias. A particular new growth lime-ish green of sedums. Pale pink buds of spring promise.

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 Russian Doll (2019, rated TV – MA) with Natasha Lyonne on Netflix. A woman goes to her 36th birthday party. She dies at the end of the evening. A woman goes to her 36th birthday party. She dies. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Unlike Groundhog Day, the depths of this show explores grief in an existential way. The threads are so intricately well woven I had to watch the series twice. Recommended. * Blue in the Face (1995, rated R) an assortment of comedians, such as Harvey Keitel and Lily Tomlin, come together to make an oddment of a movie.

Currently ReadingLook Alive Twenty Five (2018, fiction) by Janet Evanovich. This is a light hearted mystery series set in Trenton, New Jersey. The author drives us through town with quirky Lucy-and-Ethel type characters and handsome straight-men and gives the reader delightful plot twists in the form of events that don’t happen to ordinary people. (I know how those stories go.) She keeps the violence and gore to a minimum and expletive language only for effect in a character. Perfect to take one’s mind off the “real” world, cause in my real world right this very now, I’m reading. * The Last Lecture (2008, psychology, death, grief) by Randy Pausch. A computer science professor diagnosed with pancreatic cancer writes a traditional last lecture to deliver to his classes. The author skillfully takes us through his last few months without provoking tears yet. We’ll see what I think when I’ve read it all. We all get to die. We don’t talk about it. Should we?

This week I have been grateful for:

  • The patience of my bed giving sister while I take the time to properly clean my room to get it ready for my new bed.
  • Understanding my flaws as a house cleaning type person.
  • Admiring people with good cleaning skills.
  • Dialogues with other people. Taking the time to listen and learn.
  • Becoming aware of the song Havana and enjoying it so much. I don’t listen to much music, but I enjoy it nonetheless.
  • Calculators. I like math well enough and can do it by hand, but I like the speed of a calculator. Thing is, I like to do it by hand first, then check on the calculator that I’m right, so maybe I don’t save all that much time.
  • Word processors which actually do save me time. I only write by hand now if the computer is down.
  • Laughing at myself.
  • Being able to ask for help when I’ve made a mess of my files.
  • Getting back into my exercise routine after two weeks of head cold.
  • The head cold not dropping into bronchitis.
  • Patience.
  • This week celebrating 44 years with the hubster, 17 living together and 27 with that little legal piece of paper.
  • 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