Gratitude Sunday: Doctor Mom Needs Progressive Technology

Gratitude * Sunday


Quote of the Week
– “Feed a cold, starve a fever.” Traditional Doctor Mom wisdom

Sunday Haiku

Gray skies outside hang
over my sinus like clouds
in my foggy brain.

Sunday Musings
It was a good run while it lasted, and just as I was making progress on cleaning my room. Where I got the arrogance to think I’d never have another I don’t know. No one escapes. No one is impervious. The common cold virus does not discriminate. When you’ve gone more than three and a half years one begins to think perhaps, but alas, no. My guys had it first, Doctor Mom nursed them, now if they would just stay out of my way I can nurse myself, because I don’t expect them too. I didn’t raise them that way, but they are really skilled at faking incompetence.

I know all the grandma techniques of natural remedy. Chicken soups, hot spices like jalapeno, Chinese hot mustard, and horseradish can do much to relieve the symptoms while the virus plays through. Popsicles are the best to relieve a sore throat and get a few calories in even if they are all sugar. Hot tea with honey and heat packs on the chest can relieve coughs. I’ll use food as my medicine every time before I resort to pharmaceutical drugs.

I’ve watched medical technology for the last 50 years. I want to know why we have not conquered flu and cold viruses. What exactly have we spent all our tax investment dollars on in the medical field? Seems to me we’ve been rehashing the same old drugs and the same old techniques with few innovations.

Where are our medical tricorders? You know, that scan device they dreamed up for Star Trek. 50 years should be plenty of time to take an idea and turn it into reality especially now they can make technological things so small.

I don’t know what you’d want to see on your tricorder, but I’m voting for one-stop shopping. That little hand held scanner should be able to give a non-invasive read out for (wait for it, my list is long): height, weight, body core temperature, blood pressure, blood sugar, heart and lung function, liver function, kidney function, thyroid function, presence of tumors, blood anomalies, internal bleeding, gastrointestinal polyps and other digestive issues such as nutrition non-absorption, brain function particularly regarding epilepsy and electrical brain waves, and viral and bacterial infections to start. Give me a week of being able to think without this cold virus inside me and I might be able to come up with more. And there should be a professional version and an inexpensive home version for all the Doctor Moms out there who serve to keep their families healthy.

Why have we not conquered viruses? As always I say follow the money. Somebody (probably plural) somewhere is making money from vaccines, and cold and flu “remedies”, which aren’t really. The virus plays through, it lives its little ugly life for a while in the host human body and then dies. All the remedies we employ are merely to relieve our discomfort; they do not cure or kill viruses.

I would love to see a non-invasive anti-virus delivery system as well. To stick a needle into one’s body when one is ill seems like another violation on an already violated body. Maybe something that diffuses the anti-virus medicine through a small section of skin for instant relief, or a liquid or pill to swallow if symptoms are less oppressive.

A person can dream. Good thing I don’t have the flu or fever dreams, though while entertaining are not especially fun. Though I haven’t had the flu for many years, I had my first ever flu shot this year because I am around elders and children. I know the flu shot does not prevent colds. I’m not even convinced it prevents the flu. I have mixed feelings about vaccines in general, having read so much on both sides of the fence.

I’m headed back to the couch soon. I can’t breath lying down, so I sleep sitting up on the couch for whatever portion of the hour/s I can breathe and sleep. I have my water, my tissues, and my TV remote close. My blankie is warm and my tea is hot. At least I am sick in the comfort of my own home. And that feed a cold stuff? This Doctor Mom says stay hydrated and eat when you are hungry.

Color Watchcolorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Color in winter is sometimes elusive. A bit of creamy white lichen on green grass. A collection of gray and white stones on a gray sidewalk. Rosy sedums in a bleached burl of wood.

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 know I’m sick when I can’t read which I do voraciously. Letting the images of the stories in movies flit across my eyes somehow gives comfort, perhaps because I do less brain work viewing versus reading. I had ordered some scary movies for Halloween and am still working my way through them. Seems appropriate to watch them on gray rainy afternoons with the virus swirling through my brain and body. * Dark Places (2015, rated R) with Charlize Theron. An eight year old is the only witness to her family’s murder for which her brother has served 28 years in prison. * Bird Box (2018, rated R) with Sandra Bullock. Get out your blindfold. * The Ones Below (2015, rated R), spoiler alert, a couple commits murder to steal a baby. Don’t watch this if you are a. pregnant, b. a new mom, or c. hypersensitive to babies or baby stuff. * Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993, rated PG) with Whoopi Goldberg. One can only watch so much horror before you must get comedic relief.

Currently ReadingFrench Exit (2018, fiction) by Patrick DeWitt, who is currently a Portland, Oregon author though he has lived other places. I love novels with witty humor and from page one we are amused. * No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering (2014,spirituality) by Thích Nhất Hạnh. I like to dawdle over and savor books about spirituality. And then re-read them later.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Chicken soup.
  • Vegetable beef soup.
  • Tacos and salsa.
  • Barbecued pork and Chinese hot mustard.
  • Roast beef sandwiches with horseradish.
  • Biscuits and butter.
  • Mashed potatoes.
  • Popsicles.
  • Jello.
  • Microwave heat packs.
  • My blankies.
  • Loose clothing and jammies.
  • My TV in good working order.
  • Piles of movies on hand from the local lending library.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: In My Room

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” Maya Angelou

Sunday Haiku
Early winter moon
peaks through backyard trees, winking
promises of spring.

