Gratitude Sunday: Never Forget

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “Citizenship consists in service of the country.” Jawaharlal Nehru

Sunday Haiku
Iced fairy crystals
rime round clover leaves, grass spears
gleam in cold sun rise.

Sunday Musings
Hwell, it’s been a week of changes and anxiety around this household. I had to travel across town in real big city traffic, thought I was going to die at least six times, and yet here I am to stimulate your thinking for another week. I had to sit in a court of law and plead my case. I am not comfortable with courtrooms, attorneys, legal proceedings, none of it. I’m not a criminal, just unable to work, but I went through the security check, my belongings and my body were inspected, and I proved to be a safe citizen because I carried no knives, guns, or drugs on my person into a federal court.

Nationally, we survived a mid-term general election with significant strides toward a check on the maniacal, destructive person we unfortunately have play-acting as president of our country. We have survived and recorded another incidence of the play actor actively obstructing justice to cover up the crimes of which he and his family are guilty. Some of us have survived more onslaughts by domestic terrorists intent on wreaking havoc in our society, and they did, affecting the lives of many families. Others of us have survived freakish fires and natural disasters, while a few have not been so fortunate. Survival is good; our losses are profound. The good news is more than one hundred million people turned out to vote, the largest mid-term turnout ever. Voters all over the United States stood up for what they thought was right.

Then I finally applied for retirement through Social Security. This is a big step for me as I was in denial I might be able to return to work. Now I know that is unrealistic, and since I’ve blown through my carefully constructed savings (meant for after retirement), I had to decide to make a change so I could have some income. The last thing I want to do is lose my home after paying on it for 20 years. I want to retire and die here. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think it is asking too much to want to have the security to die in my own home.

With all those changes we come to Veteran’s Day. This day we honor people who chose the difficult job of putting themselves in the line of fire to fight for American freedoms. While I might not agree with all the places America chooses to be the world police, I support the men and women who have made that tough call to be on the front lines. It’s an ugly job to be trained to kill and hate and hyper-vigilance. It’s also an important job to be trained to mediate, deflect, and resolve conflicts. I was never able to do the shooting and fighting part of the job, and I am grateful somebody does, though I rather resent we still have war that requires those choices in advanced societies. I have learned hyper-vigilance because of other traumas in my life, and because of that I am constantly studying how to mediate and resolve conflicts, which isn’t easy, because even though you might have a play book, every single incidence or event has to be assessed on its own basis; there is no easy formula which applies to all situations. Because: people. Also mediation often requires you think on your feet, which I don’t do; I am a slow processor.

Today we thank those who chose to serve on the front lines, and those who served those on the front lines. No one does it by themselves, and our military and veterans have a host of support systems; they have to or they couldn’t do their jobs. I’m not saying the support systems always work as they should, or even as we’d like them to, but they exist at least, and that’s a good thing.

As citizens we are part of the fabric of the support systems for our military and our veterans. It’s a rare family who does not have a member who has served in the military in some capacity, and many families have suffered loss because of that service.

I have some extremely negative thoughts about the military and I’m not going to state them completely here, as these thoughts are not about the citizens who serve on the fronts, but about the elected representatives who direct the military and why they do so. Simply put, our military actions seem less about freedoms and more about profit, and that’s enough said about that for now. Regardless of whether I approve of military action, I will never forget the service of the people who are at the front.

In fact, as citizens of this United States of America, every one of us is in service to our country at all times. It might not feel like it because we don’t wear a uniform every day and, generally, we are not trained to use weapons or fight battles. For that matter, many of us don’t even know how to engage in civil discourse.

We are defending our country and our way of life every day on the soil that is our home, even if we don’t have foreign invaders to battle. Sometimes we are doing battle with our elected representatives who are so far removed from the front lines of average low- and middle-class families they are clueless what is really needed to keep America functioning, like housing, health care, education, and food. Many of these representatives do not have a single worry about how they will pay their bills or keep their families healthy, but the people they serve think about those things every day. In other words our representatives experience a level of financial security 80% of Americans do not. Yet as citizens, elected and unelected, we all serve America every day, and we put our lives on the line every time we enter a church, synagogue, theater, school, concert, store, ball park, or drive down the road.

For some of us our service includes voting, serving on local juries, and raising our families to be contributing citizens. For some of us that means running for office, or volunteering to work for a non-profit, or cooking and serving meals at a warming shelter. For some of us it means working three jobs to put food on the table for our families. For some of us our service includes leaving our families and putting ourselves directly in danger in military action. Every bit of it is service.

Thank you, citizens of the United States of America, for voting, and serving on juries, and working three jobs, and feeding your families, and running for office, and volunteering, and fighting on the front lines in military service, and raising another generation of caring, contributing citizens who vote, and serve on juries, and feed their families, and run for office, and volunteer, and help to keep America safe. Thank you. I will never forget. I am grateful for every one of you.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Some community members caught some lovely photographs this week and kindly gave me permission to share. White frost rimming the edges of clover.

Photo by Ashley Roth

Autumn brown mushrooms sprouting under a green fern.

Photo by Sarah Michelle Rogers

Glorious golden sunrise on a crispy, cold morning, Mount Hood in the background.

Photo by Mickey O’Brien

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.} Distracted by the news coverage of the election cycle, other viewing has been temporarily limited, though I did start season 6 of House of Cards (2018, rated TV – MA) with Robin Wright, about the nefarious shenanigans of people who want power. * Also started the mini-series Sybil (1976, not rated) with Sally Field and Joann Woodward, about a woman who suffers so much childhood trauma she develops other personalities to deal with the pain and suffering.

Currently Reading – Just finished Alice (2015, fiction/fantasy) by Christina Henry, in which Alice vanquishes the evil Rabbit in an innovative and non-violent way signaling a new society. And now I am temporarily in between fiction items, back to normal next week. * Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding the Courage to Lead (2018, social justice) by Cecile Richards. Ms Richards shares her mother’s death, and the trials and tribulations of presiding over Planned Parenthood, and specific women’s health issues she dealt with when the Affordable Care Act was being passed and women’s health, specifically women’s reproductive health, was being ignored. Planned Parenthood prevailed and it’s a good thing because uteri do not exist outside women’s bodies, and to ignore our reproductive health is like saying we might as well not exist. What would this world do without women? It would come to a grinding halt.

WINTER CLASSIC NOVEL: It’s time once again to consider a Winter Classic to read. I want a novel that takes me to a different time and place, a slower language, a world far away from mine, to distance myself from my own concerns during the long dark winter nights. I make my choice by solstice, this year December 21, and the reading begins soon after as soon as I get the book. I haven’t a clue for this year so I better get thinking.
Here are the rules for choices:
1. The title chosen must universally be considered a classic and is likely to be on a list somewhere, like a Pulitzer prize winner, or a Mann Booker winner, or Newberry, or, well, there are so many to chose from.
2. I prefer diverse authors, adventures away from the white male canon.
3. I haven’t read it before.

If you have any suggestions I’d love to hear them.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • My mental health counselor and her wife who jumped through extra hoops for me this week.
  • My attorney who, through her assurances, helped me not throw up in court.
  • Not throwing up or passing out in court.
  • A safe journey across town in real big city traffic with all those city slickers zooming around, in front of, and behind me, as if my car didn’t exist. I’ve become accustomed to small town speeds.
  • Having medicine on hand to combat the biggest, ugliest, most painful cold sore ever. It’s been ages since I had one. For me cold sores are stress related. See above.
  • Layers of warm clothing. Socks. Sweaters. Shawls.
  • Electricity and heaters.
  • Blankets and quilts on the bed, and snuggly soft wrap-ups on the couch.
  • Mister Kitty aka George Murphy feeling so much better now his bad teeth are gone and his throat isn’t sore all the time, he has started talking to me.
  • Brown trunked trees standing in colorful puddles of their own leaves and puddles of yellow, orange, and red blending with each other at their edges.
  • My community having a winter farmers market and finding what is likely to be the last pick of fresh Oregon strawberries. Fresh local strawberries in November!
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: Communicate. Learn. Vote.

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “We allow our ignorance to prevail upon us and make us think we can survive alone, alone in patches, alone in groups, alone in races, even alone in genders.” Maya Angelou

Sunday Haiku
Grape vines twine, yellowed
leaves entertain tiny birds,
autumn dinner time.

Sunday Musings
Did you survive the Daylight Saving Time change? I don’t know why DST was changed to the weekend before Election Day. I suspect some nefarious conspiracy theory to control workers because there is no other good reason. Perhaps legislators prefer discombobulated constituents and fuzzy-brained voters.

If so, it’s just more reason to communicate. Politics are not considered safe topics for polite conversation. Politics are contentious and divisive. That makes it even more important to talk about.

We aren’t going to agree on everything. We just won’t. If we can accept that premise from the start and create and abide by rules of civil conversational engagement, maybe, just maybe we can talk this through. We aren’t in this alone; we live with others, our family, our friends, our community.

We can have polite conversations without anger in public. You might have to train yourself if you don’t already possess the skill. Part of sharing information is the skill of actually listening to the other person and not just having the conversation because your point of view is the most important and only point of view.

Our local grocery store employs a young man I’ve watched grow up in this community. I used to serve him at my last place of employment and we often spoke. This young man has some social skills challenges, I don’t know if he is on the Asperger’s spectrum though I suspect that is his challenge, but I’m not a doctor. He often speaks loudly and doesn’t know how to modulate his voice; he interrupts; he butts into conversations he’s not part of; he talks the whole time he is serving you. Alternatively, he is a hard worker often picking up the slack for other more able workers, he endures insults from his co-workers who treat him as inferior because of his challenges without complaint, and he is always cheerful. In other words, he is a decent, honest, hardworking, accountable human being who is gainfully employed despite his other challenges. Like all the rest of us.

Whenever he sees me in the store, even if he is not behind his service counter, he takes the time to greet me because he remembers me always greeting him when I served him. Last week when we were chatting I asked him if he had voted. In Oregon we vote by mail and have nearly three weeks between receiving ballots in the mail and when they are due at the ballot box. He said he’d voted already.

I thanked him for voting. I was done. I was nosy and wanted to know if he voted and that question had been answered. I normally do not want to know who people vote for as I don’t like the resulting argument if we disagree.

This young man was so proud of voting. He was proud of making his own decision. Our state is having a contentious governor’s race and he was excited about trying the contender rather than the incumbent. He wanted to tell me his reasons.

