Gratitude Sunday: A Wild Variety Of Abundance

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.”
Joni Mitchell

Sunday Haiku
Light so bright it hurts
eyes accustomed to leafy
green graceful branches.

Sunday Musings
Abundance is such a lovely word. On so many levels. And yet, abundance is a dichotomy, a paradox, an oxymoron.

People can have an abundance of cash, enough not to have to earn a living because the cash makes its own money.

People can have an abundance of house, more house than they can take care of without help.

People can have an abundance of stuff; some stuff might be of fine quality, some stuff not so much.

People can have an abundance of time when they can’t find work to earn a living.

People can have an abundance of body, being tall or voluptuous.

People can have an abundance of pain.

An abundance of trash or garbage.

An abundance of challenges.

An abundance of indecision.

An abundance of troubles.

An abundance of weeds.

My neighbor had an abundance of tree. This tree was large enough when we moved in but trees, by their very nature, don’t necessarily stay small even when they are dwarf varieties. Over the last twenty years it’s far outgrown the space it was in and could have wreaked damage on a half dozen houses if it had decided to cast its branches to the wind.

I have an abundance of patience. Sometimes it is forced patience, as in I have no control and there is nothing I can do about it. I’ve waited through twenty years and four owners of the property with the tree. This owner finally decided the abundance of tree was too much abundance.

This last Friday we watched the tree come down. It took an abundance of professional tree removers to do so. One skilled fellow climbed the tree, tied off branches, chain-sawed through them, and lowered the cut branches to the ground with the guide ropes. A team of four or five men caught the tree chunks, cut the branches into manageable sections, and hauled the sections out to the chipper parked on the street. They kept up an abundant stream of communication as they did so, my Spanish just good enough to be able to laugh when I heard them cheerfully cussing at each other.

Teamwork: yellow hard hat above, orange below standing on patio roof.

I enjoyed the show abundantly. Took my breakfast and coffee outside to watch. Spent the day. Caught a few pictures. I was abundantly fascinated by the process and abundantly amazed at the skill of the workers.

The rain sprinkled abundantly while I watched. The sun came out as well. One downpour came at the perfect time for the workers to take a well earned break. The universe shed some tears on us mourning the passing of the tree.

The tree was in a dangerous place. It was precariously out of proportion with its space. The trunk had divided into eight stumps each with its own wild meander of branches. It was so abundantly unruly it was self-destructively growing into itself, unattended for so long branches were growing through trunks eating its own bark off. It has been needing removal for twenty years. It was a matter of time until the tree and nature would fling some part down upon the earth. In most cases I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees. This tree outgrew its space and became a victim of safety and progress.

The little family of squirrels that live in my yard vacated the tree quite early on. The tree wasn’t their main home so no worries there. They weren’t displaced, but it was a major part of their yard-to-yard highway, so they will be establishing a new furry rodent route soon after the chain saws go away. The crows have an abundance of neighboring trees to choose from, and since they enjoy an abundance of mobility they will choose new trees in which to perch to alert me to the morning light. A few smaller black birds kept circling the tree as it was coming down like they could not believe what was happening.

Using the sides of his feet to hold on and using a chainsaw in mid-air.

The tree climber had an abundance of safety ropes and harnesses. He had an abundance of knowledge, skill, and confidence. He had an abundance of time to do the job safely, and he used those minutes wisely tying himself off, tying the branches securely before he cut, gauging his next steps carefully. It’s quite a skill to balance on the sides of your feet from the spikes strapped to your boots, to swing from branch to branch when your safety rope is tied only to a six inch diameter branch, to wield different sizes of chainsaw in mid-air because the diameter of this stump requires a much larger saw than the last. Many of the trunks were as big around as the cutter; one of the trunks was at least twice his width. He created an abundance of sawdust.

Swinging between trunks.

The helpers had an abundance of energy as they kept up with the cutter, hauling the branches through the side yard and out to the chipper, cleaning as they worked picking up the odd little limbs and raking leaves; they were steady workers and did not dawdle. I could see the largest branches over the top of the fence as they were dragged through the yard looking ever so much like an endless parade of leaf dragons marching toward an unknown enemy. They created an abundance of wood chips.

Some of his work was parallel to the earth.

In an effort to control nature a human decided the tree was more a danger than a joy. I knew exactly what the tree was, but it wasn’t my tree to make a choice for. As the tree came down I thanked it for its shade and wished it relief from its own weight. Now in that part of my yard I see an abundance of sky. At the end of the day the tree was removed the sky carried a peculiar shade of sickly muted peachy-pink color reflecting from the bit of sun on the clouds over the area, a sort of softly angry color against the pale blue of late spring evening skies.

One of the last bites.

The light is vast, open, chilling, naked.

Spider webbed in the last of his prey.

Now I have an abundance of sadness for the life of a living thing which no longer exists.

I saw it. I believe it. Abundance is a hard thing. Like grief.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Shiny pink and gold of honeysuckle. Subtle blending of pale pink and white morning glory. Not so subtle blend from yellow to pink edges of this rose. I love how this purple violet defies the aggregate every year by blooming through the crack. A golden yellow rose against the gray concrete wall.

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 Wanda Sykes comedy special on Netflix Not Normal (2019, rated R). I do love me some good stand-up comedy. * The Women on the 6th Floor (2011, not rated), in French with English subtitles, a man in 1960 Paris finds empathy with the maids who live in the rooms above.

Currently Reading – Finished The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (2017, fiction) by Taylor Jenkins Reid (American author), and the love of her life was not one of her seven husbands. No other spoilers as this is a great summer read with a couple twists at the end. * The Keeper of Lost Things (2017, fiction) by Ruth Hogan (British author), starts with a slower pace about an older man who picks up found objects, and catalogs them, and the young woman he hires to help him. * Plan Your Prosperity: The only Retirement Guide You’ll Ever Need (2013, personal finance) by Ken Fisher (American author). Money isn’t easy if you’ve never had much. I’m not familiar with many of these financial terms (I know what investing means I’ve just never had money to invest), but I’m always learning. Understanding more about money, how it works, and how to save it even when poor has its own value.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • The hubster getting our low-cost, ugly, make-do sun screen in place on the east facing front window. Hubster says it’s OK to call it our hillbilly screen as we both have ancestors from the south so we are not mis-appropriating.
  • Natural air conditioning. Windows and doors on opposite sides of the house and the luxury of being home to open and close them as needed.
  • The son getting some blackberries cut back.
  • Hearing and seeing the vibrational energy of Mister Kitty haunting the house. His little murphs and snores; his paws on the carpet; his scratch on my door; the weight of him jumping on my bed to wake me when I’m asleep; his body walking between rooms out of the corner of my eye; the curtain moving the way he flicked it out of the way but the window is not open and there is no breeze; his shadow in places he used to sleep and I pull back so I don’t step on him; from the kitchen the little clinking sound his food dish used to make as he pushed his food around though all the dishes have been picked up and packed away; and my pant leg moving making me jump just the way I used to when he would tap my pants or my leg telling me he wanted attention.
  • The beautiful Mother’s Day card from my sister that I had thrown into a box because I was so in grief from Mister Kitty’s death. Finding it two weeks later when I was ready and the joy it brings me viewing it on my card display clip at my work desk.
  • The sweet first grader at the pool who told me she loved my dress, which is the style of swimsuit I wear.
  • When the neighbor fellow stopped by to talk about the tree and he apologized for his crying babies, and overhearing the hubster telling him they sounded like joy. Laughing when hubster came inside and telling me he didn’t have a problem with the crying because it was in their house, not ours.
  • A free book and a free ice cream cone for signing up for the Summer Reading program at my local lending library. Maybe I’ll win one of the prizes as well. Fun to play either way.
  • The encouragement of my last physical therapist who gave me the idea: sore but safe. Work out (walk, dance, whatever, your choice) a little, OK to be sore, be sure you are safe.
  • No mishaps during tree removal.
  • A secret pleasure: watching men doing physical labor.
  • The hubster not making fun of me when I started crying because I missed a tree I wanted gone for twenty years. I am my own paradox.
  • Being able to grieve a tree.
  • Ginger biscuits made from grain grown less than ten miles from my home.
  • Oregon strawberries.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratutude Sunday: Living La No Bootstrap Loca

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “It’s all right to tell a man to lift himself by his own bootstraps, but it is cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps.” Martin Luther King Jr.

Sunday Haiku

Orange poppies line
roads beside purple lupines;
nature’s Picasso.

