Gratitude Sunday: There’s No Place Like Home

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

Sunday Haiku
Breezes shake branches,
green leaves rattle boogaloo
and roll in soft air.

Sunday Musings
I love houses. Since I was little I have loved houses. Mom used to let me make dollhouses and furniture out of cardboard boxes before she thought I was old enough to take care of a real dollhouse. I was allowed to carve windows and doors with a knife, and she didn’t panic the day she said, “Be careful. Don’t cut yourself” as I looked up and sawed the serrated knife right through the tip of my finger. She washed the cut, slapped on a bandage, and got out the box of used gift wrapping scraps so I could finish covering my furniture with pieces of pretty paper without getting blood on the precious bits of saved paper. Blood is no reason to abandon a perfectly good cardboard dollhouse in progress.

I think most people benefit from having a house. That used to be part of the American Dream, owning your own home and being able to pay your property tax. I know an old woman, she must be nearly 90 now, whose family used to sell apples from the trees in their yard every fall to pay their property tax. Stability, being able to count on something (like your home) always being the same, is an important factor in success in American culture. Those days are gone. But are they? Maybe we need to do things differently.

I am saddened by empty houses, and more so when they are allowed to become derelict or worse, zombies, especially when so many people are in need of homes. Is greed that important? Empty businesses distress me as well. Another piece of my sadness about housing is how many young people cannot afford a home within 10 miles of their workplace. Home prices here in the Pacific Northwest are so high, with their accompanying property taxes, people are choosing to live an hour’s drive or more from where they work. We’ll just set aside the math of the gas expenditure, because home purchasing is more about qualifying for a home mortgage than about how you arrange your finances to pay for it. Recently three of my nieces and nephews, all in their 20s and 30s, have purchased homes outside the metro area, because the homes were less than $200,000.00 and the property taxes proportionately lower. They face daily drive time which isn’t just about the gas, it’s time one could have spent at the farmers market, or preparing home cooked food, or in their home gardens, or simply snuggling with their families. I understand wanting to live in a rural area. I lived “in the country” for 11 years down by the Oregon coast and I loved the constant relationship with nature, but I worked within a 10 mile radius of my home. In most rural areas you cannot earn enough money to pay for the home you can barely afford to purchase there, but I admire my young people for choosing to buy homes while they are still young. What an American conundrum!

If I’d had the knowledge and the ability to radically change my career I used to entertain the idea of restoring houses. Not remodel, necessarily. I like the old forms, the old shapes, the old patterns. Until I don’t. If it makes sense to take out a wall for more space or repair a bad remodel then I’m for that, but for me, I think in most cases keeping the original intact with a freshening is the way to go.

I enjoy watching remodel/restoration shows on TV. In many cases I find myself disagreeing with the changes they make. I’m not doing the work or paying for the work so of course I don’t get to say, but they are inspiring, and it’s rather fun to disagree and dream about what I would do instead. I love simple changes and additions like taking out old damaged carpet and adding under-floor heating before installing a hardwood floor. Another favorite is upgrading wall heaters to central air. My favorite additions are screened porches for enjoying evening or morning breezes mostly insect free. I am also in favor of taking out bathtubs that are too small for the owners and installing tubs of comfortable size. Nothing restores the body like a deep hot bath.

Isn’t dreaming fun? I have always veered away from selling real estate because I was afraid of loving too many houses. Restoration would likely affect me the same, plus I’d have the investment of the upgrade, whatever it was, so the house would feel like part of me.

Speculators and construction companies should be required to renovate a house inside the urban boundary for every new house they build on speculation, especially if the new house is built on land that has, in the past, been used for agricultural purposes. For every person who wants to live outside the city there is one who wants to live inside. For every person who wants to live in a larger home there is a person who wants a smaller one. If we put houses on all our farm land, where will we grow our food? We are already seeing the evidence of commercial farming, such as obesity from poor quality processed “foods” , and poisoning of our waters and lands from poorly handled waste management. We cannot continue unsustainable agricultural processes any more than we can continue letting people live under bridges or become squatters in zombie houses.

The amusing part is, I am hardly able to take care of my own home. I keep finding corners that haven’t seen the light of day for years. If I can work a few minutes every day in a few years I can start back at the same corner and do it all over again. Never a dull moment. I’d just love to have more steam to get more done. Or help getting stuff done (though I can’t afford to pay for help). I can see now why families had many kids, so at least one would stay home and help out the old folks.

Remember my magic wand? That pretty pretend one I made up? I get to use it whenever I want and I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. If you have a home I wish you get to keep it and can take care of it. If you want a different home I wish you get to have it. If you need a home, double wishes for you to get it.

It’s spring and my doors and windows are open. I can see all the saggy cobwebs and the beggar’s velvet waiting for my Swiffers and sinks full of soapy water. There is so much abundance as I clean, I try to have a couple boxes set up as I go. One box is for items (that I’m finally ready to let go) that can go to family members who will appreciate them, and another box for items (that I’m finally ready to let go) that can go to a local re-sale shop.

That’s the best abundance, isn’t it? Having enough on your to-do list to fill the hours of your days. Even if your to-do list consists of reading and writing and movie watching and napping and a bit of cleaning. Add dreaming and bird watching and watching the grass grow, and the list is nearly complete. Top it all with a layer of gratitude and all in all you have a lovely day ahead of you in your house.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Oh, my, the mighty iris! Everywhere I went this week I noticed the irises had popped out. So many colors from yellow to burgundy. So many shades of purple. Some wilder than others.

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.} Manchester by the Sea (2016, rated R), drama, tragedy, drama, tragedy, drama, beautiful pictures of the town. I can see the significance of the film dealing with tragedy and depression, but for me: Meh. * Season 3 of Game of Thrones (2015, rated TV-MA), the power struggle persists.

Currently Reading – Finished Melissa Febos’s Abandon Me (2016, memoir) and appreciated her self-analysis and thoughts about human connections. * The Dressmaker (2000, fiction) by Rosalie Ham, the novel from which the movie I watched twice last week was based. Looking for answers to a couple questions the movie left in my little brain and enjoying the differences and similarities between the two formats. The author wrote a treatment for the screenplay as well. * Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (2016, radical politics), by Jane Mayer. Semi-assigned homework in the interest of a project upon which I may be embarking. I tried to read this book last year and was intimidated by the politics of the wealthy from my lower economics point of view, I could not connect with the information and had to set it down. I will read with different eyes this time.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Time spent speaking with and getting to know more about an acquaintance.
  • Being introduced to ideas I had not encountered before and suggesting ideas someone else had not pondered before. And nobody got upset; it was all intellectual discourse.
  • University commencement weekend (I live in a semi-rural town the farthest west you can go before getting into the foothills of the coast range and it happens to have a private university in it) and glad I didn’t have to go out in the traffic.
  • Being able to hear the commencement music from the privacy of my home a couple blocks away.
  • Enjoying the cheers for the graduates.
  • Looking forward to a quieter town next week after the students have made their summer transitions.
  • Lovely mild days, not too hot, not too cold, not raining, not too sunny, not too windy. As Goldilocks said, “Just right.”
  • Spring fragrances on the air, breezed into the house through open doors.
  • New tree leaves looking like they are happy-dancing on their branches when the breeze moves them.
  • My local aquatic center, supported by our tax dollars (yes, I pay my taxes), which is one of the best investments in maintaining my health.
  • Eating up some leftovers in the fridge because I didn’t get to go to farmers market this week.
  • Oregon cherries!
  • Daydreaming.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: Mother’s Day: The Best We Know

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

Sunday Haiku
Little birds twitter
splashing in my spring puddles
eating baby bugs.

Sunday Musings
Happy Mother’s Day! Mothers are so special having a special day seems superfluous. Mothers are special every day. It’s nice to be acknowledged, but I am not fond of contrived holidays, days where one seems pressured to behave in a certain way. Especially when the focus appears to be consumerism: Spend money on Mom! Gifts are supreme!

Hwell, don’t. Don’t spend money on me. Spend time with me. Regularly. Talk with me. Tell me your plans and dreams, I promise I’ll try not to quash them. Listen when I tell you my stories and advice; I will return the time in kind.

Perhaps we could change the focus of what we can do for moms from consumerism to activism. To look forward and be an active participant in activism we must also listen to people who are young. My mom’s been gone nearly 4 years now and I’d love to hear her voice again. To see her face. To hold her hand. To talk intelligently together about how we’d change the world to save the people of the world and our planet, or about the book we just read, or about something we didn’t know about each other and were finally adult enough to share.

I didn’t know everything about my mom; she had many secrets she couldn’t bear to tell. I suspect I wouldn’t bear hearing them without crying for her, so just as well she didn’t share. I did know her well enough to know she would be appalled at our current political situation, especially the treatment of women. I know she would be encouraging me in my efforts to work for human rights and the health of the planet. I know she supported all women, whether they were mothers or not.

Mom did everything she could to support the efforts of my sister and me to succeed in this patriarchal society. She begged us to go back to and finish college. She did the same for my brothers as well, but she knew how much harder it all is for women with the double burden of primary care for the home and family as well as outside work.

