Gratitude Sunday: De-Mused

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “Vacation? What does that word mean?” Sassy Kas

Sunday Haiku
Sun rises, sun sets,
day passes in between trees,
burns fields and forests.

Sunday Musings
The muse’s brain went on a heat induced melt down vacation this week even though the muse’s body did not. I even quoted myself. Whew! The muse plans to be in better form next week. I’m sure we all can use the break. You’re welcome.

Color Watchcolorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week –A potful of assorted color between front steps and hosta. The mighty creamy white yucca. Humble bumblebee in pink mallow. I wonder what he sees? Gladiolas are starting, this purple in a neighbor’s yard. A river of pale pink old fashioned roses.

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.} Once upon a time there was an independent film maker who learned how to make films on a limited budget. It was very hard, and harder still because he couldn’t live in California because of health issues, so he worked out of his hometown, which is Portland, Oregon, and he earned a nickname: the Angry Filmmaker. I’m not sure why Kelley Baker is angry, but he’s an innovative filmmaker with a quirky sense of humor, who is also willing to share what he’s learned about film making in The Angry Filmmaker’s Survival Guide (2008, not rated) and I enjoyed the DVD compilation of his Short Films, which were made over the last three decades and aren’t rated.

Currently Reading * The Truth According to Us (2015, fiction) by Annie Barrows. We are closer to the truth and the end. The revelations have been fun and not entirely predictable. Recommended summer reading. * The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger (2010, sociology, health outcomes) by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett. Still spelunking for nuggets, the cave of statistics is dark, the surface will show soon. * Raising Trump (2017, autobiography) by Ivana Trump. Because I’m nosy. It fascinates me to read how rich people think they have made their millions or their reputations by themselves with no help, when in fact they have had help all along the way, even as immigrants from dictatorship countries, whether the help came from others or themselves. Interesting so far: her children (all sired by Donald Trump) were born in 1977, 1981, and 1984, and she became a naturalized citizen in 1988. She chose to not breastfeed her children.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Another one of the babies I was waiting for this year has arrived safely, baby, mother, and family are all doing well.
  • Making the last payment on my new clothes washer. Now that it’s four months used.
  • A couple of cooler days after days of heat.
  • Weather. I can’t do anything to change it so I just have to go with the flow, and glad at least it’s variable and not just blasting hot or icy cold all the time.
  • Being able to have a lie down during the hottest part of the day.
  • Discovering all I have to do to get time alone in my house is to announce a project involving them for the next day. My guys suddenly have all kinds of things they need to do away from the house. How did I not discover that earlier?
  • Ice.
  • The kind assistants at my local lending library who are patient with me when I request some obscure movie or TV show from the past as sometimes they have to be acquired from a source outside my immediate library system.
  • Receiving a small stipend plus gas mileage for serving jury duty. I had no idea. I felt like a kid when it arrived. It’s fun to receive unexpected money in the mail.
  • The golden colors of the light.
  • Memories. Indulging in time to think about the past, and remembering what happened instead of the story I told myself to be able to live with it.
  • People. Who they really are, not how I think they are.
  • Hermiston watermelon.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: August Is Golden

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week
“All that is gold does not glitter,
not all those who wander are lost;
the old that is strong does not wither,
deep roots are not reached by the frost.”
J. R. R. Tolkien

Sunday Haiku
Sun’s angle shifts south,
July’s yellow light changes
into August gold.

Sunday Musings
August is the golden month.

I’ll let that sentence stand by itself for a moment. I think I totally stole it. I saw it recently or a sentence much like it, somewhere on social media or some website, but I’ve forgotten where, and I can’t find it again, so I don’t know where to give credit and I do like to give credit. I didn’t even read the whole article just the first sentence, thinking I’ll read it later, and then poof, can’t find it. I loved the sentence and it’s stuck with me like a stickery burr clings to the long hair of a passing cat. I started thinking about months as colors. I didn’t get very far but now I have a goal as it struck up an assortment of random thoughts. Here is the fun I’m having so far. Your color months may vary.

I won’t dwell on July because I want to talk about gold, but July would be yellow, bright, clear, open, the sun high, like the noon part in the year. Harvest is warming up, coming strong, feeding us, fueling us with earth’s energy. Then the end of July fades and suddenly the year is waning.

That’s why August is golden. It’s still bright, but not quite so clear. Yellow mellowed a bit, still shiny, but softened by the angle of the sun and perhaps smogged with wildfire smoke. Fields of wheat and hay stand golden in the sun, dry stalks ready to share their vitality after a summer of absorbing radiant yellow sunshine. Lawns of green grass turn gold waiting for the rains of autumn; as the dirt the grass grows in loses every speck of moisture, the soil dries from rich earthy brown to become the same dusty yellow gold color as the grass. Globes of tomatoes and cucumbers and grapes and blackberries shine in the sun, so many shades of gold, so fat and ripe, so juicy and sweet. Silken tassels from yellow ears of corn quickly stripped, ripe ears finally ready for roasting, and gobs of golden butter dripping from my greedy lips. Richly tanned and golden skin on bodies refreshed after the summer’s work of yard care and gardens, and the joys of soaking up Vitamin D playing at the beach or the lake or the river. The golden feeling of sharing time with friends and family around the softened golden light from carefully tended campfires. Bright terrifying yellow-gold of wildfire devouring acres of forest and field, sending animals and people from their homes. Light filtering through oak leaves becomes a green gold canopy, light so heavy with golden color it looks dimensional. Yellow school buses, that particular oranged yellow that is school buses, driving by day after day practicing this year’s routes and training new drivers. August is a month of endings, the last of summer, harvest lush, fulfilling, rewarding the year’s work.

I’m lost in thought because I’m not sure I can follow the color wheel around. I might start jumping from place to place; forgive me a few tangential paragraphs before we get back to gold. September is yellow-orange, leaves just starting to turn. Light another degree and more to the south, enough to start casting shadows from lower angles, shading the light, like a dimmer switch the cat brushes by and moves just a hair. Flowers fading to seed pods, but not quite done yet. Tree leaves not ready to turn color yet, but if the trees are producing seed, the seeds are yellowed and oranged preparing for their leap from branch to soil, or as a tasty treat for bird or squirrel. Pumpkins and squash finish their work of fattening toward seeding, not caring a whit if they get eaten by humans. An in between month, not yellow, not orange, yet both; a month of new beginnings, school starting, harvest hot and heavy as it finishes for the year, preserving said harvest, and getting ready for winter.

October is full on orange, pumpkins, leaves, rose hips, seeds ripe and full, a greater shading of the light. Harvest is ending, green and yellow and orange and reddish squash are cellared for the cold of winter. October ends with a flourish of orange and black.

Perhaps it’s the black of the end of October that makes following the color wheel entirely fall apart for me as November is purple. Decidedly totally and completely purple. Pure deep jewel tone purple. Elections happen in November, property taxes are due, and the switch from Daylight Saving Time throws the ultimate wrench. The fun and frivolous Halloween holiday is done and the stress of family holidays begins. No wonder purple is the color of depression.

There, I got carried away thinking about all the months, and I wanted to celebrate gold with this essay. I will expound and expand on the color of November and other months in the future. Circle the color wheel back around to August, because we still are in the first week and plenty of month left to enjoy.

I look for August gold every where. Gold shining on the edges of silvery day time clouds, and on abalone-pink clouds before sunset. Golden light gilding the crests of ocean waves. Gold sunlight shining through the huge plate glass windows reflecting on the crazy movements of the swimming pool water as it changes direction, crashing for each new swimmer, and those lines of shine reflecting on the walls and the swimmers, making the light in the aquatic center a wavery watery gold.

Sunflower heads nod heavily with ripe seeds for birds and critters, or humans if we are fast enough. Zucchini still flowering great yellow blossoms to begin a fruit and ripening fat summer squash at the same time, double tasking, while I’m trying to nab the tiny finger sized baby squash to eat greedily now and then the surprise of finding a hidden zuke two feet long. Roses of all colors send out one last golden burst of buds, in anticipation of full bloom before first frost. Yellow tansy and yarrow bloom alongside the road, ready for drying for teas and tinctures. Fruit trees laden with sparkling apples, juicy pears, gleaming peaches wait for reaching fingers and satisfying hungry stomachs.

Though leaves are not bringing out the fall wardrobe yet, in late summer they are wearing their best summer gala apparel, like people showing off tanned and supple bodies. Their summer colors are at their peak, voluptuous green, mapled red, or burgundied, but laced with golden light making the leaves look like satin and silk. Breezes catch the bronzed branches and glistening leaves and waves golden speckled light through open doors and windows, undulating, never steady, nature’s light show through a kitchen window.

Natural light will change again soon. Do you notice the colors of the light? Do you look for color in your life? What August gold do you see?

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – An ocean of yellow black-eyed Susans. Silver and gold. Golden grass seed heads. Rivers of red, orange, and yellow to greet students at the university in my community. I spy with my little eyes a neighbor with a golden pumpkin in their yard. Capturing some golden light casting shade upon the vetch and Queen Anne’s lace. An August golden rose.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} Alas, Dr Kildare (1961-1966, TV series, not rated) had to go back before I was finished, and I will have to request it again. Perhaps I needed the break from the soap opera type stories, but I had developed a new game of trying to remember the guest stars’ names before the credits popped up. Well, maybe later in the year I’ll get to finish the series. * In the meantime, I’ve been watching some comedy. Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (2018, TV – 14) with Jerry Seinfeld, has a new season posted on Netflix. Always strikes my funny bone that I never connected with the TV series he made his fame and fortune with, but I get a kick out of this car/coffee series. Love the cars; the guest stars are fun too. * Sometimes comedy can be truth dressed up in humor, sometimes comedy can hurt, because isn’t comedy about making fun of us, either ourselves or somebody else? Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette (2018, comedy special, not rated) is truth squared. The stories we twist into humor often come from the darkest places we live, because that’s the only way we can live with what happened to us. * Then there’s season 8 of Blue Bloods (2018, TV – MA), cop drama, Tom Selleck, totally formulaic, oddly compelling.

Currently ReadingThe Truth According to Us (2015, fiction) by Annie Barrows. Oh, the dynamics of a small town, the secrets we hide and know, and don’t want to remember. One affectation the author uses that disturbs me is the word “atall” meaning “at all”. The problem is the author uses the word in the narrative, not in dialogue. It would have been much more acceptable in the dialogue, but as is I read it as a clinker every time. Authors are often warned against using dialectic style writing as it is hard to accomplish, and usually a few brief instances will lead the reader to “hear” the dialect. Since we are in West Virginia, I already heard the echoes of the southern style of speaking. The “how-you”, instead of “how are you”, the author uses in dialogue is plenty enough to remind us of the tone or drawl of southern speech. Other than that this novel is fun summer reading so far, intricate, and intriguing, and any violence has been delicately, not graphically, handled so far. * The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger (2010, sociology, health outcomes) by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett. Authors quote studies showing both trust and mental health are affected by large inequalities both within a society (like all of America) and between different societies (comparing different countries), and inequality can be shown to decrease physical health outcomes, especially for the poorest citizens in a group. The writing style is dry and statistical, so finding the nuggets of information is like a treasure hunt.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • The little bird bath hubster set up outside my office door. Nothing fancy, just a shallow bowl with an assortment of rocks for the birds and bees to land on. He has been faithfully watering it as well so the birdies and bees have fresh water, but any mosquito larva is daily banished.
  • Getting to the farmers market after a few weeks of challenges.
  • The friend, long in need of knee surgery, who came through surgery fine, and is safely home now looking forward to physical therapy.
  • Having to parallel park which I haven’t done in ages. Nobody behind me to pressure me so I took my time and aced it perfectly.
  • One more baby on my list of friends having babies this year, who arrived safely, and mother is fine as well.
  • The night song of frogs and crickets and wind in the trees.
  • Lemon cucumbers in sour cream and vinegar and sea salt.
  • Tomatoes, any and all, including cherry tomatoes of all colors, served on a piece of toasted french bread.
  • Green beans sauteed in olive oil and butter, sea salted and sparingly Mrs Dash-ed.
  • Sweet succulent kadota figs served with a bit of white cheddar.
  • Everbearing Oregon strawberries.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: Tricksters And Creepy Things

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “Truth will ultimately prevail when there is pains to bring it to light.” George Washington

Sunday Haiku
Wildfire burning bright
lighting up the dark of night,
stay away! Die right.

Sunday Musings

TRIGGER ALERT: This is a fanciful museful post but I do mention spiders and torture. For the particular spider in question, I’m using the pronoun he, but he may as well have been a she. I’ll never know; I might never care. The rest of the spiders mentioned could be of any orientation.