Sunday Musings
My boots are gone. Bootstraps gave out in 2016 when I was forced into early retirement. The boots went the way of the carefully constructed small savings cushion meant for after I officially retired at age 66. The forced early retirement took it all away just trying to survive, keeping my mortgage, property tax, and bills paid. Gone. Nary a boot to pull the straps up on, and no youth nor vigor left with which to find new employment or re-make another start in this crazy life of opportunity and choices .

And yet, I still live. I still have to eat, and sleep, and shower. Cash poor, I fake it through every day just praying no other unforeseen event will occur and knowing life well enough to know it’s only a matter of time before more shit hits the fan. Knowing I am unlikely to be able to fix or replace anything broken. Unable to invest or donate or even treat myself or a friend if I wanted to.

And yet, I have so much abundance. So much stuff that means nothing to any one but me. That has no value to anyone but me. It’s all I have. The effort to attempt to sell off some of the abundance seems to have less value when I want more for the item than any one is willing to pay.

And yet, it’s all so freaking complicated. The automatic raises I get in my limited income are never enough to cover the rising costs of food, utilities, gasoline. Who needs clothing? I can wear rags around the house and save my few nice pieces of clothing for being in public. Nobody comes to visit me so they don’t see my glad-home-rags. The only item I need to regularly replace is my swimsuit, which lasts about four or five months because of my addiction to three nights a week in a heavily chlorinated public pool. Indecent exposure at the pool will result in not being welcomed back, and I must feed my water addiction, so I cover the private parts of my body according to rules.

And yet, I still cry for justice. Not fairness, though that would be OK, but I’m not sure fairness exists or we might have eliminated poverty already. I don’t think we necessarily need to eliminate wealth, but poverty can be changed. We can pursue what is right, moral, ethical, and just for all of us. And none of this two or more levels of justice business where the wealthy can buy legal-esed fake justice, and the poor serve real punishments.

Don’t tell me I made poor choices. First, no re-dos, the past is past. Second, the choices were few and limited and hard. Recent example: I chose to try to extend the life of a living creature who gave three humans all kinds of snuggles and purrs, who left this earth anyway after the food the veterinarian wanted him changed to gave him diarrhea and in three weeks he lost half his body weight and began having a series of strokes. There are no guarantees in life, but it was complicated and I wonder if we should have listened to the professional in this case, as kitty didn’t have issues with the other food or if we should have even given him the tooth surgery recommended. I know, no guarantees; I didn’t fix my car, choosing the life of my cat instead. But the universe foxed me, no kitty, no fixed car, depleted savings. Triple whammy.

Don’t tell me I didn’t work hard enough. I did work I guarantee some of you wouldn’t do to feed myself and my family. I worked hours and schedules many people wouldn’t choose. I’ve washed toilets, and pulled weeds, and delivered newspapers at 3:00 AM to put food on my table.

Don’t tell me I should have divorced the hubster because he was unable to work. I took a vow, which I honored. You don’t throw away a husband because he’s broken.

Don’t tell me I should cut my loses. There are no loses to cut. I don’t live any kind of extravagant lifestyle, never have. I don’t buy cable TV, I don’t go out to breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, or coffee. I don’t vacation (what’s that word?). I never go anywhere without making four or five stops on one tour to make sure I don’t waste gas. No first run movies at the theater for this girl, I’m behind the cultural curve until the movie or cable TV series is available to borrow from my local lending library. My joy of live theater is totally sublimated because I can’t even afford the senior discount. My twenty year old car needs a thousand dollars of work, my modest sufficient house is falling apart around me, and my yard will soon consume my house. I am blessed with the luxury of having one friend who loves me so much she buys my annual membership to the pool, otherwise I would have to re-prioritize funds, being addicted to pool time as I am (there are worse things to be addicted to). I am so selfishly focused (read that facetiously) I dare to think I deserve basic comforts after working in service to my country and family for the last 50 years because I tried so hard to make it happen by myself.

Bootstraps are worthless when they don’t exist. Even more so when the boots have worn so far down as to be non-existent as well. No boots, no bootstraps. I’m not blameless; I made my choices, but in a society where the myth of self-sufficiency rules, I haven’t been able to manage by myself. I needed help; I need a village. I needed stronger bootstraps. What I got was more crazy.

When you’ve worn out your bootstraps through job changes whether of your own making or the wishes of others, or relocation, or mishap, you start grabbing hold of the edges of your boots. Once illness, injury, or mayhem wear the boots through, bare feet don’t get you far. They burn and blister easily, they are cut by every slender shard of glass or sharp rock, they are stuck by random thistles or blackberry prickles lying around. They are stung by bees and bitten by fleas. They peel and rot because they are exposed, instead of protected in cozy, clean, warm, well-fitted socks and boots. Callouses take a long time to form and make it difficult to perform.

What do we do without boots or bootstraps? I’ve seen folks give up, and others who resign themselves. I’ve seen others thrive making the best with what they have and some just survive. I’ve seen people walk on hot coals and wade through cold muddy water. Others are satisfied with the status quo and still others learn to adapt and find new ways. Like being satisfied to kick ass in slippers instead of boots. Like getting more satisfaction out of mastering a dance move or new water exercise, than seeing the number on the scale. Like being more comfortable asking for help for those who have less because I know their stories; they are me. Like accepting the notion that opportunities and choices are not always under one’s control in this crazy life. Like recognizing the luxury of noticing joyful moments every day that seldom got noticed when working full-time.

Those moments are more precious as we age. Joyful moment: I woke up, I can see, I am walking without pain, I have my own teeth to brush, I still have some hair. Honestly the older we get the more joyful moments there are, or the more we notice because we might have bare feet.

Looking at joyful moments or, in a word, gratefulness, when one’s boots are gone one celebrates one’s feet. Because one has feet and some people don’t. One lavishes a little more care on them because it is what we have. One takes the time to scrape the rough spots off, to massage lotion into them, to paint the nails some bright cheerful color (reminiscent of those purple boots, of course), and decorate at least one toe with a pretty silver ring.

Then you put one foot in front of the other and you start walking. Again. You have no choice. However equipped you are at the moment, forward is the only direction. You can choose to stagnate, or not. You can try something new, or not. Either way you create a crazy, no boot, no bootstrap life. One that works for you.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – A creamy white striped clematis entertaining a local busy bee. I don’t know the name of this lacy pink and I love the way it looks naturalized against the white fence. Weeds are pretty too; purple shooting stars are deadly nightshade. The darkest purple shade of rhododendron cultivar; my uncle called it Blue Peter. Vibrant purple clematis with a neon pink stripe.

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 Hippopotamus (2017, not rated), a poet is sent to investigate miracle healings purportedly done by his godson, only to reveal the mundane truth to the family. Quirky and funny. * Wine Country (2019, rated R), left a taste of sour wine in my mouth. Personally, I don’t like the smell of wine (full disclosure: I had to quit drinking 40 years ago because of liver disease; I get sick before I get a buzz so why bother), nor do I enjoy being around really drunk people. I know it’s a lifestyle for some people and there is a huge difference between the glass-or-two person, and the bottle-a-day person, and the more-than-that person. An almost two-hour-movie-weekend of long time friends getting drunk and questioning their friendship was uncomfortable comedy despite a couple funny lines (“Things we say now”), and even though I know the challenges we face as real women, the movie came off more like Whine Country. Yet this is one of those movies I feel I’m being too judgey on because I understand where whininess and crankiness comes from; I’m really glad this group of women made this movie, and you might like it. I’ll try it again in three or four years. * Philadelphia (1993, rated PG – 13) with Tom Hanks in the fight for dignity for those suffering from AIDS. I needed to watch this for the cultural references I run into about the movie. I didn’t watch it back in the day because I was involved watching a beloved cousin die from AIDS. * Re-viewed 50 First Dates (2004, rated PG – 13) with Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler. I remember enjoying this the first time around. Sandler’s signature humor is crude, with potty and body jokes at the 7th grade boy level, but this is one of the few movies Sandler kept the crude humor reined in to a minimally tolerable quantity and was entertaining despite the smattering of crudeness. Barrymore saves the day with her performance.