Sunday Musings
I have survived the latest round with Social Security. Between the state’s assistance and the on-line federal system that are supposed to be so helpful, I have a mess. It’s not all my fault it’s a mess. The on-line system is not easy or straightforward, and the state’s “help” has been chaotic and a mess as well. I think of myself as (maybe, don’t want to appear too boastful) above average in intelligence. So if I am challenged, what about other Americans?

Fortunately federal Social Security workers can consider it job security. If the web site doesn’t work well, or works in such a way that all inquiries result in a face-to-face meeting, those workers will always have work. Here’s the thing. The workers don’t have it any easier than us plain old citizens. The caseworker who helped me this week jumped through two hours worth of computer hoops, asking advice from workers with more knowledge, and ended up telling me she was going to have to do the input again the next day because of the challenges in the system. And I still have to have another appointment before I’m done. With this track record, I suspect I might not even be done then. I’m slated to get my first payment in a couple weeks, but I’m still in the I’ll-believe-it-when-I see-it stage.

I do understand the need for rules, regulations, and vigilance so the people who are supposed to be getting help are getting help, and our tax investments are not going to somebody who is attempting to or actually defrauding our government. The statistics I can find say defrauding Social Security is rare, but not non-existent, so in the main rules, regulations, and vigilance are worth the investment. I know I’m a bit cynical, but right here I am still thinking tax investments are being wasted. There are enough citizens needing help in our America Social Security workers would still be busy every day even if on-line stuff worked right and if the software and hoop jumping of the Social Security workers worked well and efficiently. America is growing and changing and our government needs to keep up without wasting our tax investments. It’s easy to be critical. I’d love to be able to suggest a solution, but I don’t have one yet. We’ll see what I think after I do my taxes this year.

Here’s where one of my mantras come into play. You know the one: Change is the only constant. I have to repeat this one to myself often, because I prefer things to stay the same, routines are my friend. That said, progress is important as well and I’ve been attempting changes in my own life. I like to think I have waaay more control in my own life than I do in our federal government. That might be open to interpretation.

Spring is right around the corner and every sly streak of light sliding in through the windows is showing the breeding piles of dust bunnies and abundance of stuff in my home. I have extra motivation to clean and tidy as my sister is giving me a new bed. When I’m ready.

So, I’m clean cleaning. No throwing things into a box or stuffing stuff into corners and doing the quick shuffle because I’m excited about the new bed. Nope, I’m going for the delayed gratification option and using the opportunity to find good locations for items I want to keep, and including the trash option for the items no longer sustainable, and giving items away to family or charity as I decide I am done with them. I’m not a naturally tidy person, nor am I a learned-to-be-tidy person. I admire people who are able to be tidy all the time. I’m grateful some people are able to be tidy. Obviously I’m not a control freak with my abundance of material stuff though I might be a control freak with other sorts of stuff. My style is tidy once and forever hold your breath, i.e., I am good at getting organized once, but challenged by staying organized. If I take the time to clean clean before the bed is moved in at least I can sleep knowing all underneath and around the bed is as clean as I can get it, even if the rest of my room and my home and my yard and my brain is unruly.

The cleaning process is long overdue, which compounds the task. My room has suddenly morphed into a TARDIS. Doctor Who fans, of course, recognize the acronym which means Time And Relative Dimensions In Space and refers to a space that looks finite on the outside, but is somehow infinite on the inside. The phenomenon in my room presents itself like this: For every item I remove from the room, multitudes more show themselves, though the room never looks any larger and it never looks like anything has changed in the degree of tidiness. The abundance seems, rather, to expand exponentially. Which begs a couple questions (or more).

To start: 1. How does one accumulate so much stuff? 2. How can one forget what one owns? 3. Can there be such a thing as too much abundance?

Answers: 1. It happens. 2. It happens. 3. Possibly.

No judgment bad or good. It is what it is. Right now I’m cleaning. And laughing at myself.

I’m grateful for those ten minute work windows, while I bemoan remembering the day when I was able to do more, and forgive myself for not being able to maintain that degree of work ability now. I get a bit done, then rest. Get another bit done. Work until the pain cannot be overcome by positive thoughts. Sit until pain retreats. Work ten more minutes. Multiple ten minute work windows multiplied day by day equals more work done and will eventually equal a clean space and a new bed. Simple math. I know, math, right?

Everything is about math, because science rules.

I will not torture you with the dimensional numbers of how I can get so much stuff in my room. My room exits in x, y, and z space, so I can get x, y, and z stuff in all those corners and heights and shelves. What the heck, let’s add in the other 23 letters of the alphabet for good measure, so much abundance algebraically as the letters can represent anything, so many anythings. I can hide stuff in cabinets and drawers and under tables; so much space to use. One saving grace: I’ve never liked storing stuff under my bed. Studies of feng shui say one sleeps better when air can circulate all around and under your bed. I didn’t want stuff for the night monsters to make beds in. Could be the same thing.