My “new” neighbor has been in the house behind me for four or five years now, and he has methodically cut down many of the trees the “old” neighbor had lovingly cultivated. It has created heating and cooling issues in my house I didn’t have before, but how do you plead with your new neighbor, “Don’t cut your trees!”? Why should he care about me? He’ll never know I care about him as much as I care selfishly about me. I refuse to let the hubster plant a row of arborvitae on our side of the fence. Those things are a mess, need to be trimmed every year, and will grow through his fence. If I leave enough room to trim both sides I lose six feet of yard space, and that’s half my yard. I know hubster won’t trim it and it’s too much work for me, and I’m not going to subject the neighbor to it either.

So, I’m seeing sunlight in my house where I haven’t seen it before. This afternoon the sun shined brightly through the kitchen window precisely at the proper angle to show a massive cobweb woven over my collection of trinkets that live there. The clever spider made a rain resistant canopy where none was needed (it’s indoors), but that’s what spiders do, and that’s what he did, turning my window sill into his own private condominium. The canopy was pretty much invisible to my eyes in normal light, such is the cleverness of stealthy spiders. I shouldn’t resent his squatting in the territory, what with me leaving the windows open on these warm nights I might as well have hung out a “For Rent” sign.

As I cleaned away the tightly knit webbing, suddenly the little guy darts out of his hidey-hole and dives into the sink. And I do mean dive; he launched from the sill and caught air the six inches of width and all the way down into the sink landing upright on his feet, didn’t even have to tuck and roll. I swear I heard him yell “Geronimo!” as he leaped toward the sink. (“Geronimo!” was a game I played with my siblings when we were very small. We had a small, maybe four-by-four foot concrete platform entry into our house that was raised two steps off the ground, about two feet. We would stand with our backs to the front door, “run” the two or three steps to the edge, yell “Geronimo!” at the top of our lungs, and pitch our little kid bodies, arms wide for balance, off the two foot high platform onto the grass of the front lawn. Sounds a little silly now as the platform is about knee height, but when you are a little kid and the platform is half as tall as you, it was a great feat of faith and bravery to jump off the platform and trust you would not die or be injured by the jump. That’s where the siblings came in; there was always someone who could run and get Mom if we hurt ourselves. I don’t know where we came up with shouting “Geronimo!” (maybe some old black and white Western we saw on TV?), but I’m sure we were announcing our bravery and confidence, if not competence. Perhaps it’s like the “hi-ya” practitioners of karate and other martial arts yell, using their lungs to aid the projection of the force of their bodies.)

This spidey knew what he was doing and where he was going. He likely had made night-time forays to the sink for drinking water. He did a double circuit with banked corners around the bottom of the sink Nascar-style, then made the circuit around the center drain as well, making a pit stop in the muck at the bottom of the drain. Spiders are smart. They have prodigious memories. How else do you think they remember how to build webs? I don’t think it’s just instinct. Spiders come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, like people, but this one was small, lithe, and a lovely shade of ghostly pale gray. Though they aren’t my favorite critter, I’m only mildly creeped out by spiders. Observing critter behavior is an enjoyment left from childhood when I would spend hours watching a spider weave a web and then devour its prey. Fascinating stuff.

I am, in fact, a master spider terminator. I stomp them in the bathtub, smash them in the bathroom sink with a vast fortitude of tissue between me and them, or running across the floor, which requires a sneak-and-scrape technique, because if you raise your foot they see you coming. For the walls and ceilings I have a spider dispatching gun, a plug-in dartish type affair with a large flat plate attached by a string so you don’t have to retrieve the plate after shooting. When you pull the trigger the flat plate piece shoots out with a certain amount of spring-loaded force and velocity enough to squash critters flat from a distance of a few feet. I’m not a great shot with this toy, as sometimes the critters drop after being hit; it’s when they run after being hit that’s disconcerting. I tell myself spiders do good things like eating other more noxious insects. I let them live in my house until they make a nuisance of themselves, then I do as my dear grandma did: I kill them. I don’t take them outside; as my grandma said there’s plenty of spiders. They will not be on the endangered species list in my lifetime or at least seven generations. Grandma did not tolerate any critters whatsoever inside her house; neither cat nor dog graced her floor in her older age, visiting pets stayed out of doors. She was a much better housekeeper than I.

Occasionally I use other methods of termination. I am a torturer. I don’t like chemical poisons, because those end up going down the drain and into our water sources. No, I am an advocate for whatever chemical warfare is immediately available. I’ve used liquid soap, baking soda, vinegar, salsa, hand lotion, and whatever other liquid cosmetic, cleaner, or food item was at hand. One drop is all it takes. Then a swish of tap water, and spider be gone.

I’ve recently been advised that vinegar sprayed around doors and windows will deter the spideys from coming inside. In my house I’d have to spray the entire foundation and roof line, because of certain weirdnesses in my house, so I have yet to experiment with this method, even though I believe in the use of vinegar as a sustainable biodegradable cleaner. I might start with this one window and see what happens.

Water by itself doesn’t work to eliminate spiders. Most spiders don’t drown, even when scalded with hot water. I think they are heat resistant. I’ve seen them find water bubbles and use those to breathe while riding to the surface of the water. They can spread their legs and skid-balance on top of the surface, riding any whirlpool created by the force of the tap water going down the drain. Water can be spider-friendly.

This little gray guy survived the tsunami of hot water. He survived the whirlpool amusement ride I provided. He survived the gross muck at the bottom of the drain, yet unwashed this week, but not enough guck to ensnare or suffocate said spidey. He waited until the water was gone and rose from the muck and mire of the drain to attempt an escape up the vertical sides of a smooth enameled sink.

Then the hand of a higher power descended to darken his world. Yes, he was crushed by a teaspoon humanly wielded. Had he cooperated and gone down the drain on a bubble of air to his next adventure, he would still be alive to tell the story to whatever spidey kin he had. Not now. The trickster is no more.

Sometimes our lives are full of spiders, tricksters, and creepy things, many of them bigger than we are, or at least they think they are bigger, some even think they are better. In America right now we are dealing with spiders that embarrass us both at home and on the world stage, tricksters who don’t know what they are doing who think they are clever nonetheless, and creepy things who have sold their patriotism for that emblem of greed: money. Those same people rig the system so average hardworking people cannot make a living or support a home, and then these greedy people, who have gained wealth from cooperating with foreign entities or not paying taxes, point fingers and call names about laziness and entitlement at the very people they have sworn to serve and protect. The spiders wrap us tightly in webs of deceit and filth, dragging us down into their muck and mire. These bigger, better spiders will have their day of darkening and the hand of justice will descend. Nothing lasts forever.

We must be the clever little gray spiders who catch air bubbles to ride to the surface of survival. We must rise to the top of the muck and mire and let those who made the messes go down with their own dirt and die in filth of their own making. We must ride the whirlpool, despite the heat, and go on to weave another safety net to make sure this crazy-making doesn’t happen again. We must render the cobwebs visible, in clear bright daylight and in low light as well, defying the stealth of deceit. We must be smarter and more resilient than the tricksters who tell us not to believe what we see or hear with our own eyes and ears, to only believe what we are told. We must prevail or we will die under the hand of darkness.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Love the exotic look and scarlet-vermillion color of the neighbor lady’s crocosmia. Am I blue? Heart throbs for this shade of blue mallow (maybe?). A pile of bright school bus yellow black eyed Susans. Pink hollyhock, anyone? I recently found out mallow, hollyhock, and hibiscus are related, and I can’t tell them apart yet, but I sure like this shade of pink!

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 season 3 of Dr Kildare (1961-1966, TV series, not rated). Still unresolved topics include aging, discrimination, health insurance costs, single mothers, and so many others we are still dealing with today. Progress, but not enough; how many generations will it take?

Currently Reading The Truth According to Us (2015, fiction) by Annie Barrows. We begin in 1938 West Virginia when a young woman is cut off from her allowance from her wealthy Senator father and is forced to take a job with the WPA Writer’s Project, which was considered being on welfare back then. History, small towns, and fiction, oh the joys of summer reading! * The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger (2010, sociology, health outcomes) by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett. The authors intend to lay out evidence and studies showing the poorer you are, the poorest health outcomes you have. I’m looking forward to reading what they found.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Keeping the house relatively cool without central air.
  • Not having to go anywhere, or the pressure of a schedule in this heat.
  • The fragile flower I am wilting in the heat.
  • Opening doors and windows for the cooler air of night.
  • My local aquatic center, and the comfort of the pool water on warm days.
  • The ease of requesting items from my local lending library, and often being able to have them ready when I am.
  • Being able to advise if you want to really feel alive without excessive adrenaline, wax your legs.
  • How time seems to disappear when I’m reading or writing or editing. Feels like a little bit of magic.
  • Shorts, tank tops, tank shifts, and ice.
  • The smoke from local wildfires not hitting us yet.
  • Learning more about the differences in socio-economic classes. My life stories come from the lower income/poverty side and the interesting thing is people often don’t believe stories of poverty, because they never had to live through such hardships.
  • Remembering we aren’t all granted the same abilities, intelligence, nurturing, and opportunity.
  • The strawberries being so ripe when you open the fridge they send their sweet fragrance clear out into the living room.
  • 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, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gratitude Sunday: The Hidden Costs Of Jury Duty

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” Martin Luther King, Jr

Sunday Haiku
Spicy juniper
sweating in the sun, fragrance
clings closely to earth.

Sunday Musings
I did my civic duty this week. I reported for jury service.

Frankly I enjoyed the jury service I’ve done in the past. I’m older now and keep thinking I’m able to do what I used to. Some things you just get to go through and to soothe myself I tell myself, “it will be over soon and then I’ll feel better when it’s done”. I know, we tell ourselves all kinds of things to get through potentially weird or unpleasant or strange or once in a lifetime events. Since I am feeling especially cranky this week, I’m going to whine and laugh about it a bit. Here’s a “Day in the Life of a Cranky Old Fat White Lady Doing Her Civic Duty Reporting for Jury”.

In my county you are summoned about a month in advance for jury duty. You must respond or you are considered in contempt of court, and they send more mail threatening you with a fine and/or jail time. You must be 18 years of age and a resident of the county. Jurors are picked randomly from the driver’s license registration and voter registration. (Note: I recently found out some people don’t register to vote because they are afraid to serve jury duty. Yikes! Register. Vote. Consider jury duty to be an adventure, even if it is a little scary. As you read this post you’ll see it was a little scary for me, too, but I did it anyway.) You might be asked to serve every two years. Or not. (Hubster’s never been summoned; the son has twice; this is my first time in this county, we’ve all lived here for 22 years, though the son has only qualified for the last 7 since he turned 18). You may request a deferral, once. You may submit a letter claiming hardship for medical reasons, requiring a doctor’s note, which they state is usually declined and you will be asked to serve anyway. You may decline automatically if you are over 70 years of age.

I took one deferral last winter when the snows were upon the ground. They followed through and summoned me again. It’s a command performance: serve or face contempt of court. My doctor was not inclined to write the note and it was too late to request and obtain a temporary handicap parking permit, which is all she wants to give me. 70 is still many suns and moons away.

Some trials are called off at the last minute, so summoned jurors call the night before to see if they still have to report in the morning. My number was called. The task was on.

I didn’t sleep that night. It’s the way I’m built. If I have a morning appointment the body and brain does not relax until the event is over. The whole jury/court event is opposite my schedule, even though it is all normal business type operating hours, you know, day time. I had to leave the house at 6:30 AM for the half hour drive to the county courthouse, so I set the alarm for 5:15. I was done lying there by 4:30. I was able to eat, but other normal morning movements failed. I remembered to put my phone on to charge when I got up. I showered; brushed teeth, hair, and did my little beauty routine; dressed; packed; collected the phone from the charger, and was out the door by 6:35.

If you don’t have a handicap parking permit it is not suggested you park around the courthouse where the parking is either marked “handicapped” or “two hour parking”. They ticket you, and you might be in court all day until 5:00 PM. The parking garage is three blocks away from the courthouse.

I located the parking structure easily enough but the direction I came from didn’t allow entrance, so I had to go down the block and turn around. The entrance is not well marked. The low hanging height marker doesn’t help it look like that’s where you go in. The illusion of the low hanging marker made my stomach queasy as I thought for sure I would hit it with the top of my little truck. This illusion carried on all the way up to the 5th level where we were allowed to park for free, me mentally bumping the top of the truck on all the evenly spaced girders above me. I do not like parking structures. My brain say the ceilings are too low and are going to rip the roof right off the car. The circling to get to each level makes me a bit seasick. And of course, the map was not extremely clear, and the elevator was at the opposite end of the structure from where I parked. And there’s where I made a mistake. Instead of walking to the other end of the garage to the elevator or moving the truck, I walked down those 5 flights of stairs. I think I’m in fair physical condition and down should be easier than up. Little did I know what would come later.