Currently Reading
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (2017, fiction) by Taylor Jenkins Reid (American author), a biographical approach to Evelyn’s seven and her true love, with a bit of humor, psychology, and fashion on top of the love stories which relieves it from the tedium of a romance. * Just Give Money to the Poor: The Development Revolution from the Global South (2010, world social development) by Armando Barrientos, David Hulme, and Joseph Hanlon. I’ve learned a small piece about global finance and global poverty, and am so very glad to be done with this dry statistical study. Clarity will be revealed when I write out the notes I took. Author’s final conclusion: giving cash to the poor and trusting them to know how to spend it to make the biggest difference in their lives actually works, in individual families and to the benefit of the community and nation. The major premise is one must trust the poor to know themselves, and not blame the poor for circumstance beyond their control, such as generational poverty.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • The abundance of stuff I find when I clean. Recently unearthed a small bottle of wedding theme colored M&Ms from a nephew’s marriage. The M&Ms weren’t even stale, but since nephew and wife have been married five or six years now and expecting their second baby, I’m going to toss the candy and keep the cute little bottle.
  • Still being able to twist into the positions it takes to wax my own legs. Even when I miss a few hairs.
  • Having fun wearing ankle bracelets while my legs are sleek and hairless. I like the ones that make tinkly noises when I walk.
  • Turning off the heater again. Had a cooler spell for a couple weeks and had turned it on again. I’m usually all about bundling up, but I’m ready to un-bundle.
  • People who manage English as a second language, because of how hard it has been as an English speaker to gain fluency in French or Spanish. English isn’t exactly straightforward.
  • Refunds for all the cat food left after Mister Kitty’s demise.
  • My I’ll-believe-it-when-I-see-it attitude. I don’t get my hopes up so when it doesn’t happen I’m not so terribly disappointed. And delightfully surprised if all goes per plan or better than.
  • Getting some math straightened out with Social Security after an hour on the phone with them, though I don’t understand why they have to make simple things so complicated. All about proper communication. We have to wait and see if the call communicated properly.
  • Not being surprised when the neighbor’s tree hasn’t come down per stated schedule.
  • Being able to view all the Portland Rose Festival parades on TV.
  • Being picky.
  • Being flexible within a range.
  • Having a range.
  • Oregon Hood strawberries.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: A Memorial Day For All

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “Service is the rent you pay for room on this earth.”
Shirley Chisholm

Sunday Haiku

One freaky warm week
belies cooler spring days to
follow; shawl weather.

Sunday Musings
As we come to another Memorial Day weekend I want to extend a note of love and caution to all. Memorial Day acts as the semi-official start of summer though summer solstice is still a month away. Some folks get so overly enthusiastic they might be willing to take more risks to celebrate summer and summerish weather. Please enjoy yourselves but err on the side of caution. Be safe having fun!

On a more serious note, I don’t say Happy Memorial Day. It seems an oxymoron as we take some time to think about our forebears who served this country. Since they are gone I’m not happy, I’m grieving. This weekend we are supposed to honor people who served in the military who have left us behind. That’s where I start. Serving in the military is a special kind of service to the country. Not everybody is built for this kind of service, but everybody can serve, and everybody does serve their country; we just haven’t codified it or made it official like military service is. We could decide to have national service for everybody if we wanted to formalize a program of service; that’s about imagination and progress. I find the more people know about their country, the more people are asked or expected to take care of their country, to take stewardship of our communities and country, the more invested we are, and the stronger we are.

My dad served overseas in the Philippines in the late 1940s, not an “official” war. He’s been gone now since 2001 and I regret I don’t know his whole story. He didn’t talk about his years of military service much. In his day, a man was expected to serve unless there were extreme circumstances, and somehow men seemed more willing to serve, or perhaps it was a different kind of social pressure then. I find many people who served in the military don’t talk much about their service. Maybe they should. Those of us who haven’t served in the military might understand more about its rewards and horrors. Honesty is the best policy, right?

Dad was a rear tail gunner in the army air force. I know that sounds confusing: he served in the army on a plane. He got the job because he was thin as a rail and his tiny butt fit on the tiny seat at the rear of the plane. He never said what he shot or shot at. He developed an ulcer in his middle age and did not stay thin.

Dad didn’t talk about his army buddies and I don’t remember him being in touch with any of them. I remember only one story he told about sleeping in tents on the beach, how large the beach crabs were, and how the crabs would walk across the bodies of sleeping soldiers, waking them in the middle of the night. I’m not much of a rough sleeper as it is, but this would have given me screaming night terrors.

Besides the memories, Dad brought something home from the Philippines that remained with him the rest of his life. He called it “jungle rot” though I think it was some sort of fungal infection on his feet. He was constantly tending to his feet, making sure they were clean, the “rot” inspected and scrapped off daily, and he insisted on white cotton socks with everything he wore, which he sometimes changed several times a day depending on his comfort level. An unfortunate medal of honor to wear for your years of service that Dad blamed on many months of wet feet, wet socks, and wet boots during his time of service. One of my boyfriends was totally fascinated by Dad’s feet and would make sure I was home from our dates when Dad got home from his swing shift work schedule, easy to do with a midnight curfew. He loved to watch Dad tend his feet so much I was surprised he didn’t go into medicine as a career. I have sensitive feet and challenges with my feet make me more than average cranky. It was a relief to be able to solve my plantar fasciitis pain by switching from flip-flops to supportive sport shoes. I can only imagine Dad’s daily foot pain.

There is no one left to ask. All of his generation in my family are gone now. I would like to know if he used the GI Bill to finance the house he raised his family in. I’d like to know if he had any assistance from the Veteran’s Administration other than the one instance I know where he had a little occupational therapy. I would like to know more of his stories. The nurses in attendance to the men in the room during OT told the men they didn’t want to hear their stories. I pitched a fit and gave them a piece of my mind: that even if you’ve heard the story a million times, you listen again politely and patiently. I went to the supervisor as well. I’d love to hear one of his stories now. In his last years he had suffered a stroke and struggled with aphasia, so he couldn’t have told the stories again without the most exhausting effort.

I have a few pictures of the plane he served in. My sis located some of his military entrance and exit papers and the cap he wore while he served still survives. Our kids could not care less about family history, and I see this in so many families I’ve come to believe history might die completely with my generation.

I like to remind Americans though we may not have served in the military, we are in service to our country every day. Military service is complicated, and I would never belittle or denigrate people who have made that hard choice to serve our country in that way; military service people have served in a capacity I never could.

Every-day citizens are in service to our country every day, right here in our neighborhoods and communities; every-day service looks simpler but it’s complicated in its own way because we don’t always recognize it as service. We don’t exist in a vacuum. Everything we do and touch, touches other people when we live in a multi-generational household, a neighborhood, a community, a village, or a society.

When we drive down the road in a responsible manner, following the rules, resisting road rage even when surrounded by other inconsiderate drivers, we are in service to our country.

When we get up and go to work every day we are in service to our country, no matter the type of work.

When we pay taxes for our property, our income, our gasoline, our phones, our roads, our cars, airplane travel, our medicines, and for recreation we are in service to our country.

When we pay our bills, our rent and mortgages, and buy consumer goods we are in service to our country. When we take care of our homes and property we are in service to our country.

When we send our children to public schools we are in service to our country as we support both building/facility investment and human capital investment in teachers, and as we support children who are the future of our country.

When we invest ourselves in higher education whether it be academic or traditional skilled trades like electricians, plumbers, mechanics, and carpenters, we are in service to our country.

When we vote in every election we are in service to our country. When we run for office in school, at city and county and state and federal levels, whether we win or not, we are in service to our country.

When we shop at a farmers market and put our money directly into the hands of the people who grew and harvested and made our food we are acting in service to our country.

When we volunteer with a youth group, or a school, or a non-profit organization we are in service to our country.

When we donate to the local food bank, a community blessing box, a little free library, or a non-profit organization we are in service to our country.

When we offer the lady who was served before us at the food bank a ride home as we see her pack her food into a series of backpacks so she can carry it home if she can wait until we are done with our own food box selection because we have a car and she doesn’t, we are in service to our country. The poor helping the poorer.

When we walk the beaches, or trails, or parks, or city sidewalks and pick up other people’s trash we are in service to our country. When we leave no trace after our picnic or hike or camp-out we are in service to our country.

When we yell at neighbor kids to not bully each other we are in service to our country.

When we listen to the histories of our elders we are in service to our country.

When we listen to the struggles of our young people we are in service to our country.

When we mow the neighbor’s lawn because it needs to be done and we have a few extra minutes to do so without a thought that he will owe us something, we are in service to our country.

When we pay attention to local, national, and world news after a hard day’s work we are in service to our country.

When we stand up for what is right, for human rights, for the health and wealth of all of us we are in service to our country.

Like I told my dad as often as I could after we got older, thank you. I’m grateful for your service. If it weren’t for all we do, we wouldn’t be as good as we are. With all our service, I know we can get better, because we know we are better than the ugly American underbelly that is showing itself in plain sight now.

This Memorial Day spend a few minutes thinking about and remembering the people who have served who have already left this earth. Honor the people who made the tough choice of military service. And honor the rest of those who served every day, on home soil, the ones our soldiers came home to.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Wetlands lupines in Monet shades of pink and blue.