This Mother’s Day I struggle with helping the son in the working society. He is between jobs. He has no college degree (and thus no student debt, which he insists on until he can figure out another way). He has so much going for him: he owns a GED, he is an Eagle Scout, he has the energy of youth, he is smart and intelligent, he is averagely attractive, he is personable, and he is empathetic. He is also a critical thinker who thinks for himself, and he is not intimidated from calling foul if such is the truth. Those lovely individual qualities don’t always get you a job. There are jobs out there for people with these kinds of qualities, he just hasn’t found the one for him yet.

I am at a lack to help him sufficiently. He’s 24 now, and I keep trying to step back, to let him find his own adult way, but like many mothers I can’t help but want to wave my pretty magic wand (remember my pretty pretend magic wand?) and get him that perfect job, the perfect life. I also am not in any position to bestow my [non-existent] financial affluence upon him. Where would the adventure be for him if I did that? I tell him now it’s been proven beyond any shadow of doubt his chances of becoming President of the United States are better than ever before in his or my lifetimes. Even though he hasn’t inherited money, he has wits. There would be an adventure.

I am selfishly busy with my own transition, moving toward retirement and the changes of moving my husband and myself into Medicare and trying to find ways to pay off my mortgage sooner rather than later. My life does not concern my son; he has no idea how hard this is for me. I remember being his age when EVERYTHING was about me and learning and making my adult way. I had little (read: no) time for my parents. Only as I became older did I realize the importance of sharing time with my aging parents and I am so grateful for the time I spent with them before they passed. I’d love to hear their stories all over again and to ask about others I’m curious about.

This is an important time for him. He has to find his own way; I’ve already been there, and I know how hard it is. I’ve had plenty of parenting failures in the past, we won’t count through those as we don’t get re-dos, right? Now, I can only provide a base for him while taking care of myself during my own transition, a base he can come to when he needs to, anytime he needs to. I can be the rock, the anchor, the port in whatever storm besets him. I can be the fridge full of food, the hot shower, the washer and dryer of clean clothes. I can be the ear to try ideas on. I can be the mouth who encourages or suggests which ideas to try or follow through on. All these things my mom did for me.

One day, if I live long enough, the tide will change. He’ll see, maybe, how a few minutes or hours invested in your old parents are worth every minute in the long run. I realized it long before I became a parent, and one does not have to become a parent to see the value of your own. Some parents aren’t worth that time, but I’m not talking about those unfortunate people now. You must protect yourself. I like to think of myself as a parent who did her best, even though, like all parents, I barely knew what I was doing.

Even though we didn’t know what we were doing, we survived. In defense of the lack of knowledge most people approach parenting with, most of us don’t come through this life without damage. Some of us are born damaged, some become damaged, yet the perpetrators of those quirks and phobias in our personalities are not always the result of parenting. An example would be the damage a bully does. And sometimes there simply seems to be no explanation why a person suffers low self-esteem or becomes mentally ill. It’s not always the parent’s fault; the village can be a great big damaging world and in many cases we are trained not to tell.

Moms (and dads) do the best job they can without an instruction booklet. We learn as we go along, but isn’t that true of everything we do? Until we do it we don’t know how. And even if we did it before, things can change every time you do it again. That’s OK. Spending time together doesn’t change and benefits all involved. Every day is a new day, a new adventure, a new way, a new chance to grow and learn. Spend time with Mom!

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Purple speckled throat in creamy white Sappho rhododendron. I admire the hot pink blossoms of this tree every year and still don’t know its name. Wild flowers are beautiful too! White clovers in a neighbors lawn. Red speckles on a purple blossom rhododendron.

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.} Moonlight (2016, rated R), winner of 2016 Academy Award Best Movie and I can see why. The movie handles difficult topics like drug use and sexuality with a tempered hand, and the sexuality was beautifully filmed and underplayed. Recommended. * American Honey (2016, rated R), in which I realize I am so far away from youth culture as to be laughable, and there are many families out there who are waaaay more dysfunctional than mine. This almost three hour movie dragged through a group of throw-away kids who sell magazines to make a living. I was grateful for the fast forward button for the two explicitly detailed sex scenes (sorry, other people having sex does not entertain me) and through the last of the movie. The only plot I could determine was who was hooking up with whom and the games and revenge when changes take place, maybe? Meh. * The Girl on the Train (2016, rated R) with Emily Blunt. Having recently read the novel I was interested to see the movie interpretation. Here is a British author writing a novel about London and its outlying suburbs accessible by train and the movie takes place in New York. What?!? Perhaps the producers thought an Americanization would make the movie a better seller, but for this viewer it was disconcerting to expect one thing and get another through “theatrical license”. Did the American setting improve the story? For one thing, in my imagination when I read the book I saw the houses as much smaller and the movie gives us mini-McMansions on acre-sized lots; we are treated to the vision of American affluence, now so hard to attain and maintain. A few characters in the book were completely absent in the movie which is not unusual, but the setting change completely threw me. The movie was mediocre, not very thrilling mystery-wise as far as visuals, even though I’d read the book and knew the plot, or perhaps because of. Meh. * Sleeper hit of the week for me was The Dressmaker (2015, rated R) with Kate Winslet. Picked this up as a fluke from my local lending library from the “best seller” shelf. A dark comedy mystery set in 1951 rural Australia, a small town, an unsolved mystery, murders, and haute couture. There is also love and truth and though I don’t usually advocate revenge, the revenge that takes place oddly satisfies my sense of justice. Strangely I laughed out loud at the twists and quirks of the plot. Recommended.

Currently ReadingThe Book of Joan (2017, fiction) by Lidia Yuknavitch. GAAHH. Recommended. If it wasn’t due back at the library for the next person waiting in queue, I’d read it again. * Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living (2017, authors and economic aspects) by edited by Manjula Martin, a collection of essays by published authors. Just starting, always researching. So far, stories of authors in poverty. Writing is such an iffy business I’m amazed writers make any money at all. Really tough to make a living with art and no formulae for success.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • The fragrance of lilacs. I wish I could have it year round. I cut a large bunch just before they faded and brought them inside. I think the aroma is making its forever home in my nasal passages.
  • Not being generally allergic to pollens, tree, flower, grass, or otherwise.
  • Enjoying the fragrances of flowers and trees and grasses and otherwise.
  • Waking up.
  • Enjoying several lovely spring days, all in a row.
  • Surviving another trip into the greater Portland area. Life is interesting with so many people in a hurry.
  • Remembering sometimes there are no easy answers or solutions and learning to trust the process.
  • A possible work opportunity which could be an exciting use of my skills and a learning experience as well.
  • People who take the time to listen.
  • People who take the time to explain.
  • People who are empathetic and do their best to avoid being judgmental.
  • Two fat bags of the sweetest juiciest lettuce, a dozen fresh eggs from a gardener I trust, a small bunch of white tipped radishes and the sharp rich earthy taste of the radishes I remember my Dad growing when I was a child.
  • My friends who aren’t mothers yet who help parent the world. I love you all.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: Thank You, Jackie

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

Sunday Haiku
Spring, indifferent
queen, flighty rain, fickle sun,
bring your nature home.

Sunday Musings
I have always been fascinated by Jackie Kennedy. I viewed the new movie Jackie (2016, rated R) this week, and while there is much I didn’t like about the movie, it reminded me of how much I admired a woman who went through a very difficult time in a very public manner. She had some choices, but perhaps not the ones that would have been best for her. She had to acknowledge her husband’s family, and the entire country who were all nearly as much in shock as she was.

My critique of the movie you can read below in my Current View segment. I want to tell you why I am so fascinated with Jackie. It’s all about her chronology. How somebody can endure so many life changes in such a small amount of time without imploding/exploding/disintegrating into mental health issues, amazes me. But she was a mother and a good one so she couldn’t disintegrate with the trauma. She had to keep going on.

Jackie was born July 28, 1929, the same year as my mother, being a mere 4 months older. Obviously their lives were quite different. I thought they had a vague resemblance when I first became aware of her when I was in the second grade. They both had strong jawlines and high cheekbones, pretty eyes, thick dark hair, and slender figures. I’m guessing my awareness of Jackie started with JFK’s campaign for president. We had a TV and it would have been the beginning of recorded history for the populace as more TVs were being made affordable enough for most family homes.

In 1953, JFK was 36 years old on May 29th. He’d been elected to serve as Senator for Massachusetts, having previously served in the House of Representatives for six years. Jackie was 24 years old on July 28th. They married on September 12 that year. She knew whom she was marrying; she’d been groomed and prepared for a political life. I was born in October.

In the fall of 1953 and winter on 1954 JFK had two delicate and serious back surgeries, and had several more back surgeries over the years.

In 1955, the year my sister was born, Jackie suffered her first miscarriage, pregnancy number 1. August 23, 1956, she delivered a stillborn daughter she named Arabella, pregnancy number 2. Pregnancy number 3 resulted in Caroline’s live birth on November 27, 1957. Caroline will be 60 this year. The older of my two baby brothers was born in 1957, and just joined the 60 club. They have very different lives.

It’s almost eerie how her time-line speeds up now. From hindsight, of course.

JFK was elected as the 35th President of the United States on November 8, 1960. Seventeen days later, November 25, 1960, Jackie’s 4th pregnancy delivered John F Kennedy Jr. Two days after John Jr’s birth, November 27 Caroline celebrated her 3rd birthday. JFK is inaugurated January 20, 1961. Jackie has an almost 2 month old infant in arms, and a toddler, though from my limited resources it appears as if the children did not attend any of the inaugural events. Jackie attended the inaugural events. Underneath her wool coat, was she leaking breast milk for her new baby like any new mother or had she handed him over to nannies and sterile bottle formula feeding? She was a private person, and this detail we are likely to never know.