I had voted the other way. After listening to his reasons, I explained mine. You could see light bulbs going on all over his face. He hadn’t talked to anyone else. He only had TV commercials to go on. He didn’t have the skills to research candidates or look beyond the television. He said he wished he’d known more.

I didn’t call him an idiot. He has his right to his opinion whether he had other challenges or not, and even if his information changed at a later time. I told him instead how proud I was of him for taking the time to vote, for making up his own mind, and for understanding that others of us might not agree. I also told him I was proud of him for being able to discuss the matter in a civilized manner and not getting angry because we disagreed.

He’s a happy kind of guy anyway, but I could see how my words made him feel good about voting. That’s the important part. Politics are boring to most of us, and it’s difficult to participate in something boring even when it affects our lives and livelihoods. I was taught politics and religion are not topics for polite conversation. But we need to feel good about voting and how we vote. To that end, a format or forum for discussion could be an advantage.

I’ve discovered with talking to people of all ages all over my little town there is little to no forum for political discussion. City Council meetings have an agenda and allow little time for discussion of what is on the agenda, let alone other topics. Political lectures or rallies focus on subjecting us to their agendas rather than open discussions where it is safe to agree and disagree. Most small towns are too large any more for weekly town hall meetings or Sunday socials. Church is for that other verboten topic, religion, and rightly so.

Schools don’t allow teachers to talk about politics with each other or their students, unless the class is directly related to political science. In my school district, school administrators discourage political discussion. Students have a tendency to become involved and protests ensue, which is as it should be. The youth of our world have the fire and energy, the future is imminent to them and belongs to them, and never a better time to begin working for and with change in our own communities than when you are young. For some of us, that involvement continues the rest of our lives.

We know political discussion leads to possible rebellion. I lived and participated in it in the late 1960s and early 1970s protesting the Vietnam War. I know also communication can often lead to understanding and unity rather than confusion and divisiveness.

If there are no forums on a larger scale, smaller political conversations take place at the coffee shop or in the pool or between vendor canopies at the farmers market. Maybe that is where we start. In the coffee shops and the pools and the farmers market, but let’s make it official, a concentrated community effort to share information and knowledge without brow beating or proselytizing.

Could a local popular coffee shop offer a once a week, let’s call it “CoffeeTalk”, event inviting brew drinkers (tea too, we are all about inclusion) to discuss politics? Participants would have to agree to civil rules of discussion like no name calling, no profanity, sensitivity to inappropriate language use such as racist or misogynist language, no violence, and maybe a few others, but keep the rules brief, simple, and posted. Make it an open forum so any and all interested citizens could join in. I would hope for two things to happen here: 1. increased business for the coffee shop, and 2. a truly safe open forum to share political ideas and information.

Farmers market happens once a week in many towns. They might offer a canopied area attended/monitored by a volunteer political science major from a local college, with a few chairs, and a “Stop and Talk” sign. Post some information, start some conversations, encourage participants to continue those conversations with family and friends.

An aquatic center might offer a (discounted?) hour a week event and call it “Politics in the Pool”. Everybody’s invited, but you have to get into that suit and into the water. Since most pools have poor acoustics, I have a feeling there would be many pods of pool talkers. While it could be wet and wild, I doubt there would be much swimming but that’s not the point of events like this.

That’s just a start for ideas. I can find as many reasons to why they wouldn’t work as to why they could. (That’s just me.) There are tons of other ideas to come up with that may or may not work. (That’s me, too.) But some things you don’t know until you try. Our political climate now isn’t very comfortable; maybe talking about it could change things more to the way we think they should go.

The constant in these events would be the safe space for discussion, and since we are not used to doing that, we’d have to self-monitor for the civil rules of engagement, and teach those who have no clue how to do that. My guess is that would be part of every event, because, well, people. And with any luck at all you would be attracting new people on a regular basis.

Knowledge is power. More knowledge of politics gives us more power in voting. Sharing knowledge, communicating, is more powerful because then we know how our friends and neighbors are thinking and vice versa. We might find we think more alike than we thought. Either way information shared is knowledge gained, and knowledge is power. Vote.

Color Watchcolorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Lacey white fluff of dandelion seeds. Red and green preview of the upcoming season. Bright colorful leaves against the gray sidewalk. Found this little volunteer tree last week and couldn’t resist the picture this week when the leaves turned to yellow against the red of the burning bush.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} Season 4 of DCI Banks (2010-2016, rated TV-14) formulaic British cop show. The title character is going through life struggles and isn’t dealing well during his mid-life crisis. * Tully (2018, rated R) with Charlize Theron, *spoiler alert* as the mother of a newborn, a five year old son with developmental challenges, and a bright eight year old daughter, who has a dissociative episode with her post-partum depression. The story isn’t told in a straightforward way like the description I just gave, but with a quirky revelation at the end.

Currently ReadingAlice (2015, fiction/fantasy) by Christina Henry. Giant rabbits, Magicians, and the quest for the evil Rabbit is nearly done. * Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding the Courage to Lead (2018, social justice) by Cecile Richards. Inspiring and entertaining story of helping her mother, Ann Richards, become the first woman governor of Texas, and Cecile’s own career after Ann’s governorship was over.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Getting my first senior discount at one of my favorite local stores where I regularly shop.
  • Halloween night was quiet at the pool as most swim students preferred to trick or treat. Treat for me.
  • Getting to enjoy an afternoon with a beloved friend from childhood.
  • The little birds that love my grape vine this time of year. They eat the last of the grapes and bugs, and tweetle and twitter between the vine and the mud puddle. They love the puddle as well. I love watching them.
  • How refreshing the aroma of rain washed soil and air.
  • The son helping the hubster take the air conditioner out of the window and put away for the season.
  • Finding a pretty shirt at the second-hand store.
  • Old black and white TV shows when I want background noise and pictures I don’t have to pay attention to.
  • Learning how to use the camera on my phone.
  • The stimulation of civil discourse.
  • The first frost hasn’t happened yet, so we are still getting Oregon strawberries. The berries are a little more watery from the rain, but sweet and tasty all the same.
  • 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: A Better Monday After

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
Sun sweeps cool morning,
clouds roll over afternoon,
rain drenches evening.

Sunday Musings
I remembered an important date! In a timely fashion, I might add.

Next Sunday, November 4, the Sunday before Election Day, is autumn Daylight Saving Time day, one of my two least favorite days of the year. Autumn time change when we revert to Standard Time isn’t as bad as spring, and now I’m semi-retired it matters less unless I have an appointment scheduled.

I still think it is ridiculous to upset the bio-chemistries of a whole nation twice a year. There is no acceptable excuse, except that it is now law and would require legislation to change, unless there is some sort of nefarious conspiracy control experiment going on. Who knows? I’ve read politics, I’ve read fiction, I’ve read spy novels and spy biographies, I’ve seen fanciful movies. Who knows what the rich and powerful could be up to in the name of profit?

I don’t know what they are up to. I have a wild imagination and I’ve seen real people do really strange things, in person. Some things I’d prefer not to remember.

Anyway, for now we have other things on our minds besides changing Daylight Saving Time. We can still be aware it needs ending, but our attention for the next few days should be changing the majority in Congress so there is some sort of check on the shenanigans of the president. Obviously, the GOP either isn’t capable or they’ve been bought off.

Remember autumn we go back an hour (back to Standard Time), spring we go forward an hour (into Daylight Saving Time). How do we cope with jumping into Daylight Saving Time or reverting back to Standard Time? These are real brain/body issues and can be dealt with on an individual basis. Over the years I’ve found a few helpful tips. Guess what? I’m willing to share.

TIPS FOR A BETTER MONDAY AFTER DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME DAY

1. As early as you can on Saturday afternoon change your clocks, instead of waiting until before bed or Sunday morning. Autumn we go back an hour. This starts your brain adapting to the change earlier.
2. Change clocks after outside schedules are done, so you don’t blow an appointment, event, or date. If you go out for the evening, set your home clocks to Standard Time before you leave, and maintain your Daylight Time schedule for the evening.
3. For the rest of Saturday evening don’t watch TV or any other visual programing that requires adherence to a schedule if you can help it. If you are absolutely hooked on a program, tune in on time and ignore the clock, or record the program to watch at another time. Try a DVD (if you have a family, perfect excuse for movie night; if you are single, still movie night), that documentary on Netflix you’ve been meaning to watch, or stream something you missed earlier in the week.
4. Read a book instead, and disconnect from screens entirely for the night. This one is really effective when it comes to fooling the brain about the clock, as you begin thinking in Standard Time again.
5. Stimulate your brain in other ways. Make it Family Game Night and play board games, or if you are single how about a couple rounds of Solitaire with real cards you can touch, not on screen, or invite a friend over for a friendly game of Scrabble.
6. Put on your jammies earlier than usual. This one works for me, but not everybody loves their jammies like I do.
7. Observe your normal bedtime routine for a Saturday night. If you can go to bed an hour early so much the better, but some folks struggle with that so aim for either.
8. Sunday get up at your regular Monday time. I know, I know. Sunday is the one day you sleep in. It’s only two Sundays of the year and worth it for a better Monday after. Great opportunity to have an extra cup of coffee and leisurely vote (Oregon votes by mail, so easy***) before the Tuesday, November 6 deadline, or snuggle with the kids, or even start/finish a project.
9. Sunday night go to bed at your regular bedtime. Get up Monday at your regular time and hopefully these tips will help you have a better Monday after.

Easy things to do. Small adaptations to your schedules. Right now we have more important legislation to attend to, and when the current federal administration is straightened out and we are no longer dealing with the insane antics of the play-actor who pretends to be president and his minions in the GOP, perhaps we could make eliminating Daylight Saving Time a part of the wellness section of the new Medicare plan we seek. I don’t like the name Medicare For All. I think the name should be changed to American Health. Keep it really simple. And the acronym is awesome: AH.

Not having to re-set our bio-chemistries twice a year will be a big health boost. Since it’s a simple clock game we could do surveys and see if we want Daylight Saving Time hours to become Standard Time, or if we want Standard Time to be Standard Time. That health benefit right there will likely save us millions of dollars in wellness.

Try these few changes to your approach to coping with setting the clocks back. It’s a simple experiment. Won’t it be a wonderful surprise if it works and you have a better Monday after?