Photo by Sherri Mead

The O’Keefe view of a fully opened pink peony. A pink and orange sherbet rose, valley roses coming on strong right on schedule for the Portland Rose Festival. We called these flame colored spears Indian fire bush when I was a kid and we pretended they were weapons that would burn when tagged with them. So many patches of bright orange California poppies in hellstrips and road dividers.

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.} Gigi (1958, rated G) with Maurice Chevalier, Leslie Caron, and Louis Jourdan, from the novel by Colette, directed by Vincente Minnelli. A period piece about 1890s Paris, I loved the Art Nouveau detailing of the sets, and the Victorian designs of the costumes. The novel was considered radical in its time (1944), the movie was innovative with new Technicolor technology. In 2019, viewed through the #metoo and #timesup lens, it’s creepy and disturbing that both grandma and great-auntie approve a mistress relationship for teen-aged Gigi in the name of money, as the mother is on-site yet vacant, while Gigi holds out for the real prize. 1890, 1944, and 1958 are all past now and indeed they were different times. I’m all about choice, my choice, your choice, without coercion and the only approval needed is mine, but I’m also about dignity. * Rim of the World (2019, rated TV-14), about a group of misfit teens who go to summer camp and the earth is invaded by extraterrestrial aliens. Formulaic and predictable, as the kids learn to work together MacGyver style to defeat the inevitable Hollywood scary version of an alien with spewing goo and millions of teeth and the ability to regenerate, and the good guys prevail in the end. I do like a happy ending. * Once again in need of nearly mindless viewing I find the British Baking shows to be the most calming; there are several versions out now. The garden shows are fun but they represent too much possible, real, and needed work. Baking shows are fun because I don’t eat a lot of sugar or pastry or bread, so when I do I have a better knowledge on which to judge the quality, and no pressure because I’m unlikely to make the treats they do. Since I don’t eat much I want the best for my treat when I do.

Currently ReadingThe Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (2017, fiction) by Taylor Jenkins Reid, just started, about an aging glamorous Hollywood star and a young New York writer, and so far seems like good summer reading. Off to a good reading start for the summer. * I am nothing if not persistent and I’m stubborn about finishing so I don’t miss anything. With Just Give Money to the Poor: The Development Revolution from the Global South (2010, world social development) by Armando Barrientos, David Hulme, and Joseph Hanlon, I feel like I’ve read the same dry statistical sentence hundreds of times. It all makes sense but it also feels like so much gobbledygook. Yargh, statistics and my crazy curiosity.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Persistence.
  • The abundance of cleaning. The more I clean the more I find to clean.
  • How comforting it is to hear birds tweeting outside my window every morning to make sure I know the light is changing. Yes, I know they are talking to themselves, but I eavesdrop.
  • The staff at my aquatic center who honor my “old-timers” status (12 plus years) and allow me to work around them and vice versa. More than once they have come to my rescue when I had a leg cramp or a coughing fit. Staff does this for everybody from the smallest crying baby to the least abled of us.
  • My aquatic center being funded through local property taxes so my tax investment stays in my community; that is a tax investment well spent.
  • The neighbor’s seal point Siamese cat who seems to be guarding Mister Kitty’s grave. He’s been sitting there the last couple weeks since Mister has been gone. They were pals, on territorial growling terms at any rate, so perhaps he’s grieving as well.
  • Listening to a heavy spring storm rain through from the coast and knowing my roof doesn’t leak.
  • The son getting some blackberry vines cut back. Such an abundance of vines, and they all need to go.
  • Not my favorite choice because the choices are limited, but when I need it having access to the local food bank sure is helpful to my family’s need to eat every day. At least I have that choice.
  • The hubster who asks before tossing pickle juice (saved for flavoring potato and macaroni salads!).
  • Little green scallions for salads and baked potatoes. I like green onions raw, chopped fine.
  • My first two pints of fresh Oregon strawberries for the season. Sweet Ann variety. Hoods aren’t quite ripe yet. These were picked a day too early but we’ve had rain and they are molding fast. Strawberries are such a delicate, fickle weather fruit. But I’ll take the slight tartness of picked too early to have berries grown within my local area. With them fresh I can afford to have a few more during the summer.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: If You Never; or, Polish Your Lens

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “In a sane, civil, intelligent, and moral society, you don’t blame poor people for being poor.” Andrew Young

Sunday Haiku
Glorious dark gray,
gloomy, damp, cool, mid-spring days
amid bright flowers.

Sunday Musings
Empathy is not a natural concept to many people. To think beyond oneself is hard. We might not like to think we do so, but we judge everybody and everything around us by the only lens we have, that of ourselves. To think beyond oneself one must look through the lens of the other.

We often do not recognize these biases. We’ll say “I’m color blind” to race when in fact we are not, but we do not see our biases. We want to help the poor but then want an accounting of their assets and income to prove they are in need before offering aid, though god forbid anyone question what we own.

If we’ve never struggled to pay the rent, we don’t understand why somebody else does.

If we have never experienced back pain or chronic pain, we do not understand the disability of limited movement and brain changes from the pain.

If we have never shopped for groceries because our wealth allows us to pay somebody else to do that task for us, we cannot conceive of being hungry enough to dig through somebody else’s garbage.

If you’ve never been followed through the store by a clerk who watches every move you make, you cannot know the fear of distrust.

If our wealth allows us to replace our car every year, or buy multiple cars on whims and desire, we have no concept of trying to keep a twenty year old vehicle running when there is no income for maintenance.

If we have always had an easy time finding and keeping employment, we do not understand why other people cannot do the same.

If you inherited wealth, have never worked a day in your life, and have always had enough of everything you’ve ever wanted whenever you wanted it, you cannot understand the person who works full time for minimum wage and still cannot afford housing and food.

If we have never experienced deprivation, we have no knowledge of what it feels like to do without or to not even have a choice.

If we have never experienced financial security, we may have no imagination on which to base a concept of ease and comfort.

If you’ve never had to dig through every pocket and bag to locate a dollar’s worth of change to put into the gas tank to get to work, you do not understand the importance of a handful of coins.

If we have never had to ask for public assistance to eat, to stay warm, or to prevent an eviction, we do not understand the indignities of asking for help.

If you’ve never had to get food from a food bank, you do not know the indignity of receiving food other people would not eat and be expected to be thankful for it.

If you’ve never bought a latte, you do not understand the person who suggests you would have better control of your money if you bought fewer lattes.

If you have only ever been concerned about your own comfort, you will not understand being concerned about the comfort of others.

I’m not saying people should abdicate personal responsibility. We should do everything we are capable of to help ourselves and others. But there is so much entirely beyond our control, and when the uncontrollable parts become overwhelming people need to have dignified assistance and should not be judged as to whether or not we “deserve” help. Everybody is worthy of dignity. Everybody is worthy of help.

I am becoming familiar with the proposal of “universal basic income,” the concept of giving individuals a monthly income, not to replace earned income, but in addition, to provide a secure reliable amount of money to help people eat, pay rent, keep warm, or have more resources to find work or education. In discussing this idea with others I have found several points of view, some of which are disturbing to me. I began thinking about lenses and why people think what they think.

The easiest concept to wrap my mind around is the poor are poor through no fault of their own, and they are willing to work within their abilities if given a chance. What I see is even when the poor are able to secure employment it is no guarantee they will succeed any more than anybody else. And we often have fewer tools with which to make decisions, less education or access to information to help with financial decisions, including the fact that every dollar earned goes out just as fast as it comes in just to pay bills and eat; rarely is there any money left to save for the future. It costs more to be poor: when one can’t afford health insurance one pays full price; when you don’t have cash when the sale is on at the store one pays full price; when one doesn’t qualify for additional scholarships, one pays full price; when one has to have financing on a used car, the financing often creates the conundrum of paying more for a used car than it is worth.

The concept most disturbing to me is that poor people are lazy and of low character, and responsible for their own poverty, though this is not what I have seen or experienced. I’ve seen poor people working two or three jobs to support themselves and their families, and I’ve seen poor people to be enterprising up to and including illegal activities just to pay the rent so they don’t have to live on the streets or under a bridge. I’m not condoning illegal activities; I’m acknowledging desperation when other avenues, politically correct socially acceptable avenues, fail.

I came to realize the people who embraced this idea of basic income were people who would gain a huge difference in their lives from the help, people who had experienced generational poverty and despite education and working hard all their lives could not, through no fault of their own, rise above the poverty they’d been dealt. They have no bootstraps to pull up, and barely a boot at that.