Then the quantum time leap of 1963 occurs.

Patrick Kennedy, Jackie’s 5th pregnancy in 8 years, was born on August 9, 1963 and lived 2 days, just long enough for a mother to fall in love with her child. She had to endure his funeral and burial.

September 12th, 1963 was the 10th anniversary of Jackie and JFK.

1963 and the trainwreck which disrupts the world: JFK is assassinated November 22, 1963. It was my mother’s birthday. She was 34, same age as Jackie. Vice President Lyndon Johnson insisted on being inaugurated President while on the plane en route to DC, with JFK’s body aboard and Jackie still in the suit she was wearing when he was killed.

Three days later John Jr has his 3rd birthday on November 25th. Mass was held for his father and JFK was interred the same day.

Two days after John Jr’s birthday, November 27, Caroline has her 6th birthday.

Jackie had not expected to move from the White House for at least another two years and more likely 6 after a re-election, and though she always knew she’d have to move out of the White House as some point, now in the midst of the burial of her husband, and the birthdays of her two surviving children she was expected to immediately remove herself, her children, and her belongings from the White House.

See what I mean? She was only 34. It was a fast 10 year run which seemed to include all good choices. Ten years: a marriage, a decade together to celebrate; 5 pregnancies, two infant burials, one miscarriage, plenty of heart ache; the several surgeries for her husband with the inherent risks surgery always includes; perhaps the knowledge that her husband was likely not being faithful to his marriage vows, and that perhaps he was more ill than he wanted known by the public; then the shock of JFK’s murder as she tried to hold him together with her own hands; the moving of households at least three times within those 10 years, one of the moves after a traumatic shock. So much disruption and sorrow in a short 10 years. If you are anywhere over 30 years of age you know how short 10 years is now, especially if you have children of your own.

I was 10 years old just a month before JFK was killed. I remember the fifth grade classroom I was in, and the boy who delivered the news was known as a prankster, so the teacher did not immediately believe him. Then we found out he was right, and the teacher was rattled; she was the kind of old fashioned old-lady teacher who was never rattled. I cried all the way home.

The body can only bear so much. Jackie went on to another marriage to Aristotle Onassis, to a career in editing, and saw three grandchildren born to her daughter Caroline and she got to spend time with them. She passed away from breast cancer at the age on 64 on May 19, 1994. I’m glad she didn’t have to bury her son, as JFK Jr died in July of 1999. Caroline had to deal with that and I haven’t even thought that much about what she’s gone through, losing her father, her mother, her brother and only sibling. As I write this I realize this year she is 60.

I have been contemplating presidential candidates for 2020. I’d like to see a younger person step up. Somebody who is truly a champion for the people, not the already wealthy. Too bad Caroline is going to be 60, and she’s been through enough already. Though she doesn’t have the service record of her father, she’d be a sight better than what we have now. At least I have confidence she would bother to do her homework.

We all have our stories. Jackie’s was more public than most. She was fascinated by and studied history, and she made her mark in history as well. As we approach the anniversary of her death, I’d like to say, Thank you, Jackie, for your dignity, your grace during crisis, your endurance, your inspiration to a generation of women who, while we might not be like her in affluence or politics, we are like her in our endurance, our dignity, and our ability to keep on despite the traumas in this life.

Color Watchcolorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – A bright pink rhododendron that lives up the street. I love the pale pink of this poppy with the fat black center. The only flowering plant in my yard is right outside my bedroom window; love the pale pink. Purple allium globes.

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.} Fences (2016, rated PG – 13) with Viola Davis and Denzel Washington; Davis won Academy Award Best Supporting Actress for her performance. Wow, this film caught a slice of life so uniquely and precisely. The details: every scrap of sun in a yard was planted with vegetables in the midst of so much concrete, pots of greens in every yard where there was no dirt. The view of the neighborhood street in so many views, and different weather. How tender they were with each other until it all fell apart, and it could happen in anybody’s life. Recommended. * Jackie (2016, rated R), with Natalie Portman. In the days after JFK’s assassination, Jackie meets with a journalist and relives the trauma of her husband’s murder. This is a difficult movie to do well. Jackie’s wig was atrocious and ill-fitted. Natalie did her best to emulate Jackie’s affected speech patterns, but often her attempts resulted in facial distortions and did not come off as natural. There also seemed something lacking (or forced?) in her passion/trauma. I realize a woman in the public eye will have to behave differently, but I’m talking about the movie story. It just didn’t quite do it for me. Meh.

Currently ReadingThe Book of Joan (2017, fiction) by Lidia Yuknavitch. The author rips your heart out, then your brain, burns it all, and then builds you back together again. Gah. * Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science (2015, scientific morality and ethics) by Alice Dreger. Be careful what your doctor tells you; eyes wide open. Do your own research, especially if you are offered a drug that is experimental in any way, or being used “off label” (not what it was originally designed for). Read all forms put in front of you to sign, and require copies for your own files. Medicine, science, peer review, and oversight committees are all in question because of the competition for federal and public funding and grant acquisition; some people are willing to fudge the ethics to get the funding. The disintegration of the investigative press because of the Internet has an impact as well, as information is more haphazard. You cannot be too careful. It’s your body. Or your child’s, or parent’s.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Surviving a recent 4 hour tour into the greater Portland area. This world is so busy! And in such a hurry!
  • The sweet smell of wet trees and soil and how that changes with the ambient temperature.
  • Learning patience. Every day goes by no matter what else you do or what you are waiting for.
  • Finding a fat bag of lettuce mix at the farmers market. And a box of sugar snap peas.
  • The green spring flavor of lettuce and peas.
  • Missing my dad, gone 16 years this week.
  • The sun so bright a couple of days, I could not see.
  • The bright and loud thunderstorm that moved through and washed everything clean.
  • Getting through the hubster’s birthday. He’s not an easy man to please, rather like a chameleon, and after all these years I still don’t have a handle on how to read him.
  • The little birds outside tweeting through the day.
  • Enjoying a mild day, not too hot, not too cold, and the hail only lasted a few minutes.
  • Learning new rhythms.
  • The struggle I have embracing impermanence and insecurity. It is what it is.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: Farmers Markets Coming To A Community Near You

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

Sunday Haiku
Branches hula in
wind, dancing in my window
view, then back again.

Sunday Musings
To balance out after last week’s rant, this week’s rave thanks the universe for nature. You can count on certain things, and nature doesn’t lie. It is forthright and always truthful, if sometimes too forceful. The sun comes up and it goes down. Water comes to us freely from the sky through the miracle of evaporation and the water cycle. The earth moves around the sun so we get to have seasons. We might not like the weather (It’s too hot! I’m so tired of the rain!), but at least we have it. I like the rain. I like some sun. Not too much of either. But I don’t control the weather, like so much else in life I don’t get to control. We may not control it, but one of the best parts nature brings us is yummy things to eat.

I like the way the grass grows and in such comforting shades of green. I love the smell of trees and the soil after it rains. I like the open sky and the different shades of blue depending on the time of day, from the lightest blue to the deepest midnight. I like the bright and pastel colorful flowers throughout the year and the change of colors to vivid hot leaves in the autumn and more subdued tones in winter. Myriad shades of gray, from the palest shades of pearl to the darkest shades of thunder, of most rainy Oregon skies are soothing to me. Until it’s not. There does come a point when there’s been too many days of rain in a row. Same with the sun. I like a nice balance, but like my road less traveled, not always achieved.

I’m not sure we can ever have enough rain. We’ve had several dry summers here and a couple years of rain is not going to cure the long term drought Eastern Oregon and California have been experiencing. Do you want fresh local food? We need rain, and a good bit of sun. When the balance goes awry, the results change. Too much rain? No tomatoes. Too much sun? No lettuce. Blossoms come before the bees warm up and wake from their winter hibernation? No plums this year.

I love fresh garden grown foods. I’m not fond of commercial production (because: Monsanto and Big Agriculture), and I’m less able to do my own gardening these days, so I use my local farmers market when it is open. When I buy small amounts just for the week I throw very little away and feel like I get the most for my money. I like junk food too, but that’s a different story.

My community has a farmers market half the year, from May through October. For several years they’ve been teasing us with the suggestion of a year round market. I think they could make a go of it as the summer market is very popular and savvy gardeners and community farmers know ways to lengthen the growing season with lovely structures like greenhouses, hoop tunnels, and cold frames. Many of these structures can be built with recycled materials – even better.

I’m so looking forward to farmers market season! The best parts of nature are what you can eat!

It’s early for strawberries because it’s been a cold wet winter and spring. I’m looking forward to fresh eggs (gotta get to the market early to get the eggs; they go fast), to a bag of early lettuce and a handful of spring onions (scallions). I’m hoping I find a nice bunch of asparagus and maybe a couple first of the season radishes.

One vendor makes pies. His crust is not too thick or too thin. His fruit fillings are not overly sweet. This time of year his fruit is frozen from last year. Knowing the source of his fruit and the quality of his pie is a great excuse to buy one in celebration of the first of the season. Bonus for the hubster who gets to have a birthday this week (64! yes, still feeding him, still needing him, thank you, Paul McCartney), and fruit pie is his preference.