I’m just one person with a room that’s out of control, except it’s all in my control. We won’t look at the rest of the house which has its own issues with abundance, and the yard likewise. If I can make such a mess, it’s understandable how my bigger room of American government can be such a mess with so many fingers in so many pots, and so many interpretations of what’s there and how to do it; it’s been out of control a long time as well. In both cases it loosely echoes Alice in Wonderland as the more you get done the more there is to do. I’ve always hoped that within my lifetime, we’d get American government cleaned up a bit, simplify it and streamline it to the benefit of all, toss out some old stuff, such as promoting fossil fuels (apples), and thoughtfully replace them with new policies that work for all Americans, not just the wealthy, like an American Health Plan (oranges) that covers all Americans for everything. Because apples and oranges are not the only American produce: we have strawberries and kiwis and cherries and mangoes and tomatoes and avocados and all kinds of fruits and veggies, people and policies, in our United States we need to care for and take care of; we are only as good as the least of us. In my rooms, we have enough to take care of all of us.

It’s a matter of time. Ten minute work windows have to suffice for me; for my tax investment I want more for American citizens. Like a nice clean room and a new bed.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Color is different in the winter; I find it’s often about the shade or angle of the light. Naked brown branches against a gray evening sky. Warm reddish tones of a lilac a few weeks before the green leaf buds burst out. Birdly musical notation in a pearl gray and blue sky.

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.} Netflix’s Feminists: What Were They Thinking? (2018, not rated), an informative documentary about feminism in the 1960s and 1970s. * The Children Act (2017, rated R), Emma Thompson (love!) plays a judge who makes legal decisions regarding the lives of minor children. As her marriage falls apart, she must decide the fate of a 17 year old whose faith as a Jehovah’s Witness requires him to refuse a life saving blood transfusion.

Currently Reading – My Winter Classic choice this year is Scarlet Sister Mary (fiction, 1928), the Pulitzer prize novel winner in 1929 written by Julia Peterkin. This novel read faster than I thought it would. It felt like a slice of the lives of black people on a South Carolina plantation after the white family had abandoned the plantation, as culture was changing after the Civil War. It’s disconcerting to know the author was a wealthy educated white woman. The word scarlet is a euphemism for sin, as in the sin of physical pleasure and children born outside of marriage. Christianity is an over-riding theme in the novel, but the notion of individuality and the sanctity of individual choices come to play as well, with love charms from the local healer who is not a doctor. Fascinating how the author wove the old ways with the new ways coming in. * No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering (spirituality, 2014) by Thích Nhất Hạnh. Seeking ways to soothe myself in a chaotic world, some of which is out of my control. * A new acquaintance, who recently turned 60, mentioned she’d never heard of Kate Millett (Sexual Politics, 1970) and having just watched the documentary about 1960s and 1970s feminism, I recalled having read Kate’s work along with Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, and Germaine Greer back in the days of my early 20s as I struggled to work in a male-focused world while supporting a disabled husband. Between the casual mention by the friend and viewing the above mentioned documentary, I was inspired to peruse Emergence (1978, women) a photo-journal by photographer Cynthia MacAdams. I love picture books; this one documents radical women in the 1970s, such as Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Michelle Phillips, and there’s a shot of Gloria Steinem and Kate Millett as well. Women, well, what can I say? We were, we are, beautiful.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Not having to drive sometimes, being able to sit and enjoy the kaleidoscopic world pass before my eyes: sky and trees and clouds and houses and stores and people and lights and corners and fences and shapes and colors and textures, so much delight in what fills my eyes.
  • Rain because we need it and it feels so lovely.
  • A little cold sunshine because we need it and it feels so lovely.
  • The angle of the cold winter sunshine.
  • Spending a short afternoon chatting with a friend.
  • Recent edible cooking successes.
  • Flexibility.
  • Learning to be calmer about plan changes and change in general, because: change is the only constant.
  • Ten minute work windows. Multiplied.
  • Small pleasures; a baby’s smile, a parent’s joy watching their child learn, a twittery bird in a puddle, fresh air even in town, the weather whatever it is.
  • Making decisions to let stuff go.
  • Getting to know my way around my new computer. Lighted keyboard! Who thought of that brilliance?!? Bless you.
  • January. Again. Looking forward to many more.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: Learning All The Way

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “Most people are afraid of suffering. But suffering is a kind of mud to help the lotus flower of happiness grow. There can be no lotus flower without the mud.” Thích Nhất Hạnh

Sunday Haiku

Soft gray light reflects,
rain in mud puddles refresh
little twittery birds.

Sunday Musings

We begin this New Year with all sorts of new beginnings. One of my readers (Bless you!) noticed I haven’t posted for the last month or so and kindly made a comment on my last post which was about invisibility. I went missing for a while because of a technical breakdown the fixing of which would cost as much as a new computer. I experienced whole new vistas of invisibility and mucking about in the mud. Any of you who know about constant distress, know it compromises your ability to make decisions. So I had my old computer analyzed to assess the death throes and had to figure out how to proceed with compromised finances. Some Christmas gifts and a loan enabled me to move forward.

Then came the learning curve challenge. I learned how to choose a new computer and made a decision. I learned how to set up my new computer. I am in the process of learning how to transfer files saved to a thumb drive onto my new computer starting with these Gratitude Sunday posts. Since I don’t know what I’m doing every step is an experiment in learning. At one point I accidentally moved my Gratitude Sunday files to who knows where and had a little meltdown, adrenaline and all, thinking I had deleted them altogether, but then I found the folder in a place I would have never suspected. (Glory be!). I am still learning about transferring files and hope to soon be back up to speed with my other work. We’ll see. It’s all about the learning.

Though it has been distressing for me, for you readers it might have been for the best. I get a bit maudlin during the holidays and this year was a holiday with newly found family (hubster’s bio-family) and other changes in mine, like a new great-niece and the death of a neighbor woman I had grown up with. Perhaps it is just as well I did not post and dwell on the changes and challenges of the holiday season, and subject you kind readers to a month of digressions about capitalistic consumerism and hollow holiday sentiments and whatever other inspiring madness my brain might have gone into.