I also realized the people who claimed basic income would make people lazy were the people who hadn’t worked as hard, who had all their goals and plans go according to plan, who had a little inheritance here or there, and who had enough cushion and financial knowledge and maybe even an average (pleasing, acceptable, employable) physical appearance with which to feel secure.

In other words, the poor saw the step-up basic income might provide like being able to afford to buy a home rather than rent, or afford education or better quality food, or to pay the heat in the winter without begging for assistance to pay the bill. I have found poor people know enough about their own families and their own situation to apply additional income in the places that make the most difference in their lives. It doesn’t include buying lattes, but sometimes a new phone gives you a better connection to a new job.

The people I talked to who had achieved comfort on their own judged more harshly through their own lens. The “I did it on my own, why can’t they” folks could not conceive of plans not going according to plan. The “Why don’t they work harder” folks had no concept of working three jobs and still not being able to make ends meet. The “They should make better choices” folks had no concept of repeated tragedies, and unforeseen needed repairs and catastrophes. The “It will just make poor people lazier” folks would choose more leisure time with their basic income because they already have all the basics covered and extra income would be EXTRA, not necessary to making those proverbial ends meet, the leisure time for the comfortable being a choice, though the correlation being if the poor chose leisure time with their additional money it would make them lazy, a point of view so circular my head spins. More plainly stated, if a comfortable person chose leisure time with additional money it was because they were lucky enough to have all their duckies in a row, when the poor do so they are lazy as if they do not “deserve” time off or vacation because they are poor. Spinning, spinning. The thing is, few poor people will choose leisure time with the additional income as there are too many pressing financial issues to keep the wolves from the door and the roof from caving in.

Basic income might work, or it might not. There are many studies that say it would and few to dispute it. Financial assistance is helping raise poverty levels in many of the poorest countries on earth, countries where people live on a dollar a day, where the help of a few dollars a month can buy better seed or feed people when weathering a crop failure.

My question: why resent helping other people? If we have enough, does it hurt us to share? We are only as good as the least of us; everyone benefits when we help each other.

The studies I referred to above show when poverty is raised for the poorest, everybody benefits, including the more wealthy. Money received by poor people is usually spent locally, while the money of the wealthy can often be spent outside the community, because the wealthy have more options. Money given to the poor then strengthens the whole community, not just the individual recipients.

If you are one of those people who has always had enough, and think poor people are poor because they are lazy and of low character, consider one of those poor people may be a member of your family or a person who has no family to call on. Consider opening your heart and the lens you view others with. Listen to their stories and don’t judge. Imagine what it is like to be shot down at every turn, to have all efforts go awry despite tenacity and persistence. Imagine repeated failures in the face of effort and desperation.

Imagine the strength of a community when all members stand for each other, who aren’t judged but are instead supported in their efforts. Imagining a better world doesn’t start with money. It starts with opening your heart and caring for others and trusting people to make their own wise choices.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – The strange otherworldly pinkish colors of the hellebore. Brilliant purple allium globes. Two toned pink columbines. My favorite pale pink oriental poppy. The fields surrounding my semi-rural community are alive with crimson clover this week, like somebody scattered red paint splotches over the earth.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} Binged through seasons 6 and 7 of Call the Midwife (2012 – to present, rated TV – MA), hoping all the birth would be uplifting. One cannot have birth without death, so there’s that. I’ve seen enough umbilical cords cut for the rest of my life; must be their favorite scene (“let’s make it look real!”) * And binged through two seasons of The Good Place (2017 – to present, rated TV – PG14) with Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. This “alternative” view of “heaven” is silly fun humor.

Currently ReadingJust Give Money to the Poor: The Development Revolution from the Global South (2010, world social development) by Armando Barrientos, David Hulme, and Joseph Hanlon. The question of “deserving” poor and “undeserving” poor arises. I don’t understand the question. Poor is poor; reasons why are likely irrelevant. * Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger (2018, sociology) by Rebecca Traister (American author). Women are half our world; to discount us is to err.

Dance Lesson Update – one month: I’m able to stand up and lift my feet in time (mostly) to the music for the whole nearly four minutes of song. I’ve learned one of the steps and I’m still faking the rest, but I’m still standing at the end of the song.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Enduring yet another excruciatingly rough week.
  • All the love we were able to give and all the love we received from Mister Kitty aka George Murphy who now has his forever place in the sun.
  • Sleeping through sorrow.
  • How immediate sorrow seems to bring up every other sorrowful moment to re-live again. At least re-living it means you are still feeling something.
  • Standing outside in the rain.
  • Being mostly done with the bronchial cough that came out of nowhere.
  • Back scratchers for those places I can’t quite reach.
  • Hair clips.
  • Missing the mind I used to have, and grateful for what I still have.
  • Listening to university commencement, just far enough away, such a glorious accomplishment for the graduates. Another yearly milestone marked.
  • People who bother to listen to the passion and anger behind words.
  • Becoming aware of my empathetic nature at an early age.
  • New red potatoes, sugar snap peas, leaf lettuces.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

Posted in Aging, Education, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, History, Nature, Photography, Poetry, Politics, Work and Labor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gratitude Sunday: Mama, Mama

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “Kids don’t stay with you if you do it right. [Being a mom] is the one job where, the better you are, the more surely you won’t be needed in the long run.” Barbara Kingsolver

Sunday Haiku
Rosy twirly-gigs
float on spring winds, golden seeds
cast afar in flight.

Sunday Musings
Happy Mother’s Day.

This is the day we are supposed to honor our mothers. My mom’s been gone for almost six years now and I miss her every day. If I have one regret in this life, it is the missed opportunity of more time spent with her while she was here.

I made an effort. Hindsight is so perfect, but the effort just wasn’t enough. Of course, there are no re-dos. It is what it is. If you still have your mom and have a good relationship with her or even an iffy relationship, spend more time with her. As we age sometimes those differences lessen.

Often times we don’t know our mother’s stories, what they went through before we arrived on the scene. Other times the evidence is right out there. Relationships of any kind can be fraught, but the relationship with mother is especially intense. If your mom is/was damaged emotionally or physically she might have a harder time being a mom. And if the damage is severe, she might seem plain evil. The simple truth is she may very well be toxic. It might not be her fault; she might be doing the best she can with what she was dealt. Or not.

Relationships (and life) aren’t all hearts and flowers even in the best of them. That’s being human. We have thoughts, and opinions, and emotions, and often have no training either through family or otherwise on how to deal with thoughts, opinions, and emotions in relationship to other people. What do we do when the most important person in our lives rejects us or abuses us or abandons us?

I don’t have an answer to that question. I can empathize with people whose relationship with their mom is challenged. I can be grateful my relationship with my mom was as successful as it was while mourning what it might have been. Both of us were damaged. She did not share the full story of what happened to her in her youth; I suspect she knew it would be too much for my sensitivities to hear her abuse at the hands of the men in her family or it was just too painful for her to say. I did, however, see her abuse at the hands of the con-man she married after her divorce from my father. It’s not my proudest moment, but when I saw her upper body covered in bruises and her beautiful thick hair pulled out in quarter-sized clumps, I not only told her I couldn’t see her until she left him, I threatened to kill the bastard if he ever came near my home, or came to her home while I was there after she escaped him. I was so angry at him I could have torn out his jugular with my teeth. I am grateful she disentangled herself from this abuser, and I cried that her need for love led her to trust someone who would treat her so badly.

I am grateful my damage was not at the hands of my mother or father. They were always there for me, they merely didn’t know what to do with me, how to deal with my insatiable curiosity and heart-exposed empathy.

Mom’s method was to encourage me to read and think for myself. Because of her I had my first library card at age 12. I read an entire shelf of books about religions and spirituality that year on top of my regular school work. My auto-didact approach made my school work suffer as I thought my personal studies were much more fascinating than prescribed educational curriculum.

I am grateful to have developed a respectful, open relationship with my mom as I became an adult. We were able to have intellectual conversations with differing opinions without alienating from each other. We were still able to learn from each other as we aged.

With all my mom had been through she was quite an amazing woman. She raised four children who always worked, with two boys who earned Eagle Scout, the highest rank in Boy Scouts. She opened her heart and her home to everyone we brought home, and many she found along the way. She fed everybody; no matter the time of day or day of the month she could always whip up a meal. She gave me cars and food and toilet paper when I went back to college as an adult, not letting me just flounder through that tough time, but providing real support while I earned my degree with magna cum laude honors. She was a skilled artist and craftsperson; she painted, made collage and decoupage, and in her later years created garden art from recycled garden tools like shovels with broken handles and then sold those items at farmers markets and other outdoor art venues. She was a master quilter and could custom sew everything from bikinis to wedding gowns. She had an insatiable curiosity (where did I learn that from) and always had a book by her side for any spare moment. She was so damned intelligent I could hardly keep up.

In her later years she became adventurous, wanting new experiences, to see places and do things she hadn’t done before. She budgeted and traveled. She took me to the Bahamas, the most exotic place I’ve visited. And she had a knack for showing up when you needed her most.

When I was pregnant at 38, Mom lived a hundred miles from me. I’d had an argument with the hubster on the way to the grocery store and kicked him out of the car, then drove to the store parking lot and cried my heart out. Suddenly there was a knock on the window and there she was, didn’t say a word, just got into the car and held me, no judgments, no criticism, which she usually had plenty of. She’d come to my town for a quilt show with a friend and hadn’t bothered to tell me. She had planned on surprising me by stopping by, but she found the hubster walking down the street and he told her what had happened. For me it will always be the miracle of Mom showing up out of the blue when I needed her.

I couldn’t wait to get away from her when I was a young adult, yet as I matured I couldn’t get enough time with her. You know that question, if you could have time with anybody in the world who would you spend it with? She might not be of this world any more, but I choose her. I choose her every time.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – I love the little rose and gold twirly-gig seeds from a neighbor’s tree. Golden rosy-nesses on the tree. A neighbor caught some pretty flowers at our local wetland area. Some purple lupine.

Photo by Sherri Mead

Peachy pink azalea.

Photo by Sherri Mead

I don’t know the name of this pink strawberry bloom on a stalk.

Photo by Sherri Mead

It’s iris week, so many colors and varieties; here’s a couple yellow and white varieties.

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 Disappearance of Madeleine McCann (2019, not rated) a documentary of the May 2007 event of a British family vacationing in Portugal when their three year old daughter disappears and the media storm that followed. She’s never been found and questions still abound. * The Party (2017, rated R) touted as a black comedy, though I did not find anything funny or amusing in this movie. Indeed, it was one very twisted tale with relationships falling apart at every turn. Points for quirky.

Currently ReadingJust Give Money to the Poor: The Development Revolution from the Global South (2010, world social development) by Armando Barrientos, David Hulme, and Joseph Hanlon. Dry, dry, dull, boring statistics, like many studies of economics. The consensus seems to be even the poorest of countries benefit when they spend some of their capital on the poorest people in their populations. It includes information on the two perspectives: the poor need help versus the poor are responsible for their own poverty. In America, we punish the poor as if it is a character flaw rather than a rigged economy, and by rigged economy I mean limiting wage levels while increasing costs on everything else consumers need like food and housing. * Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger (2018, sociology) by Rebecca Traister (American author). Ms Traister explores a bit about why men feel threatened by women rather than welcoming equity between sexes.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • All the women I know who didn’t have biological children of their own but nonetheless mothered other people’s children: teachers, nurses, day care workers, church assistants, social workers and counselors, aunties, cousins, foster parents, among others.
  • My neighbors who have such beautiful flowers.
  • The windy day that made my street look like a whirlwind of twirly-gigs.
  • Not having a work schedule on warmer days, as my abilities are compromised with the heat.
  • The son helping me with some tough decisions.
  • Video options when I can’t sleep in the middle of the night.
  • My neighbor coming over to inform me he is going to take down his tree that hangs over my house in the next two weeks. I’ve been trying to get the tree removed for twenty years since I moved into this house, through four different owners.
  • Patience, grasshopper.
  • An easy exchange at the local food store when an item I got tasted weird/sour.
  • Sugar snap peas.
  • 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, History, Homemaking, Nature, Parenting, Photography, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Gratitude Sunday: Dance Lessons

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “Laughter, songs, and dance create emotional connection; they remind us of the one thing that truly matters when we are searching for comfort, celebration, inspiration, or healing: we are not alone.” Brene Brown

Sunday Haiku
May flowers arrive
after spring showers, relief
from winter’s gray days.

Sunday Musings
The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. Do you try new things even if you think you can’t do them just to see what happens? I’m shy about new activities, especially physical activities, because I have some barriers. Plus it seems no matter what change I make in lifestyle, i.e., food intake or exercise, in the hope of manipulating my shape, my body betrays. It seems an uncontrollable, unruly thing, because it is; we rarely are in control of body processes.

Sometimes you don’t care. You want to try any way. Maybe it looks like – wait for it – fun. With the internet at our fingertips we can teach ourselves anything, if we are so inclined.

I found a video with a dance routine to my newest favorite tune. It’s a salsa number and the steps look slow and easy, it’s not a fast number. Of course the “easy” is relative to your skill and how long you have practiced the routine. I have no dance training or skill and I’m waaaay past out of practice.

When I was in junior high school, for me 7th and 8th grade, we had an opportunity to learn ballroom dancing with a local teacher. The dance instructor and his wife came to the school one evening a week and boys and girls signed up. I don’t remember if the lessons were free, but if they weren’t they were inexpensive enough or Mom thought learning to dance was important enough, and I got to participate.

The dance instructor was a large man, well over six feet tall, and we thought he’d chosen an odd profession because of his size, but when he danced you knew why. He was the most elegant thing on feet, and all of us girls couldn’t wait to dance with him. That’s what he wanted the boys to see, that anybody could learn to be smooth and graceful while dancing. His wife would help demonstrate and then taught the boys how to lead. When we did the polka the man was like a carnival ride, as he would enthusiastically enjoy the music and swing us up off our feet in circles in time to the lively tunes. A neighborhood boy (he was nice and never a threat) and I shared rides from week to week and that way we always had built in dance partners as well.

Considering I am the girl who falls off my own ankles and can trip over my own feet I did pretty well in the ballroom dance class. This was one reason I failed in sports, I couldn’t run without tripping, and no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t see the ball, which was too fast for my brain. My sense of where my body is in relation to the ground and what’s around me is distorted is well. I’m not sure what that’s about but we have a history of ear and hearing problems in my family and ear challenges can affect balance; I also have vision issues.

In high school a friend was taking jazz dance lessons which sounded like fun. I tagged along on one class and the instructor let me know after watching me that I would not have much success as a dancer. She said I needed to have a sense of balance, a sense of rhythm, and an ability to not fall when moving my feet, none of which seem to be in my toolkit. A loss for both of us as who knows if she had bothered to TEACH me anything, I might have had enough success for me. Who cares about her, she would still get paid; I wanted to do what I wanted to do. I did not continue; she was obviously not the right teacher for me.

When I graduated high school I went on to try yoga. Yoga has no partner, no rhythm, no competition. It’s all about you and your body. I practiced yoga twice a day for most of my 20s until I went through a major relocation transition and my schedule flew to the wayside trying to keep up with enough work to pay the rent and feed us. I regret quitting the routine now. As accomplished as I was back then, I’ve never regained the ability to move like that again.

Then there were the bar years from roughly 18 to 23 years old when every Friday night was spent dancing to local live music at local bars and music venues. I danced whatever free form dancing one does to rock music. As life went on, work became more important than partying when the landlord was knocking on the door wanting the rent. So I have danced in my own way.

Now I swim. Hwell, I flop around in the water moving everything I can in every direction I can because the weightless feeling of being in water actually lets me move without the constant pain I endure daily.

At a recent consult with a new physical therapist, she encouraged me to walk. Got me all excited about it. “You can do this,” she said. “Try three minutes to start and build up.” I went home all inspired and went at it the next day. Put on my walking shoes and got out there. I didn’t make it to the edge of the neighbor’s yard before I was in so much pain I didn’t think I’d make it home. The therapist told me if I had that feeling I was doing too much to start. Does that make one minute my goal? How pathetic is not being able to walk less than half a block.

The thing is human bodies are build for movement. I’d like to be able to walk and not be frustrated by my inability. I do love moving in the water, and discounting illness, my swim schedule is non-negotiable.

My first physical therapist taught me how to adapt certain exercises so I could do them sitting, standing, lying down, or in the water. I started thinking about adaptations and different kinds of movement. I have tried tai chi recently with limited success but I was self-teaching from videos. Perhaps I needed a trained, skilled instructor. I used to love my bar dancing.

And so we come back around to the dance routine I found for my favorite song. It’s basically salsa, and salsa steps are relatively simple. If you can see the dance instructor do them. If you can keep up. If you can remember what foot goes where. Practice, practice, practice.