I miss the days when I was able to do so many of these activities myself: gardening, cooking from scratch, preserving and putting up fruit, making jam and jelly, baking pies. I love knowing where to find the next best thing and finding shortcuts to still have fresh foods on my table. It makes my week a bit easier to plan around what’s fresh in my farmers market bag.

The first market of the month is a special artisan’s market: there are more artisans and artists, textiles, clothing, henna art, garden items, and handmade items of many kinds. The market provides a hands-on activity for kids and musical entertainment as well. Nice when your community comes together once a week to celebrate local food and art and even more fun the first market of the month.

In a few more weeks Oregon strawberries will be fat, sweet, and juicy. Cherries and raspberries and blueberries will come quickly after. Onions and garlic will start showing up. Varieties of lettuce, beets, potatoes, and tomatoes in the wildest colors and the best flavors all will grace my plate.

My community’s market makes me feel so full of abundance. My little bit of money goes into the pocket of a neighbor for a little bit of bountiful goodness on my table and in my mouth.

The market is a great excuse to get out and be face-to-face social with little pressure. It’s like old home week every week. You see people you haven’t seen, or you can plan to meet people and share a meal. A totally social event. I have only one objection: I do not believe it is a place for dogs. I will make an exception of my opinion for service dogs or training service dogs, but please, make sure they are dressed properly with service animal vests. I’ve witnessed too many dog altercations in the name of “socializing” the animal; there have to be better places to socialize than the farmers market.

Wednesday afternoon I will be one of the first at the market. Wednesday is one of my swim nights so if I get to market when it first opens I have time to shop, a few minutes to visit if I am so inclined, and time to unpack my goodies before swim time. Balancing that schedule. If you happen to be a Libra you understand the challenges of balance.

Do you have a local foods or farmers market in your community or a community nearby? Are you able to go? I know it’s hard with work schedules. Can you take a break or use lunch time to go, if the market is close? Can you work it into your weekly grocery shopping? Can you make it an adventure and make a special trip because it’s the weekly market? Could you support the gardeners and farmers in your local community instead of giving your hard earned money to national corporations? And if you can’t go yourself, do you have a friend who might go for you? So many choices.

So, I’m off to market this week. What nummy locally grown foods will find my market bag? Watch this space.

Color Watchcolorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – A pile of yellow azaleas. Is this a hellebore? Fascinating colors. A pyramid of pink azalea. Soothing spring greens amidst cooling gray stones.

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.} More of season 5 of Call the Midwife (2016, TV-PG), no spoilers, but you know, life. * Re-watching Game of Thrones (2013, TV-MA), in season 2. The interesting politics and passions of fantasy fiction when leaders actually fought and were killed, not just their minions, and kingdoms and power changed hands and dynasties. Hmmm, fantasy, remember.

Currently Reading – I have temporarily abandoned Melissa Febos’s Abandon Me (2017, memoir) for the arrival of Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Book of Joan (2017, fiction). Both come to me courtesy of my local lending library, in my community the friendly tax-paid benefit for the low-income family. And both come with a queue so I have a deadline for return to share with other tax payers. I’m enjoying Ms Febos’s memoirs though I find it oddly disconcerting when memoirs are written by people under 40, which is not said to invalidate their experience, just relating my experience. And then Yuknavitch. Her work is thick, as in dense, as in meaty, pithy, literary, thought provoking, and when I read it I am thick, as in bricks, and dense and dull as a box of rocks. Science fiction and fantasy are slow reads for me as it requires much use of visualization and imagination (I admit sometimes I don’t “get” sci-fi or fantasy until the film comes out and I get to experience someone else’s view), and the quality of her work requires much re-reading. I can see I will be re-reading this one for years. * Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science (2015, scientific morality and ethics) by Alice Dreger. Academics, scientists, and doctors can be as ruthless as any other professions when it comes to craving power and recognition. Even peer review can be questionable. Check your sources, then check them again, and then again.

This week I have been grateful for:

    • Overcoming procrastination on a few action items I needed to take care of.
    • The older of my two baby brothers, whom I don’t get to see often, who joins me in the “60 club” on Monday.
    • The first lilacs of the season. The hubster can never resist bringing in cut batches when they are blooming to fragrance the house.
    • Finding a new swimsuit, my size, my style, at a cost I’m willing to pay. I get about 4-5 months out of a suit before the chlorine disintegrates it. I like to have one or two suits ahead for when the current suit finally falls apart, so I shop all season and buy them when I find them. My size and style you can’t just walk in and expect to find on the rack.
    • All the crazy delightful stuff of my abundant home. Not one bit covered in gold or gilt.
    • Remembering some exercises I learned in Physical Therapy to use for relief of an annoying pain in my hip.
    • The things my taxes pay for that I approve of: libraries, roads, hospitals, municipal swimming pools, PBS, fire fighters, many others.
    • Garage sales are my “squirrels”; learning how to not stop at them, because I already have abundance.
    • Loving the abundance I have and trying to let some of it go to other homes.
    • The day this last week when we hit 68 degrees and later it rained. Balance.
    • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

Posted in abundance, Aging, Art, Education, Entertainment, Food, Gardening, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, Nature, Nutrition, Photography, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Gratitude Sunday: Wealthy Or Poor?

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

Sunday Haiku
Old woman walks, head
uncovered, soaking up sweet
spring rain caresses.

Sunday Musings
What do you consider abundance? How much do you appreciate abundance? How much do you need to feel abundant?

I am one of the “wealthy poor”. What do I have that makes me wealthy?

I have an abundance of stuff. I have a home with a mortgage and the privilege of paying property tax. It’s pretty scary that a poor person should live in a house and not on the street somewhere. My house needs a new roof, gutters, and paint inside and out, not in my budget. I have a working car, a 1999 Toyota Tacoma that is starting to show signs of age: the plastic bits are breaking, the paint is flaking, and every month or two it makes a new mysterious noise. I have working appliances: my microwave is vintage and hums along with the fluorescent lights; my freezer is 30 years old and still running with a high pitched fever. My refrigerator (which leaks water), stove (three burners of the four work, and a questionable thermostat in the oven), dishwasher, washing machine, and clothes dryer are more than ten years old and if I hold my mouth just right continue to keep plugging away. I am able to beg for enough help to keep my heat on so I can be warm in the winter and wash my dishes with hot water year round so I don’t get sick.

I am grateful for the convenience of not having to chop wood to make a fire to heat the water to beat the clothes clean with soap I’ve made myself. I am grateful for the convenience of not having to go someplace else and spend more of my money to use somebody else’s equipment at an inflated price to keep my clothing clean. I am grateful the car still runs. I am grateful the roof does not leak.

I have electronic equipment. My laptop, used for all my composition and editing work, is more than 4 years old. For Christmas I replaced the 15 year old printer that died and, yay me, paid $30.00 for a $200.00 printer/scanner/copier which was two more capabilities than I had before. Thank goodness for holiday mark-downs, discount coupons, and senior discount days.

I upgraded my phone last year (nope, not an iPhone, but a pay-as-you-go-utilitarian model), probably a waste of the 50 dollars I spent when it went on sale half-price, as I never take pictures with it or use it for social media, but I am grateful for the mobility and emergency access it gives me, like when the car breaks down I can call for roadside service, which I pay extra for in my car insurance. I consider the phone and the roadside service addition to my (mandatory) car insurance to be a good use of my money as a 63 year old woman does not need to be walking in any kind of weather to find a pay phone when her car dies, especially since pay phones are few and far between these days, fallout from the convenience of cell phones. Have you ever asked a place of business if you can use their phone to call for help in this day and age when everybody is supposed to be able to afford a cell phone? Eye rolls and questions do not compare to the disgusted looks of “you must be really poor if you don’t have a phone”.

My entertainment device (TV) is 5 years old as well. Still works like a champ, so why replace it? I also insist on maintaining my land-line phone and I use a 40 year old slimline style phone inherited when my father-in-law died. What? You have a TV and two phones? You can’t be poor!

No, really, I’m not poor. I do not live in grinding, soul-killing poverty scraping weeds and bugs from the soil to eat. I own a few conveniences I can’t afford to replace if they break. I don’t have housing security. I don’t have enough income to pay my bills and I can’t get work. So far I don’t qualify for disability and I’m a few years away from Social Security retirement. Yet I afford a few luxuries in my life, like hot running water at the turn of a tap, relatively clean water to drink (albeit laced with fluoride and chlorine), a private bathroom, and my own bed.

I also have an abundance of heart. I say heart because it’s what I feel love with, not the muscle necessarily, but this gut feeling in the middle of me. I don’t know if other people love me, but my love/heart/concern for other people overwhelms me at times. I don’t need to be loved to feel love for others.

I’m not poor, but I intensely feel a poverty of spirit. For myself, for my country, and for my planet.

Let me ask you.

Are you OK with Russia, or any other country, interfering with the American political process?

Are you OK with federal administrators profiting from using your hard earned tax dollars?

Are you OK with politicians making a profit from their elected positions? Or with a politician buying their position?

Are you OK with misogyny and racism?

Are you OK with treating people who are different than you differently because they are different than you?

Are you OK with profiting at other people’s expense?

Are you OK with rolling back protections for worker’s safety previously in place? Or soiling our earth with oil spills in our water for the profit of a few when there are alternative energy sources that will profit many with so much less damage to our earth?

Are you OK with air pollution and water pollution in the name of profit for a few, after years of working to improve the quality of our air and water?