***(Oregon vote by mail: ballots must be in mail no later than November 1 to guarantee delivery before November 6. Remember your postage stamp. There are ballot drop boxes throughout the state where you can drop your ballots without postage up until 8:00 pm, Tuesday, November 6. Here’s a handy link to the Oregon Drop Box Locator: https://sos.oregon.gov/voting/pages/drop-box-locator.aspx)

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Sister and I took our second Tualatin Valley Quilt Barn Trail Tour this week. We had five sites on our list and spotted two more along the way. (For more information about the Tualatin Valley Quilt Barn Trail here’s a link: https://tualatinvalley.org/local-favorites/tours-routes-trails/quilt-barn-trail/). Here are the colors we found along our trail of discovery. Gates Century Farm on Hornecker Rd in Hillsboro: Grandmother’s Fan block. Coussen’s Barn on Glencoe Road in Hillsboro: Circle of Life block. Jossy Farm on Beach Road in Hillsboro: Fruit Tree block. Jessie Mays Community Center on Hillcrest Road in North Plains: Log Cabin variation block. Gates Barn 2 on West Union Road in Hillsboro: Connected Kin block. Zurbrugg Barn on Logie Trail in Hillsboro: Carpenter’s Wheel Block. The little goats who live on Zurbrugg Farm. Dixie Mountain Grange on Dixie Mountain Road in North Plains: Strawberry block. Some of the color we saw when we were up in the sky at the top of Dixie Mountain Road.

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.} Guilty Conscience (1985, rated PG) with Blythe Danner and Anthony Hopkins, a husband tries to imagine the best way to kill his wife without getting caught through many scenarios, while his wife does the same. Surprise twist at the end. * Young Frankenstein (1974, rated PG), classic Halloween humor with Gene Wilder. Again with the lightening up.

Currently ReadingAlice (2015, fiction/fantasy) by Christina Henry. The Alice in Wonderland story for grown-ups; add violence, knives, guns, axes, and violating sex, and nothing is what it seems. * Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding the Courage to Lead (2018, social justice) by Cecile Richards. Inspiration for women. No matter what you are able to do, you can make a difference. It will never be easy, but it will be an adventure.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Watching the rain make a leaf storm and noting how luxurious it felt just to stand there and watch how the leaves moved or fell when the rain hit them.
  • Farmers market day was still warm enough to smell the oaks sweating.
  • The first rain of the season. Fascinating how the water makes my skin feel colder.
  • How toasty warm my house feels after going out to walk for a bit.
  • The dichotomy of trying to prepare my mindset for the holiday season while simultaneously trying not to dwell on it by over thinking.
  • Spending time with my sister on our second Quilt Barn Trail Tour to celebrate my birthday month, almost as good as sending Mom those birth announcements.
  • Having a lovely day for our tour, sun broke through in the morning, clouded up early afternoon but still so nice, and rain when we finally got back into town to sit down for late lunch. Worked out just right.
  • How the softly grayed day made the autumn colors of the countryside seem to pop.
  • Zucchini, onions, celery, carrots, and luscious Roma tomatoes from the farmers market.
  • Two beautiful boxes of strawberries. Hoping for one more pick next week at the last farmers market of the season because they taste so much better than California berries. Anything tastes better when grown closer to home.
  • Happy Halloween!
  • 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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gratitude Sunday: Radical Old Women

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “Women may be the one group that grows more radical with age.” Gloria Steinem

Sunday Haiku
Autumn’s last week of
brilliance, leaves color-glazed,
burnished by cold nights.

Sunday Musing
We are two old, white, hippie-type women watching the local farmers market take place around us. We sit upon a city bench, a city which both of us had served for more than 16 years, she as a city councilor and I as an over-the-counter service worker. Both of us are educated in college and in life. Both of us have an area of expertise, hers being environment and water knowledge, the science and dangers of fracking, what we are doing to our oceans, and the dangers of second hand drugs in our city treated water; my expertise being the construction of words into some form of reason and customer service expertise. Both of us have survived attempted death at the hands of men we loved. Both of us have scars, inside and out. Both of us have seen the uglier side of people; both of us know more than perhaps we’d like to know. Like the truth. Like lies. Like fear.

We know the truth. We know what big money powers are doing to our earth and what poisons they wreak in the name of profit and at the expense of working people, which is the greatest resource any nation has. We know that same big money has diverted education into a sham, and despite the illusion of Equal Opportunity, available only to the wealthy, which is no marker of intelligence or merit. We know why some women will never tell how they too have been violated, possibly by the very men they stand beside, because they are so invested and dependent on the patriarchal system to them it would be admitting they were tainted.

We know lies when we see them. We know liars when they lie. We know where to dig out the evidence if we need to. We know living with lies is no way to live. We were hesitant to speak of how ugly our country could get over the next two years after having gotten so ugly so fast in the last two years, yet both of us know enough history to see some truly vile possibilities.

We are afraid for our country. We are afraid for the future of our grandchildren. We are afraid for women. We are afraid of men and for men. We are afraid of poverty. We are afraid of having what we’ve worked for and earned taken away from us.

Both of us for the last few months have been trying to get out the vote any way we can. Neither of us have joined an organized group because we don’t have time or energy for that, but we are both of us talkers, and we ask everybody we know if they are registered to vote. Older people like us are more likely to vote. We’ve been around long enough to know the consequences of not voting. A good recent example is Trump, who is busy making all kinds of messes for the sake of his personal profit that will take us years to recover from. I’ve been concentrating on the 18-30 age group, the young lifeguards at my pool, the son’s friends, clerks who serve me over any counter. Shopping and service counters are not the place to have a discussion about the politics of the vote. A simple “Are you registered to vote?” or “Do you have a plan to vote?” suffices.

We are looking to our children and grandchildren to step up now and help. It’s time for another generation or two to start getting political experience and help change government into a model that works for Americans in the future as well as now. A model for all Americans, not just the wealthy or the ones now in power.

It’s a generational thing, politics. We must listen to the history our elders tell us about the past and what they lived, as well as read history books. When your elders tell you there was a time when America was prosperous and even working people felt like they were making enough to live on and be productive taxpayers, they will also tell you corporations and the upper classes paid a larger percent of tax investments. When the wealthy and corporations paid a share we had affordable housing, education, and we were on the way to affordable health care. People planned and saved money for vacations and retirements.

The friend who shared my bench told of the back room deals, the old boys network, the silencing of her (female) voice with over-talking and mansplaining though she was the expert who spent the time at the seminars and consortiums. Running with the pigs, she called it. No more, she said. I can’t blame her. Between the two of us, we had plans and projects and ideas for improving the homeless problem, hunger, education, employment, health care, secure and dignified retirement, and a myriad of others. We didn’t have a plan to impart our knowledge without people thinking we were wacky old women. We are radicals outside the system now.

I get it. As much as I dislike change, it must be done. Time passes. We learn new things, develop new technology, new techniques, new ideas change the way we live. We don’t build barns for our horses and cows any more; we build garages for our cars. We don’t send letters via Pony Express or even the United States Postal Service; we text or instant message on personal hand-held devices. Each generation takes the environment and political climate they get and improves. Or not. Nothing is ever perfect, but change might get us closer to excellence.

Like my friend and I sharing stories on that city bench, communication is the key. We must talk to each other. We don’t generally do that at church, where religion or spirituality is the accepted topic. Many of us don’t hang out in bars, there are no weekly town halls or social community gatherings any more. Getting people to attend a city council meeting is like offering a root canal. We have to find places where we can talk and feel safe about disagreeing until we reach a consensus.

Here’s the thing: You can’t tell the younger generation it’s time for them to step up and at the same time call them uneducated, lazy slackers. This is repeated history. I heard the same thing about my generation when I was a young adult and working my butt off to be a young adult.

It is time for younger people to step up because they are not slackers. Many of them are paying off student loans because they were sold higher education, which has been co-opted into a for-profit system with no job guarantees. Many younger people are working two or three jobs because the system is rigged against earning a living wage and inflation has created an environment of greed. Few younger people are able to, or able to choose to, have one parent home with the kids. Who is raising their kids? Who is home? Younger people are trying their best to do it all, but like the Red Queen’s Race in Alice Through the Looking Glass, the faster they run the further behind they get. And some elders have the nerve to tell them they are worthless.

We two old women had to part ways and get on with our day and leave the city bench we’d warmed for the last hour. We declared ourselves radicals, not radicals of violence or destruction, but radicals still, radicals always, radicals dedicated, as loving and caring people, to helping others learn and know and understand truth and lies. We are maybe even radical old women who encourage younger people to be involved in our communities and be radical.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – This time of year I am always trying to capture the yellows and light. Sun brightening the yellow in the tree of my neighbor that I get to enjoy. And the same tree casting its yellowed leaves on the shed roof. Stately yellowing tree across the street framed by picket fence. Golden globes of quince peaking between shining satiny green leaves.

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 Manchurian Candidate (1962, rated PG – 13) with Frank Sinatra. Somehow black and white makes these older movies seem creepier. Mind control is creepy enough as it is. Add politics to the mix. Creepier still. A classic that must be viewed at least once; junior year in high school would be good. Halloween is a good time for creepy movies. Recommended. * Life of the Party (2018, rated PG – 13), with Melissa McCarthy. McCarthy is cute as a button, but I often find her humor dull. A few witty lines and a feeble plot does not a comedy make. Meh. * Finished season 3 of DCI Banks, predictable cop stories.