Twenty years ago when I was in college, my major had foreign language requirements. I choose Spanish because I could see the growing population around me. I wanted to know enough to eavesdrop; I know, that’s selfish. I didn’t achieve fluency, but I know “operative” words and phrases, like por favor (please) and gracias (thank you) and bano (bathroom) and cuánto questa (how much – though I don’t remember the larger numbers) and lo siento (I’m sorry), not enough to eavesdrop though my hackles go up when I hear “gorda” (fat woman) and laughter behind my back. One of my professors scheduled a dance class day to introduce us to Latin music, and we tried merengue, which was popular at the time, and salsa. I was the oldest student (after a certain age some of us care less about how we look for the sake of novel experiences) and I danced freely with the professor until one of the older male students stepped in to try. Salsa is very forgiving step wise. We has so much fun we insisted the younger traditional aged students try it, and ended up exceeding class time after they figured out it really was fun.

I’m wondering how long it will take for this fat, massively uncoordinated and totally klutzy, balance disoriented, body-dissociated, old woman to learn the dance routine. I’m currently contemplating how to get the video from my laptop to my big screen so I can use the remote to stop and repeat the steps until I get them. I might have a bit more space to move there. I’m technically challenged (though the techno-ditz often prevails), and this won’t be happening any time soon. I’ll be inclined to brag if I figure out how to do that. If it means having to buy something like a cable to connect laptop to TV, that’s the end of that idea because no funds.

In the meantime, I put the video on three or four times a day, trying to burn the steps and timing into my neural net. It is said one is never too old to learn new things and visualization can be part of the approach to learning something new. The dancers look so languid and smooth flowing from one movement to the next. I want to feel that in this body, that confidence with the steps, that fluidity of movement on land, that control of each step coordinating feet with arms so it looks and feels like they are all part of the same graceful and competent body.

I’ve never experienced any body confidence. Since grade school I’ve had this odd feeling of discomfort with my body, like it’s not mine, and that the physicality of my body does not match the way I see myself in my brain. That’s some heavy stuff to live with, a dissociation of body and mind.

It’s difficult when the brain says yes and the body says no. I’ve lived with that feeling since I was five and my ankles started turning under me. I also hate sweating; sweating feels like bugs crawling on me, so that’s a challenge as well. I practice these steps and even in the privacy of my own home with nobody watching I feel ridiculous, dorky, stupid for trying. My fat waves from side to side like a rippling waterbed and throws me off balance. Three of those dance instructors could fit in my body, a disconnect there as well, the difference in how we look. None of the dancers have boobs that hang to their waist if they aren’t supported, so I don’t look like them. My junior high ballroom dance teacher had a body nobody thought looked right for dance and yet he taught dancing. I stop each time I trip so I don’t hurt myself; I don’t like falling. I’m hoping multiple daily attempts will eventually prevail.

It took me ten years to figure out how to coordinate arms with legs to do this thing that sort of looks like swimming. I haven’t figured out how to put the third part in (breathing) without taking in choking amounts of water. That’s encouraging! Ten years, but I prevailed.

What else will I be doing these next ten years? Reading, writing, editing, swimming, and learning the steps to this salsa dance. Right now I’m picking my feet up in time to the music. I’m figuring out how to get my top half to work with my bottom half. I’m finding all the creaks and pops and crackles in my spine and joints as I attempt to move in the serpentine movements the instructor does. I don’t think my sense of balance, or rhythm, or lack of dance step knowledge should stop me. And I don’t think I care how long it takes me. I might be insane but I’m just going to learn some of the steps every day and see how it goes. It’s doing something different. Who knows? Maybe I can be a 70 year old dance teacher and I will be writing about dance parties not just learning.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – My only lonely pink rhododendron bloomed. My little burg is a feast of pink dogwood and lilac.

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 Wife (2017, rated R) with Glenn Close. Such a powerful performance by Close, the wife whose husband coerces and steals her work, wins a Nobel Prize for Literature for their work, and even until his death tries to gaslight her into thinking it was right for her to let him take all the credit. * Binged through all ten episodes of Dead To Me (2019, rated TV – MA) with Christina Applegate. A woman’s husband is killed in a hit-and-run, and is befriended at a grief group meeting by a woman who is not who she seems. So compelling I held down the couch to watch them all.

Currently ReadingPassing Strange (2017, fiction) by Ellen Klages (American author). I was starting to think this novel was historical fiction and mis-labeled as fantasy. I was wondering where the magic came in after a lovely historical tour through the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition and some of the real laws gays faced, like the three garment law. After only two very brief mentions of a space/time dimension manipulation in the bulk of the text all the magic was revealed at the end and it was lovely. * Just Give Money to the Poor: The Development Revolution from the Global South (2010, world social development) by Armando Barrientos, David Hulme, and Joseph Hanlon. I’m wanting to learn more about global economics and poverty. This study looks at the aspects of trusting poor people to make proper choices for themselves when given cash assistance with no strings attached in the poorest developing countries.

This week I have been grateful for:

    • Not being the only person I know who has to talk themselves into things, and have to constantly engage in an internal mental dialogue about worthiness.
    • Recently locating the obituary of Mr Norman Stoll, my junior high dance instructor, and learning he was also a swimmer. More indication I might be on a good track for me.
    • The hubster celebrating his sixth same digit birthday today.
    • Hubster coming up with a method for stretching the life of the water filter until we can replace it while we are short on money.
    • Cookbooks that read like novels.
    • Sick food (chicken soup, salsa, Chinese hot mustard, horseradish – I fry those little virus suckers) for a bronchial cough that caught me.
    • The luxury of taking time to rest between coughing spells.
    • The patience to slowly walk the six blocks of first farmers market of the season. It was a lovely day, scattered clouds, no jacket needed, light breeze.
    • Asparagus, snow peas, lettuce greens, cilantro, local honey, baby croissants. Love my farmers market.
    • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: Working Forward

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “If we want boys [all youth] to succeed, we need to bring them back to education by making education relevant to them and bring in more service learning and vocational education.” Michael Gurian, my italics

Sunday Haiku
Sun teases. Cold wind
blows warmth away, far away
from spring’s bright blossoms.

Sunday Musings
I value a good work ethic. Do you? What does a good work ethic mean to you?

Having worked all my adult and half my teen-aged life at several jobs, I’ve developed a list. Your list may vary. The current challenge is work is changing, jobs are changing, technology is changing work, and labor politics are changing. One still must have certain work ethics whether valued by the employer or not simply for one’s own dignity. Deep breath, it’s a short list.

Arrive on time and remain until your scheduled stop time. This includes when interviewing for a job.

Do your work. Be ready for work at your start and until end times, don’t hang around the water cooler, take excessive breaks, read Facebook, Tweet, or play golf when you should be working.

Make every attempt to get along with your co-workers, even if you are the boss. You don’t have to be friends, but be friendly.

I’m going to stop there with the basics. I was pretty much a fail at my places of employment, so I’m not really one to think I can advise. What strikes me though is the differences in my living history on how we go about getting jobs and what young people face today, especially young men.

Back in my youth, pre-internet pre-cell phone days, when we still had paper newspapers there was a thing called the jobs or employment column in the classified ads. You had to read the ads employers posted for job openings and they usually asked you to apply in person. You had to get yourself tidied up, and present yourself right off the bat, no résumé, no application, no screening. In small towns often you were applying with somebody’s parent you’d grown up with and everybody knew everybody already so filling the job was easy. Or store owners put a Help Wanted sign in the store window and anybody could stop in and ask for the job. If one was desperate enough, one went business to business asking for any kind of work, or even door to door asking to do housework or yardwork. Occasionally one could be lucky to be put straight to work, often as not manual labor, but that’s honest work.

All work is valuable if it puts money in your pocket. It might not be fun, (been there), and it might not be pretty (done that), but if you can pay the rent and feed yourself it has value. How we assign a hierarchy of value on work is more problematic. How a front line worker on her feet all day, running to keep up with the line of customers who verbally abuse her, denied bathroom breaks, is paid at the lowest end of the scale and can’t pay both the rent and afford food, is taxed at a high rate relative to a low income, and is so exhausted at the end of the day she can’t even cook dinner for her kids is looked upon as less valuable than a CEO who spends time moving money around so the corporation doesn’t pay taxes back into the system that supports it, and is paid millions of dollars annually to do so, confuses me. I digress.

Today jobs are posted on line. If you show up in person looking for work, employers and store owners alike look at you as if you are crazy and are likely to say, “Apply on-line.” Dozens or hundreds of people apply for the same job, even in small towns. We are screened, tested, and evaluated and all this even before they look us in the eye or give us a chance to do the job. Any challenges in past workplaces and it’s less likely you’ll be given a chance at a fresh start or in a different kind of work. One must have experience, but if you can’t get the job how do you gain experience? If you’ve had a poor experience, how do you work past that?

Then there are barriers to employment especially for the poor, which of course, one is trying to alleviate by getting work. Transportation is an issue if you can’t afford a car, or public transportation doesn’t go where you need to go. Many employers demand random part-time work schedules so workers can’t rely on public transportation to serve those hours, and it makes scheduling time for additional education or child care more difficult. You might be so hungry because of personal budget restraints you can’t concentrate on your work. You might be worried about your sick child and have no child care alternatives which can also affect your ability to concentrate or perform your job properly.

I see so many young people, especially young men, struggling to get employment and keep employment. They don’t have skills; public schools failed to connect for whatever reason, high school guidance for the last forty years has been college track based without regard to the many who are more suited for trade labor. We will always need electricians, plumbers, carpenters, welders, and mechanics. Young workers can barely read an application, they can’t write their own names in cursive, and haven’t a clue where to start with a résumé. They show up to interviews in torn jeans, dirty hair, hoodies, and fip-flops. They’ve all been told how special they are and think it’s all about them, and haven’t a clue how to work together. It’s not their fault. For the most part we don’t teach our youth how to get and keep employment; we barely manage the basics of block lettering in our current warehousing approach to public education (I’m not blaming teachers either; the failures in modern education is a different discussion). We have no transitions in place like interning, or shadowing, or apprenticeship to learn what the job entails and if it’s a good match. Some trades still provide paid apprenticeships, but I’ve read many of their complaints: they don’t mind at all teaching the skills of the trade or paying the apprentice while learning but the apprentice must bring the ability to read, follow instructions, and work as a team to the table, and that’s not what trades are getting from applicants right now. How sad is that, youth needing employment and not having the basic skills for it. Sad? Way past sad, we have failed our youth as a society. Reading, writing, and arithmetics. Basics.

If work is changing and skills are lacking how do we address that? We need our youth to succeed. It’s not just about computer skills. They are our future, the parents of our grandchildren. Despite the insistence of a president, whose personal reality is gold toilets and falsified asset statements, that we have the best employment in the history of the United States, reality is many young people aren’t getting the work they want or need. How will these young people buy homes, pay property taxes, build families, and contribute to their communities? We could look to history for clues to the future.

After WWI many youth were disenfranchised, and it became worse during the Great Depression. Our country needed work, our youth needed employment. FDR gave us the concept of the Civilian Conservation Corps from 1933-1942. This program gave young unmarried men bed and board in exchange for work, while they were learning work skills. Much of America’s infrastructure of highways, bridges, water systems, and national parks were created by young men in the CCC. It could be time to revisit this idea. All those infrastructure improvements are more than 75 years old now and in need of repairing or replacing or updating with more modern materials and methods. The young men in the previous incarnation of CCC went on to be employable, marriageable, home owning, tax paying, decent, honest, hardworking, accountable American workers, our parents and grandparents. The program instilled in them a work ethic which they passed to their children and grandchildren.

I’m not saying our youth doesn’t work hard. They do. I’m saying they must be given opportunity and that doesn’t always include college.

We could also consider the idea of a year or two of required service for every American citizen. I maintain many of us do this already, work in service to the United States through our daily support by volunteering in our communities, but that often includes the luxury of an earned income that supports the wherewithal to volunteer. I’m not talking about military service as some of us would never be able to be in combat or kill another person in the name of “war.” This could look like service with work elements in connection to stewardship of our United States, maybe as part of national parks departments, or taking part as aides in congress, or service as aides in our vastly understaffed classrooms or hospitals. Give a stipend for time served, and subsidized living expenses during the service period, or provide temporary bed and board if relocation is needed, maybe even provide education on how government works. I haven’t thought much about the details of how this would function yet, but the point is when one spends time in stewardship, taking care of something, one values and understands it more. Service positions could teach skills, give work experience, and would be something one could use on a résumé, like military service.

Neither of these ideas will gain any credence with the current administration. They are corrupt and, with the grace of God, the Goddesses, and the energy of the Universe, will be voted out in November 2020, just 18 short months away. We have some needs and battles already in place like national health care, subsidized higher education tuition, fair wages, the end of insane housing costs, among others. But we must continue to think ahead because we can’t go door to door scaring the hell out of our neighbors asking to do their housework any more.

We’ll get there. New generations bring new ways of thinking. Old generations can build on old ways and learn from the new generations as well. We can do whatever we want when we figure out what we want. I want the employable to have work. I want the unemployable to have comfort and support. That right there looks like educational and employment opportunities to me. We could and should be creating vast opportunities in the health care and educational fields, but we are losing possibly interested people because we undervalue those jobs by not paying enough or making the scheduling of the jobs unstable.

You know my mantra as hard as it is for me to remember on a daily basis: Change is the only constant. We will never be “again” what we once were, but we can be better. We can remember what we’ve tried before, adapt those ways if they don’t work, and get back at it. It’s about consciously guiding our changes in progress, not just floating along. We can ride the waves, but eventually we must come ashore and take care of business on solid land. We must show up on time, do the work, and stay for the duration.

Color Watch
– colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week
– It’s the beginning of lilac season. Here in the Portland metro area of Oregon we get nearly a month of delicious fragrance and many shades of purple blossoms. Vivid yellow tulips. So many shades of pink this week. A neighbor captured some lovely pink and white bleeding hearts.

Photo by neighbor Tina Carlson

A dark pink old crabapple blossom, tree cut down last year, not many around any more. One of my favorite pink dogwoods. Spreading strawberry blossoms used as ground cover. Deep pink throated rhododendron.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} Overboard (2018, rated PG – 13), with Anna Faris. This is the remake, and while roles were reversed and details cleverly changed, I wonder about the creativity of using most of the same script and the same lines. Though this version had its funny moments, the magic of the original is never recaptured in a remake; I advocate for innovation in remakes, at least not repeating the same lines. While this remake does not capture the magic chemistry of the original, but I can see how if one had not seen the original, one would think this was a fun and funny movie. * The Vanishing of Sidney Hall (2018, rated R), a brilliant teen-aged author suffers after writing a best-seller about a classmate who commits suicide, told in head spinning time jumps.

Currently ReadingPassing Strange (2017, fiction) by Ellen Klages (American author), magic, art, and mystery in 1940s queer San Francisco. Good summer reading. * Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger (2018, sociology) by Rebecca Traister (American author). Traister reminds us of recent history in relation to the history of the feminist movement in America, and uses examples of contemporary women and their experiences working toward change or running for office.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • The first of the season’s lilacs. I don’t have many blooming plants in my yard and this one is an heirloom from plants brought from Idaho by my paternal grandmother. I love them.
  • Hubster bringing in some lilacs to scent the house. He always beats me to it.
  • A quiet-ish night at the pool. It’s a public pool so I feel I mustn’t complain about sharing, I have no basis there, that’s not what I’m saying at all, and I do enjoy talking with other people as we do our workouts. But those nights when it’s quiet and only a few people are swimming are so calming and refreshing, a real treat.
  • Having both a public aquatic center and a local lending library system supported by my tax investments.
  • Understanding and recognizing scam phone calls and not falling for them.
  • Doing my housework in the middle of the night if that’s when I feel like doing it.
  • Spell checkers making my editing easier.
  • Old TV shows.
  • Re-watching movies I’ve seen before, remembering I enjoyed them before and noting whether I enjoy them now.
  • Reading. History. Current events. The vast variety and availability of information.
  • The energy and brilliance of youth.
  • The knowledge and steadfastness of age and aging.
  • All the fails from Easter supper getting eaten up anyway. Sometimes food is better the next day.
  • Receiving confirmation straight from the organization’s mouth that our local farmers market begins for the season this coming Wednesday. I need some local honey and some fresh greens. SOOO looking forward to it.
  • Creative leftovers that aren’t recognizable as leftovers so we eat up the leftovers.
  • Remembering my uncle’s leftovers soups and how good they were from week to week. Mine fail. It’s OK. I have other successes. Like quiches.
  • Everybody has something they can do. Like leftover soup. Or quiche.
  • 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, Work and Labor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gratitude Sunday: Complaint And Desire

Gratitude * Sunday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This week I have been grateful for:

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

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: Opening Imagination; or, Proactive Thinking

Gratitude * Sunday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This week I have been grateful for:

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

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: Spring Warrior Days

Gratitude * Sunday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} The OA (2018, rated TV – MA), season two. I watched season one three times it was so fascinating, a fantastical story about kidnapping, death experiments, and multiple dimensions of alternate realities. This is a tough series to get hooked on. Because of the intricacies of production it took them two years to create the second season, and it looks like two years before the next. * Agatha and the Truth of Murder (2018, TV movie, not rated), an uncomplicated story about Agatha Christie and a fictional projection of what she might have done during the days of her infamous disappearance.

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

This week I have been grateful for:

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

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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