Are you OK with elders and children and the differently-abled going hungry or without health care in the wealthiest nation on the planet?

Are you OK with men not finding work because the jobs they did don’t exist anymore (and shouldn’t exist anymore – that’s called progress), and there is no education to help them move forward with the times?

Are you OK with a rotting infrastructure and “intelligent” people who can’t figure out how to fix it, when men go without work to support their families?

Are you OK with the companies that don’t even live in America anymore because their owners (some of whom are now our federal administrators) can make more money for their own pockets paying poverty wages to workers in other countries?

Are you OK with letting people who may have less than you struggle with health and illness because their health does not enable them to earn enough to pay the middle man (insurance companies) before they get anywhere near a doctor?

Are you OK with taking away the right to a public elementary education and making college so unaffordable we have the least educated country on the planet?

Are you OK with putting the wealth of the nation in the hands of greedy people who make national policy for their own profit and who care nothing about the rest of us?

Are you OK with financial institutions who are supposed to be working in your interest making profit for themselves while using your money without profit to you?

Are you OK with banks falsely presenting themselves (and it’s all legal) and selling products such as home mortgages to people who do not understand what they are buying, because they so desperately want into the American Dream of owning their own home, only to lose it a few years down the line when the bank takes it back to do the same thing to the next sucker, sorry, family who wants the American Dream, forcing each family into financial crisis in the name of profit for the bank?

Are you OK with treating people differently because they are a different color, or a different religion, or a different ability, or have materially less than you?

If you are OK with these things you are wealthier than me. It’s OK to have more wealth than me, but don’t blame me because I have earned less. You have enough. In America, recent studies showed about $70,000.00 a year is enough to live comfortably, to experience housing security, not have to worry about your expenses, food, or tax obligation, and afford a vacation now and then. The median income in America is less than $50,000.00 a year, so if you have enough you are better off than more than half the American population. You experience a degree of security I and many others will never know (don’t give me the choice argument; we can control our choices, we cannot always control the consequences). You are able to live in this life without one iota of concern about your fellow man, or about the improvement of the least of us. You are able to not care about anyone other than you and yours, and the rest of us, regardless of our circumstances, can take a flying leap.

I do not covet your blindness. I am grateful my eyes are wide open. I am not a snowflake, and don’t label me a liberal, or a bleeding heart. I can see what is morally and ethically right and just. I see beyond myself and I am not complacent.

What triggered this rant? A female acquaintance recently posted on social media how tired she was of hearing all the bad things our administration is doing, and for the media and others to shut up and let them govern (even though they have had no governing experience and don’t seem to understand how government works). I didn’t rebut her on social media; I doubt she’d understand what I am saying in the few words social media permits. She’s entitled to her opinion; I am too, and I can’t shut up. I cannot be complacent when people in power set out to hurt others who have less than them or to damage the planet we have worked so many years to care for, and when intelligent people complacently condone oppression and exploitation. And the ugly part about me? From what she said, I cannot help but believe she is OK with all of the above and is content to have the current administration destroy what many of us have worked for over the last 50 years, which destroys my trust in her.

Brace yourselves; you do not live in a vacuum. We must share this planet, not just you and your spouse, your children, grandchildren, and immediate family and circle of friends. Your family is wide and diverse and it contains every human being and living thing on this planet. And if you claim some kind of religion or philosophy as a justification for caring only about yours and not about mine or theirs, I’m pretty sure your God is rolling his eyes right about now. Dogma doesn’t cut it in my book.

I grant I am far, far away from perfect. I am judgmental (look at the paragraph above and the conclusions I draw about this acquaintance from her words), I whine, I complain. My voice is caustic, obnoxiously strident, and abrasive. I can only hope my voice is sufficiently irritating that you think. That you do your own research, that your research goes beyond your own small circle, that you use the brain God gave you to think for yourself to define morals and ethics, and not parrot words or concepts because they’ve been told to you by people you think hold more power or authority than you.

Power and money mean nothing but power and money. A wealth of spirit means everything. What abundance do you have? Are you wealthy or poor or both?

Color Watchcolorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Pink candy striped hyacinth. Not my favorite color, but you have to give vermillion azaleas points for audacity. Love the depth of pink throat on this pink rhododendron. A bright yellow tulip. Deep purple lilacs just coming on. A whole huge tree full of sunset pink dogwood. I find columbine to be a particularly fine flower, here’s one in tones 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.} Ghostbusters: Answer the Call (2016, rated PG – 13), the new one with Melissa McCarthy and Kate McKinnon, of Saturday Night Live fame, who is wickedly funny. No comparisons; take the old one for what it was and still is (funny and fun; an all time classic) and this one for what it is (funny and fun; just a matter of time before it is an all time classic). * Season 2 of Game of Thrones (2012, TV-MA) ruthless power struggles.

Currently ReadingAbandon Me (2017, memoir) by Melissa Febos, an erotic sensual book about being left behind, though not quite that simplistic. * Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science (2015, scientific morality and ethics) by Alice Dreger. Actually more about the politics of scientific research and publication versus championing help for people in need of advocacy. Significant in its own way.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Flocks of geese squawking overhead on their journey wherever.
  • Sun, rain, lightning, thunder, hail, all on the same day.
  • The day was dark and stormy day all day, but at the end of the day a round rosy sunset bloomed in the western sky underneath the black storm clouds.
  • Being done with those pesky taxes.
  • Looking forward to the opening of my community’s farmers market next month.
  • Arriving home safely from my shopping trip after being behind two crashes.
  • After a long cold winter, one glorious almost 70 degree day to bask in the sun and opening doors for fresh air.
  • Watching my young adult son mature just a little bit more. I know how hard it is; I’m still doing it myself.
  • Taking a few minutes to watch a pair of hawks circling high above the elementary school next to my local lending library.
  • My shopping day was so clear on my eastward driving route I could see Mt Hood from this far west corner of the Willamette Valley.
  • Getting my Christmas tablecloth off the table and a spring cloth on. I’m off-kilter; usually by now, I’ve been through two or three changes from the first of the year.
  • The neighbor’s apple tree pink blossoming within view of my kitchen window. Sweet fragrance when the breeze is just right.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

Posted in abundance, Aging, Education, Entertainment, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, Homemaking, Housing, Nature, Photography, Poetry, Politics, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Gratitude Sunday: New Spring, New Easter

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

Sunday Haiku
Bright white light fills my
eye, soft gray clouds obscure my
sight, cover my sigh.

Sunday Musings
Happy Easter however you celebrate it!

Regardless of spiritual overtones, Easter time represents the best of spring, a time of new beginnings, fresh starts, birth, changes, transitions, movement. It marks another year in the wild crazy adventure we call life.

In my youth I thought of life as a destination. If I can accomplish this one thing I will be happy. If this happens I will be content. When that thing comes through we’ll finally be good. Yet with every success and failure little satisfaction was obtained.

As I grew older I began to realize the only destination is death and I better embrace the journey along the way. The journey, however, has proved to be a struggle as there have been small joys and massive amounts of distress. The normal/average/typical road is difficult. The road less traveled is exponentially harder. This journey has been full of failures, nay, of lessons learned and not learned. This journey has also been full of successes as ephemeral and amorphous as they are.

Now I am older still and the destination looms hopefully still far in the future. The journey fades as each day becomes a failure and a success merely because I got through it. Each day is a gift to be made of what I will.

The past is memory. I judge myself on it and carry the burden of it. Yet if you tell nothing of your past to others, it hardly matters, certainly not to others who carry their own burdens. Is our past real or can it fade into fiction? Is it the reality or the fiction time has made of memories that is our burden? If it hardly matters why do we carry the weight of our past? The past is hard to give up because we carry our memories in our bodies not just our brains. The past is in our muscles, our blood, our cells, our DNA even when the memory proves elusive.

The future does not exist. We perceive the future in our imaginations: we plan, we make goals, we visualize, but we live only this very moment. I may want to have lunch at noon but so many things can happen between this now when I am in the moment of thinking of lunch, and that moment when I sit down to lunch, the concept of noon may seem arbitrary to the fact of when I’m having a meal. The phone could ring, I could trip over the cat, a bird might crash into the window, the dishwasher could overflow and lunch might not happen at noon. That crafty imagination brought all kinds of unnecessary concerns which don’t exist. The concerns are real enough; there are so many shoulds, woulds, and coulds. The concerns are not what necessarily what will happen; they are only possibilities in the myriad moments of the not-yet-existing “future”.

Which is evidence that even this moment we call now, slips away unceasingly like the current of a river. I can sit here writing, nothing changing in my immediate now, but time still passes, the sun moves across the sky, and life goes on for every person in my extended life. A phone call comes, or a text, or an e-mail, or a news report, and life has changed for someone else and there goes my river flowing off in an entirely new direction. It doesn’t matter if the news is good or bad; a change has happened. The past, the present, and the unknown future alters.

As a low-income person I have less control over how the river flows in my life. I am no longer able to control the flow and my influence is relegated to how I can keep what I have without falling further into poverty. One can live a good life with little, for example, Jesus Christ never owned property, nor did Mother Teresa, or Buddha. I am by no means comparing myself to them. Yet. One needs little in the way of material things to enjoy the bright changes in nature spring brings. Or to ride the current of change.