Currently Reading – Finished The Little Paris Bookshop (2015, fiction) by Nina George. A few surprises at the end of this heart-sweet novel. Not a romance, but a love story for the heart; perfect summer read. * I think I have found a scary Halloween read. Alice (2015, fiction) by Christina Henry, an Alice in Wonderland story on methamphetamine, with an evil Rabbit and a monstrous Jabberwocky, begins in an asylum of a dystopian future. Alice is rescued from a fire in the hospital by the man she speaks to through a mouse hole in the wall. The asylum and the escape shows us a world of violence and the promise of more to come, where the sanity and ethics of every character is questioned. Sort of echoes current fears. * Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class is Leaving Everyone in the Dust, Why That is a Problem, and What to do About It (2017, sociology, wealth) by Richard V. Reeves. This has been quite a tedious read for the information presented. I don’t know how to change the minds of wealthy people who might not even realize simple solutions to an over-advantaged system will not lose them any profit, income, or material goods. The author has ideas for change but not for changing the minds of the wealthy, though the author does suggest the wealthy lose some of their self-interest, think beyond themselves, and stop acting entitled to tax cuts and breaks when the system has already worked for them and made them wealthy.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Being able to still do some of my own housework.
  • How lovely it feels to have a freshly washed floor.
  • Another sunny and mild autumn week. I love the rain too, and it will be here soon enough.
  • Medical facilities that got us right in that day when I called to be seen.
  • The medical thing that happened was wildly ugly in appearance but nothing to be concerned about.
  • The veterinarian who got us right in the next day when I panicked after being up all night with Mister Kitty struggling to breathe.
  • Mister Kitty is better already. I had done the right things to get him through the night.
  • Grateful for instinct and the knowledge to back it up.
  • The nap I needed after stressing over Mister Kitty.
  • One last box of sweet cherry tomatoes. The nights are getting too cold.
  • A box of blackberries, more tart than sweet, but when mixed with strawberries the two sweet-tarts please my tongue.
  • 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, Photography, Poetry, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gratitude Sunday: My Medicare Birthday; or, Riding The Unicorn

Gratitude * Sunday

Quotes of the Week – “Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” Betty Friedan

“Don’t underestimate the transition between farewell and new departure. Give yourself the time you need. Some thresholds are too wide to be taken in one stride.” Nina George in The Little Paris Bookshop

Sunday Haiku
Blue jay calls outside
my kitchen window. Squirrel
alert! Nut dispute.

Sunday Musings
I never wanted to be or to own a unicorn. I’m not a rainbows, sparkles, and fairy dust kind of girl, though I do believe in magic. I was never into horses either, they are too darn big. I like all those things, but as hard as I try to be up-beat and light-hearted, the struggles of my life and the world weigh heavily upon me and fairy dust doesn’t lift the weight. High school yearbooks have been in the news lately, and I dug mine out. From the comments made by other people I see I have been an opinionated, cranky, thought-provoking person for a long time.

It’s my Medicare birthday this week and I’m not sure what I expected. I often use my birthday for self-evaluation. I worked all my life. I learned how to save some of what I earned. I invested in a home I’m still paying for and the privilege of paying a property tax bill every year. I worked for the American dream even though I did not fit the stereotype of the breadwinner as male and middle-class. I’ve scratched my way forward each day as a female from a lower middle-class family. Only one person gets to be Oprah; she is an anomaly: the rags to riches myth doesn’t work for most of us lower income people in America, regardless of our skin color.

I wanted to support my family in comfort since I was the one who had to do the supporting. I wanted a secure home, an education for my child, and a comfortable and dignified retirement. I don’t need anything fancy, just decent, reliable, secure, you know, where the roof doesn’t leak, the car always runs, and the mortgage and bills are always paid on time. I don’t think that’s too much to ask after working for 50 years in the United States of America. For all those years of work all I earned and all I have to look forward to is the struggle of poverty, always being on the edge of collapse, of losing everything I worked for with one illness, injury, or faux pas. The American dream ends with my generation as so many of us are doing more poorly than our parents.

I used to amuse myself on my birthday by sending my mom a birth announcement that her baby girl had arrived. I created a different card every year with pretty, giggling, cooing babies on the front. I liked the ones with the lines on the inside for birth place and length and weight and I would make up weird or goofy answers to fill in the blanks. Weight:dis one fat baby. Length: two hands. Birthplace: between her mother’s legs. (Yes, I know. Weird.) I challenged myself to new answers every year and every year it would spark a phone call and a delightful conversation. Mom’s been gone five years now. If she heard me now I can hear her say, “Chin up, babe.”

I always feel a little blue, perhaps even morbid, around my birthday as I say goodbye to another year. It’s not like I’ve ever celebrated much as there have never been any funds to do so. In my life, fixing the car means canceling Christmas. Replacing an unrepairable washer means negotiating a bill payment with somebody else, not just payments to the washer vendor. I also feel like I get less done each year. I have to remind myself I am a human being, not a human doing. Tasks get done as they get done; I’m slow.

Some years it’s been difficult to even scrape up the money for a cake. I know that sounds pathetic when a box cake and a couple eggs, and some butter and confectioner’s sugar for the frosting can be had for under five dollars. Five dollars can also buy enough bathroom tissue (toilet paper) for the three people in my immediate family for a week, and since we use that stuff every day, I’m buying the TP. We don’t need to eat cake every day. Do you know what that’s like? To be conscious of every five dollars and how far it will stretch, of the value of every refundable can and bottle, of whether you can afford TP this week?

Visual and social media wants us to feel even worse about ourselves if we live in poverty, making vivid movies and TV shows and magazine articles that we can compare ourselves with both ways. We don’t want to look like the poverty they portray, and yet many of us won’t ever achieve the middle-class standard depicted. At least I have a TV, a computer, and a phone to see all the consumer marketing thrown at us.

I am the dichotomy. I have, but I also don’t have. I want to enjoy unicorn thinking, for everything in my life to be sweetness and light because I still have my home and my abundance of stuff, but being a person of generational poverty, it is not in my DNA. Instead I am riding the unicorn, on the back of the unknown, into a future unlikely to be sprinkled with fairy dust. Then again, you never know. That’s one of the issues with being Libra born, always trying to achieve balance and never quite sure if you’re there, change being the only constant. You never know, because weird stuff happens in life. I have a great abundance of stuff; I merely lack financial security in which to relax and enjoy my abundance. Of all the stuff I have, the good stuff, the cool stuff, the maybe-worth-something stuff, the definitely-worth-nothing stuff, selling all that stuff would not give me enough to get that security, because the stuff mostly isn’t worth anything; the stuff that is worth big dollars people don’t want to pay what it’s worth, they want a deal. It’s OK; I’m still enjoying my stuff as it slowly goes away.

Perhaps I’m more morbid than usual this year as I grow less able, and as I see my legacy with open eyes, the son raised in poverty, anxiety, depression, and insecurity, and facing his own struggles in the daily fight against despair. His whole generation is working against a system rigged against the poor, who no matter how hard they work, can barely earn enough to live on and will have little to show for their contributions as decent, honest, hardworking, accountable Americans.

It hasn’t helped my mindset this year to be in the middle of a horrifying nightmare of political destruction with all the policies and progress we’ve made over the last 50 years being undermined and reversed for the sake of lining the pockets of the already wealthy. There I am again oddly unbalanced as I have this daunting feeling it is so much worse than we all think and praying decent, honest, hardworking, accountable Americans will prevail until the course changes. Hopefully soon.

It may be my Medicare birthday, but I am going to have to fight for what I already paid. Next year is my retirement birthday, and it looks like I’m going to have to fight for the Social Security money I invested in the American system, or there is the possibility I may have to bite the bullet and take Social Security earlier than planned which means I get less (though I’ve always lived with less). I didn’t have a choice to opt out and save that money on my own. And if I want to opt out of mandatory Medicare, the law says my Social Security earned income retirement payments will be denied. Social Security is not a “benefit”; it’s a fund we paid our earned income into, and the administration over the last 40 years has abused that fund and spent it on other things (read: stolen without our permission).

Enough of morbidity and being disconcerted with society and the administration of American government. I’m old enough now to be tired of fighting. I’m way past tired of being poor. I’m tired of having a government who steals my money. I’ve been fighting all my life. I’ve been poor all my life. I’ve lived with less all my life. I want that retirement tax investment I earned back.

So, I’m 65, my Beatles birthday year is history. So what? It’s one more day, one more battle, one more opportunity to define justice and use my words for it, one more unicorn to learn to feed and care for.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – I love the creamy white fronds of pampas grass, and it comes in several varieties. A maroon seed pod of unusual shape. Here’s some yellow leaves showing off their light. And a tree of many colors. A row of many trees and many colors.

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 Ghost and Mr Chicken (1966, rated G) with Don Knotts, master of faces. Sometimes you just have to lighten up, even with scary movies. * Peter Rabbit (2018, PG) the semi-animated one. Sometimes you have to lighten up altogether. * The Beguiled (1971, rated R) the original with Clint Eastwood. I saw this movie many years ago on TV, in black and white, cut up by commercials, and remember being spooked by the decisions of the women in an isolated plantation when a wounded Union soldier appears on their property during the end of the American Civil War. Now in this re-viewing, the soldier is not blameless and works the jealousies of the women against each other. The women exact some revenge. There is something very frightening about the passions of isolated, lonely women. * The Portrait of a Lady (1996, rated PG – 13), a Jane Campion film from the novel by Henry James. I’m not sure what is more frightening, being manipulated into marrying an abusive and controlling husband, or having several men fall in love with you while you are still married to him. Ms Campion usually brings unusual twists to her film-work and this period piece did not fail to deliver.

Currently ReadingThe Little Paris Bookshop (2015, fiction) by Nina George. We pick up a couple passengers as we float down the Seine in search of lost love. * Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class is Leaving Everyone in the Dust, Why That is a Problem, and What to do About It (2017, sociology, wealth) by Richard V. Reeves. The author defines opportunity hoarding, explains which opportunities the wealthy think belongs only to them, such as exclusive neighborhoods with more well-funded schools, legacy college placements, and nepotistic corporate internships, and why the hoarding of opportunities are detrimental to a fully functioning society at all economic levels.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Being able to research and think critically for myself.
  • Having my eyes wide open.
  • Being able to determine truth from lies.
  • Having a social media platform to help encourage people to vote.
  • Understanding how much misunderstanding and misinformation is out there.
  • Having words to understand my crankiness.
  • Finding a difference between happiness and contentment.
  • Friends who tell me I am too hard on myself. I understand.
  • Some mild early autumn days and neighborhoods so quiet you can hear the wind music the leaves make.
  • Remembering I have a Halloween tablecloth and getting it on the table before Halloween.
  • Days with nothing on the schedule when you get other stuff done.
  • The last of the season’s green beans.
  • Three more weeks of the local farmers market.
  • 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, Nature, Parenting, Photography, Poetry, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gratitude Sunday: The Theory Of Joy

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” Khalil Gibran

Sunday Haiku
Rain enough between
sun showers to send cedar
scent through open doors.

Sunday Musings
The instructor swam over to me after the 5-6 year old class left the pool, her face gleaming.

“That was so cool,” she said.

She is 19, California blonde and lithe, off to her second year of college, and if her parents had named her Sunny they would have pegged it. Over the last three or four years we’ve talked and shared stories as she was lifeguard for me in the pool. She sometimes spoke of her concerns about the littles she taught, and I offered encouragement to her because I could see the progress she coached out of each child.

“What was cool?” I asked.

Sunny told of one of her littles who had always been afraid of the water, unsure of her ability, complaining and resistant to trying anything new. Suddenly today, the little girl gleefully demonstrated all the previous skills she had learned and joyfully tried everything new without argument or hesitation. At the end of class Sunny asked her what had happened, to change in a few days from afraid at the last class to her enjoyment of this class.

“I woke up this morning,” the little girl said to Sunny, “and told myself I was going to be brave. It’s been hard but I’ve had fun all day!”

She certainly impressed Sunny who couldn’t wait to share the story and I was the closest person. I enjoyed the story so much I asked her permission to share and she said of course. And of course I’ve changed her name for her privacy.

The child’s thought was so simple, yet she admitted it had been hard to do, and then it led to a fun day. Sunny mused why it didn’t seem to be that simple for most of us. And since I’m a hundred years or so older than Sunny and a worst-case scenario (read: hyper-vigilant) person, I was thrilled to find a moment of pure joy in the day, and I shared my theory about joy. Which is that joy is fleeting and when it happens you have to enjoy the feeling at the moment, in the moment, with every fiber of your being no matter where the moment of joy comes from, whether it’s a moment of nature appreciation, an epiphany of some sort, or the clicking of new knowledge into something retained. And sharing that moment of joy amplifies it exponentially if other people can share the joy as well.

That’s why it’s so satisfying to have a job you enjoy; you get moments of joy all day long. The best moments of joy come from sharing other people’s joy, like new babies, or tickling toddlers, or getting to watch little ones learn to swim when they thought they were afraid. Or watching an older person, still and always being the lovely person she’s grown into, imagining her as a younger, and all the parts it takes to make up the whole of a person. Taking a minute outside the local lending library because the beautiful large tree in the neighbor’s yard is bird friendly and with every exit from the library doors the birds twitter and whistle and sound so joyful; do birds experience joy? Can birds tell humans of their joy? Is thinking about birds a moment of joy? Or watching a spider weave his web. Critters are joy (as long as they are outside). Outside the door at my counselor’s office the blue spruce has cones the most beautiful soft shade of green. I want a room that color. Color is joy. The neighbor kids playing, their voices together sounding like music rippling through the yards. Finding a couple of words to fit together that makes your skin tingle. Doing something new even though you are afraid, or unsure, or shy, or sometimes because you have to, and you know by no stretch of the imagination it will be fun, and it’s joy merely because you pushed through the fear and did it. Life is joy. Wonder is joy. Marveling and thinking too much are joys.

Sunny kindly listened to my theory about joy, and bounced out of the pool to share the story with the other staff. The story was enough to cheer anybody’s day. But there was another kind of brief joy: somebody taking the time to share a story, and somebody taking the time to listen, and then it went back the other way as well. Sometimes the greatest kindness we can give to another is the gift of listening.

I’m lucky. I’m nosy and curious and I love listening to other people’s stories and thoughts. I love thinking I might learn something from them if we can talk long enough. I treat it like story time, but I’m not always the best listener, because if anything confuses me I interrupt; I have to have sense immediately. I’m learning to be more patience about that. It can scare people if you are easily confused or ask too many questions. I just like a complete story, and I like being able to tell the characters from each other. I confess to re-reading, and paging back in novels and non-fiction, or reviewing videos, when I feel I’ve lost the plot line or get characters confused.

Good thing people come in all shades of fear. I suspect we all have fear, some of us have learned not to show it, for better or worse. Some people have no fear, no problem with trying new things, or at least it looks like that to the rest of us. Some people seem confident with all they do, hesitating only briefly to prepare for the next step. Other people seem overly confident and then don’t deliver. Others are so afraid they can’t even lift their eyes from the ground or get a job when they might be able. Like Sunny’s little girl said: it’s hard.

If we were kinder to each other and celebrated each others’ success I suspect we would have less fear in this world. People could feel free to try new things because they would know nobody would make fun of them or put them down, and might even make it easier for them to achieve what they want. A bit of competition can be good, but in America I fear we are seeing the results of too much of that “good” thing.

I still vote for being brave. To wake up each day and say, “I will be brave today” and then go about your day with that mantra in your mind, it could make your day a little more fun. It’s worth a try, like when we were kids before our spirits got broken and being brave was just what we did. If it’s hard it makes the joy all that more dear; one must know darkness to appreciate the light. If enough of us approach each day that way perhaps we could change the world, by sharing our joy in being brave.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – My favorite hot pink fuchsia is loaded this year. I keep trying to capture the blue of this spruce tree, and I love the contrast with the other shades of green. I found a small patch of lavender with its lovely gray foliage. Love the wine-burgundy tones the leaves of my coral bells take on. Trying to capture the multiple shades of green, pinks, and yellows as this bush puts on its autumn dress. Because I love critters, a bumble bee butt is all we see as he wiggles deep into a purple mallow.

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.} (My internet was down for five days this week, that’s why I didn’t post on September 30, and it gave me some time to watch a few extra items.) * Black Panther (2018, rated R), a Marvel Comics production. Despite the gratuitous sex and violence, these Marvel productions employ witty dialogue and make me laugh. * Genius: Einstein (2017, rated TV – MA) a dramatized BBC series about the life and times of Albert Einstein. He had challenges many of us have, the ones of us who have trouble following rules or who question the way it’s always been done before. As a man of his time he also benefited from the brilliance of his wife while giving her no credit as she cared for his home and raised his children, as many men of our time do and have done as well. The production portrays Einstein’s struggle to maintain science separate from politics, and both the characters and the dialogue echo what we are living through in today’s political climate of science deniers. Rhyming history, which we can learn from if we will. * And now we move into the Halloween scary movies for October. 15 Minutes (2001, rated R), with Robert de Niro, a cop thriller, with de Niro trying to stop two killers who are videotaping their murders in an attempt to claim video fame. Chilling, quirky, and unpredictable. * Hereditary (2018, rated R) with Toni Collette who is one of my favorite actors. The trailers on this were deceptive. I thought I was going to get a psychological thriller, instead it disappointingly sank to the level of the typical gory-bloody demonic possession horror movie. While Collette demonstrates a wide range of emotions and facial expressions, I felt this was beneath her to lower herself to the blood and guts level. * The chillingest I’ve watched this week was season one of The Handmaid’s Tale (2017, rated TV- MA). I remember reading this novel many years ago and being disconcerted at the futuristic world novelist Margaret Atwood created where we’ve damaged our world so much we lose human fertility, and it comes across even more bluntly on film to think that a few people can subvert the politics of America to control the bodies of women. Oh, wait. That’s what we are fighting against right now, in America, in 2018. Vampires and zombies and witches will never frighten me as much as men and women who seek power over other people. * The Florida Project (2017, rated R) about a six year old girl living in poverty in the shadow of Disney World. I may have to think about this movie for a couple weeks to get its point. To start, we all have difficult lives and hard stories behind them.

Currently ReadingThe Little Paris Bookshop (2015, fiction) by Nina George. The plot thickens as Monsieur Perdu casts free from the harbor and glides down the Seine. I read cinematically and with the tidbits of humor the author writes I can easily see this as a fun movie. We’ll see what the ending reveals. * Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class is Leaving Everyone in the Dust, Why That is a Problem, and What to do About It (2017, sociology, wealth) by Richard V. Reeves. Money comparisons disturb me, as it indicates competition rather than cooperation, especially where the wealth of the wealthy drives consumerism by the lower income classes in an attempt to keep up, the keeping up of which cannot happen in the society we currently have. The capitalist game and the American myth of anybody achieving the rags to riches wealth is rigged in America from birth on, and mere wealth is a poor marker of intelligence or merit. We will need to make changes.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Some lovely, mild, fake summer days with the doors open and soft breezes.
  • Being overcome by the feeling to take a short walk, which unfortunately isn’t more than a couple blocks these day, but was treated to the delight of finding an older neighbor whom I haven’t talked to for a couple years, crawling around weeding her lovely front garden, and a friendly discussion.
  • Her invitation to crawl around and help her weed. I declined. We laughed.
  • Her cute little dog who minded me when I told him he had to go be by his mom as we were standing right next to the street.
  • Having the opportunity to thank her for sharing her garden with the rest of us in the neighborhood.
  • The moon bright and clear peeking in the corner of my open door while I work.
  • That feeling of missing someone you haven’t talked to in a long time, because it’s still not likely you’ll get to talk to them anytime soon, and knowing your heart and soul is still intact because you feel the missing.
  • Getting some housework done I’ve been wanting to do when internet service crashed for a few days.
  • Flashlight at the ready when I had a nightmare.
  • A day of scattered rain showers after the nightmare which felt like a cleansing.
  • A bag of pears from a friend which I put into the fridge to ripen and have been perfect as I pull each one out to eat.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: September Season

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “Try to remember the kind of September when life was slow, and oh so mellow…” Tom Jones

Sunday Haiku
Soft autumn sun heats
skin thirsty for radiant
bone soothing comfort.

Sunday Musings
September is a special month and always seems a little sad to me. When the harvest is almost done, food preservation almost completed as well, pumpkins and winter squashes lie fat and orange in the fields next to corn stalks chopped into stubbled plots, it feels like the end of the year as we prepare to celebrate the work of our summer labors. The harvest celebrations last three months these days, from Halloween through Thanksgiving and Christmas, and are only over when we welcome winter in at the New Year. Other cultures celebrate other holidays during these times as well, and while I won’t pretend to know enough to name them, I honor them along with “American/Christian” holidays. As if it makes any difference to differentiate: a celebration is (any excuse to) party is a celebration. All good.

September brings changes. We start a new school year, and we establish a new/newer version of a household routine to accommodate outside events we want to attend for the season. September recalls all those other beginnings, all the first days at school and new schools, all the new jobs, all the new routines and new teachers and strange classmates and co-workers, friendly and otherwise. We have a new sports season; suddenly football is upon us and all weekend long cheers of team spirit erupt from living rooms and high school and university stadiums across the nation.

September bodes the transitions we are looking forward to for the season. We receive our property tax bills right before election day, and they are due just after election day. How’s that for timing? And Daylight Saving Time changes the weekend before election day as well, so we will all still be acclimating to the time change as we are asked to make political decisions. Prevent any despair by preparing ahead of time and know your vote well before the time change and election day. (Oregonians, who can vote by mail, you can vote before Halloween and have it all done before the holiday!) This could be the most important mid-term vote of our lifetimes, so be good scouts and be prepared. Halloween is only one day but is so much fun it can be a distraction to real life, and we live life 365 days a year so multi-task: celebrate and prepare to vote.

September says goodbye to the last heat of summer, the last warm days of the year. Colorful flowers give way to the parade of leaves dying, dying with every burst of color they have left in them, kicking their chlorophyll deprived bodies into the unknown as their umbilical-stems shrivel and dry, released precipitously from the branches that gave them life, filling the streets and gutters with their water-clogging leafy carcasses. The light and the heat from the sun softens as the earth orbits on its inevitable journey; the days grow short and the dark of night grows longer.

In September the sun visits less, and the rains return from their summer vacation. Rain (blue) plus sun (yellow) equals grass (green). I know, math, complicated by color theory and stream of consciousness, right? Sometimes hard to follow, especially when there is no basis in hard science, and some basis in thinking too much.

When September is over, the rush of holidays will be upon us and we will fly from one event to another in a hurry to end another year and begin a new one. We will cook, and eat, and laugh, and visit people we don’t get to see most of the year. We will giggle and goo-goo over the new babies and the toddlers, we will invite older children into adult conversations as they are the future of our world. We will carefully share information because differences of opinion are nothing to lose friends and family over. We will listen to the stories of our elders who remember history, and to our contemporaries who have valid experiences to share we all might benefit from, and to our teens and twenty-somethings who are lighting the way in a new world with their energy. If we listen to each other we might learn how much alike we are, even when our opinions and ages differ.

September is the beginning of closing out the year, beginnings and endings, the ultimate transition with both occurring at the same time. We say goodbye to a productive summer and get ready to bundle in for the winter. If we can, we spend a little time taking stock, maybe discard a few things (which might be another person’s treasure – avoid consumerism and re-gift, re-gift, re-gift!), clear the summer’s dust we were too busy to clean because it was time to play and work outside.

As the nights grow longer there are more evening hours to reflect and contemplate. I’m at that time in my life where I take the luxury of just sitting and thinking, because I’m not as able to be as active as I used to be. One could say I’m entering the September of my life, and I want to be only entering as I want many good long days to come. It’s a good thing. As I’ve already said September is beginnings and endings. Old routines give way to new, and old skills can improve or change. Some things we leave behind as we learn to adapt or accommodate to a different position when we still want to get our work done. The same old way might not be the best way forever, it’s good to try new ways as well. September is an excellent example of change being the only constant. I may be sad at what we leave behind, but I am grateful for the opportunity of every day to keep learning and moving forward.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – I try to capture the soft autumn light and the parade of leafy tree color. Here are some reds and oranges. Still green but tinged with fiery yellow and orange. Purple autumn crocuses confuse me, makes me think I’m still in spring not entering autumn. Yellow leaves muted by shadow. I love these layers of contrast between greens in the evergreen trees against the flame colors of the deciduous. An autumn rose pink-ishly, peach-ishly clinging to summer.

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 First Wives Club (1996, rated PG) with Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn, and Diane Keaton. I didn’t see this movie when it first came out at a time when VHS and DVDs were costly even when rented. Thanks to our tax investments I can use the local lending library to see these old movies for free now. I’m glad I didn’t have to pay for this one. As much as I generally love the work of these women, this was entirely a fluff movie. Meh * Started the DCI Banks (2010-2016, rated TV – 14) BBC series. Cop show, old school male cop, female co-worker, assorted supporting cast, intriguing plot lines. Sometimes I can figure out who-dun-it before the end of the show rolls around. * Wild Oats (2016, rated PG – 13) with Shirley McClain and Jessica Lange. After her husband dies, the insurance company sends the wife a check much larger than the policy had been purchased for. She deposits the check in the bank for safe-keeping and takes her friend on an adventure. Chaos ensues. I love movies with women of significant age.

Currently ReadingThe Little Paris Bookshop (2015, fiction) by Nina George, originally written in German; I’m reading the English translation, recommended by a friend. Monsieur Perdu owns a “literary apothecary” and prescribes literature for what ails you from his book barge on the Seine as he hides his own “ailment”. * Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class is Leaving Everyone in the Dust, Why That is a Problem, and What to do About It (2017, sociology, wealth) by Richard V. Reeves. The author explains why the American upper middle class is trying to distance itself and insulate itself from the lower classes of American working society. I’d like to understand this, as from my point of view, I worked just as hard in my life and had nowhere near the success; for me the American dream of home ownership and the privilege of a property tax bill, a college education, bills paid, and a comfortable and secure retirement is dead, as it is for 80% of Americans. As the author begins to explain, it’s somewhat a case of who you know to help you climb that legacy ladder to success. * I got to spend several days with Pete Souza’s picture book Obama: An Intimate Portrait (2017, presidential photography) loaned to me by a trusting friend. I was terrified the whole time I had it that I would spill something on it, so I was extra careful. The queue at the local lending library remains around 50 people and has been since the book came out. My friend thought I shouldn’t wait. The pictures weren’t all perfect composition-wise, many were notable only for capturing those candid moments. The book was hard to look at for several reasons including nostalgia for a time when I could sleep feeling somewhat safe in my bed, and I found myself crying at many of the pictures: remembering the unwarranted racial abuse the Obama family endured while serving the nation; the obvious love Obama has for his family; the sheer humanity in Obama’s face and deeds; the horrible attempt at dismantling democracy we are enduring now in the wake of Obama’s service and the hope that reason and compassion will prevail.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • A friend who got an eviction notice because her landlord wanted to sell the house (the landlord offered to sell her the house but it wasn’t quite the right size for the family), who found another house to buy and less than six weeks later holds the key to her new house, avoiding the scramble for storage and/or temporary housing. Loving how sometimes the universe cooperates abundantly.
  • The days. Every day. And how they go by. Laughing at myself.
  • Looking forward to my Medicare birthday next month.
  • Wanting something cozy to wear to hang around the house in that didn’t look like a bathrobe, and finding an extra long, extra large hoodie. Using my birthday to justify the purchase.
  • Noticing the changes of aging. I used to be the one who was always hot, and now I have many times I can’t get warm even though I carry around my own heater with me (read: insulated by fat, which doesn’t seem to be working that way any more.)
  • Freely sharing my aging experiences with youngers so they know what they have to look forward to. No rose colored glasses or graceful aging here. Just cold hard facts about the body.
  • The son helping me put up a string of orange Halloween lights, because I just couldn’t wait any longer.
  • Replacing my old worn out (read: glove fingers torn to shreds, so, useless) garden gloves, and getting a start on a small overgrown spot. A little bit at a time.
  • Ten minute work windows.
  • The last of the summer’s heat; open doors; the soft susurrus of breezes in tree leaves.
  • Fat Oregon figs and a chunk of locally made raw milk alpine cheddar. Num.
  • 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: Truth, Lies, And The American Way

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “It is difficult for the common good to prevail against the intense concentration of those who have a special interest, especially if the decisions are made behind locked doors.” Jimmy Carter

Sunday Haiku
Weather disregards
the calendar, autumn weighs
upon our shoulders.

Sunday Musings
Truth is truth. Facts are facts. Truth can be twisted. Facts can be skewed. Repeating the same lie will never make it true regardless of how many times the lie is repeated.

In any study of psychology studies show truth is often a matter of perception. We do not always see or perceive the same things. The shade of red I see may not be the same shade of red you see. Even though we have similar equipment (vision, rods, cones, brain cells to interpret what we see), the experience of red can be different between the two of us. Two people witnessing the same car accident will have two different stories of what they saw.

As Americans, we have choices as to how we want to be governed, whom we want to represent us, and how we parse out the facts and truth from the propaganda and the lies.

For example, when a woman says she has been violated we have to believe her. I expect men not to believe us, as they are generally the perpetrators of violation and are invested in maintaining that power (perceived or real) over women. But I am often startled when other women blame the victim, saying she must have done something to warrant the violation. I see this as jealousy and competition. It is tempting to be jealous. Somebody may have more than you, or think themselves better than you, may be prettier than you, or younger that you. So? It’s likely every one of us think that about every other one of us. Would we have a better world if we celebrated the success of others? Would we have more personal success if we celebrated the success of others? Would we be stronger individuals by building each other up?

When a candidate for any office lies under oath at a congressional hearing, as another example, that should be evidence the person is not fit to serve. Over the last two years, though, lying to get what you want seems to be normalized, even though lying should not be tolerated even from toddlers who can be taught from the very first how to tell the truth and own their own behavior. This was my experience in the workplace. Lying was normalized and the truth was discounted aided by the power of numbers; the truth carried no weight and was not honored. As a volunteer I’ve seen this happen in almost every group I’ve worked with from the classroom at the son’s school to youth groups.

As a group, Americans have the power to stand up for the truth, to define facts as facts. We have the power to make life better for all of us, not just for a handful of elite wealth holders. We have the power to protect women and children, to keep the poor from being blamed for circumstances thrust upon them through no cause of their own. We have the power to end fossil fuel consumption and to create sustainable energy technologies. We have the power to create safe spaces for men and women of all types, shapes, and sizes, to create a stronger society by elevating each individual through education.

As it is, Americans, many of us anyway, are pretty darn smart. We can see through the lies. The hard part is trusting our elected representatives to stand up for the truth. If they don’t, our recourse is to elect other representatives. The length of service by any representative should not prevent them from being changed out when they are not working for their constituents.

As citizens we help our representatives by telling them what we want and who we want to represent us. That’s called voting. Voting is an important part of being a contributing citizen in America. We don’t get to vote on national or state policy so we must carefully choose our representatives, whom we pay our tax investments to, to decide policy in our name and for our sake.

We must vote responsibly. Take a little time to read about candidates and the issues presented us to vote upon. Read whole articles, not just headlines. Read from more than one source. Read a foreign source to see what they are saying. If reading isn’t your thing, listen to the news on the radio or TV, and choose more than one source for information.

Most states require you to register to vote. Some states have requirements like age or length of residence. Each state has details for registration. In Oregon, for example, you must be registered 21 days before election day. This year October 16 is the deadline for registration, and if you will be eighteen years old on or before November 6, 2018 you can pre-register to vote (before October 16), and vote in the November 6 election. Each state posts their election and registration requirements on-line these days and lists a phone number in case you need help. If you need help, just ask, and do it when you have lots of time to be patient with the volunteers and interns who may help you. Then register to vote.

Last step: Vote. You’ve studied the measures and the candidates. You’ve ignored the propaganda and the mudslinging. You might have called to find out how your representative voted on the last policy you were interested in. Don’t vote because somebody tells you whom to vote for. Do your research, listen to other peoples’ opinions, but make your own decision. The result might turn out to be good or not so good, but you did your citizen’s duty, and you get to have a say. Occasionally we will be disappointed with the way a vote turns out. That means we must be more vigilant than ever next vote around. That’s called progress.

What else can we do? We can help other people vote. We can take them to the polls, or deliver their mail-in ballots when we are taking ours. We can help people who don’t have computers register and check their current registrations. We can ask people if they are registered or if they checked to make sure the registration is current. (This is not the time to talk about whom we are voting for.) We can encourage young voters who may be shy or uncertain because it’s the first time they’ve voted. We can encourage voters who think their vote doesn’t count, which isn’t true; don’t fall into that rabbit hole.

We can stand for an America where truth is still truth, and facts are facts. The current administration will not get us there. They are in it for profit for themselves, not for the average decent, honest, hardworking, accountable American. Whether we claim the label of republican, democrat, independent, socialist, democratic socialist, green party, or whatever, when we sit down to talk face to face, friend to friend, neighbor to neighbor, we have more common beliefs than not, and there are many ways to make improvements and progress when we share our common beliefs. Now is the time to share (talk, research, ask), prepare (register, check for correct registration), decide (it’s up to us), and vote. November is just around the corner. Register. Vote.

Color Watch
– colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week
– Creamy white pampas grass, and plant neighbors in gray and green. Bright surprising orange of the Chinese lantern bush. Many shades of gray, green moss overlay, and other natural color notes at the local labyrinth. A speck of yellow leaf and gray lichen on the smooth aggregate sidewalk. Brown, green, and gray textures of the season, composed upon soft red brick.

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.} Two movies arrived from my local lending library and the way they fit together was entirely serendipitous. Because of the waiting queue and the due dates I watched them back to back. I don’t know nearly enough about history and this was enough to tantalize my curiosity. I don’t do war. I don’t understand the strategies, machinations, mechanizations, and coordinations of land, sea, and air. I can’t tell a plane from a plane, and can barely see the difference between a ship and a boat. In uniform all the soldiers look alike, even if one side is red and the other blue. I’ve never set my mind to study war because I don’t understand why: why you would need to have power over other people for whatever reason, or take their resources for your own. That said, Darkest Hour (2018, rated PG – 13) dramatizes the first month Winston Churchill served in the position of prime minister of the UK in May of 1940, during which he ordered Operation Dynamo, by calling out a civilian flotilla of volunteers to rescue hundreds of thousands of British and French soldiers from Dunkirk where the Royal Navy could not reach them. * Follow with Dunkirk (2017, rated PG – 13) about how Operation Dynamo was deployed with a threefold strategy on land, sea, and in the air. I was grateful Dunkirk was not terribly gory as so many war movies are. There was enough shooting and exploding and fire to make me know I would be a crazy screaming blubbering mess if I had to serve in battle of this sort. * Woohoo, finished the fifth and final season of Dr Kildare (1961-1966, TV series not rated). The last four half hour episodes addressed the elephant in the room: abortion, and not just medical necessity, but a woman’s right to choose, and have the procedure safely administered by a doctor in a medical facility. The debate then was much the same as now, and it’s such a confusing subject with so many details to think of. The dialogue handles the debate rather delicately but all the real world implications of death in botched unprofessional abortions or self abortion, and the right of a man or the law to have the say over a woman’s body are there. I suspect this subject matter may have been the reason the series was not renewed, rather than the change from one hour to half hour format.

Currently Reading – Finished The Little Stranger (2009, fiction) by Sarah Waters. The best kind of ghost story: an old English country house in the early years after World War 2 when aristocracies are falling apart, a distressed family, the country doctor, the hint of romance, a bit of terror, tons of suspense and tension, a tiny bit of gore (thank goodness, don’t enjoy lots of gore), and the “ghost” is never quite revealed in the end. Recommended. * The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Stronger Societies (2011, sociology) by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett. So close to the end of this arid statistical book; it’s hard to make your point through numbers and keep your audience. Numbers don’t lie, but the way we use them can be skewed; the numbers show we would all, from the richest to the poorest, have better lives beginning with trust issues between citizens and going right on through to basic health outcomes and gaining wealth for all of us, if our society was more equal.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Petrichor.
  • Rain.
  • The fragrance of wet cedars.
  • A cousin who had gone into hospital is home and a bit better. Still praying for her better health.
  • A safe journey to the Social Security office an hour away while the engine light was on.
  • Getting my Medicare straightened out. Glad to have it, but not impressed.
  • The interns who listen to my concerns as I call my representatives’ offices twice a week.
  • Young people, who are smarter than they know and smarter than olders give them credit for.
  • Olders, because we are living libraries of history and we’re still pretty darn smart ourselves.
  • Generations talking together.
  • People who grant me the kindness of listening to my thoughts and observations (I can get a little intense) without freaking out.
  • Crushing a cinnamon stick into a beautiful old glass ashtray for the beauty and comfort of the fragrance. I love the look of old heavy art glass ashtrays, whether clear or colored glass, even though I don’t smoke. They are perfect for potpourris and other fragrance delivery as whatever leafy or earthy oil is in the product is captured in the glass and won’t stain furniture and is easily wiped away.
  • Living in the same house for 19 years, longer than my baby house I was raised in.
  • Splurging on steak, bake, and cake for the son’s birthday.
  • The best, sweetest cherry tomatoes and getting to know the farmer who grows them.
  • 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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gratitude Sunday: Put On A Happy Face

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “Those who never change their minds, never change anything.” Winston Churchill

Sunday Haiku
Summer’s last hot day
whipped through my dusty valley.
Still waiting for rain.

Sunday Musings
I want to be happy. I do. I’m just not sure what that word means. According to the news, magazines, TV shows and commercials, and social media that’s what I’m supposed to be. And happiness is my choice. I can choose to be happy!

There’s the revelation. It’s my choice. I don’t need to wallow in self-pity about how strange my life is, and how hard all the processes of living are every day. I don’t need to be afraid of dealing with every day through a veil of anxiety and panic. It makes no matter all the distresses inside my body and outside my body I deal with. Empathy weighs heavy on me, knowing my distress is symptomatic of the distress of others as well. According to the myth about choice, I can force myself to be happy.

Self-help books say fake it till you make it. The Bible says practice cheerfulness, regardless of circumstance. Both these solutions feel false to me as they suggest you present as a deception. Is that being true to yourself? But if happiness doesn’t come naturally and you don’t put on the facade, you are judged to be not fun, or not worthy, or just not one others want to spend their time around. Does that make being falsely cheerful preferable to being oneself? In our society the simple answer is yes. False cheerfulness is required for acceptance and in all cases fake happiness is preferred as well. How awful to be sucked into the whirlwind of unhappiness of your friends and family or to bring them down into yours.

I can fake it. Sounding cheerful about (or discounting, like self-deprecating humor) the bad stuff that happens to one is as easy as skating on thin ice. One must only be aware of the surface and how easily broken it can be. Silence is more often the best option. Better to seem intelligent through silence than to open one’s mouth and inadvertently disprove the notion.

You know why I can fake it? My distresses are mostly about money. About paying for and keeping my house, keeping the mortgage and calamity insurance and property taxes paid. About scraping up the extra dollars to keep the house from falling in around my ears and the blackberries and and thistles (why do all my weeds have thorns?) and other weeds at bay. About keeping the heat and lights on in the winter and the little air conditioner and fans running in the summer. About keeping a 20 year old car running, and insured, and registered, with enough gas to get me to the grocery store and my local lending library. About paying for a modicum of technology, like internet service so I can work, a pre-paid cell phone, and a TV that works. About replacing appliances and water heaters as they wear out. Those are some of the basics.

What about the extras many of us get to take for granted? About the money to go to lunch or dinner with a spouse or a gal pal once in a while? Or out to a movie or live theater? Or a new shirt, even if it’s new-to-me from Goodwill? Or taking a real vacation (what’s that word mean?) or a day trip to the beach that’s only an hour away and not worry about the home front falling apart while I’m gone or the car breaking while I am traveling?

Here’s why I can fake being happy. It’s all nothing. It’s money; it’s a house, a car, a shirt, a pedicure, a beach. It’s nothing. When I’m gone from this life it will be less than nothing to me. My anxiety about it all is for naught as well. It is what it is.

What I want is contentment and security. The security of knowing there is enough, that home and livelihood are comfortably covered in perpetuity, never the thought of a landlord or tax collector at one’s door. Knowing the electricity and water won’t be shut off by the utility company. Knowing if something major like a car or appliance breaks, one doesn’t have to go into debt (which means you pay MORE, because interest) to replace it. Knowing if a pal calls and wants to do lunch, one can pay one’s way and maybe even treat this time without having to cash in cans and bottles, or even not thinking about the cans and bottles other than donating them to a local fundraiser. It’s cash flow and the bottom line.

I have more abundance than so many people. I have a home and it’s warm or cool as needed; I have tons of clothing to choose from; I have healthful food; I have running water (both kinds: hot and cold!). I have stuff I can (and should, and will, I’m slow) sell. I have more years in this wacky unruly body (thank you, Roxane Gay).

Remember my mantra: Change is the only constant. If you you fake it till you make it, it might make the journey easier, or more interesting, or more entertaining. Going from faking it to making it is one of those changes. I can practice cheerfulness (and practice, and practice, and practice); it’s like developing a habit such as meditation or mindfulness or doing tai chi routinely. Pretending to be cheerful can never hurt you. Why not change to being cheerful when around other people? Maybe it will make you feel good (or better, better is good, and the best part is being around people you enjoy) to be cheerful, just making the change of putting on that mask. My guess is few people will know it’s a mask. Maybe a day will come when I change enough to feel I have enough, it is enough, I am enough. In the meantime, I’ll employ the myth of choice, and choose to pretend I’m happy.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Yellow buddleia garners as many moths and butterflies as the purple. I don’t know the name of this floofy plant with burgundy foliage that grows taller than my head. Neon pinkish orange rose. Beautiful and edible rainbow chard. Lily reveals its autumn oranges, yellows, and stripes.

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.} Almost done with the last season of Dr Kildare (1961-1966, TV series not rated) with Richard Chamberlain. It’s been fun spending the summer revisiting a youthful favorite, but I’m ready to move to more seasonal movies, as I am fond of psychological thrillers for the Halloween season.



Currently Reading
The Little Stranger (2009, fiction) by Sarah Waters. The best kind of spooky book is full of suspense and tension and the monster/entity is not revealed until the end. I have my suspicions as to who the ghost entity is, and I’m on the edge of my proverbial seat. * The Spirit Level: Why Great Equality Makes Stronger Societies (2011, sociology) by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett. I am hoping the authors will eventually offer suggestions on how to remedy the pervasive and growing American inequality, though they are British. They plainly state the UK and the USA, though the richest nations, are doing the worst on taking care of the poorest people of our nations. I say: What good is wealth if it doesn’t take care of us?

This week I have been grateful for:

  • A friend I haven’t seen in ages finding me at farmers market. A great long hug, and tears of friendship.
  • Maintenance week at my local aquatic center is almost over.
  • A murder of crows announcing their flight across my yard. I am particularly fond of crows. Inordinately fond.
  • Cleaning a corner cabinet in the kitchen that was growing seven dimensional beggar’s velvet. Sparkles now.
  • Getting my range hood scrubbed.
  • Tackling a patch of overgrown ivy to get a bin of cans and bottles out to cash in, just in time before the ivy had grown into many of the bottles.
  • Ten minute work windows.
  • Remembering to check the sink and the tub before use so I can surprise the spiders rather than the other way around, since September is spider season.
  • Listening to Obama’s Illinois speech, someone who eloquently says what I say so clumsily.
  • The way my hair is going whiter and crazier and wilder over the last two years.
  • Noticing the light leaving earlier in the evenings. The noticing.
  • How quiet the evenings are in the neighborhood now school is back in session.
  • Living in a multi-generational neighborhood.
  • Oregon strawberries all summer long.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: The Dignity Of Being

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “Believe in yourself. Have faith in your abilities. Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.” Norman Vincent Peale

Sunday Haiku
Pleasant afternoon
for dizzy bees to help eat
my sandwich. Be gone!

Sunday Musings
I’m supposed to hate myself. It’s in all the media, TV shows and commercials, movies, the news. It’s in the print media as well, magazines and books. It’s in doctor’s offices and group gatherings when people subtly or not so subtly say disparaging things about others. It’s a societal thing called imposed shame and it’s a technique to manipulate and control people and their thinking. It’s about capitalism, advertising, marketing, politics, and power.

I can’t do it. I didn’t learn how to play the game. I know what’s in me and nobody else does. My treasures are hidden deep inside, both physically and intellectually, in the dignity of being.

I am a woman. I am told I am lesser than because I don’t have a penis, that appendage that sticks out and can get in the way of so many things. I can’t impregnate anybody. I don’t have strength or physical power. I’m assumed to be less intelligent because my brain is smaller than a man’s. I spent 40 years of my life grossly bleeding every month. I spent five of those years with an embarrassing fattening pregnancy, a messy bloody delivery, naked breasts feeding an infant, and dealing with the bodily issues of a toddler and pre-schooler.

Yet, because I am a woman, I am fierce. I can create humans with my body (whether I choose to or not is my business, and my business only); it’s the price I pay for bleeding every month. I might not be strong physically, but I can bring forth life in a burst of energy and water and blood. I’m smarter than the next ten men put together; my smaller brain is simply more efficient. I can deal with years of sleep deprivation and stress and not kill anybody. Sadly, per my training as an American female, my default response is to blame myself even when I am not at fault. While it happens that I am occasionally at fault, as often as not I am not, but I’m supposed to be.

I am fat. I’m supposed to hate my body. It does not look like what other people think it should look. Operatives: “other people” and “should”. Fashion magazines, news and entertainment medias, the beauty and diet industry, even the medical industry thinks they have the right to dictate how bodies should look. Bodies are bodies. People cannot control how they look; one cannot control how the body looks any more than one can control how the body works. If you think you are in control of how your body looks, you are only kidding yourself. If you think other people can control how their bodies look, you need to mind your own business.

I’m poor. In the capitalistic consumer society, I am lesser than because I have less in the way of cash, capital, and assets. I own very few status symbols: my home is modest and in need of maintenance, my car is 20 years old, I am not coiffed, painted, polished, or the owner of designer clothing. This point might have merit if we had equal opportunities and advantages. There are different kinds of poor and different kinds of wealth. I was able to work most of my adult years, I’m buying a home and have the privilege of a property tax bill which I pay by not going out, anywhere, ever; the money I earned supported a disabled hubster who never qualified for any Social Security assistance; I raised a young man who is a voting and contributing citizen. I don’t own cash, and the small savings I had for retirement is almost entirely diminished because of some untoward circumstances and because I like to pay my bills in a timely manner. Then there’s this silly thing about food, I don’t like to do it but it must be done.

I’m older now. I’m no longer as able or willing. I’m no longer as productive as I once was. I am suddenly worthless, worth less, de-valued, invisible. My words mean little because I’m not “in touch” with the changes in the world around me. My experience and knowledge of history are past news.

I don’t think as well as I used to. I’m as smart as some, smarter than others, and not as smart as even more. But I know how to learn, and I read, and I write, and fight to keep my wit about me.

How society wants me to hate myself is bunk. They want me to hate myself so they can sell me cosmetics and beauty aids; diet aids, exercise equipment, diet programs, and gym memberships; medicines and doctor visits and health insurance policies; cars and bigger cars and more cars; houses and remodels and maintenance; furniture and gardens and pools; TVs, iPhones, iPads, laptops, and other electronic equipment; work clothes, sleep clothes, exercise clothes, swim clothes, night clothes, casual clothes, going-out clothes, baby clothes, kid’s clothes, and new styles every season, not just once a year; breakfast, lunch, and dinner out; sell me stuff, stuff, and more stuff. If I don’t have this stuff I am not cool, with-it, in touch. I’m not as good as people who have this stuff.

Christmas is promoted for four months of the year. That’s one third of the year (I know, math). Christmas is not four months worth of important. Providing the “perfect Christmas” is even less important. We are supposed to hate ourselves if we fail at the perfect Christmas or perfect life.

I don’t believe any of it. I don’t have to. I don’t need stuff to prove my worth. I don’t need to prove my worth at all. Neither do you.

Despite the blood, it’s been an interesting experience being female, and creating life with my body. It’s interesting being round and soft and squishy; I’ve also experienced toned and taut and firm muscles, that was interesting too. I’ve been able and unable and found ways within both capabilities to be a contributing member of society. I’m older now and I’m a library of experience and my particular history, if anybody would bother to listen. (I can imagine being a man, and slender – though I’ve done that already, and smarter, and younger – and I’ve done that as well, and having more cash flow are interesting, too).

I don’t buy the hate, that I’m supposed to think less of myself. Life is not about comparison, or keeping up with the Jones, though our society wants us to think it is. Life is about living life, about experiencing the body and brain you have. We don’t have value because of what we do, we have value because of who we are. Of course, good works and good deeds are worthy and worthwhile, but this is what you do with yourself, perhaps a reflection of who you are, but not who you are. Just being has value too. I am what I am.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Yellow rose bud still strong in late summer. I love this fluffy pink whatever-it-is. Can you see the busy bee loving it as well? I spy with my little eyes the beginning of fall color changes with yellow tucked in between the green. Pink mallow capturing a few sprinkled raindrops. Twin bright yellow sunny sunflower faces.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} I’m ending my summer viewing with the 5th and final season of Dr Kildare (1961-1966, TV series not rated). It’s a bit disconcerting: we’ve changed colors and formats. The stories are two or three hour stories divided into half hour segments, which just end (not in a logical place), and then pick up again in the next episode, and fortunately only the occasional recap. And we have switched from black and white to color. Interesting how the increase of production and sales of color TV sets from 1961 to 1965 meant so many more TV shows were filmed in color. At the beginning you can tell the producers were still experimenting with lighting and make-up (pancake make-up designed for live theater fails on the TV screen especially with hot stage lights). Somehow these changes seem to predict the demise of the show, Kildare seems somehow more and less “real” in color. The black and white seemed to give more weight to the drama of the stories. Perhaps the producers thought the half hour episodes would keep viewers tuning in for the next chapter of the story but, the half hour format leaves one disconnected from the full drama of the episode having to wait for the next segment.

Currently ReadingThe Little Stranger (2009, fiction) by Sarah Waters. ‘Tis the season for a haunted house book. Late 1940s postwar England when the old class structures were being questioned and torn apart, a family tries to hold on to its old way of life in the country manor house. I haven’t met the ghost yet, but the suspense is ramping up. This is the first novel I’ve read by Ms Waters. * Trying to finish The Spirit Level: Why Great Equality Makes Stronger Societies (2011, sociology) by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett. Much information between the dry, droll statistics. Inequality affects teen pregnancy rates, infant death rates, mental health and physical health rates, obesity, violence and crime rates, number of prisons and people incarcerated, and of course, poverty in general. The more surprising thing is inequality affects people at all levels of the society, not just the poor, i.e., even the wealthier classes benefit when wealth is more evenly distributed in a society.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Getting to spend an afternoon with my sister, sitting by the creek, being buzzed by bees while we ate our sandwiches, and talked without interruptions.
  • A warm, mild day to sit creekside.
  • Finding a purple tank top at Goodwill, and though a smaller size than I usually get, it fit well.
  • Spending an hour in my favorite local junk store, and finding lots of cool stuff, but not finding any cool stuff I absolutely needed to add to my collection of cool stuff.
  • Money not burning holes in my pockets anymore.
  • Valuing non-consumerism.
  • Always looking to buy used first when I think I desire something or have that unwarranted desire to spend money.
  • Being able to resist the urge to spend just because it’s there.
  • Understanding the effects of marketing and advertising.
  • Getting back to the farmers market.
  • A bag of fat juicy green beans.
  • Sweet corn, dripping with real butter and sea salt.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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