Yet. The loss of my old computer brought out a support system I was only peripherally aware of into the forefront of my life. People popped up with help, like the free analysis of computer death and the subsequent saving of all my work to a thumb drive by a stranger. Like the mental, verbal, and emotional support of my publisher and the writer I am editing. Like the folks who, out of the blue, stepped up with cash, not just because of the season, but because: me (who, me?!?). Like the sister who told me how proud she is of me for never giving up despite all the crap that seems to come my way, and who provided the loan without question. Like the reader who noticed and mentioned my invisibility when here I thought I was just writing into the wayward wind. Somebody reads me!

In the midst of all this, I have been fighting to get Medicare and my Earned Income Retirement Investment (Social Security Retirement – it’s not a “benefit” or an “entitlement” – I worked for this and it is my own money for which I was never paid interest to let them use and should come back to me now when I need it) figured out. For me, as in most things in my life, it has not been an easy and straightforward process. I have called and visited Social Security offices so many times in 2018, you’d think it would be a done deal, but no. My account was flagged for fraud of all things, because I had called so many times to get questions answered. Never once have I been able to get anything finished on-line, and in every instance have had to drive an hour to the Social Security office for a face-to-face meeting to prove who I am. Now, certainly, I want my money I worked so hard for to come back to me and not go to some stranger claiming to be me, but how many times do I have to prove who I am? I have to prove who I am until I get all my ducklings to walk in a straight little line into my bank account.

I have never gone in for resolutions much, though I do set goals. And re-set goals. And re-set goals. I’ve found it futile to try to compete or keep up with others. My competition is myself; my goal is to be a better me every day. My journey is never a straight line from here to success. I get to experience the joy of potholes, set-backs, switch-backs, detours, and broken axles learning all the way. I’ll tell you the broken axle story someday. It involves an axle breaking at 50 miles an hour, and fire, and a van full of kids and dogs with the axle flying toward oncoming traffic. That might tickle your imagination.

I’ve selected a few key words to begin my year with. Perhaps they can help you with your year as well.

1. Courage. Where everything begins. Beat the fear and one shall
2. Prevail. Never give up, because
3. Tenacity. Face every day with determination (even when you don’t feel well or good) and
4. Imagination. That’s how you make your way creatively when the regular way doesn’t work.

Here’s to a New Year filled with art, creativity, and imagination.

Color Watchcolorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – No need to panic when the little greenie heads of daffodils, crocus, and iris show even before the end of winter. My favorite red rock, hauled from house to house for years, and the soft green moss that grows on it. The asymmetry of naked brown branches with fat red berries and russet colored dragon rider leaves.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} I spent the four weeks of December with The Christmas Chronicles (rated TV – PG, 2018) with Kurt Russell as Santa Claus. I needed something fun and sort of uplifting and I might be shy to admit how many times I watched it, but by the time I watched it with my sister and the son (separate viewings) I knew most of the dialogue and some of the songs. My sister insisted her husband watch it with her the next night, and I caught the son laughing more than once. I might need to own this movie. Recommended. * After Christmas was over I went back to other guilty pleasures like corruption and cover-ups in Los Angeles by re-bingeing all five seasons of Ray Donovan (rated TV – MA, 2012-2018). Season 6 is available on Showtime, but I don’t buy cable. I get to share and wait in queue at the library, poor people have a wide variety of choice and delayed gratification. Patience can be good, grasshopper.

Currently Reading – My Winter Classic choice this year is Scarlet Sister Mary (fiction, 1928), the Pulitzer prize novel winner in 1929 written by Julia Peterkin. While not widely acclaimed or widely read, I chose this novel for a multitude of reasons: it won a Pulitzer in the year my mother was born, though it wasn’t the author’s first novel; the author was among a handful of women who won a Pulitzer for novels between 1920 and 1930, which included Edith Wharton, Willa Cather, and Edna Ferber; it is about race and the dialogue is written in the Gullah dialect and I’m hoping it will inform some of the studies I am pursuing in racial issues, women’s history, and anthropology as fiction often does. I am very excited to read this novel as it just arrived on inter-library loan and is truly like holding history in my hands: the cover is tattered and worn, the pages are crisply fragile and yellowed nearly orange with age; it smells like an old book, and the story within, while only just begun is already rich with language and place. * No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering (spirituality, 2014) by Thích Nhất Hạnh. Life is hard. Sometimes we are hard on our selves. I search for contentment rather than happiness, but for me it’s a journey, not a default emotion. It’s not merely a case of no soil, no flower. Who knew there is a right way to suffer, or that one can suffer well; it’s rather like just buckle up and enjoy the ride, because some of it is tough runnings. Always learning.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Courage.
  • Adequate time to make decisions when decision making abilities are compromised.
  • Learning. And still being able to.
  • The techno-ditz once again prevailing in the struggle to master technology.
  • Being gifted a new queen sized bed. Since I am a queen sized woman and I’ve been in a twin for far too long.
  • The treasures I’m rediscovering while I clean to get the new bed in.
  • Having treasures to re-discover. I am stuff (treasure)-rich and cash poor.
  • Some things in life that, so far, remain the same, like the little twittering birds who bathe in the mud puddle in my driveway.
  • Spending time with beloved family I rarely get to see. Short as it is, every minute is precious.
  • Hugs from the littles who barely know me because we get to see each other so infrequently.
  • Food banks when your food stamps get cut back.
  • A fresh crisp white tablecloth to welcome the New Year.
  • Sisters and friends who step up to help when the need is real.
  • Readers who notice I’ve gone missing and bother to say.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

Posted in abundance, Aging, Art, Education, Family, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, Nature, Photography, Poetry, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Gratitude Sunday: Invisible Woman

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “I first noticed I was missing on Thursday.”
Jeanne Ray in Calling Invisible Women

Sunday Haiku
Ghostly river mist
drifts through valley fields, haunting
naked fog-filled trees.

Sunday Musings

We all know one whether we realize it or not. Sometimes we are one.

We might be hard to identify because we are not easy to see. Once you have experienced it you never forget it. It happens in public, in institutions like churches and universities and senior homes and even at work, it happens inside our own homes within our own families.

I’m talking about being invisible. I am extremely familiar with being invisible. I think of it as my superpower. I’m sure this must happen to men as well, especially older men, but I don’t know the life of men or being a man. I know about being an invisible woman.

I saw it happen to my mother. Her birthday was November 22 and every so many years it fell on Thanksgiving. For several years I lived more than two hours drive from her, and being a person who has lived in poverty no matter how hard I strive, that distance prohibited traveling to see her even when gas was less expensive. Those were the days before cell phones when calling long distance was charged by the minute.

A hand-made card cost me nothing but time, a piece of paper, and some colored pencil lead, but if I was out of stamps there was no card sent, especially when scrounging change only produced 23 cents to put in the gas tank to get to the post office and no money left with which to buy stamps. I am resourceful and had a source for free envelopes from the local five and dime, that always had left over envelopes from the greeting card display. It was a small town, they knew me, and they put the envelopes in a certain spot in a bottom drawer under the card display area, so I could pick them up whenever I was in the store. The joys of a small town. I could never pull off the free stamps thing, though I often asked. The USPS is pretty consistent with their rules.

In Mom’s later years, after I moved back closer to her, she admitted to many years when none of her four children called or sent a card or visited, even when they lived much closer and had a much higher income than I did. Yet if it was Thanksgiving we would descend on her house and expect Thanksgiving to happen, birthday or not. Granted we’d all bring something, but we all know hosting a celebration of any kind is work, even if joyful work. Because it was Thanksgiving, we’d forget to say Happy Birthday.

I saw her invisibility when she took me clothes shopping. The clerks and cashiers would talk to me, as if she was not standing right there beside me. She was the one wielding the cash or the card, and I often asked the clerks to speak to her as well as me. How could you not include all the bodies in front of you when having a conversation?

Having seen it happen to her, I was prepared. Or so I thought. Now it’s happening to me, I realize how unprepared I really am. I’m working on that.

To prepare myself I have spent many years observing people, especially older women. I watch for them. I see them out walking, at the store, the library, the aquatic center, the post office, or the farmers market. They walk with halting steps, not as able or sure-footed as they used to be. They walk with their heads down, struggling with whatever bags or baggage they are dragging along with them. I say hello. Out loud. I make them look at me. I look them in the eye and let them know I see them. I know you are here.

In my own home, the hubster often enters a room he thinks I am in and begins talking to me without checking to see if I’m there. I’ve stopped responding from the other room. If he isn’t paying attention to where I am, he gets to repeat himself when I come back into the room he thinks I’m in. It’s a way to amuse myself.

I swim three nights a week. I spend a lot of time stretching and exercising in the water before I actually swim. I take up a certain amount of space, but not too much. Since it’s a shared public pool, I’m flexible and sometimes I move to a different wall or section and adapt my routine because of other fitness activities in the pool. Yet for all my being conscientious about where others are, I have many times been run into, swum into, walked into, and bumped against by people with their eyes wide open who then said, “I didn’t see you.” Well, I saw you, and I moved for you, and you still ran into me? Hwell, then.

In the pool not much physical damage occurs, though I have been kicked hard enough to bruise. Stores where shopping carts are provided are a different story. It’s like a person grabs a shopping cart and they become the only person in the world. No one else exists because I’m shopping. I can drive my cart as I like and leave it in the middle of the aisle. We should all agree to follow general road driving laws while in the aisles of store for the sake of peace in the community and the visibility of old women.

Both adults and children have rammed shopping carts into my back and the backs of my legs and my Achilles heel because they didn’t “see” me. Again, I was driving defensively, I saw you, I tried to move away, and you still negligently managed to connect with my body. Yes, I have eyes in the back of my head when I’m in the store. Any store. I have to have. I’m invisible.

Children I might give a pass and blame it on unmindful parenting. I’d much rather hear, “Watch out for the nice lady”, or “Watch out for the old lady”, or even “Watch out for the fat lady”, and know the adult is parenting, than have a wayward child ram their inattentive body into me. I realize not everybody is born with the empathy or sympathy gene, but attention can be taught even if you can’t teach children or adults to think beyond themselves.

Then there have been two incidents in the last year where my invisibility failed me. A toddler in the store walked purposefully up to me, wrapped her arms around my legs, looked up adoringly into my eyes and said, “I love you.” The mother apologized profusely for the physical interaction, saying she thought I looked a bit like the child’s grandmother. I told the little girl I loved her too, thanked the mom for quality parenting (we all need to hear when we get parenting right), and walked away with tears in my eyes, grateful for being seen. I’ll take real love anywhere I can get it, even from strangers.

The second incident was in the pool. I do some stretches on the steps that go into the pool and am hyper-aware when I do as other people need to enter and exit the pool using the steps. I use the pool during lesson time for children ages six months to six years, though the kids are divided into peer-age classes. I was doing my step stretches and a five-year-old boy swam straight to me, looking me in the eye the whole time. I asked if he wanted to use the steps to get out. He shook his head, and patted my arm, and shyly asked to give me a hug. I knew his mom was in the baby class with his little sister so I looked over at her and she nodded her head. We live in a time when you no longer feel free to touch other people’s children, even with love. He gave me a quick hug, patted my arms and my hip that was out of the water at the time and went back to his lesson. I have no idea what need I filled for him at the time, but he filled my heart with a big burst of little boy love.

I try to keep my sense of humor about me when someone rams a cart into me. It isn’t productive to be angry, but getting their attention with a loud laugh or a funny comment sometimes creates an awakening of sorts. It seems peculiar to me, being a large person, that people do not see me. I think it’s that they do see me but don’t want to acknowledge me because I’m large or because I have a Resting Bitch Face or some other issue inside themselves. Unfortunately some people will go so far as to run into my body to prove to me how invisible I am. Some people think because you are fat it doesn’t hurt to be run into, as if your fat (filled with blood vessels and nerve endings) is some kind of divine cushion against pain.

I can deal with a few bumps and bruises. My favorite exclamation when contact is made is, “Ouch! Here I am! It’s so good to see you again!” Saying this in a jovial voice makes them acknowledge me and confuses the heck out of most people, because they have to engage the thinking process instead of the shopping process. First they think: do I know her? (Of course not, I’m messing with you, and I smile). Then they think: where do I know her from? (Nowhere, because in trying to get you to think beyond yourself, I need to rattle your cage, and I continue to smile). And then they are defensive, saying: I didn’t see you. (well, I saw you, so you are either blind, inattentive, or inconsiderate, but I don’t say that just like I haven’t said the other things, and I keep on smiling, because none of those things are worth wasting energy on). After which they realize they don’t really know me and I am indeed messing with them as I stand there still smiling. It’s the price they pay. Lesson learned or not, they must interact with me and look me in the eye and see me after they violate my body.

I have to admit I’m a pretty scary person after all. I’m large. I have long wild hair, wilder now it’s getting whiter. Everything else about me is droopy and my face grimaces when it smiles. And I like to smile and say hello to strangers and acquaintances alike. I’m invisible until I smile and say hello to you. You never know when a momentary smile or a moment of being seen will make a person’s day even if it’s only from an invisible, wild haired, fat woman.

Color Watch colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Still life with bright green grass with muted yellow and brown, and silky beige mushrooms. I love the creamy white antler-ish branchiness of lichens and the starry green leaf and stem shapes of mosses. Possibly a smooth leaved green holly bush profusely berried? True stickery holly with red berries and shiny green leaves, ’tis the season.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} Finished season 5 of Ray Donovan (2018, rated TV – MA), with Liev Schreiber. This family is so dysfunctional they can’t resist messing things up for each other in addition to getting into trouble on their own. * Bugs Bunny’s Howl-oween Special (1978, not rated), classic Halloween Looney Tunes Cartoons with my faves Bugs Bunny (now there’s a smart aleck if there ever was one) and Witch Hazel, my all time favorite cartoon character, with vampires, ghosts, and other Halloween tricks, and includes a bonus treat, a 1945 cartoon with Bugs and a mad scientist and a Big Hairy Orange Monster. * Winner of the season available on Netflix, The Christmas Chronicles (2018, rated PG). A teen and his tween-aged sister attempt to capture Santa on film. When they do, it results in a broken sleigh, runaway reindeer, a car chase with police cars, and rock and roll in a jail cell. Include the sexiest Santa ever in the form of Kurt Russell and you have an instant seasonal hit. I laughed so hard, and the humor was very welcome. Recommended!



Currently Reading
Dietland (2015, fiction) by Sarai Walker. Plum works for a fashion magazine but they won’t give her work space in the office. She plans stomach surgery after years of failing to lose weight. Then she is drawn into a mysterious, subversive, guerilla beauty group and everything goes off kilter. The author is creative with her quirky plot as Plum learns to love the person she is. I’m looking forward to see how the story ends. * With a nod to Thanksgiving, a bit of serendipity, and perhaps a bit of grace (lord knows I am in need of grace), I lucked upon Anne Lamott’s Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers (2012, spirituality). This book is not pithy nor particularly religious; it is random and chaotic, like life. Lamott simply reminds us we are more than ourselves and no matter who we pray to, prayer counts.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Not being a silent sufferer. I bitch and moan and groan and complain and howl and rant every step of the way about how freeking hard this crazy life is for some of us. At least I do that part of the journey well.
  • Hope. Hoping the fuss I make about suffering lets someone else know they are not alone. Hoping the fuss I make makes a difference by shining a light on the suffering, that it does exist.
  • Knowing to pray for strength to deal with it all, because praying for it to be easy is futile.
  • The son, abandoning his father and I for Thanksgiving. I was not up to making all the fixings, his dad doesn’t like turkey anyway, and we had decided on pizza to go with the parade and football. His communication technique lacked finesse as he didn’t say anything about his plans the day before, but I guessed when he got up and took a shower he was invited to share a traditional Thanksgiving feast with a group of friends and their parents who have treated him like family for many years. I am grateful, because the more people who love him the better his life will be. I’d rather he be with people he loves than hiding in his room playing video games.
  • Having thirteen dollars worth of coupons and gift cards for the fifteen dollar pizza.
  • Leftover pizza.
  • Turning on my string of Christmas lights in the window for a little cheerfulness in the dark house. The easy way to do it is leave them up all year and have them connected to a remote arm’s length away. Instant cheer.
  • Getting the Christmas table cloth on the table. I swear either the tablecloth or the table changes shape from year to year as each year I don’t remember it fitting that way before.
  • Having the gods, goddesses, and wits about me when the stove-top burner caught on fire. The right sized lid was just inside the cupboard and immediately covered the burner. Hubster came running from the other room disturbed by seeing “ten inch flames” from the next room. (They weren’t). Took several minutes of waiting and a whole bunch of adrenaline for the fire to go out. Hubster wanted to throw water on it and I said Not! Hubster later admitted to spilling some grease he’d forgotten to clean. Appropriate wifely-type guilt applied.
  • Having a battery on hand to replace the smoke alarm battery when it didn’t go off in the smoke.
  • A handful of sweet potatoes, some onions, and a couple fat apples from the winter farmers market.
  • A bag of sweet mandarin oranges.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

Posted in abundance, Aging, Education, Entertainment, Family, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, History, Nature, Parenting, Photography, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Gratitude Sunday: Surviving The Holidays

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “When you practice gratefulness, there is a sense of respect toward others.” Dalai Lama

Sunday Haiku
Dry white wind blusters,
turning evergreen branches
into magic fans.

Sunday Musings
Holidays are upon us! How did that happen?!? Like the White Rabbit, I’m pulling out that watch: “I’m late! I’m late!”. This week we will be thankful, and then the press is on for the Big Feast of the season, whichever holiday feast you celebrate.

Holidays are not easy for the most well adjusted couples or families. The simple pressure of getting things done and having them right can make a person tizzy. Dysfunctional families face a double whammy.

I don’t have guidelines to deal with holidays, especially gatherings. I’m not going to tell you how to behave. I don’t have a list of tried and true survival tips. I am a big time fail at holidays, the turkey is never right, something always goes wrong (the list is waaay too long to go into), and I am usually so tense I can barely breathe let alone enjoy myself.

Even though I am likely to be the worst holiday person ever, never fear. Advice from a poor, old, cranky woman might be as entertaining as those lists in glossy high-end fashion magazines made by people with tons of money. I do have some suggestions for getting through these crazy days.

1. Lighten up. If something doesn’t get done, so be it. If it turns out wrong, wrap it anyway. Laugh at it instead of fretting it.
2. Turn off the TV. Step away from the screens. Snuggle or share stories instead. Read to each other.
3. Be in the moment. Enjoy it while it’s happening.
4. Don’t shop. If you have to shop, shop local, used, or hand-made. Local art galleries, holiday bazaars, or winter farmers markets are great places for hand-made choices if you don’t have the time or skills. Re-purpose heirlooms while you are still alive to share the story of the item.
5. Be creative. Tradition is nice, and if you try new things you might find a new tradition.
6. Listen, instead of talking. It’s worth a try.
7. Make time a priority. Plan plenty for travel. Give the gift of time by spending it with elders.

Seven is enough, short, sweet, easy to remember. It’s so easy to over-think the whole mess.

Oh, wait. Second thoughts. I might have a couple more suggestions.

Like skip it. Yes, really. Just skip it. It won’t hurt one year to skip the whole mess. You could visit individuals you want to connect with on a different day and time during the holiday week, especially an older who would enjoy your company. But skip the big get-together with all the fol-de-rol and do something peaceful and quiet instead. Go to the beach. Find a quiet spot and light a candle. Breathe some fresh air somewhere. Hug a tree. Mentally send love and healing energy to those you love and those you don’t without having to be with them.

**Caveat: Do not, repeat, do not treat this like a deprivation and spend the day in bed. No wallowing in depression allowed (that’s too easy, and if you have a mental health challenge, please seek help if you need to). If you are going to do that you might as well drag your body through the shower, dress it, haul it on over to the big get-together, and at least enjoy the eats.**

Then here’s a novel idea: try breaking from tradition. If you always have an event at one person’s house, change the venue. If everybody is busy, order your dinner pre-made or go out to dinner and leave the cooking to somebody else. Have pizza and leave the turkey til next year. If you have the funds rent a Bed and Breakfast or a winter cabin large enough for your group and have everybody meet there or provide a shuttle. The “newness” of the venue or adventure might be enough to circumvent issues that usually present themselves. Or not, but let’s look at the positive possibilities. Maybe try some activity: schedule a hike or a game of softball, and if it’s raining there’s always Scrabble or Monopoly, or have a coloring contest with enough simple silly prizes everybody gets one. Just try something different; it could take your mind off the past and make a fun memory for the future.

The hardest one for me is not dwelling on the “what ifs” and the “what was”. I want to just turn off certain parts of my brain and allow it no memories of holidays past. And I want to turn off the imaginings of what might happen as well. It never happens the way you imagine. The past is past, can’t be changed, done, over, no re-do; I survived, and forward is the only direction from here.

It’s all too easy to talk about what to do and what not to do about holidays. You have to do what you know is right for you to keep yourself safe and as happy as you can be. Not that happiness is required, but it’s a nice bonus.

One more thing. Make the holidays not about you. It’s not a performance; you are not being graded, curve or otherwise. Nobody’s looking at you, they are more likely to be more concerned that you are looking at them. So look at them, and remember what my grandma used to say, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything.” She meant “be kind”; it doesn’t hurt to be kind. If you can’t honestly say, “you look great”, since it’s not your place to judge, say “I love you” instead. You might not know the story, and it might not matter. Love matters.

Focus on others, giving them time, sharing stories, encourage littles to perform and applaud when they do. Ask grandma to show you that recipe you’ve always wanted and record it on whatever fancy technology you might have. Breathe in every moment of time spent together through every sense you have.

There we have it. Focus on others. Listen, instead of talking. Be there in the moment. Easy peasey.

Color Watch colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – The brown leaves in the stems of this decorative grass made me think of pulling on khaki shorts and the grass seed heads remind me of blond hairy legs. Red, white, green, and gold: preview of the next season. A bit of gray-white lichen fallen amongst a puddle of softly muted reds. If you squint your eyes just right the shape of this brilliantly colored leaf sort of looks like a turkey.

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.} Finished the last season of DCI Banks (2011-2016, rated TV – 14). Formulaic cop episodes, a bit boring toward the end. * Finished the mini-series Sybil (1976, not rated) with Sally Field and Joanne Woodward, about a woman who develops Dissociative Identity Disorder. The movie is Hollywood, of course, and Sally Field’s performance is the best, but the ending is facile, and does nothing to help viewers understand how difficult mental health issues are. * Acrimony (2018, rated R) about a woman who supports her husband who is trying to sell an innovative product for many years, using up her inheritance, and eventually mortgaging her family home. She finally divorces him, after which his product sells, making him wealthy, but by then he is engaged to another woman. I thought this was going to be a typical woman-scorned-revenge movie, but different perspectives are presented: was he using her or truly loving her? Chaos ensues after his new engagement, as the ex-wife decides she has a right to the income after supporting him through the years of product development despite his generosity. Quirky twists at the end. * Started season 5 of Ray Donovan (2018, rated TV – MA), with Liev Schreiber, about a Los Angeles “fixer”, a man whose job is to “clean up” (read: cover-up) mistakes made by celebrities.

Currently ReadingDietland (2015, fiction) by Sarai Walker. The (mis-?) adventures of a young fat woman. Just starting. * Almost finished with Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding the Courage to Lead (2018, social justice) by Cecile Richards. She is ending the book with the drama of trump becoming president of the United States and her continuing battle against his ignorant policies.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • The immigrants who pick my strawberries in California under the smoke from the fires.
  • How my heart still works aching for all the people in California who lost their lives, homes, and livelihoods in the recent fires.
  • The firefighters who left their homes to help in California.
  • Knowing there is hope for the average republican redneck long-haired hippie to understand history and why we need to take care of the village and planet, because the hubster (who is one) gets it.
  • Being past the painful part of the cold sore and on to the healing part.
  • Finally figuring out which file my phone dumps my photos to when I transfer to my laptop. The techno-ditz takes a while, but I always prevail usually later rather than sooner.
  • Those ten minute work windows; it may take me all day to get something done, but it gets done.
  • My community which hosts a winter farmers market in November and December where I get some beautiful root veggies like potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, and squash and Brussels sprouts. I’m grateful to like these veggies.
  • A box of sweet California strawberries.
  • And because it is a national day of thanks this week: Thank YOU, dear readers, wherever you are, for taking the time to read these humble posts.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: Never Forget

Gratitude * Sunday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Ashley Roth

Autumn brown mushrooms sprouting under a green fern.

Photo by Sarah Michelle Rogers

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

Photo by Mickey O’Brien

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} Distracted by the news coverage of the election cycle, other viewing has been temporarily limited, though I did start season 6 of House of Cards (2018, rated TV – MA) with Robin Wright, about the nefarious shenanigans of people who want power. * Also started the mini-series Sybil (1976, not rated) with Sally Field and Joann Woodward, about a woman who suffers so much childhood trauma she develops other personalities to deal with the pain and suffering.

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

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

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

This week I have been grateful for:

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

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: Communicate. Learn. Vote.

Gratitude * Sunday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This week I have been grateful for:

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

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: A Better Monday After

Gratitude * Sunday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TIPS FOR A BETTER MONDAY AFTER DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME DAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} Guilty Conscience (1985, rated PG) with Blythe Danner and Anthony Hopkins, a husband tries to imagine the best way to kill his wife without getting caught through many scenarios, while his wife does the same. Surprise twist at the end. * Young Frankenstein (1974, rated PG), classic Halloween humor with Gene Wilder. Again with the lightening up.

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

This week I have been grateful for:

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

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: Radical Old Women

Gratitude * Sunday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} The Manchurian Candidate (1962, rated PG – 13) with Frank Sinatra. Somehow black and white makes these older movies seem creepier. Mind control is creepy enough as it is. Add politics to the mix. Creepier still. A classic that must be viewed at least once; junior year in high school would be good. Halloween is a good time for creepy movies. Recommended. * Life of the Party (2018, rated PG – 13), with Melissa McCarthy. McCarthy is cute as a button, but I often find her humor dull. A few witty lines and a feeble plot does not a comedy make. Meh. * Finished season 3 of DCI Banks, predictable cop stories.

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

This week I have been grateful for:

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

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

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

Gratitude * Sunday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This week I have been grateful for:

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

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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