Spring’s colors and longer days seem to make transitions, changes, and re-birth or new birth easier. I don’t know if it’s the colors or the light or merely a sense of having survived another year, but I find spring to be refreshing and uplifting.

So life goes as the river flows. Welcome, Easter and Welcome, Spring!

Color Watchcolorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – A cluster of bright and pastel daffodils next to the red brick of one of our city buildings. A creamy white bunch of blooms with golden centers. This tangle of varied pink cherry blossoms against the brown branches that produce them. The yellow green of these leaves against the tiny salmon pink buds. Vivid purple shooting star.

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.} Hell or High Water (2016, rated R) with Jeff Bridges. A pair of brothers rob the bank that holds their mortgage to pay off the mortgage. It’s a little more complicated than that, and even though it is a crime movie, the intricacies are fascinating. * Discovered two seasons of Call the Midwife (2016, TV series) I hadn’t seen. Despite the predictability of having a birth in each episode, and the same things said to coach each new mother, the series addresses social issues such as British National Health, the challenges of living in poverty, self-inflicted and back alley abortions, language barriers, drunken or abusive fathers, and babies born with disabilities in the late 1950s and early 1960s, social topics still very much in discussion. The character portrayal of the midwives and nuns is engaging, as well. * Florence Foster Jenkins (2016, rated PG -13) with Meryl Streep, from a true story of a socialite who thinks she can sing, and can’t, but she does anyway. We all should have such confidence. Another stellar performance from Streep. * The Passion of The Christ (2004, rated R), the Mel Gibson production. I had not watched this before and I won’t need to again. I admire the production but it was absolutely bloody brutal to watch especially with the current political climate; though we have no current Christ figures in our world we certainly have a similar amount of brutality in many forms. Make no mistake: Christ’s death was as much political as religious; greed and jealousy are disgusting reasons to hurt people. I’m familiar with the stories but in the movie I couldn’t tell who was who even after I figured out who most of the players were; everybody had dark hair and dark beards, or helmets. I have never understood the need (or pleasure – more disgust there) for some people to inflict pain upon others, and watching this movie reinforces to me that for whatever reason some people cannot rise above that base feeling. I have more questions now than before. Always questioning.

Currently Reading – Finished Pachinko (2017, fiction) by Min Jin Lee. Tragedies ping around the plot like a steel ball in an old mechanical pachinko machine and shines as brightly as a new electronic one. I understand more about the racism between Korea, Japan, and China now, and American racism toward Asian races. I find racism such a sad waste of human potential, and I don’t have to abide it; unfortunately so much racism was here before I was. * Finished Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places (2016, sociology/haunted places) by Colin Dickey. Well done historical approach. Death is one of the sure things we have in this life; we cannot help but be fascinated with what happens after. And exciting for me: Mr Dickey was my classmate when we were seeking an under-graduate degree. I am happy to see him succeed. * Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science (2015, scientific morality and ethics) by Alice Dreger. Just starting, the introduction gives a clue I will be reading about the philosophy of ethics and morality of medical procedures altering the bodies of babies born with ambiguous genitalia. Fascinating. * Citizen: An American Lyric (2015, prose poetry) by Claudia Rankine, a series of frank prose addressing the current black experience, climate, exclusion, and blatant discrimination in white America.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Getting my taxes done and mailed.
  • How vivid the spring colors of flowers look when the sky is gray.
  • A few sunny peaks through the April showers.
  • The new baby giraffe at Animal Adventure Park after weeks of watching.
  • Resting when I needed to.
  • Being able to do my pool work-out when I wasn’t feeling up to par.
  • The pleasure of reading when I want, not just at breaks and lunch like when I was gainfully employed.
  • Getting up when my body says “Get up!” instead of by the clock.
  • The convenience of my own private bathroom.
  • Celebrating the successes of other people and not falling into the jealousy trap of comparisons.
  • A fat ripe sweet juicy pineapple.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: Makers And Doers

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

Sunday Haiku
Spring’s bright flowers nod,
wind whips slender green stalks down,
cold air feels like snow

Sunday Musings
America used to be a country of doers and makers. Have we really evolved into a country of spectators and consumers? We don’t have to be.

A movie I recently watched (Loving) reminded me of habits of people in the past. I come from a low-income demographic, so I don’t know if this was or is how the upper levels live, but where I come from we learned to do many things for ourselves.

My parents kitchen gardened. Every year, not just on a whim. And every year we canned what we didn’t eat fresh. Mom cooked from scratch every day of the year. My mother made almost all our clothes by hand with a pattern and scissors and a sewing machine. How I hated the try-ons with all the pins in place, but I’ve never had such beautifully tailored clothing since. My mother made quilts, aprons, hot pads, throw pillows, and stuffed toy animals with the left-over material from the clothing. Mom painted and crafted and allowed us to do the same. I don’t remember any of my female relatives sitting down after the day’s work was “done” without some kind of hand work like sewing, knitting, crocheting, or embroidery in their lap.

My dad did his own car repairs. He made leather goods for his fellow police officers. He brewed his own beer and wine. He refinished his little boat with his own hands and rebuilt the trailer he hauled the boat with. He spent time taking care of his tools and fishing equipment because he didn’t want to replace them, and god forbid you should use a tool and not put it back exactly where you found it. And like my female relatives, I remember my male relatives out in the barn or the garage after dinner, not just couch diving after work, beer in hand.

My folks did all their own house painting inside and out. They refinished furniture and tried to start a picture framing business, cutting and finishing the wood for the frames themselves. They refinished the wood floors in their little WWII tract home, and re-shingled the roof twice by themselves, though from the stories and one home movie I have of the last re-roofing, it looks to me like Mom did most of the work. After Mom and Dad divorced Mom refinished the floors and stripped and refinished all the molding one more time. In Mom’s retirement years she ran a business making art with recycled materials and selling them at art fairs and farmers markets. I don’t think she ever sold a quilt but there was always a new one for every new baby and every new marriage in the family and for anyone who needed one.

My parents came from a long line of doers and makers because they had to do for themselves or go without. My hubster, however, comes from a different situation where he was an only child and his father had a really good job (which included a company car – that changes your living expenses). Hubster’s adopted, and we have learned details of his birth family; his parents married a few years after giving him away and while he has five natural biological siblings the birth family was also way better off than mine. Hubster has never worn anything but store bought clothing, and though his dad never touched a car in his life, he makes his best effort at resolving car issues before turning it over to a mechanic.

Do you make things? Do you fix things? Or do you just go out and buy what you want and pay other people to take care of your material stuff?

I’m not very good at making things or even taking care of my stuff. When I was employed in the hair and beauty industry, I made pretty things, hair barrettes and bands, and simple bridal veils. After inheriting my dad’s leather working equipment I added belts and hatbands to the mix and offered them for sale in the salon booth I rented. In my last job any attempts at bringing art into my work were squelched faster than Thor can throw a lightning bolt.

I can’t sew a straight seam to save my life even with a seam guide. Mom tried to teach me to sew and I even took Home Ec. Fave memory? The apron I made in Home Ec that was about 4 inches long instead of 14. I never figured out what I did wrong; probably cut first measured last. I’m sewing-challenged. My “art”, painting, crafting, knitting, never turns out the way I see it in my mind, usually only rendering nothing that could be recognized as art or craft, and when I am disappointed it all feels like a waste of time and resources. I pine for the abilities and talent of Susan Branch and Mary Engelbreit, but it is not meant to be for me. I hammer my words into shape and even those fail me sometimes.

The last few years before my mom died she said the only way to make it financially in this society was to have a home business in addition to your day job. She advocated making and doing until the day she died.

When America began we were doers and makers with only the wealthiest of us able to pay for the comfort of someone else doing and making it for us. Women made the beer and the bread and the babies and tended kitchen gardens, while their husbands made the saddles and the kettles and the houses and dug the graves. They sold what they made out of their homes with need for a business site only when they’d outgrown their homes.

There’s so much we could do. I know we have to have safety regulations, but I’m to the point where I would love to be able to pay somebody to make me quality home cooking at a reasonable price. I’m not fooled by grocery store delis and bakeries, “food” full of gross chemicals I can’t pronounce at horribly inflated prices to pay all the hands involved; it’s just fast food in drag.

And it’s not that I need clothing, but I’d love to have an outfit where the shoulders are where my shoulders are, and the darts are where my boobs are, and nothing is too tight or too loose anywhere, and the length of the pants and the top and the skirt are exactly the right proportion for my height.

I’d love to have a mechanic I can trust. Time after time I feel taken advantage of. But I don’t have the knowledge and can’t do it myself so they have me over a barrel. Home repair people too.

I’d love to be able to garden like my parents did, but I’m starting from scratch. With a half hour’s worth of steam in me I seem to re-do the same task day after day and nothing gets planted. I’d love to have somebody make me a couple raised beds and help me get a head start on that. I need raised beds because of the hubster’s scorched earth policy in yard care: if it’s lawn grass level it gets mowed. What do you mean that was a flower bed?

I have all kinds of desires I’d love, but since I don’t need much, and don’t have cash, I get to do without. I don’t feel deprived. I feel greatly abundant because I have a home full of stuff and a half hour’s steam every day and an ugly yard of my own. I feel abundant because I have working appliances and a solid roof and a working car. I feel abundant because I can still think about all the lovely stuff we can make and do and occasionally I can make it or do it.