I was a little shaky when I got to the bottom of the stairs, but I didn’t think much about it. I have a twisted proclivity for freaking myself out about physical stuff, and I still had three blocks to walk to the courthouse and who knew how much walking and steps inside. By the time I reached the courthouse doors my face was red, which is what it does these days. I wasn’t breathless exactly, but I was consciously controlling my breath which is something I do in situations where I feel distress, whether physical or emotional.

Doors to the courthouse open at 7:15 AM, jurors are asked to report by 7:30, orientation begins at 8:00 AM. I walked through the security doors at 7:25. There is a security scan. Your belongings are scanned; your body is scanned; you go through a metal detector. You can bring lunch, snacks, stuff for personal needs, books, and certain electronic items, including headphones, cell phones, and laptops. The security guards traded out my fancy bright blue cane with the pretty butterfly pattern on it for a plain brown wood cane to go through the metal detector. I had no pockets. I packed my backpack lightly and carefully, purposely leaving my sharps, pocket knife (Boy Scouts), extra keys, and knitting needles at home. I took a book, lunch, snacks, and extra layers to wear in case the AC was working well. No metal there. The woman in front of me had on steel toed shoes. They made her take them off. When it was my turn I kept setting of the alarm. The security guard finally said she thought it was likely to be my hair clip which has a metal backing. Good thing she didn’t suggest it was my steel belted radial industrial style body support system, because I was not inclined to remove my heavy duty under-wired brassiere to get through security. She asked me to take a sip from my water container, I’m guessing to prove it wasn’t alcohol. She used a manual wand to “deactivate” my metal, and I was through.

The guard directed me to the elevator. Good choice, but there were 6 steps up to the level the elevator was on. I’m guessing elsewhere in the building was access for wheelchairs; it wasn’t at that point of entry.

Of course with all those nerves on edge, my bladder signaled a need for relief. I thought for sure there would be a restroom on every level. The jury waiting/orientation room is in the basement, and there certainly is a restroom there, a nice big one, but down a couple long halls and up a ramp and not well lit. Turns out they don’t like you to use that one, but I did anyway, because I was there, it was there, and I didn’t know any different. Once inside the jury room, they announced several times to use the restroom on the 1st floor, so then I knew. Oh well, I didn’t damage anything or make a mess.

Waiting for jury duty is all about hurry up and wait. You get to fill out some paperwork and answer some basic questions, such as what section of town do you live in, are you renting or buying, have you ever been involved in a civil or criminal lawsuit, or been a victim in a car accident, or are you related to people employed in law enforcement. I filled in my answers, turned in the paperwork, and took a seat. I was impressed to see they had three different sizes of seats, Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Teen Bear sized seats, and it was all comfortable, not hard plastic. You did not have to remain seated, and I was already so sore, I kept standing up to do lunges and other muscle stretching so I’d be able to walk away from the courthouse later. I did not care how dorky I looked, you know, fat woman exercising is an oxymoron to some people.

At 8:30 we were shown an orientation video, explaining the basics of jury duty, why if you get to sit all day and are not chosen for a jury your time is still important and valuable, and how important serving on a jury was because it could affect another person’s life. The jury coordinator kept us updated about what was going on in the courtrooms, how close they were to being ready for jurors, what to expect of the day, and when we might be excused. We all laughed when she said, “When you are excused, it is a good idea to run away from here as fast as you can.” We were allowed to eat and drink according to our needs and complimentary coffee, hot cocoa, tea, and water were provided.

I brought a book to read but I am usually so nervous in these kinds of situations I find it hard to concentrate, and I end up people watching. That frightens some people as then think they are being watched and judged. I don’t judge so much (hwell, a little) but I love to observe people. So many different kinds of people, it’s just a wealth of eye candy. Young people who have no idea about the dignity of “court clothing”, older people dressed to the nines, some folks dressed neatly for the office, in-betweens who appeared to be dressed for Friday night out. Personally, I think women’s shoes are weird, and all styles were represented here: the high heels, spikes, and platforms, and high-wedged espadrilles, a relatively few sensible shoes or sneakers. I wore sensible sneakers and socks, but I saw two women nearly fall and one woman twisted her ankle as she sat down.

The jury coordinator plugged in a movie, The Astronaut Farmer, about an intelligent farmer who builds a space vehicle in his barn. Some folks watched the movie, some ignored it and read or worked on their electronic devices (the courthouse provided free Wi-fi with the password prominently posted in several places), some of us read books, some of us closed our eyes to catch a little nap. When the space capsule in the movie was launched there was a loud movie explosion and most to us jumped, and when the vehicle crash landed a few seconds later there was a collective gasp in the room. At least we were all awake.

I ended up sitting next to an older black gentleman, who was careful not to manspread when he sat down next to me. I joked a little about me moving over and he said, oh no plenty of room. He was neatly dressed in a clean chambray button-down shirt, jeans with an ironed crease, and simple shined dress shoes, unlike most of the men there who were in jeans and t-shirts. From his shoes I thought he might be a veteran, but he didn’t stand when the jury coordinator asked for veterans to stand so we could acknowledge their service. The coordinator didn’t look nearly old enough, but she admitted to having two adult children serving in the Marines. You can’t tell from age these days.

The gentleman had a little gray in his neatly trimmed hair and mustache. He was polite and soft voiced, and we had a lovely quiet conversation about education, our children, the book he was reading (about coaching and management styles), and cars. Everyday stuff. I thought we were being quiet but a woman in the row in front of us kept throwing us the side-eye. With the current climate, I was on guard, as this woman was white, perfectly coiffed, perfectly made-up, and fashionably coordinated outfit-wise, maybe 10 years younger than me, and had that unmistakable sneer of distaste on her face. I was waiting for her to say something about the race issue or poor white trash and glad she didn’t because I don’t have time for that nonsense. I talk to anybody I wish because I like talking with people and I don’t give a rip about differences; I’m old enough now I don’t care who you are, you don’t get to tell me different. If I’d sat beside her I likely would have struck up a conversation as well, so maybe she has something to be grateful for, that she didn’t have to endure me.

Three trials were on the docket. Numbers were called for the first two trials. Not my number. Finally the jury coordinator came forward and told us the third trial had reached a settlement and the rest of us waiting were excused from jury duty.

I gathered up my stuff, but I was not in running mode. I limped out of the room, into the elevator, and bumbled down the steps to leave the courthouse. I could barely walk.

I located the elevator at the far end of the parking structure, but my challenges were not over yet. First I could not figure out which button called the elevators, as none of them lit up and there was no little sign saying “this button” out of the many choices on the wall. I prevailed and figured out the correct button. Then I realized the elevator was glass on three sides so you could see the neighborhood. For me this is as bad as getting onto a carnival ride. I tucked myself into the corner by the door facing the only solid walls and hung on for dear life, thinking this would help, but I could see the shadows of the parking structure as the elevator rose each level. I knew if I closed my eyes I would only get dizzier so I endured the shadows, lowering my eyelids as far as I dared without getting dizzy.

Getting back into my own car was a relief, and I helixed my dizzy way down to the bottom of the structure. The exit was easier than the entrance and if I have to serve jury duty again I hope to remember this easier entrance on the other side of the building.

I was so exhausted I came home and napped. When I got up I realized the damage I had done to myself. I could hardly move.

Now, what I’ve learned about muscle pain over the years, especially pain from using muscles that aren’t used to being used is, you must keep using them or the pain will be worse and it will last longer. I loaded up on ibuprofen, strapped on some ice packs, and kept walking. I did my usual swim in the evening and my tai chi exercises. I applied microwave hot packs when I finally settled down for a little evening media viewing. I ate ibuprofen by the handfuls for the next two and a half days as I walked around with legs of concrete, alternating ice packs and heat, and more exercise than ever to work out the pain. I not only used muscles not used for a while, I overstimulated my sciatica, which doubled down my pain, as the aggravated sciatic is painful to walk with. Another case of “it will be over soon and then I’ll feel better when it’s done”.

For all my talking about movement, I’m obviously not getting enough. Walking is hard because of back pain, stairs are harder. Either I give up or I do something. I’m not inclined to give up, so there’s that. In the meantime, I’m thinking I need to find a set of safe steps I can walk up and down, every other day or so.

I won’t be called for jury duty for another two years. If I’m summoned again we’ll see then if I am able to walk better, or if I’ll need to get that doctor’s note.

Though I experienced personal distress, I recommend every citizen of the United States serve jury duty. You might not be selected to serve on a jury, and if you are that’s another fascinating part of the process of justice in America, despite the personal hardship of the break in your routine.

It’s your civic duty. It’s your responsibility as a member of our community. Here your voice matters as much as voting and has more power because it is the collective voice of peers. We are all connected.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Every where I went this week I saw the loveliest “weeds”. Wild mustard yellow tansy growing in clusters beside the road. Baby blue bachelors buttons in hellstrips. Chocolate brown spears of blooming cattails in the wetlands. Yellow moth mulleins with centers mimicking the moths they want to attract. Purple belladonna, deadly nightshade, reminiscent of shooting stars, but poisonous.

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.} Bingeing through season 3 of Dr Kildare (1961-1966, not rated TV series). I wouldn’t say that Dr Kildare was before its time. The writers and producers chose issues pertinent to the time the show was being viewed when it was released; the series was a reflection of current culture. In this re-viewing 55 years later, for so many of the issues presented in this series, I see most of the issues to still be unresolved, such as bullying; jealousy; anger at the success of others and petty workplace jealousies; suicide; immigration; unwed teen pregnancy and (!) consequences for the teen father; race, religious, and gender differences; the stigma of obesity; woman’s place at home vs in the workplace; depression and anxiety. I see the glorification of doctors as the ultimate gods of knowledge (they aren’t), and doctors who make thoughtless mistakes at the cost of their patients. Most of the plots could as easily be done on any medical show in today’s TV viewing line-ups, just update the settings and props. Fascinating how childhood perception and adult perception overlap. How impressionable we are as children.

Currently Reading – Finished The Dark Angel (2018, fiction) by Elly Griffiths. Griffiths keeps violence to a minimum despite the obvious crime element. In this novel, however, a semi-major character is killed, and she writes it with the same dignity and grace she had vested in the character. I don’t often cry at British mysteries, but I did with this one. And one of the main characters is left pregnant possibly by the person who died, so once again the author leaves us waiting for the next in the series. Selfish me says write faster, Ms Griffiths. * Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – And the Unexpected Solutions (2018, psychology, depression) by Johann Hari. Medical doctors are missing some important parts about the human body and its psyche. They could do so much more to relieve the stress of everyday living in this world, if only they would, but of course, I’m a perfect-worlder. The medical paradigm will need to become more holistic to improve the health of Americans, treating the body-mind as a whole unit; what the brain does mentally and emotionally affects the body and vice versa. Improving those connections along with a host of others could improve the health of Americans. Side note from me: If we should become a healthier nation, I’m not worried about a healthier America diminishing the medical industry, which it seems to be these days rather than a profession. I feel when one industry fades or decreases, other industries open up. As some industries die, others take their place. Seems like the natural stages of progress. I didn’t write this post with a quill pen, ink, and parchment, although I still own a selection of quill pens and inkwells.

This week I have been grateful for:

    • The car getting me where I wanted to go, getting dicey with a 20 year old rig.
    • Finding more information about my future financial situation.
    • The opportunity to serve on jury duty.
    • Ibuprofen, ice packs, and microwave hot packs.
    • Getting more housecleaning done than usual in an effort to work out muscle pain.
    • Being much closer to having a fiction story finished, and getting more work done on another project for another author. Grateful the other author is gracious about our time-line toward excellence.
    • Having only one payment left on the new clothes washer I had to buy.
    • Stopping to admire the gigantic blue spruce outside my counselor’s office. It is laden with ostrich egg sized cones the most beautiful shade of light sage and looks as if the Easter Bunny made a theme-tree, laying eggs all of the same pale sage color in the dark blue-green branches.
    • Taking time to admire the 150 year old sequoias in front of the county courthouse. Shady, fragrant, enduring, 5 are left of the original 6 planted.
    • While admiring the trees I heard two little birds skittering around in the bark dust under the rhododendrons (a natural companion for sequoias) and chattering to each other, making it obvious they were delightfully courting. They came up within about three feet of me when I stood still and quiet until somebody else walked by.
    • Summer salads.
    • Oregon cherries as big as ping pong balls, but much sweeter to eat. Grateful I have never been hungry enough to try eating ping pong balls.
    • 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, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gratitude Sunday: Expect The Best

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.” Bruce Lee

Sunday Haiku
The cycle of life,
one soul leaves, one soul enters,
trees sigh in the wind.

Sunday Musings
A hundred years ago when I was in my early 20s, I took my first yoga class. After years of being clumsy and always being the last picked for team sports in school, here was something I could do with my body. There was no competition with other people. Each person worked at their own rate and did only what their body could do. I felt a measure of success because the more I did yoga the more my body was able to do.

The teacher liked to end each class with words of contemplation or inspiration. The only one I remember is “Lower your expectations.” The words hit me like thunderbolt then and left their mark as sure as a burn.

Here’s the thing. He didn’t say lower your expectations of yourself or lower your expectations of other people. I never considered he might be saying to lower my expectations of myself, that didn’t make any sense to me at all. I took him to mean to lower our expectations of other people, to let go of thinking other people should do what you think they should do.

While that’s good philosophy and may make working with other people somewhat easier, I also have found it to be a self fulfilling prophecy. If I lower my expectations thinking I’ll be pleasantly surprised when the person does more than I expect, they usually show me the worst, not the best. I’m not pleasantly surprised when I have low expectations of another person, and the person takes advantage of me in some way (I’ve been lied to, stolen from, vandalized, physically violated, and had pets killed by “friends”).

In contrast, when I have expected the best, or excellent performance from a person, they usually live up to this expectation. It’s like directing a play. The director tells the actor what he wants to see, and the actor does his best to do what the director says. I remember directing a scene from Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie for a class at community college, asking the actor to put a certain kind of passion into the words he said. He did, and the words came with so much passion his co-actor ended up with a face full of spit. When he was done, he was so upset and apologizing to his cohort, but I was crying because he had done the scene precisely as I had envisioned. I had expected the best from him and he’d given it to me, passion, saliva, and everything. That’s what makes the suspension of disbelief in theater possible.

We have personal expectations and general societal expectations. Some of our general societal expectations include working hard, taking care of yourself and your family, respect for yourself and others, doing your best, and following a few simple rules for sharing our communities.

What if there are barriers to our general expectations? For example, average students in America are expected to graduate from high school. In my school district we have a 25 percent dropout rate. Fully one quarter of our students fail to meet this expectation. I don’t know how many go on to get a GED or get a high school diploma through the local community college; this would be a good detail to know. I also do not know the statistics of graduation rates from, say, 40 or 50 years ago for comparison. My question is why is the percentage so high now.

I’m sure many reasons apply: bullying by peers and teachers (I am a witness in several incidents), poverty, mental and emotional health, the warehousing nature of public schools which render individuals invisible, and failure to address learning differences such as dyslexia are a few examples. If we isolate just one factor, for example, dyslexia affects 25 percent of the general population, and we have a 25 percent dropout rate, to me that looks like pretty easy math. I’m not blaming teachers, but we’ve known about dyslexia for more than 40 years and much can be done to change this one statistic starting with teaching teachers to teach dyslexics. One of the interesting elements of dyslexia that’s hard for teachers to understand is dyslexic readers often read upside down or backward before they read the typical way, so when they learn typical reading they can read three ways, not just one like typical readers: typical, upside down, and backward. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just different.

If we are looking toward change with the expectation of improvement of the general standard, that’s a good thing. Likewise if we are looking for the best in other people, like students, teachers, or other people in leadership positions, we should acknowledge it and reward it when we see it.

At this point in America many general expectations have been smashed beyond all recognition. Our federal leadership is a runaway train with a loose caboose disconnected from the needs of average people; more than 50 percent of Americans can’t afford humble basic housing, simple local organic foods, transportation to work, or routine health care, and forget about a higher education or working up in the job hierarchy. People who are able to work and need the work can’t get the training they need, while employers cry about the shortage of skilled workers.

When I started expecting the best from people, that’s what I got on an individual basis. It made it easier for me to spot the betrayers and backstabbers, the users and the jealous. I had to learn it’s not always about me, that sometimes I don’t have to do anything or say anything for the other person to twist it up to fit their perspective. I had to learn that users learned using and when they behaved like that it was likely all they knew. I had to learn that from other people’s perspective I appear to own great abundance and therefore am a good target for theft, though I do not own great wealth or fabulous stuff; my possessions are inherited and I consider them important memories, or things I worked, budgeted, and saved for. It’s an interesting illusion as what I have is an abundance of worthless junk. They may think I might not notice in the abundance of my stuff something might be missing. They do not know what memories they steal from me. They also do not know had they bothered to ask, I would have likely given it freely and welcome to it. I’m not a social worker, and my skills at showing love have limits when I’m taken advantage of. I do have to protect myself.

If I expect the best at the personal level and at the general (community) level, why should I expect anything less than the best of our American federal government, the government we pay for, the government we elect? I expect this government to work for us, the citizens and workers who pay taxes, not to work for the wealthy who do not need more of anything.

It’s not working for us right now. I don’t know what it will look like if the ones that are mucking around right now keep trying to make it better, because whatever it is they are doing isn’t making it better. Or even great again. I know what I’d do if I were put in charge, but I’m not wealthy so my ideas are so much dog chow. My ego is big enough to think the changes I’d recommend, while different from what we do now, would still result in greater profits for all concerned, a better economy, an improved forward looking infrastructure, and more secure lives in America. If a poor, fat, old, cranky, white lady can think up good solutions what are we paying those other guys for?

In our society our expectations are changing. Our young people are impatient with the nonsense. I can’t blame them. They would like to have the American dream, the one most of us grew up expecting, a home of our own and the privilege of a property tax bill, a place to raise and feed our families, satisfying work, good health, and income security to pay for it all. People in my generation have expected the changes we’ve worked for over the last 50 years to be permanent structures by now. They aren’t but we are not done yet, perhaps we will never be done expecting a better America. We forget history is fluid. We work for a change, the change happens, the change is reversed, and then happens again in a new way. We must work with our young people helping them secure their futures and the futures of multiple generations to come.

So no. I won’t lower my expectations any more, and I will not be disappointed if you fail to meet my expectations. I won’t be disappointed if I fail to meet your expectations. Failure is an opportunity to learn. However, I expect us to do and be the best we can do and be, and I want that to be our self-fulfilling prophecy. Our expectations should be for us to change toward being better individuals, working toward better communities and a better world, passion, saliva, and everything. Change is the only constant. Expect change. Expect the best change. Constantly.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Blue flowers of the hosta, champion of growing in shade. Fiery summer colors like sparklers bursting from the ground (marigolds?). The depth of color on this wine colored day lily in the middle of a patch of coreopsis. The simplicity of the poppy seed head, sage green and with a fancy brown cap, full of expectations of next season’s poppies.

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.} Took a break from Dr Kildare as The Shape of Water (2017, rated R) arrived for my turn in the queue from my local lending library. On these first run movies I like to watch them right away and get them back into the queue, then I request it again later. Not everybody does it that way but to me that seems like the best way to share. I was looking forward to this movie as it is the first fantasy/science fiction movie to get Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Return of the King (2003, rated PG – 13) which took best picture in 2004 is strictly fantasy, not science fiction. Water didn’t disappoint. The movie achieves an element of magic, for me at least, wanting the creature to survive and prevail. Great photography, unique story, a bit of violence and gore, Russian intrigue, a fascinating “alien”, a “handicapped” female protagonist, unexpected and intense romance, and one more tale of how the biggest monsters are human. Recommended as a must watch. I’ll watch it again.

Currently ReadingThe Dark Angel (2018, fiction) by Elly Griffiths. Nothing beats it for summer reading like a good British mystery with travel, food, intrigue, archeology, history, and a touch of romance. * Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – And the Unexpected Solutions (2018, psychology, depression) by Johann Hari. Occasionally a book comes along with studies to show what I’ve been saying all along. Depression and anxiety are more symptoms of the problems in our society than a reflection of the mental health of an individual, or as Jiddu Krishnamurti says, “It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a sick society.” There are things we can do to change this, unfortunately some of it has to be done at the political/societal level. On the other hand, there are some solutions we can take advantage of right now on a personal level. A must read for anybody trying to understand why depression has not resolved with the use of pharmaceutical drugs or other therapies.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Being smarter than spell check.
  • The hubster cutting down a weed visible through my kitchen window that had grown tall enough when I caught it out of the corner of my eye I thought somebody was in the back yard. Silly brain, good startle reflex.
  • Watering my outside plants on warm evenings, cooling my feet, splashing my dress with cool water, listening to the plants sigh.
  • The hubster getting the window air conditioner in place for the upcoming hotter days of summer.
  • Being able to choose to lie down when I was going through a couple puny days.
  • Not having the pressure of having to meet an outside work schedule in this heat (fragile flower that I am). Working at home means I can work when I want. As naked as I want.
  • Having fairly good control of my house’s heating and cooling without central air.
  • Opening doors and windows as the sun goes down to let the cooling breeze in.
  • My pool membership, allowing me access all open hours.
  • My little brain that still works even when slowed by the heat.
  • Ice packs for when the brain gets too hot.
  • A friend who was able to help her childhood friend in that sacred moment of leaving this earth for the other side.
  • Simple easy suppers eaten after dark when it’s cool enough to have an appetite.
  • Chef’s salads.
  • Oregon berries.
  • 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, Theatre | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gratitude Sunday: Sorrowful Summers

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “Can I see another’s woe, and not be in sorrow too? Can I see another’s grief, and not seek for kind relief?” William Blake

Sunday Haiku
Nature’s morning breath,
sweet mown hay, rich cow manure,
dew drops, day’s promise.

Sunday Musings
How is it we still grieve so many years after a person is gone? How is it we grieve for people we did not know? Why do we grieve for celebrities whom we never met but who touched our lives nonetheless? How do we still go through the motions of life and get through each day after losing someone? How is it we forget or ignore that every single one of us carries this burden of loss, each in our own way?

This week marks 45 years since the death of a young man I was going to marry. He had his challenges, was still fighting them, and he’d already been through hell and back before we even met. He was born in California, a victim of birth defects I suspect were caused by nuclear fallout from the Nevada testing (I suspect this because I met another man his same age born in the same area who had the same birth defects, though all this information is tightly covered up, I searched). In the family dynamic his father blamed my young man’s mother (aged gravida) for the defective child and it didn’t ever get any better than that. Nevertheless, he was well on his way to becoming a musician, artist, and poet. He carried many sorrows including the suicide death of his first wife. He was 24 when his challenges took him as I spent the first weeks of July watching him get sick and succumb to the brain abscess infecting him. Who knows what a delight (or not) his life might have been had he lived. He may be resting in peace, but I carry a hole in my heart for the loss of this young man and what might have been.

I don’t regret my life since his loss, but summers are hard on me, they seem so full of loss. Sorrow puts a damper on summer fun. After losing my young man in 1973, it feels like I’ve lost so many people in the summer. Dad and my maternal grandmother in May; then years apart Mom and her brother in June. I don’t remember what day uncle passed, but the crimson clover was blooming in the fields. I violated a local farmer’s field on my route to see him and picked a handful for him; they filled his room with the fragrance of the clovered fields. Memory has made fuzzy edges around dates in my life , but it doesn’t matter when they went, it matters that they did. It matters they were here with us.

I cry for John Lennon and George Harrison. I cry for David Bowie and Michael Jackson. I cry for Prince and Alan Rickman. I cry for Eleanor Roosevelt and Maya Angelou. I cry for Billie Holiday and Marilyn Monroe and Janis Joplin.

I cry for a cousin I barely knew who took her life when we were teens, and for my mother’s cousin who died of influenza and left four children. I cry for my other cousins’ abusive father who suffered from polio and its aftereffects. I cry for my cousin who died much too young from the devastation that is AIDS.

I cry for the miscarriages and the stillborn who never took a breath. Who knows what glories they might have brought us had life remained in them?

I cry for the people who succumbed to, or even caused, freaky accidents, and were gone in the blink of an eye. I cry for the 5 year old neighbor boy who many years ago died the day before Christmas Eve when he caught the tinder dry Christmas tree on fire while playing with grandpa’s lighter as his grandpa slept in the next room unaware. Grandpa escaped through his bedroom window with the boy’s older sister.

I cry for the ancestors I never met. I cry for my in-laws, as problematic as our relationship was. I cry for my hubster’s bio-mother and brother and aunts and uncles, gone already, gone too soon, whom we didn’t get to meet. I cry for my childhood girlfriend’s mom whom I grew up with. I cry for the lovely old lady who first paid me to do housework for her when I was 13. I cry for the loss of a college friend’s mom who struggled so long with mental health issues, but oh my, I learned so much from her about grace and beauty.

I cry for all four of my grandparents whom I was fortunate to know. I cry for my uncles, and aunts, for great-uncles and great-aunts who graced my life. I cry for cousins, first and seconds and thirds, once or twice or thrice removed.

I cry for the older lady friends I’ve always had in my life, starting with my young man’s mother who kept in touch with me after the death of her son until her own death years later. I’ve treasured these relationships with older women I wasn’t related to in any way other than friendship, women who told me their stories and sorrow and listened to mine in return.

I cry when I read obituaries, for people whose names I recognize, past classmates, or people I used to serve in the hairdressing industry, or served over the counter at my last place of employment. We didn’t have to be close. I still sorrow for them.

You may think I’m overly empathetic, but no matter what level of sensitivity you have we go on with sorrow because it is what we do. There is nothing else for it. We can’t die each time somebody else does. We rise each day without those people in our lives any more. We put one foot in front of the other. We brush our teeth and our hair and dress for work each day while carrying great big holes in our hearts. Like death itself, not one of us escapes sorrow and grief.

What would happen if, instead of asking the generic “How are you?” as a meeting or greeting, we asked the more specific “What is your sorrow?” After a few times we would find we all suffer loss and we all carry it with us. We do not forget our losses. We might forget our happy times, but we don’t ever forget our grief.

Grief is a personal affair. We hide it. We tamp it down, we only take it out to look at in private moments. It’s how we’ve been taught. Put on a smiling face. One day at a time. No one need know. It’s personal. Except every one of us, whether we acknowledge it or not, travel with some sort of mental health challenge like, maybe, grief, sadness, loneliness, or depression, and wonder why we have a tough time getting through the day. Some of us even over-compensate with false confidence or superiority behavior.

Would we find common ground? Would we learn how every one of us is broken with grief? Would we learn how hard it is to speak of sorrow? Would we learn how we’ve been taught and conditioned not to acknowledge the grief each of us carries, to not discuss sorrow in every day or polite company? Would we begin to see through our masks we wear against sorrow and learn how much alike we are because we all carry grief with us every day? Would we learn we are all connected? Would we learn all the children belong to all of us and we are all cousins in one way or another? Would we care?

I would not write a post like this if I did not care, if I did not live with grief and sorrow every day. I still care about the young man I lost 45 years ago who occasionally visits me in my dreams. He is still with me; the little Hummel lamp that sat on his childhood bedside table watches over me as I write. I care about his family who are out there somewhere, and I’ve lost connections with again. I care that every person I meet or greet carries a carefully buried burden of sorrow.

There isn’t anything we can do to bring those people back. There is much we can do to recognize the common thread between us who still live. There is much we can do to be kinder to each other as we all carry our sorrows. There is much we can do take care of each other while we are still here, and perhaps regret less when loss comes.

I leave you today with a poem. Insert any pronoun you wish for the one your heart misses.

Time Does Not Bring Relief

Time does not bring relief; you all have lied
Who told me time would ease me of my pain!
I miss him in the weeping of the rain;
I want him at the shrinking of the tide;
The old snows melt from every mountain-side,
And last year’s leaves are smoke in every lane;
But last year’s bitter loving must remain
Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide.
There are a hundred places where I fear
To go,—so with his memory they brim.
And entering with relief some quiet place
Where never fell his foot or shone his face
I say, “There is no memory of him here!”
And so stand stricken, so remembering him.

Edna St. Vincent Millay, Collected Poems

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – A bright pink late blooming azalea. I don’t know what these little weed blossoms are called, but I love the pale beige sort of color and can you tell how soft and fuzzy they are? Love the deep burgundy of these heart shaped tree leaves. Nature always wins: in the battle of violet vs. aggregate, it’s the violet for the win. The bright brilliance of the pinky peachy orangey rose.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} Bingeing season 2 of Dr Kildare (1961-1966, not rated TV series) I find a piece of history. The first 4 seasons of Dr Kildare were filmed in black and white, except for episode 2 of season 2, which was filmed in color. Originally aired on October 2, 1962, this color episode was part of a promotion called “Color Week” in which 7 popular TV shows were filmed in color to encourage people to buy color TVs, new technology at the time. Imagine the commercials enticing people to invest in the latest technology. This was back in the day when wealthy people and corporations paid their share of taxes, and average worker-consumers were making capitalism alive and well; many people were earning enough to support their families and buy consumer goods as well. If you did not own a color TV you saw the broadcast in black and white as usual. My family’s income was more on the lower middle class level, and we were grateful to have any TV at all. I did not see this in color when it originally aired in color; my family did not buy a color TV until after I moved out of the house in 1973. Because of the nature of the borrowing of this DVD series, I’m going to be living with Dr Kildare for the next few weeks. I don’t love the series enough to want to own it or dust it. In an odd way I am re-living a part of my growing years an hour at a time.

Currently ReadingThe Dark Angel (2018, fiction) by Elly Griffiths. Tenth in the series, it only takes a page or two to be right back in the world of British archeologist Ruth Galloway. We are in Italy for this archeological mystery. Only two problems with Ms Griffiths’ work: they are so engaging and the mystery is so intriguing they read too fast, and the author can’t produce another in the series soon enough for me. Editorial failure though as I’m 90 pages in and have already found 4 editing errors; I forgive 2 errors per book. * Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – And the Unexpected Solutions (2018, psychology, depression) by Johann Hari, author of Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs (2015, psychology of drug use) about addiction, its causes, and possible solutions. Mr Hari’s work is well researched and written in an engaging way most average readers can understand what he’s saying. He starts by documenting his own forays into the use of anti-depressants and why they didn’t remedy the depression, discusses how Big Pharmacy is selling a load of bullpuckey about the cause of depression and the efficacy of anti-depressants for the sake of profits, then goes on to explore the duality of depression and anxiety. Fascinating work so far.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Getting to spend some time with the hubster’s newly found bio-family, and getting to know them better.
  • Meeting hubster’s next oldest bio-sister, now he’s met all three of his sisters. He’s pretty happy. Exciting times.
  • A safe 4th of July.
  • The car still hanging in there.
  • Civil discourse while trying to learn more about some new people in my life.
  • Listening ears.
  • Understanding passion and how passionate speech can be off-putting.
  • Figuring out a technology transfer that had the hubster baffled. Not that it’s a competition, but THAT’S why I, the techno-ditz, learn to work the equipment I own, and why I read, keep, and re-read the manuals.
  • Being on babywatch waiting for my nephew and his wife to welcome their new daughter.
  • Tracking on three other babies expected this month.
  • Enjoying a variety of nail polish color after many years of going sans any body decoration.
  • Microwave hot packs for a back owie.
  • Finding a pre-paid phone card after thinking it got tossed and having gone through three tubs of garbage just in case I’d really thrown it out. I could not remember what I had done with it the day before. After all that, it was within arm’s reach. If my memory is going to start doing this kind of stuff thank goodness I thought at the outset to put the card in an easily accessible, clearly visible place.
  • Soap. And hot tap water. Nail brushes.
  • My startle reflexes which are still working excellently.
  • How time fades into the background when I write.
  • A fat juicy sweet mango with strawberries and mascarpone.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: 4th Of July Nation Evaluation

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “…in a modern, moral, and wealthy society, no person in America should be too poor to live…or lead a dignified life in the United States.” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, youngest woman to run for Congress

Sunday Haiku
Summer days, roses
blooming, trees sweating, green grass
sways lazy with heat.

Sunday Musings
July 4th in America this week. Independence Day. We celebrate the day a group of very different men who sought a better life for themselves and their families declared an independent nation, and came together to sign a document they bothered to write as guidelines for the freedoms of future generations in their new nation, guidelines they agreed to as a sane and sentient body of leaders. In 2018 we celebrate the 4th with family gatherings, picnics, and explosive fireworks.

Are those guidelines pertinent in today’s America? In checking my freedoms in America I’m asking questions today. I have my opinions as you well know; I’m not always right, but I am always learning. While I was the charter president of a community college honor society, the honor society offered an essay contest with the topic “the rights, duties, privileges, and responsibilities of a citizen”. Several students participated in a small discussion group; we laid ground rules for safe space sharing, and I was impressed to see so many different points of view. I have been thinking about those ideas for many years and the questions come again and again in many variations. Now, right this very now, we need to do not only some serious self evaluation, but some nation evaluation, and think through some questions. You only have to answer these questions for yourself; this is not a test. I don’t know all the answers; but this might be a test.

This week’s questions:

What are we free to do?

Are those freedoms the same for all the persons in our families, or neighborhood, or community, or state, or nation? Why? Why not?

What are we free from?

Do you care about the health and well-being of all members of your community and nation? Should you?

Where did we come from? What is your heritage? When did you or your people come to America? Why did they come? Do we have a shared history or does history belong to individuals?

What is patriotism? Who is a patriot? If our opinions differ does that make one of us not a patriot?

Do you identify with a group? Do you prefer to label yourself one thing rather than another? Do you not prefer labels at all?

Are labels or groups to our advantage or detriment?

If your freedoms differ from others, does it come from a place of privilege or a place of difference?

If you have more freedoms than others and/or your freedoms come from privilege do you use your privilege to help others? Should you?

If you have fewer freedoms than others, do you stand up for yourself and others like you, working toward or demanding those freedoms? Should you?

What are your abilities? Are you doing your best to use them? If you are less-abled in any way, are your still doing your best to do what you can?

Do you engage in a system of beliefs, for example, a philosophy or dogma? Do you think everybody should engage in the same system of beliefs? Why? Why not?

Do you deserve more than other people? Do other people deserve the same as you? Do other people deserve less than you? Why? Why not?

Do you believe what you are told or what you read? From any source? From every source? From limited sources? From people who don’t agree with you?

Do you look only at issues within your circle of influence or do you look at the bigger picture beyond yourself? Do you know enough, or any, history of the past? Are you able to imagine a future for yourself, your children, their children, or your nation? Are you able to imagine many futures or many possible futures?

America approaches the 4th of July this year with despotic, chaotic changes in administrative policy and procedure all far beyond the norm as we do not have sane and sentient leaders. It is time to check our freedoms, our privileges, our duties, our responsibilities. Did you answer any of these questions, even if only to yourself? Did you consider them in your heart, your soul, and/or your conscience? You passed the test.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – This time of year I have a red, white, and blue house in my neighborhood Love the old fat hydrangea bushes. I don’t know the name of this vermillion red fireburst blossom. Old-fashioned white daisies throw out petals like sparklers. Do you see the little ladybug on the top middle flower? This blue-toned flower reminds me of lilies, but smaller and bunches on one stalk, like many blooming fireworks shot off at the same time.

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.} Continuing the Dr Kildare (1961-1966, not rated TV series) binge. Exposure at an early age made me comfortable with medical terminology. I also suspect this may be a source for some of my thoughts and beliefs about life and how we treat other people, and perhaps doctors and medicine. * Blade Runner 2049 (2017, rated R), the sequel 30 years later. Ryan Gosling in the lead, and Harrison Ford for the win. I enjoy filmmakers’ imaginations when it comes to possible future technologies. This story improves the replicant with a newer model, and once again introduces the notion of life created from technology in a new way.

Currently ReadingBig Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear (2015, philosophy) by Elizabeth Gilbert. “Inspirational” books are sometimes so much blahbedeblah, but I am entertained by this one with Gilbert’s stories about writing and other writers. * The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (2012, fiction) by Rachel Joyce. The past is revealed as the present unfolds before Harold on his walk from the southernmost point of England to the north on a journey to help a friend dying of cancer. Good summer read.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Getting another project off my dining table.
  • The stimulation of stuff, material stuff, innate matter that vibrates at a different frequency than me.
  • Rocks, crystals, paper, feathers, cotton, linen, glass, bronze, ceramic.
  • Creating empty zen space in my mind because I also love stuff.
  • The hubster’s newly found bio-family inviting and including all three of us in their established family holiday celebrations.
  • Creating new memories with new people.
  • Reminiscing with a childhood friend and re-analyzing events and people from this perspective of aged distance.
  • Understanding the difficult work in progress of letting some things go.
  • Understanding people are the same and delightfully unique at the same time.
  • Understanding some people struggle with everything, all the time.
  • Experiencing an episode of rolling thunder, which I’d not heard before and how it truly sounded like it was moving from one side of town to another, how loud and how long it was.
  • A box of colorful beans, yellow, green, and purple, cooked grandma-style boiled with bacon. Fascinated to see the purple ones fade to green when cooked. So yummy.
  • Fat yellow rosy Rainier cherries.
  • 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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gratitude Sunday: Two Old Sisters On A Quilt Barn Trail

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “America is not like a blanket – one piece of unbroken cloth. America is more like a quilt – many patches, many pieces, many colors, many sizes, all woven together by a common thread.” Jesse Jackson

Sunday Haiku
Short night, longest day
spring passes into summer,
corn knee-high in fields.

Sunday Musings

This week marks 5 years since my mom died. To honor her memory, Sister and I decided to do a Quilt Barn Trail tour. In Washington County, Oregon, there are more than 60 sites that have a large wooden panel painted to look like a quilt block attached to barns. We choose an assortment of addresses within a few miles of my house. We set out armed with her GPS that she had pre-programmed with some of the addresses, some print-outs about the quilt blocks and the farms, her phone and my Nikon CoolPix camera, and bottles of water.

Mom was a master quilter. She quilted all her life, learning the skill from her mother. They used every scrap of cloth, and every little end bit of thread, wasting nothing back in the days following the Depression. When my grandma was in her 90s she still made baby quilts by hand; her assisted living place did not allow her to have a sewing machine, so she used the method she’d grown up with, a simple needle and thread. Grandma’s baby quilts are a precious jumble of odds and ends, cloth cut into unusual shapes laid on top of other unusual shapes, crazy quilts embellished with short pieces of lace, rick rack, and ribbon, then knotted together because she wasn’t allowed to have her quilting racks either.

Mom was a talented artist. She had an eye for color and design, and taught herself appliqué. She quilted everything by hand; more than once in my life her quilt racks were set up in our tiny living room and we had to wiggle around them. We didn’t complain because we got beautiful quilts out of the wiggles. She always had a hand made gift ready for every wedding, some special birthdays or graduations, and new babies.

I can’t sew a straight line to save my life even with a guide. Stashed away in my cedar chest (a graduation gift) is the one quilt I made when I was in grade school, a smallish baby quilt with 4 center pieces of hand embroidered bunny rabbits surrounded by “grandmother’s fan” blocks. I remember how hard it was for me, and how patient Mom was with me. I didn’t do the border binding; I’ve never figured that part out. Mom quilted it for me, I only made the top. I love the memory of this. I think the sewing gene skipped me. She always told me not to fret about that, as I have other skills.

Now, my niece, one of her granddaughters, sews up a storm. Like my mom, if it’s made from cloth this niece can make it. She makes her kids’ clothing, baby doll accessories, and quilts for the family. She quilts on a machine, however, as Mom refused to teach her to hand quilt. I know why, because even with a thimble Mom’s fingers were constantly sore from poking them with the quilting needles. Mom never stopped quilting because of her sore fingers, and my niece makes beautiful quilts using a machine quilter.

Neither of these women have earned anywhere near the money they should earn from the quilts they make. If you’ve never quilted or been around a quilter you have no idea how much time and skill goes into making them. One quilt Mom made had a nautical theme. She appliquéd anchors and whales and seashells onto quilt blocks, then put them altogether, hand quilting anchors and whales and seashells into the borders and over the blocks. It was award winning work.

Every grand-kid got a quilt for graduating from high school. Every newly married child and grandchild got another. Every new baby got one as a receiving quilt for the mom to wrap baby in and one as a huggy quilt for baby to love. She left a box full of baby quilts in my sister’s charge so each new great-grandchild has one waiting for them.

Sister had seen a magazine review about the Quilt Barn Trail, and assigned me the task of getting addresses; I did my research, provided Sister with a list of addresses and the link I used; she decided the route and did the print-outs. There are more than 60 sites listed, so she chose 10 sites within my local area. We had no idea how long it would take. Out of 10 addresses we located 9 quilt blocks. We started going west, took a nice loop around the county, and surprised ourselves when we came out where we started not far from town and home.

A lovely early summer morning accompanied us. Not too cool nor too warm, light to little breeze, and no rain. We headed out about 10:30 in the morning; the tour we chose took us about three hours. We were leisurely in our driving, took our time, and were persistent (stubborn) enough to drive back and forth several times until we found the quilt block. Some are not easily seen from the road, some are not accessible close-up, and some are suddenly right there upon you with no place to pull over.

We wanted picture documentation so we took our time locating safe parking places on rural roads. If you’ve never been on rural roads it’s hard to tell how busy they will be, and the homies who live on those roads treat them like their personal roads and drive like crazy because they know the roads. One can encounter farm vehicles rather suddenly, and farm dogs are often let to run the acreage and can run out in front of you. Utmost caution must be used on rural roads, but also sometimes you can drive r-e-a-l slow as if you were driving 100 years ago with a horse and wagon or one of those new-fangled gasoline horses.

In a couple cases we boldly drove onto private property to get a closer view and picture. Both owners were kind when we explained we were doing a Quilt Barn Trail tour in honor of 5 years since the passing of our mother who was a master quilter. They kindly chatted with us about the Trail program, how the choices were made for the quilt block, and how they were made and mounted.

One of the owners gave us a special treat as we interrupted his day with our mission. The website for the Quilt Barn Trail had some blurbs about the barns, their farms, and the quilt blocks we’d printed as a guide to locating the farms in addition to the addresses. In the information on this particular farm we read his family still owned the wagon used when they came across the Oregon Trail and since we had already invaded his property in pursuit of the quilt block picture, we bravely asked about the wagon as well. When he offered to show it to us we were thrilled. He had a couple other wagons stored in the barn with the original family wagon that were acquired at a later date: a hay hauler with a flat bed, and a water hauler with a huge round barrel attached to it to carry water to fires or for irrigation. Seeing those wagons reminded me of Mom crying every summer as we drove through Baker City; she cried for the plight of pioneer women on the Oregon Trail. He let us take pictures! Also turns out the farm owner grows local grains used by a local bakery that uses old pioneer methods of slow rising. Local, local, local, it is delicious bread.

I’m not going to politicize this post by a lengthy discussion of the question of what kind of reception we’d have gotten if we’d been any other people besides the old, plump, white-haired, granny-looking Caucasian ladies we are with our story of grief, honor, and memory of our mother, and how privileged we were with the graciousness of the property owners (also Caucasian). Significantly, it was something I thought about when we were talking with the owners. I felt blessed and grateful, as they had no obligation whatsoever to say anything other than “please leave.”

I have not explored much of the rural area close to me and I enjoyed being in sister’s safe car with a confident and safe driver, and it took me only a few minutes to get the hang of reading her GPS device. We enjoyed the views we came across. We found many nurseries full of colorful trees, irrigators spraying arcs of water over them creating miniature rainbows. We found wild spaces when the only man-made thing you could see for a couple miles was the road underneath us and the string of power poles and lines. We found a wide variety of architecture: there were McMansions, large old farmhouses, and little corners of poverty with broken down trailers. We found an abandoned McMansion and wondered about its history. My little brain went to what could be done with it now, I don’t like seeing properties allowed to rot when so many people need homes.

When Sister and I are together we are able to be honest and forthright with each other. We both know we can “mis-speak”, I mean, say something in the moment that sounds right, but upon reflection might not have been what you thought you said. I am a specialist at opening my mouth and inserting two or three feet. We’ve learned how to talk honestly about this; you get that kind of honesty from very few people in your life. We don’t often get uninterrupted conversations, even on the phone. These mini-road trips work for us conversation-wise, but I think we have so much to say we don’t always finish our thoughts. The tangents and dead ends and diversions seem unavoidable leaving more to catch up on next time.

We started talking about church, and how our attendance as adults was different from our childhood. She gave her kids some church exposure, I did not though the son and I talked freely about the Bible. She attended for a while after Mom passed, and quit after realizing it made her feel guilty and she felt differently about god being a source of guilt. I attended for a while after Mom died, seeking some sort of relief, but all I did was cry, and decided a tear fest every Sunday morning really was not a good way to start the week for me. As we were driving through the fields, and trees, and orderly nurseries, and tidy farms, the sun high above us, fat white cumulus clouds floating like parade balloons in a blue sky, enjoying the company of each other, we agreed we felt closer to god when we were out in nature and could see what he (for lack of knowing the appropriate pronoun) made and the vibrancy of the universe. While we were admiring the work of man, the neat little farms, the unwavering rows of potted nursery trees, the straight lines of knee-high corn, we marveled at the glory of trees, the gift of living water in the creeks, the spires of teasel growing alongside the road, the freely blooming vetch, fields with horses and cows grazing. Mom loved being outside and spent many hours in her yard, gardening, and tending pockets of vegetables and berries all over her yard, not just in the designated garden space.

We came upon at least three cemeteries on our tour. We stopped at one to admire gravestones and see how old they were. Maybe we should add cemeteries to our road trip itinerary. Cemeteries take longer, because it’s too fascinating to read the headstones and the dates, and imagine who is connected to whom family wise, and why they lived the short or long lives they did. Sounds like another whole concept than our quilt trips.

We had located 9 of the 10 quilt blocks by 1:30 and ready for a relief station and lunch. Three hours seemed just about the right amount of time for me, and we’d been talking about Chinese food on the tour. I don’t get to go out to eat often. We have a new teriyaki place in town I’d been wanting to try, and it proved to be as good as the recommendations I’d heard. Fun to share a meal after a successful road trip. We did a check-in self evaluation and decided with the help of her GPS, her driving, our research, and my navigation, we did an efficient and relaxing Quilt Barn Trail tour. With more than 50 addresses left we have at least three more tours to plan.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – A stream of pink sweet William. A clump of orange day lilies. White hollyhock with delicate pink center. I don’t know the name of this purple pretty growing in a crack in the cement. Shades of pinks and lavenders of wild vetch.

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.} Año Mariano (2000, not rated), a comedy in Spanish with English subtitles. A drunk man crashes into a tree in the middle of a cannabis field that is being burned by the federales then thinks he sees a vision of the Virgin Mary. What a hoot, and I know just enough Spanish to sort of follow along, but grateful for subtitles. * I accidentally (read: I got way too excited to find it available) ordered all 5 seasons of Dr Kildare (1961-1966, not rated TV series) so I’m on a serious binge as my local lending library borrowed it from outside their immediate system for me to view and thus a limited borrowing period. I probably watched every episode of this TV show when I was a kid, I probably begged (Mom, as Dad didn’t care for doctor shows) to be allowed to stay up for it as it has pretty mature themes for a pre-teen (I was 8 in 1961). A young intern works toward his residency with an older mentor doctor, played by Raymond Massey. I remember loving it, how I thought Richard Chamberlain was so handsome, and the stories so consuming. Chamberlain put out an album during that time as a promo which included him singing the theme song from the series; I own the album in my archives. It was one of the first albums I bought, with milk bottle tops, a program a local record store had with a local dairy, you know, back in the day. My original enjoyment is why it’s so amusing to re-watch it all these years later. Here’s why. All the guest stars who went on to make big names for themselves. The cars: the great fat ones owned by the older doctors, the fancy sporty ones driven by the guest stars, the traffic scenes with other random older cars. The sets and props: some really modern architecture and furniture, some classics in other episodes, the hospital equipment, the propmaster must have had fun. The clothes: fashion is so fickle and this is early 1960s so a few mini-skirts and lots of modest women’s outfits, a few hats and gloves scenes, and of course almost all the women wear heels except the nurses; the men’s thin ties and baggy pants, the nurses’ and doctors’ uniforms. The casting: rigid gender divide, few women doctors, no male nurses; nurses, doctors, and orderlies had a smattering of people of color, not perfect, but they were represented. The drama: first episode about a female alcoholic, second episode about illegal immigration, one about acute stem cell leukemia, and so on, accentuated by the lighting, it’s often dramatically lit and staged like live theater scenes. Every needle is 4 inches long, and a long stream of whatever medicine is shot out of the needle before it’s used, that’s in every injection scene, but blood is minimized. It’s in the original black and white, but alas, no subtitles. And the smoking: everybody smokes everywhere, especially the doctors, in the hallways of Blair General Hospital, in the lounge, in the elevators, in their cars, at the dinner table, outside walking, the only exception was in the operating room. Chamberlain is indeed handsome, but from this viewing his actual acting is vapid, vacuous, and just somehow non-connecting. His only emotion seems to be anger, and his bedside manner is often cruel and judgmental, which may have been meant to represent his youth, but I find it off-putting. As youths we often see what we see and I’m certain I was looking at the physical beauty of Chamberlain, his even features, full lips, wide eyes, straight nose, high cheekbones, and soothing voice, and paying little attention to the development of his character or the quality of his acting. Aging gives us some lessons in critiquing. Likewise Massey’s portrayal of the mentor is pedantic and his speeches overly lengthy. I have a feeling I’ll be bored with the plots and the series before I’m done, but I’m usually a finisher, and who knows what guest star will be in next week’s show?

Currently Reading – The April 2018 issue of National Geographic magazine. The one about race with the black and white twins on the cover. I’m reading it from cover to cover. Lots of articles, many points of view including an editorial about biased reporting by National Geographic in the past, the unsaid being as important as the racially biased articles; current political implications; theories about the origins of races and their migrations; the science behind the construct of race as difference; the science behind DNA; the current American climate of profiling, some confirming information of things I had read elsewhere, or suspected. Recommended. * The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (2012, fiction) by Rachel Joyce. Just started this British fiction in which a retired man receives a letter from a person in his past. So far reading as a good summer reader.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Getting another task that was long overdue off my dining table.
  • How I admire people who think more logically and speak more eloquently than me, especially when I’m still able to understand what they say and how they say it and their points of view.
  • Patience with people who think less logically or speak less eloquently than me.
  • Being open minded to learn from others.
  • The hubster catching sight of the mold in the top of the jar of something I had just spooned all over something else. I regretted having to throw it all away as the bottom layer was fine but it couldn’t be scraped off or shaken off. I react poorly intestinally to mold, yeast, fungus, and mushrooms so it was a good save on his part.
  • I had other food in my cupboard to choose.
  • Listening.
  • Being sure of my own convictions and willing to do my own research.
  • Remembering sometimes the best thing said is nothing, hard lesson for me.
  • How delightful the light in each one of us is in our uniqueness.
  • A fun dinner with the hubster’s newly-connected-with bio-family. I’d forgotten how big family gatherings sound. All that energy even when we are talking quietly.
  • My local circle of folks who pray or send healing energy when I ask. If any readers out there feel like adding your prayers and healing energy to my post this week we are thinking about my brother-in-law Randy (I don’t usually post names for privacy, but I have permission and having a name helps some people to focus their energy), who was in a car crash June 13 and is still in ICU.
  • A chance to spend some uninterrupted time with my sister.
  • Experimenting with some alternative methods of pain relief. No results yet; it may be a matter of time, like the pain, I mean I didn’t just start hurting yesterday.
  • The last box of Oregon Hood strawberries. Season is too warm for them now, but we have some local growers who tend to ever-bearing strawberries so we get to have local berries until the first frost.
  • Sister bringing me a box of hand picked red raspberries and a box of black caps, from the canes left in Mom’s garden. They taste like sweet sunshine. Munchies in memory of Mom.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: Lessons From Dad

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “I was born by myself, but carry the spirit and blood of my father, mother, and ancestors. So I am never really alone.” Ziggy Marley

Sunday Haiku
Weather shifts hot, cool,
from day to night, dark to light,
summer comes along.

Sunday Musings
Happy Father’s Day. Another contrived constructed consumer holiday. Fathers (and mothers) should be honored every day for all the work they do for us. As with all people there are good dads, bad dads, and every shade of dad in between. So many of us have difficult relationships with out dads; it’s not necessarily about how good you are at the job of dadding, sometimes it’s about being there. I know one thing about my dad: he loved his kids and he did the best he knew how. I don’t have my dad here anymore, but I can celebrate my memories of him.

I grew up in the time where one adult’s salary enabled the other adult to stay at home with the children, making and taking care of the home, preparing meals from scratch, and enough money for a short summer vacation if they managed the money well. In my neighborhood mostly moms stayed home while the dads worked. As part of the lower middle class, we didn’t live high, but we went out to a restaurant meal once in a while (like special birthdays) and our vacations consisted of camping, except for the one year the whole family saved all year long to go to Disneyland when I was 16. We had homemade hand tailored clothing and fresh vegetables grown in our own garden. We always had food to eat and we knew money was tight but were not made aware of any financial distress our parents were experiencing, different from today when 50 percent of American population is food and housing insecure and many kids cannot escape the fact of living in the family car.

As much as we struggled with family dynamics then with our limited finances, my dad was there. Though my memories are a mixed bag I learned many things from my dad. Some were important lessons, some not so much. The weird thing is in my little brain most of what I learned from him took place when I was 5. It must have been a big year.

Between our house and the garage was two cement steps down to the garage level. At the age of 5 I sat on those steps one day determined to learn how to tie my shoelaces. Dad coached me until I accomplished the task. Many years later when I expressed this memory to siblings they wanted to see how I tied my laces insisting dad did it backward. I didn’t know from backward. I tied them how he taught me. They laughed at me saying I tie them backward like he did. Shoelaces will forever define the bond with my dad.

Dad taught me to fish, and sometime that same year I caught my first trout. Dad didn’t let me rig my own bait, which was fine with me; as much as I liked worms sticking them through a hook didn’t seem the kindest thing to do to them. I realize now his reason was subversive so he could catch the bigger fish. His mom often went fishing with us and always out-fished her son. He claimed it was her woman smell; she insisted on rigging her own bait. Dad taught me to clean fish as well until he learned if I cleaned them I couldn’t eat them. To this day if I clean fish I can’t eat them, but if you bring me cleaned fish I’ll cook them up for you and help you eat them too.

That same year I stepped on a nail that went through my foot and in another incident cut the fingers of my left hand on a broken window. Both times it was dad rather than mom who took me to the doctor. I wonder now if it was because he was in control of the money and would have to pay the doctors at the time of service, but I remember mom didn’t drive until I was 12 years old. Mom likely stayed home with the other three siblings while he had the task of getting me to the doctor. I don’t wonder about the comfort and strength he provided me with his stoic face hiding his certain panic that his little girl was hurt.

Then there was the time I picked all the green tomatoes and got my first “real” spanking. I thought I was helping bring in the harvest, but I had decimated the summer’s bounty. After that I understood I only picked veggies or fruit when the parents said, not under my own guidance as I did not yet know their ripening cycles.

And the time my sister and I peeled off all the lovely papery bark from his beloved three stump birch; those loose edges of thin bark just begged little girl fingers to be pulled and peeled. For some reason he loved that tree, saying it was an unusual and expensive tree, at least until many years later when he decided it was in the way and dispatched it without another thought as to whether we loved the tree. We were both spanked for that one. He thought we had peeled off enough bark to kill the tree so we got a painful lesson about being kind to trees. He did battle with tent caterpillars in that tree every year until he decided to cut it down.

I had a tricycle I loved. We had a nice flat driveway and it was just the right size for a small girl to ride in circles being careful, of course, to not bump the car and not ride out into the road. The driveway was right next to Dad’s garden and one day he handed me a jar of dirt with some worms in it telling me if I took care of them I could sell them to his fishing buddies. Then he wanted to add a slug to the jar and in my little mind slugs and worms did not belong together. I freaked, probably screamed, dropped the jar, scared us both, made a mess of shattered glass, and sacrificed a whole mess of worms and one slug to glass shrapnel rendering them useless for fishing, all entirely too close to the expensive tires on his car. His mistake was the glass jar; if the container had been plastic or wood the crisis would have been avoided even if dropped. I don’t remember being punished for this but it was a disturbing introduction to my future short-lived business as worm salesperson to his fishing buddies. Worms went for a penny each. No negotiations. Until one of his pals offered me what he had in his pocket for a dozen worms and I said OK. He laughed and pulled out a nickel and boy did I feel ripped off. I knew just enough about money to know that wasn’t right or fair. Never again did I fall for that one. From an adult point of view and knowing how people are, I’m grateful it was a nickel he pulled out of his pocket, and not some other sort of pflufferdoodle. Dad would not have tolerated any such violation nonsense toward his children.

So much for the lessons of my fifth year. As I grew older, he taught me to shoot, but not to hunt. He may have surmised from my inability to clean a fish that killing animals was not within my range of capabilities. As it was, the necessary torture of cleaning guns after use put a damper on my enthusiasm for shooting. Guns must be cleaned after each and every use or they may fail to work properly the next time you use them; Dad was methodical about taking care of his stuff; he had a place for everything and everything was in its place (our rooms used to drive him nuts so he’d close our doors to not look at the mess). I hated the smell of the metal cleaner you had to use, and I have a reaction to this day. So when I was able to out-shoot him with both my right and left hand he considered his job done. I had learned a healthy respect for guns and their care, and knew I didn’t want to use them in my everyday life. While I haven’t been to shooting practice for years, I like to think I’m still a good shot, and hoping I never need to use those skills.

Dad taught me to drive. Bless his heart, with the family station wagon, not his precious 1967 Mustang. Mom tried, but Dad had more patience with me. After I got my license at age 17, I still never got to drive the Mustang (was it a stick shift?), and it wasn’t long after he traded it in for a pick-up truck. The pickup was an automatic, but he was still stingy with it. If I wanted to borrow a car for a trip to the library, a football game, or a night with girlfriends, it was only ever the station wagon I got to use.

Dad taught me some tough lessons as well, like the time he caught me smoking cigarettes and made me smoke one after another until I was quite ill. Or the time he thought I slammed the door, and he made me close the door quietly, repeatedly, for so long I fainted (it was a hot day, the door was outside from house to outdoors, and he didn’t let me have a drink of water or food while I was having to open and close the door), and then he accused me of faking the pass-out to get out of the punishment.

Then there were the mixed messages. He wanted me to date like other young women my age, but my first boyfriend was Japanese-American (didn’t matter that this boyfriend’s dad was a professor at a private university), and after soldiering in The Philippines against the Japanese he came home thinking of other races as the enemy. My second boyfriend was 100 percent Cuban (this boyfriend’s father had gotten his family out of Cuba just before Castro took power and closed the exodus from his country). Dad was afraid of having little colored babies (he said it just like that) when I maintained you can’t help whom you love and skin pigmentation had nothing to do with anything. My third boyfriend was poor white trash, but that was OK with Dad because that was more like us than the others.

Or the time my girlfriend and I inhaled some cannabis with her uncle (who was a year older than us), and the uncle got mad at her for some reason and reported to her mother (his older sister) what we’d been up to, never admitting his complicity, of course. Her parents called mine and trouble hit the fan. By that time Dad was a county deputy sheriff and he couldn’t risk his reputation as an officer on the chance his kid might be caught. I was pretty mouthy by that age and questioned him about the difference between cannabis use and drinking every day (he made his own wine and ale, pretty good stuff too). I’d already experienced the debilitating drunk-buzz and the cannabis-buzz seemed much less compromising. Dad ended the conversation with a statement about illegality under federal law, it being his home and while I lived under his roof I would respect his wishes and position as an officer of the law and not imbibe, along with the administration of a one month grounding. He didn’t teach me to question authority (Mom was the one who encouraged me to do my own research and think critically for myself), but my failure to obey him never failed to dismay him. Truth is my dad was a functional benign alcoholic, that is, he worked to provide the means of support for his family but he drank every night to dissociate from us as well, and he was not abusive or intentionally mean. He was a sensitive man and I think he was overwhelmed by all of us, especially when we expressed our own opinions.

As a young woman with my first good steady job, I went to him asking his advice on buying a home. I figured I’d always need a home, had found a cute little bungalow just right for a single person who might marry in the future, and I thought it would be a good investment with my money. He kiboshed all thoughts of home ownership for me as he thought I should be well and permanently married before buying a home with my (future, non-existent) husband. I didn’t buy the house and years later when I told my mom, who had been the accountant in the family, she said she wished I’d talked to her as well. Who knows how well that would have turned out, but hindsight, you know.

While I always knew my dad loved me, I felt he didn’t approve of me much. He found it difficult to deal with my changing body and at nearly every meal expressed his concern about me getting fat (right there is the best way to create an eating disorder if there ever was one). I think he was afraid of my blossoming womanhood as when I started developing curves he developed a hands-off attitude and getting a hug or affection was like pulling teeth.

He never cared much for the man I married, but he liked getting invited to our home so he could go shooting or fishing with us. And when I became pregnant at the age of 38 he bought a used dresser and refurbished it, painting it white and blue, so I’d have something for the baby’s things, then delivered it to my home. And when I graduated magna cum laude from a private university at the age of 44 he cried at my graduation. I know he was proud even if his words were few.

When I was young I never considered that Dad had a full life before I arrived. He’d graduated high school, served in a war, graduated college, and married a woman he loved. When I was a young adult his life didn’t cross my mind much as I was so busy running my own struggling life. When I was old enough to be curious he was hobbled by the aphasia caused by his stroke. I missed the boat at many ports on that one as I go through boxes of his things and try to envision his past.

I got to share one thing with my dad I’ve never shared with anybody else. I was at his side holding his hand at the moment of his death. We don’t do that much in American society, and I’ll tell you, even though it is hard, it’s a sacred moment every person should experience. I told him how much I loved him, and he didn’t have to worry about me, as I could take care of myself. I told him he didn’t have to stay here in this life he had struggled with these last few years, having had surgery for an aortic aneurism, then a stroke, then a fall out of bed resulting in a broken femur, and surgery to fix the broken bone, and then pneumonia. Through his labored breathing I told him he had people waiting for him when he left, his mom and dad and brother and sister and grandparents, all of whom he hadn’t seen in a long time. I kissed him and petted his arm and wiped his face with a warm cloth and let him know it was OK to leave this world and he took his last breath.

With all that, I sit here missing him nearly every day. I like to think, had he been here longer, our relationship would have grown and developed into a more adult one, with an ability to talk comfortably with each other with less judgment. I could be wrong, maybe even very wrong, it’s all conjecture at this point, but I might be right as well. I’m still learning from him though he’s gone these many years now. I still tie my shoelaces backward. So many lessons. So many more too learn.

Color Watchcolorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – How many flowers I don’t know the name of (some much still to learn) like this golden starburst. Creamy white wild Queen Anne’s lace growing in the crack between the sidewalk and the curb. A patch of purple lavender spikes. A busy buzzy bee visiting a creamy white morning glory. First yellow day lilies of the season.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} Lady Bird (2017, rated R) with Laurie Metcalf and Saoirse Ronan. The actors catch the lower income struggle of never enough money and the dynamics of the mother/daughter relationship within that struggle. The ending kind of petered out though and I was a tad disappointed though I don’t know how I would have written it. Not that it needed a happy ending, and this was happy enough, it just felt anti-climactic after all the beautiful building of the parent-child dynamic. * Pasqualino settebellezze (Seven Beauties) (originally released as a motion picture in 1975, released on DVD 2017, rated R) directed by Lina Wertmüller, whom I had read about. An art movie full of symbolism with disturbing images of the atrocities of the war in Germany, much of the dialogue is pertinent to today’s American political climate. In Italian with English subtitles, they failed to subtitle the German, which I had to intuit from context. I had trouble tracking with the plot until the end which forced the question: what is the price we pay for living through the trials and tribulations we live through? It has nothing to do with money. This movie is not for the faint of heart.

Currently ReadingNatural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer (2018, sociology) by Barbara Ehrenreich. Macrophages and white blood cells, which are supposed to be the good guys in your body running around cleaning up bacteria and bad guys in your body, can go rogue and proceed to aid and abet cancer cells. So like I’ve been saying all along: you can control what you eat and drink, you can control how much activity and exercise you take, you can do all the meditation and mindfulness in the world, but your body will do what your body will do. None of it is in your control, though you may think it is, until it isn’t. * Noir (2017, fiction) by Christopher Moore. Typically hilarious Moore; it’s reading too fast!

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Missing my dad.
  • Hot tears while I wrote this week’s post.
  • Having a dad I loved who was a disciplinarian and not abusive.
  • An invitation to share dinner with the hubster’s newly found bio-father and family.
  • The son getting time off to share Father’s Day dinner with us.
  • The hubster’s newly found bio-brother surviving a car crash this week and the care brother is getting toward recovery.
  • My niece-in-law completing her college degree after marrying my nephew, and graduating rather than quitting like so many young women do after they marry.
  • Two babies in my extended families arriving safely this week.
  • Warming weather.
  • Fans.
  • The orientation of my house to catch evening breezes.
  • The music of leaves in the wind.
  • My stomach and intestines finally feeling a tad better. It’s only taken two and a half years out of the pressures of the work force to calm a bit.
  • Some fresh beets, roasted in olive oil and sea salt, and buttered to serve.
  • Water.
  • Hoping you have a lovely week.

    Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

    Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: The System Is Broken

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “The test of our progress is not whether we add to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide for those who have too little.”
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 2nd Inaugural Address, January 20, 1937

Sunday Haiku
Yellow wings, black stripes,
spread upon green pine branches,
drying in the sun.

Sunday Musings
Fifty percent of Americans live with incomes below the poverty live. Half of us. Most of those people are food insecure, meaning they don’t have access to healthful foods or money to afford three meals a day. Many people can’t afford rent or a mortgage. It takes four working adults in one household to be able to rent a two bedroom apartment. You have to be good friends to make that happen successfully, but honestly, that’s not the norm for Americans. Usually the second bedroom is for the kids.

These people are not welfare abusers. You know these people. We are your neighbors, friends, and family. We work at your grocery store, at your gas station, we serve you over the counter at the library, and check you in at the doctor’s office. We sell you your clothing, serve you your drinks and dinner, teach your yoga or continuing education class. We work 40 hours a week, sometimes as many as three jobs to make the 40 hours, and our spouses do the same. We are trying to raise children. We are retired and volunteer to help serve lunches at your child’s school, or at the Home Instead group helping folks older than us in our neighborhoods, or at the local police national Night Out event. We don’t ask for much other than the dignity of a modest home and food on the table for our families. We are hard working, honest people. You can’t expect people to work harder when there aren’t any more hours in the week. Do you know how hard it is to be presentable for work or a volunteer position when you don’t have a home to sleep in and clean up in?

For example, I learned from the single 40ish assistant manager of our local corporate-owned grocery store she has not one penny of her own savings toward retirement and can barely make her rent, and this is a woman who has worked her way upward into management. No, they don’t give her a discount on groceries; she will have a small retirement package and Social Security to retire on, but she doesn’t plan on retiring. She’ll still be standing behind the counter ringing a cash register until her dying day whenever that is. She’s still able to work, and of course I encouraged her to start putting away that few dollars a month for if she is forced to stop working. Physical challenges happen to most people in service jobs at younger ages than in white collar jobs. She was startled when I reminded her Medicare requires a premium every month after she turns 65 whether she is working or not; she didn’t realize and like most people thought Medicare was “free”.

Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don’t see those who live with less. Maybe you live where the houses are freshly painted and the yards well kept, and every driver in the household has a car with a garage for it. Drive down the street or to the other side of town and you will see people living moment to moment, who would love to paint their house, or have the time between three jobs to tidy the yard. You may see families who have only one car and five jobs between them to get to. You might see families who leave the ten year old at home in charge of the littles because there is not money for childcare once they pay for food. Perhaps you drive past a homeless camp and wonder what is wrong with them that they don’t have a home. It isn’t necessarily a racial thing, but it is incrementally that much harder for people of color. Count your blessings if you are more than one paycheck or injury away from homelessness yourself.

It is not what people do wrong. Sometimes we make poor choices. Sometimes weird stuff happens. Nationwide we haven’t had this level of poverty, homelessness, and hunger since the 1930s. Unfortunately our “booming” economy in 2018 is rigged against forward growth for the average person no matter how hard we work. In America, if you are not born into money, or one of the few for whom the fluke of success actually happened, you are likely struggling to make ends meet.

I am sad when I go through the check stand of our local Fred Meyer/Kroger store (Fred Meyer was a big man back in his day when he opened his first store in 1931 in the Hollywood district of Portland Oregon; he’s gone many years now, and his stores are owned now by the Kroger corporation) and every check stand is staffed by people over sixty. I have such mixed feelings. It’s good these people are still able to work and they likely are experienced and don’t need training. But are they really still able to work or are they working because they have to, to pay for health care or rent or food? Where are the young employees? I’m hoping they have the early morning and late night shifts, so the olders get the prime hours. Certainly, the youngers have families to feed as well, and they can’t all be in white collar, college graduate work. Oh wait, there’s the young college graduate, the barista at the in-store Starbucks. See, mixed feelings.

So many job openings are available in my area, all minimum wage. All these jobs are entry level, customer service jobs. My personal opinion is everybody should work a customer service job at some point in their life to understand how hard the work is. It’s a great starting point for learning work ethics, like how to be at work on time, how not to yell back at the customers who are yelling at you, and how to play well with co-workers. Most of these jobs are part-time with a fluctuating schedule. Read this to say: part-time equals not enough to live on and no benefits, and fluctuating equals irregular hours that change from week to week, making it difficult to take a second job to make a consistent 40 hour week. These jobs are all about the employer: you work for us, we own you, you are at our beck and call, and we don’t care what happens to you or how difficult it is for you.

These jobs often go unfilled or are quickly turned over. Employers want skilled workers for entry level jobs, but how do you get the skills? They aren’t taught in high school. Employers say the applicants don’t fit in, or don’t have the work ethic or skills. Employers don’t want to invest time training the employee, so where does an employee develop those skills? Employers, especially corporations, could offer paid probationary training periods as an incentive to applicants. Every job requires a learning curve.

Employers miss the boat here on a couple of points. When employees have regular schedules they are better employees. When employees are paid enough money to live on they are better employees. In general the happier your employee is, the better your business will be and the happier your customers will be. It is to the advantage of employers to pay their workers better, because workers then spend that money right back into the economy. If consumers have no money to spend, the economy is not supported, nor booming. Amazing how that works. When it works. Right now the system is broken. If it was working well we would not have a 50 percent poverty rate.

I understand with small businesses or building a new business, how you need to be conservative with your budget. I don’t understand corporations where the CEO makes billions of dollars a year, while their employees live in their cars and have to use food stamps.

My mom always told me life is not fair. I’ve learned how very right she was. We don’t have the same choices, opportunities, or advantages. But I think life, or at least the employment and making a living so you can raise your family in a consumer capitalistic society part of it, could be a little more fair. If the happiness or contentment of the people around you or who work for you is a priority rather than the money you can make off them, I suspect your revenues would be increased. Happy employees work harder, come in earlier, stay later, and deliver increased productivity and better customer service. Putting employees first is to everybody’s advantage.

There’s today’s two cents on the booming economy. With inflation that’s probably only worth about .0002 cents. In my budget every penny still counts.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Fireburst orange and yellow coreopsis. Lovely yellow spears I don’t know the name of. Shades of pink sweet Williams. I love me a yellow rose.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} For D-Day, June 6th, I watched Operation Dunkirk (2017, not rated) while waiting for Dunkirk which has a long queue. History movies are tough, especially when based on a true story. Two things bothered me about this film. First, though the Brits were running from the Nazis, literally through the woods and for their lives, it seemed like there was always plenty of time to get themselves out of whatever new calamity befell them, like the time they find a booby trap and have to escape the rigged grenade while the Nazis are right behind them. Second, wherever we are in the film (note the movie is during a war, in the woods out in the middle of nowhere), in every scene the female protagonist (an operative who has a code needed to thwart the enemy) always has freshly applied lipstick, and no matter what muck or mire they’d been through her “uniform” (specially tailored to be form fitting) was immaculate and well pressed. Meh. * Binged through the one available season of Deep Water (2016, rated TV – MA), with Yael Stone (Morello in Orange is the New Black). Set in Bondi Beach, Australia, gay men are being murdered, but it’s being put down as suicides, and it’s a 30 year pattern. * The Code (2014, TV – MA), another Australian production with Lucy Lawless (Zena: Warrior Princess). A teenaged girl is murdered, and a journalist and his brother who is an autistic computer code savant are pivotal to solving the murder. I have surely been enjoying these Australian productions.

Currently ReadingBluebeard’s Egg (1983, fiction and memoir) by Margaret Atwood. Another artist I am always impressed with, no matter what I’ve read of hers. * Noir (2017, fiction) by Christopher Moore. Moore is the rare writer who can make a point and be funny at the same time. His sense of humor is foremost in everything I’ve read by him. This novel is a tongue-in-cheek rendition of the old black and white film noir movie genre. I’m talking bust-a-gut laugh-out-loud so the other people in the room look at you weird funny. And it takes place in San Francisco; I enjoy stories about San Francisco, having a had a few adventures there myself.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Running into a retired pastor friend at the farmers market and enjoying a lengthy conversation upon the state of the world and the failings of American leadership.
  • Earrings. I’ve not worn earrings for years and I have a beautiful variety to wear. My ears are pierced and I’m grateful the holes didn’t close up. I’ve seen the prettiest earrings out there lately.
  • The two women who went out of their way to stop me at the farmers market and tell me how much they missed me serving them at my last place of employment. Since leaving was not my choice and done under duress, I was grateful to them for saying so, which I told them as well.
  • A beautiful day of rain after two dry months. Keeping Oregon green.
  • The monarch butterfly who spread his wings to dry in the fir tree outside my kitchen window. I watched him for the longest time.
  • The music of rain.
  • Birds singing when the sprinkles started, rain coming, birds quieting, rains harder, birds silent, rain eases, birds singing again.
  • After the rainfall, the smell of pine trees, blackberries, and scotch broom evaporating the water they just took on.
  • Getting back into the swing of my tai chi exercises after falling out with a broken toe last winter. Back to square one, a great place to start. Start where you are.
  • Ibuprofen and microwave hot packs.
  • Watching the Portland Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade on TV. They got rained on this year, but the participants had nothing but smiles.
  • Marching bands.
  • Still having my own home.
  • Oregon cherries.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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