And with this silly, strident, supportive voice of mine I can encourage you to keep on making what you make and doing what you do. Try selling what you make, or marketing what you do. Turn your home into a cottage industry. You don’t have to go Shark Tank (though cool if you want to), just make yourself another revenue stream. Our world would be interesting if we could eliminate the need to go to a workplace, and create our lives out of our homes. We’d still have plenty of social interaction. Maybe more so.

Anybody got my dinner ready yet? I’m on my way over.

Color Watchcolorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – A creamy star magnolia. The first tulips; check out this neon orange. Soft yellow ruffles, yet another daffodil face. A fantasy of blue-purple grape hyacinth river with pink tulip trees. And these tiny pale pink fairy bells.

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.} Burglar (1987, rated R) with Whoopi Goldberg, one of her comedies about a bookstore owner who moonlights as a cat burglar. A Murphy’s law comedy, yes whatever can go wrong does, and Whoopi’s character gets to kick some serious ass. Totally a fun movie. * Finished season 2 of Schitt$ Creek (2015, not rated TV series), it will be fun when season 3 comes out.

Currently ReadingPachinko (2017, fiction) by Min Jin Lee. This story is set in Korea and Japan, the plot is intricately interwoven, and an interesting look at history on the average person level. I am halfway through the novel and we are finally entering the pachinko scene. * Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places (2016, sociology/haunted places) by Colin Dickey. Parks and cemeteries and entire towns. Oh, my!

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Getting a job done I’d been wanting to finish.
  • My doctor suggesting I cut my medicine in half rather than prescribing an additional medicine. Yay.
  • Old TV sitcoms. Nothing beats The Andy Griffith Show and the home town wisdom of Mayberry.
  • How bright and beautiful my red Christmas tablecloth looks on my table. Looking forward to changes coming soon.
  • The patience one develops while revising one’s own work. Trying to be gentle with myself while also being my own worst critic.
  • Time to write. Time to re-write. Time to re-write. Time to re-write.
  • Watching my lilacs mature. I love all the stages. They are likely my all time favorite flower. My mom’s too. These bushes are from clippings from bushes my grandmother brought with her when she moved to Oregon. I think of my grandmother, my mom, my brother who potted them and started them for me, and my son who dug the holes and helped me plant them every year when they bloom.
  • Discovering the least expensive way to wax my legs and still being able to do it myself.
  • The beach in my mind when I can’t get there for real.
  • That my brother is retired from the Navy and no longer under the threat of serving active duty. While I appreciate why we have a military force and the people who serve and have served, my belief is we have too much war and not enough peace.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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A Brief Treatise On Pockets

What is it about pockets in women’s clothing? They are too small or the wrong shape or in the wrong place. Who designs pockets? Cause get a clue. Women need better pockets.

My pants pockets aren’t big enough to hold a set of keys, which is what I need.

The pockets on my everyday sweater are in the front over my stomach. And too small. Now that’s comfortable. Not.

My down vest has pockets nearly in the right place but they are only big enough to get my first shoved into. God forbid I should want to stretch my fingers.

Almost every other pocket I own is too small. Too small for my hand even folded into a fist, too small for a small billfold so I can travel hands free, too small for my cell phone, too small for a set of keys. In short, they are too brief.

I don’t like cargo pants. If I’m going to carry that much stuff, I’ll take a backpack, thank you very much, where the stuff is all in one place, not distributed around my body. I just want regular clothing with bigger pockets in the right place. I don’t think that is too much to ask.

Especially in outerwear, people. Why in the world would I wear a heavy wool coat against the weather and have a tiny pocket you can’t squeeze your hand into? Duh, pockets are there in case you forget your gloves, or to stuff your gloves into as the weather warms. Small pockets are not a tease, they are a rip off.

I can buy men’s clothing and the pockets are big and deep and on the sides where they should be. I’m going to stop buying women’s clothing. Men’s are cheaper anyway. Women have as much need for functional pockets as men.

Women’s clothing designers, hear my plea. Make clothing with pockets in mind. Cut the cloth a little generously so the pockets lie right. Make the pockets large and sturdy and on the sides where women’s arms are, not over their stomachs. If you lack imagination you can ask me. I have ideas.

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Gratitude Sunday: Spring Into Poetry

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

Sunday Haiku
Pink! Yellow! Purple!
Spring screams its name in living
color, right out loud.

Sunday Musings
April is National Poetry Month. I love poetry in almost all forms. In a few words a feeling of beauty or love or sorrow or amazement or sublimity can be conveyed. In a larger amount of words whole worlds can be achieved. Through words!

What is poetry? A hard question for sure. Poetry is not just rhyme, though rhyming is fun. Poetry can cover any topic and create many moods including humor. Poetry is personal; what pleases me may or may not please you. Poetry is universal; no matter the language the words still reach us.

Why should we care about poetry? Because we need beauty in our lives. Because life is too weird without art and beauty. Poetry and all the arts are the real reason we live. Art gives us the ability to tolerate the mundane, the deadly boring process of making a living just to live modestly in society, to get from one minute of the day to the next because we are able to put two beautiful words together to make a picture, or to make pictures in your chosen medium that inspire two beautiful words.

Art, for some of us, is the one thing, the only thing, we have control of. You can’t control other people, how they think or how they behave. You can’t control how systems work without generations of rethinking and working toward a change. You can’t control the weather. You can’t control consequences (because: other people). You can’t control your body.

You can take care of things, like your body, and your belongings and property, but age and decay will occur regardless. You can work hard, but no guarantees there; your body may fail or you may be terminated from your job in a unwarranted way when you least want it or when you are least able to gain new employment. You can be enterprising, become an entrepreneur with your own business, but you will still work with other people, whom of course we can’t (and don’t want to) control, and any time other people are involved there is the element of surprise.

But art. Art you can control. You create the world. You create the story. You wash the background with color. You populate your art with characters you can control. Here’s where the mysteries happen. Anybody who writes will tell they have had the experience of the characters telling the writer how to write them. Writers who are in the flow, in the full zen of the word, sometimes find their characters come to them (the writer), and write themselves. This is a powerful experience. If a writer is using their imagination where does the character or story come from?

Let’s pause there to think about that. Who is controlling whom? Is the writer in control? Is the writer’s imagination in control? Does the character come from some kind of “beyond”, needing to have a venue for its words?

Then there’s the writer-reader phenomena. What I write and what you understand when you read my writing may be two different things. So who is in control? Me as the writer, or you as the reader? What if I’m telling what I think is a funny story and you are terrified by those same words and your other pal thinks the story is just stupid? Who is in control, the writer or the reader? When I explain to you what I think is funny and you explain to me what scared you and your pal explains what’s stupid, will the understanding of the story be the same? Does it matter?

Words matter. Sharing art is hard. You try to control your story to say what you want with your words. When you release it for others to enjoy, readers take what they will from your words. And you have to let them. You can’t beat readers over the head with your words. Hwell, maybe some writers can. I prefer writers who lead me to discovery of new worlds and new ways, of seeing through another’s eyes without me necessarily being in control. As a reader, I’m all up for the “take me along for the ride” approach.

I read a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction. As a writer I don’t know how to gauge the diversity in my work other than letting other people read my work. I just spew out whatever comes to my wild imagination and then work the words from there. My readers are treated to my crazy imagination and bits and pieces of my limited education or what I still remember of it.

It’s good to have control of one thing in your life, one little thing, or one big thing. It’s good to go with the flow of that control. It’s good to create in whatever form that takes for you. It’s good to read, even if you don’t write.

Your challenge for April, should you choose to accept it, is to read one poem a day. Re-read poems you love, read poets you’ve never heard of, read poems you don’t like, you know they won’t bite. Read poems of babies and for little old ladies, read poems about strife, read poems for your life. But read poems, and enjoy the rooms you find in your mind.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – A purple azalea that lives up the street. Close up: bright pink cherry blossom branch. Mounds of blue periwinkle with shiny green leaves. Fat cluster of pink cherry blossoms.

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.} Star Trek: Beyond (2016, rated PG-13) another typical futuristic story about people working together to defeat the enemy, who truly are enemies. And the fun of imaginative characters and weapons and transportation and technology and place settings. Basic Star Trek fun. * A few more episodes of Schitt$ Creek (2015, rated), offbeat humor in a 25 minute fix. Can squeeze an episode in between anything. * Loving (2016, rated PG-13) the Academy Award nominee about the case of Loving vs Virginia in the 1960s and overcoming miscegenation laws. Subtly done without too much movie violence. Sadly reality contained much more violence, I suspect.

Currently ReadingPachinko (2017, fiction) by Min Jin Lee. Just started this story set in Korea and Japan, plot so far includes a teenager who becomes pregnant and the tubercular [Korean] Christian minister who offers to marry her to save her reputation. The hubster brought home our pachinko game about 30 years ago; it’s one of the 1970s mechanical models. We’ve had many years of fun with it having only to replace the battery if we want the thrill of the lights. I am wondering if this novel will be about the game or if it will be a metaphor. Time will tell. * Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places (2016, sociology/haunted places) by Colin Dickey. Through the ghost-busters chapter and on to insane asylums. It’s been a fun ride so far.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • The family of squirrels in the oak tree outside the windows of my aquatic center, who entertain me with their acrobatics while I exercise.
  • The heavy scent of the blooming plum, loaded with blossoms this year, on warmer days. Aaah.
  • The patches of white wood violets that grow under one of my trees the hubster can’t mow under and thus kill. The patches get larger every year if left alone.
  • Warmer days and turning off the heater. I love turning off the heater.
  • The mild last days of March, the lambikins of days, the sweet fresh fragrance of the oncoming spring.
  • The pale pink snow from the plum tree and the languid meandering drift of the petals from tree to earth.
  • The first cut grass of the season; I love the fragrance and I’m so grateful to suffer limited allergies.
  • The son kindly suffering through my same tired old April Fool’s joke. Again.
  • Computers, word processors, and electricity. Some progress is good.
  • Art. Artists.
  • Literature. And stories. Writers.
  • Movies. Film makers.
  • Live theater. Actors are artists too. Performance art.
  • Succumbing to my strawberry craving and buying California strawberries, the sweet-tart version of Oregon strawberries.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: I Am, I Said

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

Sunday Haiku
New life happens day
after day, lambs, chicks, blossoms,
learning to grow old.

Sunday Musings
The change I’ve been going through this last year has been difficult, partly because it was forced upon me about 3 years early. As you know, when life is forced upon you the story you’ve written about yourself changes. You have to go with the flow. You write a new story.

Since I was forced out of my last job, I’ve been through a torturous year of job applications, a couple interviews, and a whole bunch of “we have more qualified applicants”. Thing is, I have 40 years of certain skilled experience, and yet I don’t have the skills they want (not bi-lingual, which seems prerequisite these days) or when they calculate 40 years of experience they realize I’m over 60. While age bias, in theory, should not be a challenge, we know how theories work. When you apply for a job, all kinds of hidden or not-so-hidden biases apply.

I can get over the biases; I am guilty of them, and while biases may not be fair, I understand them. I have trouble getting over what a person does if one cannot get a job despite the biases. Enterprise and entrepreneurial business only work for some people. Don’t get me started about the myth of choice; you can make all the best choices in the world, but you cannot control the consequences especially when other people are involved. What does a person do if there is no work to be found and no social or familial safety net? I’m not going to whine and complain here (boring), because unless you’ve lived it you cannot know what living on this edge of homelessness (or actually going there) is like, and you might not be familiar with the stress of living on faith. Faith that you can find some way to maintain your current minimal lifestyle, just status quo, and not caring to improve that lifestyle because you don’t need much. Faith can be comforting to some, but not as comforting as it sounds, and stressful to others who are uncomfortable with insecurity. Buddhism may teach accepting impermanence but I like knowing I can live in the privacy of my home rather than on the streets depending on the kindness of strangers.

People re-create themselves all the time, some of us daily. Becoming that new person is not always easy. I’m not going to turn into a billionaire overnight. Especially after 60. But some of us are nothing if not tenacious. We don’t know what else to do but keep on going, to keep on fighting for a minimal existence, because that’s all we’ve ever known.

Being an artist is one of the hardest ways to create or re-create yourself. Our society has little regard for art of all kinds (hwell, maybe not movies). Carving out an income from art is, well, let’s just say, you better have a Plan B, like a day job. If you can’t find a day job and are forced out of the last one, maybe the universe is telling you to grit your teeth, go with the flow, and concentrate on what you’ve always wanted to do anyway.

When you were a kid what did you want to be? Remember when the relatives came over and asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?”? What did you say? What you wanted to be may have been fantastic and they shot it down, or it was practical and they told you how wise you were, or it was professional and they praised you for your high ambitions. Did you become your childhood dream?

Never say no, I didn’t become what I wanted. Never say you failed to make it because you didn’t fail. You did something else. For some of us childhood dreams are broken because of the harsh realities of making a living in this society which rewards only a few for their hard work. Many others of us work hard for few rewards and are happy merely to have roofs over our heads and food on our tables. Really, how much more do you need? And sometimes we are judged by our appearance, or our attitudes, or our abilities, and we don’t quite make the grade according to other people. Sometimes we have to stop listening to other people.

Each time you re-create yourself you have that opportunity, that choice to become what you want to become. What will be the consequences of that choice? That part you don’t get to control. Will you get rich from it? Who knows, maybe. Can you make a living from it? Sometimes you don’t know until you try. Should the money question stop you from trying? So many questions seem negative and they are generated by a capitalistic society. Especially in a society that emphasizes the myth of self-sufficiency. Self-sufficiency is rarely enough.

I have written most of my life. Nope, I’m not a diary keeper. I write crazy essays, about injustice and this wild American society. I write stories. I write tidbits and oddments on scraps of paper and always have a notebook in my pocket along with a pen. I write poetry about admiring beauty. I write.

Since my transition began last year, I’ve been using some of my time sitting on my butt. That’s what you have to do when you write. If your butt isn’t in the seat you aren’t writing. I don’t sit all day, because that hurts. I get up every hour, refresh my water, do a little housework until it hurts too much to continue standing, and back to the keyboard.

So if I write, I must be a writer, right? Logical. Are you a writer if you don’t get paid for your writing? Yes, you are an unpaid writer. Is your work just as valuable? Yes, your work has value even if you aren’t paid, and one day you might get paid.

So here’s the deal. It’s really hard for me to own this new gig, to say I am a writer. I, diddly-squat, come-from-nothing, is-nothing, will-never-be anything, am a writer. It’s what I have left. If nobody will hire me, I must do what is left to me. I am a writer.

Am I good at what I do? I don’t know. I don’t get much feedback. Do I like what I do? Oh hell, yeah. Words are my tool to create worlds and thoughts and provocation. Is it worth it? I don’t know, I haven’t earned any money yet, but I’d like to. As I said artists aren’t paid much if at all, and very few make writing lucrative. Are those reasons to stop? I don’t think so.

If I were more physically able I might spend more time trying to re-enter the job market, but the physical devastation that takes place after a let-down is hard on my body. Many people think anxiety is merely an emotional thing, but for me it takes a physical toll. The anxiety of hoping and the abyss of the dashed hope is physically much harder after 60. For me, age and illness is a factor in my ability, fortunately not for everybody. I am grateful the brain continues to work, though the body fades.

Owning this new me is hard, even though I’m enjoying increased writing production. In the hot tub the other day an acquaintance asked what I was doing these days, I said “I’m a writer,” and it felt weird, but she didn’t blink an eye, accepted it as a matter of fact. That’s what I do. It’s what I am. The self help books I read say “act as if, until you are”. I am working on owning it. I am. I am a writer.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – The myriad shades of color in one beautiful face. A canopy of creamy pink plum blossoms. A little white violet volunteers in my yard every year. I love this yellow bloom that comes from a bulb, but I don’t know what it is.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} I re-watched Truly, Madly, Deeply (1990, rated PG), with Alan Rickman, because I waited so long for it, and enjoyed it the second time as much as the first. * I watched a few more episodes of Schitt$ Creek (2015, TV series not rated) on Netflix. I am so far away from billionaire thinking it’s not even funny. I try to imagine it and see myself giving most of the money away, you know, after my basic needs are secured. There are so many others in need, silly me, I already have a helping foundation written up, just no funds for it. Dreaming is fun, even when unrequited. * Good Fences (2003, rated R) with Whoopi Goldberg and Danny Glover. I love Whoopi Goldberg and often order her movies when I am in the mood for comedy. I forget what a talented actress she is. This movie is not a comedy, though there are some bitter-sweet moments, instead this is a story about race in an upwardly mobile African-American family and how heavily the past can weigh on our psyches. * Binged through the new Season 3 of Grace and Frankie (2017, TV-MA) with Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda. I am particularly enjoying this series about women in their 70s starting a business and new lives.

Currently ReadingThe Memory of Water (2014, speculative fiction) by Emmi Itäranta. The protagonist: “I believe…we must make hard choices every day despite knowing there is no reward…because if that is all there is, it’s the only way to leave a mark of your life that makes any difference.” Plans to save the world and then a quirky twist. And I can’t help but wonder how prophetic this work is, and how the synchronicity of fiction works as each novel comes into my life when I seem to need it. No spoilers: good, quick read. * Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places (2016, sociology/haunted places) by Colin Dickey. Forgive me, the title was incorrect last week, and is now corrected. I am enjoying this wide venue of haunted places and the writer’s engaging writing style.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Getting the son’s taxes done and mailed. He does my housework while I do his math. Fair trade.
  • The gray clouds and wet heavy spring weather to match my mood. Funny how much I like the gray.
  • Eyesight. Vision.
  • Imagination. Our world would be less without it.
  • Ingenuity. Figuring out new and different ways to do the same old things.
  • Intellectual curiosity. Maybe if I learn new things every day I won’t die. Oh, that’s right, on that day I will learn how to die.
  • Memory and the funny (peculiar) ways it manifests. Memory is not always straightforward. Funny (ha ha) thing about that.
  • People don’t send many thank you cards through snail mail these days. I love them! I received one from one of my scouts, who just had his Eagle Court of Honor, for a small gift I gave him.
  • Sending a couple stories for editorial input.
  • Sweaters for the cooler days of spring. Tank tops for the warmer ones.
  • Oregon, where 50 degrees brings out the shorts and tank tops.
  • The blooming of the plum tree, smells so sweet even through the rain. I haven’t seen any bees yet; it’s been cold and wet, so I doubt we’ll have plums this year.
  • Learning patience.
  • Expecting less from other people and being pleasantly surprised.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

Posted in abundance, Aging, Careers, Education, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, Photography, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments