Gratitude Sunday: The Cranky Before Christmas: or, Be Of Good Cheer

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

Quote of the Week – “Who drinks your tears, who has your wings, who hears your story?” Rebecca Solnit in The Faraway Nearby

Sunday Haiku
Toe-biting coldness
lingers on the ground waiting
to creep up your legs.

Sunday Musings
Holiday season. A time for cheer, for festivities, for good spirits, for love, and peace on earth. Sooo, what if this time of year you are experiencing despair? Grief? A lack of joy? A death of excitement and wonder? What if you cannot find one speck of your self to share the good feelings many other people appear to have? What if other people are all just hiding their own grief and despair and their facade of good cheer is like yours, merely a thin veneer? What if we have no way of talking about these issues?

The holiday season seems to amplify all these feelings. So many of us are experiencing distressful life situations this year. It’s in every story I hear, every time I ask “how are you doing?” The stories pour out. Health and medical issues; cars malfunctioning or dying; houses rotting away; no job; no income; no tree; no gifts; begging for food, the most basic of life’s needs; tired of being reduced to constantly asking for help, yet little help is available because others have their own needs; spirits devastated beyond redemption.

Faith is tested and questioned in the depths of despair, regardless of religion or your personal system of belief. Little comfort is found in faith when housing or food or income insecurity is the only constant one knows and no relief forthcoming. Dare we talk about questioning faith when (especially in the Christian religion) that’s suppose to be the reason for this holiday season? Where do we find the words for a dialogue when so many words and phrases that should be neutral have been twisted into negative things? You know those words: welfare, entitlement, public assistance, takers, and so many more.

I’m struggling with these issues, real physical housing, food, and transportation issues. I’m having a few health challenges. I’m able to have the words to say how I feel this is an injustice in a world that could provide for many people in need. That’s the thing: so many are in need, and are facing much more terrible circumstances than I. Most of them don’t have the words, only the despair and panic.

We don’t need trees, though personally I love the smell of a fresh tree in the house for reminding me of the spirit. We don’t need extravagant gifts, but replacing worn out items is sometimes needed, and small gestures, those little acts of love or gifts from the heart, mean so much; Christmas is a great excuse for both. Half of us are striving just to meet basic needs. The other half seems to be saying “I got mine, too bad about you.” I wonder how we got here. I don’t have time to read all the history written by the affluent. History doesn’t help in the moment of need. I have spent many years, however, reading about different religions and belief systems, and they seem to have a few things in common, one tenet being we take care of the least of us, and thus the wealthy among us (who are no different, having merely experienced different combinations of advantages, opportunities, and levels of success) have a duty to give their share to help those who have less. Some believe this sharing and helping should be done with a glad and grateful heart, because they have enough to give help with. Both wealthy and non-wealthy have the responsibility to work as hard as they can as long as they can, and give the best they can to what they do, and the best stewardship they know to care for what they have.

I know. We can put all kinds of labels on the above description, like communism and socialism, but let’s not. Encompassing personal responsibility along with social responsibility seems to me to cover the basic aspects of living in a society.

If we were able to both take care of ourselves and feel good about helping take care of others, wouldn’t we have a healthier society? If people in need and in grief didn’t have to sit grieving (but too embarrassed to ask for help), because the help is available before the crisis, wouldn’t that make a stronger society? Many crises averted sounds like a win to me, as does a healthier, stronger society.

So this dismal post is the cranky before Christmas. We have tough times, there may always be tough times, just new days of tough times. We are told we will have tribulations; the world will never be easy, and we must not pray for ease. We must pray for strength to endure the tribulations presented in our lives.

We are also told to be of good cheer. That’s what I’m trying to hold on to right now. Where is my good cheer? In the very core of me. In the hard scrabble always on the edge of me. In the everyday learning of how to continually make ends meet or how to make something out of practically nothing. In the synchronicity of timing and reading and viewing. In my search for beauty in the small sad spaces of the world. In the recognition of abundance in other parts of my life. In the tiny corner of my heart where a faint echo whispers, “It will be OK.”

One of my tasks this week included moving some Buddhist quotes from file to file. I had saved these as aspirations and affirmations to read when my spirit is low or fading. Many of the quotes were about embracing fear, traveling through it, looking suffering square in the face as a warrior in life. Another batch was about maintaining a cheerful outlook, so hard to do when you feel trapped in uncertainty (see fear in previous sentence). Sometimes life is like some wild kaleidoscopic helical amusement ride, though in these days of my aging we are not amused.

A writer I read regularly recently shared a post one of her favorite writers wrote about grace. The writer and the sharer both have more challenging lives than mine, caring for children with extremely debilitating medical issues. They move forward every day, embracing their lives, giving all they have, caring for their children and families, sharing their experiences, making their own personal statements on our current political climate. They persist. How could they not?

I have to remember what I have and not how scared I feel about what has not happened yet. I have to remember in the past we have managed to provide for ourselves and we’ve had help from many, and unusual, places, even if it meant being temporarily “between houses”. Sometimes we’ve had to ask for help. Sometimes it has come unbidden in unique forms. Sometimes it has come reluctantly or grudgingly. Sometimes the help has been denied. Yet we persist. We have helped other people in the past when we could, we have been good citizens (that’s not to say without a certain folly, we all have a little folly in us, speeding tickets and what not), we have worked as hard as we could, and we have been fair stewards with the little money we’ve earned.

My family is in a rough patch right now, made more difficult by the consumer expectations of the holiday season. What do we do when the going is tough? We are flexible, we are resilient, we are creative, we are resourceful. If possible we build on our past successes no matter how few and far between; we ask for help if we have to. We are gracious if help is denied. We continue to give whatever help we are able to give to others. We lower our expectations. We count our blessings. We pray for strength. And we are of good cheer knowing we will prevail. Somehow. Maybe by grace.

Color Watchcolorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – First frost this week, here on the green leaves of my hardy coral bells. Likely the last scarlet red rose of the season after the frost. My favorite red rock growing emerald green moss sparkled by water droplets. Spiking green holly arms pointing the red-berried way to the sky. A copper brown dragon-leaf riding a burgundy branch into red-berry fairyland.

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 Astronaut’s Wife (1999, rated R) with Charlize Theron and Johnny Depp. While on a space mission two astronauts are out of touch with headquarters for two minutes. They come back alive from space, but are they the same men who left? A little predictable, but edge of your seat suspense nonetheless. * Silence (2016, rated R), a Martin Scorsese production. 1640 Japan and two Portuguese Jesuit priests are on a mission to find the missionaries sent 7 years ago. This almost three hour movie is a question of faith and the right to impose one’s belief upon another. * Dad’s Army (2016, not rated), a delightful British production about a rural village’s Home Guard during WW2 and the mistaken identity of a German spy. Droll British humor resulting in bubbles of giggles. On my “to watch again” list. * Allied (2016, rated R), starts in French Morocco in 1942. Brad Pitt is a Canadian spying for Great Britain, and falls in love with his fellow spy. After they come back to Britain and establish a married life with a child, his wife is accused of being a German spy. This is more of a love story that happens to take place during the war, and thus a few seemingly requisite violent war scenes are thrown in. No spoilers but the ending is a little disturbing if you are a sensitive soul.

Currently ReadingThe Castle Cross the Magnet Carter (2017, fiction) by Kia Corthron. The story is in the 1970s now. I’ve had to re-read many chapters to track the details of the plot. The novel is more than 700 pages, and I love the interweaving of the plot, though I am slightly distressed my brain is not retaining the details for more than a few pages at a time. The fun part is when I re-read and see yes I did read that and, oh, that’s how it connects. Usually when this happens for me I find the book is worthy of many re-reads, because the details are so rich and the story is so rewarding. Looking forward to seeing how the author wraps it up. * Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth and Power (2017, sociology) by Noam Chomsky. I read a little Chomsky when I got to go back to college, and several years ago I was privileged to hear him speak at my alma mater. He is a man of age, but I don’t think I’ve ever read or heard anyone who was more clear and coherent in his words and logic. I’m interested to read what he has to say.

Winter Classic
It’s that time of year again, girls and boys. Time to choose the Winter Classic. I want a novel that takes me to a different time and place, a slower language, a world far away from mine, to read myself into a different place during the long dark winter nights. Remember the rules? They go like this:
1. The title chosen must universally be considered a classic and is likely to be on a list somewhere, like a Pulitzer prize winner, or a Mann Booker winner, or Newberry, or, well, there are so many to chose from.
2. I prefer diverse authors.
3. I haven’t read it before.
I like to start reading my Winter Classic around the Solstice, and as usual the deadline has snuck up on me and I don’t have much time left to decide. I somehow managed to graduate with an English Literature degree and there are so many people I haven’t read yet, like Willa Cather. I’ve read some interesting comments about The Song of the Lark (1915, fiction) recently and I might start there. I also have not read Daphne du Maurier, and have ordered The Scapegoat (1959, fiction) from my local lending library. I was drawn to this title after having experienced 16 plus years as the resident scapegoat at my place of employment. (No further comments on that now, as it would only increase my despair). Any Winter Classic suggestions, readers?

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Hearing a squirrel yelling outside the bathroom window and opening the window to see him looking right at me. I don’t know what he thought I did, but he was sure telling me what for. He made me laugh.
  • Lots of clothing to layer up with.
  • Having a TV to turn on earlier in the day as a heat source. I generally don’t turn on TV until 7 pm.
  • Old TV westerns movies on in the background while I work reminding me of Saturdays when I was a kid.
  • Huddling over a hot computer as a hand warmer.
  • Having my own dishes to wash (which always warms me up – hot water!) and my own kitchen to wash up in.
  • Being able to walk flat footed instead of limping as the break/sprain in my toe heals.
  • Laughing at cooking shows when there is not much to be creative with in the house to cook.
  • Vicarious traveling via documentaries.
  • Having a great variety of videos to choose from courtesy of my local lending library.
  • The son appearing to be somewhat comforted when I counseled him about work ethics and letting go of resentments toward co-workers. Work life is never easy.
  • Letting go of the desire for a tree or gifts this year knowing my money needs to be spent on repairing my transportation and keeping bills current so I don’t sink lower into the abyss of poverty.
  • Being creative on bringing cheer out of my heart and into the house.
  • The joy of empathy when an author’s words brings me to tears.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: Adventures In Fantasy Land

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

Sunday Haiku
Sky darkens, lightens,
moody late autumn weather,
winter is coming.

Sunday Musings
Did you ever wonder if you missed your calling? That maybe you are in the wrong profession, or even the wrong life? Does life seem surreal, especially now with the current political climate? Do you indulge in what-ifs, or alternative time line brain meanderings?

I am really good at seeing what is wrong with stuff, whether it is restaurant food, grammar errors, design flaws in automobiles, furniture, clothing, architecture, garden design, city planning, or the structure of society. Some pretty big stuff there much of which I have no control over, but I am frank about my own flaws as well; I get to live with them every day. I’m late to the game now, no do-overs, when you age out (unless you’ve enjoyed an affluent lifestyle all your life), you pay your taxes all your life, then you age out not so gracefully before you die. Here’s a concept: no one works all their life wanting to end up in poverty.

Thinking about do-overs, I wonder what it would have been like had I been properly advised and guided, or had a base of financial security to operate from (it makes a difference). Of course, back in my day women were not even encouraged to take math or sciences. Women’s science was Home Economics, or the delicate orchestration of running a home, i.e., the equivalent of indentured labor. Women were not encouraged into careers, but were expected to take on the role of wife and mother as soon as possible after high school. College was merely an avenue for late bloomers to find husbands via the MRS degree.

My special skill of finding fault led to seeing many men as not good enough. Not that they bothered to ask me out in the first place, but the few who were interested were not employed, nor educated, nor even planning for the future. Many of them saw me as a working woman who would provide support for them, not even considering an equal proposition of taking care of each other. I admit I wasn’t especially skilled at choosing a date or a mate.

I didn’t even have the kind of job or career that led to being able to take care of anyone other than myself. My high school guidance counselor recommended an all female college for me, and when it was decided the expense of college was not attainable, I was shuffled off into a vocational program. Going to cosmetology school at least gave me an employable skill, and I spent 20 years in the hairdressing industry, making less than minimum wage, and eventually supporting (not well) a disabled hubster and myself on my pathetic income.

I might have been a restaurant critic. I have an odd palate (picky), can’t drink alcohol (so many dishes seem to be created to compliment the wine it is intended to be served with), and experience a few food allergies (mushrooms mostly, but cheeses with mold, too). Those weaknesses make it hard to have the full gastronomical experience. I wouldn’t want to bring any sort of unfairness to the chef with these conditions.

I might have been a book critic. I would have had plenty of words, but somebody somewhere along the line has to give the critic the credit of the value of those words, meaning hiring and publishing the critic, and ensuring that critic’s words carries purchasing value for book vendors. Maybe I didn’t try hard enough at that kind of work, but it didn’t happen for me.

I’ve pointed out flaws to architects and construction workers as the building was going up, and was ignored until the problem in the finished building caused damage to the building or the employees. I’ve stated my concerns about city planning to city councils only to find the words falling on the deaf ears of pre-made decisions, and years later my concerns indeed became an issue.

I see injustices everywhere I turn. In my youth, (remember those days I was advised to go to an all woman’s college and college was deemed unaffordable) had I gone to college I might have chosen to study law. I might have retained the knowledge then; I can’t sustain the study now, my memory is brilliantly failing.

I might have been a judge. I like the idea of making the decision, rather than arguing either side of the case. I know, I know. I’m Libra, right? Totally unbalanced, searching for balance, how does one come to a conclusion and thereby a decision? I’ve read some judges’ decisions and I’m fascinated how my “logic” or sense of justice either parallels or vastly differs, but I was not trained in the law as it is written in law books. I use instinct and gut, after pursuing as much fact as I can find. I’m not always right. No one ever is.

Then there’s the job I actually do a bit of: writing and editing. I’m a self-proclaimed expert holding only a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. I have an eye for grammar detail and I’m picky, picky, picky. I have less than a handful of jobs to my credit, and over a 20 year period have earned just about 500 dollars, so let’s do the math, maybe 500 hours of work divided by 500 dollars divided by 20 years, simplified, equals oops, got lost in my own math. Too infinitesimal to count. That was fun. Math is fun, but not when it equals nothing. Thing is, I enjoy editing and writing. At this age I may as well do the work I enjoy, since I’ve had such great luck (not) finding other employment after being forced to leave my last job.

Adventures in job fantasy land is fun to contemplate, and who knows if I could have made a lucrative career of any of my critical areas of interest. Moot now. Like many people I am fighting many barriers, in my case generational poverty and the lack of social skills learned; social standards and mores of the 1950s, 60s, 70s; being a woman, fat, and a proud possessor of resting bitch face; not to mention being opinionated, critical, and efficiency oriented; and at this late date I am physically unable. I’m pretty scary to employers and everybody else, unless you take the time to talk with me and hear my heart.

While I may indulge in what-ifs, I am pragmatic enough to know my life is what it is. No re-dos or do overs. We only move forward, we don’t repeat the past. We can repeat the same or similar mistakes, but I, for one, am pretty good at learning my lessons and moving on. Like I told the hubster the other day when he was fretting, we can only move forward in faith that we can provide for ourselves regardless of barriers. We move forward, day by day, hoping to garner as many little victories as possible. Even if we are in the wrong life, it’s the life we have the privilege of living right now.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Looking for green in all the small spaces. On the base of a hand made birdhouse. On a favorite red rock. In the brown corners of fences. In the crotches of gray tree branches.

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.} Passengers (2016, rated PG – 13), with Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy), a sci-fi movie taking place on board a starship en-route to another planet. One of the hibernation pods opens 90 years early; chaos ensues; challenges are presented and resolved. Somewhat predictable plot, but rather satisfying altogether. * The Matador (2005, rated R) with Pierce Brosnan and Greg Kinnear. Brosnan plays an assassin/con man who is losing his skills, and coerces innocent Kinnear into assisting him. Chaos ensues. Comedy in a sort of sick and twisted way. Meh. * Re-watched the Netflix series The OA (2016, not rated, though I’d call it PG – 13). The story fascinates me; this is my third viewing. Renewed for another season but no hint when it will be out. They left such a cliffhanger at the end of season one, it can’t be soon enough for me. * Sleuth (1973, rated PG), the original with Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine. Much more intricate and elaborate in both the settings and the plot than the 2007 re-make with Michael Caine and Jude Law.

Currently ReadingThe Castle Cross the Magnet Carter (2017, fiction) by Kia Corthron. Have moved forward to 1959-60 and the middle of the race issue. I’m sensitive to many issues like this, as I don’t understand why some people choose to treat other people poorly, no reason is justifiable. Ms Corthron writes a pertinent, vivid, timely re-telling of the same sad abuse story, but in a newly engaging way. * The Tao of Pooh (1982, philosophy), by Benjamin Hoff, a re-read, and great reminder that sometimes simple is best.

Quote of the Week
– “To exist is to survive unfair choices.” spoken by the character Khatun in the Netflix series The OA

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Hearing the little birds singing up a storm between rain showers.
  • Hearing the rain showers moving through like ocean waves.
  • Figuring out how to hobble around with a broken toe, even able to change my bed linen, and take a shower. Just took extra time.
  • The adjustable bed I inherited from my MIL making it easier to elevate my foot.
  • Ibuprofen and ice packs. And microwave heat packs.
  • My indulgences: massive use of hot running water, clean bedding as often as possible, electricity so I can use my computer and watch my TV and cook in my electrically heated house.
  • Thinking ahead enough to insist on paying for roadside service in my car insurance despite the extra expense. Saved me again this week.
  • Eating leftovers.
  • Not throwing away much from Thanksgiving. I don’t like wasting food.
  • Feeling the weather change into late autumn. A little colder, a lot wetter.
  • 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 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gratitude Sunday: Because We Blessed Are

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

Blessed are the poor in spirit because theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn because they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek because they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness; they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful; they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart because they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers; they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake because theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

Sunday Haiku
Wind whips colored leaves
down to brown, fallen, branch-free,
nature’s death parade.

Sunday Musings
I published my first blog on my paternal grandmother’s birthday four and a half years ago, though she’s been golden stardust these last 30 years. One of the reasons I started writing was to share with my mom, who was learning how to use a computer. I thought it would be fun for her to have a goal, someplace to know there was always some words waiting for her to read every week in addition to our irregular phone calls. Mom’s been gone more than 4 years. She wasn’t overly thrilled when I told her what I was up to. I took her lack of enthusiasm (strange after all her years of being nearly my only advocate) and turned it into defiance, of course. I thought, I don’t care if you like it or not, Mom.

I’ve learned much about how to make my blog look, formatting, and presentation. I’ve learned about adding art and photographs. I’ve learned how to link to my own posts and to the posts of others. I’ve resisted adding advertisements and merchandising. Ms Taryn Wilson at Wooly Moss Roots generously provided a link on her Gratitude Sunday post so I could connect with other grateful people on Sundays. Ms Wilson is changing up her site and her posts and after 4 years of pretty much the same old stuff I’m using her cue and going to make a few changes here as well. You might not even notice them.

This blog has evolved over the years, as it evolved from my pre-computer years of putting pen to paper writing what I called anger essays. I would get so mad at something that didn’t make sense to me, or I thought was (gasp) unjust, and I had to get it out. Words worked better on paper because when I spout verbally I come off as the Wicked Witch of the West (not a bad proposition). I’ve developed a HUGE following (haha, not, a handful of you do me the honor). I’m cranky, and though I am fond of colorful expletive-style language, I remain a proponent of civil discourse. In the end I write to please myself. Doesn’t every author tell the story they have to tell? I keep writing; I persist.

So back to those changes. I consider myself a spiritual person, though I would be hard pressed to put a label on the “type”. If I were to choose a word I would perhaps call myself a “heartful” person. I doubt you would call me religious, though in my childhood I was raised in the Baptist church. I would venture to say none of the indoctrinations I was exposed to took hold with me. Sunday School was cool; they told us stories of miracles and wonder, we earned stuff for memorizing Bible verses, we got to make crafts, I was even given my own Bible. My uncle, however, was Catholic, and he took me to his church a few times. How I loved the rituals of mass, the swinging censers, the pomp and circumstance, the blessings.

Dad’s mom was Mormon, and did not attend services, though she made sure I had a copy of The Book of Mormon. Mom’s mom was Nazarene, and you better get up on Sunday and go to church with her or she knew all about your evil ways, though she didn’t actually say it in so many words. She lived her faith and you could see it in her eyes and hear it in the love or criticism in her tone of voice. Her church had a kind of fun to it if you tuned out the going-to-hell preaching. Oh, the dresses, and the hats, and the hankies, and the fans of all those work worn women, gloves covering ragged nails and rough-skinned hands. The scrubbed, shiny faces of children and freshly shaved faces of husbands dragged along. The singing in her church made it all worth the effort, so many voices raised in discordant enthusiastic harmony, in joy, in reverence, in sharing, fans waving, fancy hats rocking to the classic hymned rhythms.

Mom and Dad didn’t go to church with us kids. I thought perhaps Dad took Mom out to breakfast, and as I grew older I thought they got to enjoy a short hour in bed together with no children in the house. When I told my mom about that notion years later, the scoff could have blown the roof of the house, but she never did say what she did that one hour of the week she had to herself. The one good thing she got from hospice care when she was in the last stages of her emphysema was access to a chaplain to talk about death. She had herself baptized a few months before she passed. I have always hoped it gave her some comfort.

Dad’s “religion” was nature, as far as I could tell. He loved being outdoors, working in the garden, taking care of the house, camping, fishing, hunting, or taking care of all the accoutrement to do all that stuff. I don’t remember him going to church, or reading a Bible, or talking about anything involving religion or spirituality. He certainly didn’t preach God, but god forbid you had to sit through one of his lectures if you’d done something he didn’t approve of. Maybe that’s the shallow memory of my inner child. When he passed we scattered his ashes on the piece of land in Eastern Oregon he bought so he could be close to his favorite fishing places every summer. Now every day he is part of the land and nature he loved.

With so many influences, by the age of 12 I started asking questions Mom didn’t know the answer to, and that’s when Mom decided I needed a library card. Since some social studies classes in junior high and high school required us to know the main religions of the countries we studied, by high school I had investigated Christianity; paganism; Wicca; Judaism; Buddhism; Shinto; Hinduism; Greek, Roman, Norse, and indigenous American mythology; Islam; and atheism. I read everything, not in depth, but enough to satisfy my curiosity. Like Carnegie, I believe we would be nothing without libraries, personal, public, and academic.

After high school I studied transcendental meditation and yoga for a few years. In between I’ve thrown in some studies in history, philosophy, psychology, sociology, political science, and some of the hard sciences, along with mystical sciences like astrology, as well. Now I study qigong and tai chi. Learn or die. Perhaps that’s my religion, forever learning.

All that said, I haven’t decided (the lovely imbalance of the Libra, this? No, that?) what changes I’ll make for a fresher look in the new year, but for the holiday season and likely through the first months of the new year I’ll have a temporary change. I have always been fascinated by the Beatitudes. I’ve read and re-read them over the years and each time I find new meaning. I enjoy the perspective; they are statements, but not commandments, the emotion behind the words as primal as the earth and sky. Attributed as being the words of Jesus, they do not say “I bless” or “God blesses” it just says “blessed are” as if anybody or anything can be doing or receiving the blessing, like these are basic earth truths that underlie every emotion and action that reside in our blood and cells, whether we believe or not. I have taken the liberty to edit for my current grammatical standards. And for myself, because everybody has their own beliefs and that is as it should be, I interpret “God” and “heaven” to mean whatever God and heaven means for you. I’m not putting these words out here to sledgehammer you with my beliefs, I’m just putting them out to think about. Maybe you could just admire the beauty of the sentiment.

Who knows? I might do something different every week for a while. The future may bring other changes, especially with 2018 just around the corner. You can feel the winds of change. Change is good, remember, the only constant. For this holiday season I will repeat the Beatitudes for contemplation, until I decide what new changes I will embrace. And all of us? Blessed are.

Color Watchcolorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Green takes on a special glow on gray days. Bare naked brown lilac branches braced against the gray. A spot of yellow fungi against an exposed brown root and soft pillows of emerald green moss. The brilliance of red berries in a smooth green leafy sea.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} I found my comedic relief in How to be a Latin Lover (2017, rated PG – 13) with Salma Hayek and Eugenio Derbez. A gigolo loses his sugar mama and has to beg to live with his sister, and repair their damaged relationship. Laughed all the way through. * Continued laughing with a re-viewing of Nine to Five (1980, rated PG) with Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin (there’s a powerhouse combination, right there). It’s been many years since I watched this movie and I’d forgotten what the women do to creepy Dabney Coleman who plays the woman-mauling boss. And my favorite line of the movie comes from Dolly Parton when her character Doralee has had enough of Franklin Hart’s (Coleman) hands and him letting the entire office think he’s been sleeping with her (she’s not), when she says to him, “If you ever say another word about me or make another indecent proposal, I’m gonna get that gun of mine. And I’m gonna change you from a rooster to a hen with one shot. Don’t think I can’t do it!” I don’t generally advocate violence, but if a few more women said this to men, perhaps men would learn their pushy power tactics are not acceptable. * Evelyn (2002, rated PG), with Pierce Brosnan. Inadvertently chose a Christmas movie, and because it isn’t all the usual Christmas pap sentiment, I recommend it. Based on a true story in Ireland,1953 Christmas, Desmond Doyle has no job and no money. The day after Christmas his wife leaves, abandoning him and their three children. The Courts and the State take the children away. Desmond does everything he can to get them back, lucks into the help of legal professionals, and (spoiler alert) they successfully change Irish law for the sake of his kids and the relief of other children held in similar situations. The photography of Irish countryside and town scenes were vivid and entrancing. Worth your time. * Emperor of the North (1973, rate PG) with Ernest Borgnine, Lee Marvin, and Keith Carradine. I don’t remember why I ordered this movie. It’s 1933 in the midst of the Great Depression, and homeless men steal rides on railroad cars in search of employment. **{Historical English lesson: the word hobo comes euphemistically from “homeward bound”.}** This trainline is in Oregon, the train boss will murder or torture you rather than let you ride free; the hobos retaliate. Quite the train story, the statement it makes about homelessness is as pertinent today as then. The photography recreating 1930s Oregon left me reflecting a while about how our lives have changed in the last century.

Currently ReadingThe Castle Cross the Magnet Carter (2017, fiction) by Kia Corthron. Don’t let the title be off-putting. When an author’s words have the effect of soliciting my tears every few pages (you can call me a bleeding-heart liberal all you want, I’m owning it these days), you know this author has my heart. Alabama 1940s and onward, many perspectives, white and black, child and adult, abled and disabled, the war, Roosevelt, history and politics in everyday life, coming of age during World War 2. Quite a long book, only just started, excited to see the plot revealed. * The Misfit’s Manifesto (2017, social psychology) by Lidia Yuknavitch, based on her TED talk, The Beauty of Being a Misfit. Ms Yuknavitch makes the case for embracing your misfitness. Some of us never fit. No matter.

Quote of the Week – “Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” e. e. cummings

This week I have been grateful for:

  • A safe shopping journey the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
  • Watching the bluebirds and flickers doing the fence dance through my kitchen window while preparing Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Having a quiet Thanksgiving meal with no power outages, or equipment failures. Operator error is always to be expected and thus prepared for.
  • My own kitchen to make my holiday messes in.
  • Hot running water and detergent to clean my messes.
  • Being an old dog and teaching my family new tricks.
  • Laughing at creative TV commercials, and not consuming.
  • Gray. Gray clouds, gray sky, gray fences, gray trees, gray squirrels.
  • Watching the squirrels running around with nuts to hide away for winter. Catching sight of one with a mouth full of bright leaves to make his winter nest.
  • Costco rotisserie chicken.
  • Fresh green beans and strawberries despite the carbon footprint.
  • Local Brussels sprouts and beets and carrots roasted in olive oil and coconut oil and garlic.
  • The hubster, who is the gravy master.
  • Preparing the house to bring in the spirit of Christmas.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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Gratitude Sunday: Thankful For A Warm Heart

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

Sunday Haiku
Longer, colder nights
herald winter solstice moon,
return of the light.

Sunday Musings
It’s Thanksgiving week! I had an essay started for this week and then the calendar jumped out at me. I know these dates come around, but holidays seem to sneak up on me. Maybe I’m not paying enough attention. I’m not terribly fond of the holidays anyway; that could be part of it. Perhaps my crankiness gives me calendar blindness. Or perhaps it feels like undue pressure (media-provoked) to have these artificially fabulous gatherings and festivities. It’s never like the movies or TV, is it?

What does that word mean, Thanksgiving? I’m not talking about how it started, because that was some pretty controversial stuff, claiming land that was already occupied. I’m talking about what we do with this holiday now, today, in this world and this culture. What are we celebrating? Are we celebrating a successful harvest? Are we celebrating thankfulness? Are we celebrating giving? What does giving thanks mean? Who are we giving thanks to or what for? Are we celebrating National Turkey Day so turkey farmers can stay in business? Or a day off work? Do I ask too many questions?

As you can see I started thinking too much about a word. When I was a child Thanksgiving just was. It was a day family came over and filled my mom’s tiny World War 2 postage stamp home with stories and laughter. A day full of cooking smells, delicious food, and a warm house so full of people we had to open doors even on the coldest of days. A day of siblings and cousins chasing each other around the yard, playing board games together, learning to help in the kitchen. We didn’t take time to go around the room and each one offer our words of thanks, but you could feel how glad we were to be together.

Then I became older and Thanksgiving became a chore. Preparing, fixing, peeling, baking, roasting, the timing of it all, the food successes and failures (to this day I can’t make gravy), cooking all day only to have the eating over in a brief 20 minutes and two hours of clean-up yet to go. And the parts I didn’t notice as a kid: the drinking, the disagreements, the underlying unspoken competition of who was living the best life or making the most money. The conversations that should never have taken place before you sit down to a meal together, like when a beloved uncle who hasn’t seen you for a while says, “You’ve gotten quite fat, haven’t you?” to which you respond, “Hwell, enough said about that.” Like you didn’t know you were fat and needed a reminder before you ate, but you don’t stop loving him because he is your favorite and actually bothered to rescue you a few times. And I committed the ultimate faux pas by choosing a spouse who did not bond with my family.

For many years I avoided Thanksgiving altogether, and my more than two hour drive from family was a convenient excuse. I couldn’t face it: the judgment in the eyes of others who did not understand poverty is not something you strive for, but something that can happen to you despite all your striving otherwise. The whispers you caught the faintest earful of. The dignity of not responding, but the pain of knowing they shared what they thought with others. The knowledge that you knew something they did not about survival, and the conviction they knew it as well, but were too insecure or ashamed or superior to share or empathize.

That’s not to say every Thanksgiving has been a pile of misery. There have been good times, as well. I moved back closer to family, and I got older and better at letting things roll off my back (because, of course, I always say and do exactly the right thing, said facetiously). My mom had a late November birthday that sometimes fell on Thanksgiving Day. When I was closer it was easier to attend the festivities. The hubster refused to go and cooked his own dinner, inviting neighbors who had no other family close. As the years went by I always went to Mom’s, or spent the day with whatever family Mom was with, telling the hubster that until Mom passed away I would be spending the holiday with her. Now she’s gone and it’s all fallen apart. We are re-creating the event in our own separate ways. The first year after Mom passed I hosted Thanksgiving and like most things I host, it was a pretty good bomb. No worries, we ate, and we laughed, but meh. We haven’t done it again. I can’t any more. The spirit is willing but the body betrays.

Today as I contemplate that word, it becomes what it is: a word. Are we thankful? I am. I have much to be thankful for, that I still breathe in this crazy world, that my eyes and heart are open, that I have the tenuous privacy of my own home, that two or three of us share a meal. Are we giving? I have been reduced in my giving, because I have been reduced as a citizen, as a senior, as an employee, as a contributor, as an able body. What I have left to give are words and a few material things nobody wants. Are we giving thanks? How do I give thanks to a cold world that seems so disconnected? We ignore the cold world and function within a warm heart.

Isn’t that what we do? We give what we have and what we can. No matter. I take my Thanksgiving the way I take it. It’s mine. It’s simple. It’s private, shared only with the air around me and the breath I take. I have to ignore the cold world, and focus on one person at a time, the person inside me, or the person in front of me.

So here’s what I have to give, because what I have is words: I thank the wind and the sky and the trees and the sun and the rain and the air and the soil. I thank my crazy aging body, my blood and cells, my soft wrinkling skin, my whitening hair for the things I can still do. I thank a small group of humans who encourage me. I thank the warm world for art and the people who create it. I thank my spirit in this world of being able to think beyond myself, and thank others who do the same. I thank the duplicity of me, my cold hard mean heart, and my warm caring loving heart, embracing the complexity of being human. I thank another year for the journey.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Color abounds if you look. A lone yellow, orange, and red leaf resting on a green and gray bed. Red burning bush. Grammy’s pink and white Thanksgiving cactus. Bright red berries, pale pink starbursts, soft green leaves.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} In honor of Veteran’s Day I watched Hacksaw Ridge (2016, rated R) about World War 2 army medic Desmond Doss, who is a conscientious objector and refuses to carry a gun. He rescues 75 injured men after being derided as a coward. There was enough graphic war gore (bodies, parts, on fire, flying, Hollywood) to last me for the year until next year’s war movie. Here’s the thing, at least my two cents: I hate war (I try never to say hate). I don’t think our men (and war/military is predominantly men) should see this gore. I don’t think our men should learn this war. I don’t think our men should come home missing parts and pieces of their bodies and souls because of war. I don’t know how to change it but I hate it. * My Cousin Rachel (2017, rated PG – 13) an adaptation of a Daphne du Maurier novel. A murder mystery, or was it? Did she, or didn’t she? Du Maurier was accomplished at the art of irresolution, and this version does not fail her. * Bad Moms (2016, rated R), seeking comedic relief. I loved this predominantly female cast and it was satisfying to see the “bad moms” win against the bully moms. There are few really “bad moms” as we have to make it up as we go along with very little help. And while I’m rather fond of colorful expletive-style language, well, sometimes it’s overused.

Currently ReadingThe Child Finder (2017, fiction) by Rene Denfeld. So good I turned around and read it again. Just as good the second time. Recommended. * The Misfit’s Manifesto (2017, social psychology) by Lidia Yuknavitch, based on her TED talk, The Beauty of Being a Misfit. Art saves some people, but I suspect a sense of belonging has as large an effect.

Quote of the Week – “There is never hope. There is only what can be done and what cannot.” from The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

This week I have been grateful for:

  • The woman at the store who saw I had only one item and offered to let me go ahead of her. Thank you.
  • Less than five weeks to the return of the light.
  • Getting some holiday plans in place.
  • Grandma’s Thanksgiving cactus blooming on schedule. Grammy’s been gone more than 30 years now and she had the bush a long time before I got it. One of the few indoor plants I haven’t managed to kill.
  • The clean-up continues. I have lovely things to clean. Having enough to keep me busy for years.
  • Opening doors, even with the cooled autumn air, while I clean.
  • Preparation for Christmas tree space begins. Confidence I will find the right sized tree in my limited price range.
  • Enjoying changing where my stuff lives around me.
  • Planning a Thanksgiving meal without turkey because hubster requested chicken this year. Making it easy with Costco rotisserie chicken, easy to re-heat for serving.
  • The ability to continue learning and thinking.
  • Curiosity, nosiness, and imagination.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: Time, Space, And Light

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

Sunday Haiku
Rain brings salmon runs,
mushrooms fruiting from forest
floors: final harvest.

Sunday Musings
Time is a strange and elusive thing. Odd enough that sometimes it feels like the drag of an emergency brake on and other times it feels like time whips wildly through life like a ride on the Tilt-A-Whirl. Then we have to play clock games twice a year like we did last week.

I am rather a bookaholic, if you haven’t figured that out yet. I like both kinds, fiction and non-fiction. My work desk is surrounded by resource materials: dictionaries, thesauruses, foreign language dictionaries/translators, instruction manuals, inspirational books from Eleanor Roosevelt to Tasha Tudor to the Dalai Lama. People give me books they know I will love. If I stop at a thrift store, an antique store, Goodwill or Salvation Army, garage or estate sales, the local lending library’s book sale, as hard as I try not to, I have to look at the books. I almost always find one I have to own (I do try to resist these days), so much so that I have become surrounded by literal stalagmites of stacked books. There are times I wish I had the fortitude to read them and give them away, but I don’t have an eidetic memory and waiting for the local lending library to get it for me doesn’t always accommodate my needs.

I have several sturdy (important) used bookcases I’ve found over the years, but they are already full. The piling system was totally inefficient. The piles were so close together I had to dig through a pile to locate a title. Bookshelves provide that luxurious library feeling of every item available at your fingertips, easy to shelf read and locate. The piles had been growing toward the ceiling, becoming precarious, dusty and, I feared, a fire hazard. I began the search for a new (to me) bookcase, when, lo and behold.

I was given a nice big bookcase late last June. Because of my able-ness and needing help, it sat on its side in the middle of the living room for months (I’m not kidding) until the October weather brought the demand for access to the wall heater it was blocking. The hubster provided unsolicited assistance one cold day by putting it in the wrong place, which required remedial help from the son. The son’s assistance took a month of negotiating time and convenience on his part. I deferred to him as he is the working party in the household.

Communication was key. I, of course, being the queen, wanted to do it my way. I told the son what I wanted done and how I wanted it done. In most cases, he had input. The queen, who likes to learn new things, listened. In most cases, the son’s input saved steps and effort. The queen deigned to be persuaded to use the son’s step-saving approach. Well advised.

I have a five minute work window, the joys of pain in aging. Five minutes is five minutes. You put enough of those five minute work windows together, you can get the job done even if it takes a few days time. Time. That fluid friend.

How much time does it take to clean and fill 15 linear feet of bookshelf with books? I don’t know yet; I’m not done. I may never know; I might never be done. I might be forever filling 15 linear feet of bookshelf like some crazy Escher nightmare. I might give some books away. Duplicates are over-rated, as are the how-to books that explain how to fix stuff you can’t even buy anymore, let alone finding the parts to do the fixing.

We interrupt these thoughts on time to consider the dimensions of space and light. Random stalagmites transferred into neatly organized, easy to dust shelves means more open space around my desk. Height converted to width equals light. I am newly aware how much of my front window was being blocked by book piles. I like light, and I like the dark too. I like lights of all kinds. Space is good too; it allows for re-organizing and easier cleaning.

Which bring us to joy. The joy of ownership, of cleaning, of discovery, of abundance. It feels good when things are tidy after you clean, especially when you find things you’d been looking for. I had been looking for The Tao of Pooh (1982, philosophy). I knew I owned a copy, but the piles had grown too intimidating. It now lives in the resource and inspiration section on the top shelf of my properly located new bookshelf.

I’ve found many treasures. I have children’s books I bought when the son was in elementary school and the school would have fund-raisers with the help of Scholastic Books. I bought my favorites along with his. My copy of The Librarian from the Black Lagoon (1997, children’s fiction) and Click, Clack, Moo (2000, children’s fiction) also sit on the top shelf, along with the Skippy Jon Jones series (“do the voices, mama” – getting the Spanish-accented English for Skippy Jon just right was pretty funny as it was never quite right). I have a collection of craft and home repair books though I’m not particularly crafty or handy, and a handful of school primers from the 1920s, 30s, and 40s; I doubt most college graduates could pass the old eighth grade test in the backs of these primers. I have a short shelf of home economy and home health care from the 1900s through the 1940s; hot water and soap remedied many things. Mom found me a classic set of leather bound, illustrated Shakespeare. Good thing I am a Shakespeare fan; she knew that. I have a handful of beautiful hardbound woodworking books I bought for my brother who owns all the tools and has done most of the re-finishing in his home by hand. I hesitate to give them to him because he is picky, maybe even more than me.

I have my childhood Bobbsey Twins books, and a partial set of the original Nancy Drew series from my teen years. How badly I wanted the freedom of my own car like Nancy while I was still in high school! All my high school yearbooks sit next to my younger brother’s, covering almost 10 years of late 1960s and early 1970s history for our high school.

Then there’s the cookbooks. I thought I put new cookbooks on the cookbook bookshelf when I brought them into the house. Evidently not, as I keep finding cookbooks in the piles. Maybe I put them in the piles to be used as gifts. I may have to ignore the new Christmas rule in our family, which is gifts for under-18-year-olds only. Everybody eats. There is no room on my cookbook bookshelf so I may have to designate a temporary cookbook shelf until I gift them. I like trying old recipes from history, though I’m not the best cook; I’ve enjoyed my share of failures.

I love picture books as well. Art, architecture, animals, travel, gardening, home interiors, landscapes, antiques, space and science, lions and tigers and bears, Oh, My! So many books to entertain on a gray and rainy day. No, wait! There’s so much light now I might not be able to read. I’m known as ‘the mole’, not because I am a spy, but because I prefer to read in dim light.

If time and space equals light it also equals joy. Finding the joy in each moment, even if it’s tackling an overwhelming project five minutes at a time. Even if it’s finding so much dust you think you’re going to choke and wonder why you didn’t think of wearing a dust mask. Even if it’s forgetting to eat because you are focused on getting one thing done (yeah, right, remember, five minute windows). Even if it’s washing up after each five minute work window because who knows what virus lurks in the dusty creases of a book. Even if it’s having selective hearing when the hubster starts mansplaining and not helping. Even if it’s finding the one book you’ve been looking for, and the one book you’d forgotten about, and the one book you didn’t remember at all.

Now that’s some fancy math this time. I have way more than three books.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Hardy Oregon roses – until the first hard frost – in yellow-pink and red. Red-orange and brown rose hips, from flower to fruit. It’s that creamy fruitful fungal time of year – not recommended for eating. I love solid random branches and the green and yellow filtered light underneath.

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 Thomas Crown Affair (1968, rated R), the original, with bad boy Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway. Bank heist, romance, trendy clothes, ahh, the 60s. * Split (2016, rated PG – 13) addresses mental health issues with crime: the damage of child sexual abuse and the rare Dissociative Identity Disorder, formerly called Multiple Personality Disorder. This psychological thriller is not for the faint-hearted; it involves kidnapping, being held against your will, and a disturbing finale. Wow. * Arrival (2016, rated PG – 13) with Amy Adams. Finally, an alien invasion sci-fi movie that is not filled with killing off the aliens. Adams plays a language specialist and communication is the key. No battle scenes, communication is established, and the woman saves the day. Recommended. * The Thomas Crown Affair (1999, rated R), the remake, with Pierce Brosnan and Renee Russo. Faye Dunaway has a cameo role. The plot and story didn’t improve much with the update, which sometimes followed the original word for word. Art heist, romance, trendy clothes and cars, ahh, the 90s. Though I like McQueen and Brosnan, just meh, on both.

Currently Reading – How lucky I am this week to be reading two favorite Portland authors, both of whom I have a total author crush on. * The Child Finder (2017, fiction) by Rene Denfeld. Ms Denfeld has magic in her fingers and poetry in her words. She has earned a place on my favorite authors list. Her protagonist in this story is a woman who searches for missing children professionally, and experiences her own recall and growth. No spoilers. Must read. Enchanting. It’s the first novel in a long time that I couldn’t wait to read immediately all over again. Her first novel, The Enchanted, was just as fascinating. I’m inspired to read her non-fiction. * The Misfit’s Manifesto (2017, social psychology) by Lidia Yuknavitch, based on her TED talk, The Beauty of Being a Misfit, worth watching as well. Ms Yuknavitch has a way, whether it is her fiction, non-fiction, or speaking to a classroom full of other writers and survivors, of uplifting and making a reader feel like all the weird and awful stuff that happens in our lives is actually survivable and non-guilt-worthy. She knows of what she speaks.

Quote of the Week
For the time being
Words scatter…
Are they fallen leaves?
From A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Nearly immediate access to information via internet or phone.
  • Sources that I am comfortable trusting.
  • House peeking. I can’t call it shopping, because I’m not in the market, but I indulge in looking at real estate that is on the market. Guilty pleasure.
  • Critiquing architecture, remodels, and room staging. Guilty pleasure. Especially entertaining because my personal style is modern clutter with a little early junque influence.
  • Getting some furniture moved with the help of the son. Clean-up in process. Major win.
  • Tons of cleaning materials at my disposal.
  • Getting some cleaning done that looks like I did something different.
  • A few cleaner open spaces.
  • Ibuprofen and microwave heat packs.
  • Having another safe journey on the hunting/gathering trip and finding a couple new edibles to try.
  • Having my window lights on a remote control, and knowing where the remote is.
  • All the men and women who served in military service for the United States of America. I have several family members who served.
  • Making one of those rustic root vegetables and smoked sausage bakes that everybody ate.
  • Some California strawberries that actually tasted like strawberries.
  • Water.
  • Hoping you have a lovely week.

    Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

    Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

    Gratitude Sunday: America’s Human Experiment

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

    Sunday Haiku
    Light, shadow, between
    cloud layers, blue space peeks, shy,
    hidden, veiled surprise.

    Sunday Musings
    I am a child of America’s greatest experiment. Or am I a survivor? Now I’m older and know how to research and teach myself, I look at my history and question what we’ve done to ourselves. I don’t use the word “greatest” in the sense of something good, excellent, or well done, but in the sense of massive, huge, all-encompassing.

    Yes, we all know it’s Daylight Saving Weekend. Two detestable days of the year for me. Daylight Saving Time is only part of the experiment, one we can easily stop, but that would not satisfy the experiment. If a constituency of working people is always kept on edge, with circadian rhythms disrupted twice a year how might that be an advantage to those who want to be in control? We can only ponder any suggestion of conspiracy theory, right?

    In pursuing the best health she could afford, my mom read everything she could get her hands on. We saw the dentist at an early age and by the time I was 8 years old I had my first mercury-silver amalgam fillings. 17 years ago I had 6 new placements of amalgam, my last. While questioning my dentist about the safety of mercury amalgams, he followed the party line defending its safety, yet my research said differently. After experiencing additional health effects from those last placements, I have insisted on no new metal whatsoever placed in my mouth. We know mercury is a neuro-toxin (it poisons your brain). Finally after more than 150 years of the American Dental Association advocating the safety of mercury amalgam fillings, more than 50 percent of practicing dentists decline to use the material. The tide is slowly changing on this issue. That doesn’t repair the poisoning which has already taken place. Shortly after I started getting fillings at age 8, I needed glasses. From this aged perspective, it makes sense to me. The eyes are directly above the mouth. The optic nerve would be the first affected by poison placed directly below it. My vision has grown progressively worse as the life of the old and new mercury and other metals continue to drift through my system.

    By the early 1960s vaccines were coming into fashion. I had the full round of every vaccine available. All done in the best interest of my health. There is so much research, but I don’t buy the pharmaceutical party line on this issue. Perhaps the vaccine itself has efficacy, but all the metals like aluminum and mercury, and other chemicals like propylene glycol, the active ingredient in anti-freeze (nope, don’t want all that stuff in my blood and brain) in the vaccine mix, don’t make sense to me. And they don’t just put a vaccine permanently into your teeth, they inject it directly into our precious delicate bodies. Perhaps the original sugar cube option was pure and efficacious; we might never know, as the pharmaceutical companies have merchandized vaccines as a mega-source of revenue with all the accompanying twisted marketing to get you to believe it is safe. I’m not going to continue the vaccine debate in this essay. I’m merely labeling parts of the experiment.

    The early 1960s was when the push to commercialized farming and foods really took off. My family switched from raw milk in glass bottles delivered to our home to the commercial milk in waxed cardboard cartons or plastic bottles available at the local grocery store, or worse, dry powdered milk. Butter became oleo-margarine, sugar was traded for saccharine (yuck, quickly changed back), home made bread became white balloon Wonder bread. Partially hydrogenated peanut butter became a household staple. Cows and chickens were taken off the pasture and placed in crowded confinement situations in the name of mass production. Food quality has decreased in the last 50 years despite the increase in “food” quantity. Processed foods are just not the same nutrient-wise. Not buying the party line there either.

    Since we are having so much fun in the 60s let’s not forget how most communities added fluoride to their tap water. Fluoride is a waste product resulting from certain industry processes. Someone managed to convince dentists fluoride taken internally helps teeth, and turned a poison into a profit. Obviously I don’t buy the party line there either.

    Screens invaded our homes. TVs became less expensive and more families could afford this in-home entertainment. The family gathered around one TV in the living room became a TV in every room and now it’s a screen in every hand as well, and more than one is not unusual. I often have my flat screen TV on while writing on my laptop, cell phone at my side. Screens are pervasive, at every age. Teens insist on teaching their grammies and grampies. I’ve seen them forced on crying babies in strollers to shut them up while the adult continues with their own screen. Discounting exposure to radiation, what is the effect of all those flickering images, looking at pixels, and rolling wavelengths going past one of your most sensitive input devices, your eyes, for so many hours of the day and night? Who can calculate the effect of neglected children raised by screens?

    The marketing from those screens pushed other experiments into our homes. Cigarette smoking became the norm, advocated by sit-coms, and TV commercials, with no studies being done before the fact. Even if you didn’t smoke you may have been subjected to side-stream smoke. The last 20 years have revealed some of the results of the exposure to that part of the experiment. Of course, not everybody participated in that part of the experiment. The same can be said for alcohol and other drugs, but for simplification let’s discount that part of the issue; with the exception of prescription drugs, much drug use is self imposed and therefore optional.

    Over the last 50 years, the cultural/political shift from the one wage earner family to two working adults, and the increase in stress levels for the lower wage earners has escalated exponentially. The medical paradigm has changed from nutrition and sanitation to pills, medicines, and 4000 vaccinations. Industry is once again trying to deregulate clean air and clean water regulations so they can profit from selling communities the slag garbage fluoride, to continue pouring mercury and other waste products into our water so their industry can increase profits rather than protecting people, to continue raping the earth for fossil fuels and poisoning our air burning those same fuels.

    We are hypnotized, merchandized, medicalized, commercialized. We are medicated without our knowledge and/or permission. We are subjected to food, medical, climate change, and stress-related experiments. With most modern pharmaceuticals being only 50 years old or less how can we possibly know all the long term effects? So much has changed over the last 50 years and we have little understanding of the long term effects of so much stress and change. The thing is they did all these things without studies or proof of what happens to the human body. They just made these societal changes and we are the result.

    Daylight Saving Time became entrenched in the 1960s in most states, legislated into law in all states except Hawai’i and Arizona. DST is one part of this American experiment that could end easily, even though it will take an act of Congress. There are far too many studies that prove it is folly, without warrant, not beneficial to productivity, and dangerous to our health. It’s one easy part of the American experiment to stop and repair, and possibly end the ill-effects, even if we have to do it state by state. Call your legislators and ask them to end Daylight Saving Time now.

    Color Watchcolorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Delicate white dandelion seeds. Green and red layers of color. Blue sky peeking between brown branches and green needles. Yellow, orange, and green layers. Golden shades of mop-headed pampas grass.

    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.} Finishing up scary movie month. Get Out (2017, rated R), a young black man meets his white girlfriend’s family, but something is not quite right. He is hypnotized and restrained against his will, and the plot is not revealed until the end. Ending was not overly gory, but intriguing because of the plot twists. * What Lies Beneath (2000, rate PG – 13) with Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford. Of the haunted house genre, there is not much scarier than discovering your husband of many years is not the man you think he is, and what he’s done and tried to cover-up, and what he’s trying to do to you now. * Rough Night (2017, rated R) with Scarlett Johansson and Kate McKinnon, not a typical chick flick, but a chick flick nonetheless. Four college roommates reunite ten years later for a bachelorette weekend, a surprise addition to the party is a foreign exchange student friend of one the the roomies. Drugs are imbibed and hell breaks loose.

    Currently Reading – Spent an intense week with Little Fires Everywhere (2017, fiction) by Celeste Ng, to avoid a library fine. I have to overlook the misplaced modifiers, and repeated phrases (“truth be told” and “to her bemusement”), and even some possible time-line issues. I blame those on careless editors as authors don’t always know the difference or pay enough attention to those details, and I’m sure only distressing to the most discerning of readers, of which I am one. But I did admire how Ms Ng wove the plot from nearly overwhelming us with so many names in the first chapter through bringing all those names and details together in the last. I especially enjoyed wondering why a character did a particular action until the author showed us why. Everything is connected. * Smile at Fear: Awakening the True Heart of Bravery (2009, Buddhism) by Chogram Trungpa. Open mind, open heart. Always learning.

    Quote of the Week – “Daylight Time, a monstrosity in timekeeping.” Harry S Truman

    This week I have been grateful for:

    • The half moon smiling at me through the huge windows at the pool while I did my work-out.
    • The full beaver moon shining its light in through my front door window to light my work desk.
    • Catching a financial problem before it became worse.
    • Appliances I can turn on and walk away from, that do my work for me. I remember helping my grandmother with the wringer washer and hanging clothes to dry.
    • Having a vast wealth of materials available through my local lending library: music, videos, books. Borrow, return, no dusting. My tax investment at work.
    • My goofy dysgraphia and the luxury of spell check.
    • Gray. Layers and layers of gray.
    • The sunny breaks between the layers of gray.
    • How October is the month of colorful dresses for trees and November is their month of skin-brown nakedness.
    • Getting an entire surface cleared of clutter and washed of all dirt, grime, and dust in preparation for holiday baking. It lasted 24 hours. The joys of sharing a home.
    • A really long nap one day this week, not intended but I must have needed.
    • Getting the wall heater grills all cleaned of dust and grime before turning on the wall heaters.
    • The woman at my local grocery store who laid down her lunch and jumped right up to help me when I interrupted their break (there were two men there as well). And the store supervisor who was so happy to hear the report and promised she’d share with the employee.
    • How soothing old black and white TV shows can be.
    • The first of the season’s Comice pears.
    • Water.

    Hoping you have a lovely week.

    Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

    Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

    Gratitude Sunday: Word Witchery

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

    Sunday Haiku
    Fog-bound north and south
    one sunny beach calls my name,
    shared with girl I love.

    Sunday Musings
    I put a spell on you, and now you’re mine.
    You can’t stop the things I do, and I ain’t lying.
    It’s been so many years right down to today
    Now the witch is back, and there’s hell to pay.
    I put a spell on you and now you’re mine.
    Your wretched little lives have all been cursed,
    ‘Cause of all the witches working, I’m the worst.
    If you don’t believe me, you better get superstitious,
    Ask my sistahs: “Oooh, she’s vicious.”
    I put a spell on you and now you’re mine.

    Are you ready for the big day? I love Halloween, my favorite holiday. You can pretend to be what you aren’t. You can reveal who you are and the next day say “I was in character”. People might believe you. Either way.

    I don’t recommend trying to sing the lyrics above. They are out of order because: poetic license. Credit for the original song goes to Screamin’ Jay Hawkins in 1956, with some lyrics borrowed from the 1993 Disney movie Hocus Pocus with Bette Midler singing the lead, and me twisting the lyrics and the stanza order a bit. Mixing things up.

    I charmed your attention with words. For a moment you were entranced, enthralled by the cadence, you may even have heard echoes of other places you heard the song or other versions. I possessed your eyes and mesmerized your thoughts. The words captivated you and held you spellbound for a moment, or maybe two, wondering what wily enchantment I was up to. Maybe you are still reading.

    Storytellers, authors, writers of all sorts bewitch us. For a moment in time their words fascinate us away from reality. I love words and playing with words. Language uncovers the ancient art of gramarye, the occult magic of words and grammar. The words ‘magic’, ‘grammar’, and ‘gramarye’ have a common root. All art, because of the moment that it can command your attention, enchants you. It’s a from of gramarye, and forgive me repeating such a lovely archaic word. It’s all about words, isn’t it? When I read a story or an essay and it takes me away from this world and into the world of another writer’s words, that’s a special kind of magic.

    When we tell our stories we can instruct or entertain or preach. Sermons can hypnotize us, lectures can bedazzle us, casual conversation can be portentous. Words can be used to persuade, convince, or assuage. Words can invoke, convoke, or provoke. Words are magical and powerful. Many of us are familiar with the parental curse, “One day you’ll have a child who is just like you.”

    As a teen, I was not in the popular girls clique. I barely qualified for the nerd girls’ group, didn’t quite fit with the geeks, not dorky enough to hang out with the dorky girls, rejected by the intellectuals, but too smart for the special needs kids. I was one of the first hippies in our school. Like everyone else I was looking for a place or group I could identify with, one I could belong to. I never quite belonged anywhere. I wasn’t even hippie enough for the hippies. I learned to “do my own thing” which wasn’t even much of a thing.

    I had one friend who was nearly a year younger, exotically cute, dark, petite, gamine-ish. Boys flocked around her as if she was in heat. She loved the attention. I didn’t mind the side-stream, but I didn’t date the boys who wanted to date her, personal policy. One day, one of the boys was paying more than a little attention to me. Boys never paid attention to me; if they did it was because of my voluptuous curves and their thought that any girl with breasts that big surely wanted sex as much as they did, of course, an unwarranted assumption and specious argument. I didn’t know anything about the intricacies of courting and mating.

    As if she didn’t have enough of their attention, she took me aside and lectured me. She called me a witch, and said I used my wiles to spell bind men away from her. I should have laughed in her face because, hwell, this was patently untrue; I knew nothing about men or the jealousies of women. If that’s what she believed, however, enough to say it to me, I figured I must have some kind of hidden power within me. I certainly wasn’t born into a family who practiced or taught any of the old traditions. I was, therefore, an accidental witch.

    Since she thought of me as a witch I thought, Why not? Without further ado I flew straight to my local lending library and began studying witches, witchcraft, paganism, anything the reference librarian could find for me, which wasn’t much. I used to make stuff up, rituals, and candle burning, and flower petal burning, odds and ends that drove my mom crazy because of all the burning. She was terrified of fire, didn’t like us to burn candles or incense in the house. So much teenage angst in all that burning. To this day I am so careful with fire I rarely light a candle. But I didn’t know what I was doing and I have no idea if any of what I did had any impact.

    I know now if you do something with intention, there is an effect, but you might not know the outcome or the fullness of the outcome. The universe is a vast, complex, complicated space and non-space, and the energy you send out can just as easily go awry as go right, even if done with all the best intentions. Though everything is connected the connections are not always linear; the intention might not travel neatly down the path you think it will go. One must proceed carefully with intentions, witchy or otherwise.

    After my friend called me a witch it was easy to choose a costume for Halloween. I’d experimented in grade school: I was a ghost, a hobo, an Egyptian queen, a Hawaiian girl complete with grass skirt (a costume that was cold very quickly, not a great choice), dressed up like a mom, and a few others. From that point on however, my costume was always a witch, in various incarnations, different hats, different hair, replacing the fake noses and warts as they wear out, wearing a different black skirt or dress because I can’t find the one I wore last year. The only exception as an adult was the year I tried to create a full sized spider costume out of a fur coat and a few additional items. Big fail, so back to the tried and true.

    I realized a few years ago when I take my costume off my witchiness doesn’t go away. I carry it with me constantly. Along with that realization I realized all women are witches, not all in the same way or degree, but we all hold the power. I mean the real power. We make life; we are so powerful we create new human beings. Yes, it requires a little help, but women have the true power. It doesn’t matter if we haven’t produced babies or if we are past having babies. We don’t have to wear costumes or cast spells or perform rituals. But we can if we want to. Because it’s fun to do what we want.

    I wasn’t happy with what my friend said to me that day because it put a space between us, but I should thank her now. Her words did not jinx me, instead they inspired. She opened whole new worlds and lines of thought for me. From that I learned my love of research and how interesting it is to put words together to hold a reader’s attention. It takes a bit of work but word witchery is my speed these days. Words are my tools, my art, my habit, my ritual, my lighted candle, my burnt flower petals.

    I love the variety of witches we get to be, or not, as we choose. I know there is a lot of information in the news lately about abuse of women, that tired old power/control issue. I don’t want to go off on that, because I could go off on how awful it all is, and I don’t want to re-live the trauma of what happened to me. Today I want to cast a spell on all women to know your power, to insist on your choice, to be whatever kind of witch you are with pride and courage, even if you carry grief with you. Embrace your inner witch. Use your wiles, your knowledge and wit. And no matter what a friend calls you, say thank you, and walk away if you have to. I put a spell on you with my gramarye: are you still reading?

    Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Colorful textural carpet of leaves, woven with autumn shades. Gray and brown fairy stools on a green carpet. The surprise of a purple mallow still blooming. Subtle shades of gray concrete with green and brown moss. Yellow, orange, and red, coloring between the lines.

    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.} Prisoners (2013, rated R) with Hugh Jackman. Two young girls are abducted and the fear is palpable. One of the fathers tortures a suspect, with the aid of the other father, but the suspect is not guilty, himself being a victim in the whole mess. Clues come together slowly until almost all is revealed, but the ending leaves another question open for conjecture. Intense. * In need of comedic relief from all the scary movies, binged on season 3 of Schitt$ Creek (2017, TV – 14), with Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara, about a wealthy family who loses their money when their accountant doesn’t pay their taxes. They move to the town they bought as a birthday present joke for their son, they only thing they have left, and have to adjust to reduced circumstances. I laugh every episode.

    Currently ReadingGreen Witch (2010, young adult fiction) by Alice Hoffman. Oh my, how Ms Hoffman weaves her special magic. The pleasant ending does not come without grief, both parts of life. Recommended. Smile at Fear: Awakening the True Heart of Bravery (2009, Buddhism) by Chogram Trungpa. Taking the words in, hoping to improve by osmosis.

    Quote of the Week – “We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all of the power we need inside ourselves already.” JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series

    This week I have been grateful for:

    • The last farmers market of the season, last Wednesday of October, so warm I didn’t wear a jacket. Lovely day.
    • A mild warm week.
    • Spending a beautiful day at the beach with my sister. If all our talk could produce fuel, we could fire up the world.
    • Enjoying some voyeuristic admiration of the luxury homes in Cannon Beach.
    • How beautiful our drive was going through the Coast Range, autumn colors kaleidoscopically flying by our eyes, so bright with the full sun.
    • A short walk to look at the colors in my neighborhood.
    • The young woman who pressed two quarters into my hand after I told the vendor I only had 2 dollars, and the two honeycrisp apples I wanted totaled $2.50. I could have chosen a smaller apple. She was so sweet about it and I could see it made her happy to do it. I’ve paid it forward for years. Fun to have it be my turn.
    • How much it says about me when I am thrilled to have two fat apples.
    • A bag of hand picked leaf lettuce.
    • The last boxes of Oregon Albion strawberries for the year.
    • Water.

    Hoping you have a lovely week.

    Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

    Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

    Posted in abundance, Aging, Education, Entertainment, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, Nature, Photography, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

    Gratitude Sunday: Addlepated? Get Moving!

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

    Sunday Haiku
    Yellow red orange
    green leaf storm color breezed air
    fly on hard raindrops.

    Sunday Musings
    Do you ever feel out of balance? Off kilter? Unsettled? Discombobulated? Addlepated? In need of re-alignment? Out of tune with the vibrations of the earth? Do you struggle with keeping a good attitude while day to day events come spinning at you faster than a hurricane? Even on uneventful days?

    When I was working I often felt like I couldn’t keep up with everyday stuff, like paying the rent and the bills; how to be frugal; how to get groceries and cleaning supplies into the house on a regular basis and how to put food on the table every day; how to get me to work and the kids to school and to scouts and games and other events on time more often than not; how to buy a house or a car or a mortgage or choose health insurance; how to clean and launder and paint and make Halloween outfits and handle holidays; how to negotiate for home maintenance or a raise; how to keep the car running and the appliances in good shape; how to get the kids to pick up their rooms, to contribute to the family by learning chores around the house, how to teach them to be good citizens and brush their darn teeth (brush your teeth, brush your teeth, the son will take this echo to his grave); how to get a better job or earn another degree on top of everything else; how to find the time to contribute back to your community because that’s what you believe in; how to sleep, or have a few minutes with friends or even quiet time by yourself. Just a little stress, a small amount of stress. True, I was the breadwinner for a physically challenged hubster, and raising a son, with all the parent involvement it takes to produce a contributing citizen for the society we live in, but almost everybody does that. Do we all feel so much stress? Is everybody running around with only the thinnest of threads keeping us tied to this earth? I hope it is easier and less stressful for most people than it has been for me; some of us are more highly sensitive.

    Semi-retirement hasn’t been much less stressful. I suspect the stress is related to the lack of financial security, wanting to know I can safely retire and die in my own home, while maintaining the house so it does not crumble around me. It’s tempting to say when I die just lay me out on my bed and burn the whole mess around me. Make a bigger mess.

    I worked many years toward a secure retirement. I worked many years not knowing how to save my pitiful income, and many years when the income left me between homes or meals, let alone able to save. When I figured out how to save I did so as aggressively as I could while supporting my family. I did indeed inherit money from my parents when they died, but the IRS counted it as zero income, so you see it wasn’t much, though I appreciated what it did for me at the time. I like paying my bills. It just has never been enough, no cushion, like always walking on worn-out soles.

    Don’t think, oh, poor her (or worse: jeesh, she’s always complaining). I am not in need of sympathy or judgement, though empathy is entirely appropriate. I have abundance, not the complete abundance I think would provide me peace of mind regarding my security, but I have a wealth no one can take from me and I am grateful for it.

    My abundance includes a thinking mind. The thinking may be discombobulated at times. My mind may even enjoy moments of addlepation. Sooner or later the fog clears and clarity is revealed. I hope to keep my wit until my dying day, like my mom did, but I know it’s fading. I have the wit to recognize what happens to me happens to other people, and I have the wit to say. I may be cash poor but I am intellectually wealthy. I have billions and billions of words (hear that Carl Sagan echo?) at my beck and call.

    I’m not as clever as some of the authors I admire who soar cloud-high above my levels. It’s OK. Everybody is different. I learn from those who know more and from those who know less. Each person has a story and each person’s story counts.

    The struggle may always be constant. If we remember that change is the only constant we begin to get a handle on the enormity of day to day living. I feel constantly out of balance. I merely want to feel good about it all. Or a bit better at least.

    Most of my adult life I’ve suffered ill health, physical ill health. I think it’s hard to have superb mental health if you are constantly in pain; body and brain are forever intimately tied together. Most of my adult life I’ve been seeking better health. I didn’t have treatment for one issue because of the expense; doctors didn’t offer it because they knew I couldn’t afford it. I’ve now had the treatment, but only after permanent damage was done. Knowing that particular limitation does not stop me in my quest for greater well-being. I may not be as physically able as I once was, but there are things I am able to do. If you suffer any challenges or stress in your life you might try a few well-being tricks, maybe make what works into habits. Since everybody is delightfully different, it’s good to keep trying new things until you find what works for you.

    I no longer move on this earth like I did when I was 5, or 15, or 25. I’ve always had weird ankles that turn under when I walk or run, who knows where that comes from. I fell in high school and sprained an ankle, and then again years later in my 30s I fell again, spraining both ankles at the same time. Just lucky ankle-wise, I guess. When I am in the water, I can move. I may not move like Esther Williams (dating myself, here), but I feel like a gracefully fluid ballerina when I am in the pool. Like a manatee, I feel I am in my element. I can stretch and balance on one leg and run in the water. I can’t swim, which is the humorous part; I can’t coordinate the arm strokes and the leg kicking and the breathing into one fluid movement, but I can move, and if I fall or lose my balance little damage can be done. It feels so good to move with the water holding you. If you have body pain, try water. Even if you just sit in a hot tub and let the warm water embrace you. Try water.

    I used to do yoga. I won’t detail why I can’t do yoga anymore, it makes me sad; it felt so much like a loss to me. I had stopped for several years and when I wanted to start again the body said no. Pain and balance issues popped up. I discovered qigong and tai chi. I am still at the lowest beginner’s level, but no matter. The learning about well-being is what matters; I have so much learning to look forward to. My beginning exercises are simple movements, designed to help with balance and body awareness, working subtly on the natural energy meridians in our nervous systems, and they put my body into a re-alignment with the earth. As children we knew instinctively how to make these movements, and we did it without thought or design. Our bodies naturally and organically moved that way and we enjoyed every minute because we could move without thinking. Now I think about every movement and enjoy the exercises because I can move within them, mostly without pain. It keeps me moving.

    One of the disconnects we face in this modern world is our connection to nature. Some of us get hardly any outdoor time at all. I doubt walking from house to car or car to work or car to store counts for much quality nature time. You don’t have to go camping every weekend to get close to nature, but if that’s your schtick and you are able, enjoy, and be kind to the earth wherever you go.

    For now you can step outside your door. Take a deep breath. Put your hands on the small of your back and arch back. Raise your arms above your head and open them to the sky. Simple. Breathe. Outside. Take your shoes and socks off; kick those flip flops to the side. Dig your toes into the grass or the dirt or the sand. Feel the energy of the earth your soles stand on. Absorb that energy. Be that energy. Connect to that energy. Easy as a, b, c. Outside. Nature. Air. Sometimes water.

    The body is built for movement; walking is at the core. The body carries the brain around and the brain enables the body to do many things, from dancing to extreme sports, from moving gently to marathoning. You might try ballroom dancing, belly dancing, or square dancing. Do the Twist like you were 16. Learn all the steps to Michael Jackson’s Thriller. You could try hot yoga, hatha yoga, or qigong. Memorize a routine so well you could teach it to someone else. You might walk or swim or schedule assisted walker races in the hallways of your shared residence. You might boogie dance in your chair. You might walk naked in the rain. It’s all good.

    Moving into older age the importance of movement cannot be over-emphasized. Doesn’t matter what kind of movement. Move and you might find the brain stressors smooth out and the combobulation un-disses. You might realize your realignment with the earth and reconfirm your self-worth or reconnect with your intellect. Or maybe feel a bit better about it.

    Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – 3rd week of October is statistically the most colorful week of autumn. Mister Kitty aka George Murphy enjoys the leaves. I captured some yellow light. Cascades of yellow and green grape bush. Shaded branches, green to yellow to orange. Yellow and green scattered on the green. Yellow leaf textured carpet in the corner.

    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 Limits of Control (2009, rated R), a bizarre story about a lone man set upon a criminal act which you don’t realize until the end, but the intrigue of how he gets there is about as twisted as I’ve ever seen, rather like watching a nightmare where every time you go back to sleep you keep going back into the nightmare, with repeated bits. I’m not sure I got it. This may be one of those “art” movies you have to watch a dozen times to get all the innuendo. Not again soon, for me anyway. * Beatriz at Dinner (2017, rated R) with Salma Hayek. I’m not sure what I expected from this movie of a working-class woman healer who through a fluke of circumstance, ends up invited for dinner at the home of wealthy developers, and the discrepancy between the two classes. In my heart I wanted the emotion and struggle of the poor to prevail and teach the wealthy class something. Of course, this movie didn’t work like that any more than life does. Disturbing, but no spoilers, as I think this is likely one of those significant movies one must see for oneself to appreciate. The ending is disturbing, so prepare thyself. * Se7en (1995, rated R) with Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman. I had read this was a horror film, and for whatever reason I thought it was a ripper/gore buster, so I hadn’t viewed it before. I was looking through a list of psychological thriller movies and it was listed so I thought what the heck. I can always turn it off. Basically a murder mystery, a detective ready for retirement gets assigned to a bizarre case with a new transfer. They bump heads, then find a way to work together. There is gore, there is creepiness, there are twists and turns, and there is Kevin Spacey as the wacko, and it is rare to find a better wacko than Kevin. There is the gut wrenching ending. Whew. Nary a vampire nor werewolf in sight. * The Sense of an Ending (2017, rated Pg – 13), thought I had a coming of age movie and did in one sense. After a heartbreak and perceived betrayal a young man writes a cruel letter, and only finds out 40 years later when the letter is returned to him the magnitude of the cruelty. Sticks and stones are one thing but words can hurt as well, and we carry those scars as easily as the physical ones. Sensitive material well and uniquely handled. * Under Suspicion (2000, rated R) with Morgan Freeman and Gene Hackman, takes place in Puerto Rico, though not much scenery. A lawyer is accused, evidence comes and goes but no charge forthcoming, jealousy and loneliness and perversion are revealed, the plot twists and twists again, lies flow as freely as beer at an Octoberfest. * Sleuth (2007, rated R) with Michael Caine and Jude Law, a psychological game with a fatal twist at the end.

    Currently Reading Green Witch (2010, young adult fiction) by Alice Hoffman, opens with an entire city burnt to the ground by rebels. With the recent California fires, I’m hearing strong echoes. Smile at Fear: Awakening the True Heart of Bravery (2009, Buddhism) by Chogram Trungpa. Going through fear, fearlessness, and doubt.

    Quote of the Week – “Be like water.” Bruce Lee

    This week I have been grateful for:

    • A friend who took me out to dinner. Love the time to talk.
    • Going out to breakfast with the hubster.
    • Getting to talk with a long-time friend from grade school, hearing her comforting voice, and spending two hours reminiscing and fixing the world.
    • The son gifting me a salt crystal lamp. Always in search of wellness and well-being.
    • The son also gifting me a box of chocolates. Chocolate being required for well-being.
    • Birthday greetings from so many kind people.
    • Marking off a couple things on my to-do list.
    • The weather giving us a sun break for the high school homecoming parade. The parade route goes by my house less than a block away, so I do my part and walk over to cheer them on.
    • Looking forward to spending time with my sister next week.
    • Finding my car key after a temporary loss. I am a creature of routine and rarely lose things because I put them back in the same place. Not this time. But ’tis found and no major crisis.
    • Cashing in enough bottles to get my new (to me) Kwan Yen out of lay-away at the local antique store. She’s finally mine and I had to clean a lovely spot for her to live. She might move soon. Or not.
    • A box of juicy brown turkey figs.
    • Farmers market had a few more boxes of strawberries. Last market next week, but the group who organizes the local market puts on 2 markets each in November and December. What luxury to have fresh hand picked Oregon strawberries in your fridge in October.
    • Water.

    Hoping you have a lovely week.

    Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

    Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

    Gratitude Sunday: October Seasons: or, Falling Leaves

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

    Sunday Haiku
    Cold quickens once sun
    corners autumn equinox,
    slides toward winter.

    Sunday Musings
    September may get the glory of the equinox and the end of summer, but October seems to me more about the transition into early winter. After living here all my life I think Oregon has five seasons, sometimes six: summer, autumn, early winter, late winter, early spring, and sometimes late spring when it stays cool clear into June. In October, 70 degree days are gone, and when we hit the first frost it seems early winter is quickly upon us. Cold weather makes my bones creak, and as I age it takes a bit longer to get warmed up and going in the morning.

    Here in the Willamette Valley we don’t generally get extended periods of extreme cold or snow. Notice I said generally. And because of generally, folks here generally don’t know how to handle it when we do. The past few years have been colder and snowier than usual, and we are learning a little more about being prepared when it does happen, and to be grateful when it doesn’t. I’m grateful to be able to buy ahead a bit on food and everyday items and to (mostly) have the choice not to travel in inclement weather.

    For now, it is still October. The leaves are parading their colors, homecoming games are going on all over the metro area, harvest is slowing down. Pumpkins are fat, orange, and ready for the knife. After first frost no more ever-bearing strawberries, no more fresh garden ripened tomatoes, no more green beans. I’m grateful for root vegetables and squash. Have you ever tried roasting beets or carrots in olive oil with a little chopped garlic? Like vegetable candy.

    With colder weather I like to bundle in with a variety of books and DVDs. I like to warm the house with oven-cooked meals, baking a sweet spice bread occasionally. I cook in smaller batches than I used to and still end up having to freeze some. The last time I took a neighbor some extra baked goods I got the weirdball side eye and had the impression the treats went straight into the trash. If so, their loss. If not, I never heard. I’m less inclined these days to endure side eye when I think I’m being friendly, so the freezer gets to save the extra treat for later. American society has changed in one way since I was small: we are afraid to know our neighbors.

    When I was growing up we knew our neighbors, were welcomed in their homes and they in ours. We borrowed sugar, and eggs, and flour, and yard tools, and whatever else was needed, and re-paid it in kind. There were few fences or hedges between houses and neighbor kids ran freely between yards. We helped each other in our gardens. We gave each other rides to work and to school and to the doctor, and if there was a game or a school program often two families traveled together. When we cooked too much we shared and in some families we purposefully cooked for each other. My mom never made a batch of her famous homemade rolls that she didn’t make an extra pan for the neighbor lady next door which she made one of us kids take to her along with a jar of her homemade raspberry jam. Doesn’t happen so much these days as the myth of self-sufficiency has undermined the function of the village.

    I prefer to think of the village as evolving, going through its own transition I hope. It is harder to coordinate schedules these days, especially when it takes two adults working to support the household and harder to stretch the money around. I am grateful to see so many families taking advantage of the public pool and the local lending library and playing together in the parks. I love peeking into living room windows when I walk or drive in the crepuscular light as evenings come earlier, and seeing which families still gather together, windows steamy with conversation.

    The grasshopper me wants to sit and watch the leaves fall, enjoying the colors, the fragrance of the trees, the light angular and moving with the air magic of the wind, imagining air sprites hanging on each leaf and laughing as they dance on the waving leaves. The ant in me moves furniture, cleans corners, minor changes that never make much difference in the appearance of my cluttered house. I think the clutter bothers me less these days as I love the silly things I live with. Cleaning and moving them around gives me different joy; I have so much abundance I have little need for more.

    October is about more to me. I will have one more year to celebrate. I have more changes, more growth accomplished, more knowledge. I have more color. I have more leaves. I have more vision toward spring. I have more abundance, as it seems for every item I discard somehow two more come into the house. More friends and family have babies each year, or marry, thus more family. More family and friends are leaving this world as the years go on, so more grief happens as well. More years in the cycle of life.

    I’ve been through my spring. I sprang forth and don’t even remember the first few years, but I was nurtured and fed and soon blossomed into late spring learning everything I could. I flowered through my summer, matured, ripened, got juicy and seedy, and even managed to reproduce, statistically not easy to do. Then I started to dry up and dry out and get tired and became a little less able than before. I’m Octoberly transitioning into my early winter and I hope it’s a long transition.

    I’ll gratefully take the creaking, the slowness, the whitening of the hair, the thinning of the skin. I’ll take the time to listen and freely bestow my stories upon those willing to listen. I’ll continue to exercise my brain and exercise my creaky old bones. This wild bizarre adventure of life was given to me and I get to go full tilt boogie through every season.

    Color Watchcolorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – My neighborhood has all the colors and the brightest light. Fiery orange trees. Red meets red. Exotic hardy pink and purple fuchsia. Porch light on at university’s Knight Hall; Vera the ghost lives inside.

    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 Talented Mr Ripley (1999, rated R) with Matt Damon. A suspenseful murder mystery, quirky and twisted. * Careful What You Wish For (2015, rated R), I thought I had gotten a chick flick but some of the bits didn’t quite add up, then slowly the nefarious plot is revealed. * Escape from New York (1981, rated R) with Kurt Russell, not exactly a horror movie, but scary, and enough graphic violence to cross over into horror. I’ve viewed this classic several times since it came out. My family used to watch it on New Year’s Eve and it was so satisfying to celebrate the ending with noisemakers. The son thought he was very grown-up to be allowed to watch an R rated movie. The plot involves politics and an alternative future, and so many of the twists are pertinent in the current political climate. Recommended. * Glengarry Glen Ross (1992, rated R) with a whole line up of famous contemporary actors like Al Pacino and Alec Baldwin, nary a woman or person of color to be seen. There’s not much scarier than an old man trying to sell you something you don’t want, other than a whole office full of them.

    Currently ReadingHouse of Leaves (2000, fiction) by Mark Z Danielewski. Interactive fiction, flipping to the back for appendixes, exhibits, letters, and then the ciphers, scratch paper and pencil at the ready. The most work I’ve done for somebody else’s fiction in a long time. Definitely not easy breezy. * Smile at Fear: Awakening the True Heart of Bravery (2009, Buddhism) by Chogram Trungpa. Dense material, lots of re-reading, but then most spirituality is heavy stuff.

    Quote of the Week –
    “Words are free. It’s how you use them may cost you.” Reader sign on a local church.

    This week I have been grateful for:

    • Finishing a twelve week course of medicine. One less pill to take. Looking forward to see if the treatment sticks and the side effects go away as well.
    • The odd dimensions of time, there is too much and there is never enough.
    • Running into my Spanish professor from university at farmers market. He is from Puerto Rico and I had no way to get in touch with him, but I had been thinking intently about him and his family these last few weeks. He assured me they had had time to prepare for the hurricane and were all safe. Not without property damage but physically safe. He let me weep in relief in his arms.
    • Hearing. Anything. Birdsong. Neighbor kids playing. Kids screaming at the pool. TV. Lifeguard’s whistle. The fridge. The car. Crickets. The fan. The house creaking. Waves. All of it.
    • My skin, elegantly water repellent, organically water loving.
    • Watching the squirrels and birds, so busy this time of year.
    • Changing angles of light, making my walls and furniture look golden, coming over my shoulder, lighting my cheek so I thought I saw flecks of gold sparkle stuck to the top of my cheek and suddenly feeling gold-sparkled all over because of the light.
    • Enjoying cleaning my clutter. Loving each item as I wash it and dry it and put it in a different place.
    • The freedom of books and DVD movies, which I can stop and start any time I need to.
    • Enjoying the spicy options the season brings, particularly gingerbread and apple spice.
    • The moon this month which has been shining through my glass door and right onto my writing area. Feeling washed and blessed in moonlight.
    • Sweet fresh corn on the cob with gobs of real dairy butter and sea salt.
    • One more box of juicy red cherry tomatoes and a few more strawberries.
    • Water.

    Hoping you have a lovely week.

    Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

    Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

    Gratitude Sunday: A Delicate Balance

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

    Sunday Haiku
    Dandelion breaks
    through the rocky aggregate,
    weedy warrior.

    Sunday Musings
    Astrologically, most October birthdays are Libra, with a few Scorpios thrown in to spice up the end of the month. Libra opens with the autumnal equinox on September 22 plus or minus a few hours and honors the balance of light and dark hours of the day being nearly equal. I know, math, right? The balancing scale represents the sign; it is the only inanimate object representation in the zodiac. I am not an expert on astrology; my research on many occult subjects started in my early teens, when my mom insisted I needed a library card.

    Isn’t it interesting how we can take days and years and cycles and assign them names and numbers and degrees and representations and symbols and even mythical stories? Humans are such clever people we can make a story about anything, including math, and nature, and the workings of the natural world around us, not just what happens to us while we travel in it.

    The assumption about Libras is we are balanced, even-keeled, stable. Reality is far different, if I am any example; balance is a constant struggle. The scale is always tipped to one side or the other. I am strong, no, I’m weak. I’m intelligent, no, I don’t have a wit. I am beautiful, no, I am ugly. I am savvy, no, I am naïve. I am productive and industrious, no, I am lazy. I’m right, no, I’m wrong. I am kind, no, I am mean. I love, no, I hate. I surround myself with beauty and squalor in unequal proportions. I don’t quite achieve that middle ground where all my feelings and possessions come together in harmony and strength. It’s a great day until all hell breaks loose. My hell looks pretty bad until I weigh it against the hell others have experienced and the atrociousness of their hell often far outweighs mine. At least my empathy levels remain more or less in balance.

    Most of us (of any sign) have our own personal hell. And our own personal heaven. We have a duplicitous nature; we are two people inside ourselves, much like the sign Gemini is represented as twins, and I suspect people born under Gemini have similar struggles as Libras. Some of us only listen to one clear voice: the good, or the bad. Some of us mis-hear the voice, telling ourselves we are much better or much worse than we really are. Some of us honestly listen to both voices and weigh the advantages of one over the other. For some of us the self-dialogue is constant. I suspect that dialogue is largely based on fear, facing the “bad” or negative parts of oneself, and the positive voice is trying to save the self with survival cheers. Another part of that voice might be resistance to imposed shame, that is, being shamed or blamed for something entirely out of our control, such as poverty or appearance, for which other people think we are supposed to feel bad.

    My voices – yes, I’m admitting to having internal voices, that cranky inner dialogue; my inner voices rarely tell me to do crazy things; if they do, I shut those suckers down fast – usually start with the negative voice. Goes something like this:

    [contemplating whatever, and easily distractable]
    You can’t do that.
    Why not?
    You’re too ________ (insert whatever you like, old, fat, dumb, unable, so many choices).
    Nah, not, what’s that got to do with anything?
    Watch out! That idiot driver nearly sideswiped you. Why do people have to be in such a blankety-blank hurry?
    Maybe he’s late for work. Maybe he’s just getting off work. It’s not like you’ve never come close to a car crash yourself.
    Maybe he doesn’t care. Maybe he’s a jerk.
    Maybe he’s not. Maybe you’re a jerk.

    That’s when I realize the positive voice has deteriorated into the negative voice and now I’m hearing two negative voices and only far away echoes of the positive. When the voices reach that low-point I have learned I need a break. Change something. Stand up. Sit down. Do the dishes. Open the window, step outside, get the wiggles out, anything; nature is a great mind-distractor. I have squirrels and birds in my yard, trees to watch the wind do air magic on the leaves, and lots of little corners to putter around in. Occasionally I have to reach out and engage another person to make sure all my parts and voices are intact and at least partly socially acceptable. I still have not gained the confidence to believe myself, and I see so many people like me. Does not surprise me one bit our world is off-kilter. We fail ourselves.

    Break time. Negative voice. Double negative voice.

    There is a current out there, I feel the energy, I know it’s out there, because it’s in me as well. A wave of love, of compassion, of non-aggression. In the years to come the elders who used the old ways of exploitation will be leaving this life, and the youngers, the star children, will finally be having their (our) nation, their (our) world. We have brought new generations into this world and taught them in our ways and how to honor the honorable old ways, or they have discovered their way in rejection of the old ways. We honor their intellect and innovation. We see their beauty, our beauty, in words and art and spirituality and technology and reverting to the ways of the earth with green energy and humane animal husbandry and real food.

    Oh, that pesky scale. The unequal weight of one voice against another, instead of the harmony of two voices balanced together. I don’t see much progress in society (negative), but I know it’s there (positive). In pursuit of balance I hear the negative voice, but as I grow older I pay it less mind; I listen to the positive voice, tipping the scale with purposeful intention. It’s a delicate, fragile balance.

    Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – I love the shade of grape leaf green, and the purple surprises hiding underneath. White pickets and triangles of yellow, green, and red. Little white blossoms and burgundy leaves of autumn oxalis. The original meaning of golden arches. Let the decorating season begin!

    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.} Wiseguy (1987-1990, TV series not rated) surprised me twice. In the third season one of the characters mentioned the photography of Diane Arbus, who is one of my favorite photographers. Interesting to note when the series aired in 1990 (before university), I’d never heard of Arbus, so if I watched this episode I would not have recognized the reference. Arbus was noted for her presentation of the freak and/or the freakish, which is what the character is referring to. She photographed circus workers and drag queens and ordinary people and captured the incredibly unique individuality of each. In the 4th season, the series changed character and changed the main character, when Ken Wahl, after suffering the effects of an injury in season 2, declined to go the direction the producer wanted to go with the show. Steven Bauer takes his place, and he also is a main character throughout the contemporary Ray Donovan series. Nice to know he’s still working as an actor, as Wiseguy quickly lost steam in this final season. Glad to be through with this re-view of the past.

    Currently ReadingHouse of Leaves (2000, fiction) by Mark Z Danielewski. This is a long novel presented in an unusual style with footnotes that have footnotes, appendixes referred to, and in full color; it’s a fiction about a fictional documentary, many classical Greek, Roman, and Latin references, plenty of physics and math science, and entirely quirky. I might have to give up on it as even though it is 17 years old, people who read science fiction are still discovering it, and there is always a queue at my local lending library. The story is not straightforward or linear by any stretch of the imagination. It’s just challenging enough, I might not finish in three weeks. The premise? Space and time are different inside the house than outside it. Measurably. Maybe in the novel as well. * Smile at Fear: Awakening the True Heart of Bravery (2009, Buddhism) by Chogram Trungpa. Meditations on listening to and understanding those inner voices.

    New feature this week:

    Quote of the Week – “The way up is difficult but safe, while the way down is easy and dangerous.” Rebecca Solnit quoting Prem Dorchi Lama on a recent trek in Tibet. In the picture that accompanied the quote the way did not look easy or safe, either way.

    This week I have been grateful for:

    • The aquatic center supervisor who gives me the kindness of a few minutes unhurried conversation nearly every time I’m there.
    • How industrious my neighborhood sounds: one property owner is building a grandma cottage; one is replacing everything after residents of more than two decades moved on; another re-shingling a roof; kids playing after school before they go home to homework (playing is important).
    • The bits and pieces of family history that are still known and shared in my family. So many stories gone now. I learned this week my great-uncle passed away. Sadly, I didn’t even know he was still alive.
    • The son behaving in an adult manner, re-capturing my heart again. My love for him is constant but once in a while it blooms a little bigger as he shoulders responsibilities.
    • Getting to enjoy video of my brother’s mother-in-law, who was a Homecoming Queen in 1954 (the first year the school had a homecoming queen), crowning this year’s queen.
    • Knowing many of my siblings’ in-laws.
    • Old movies where the violence was implied not graphic.
    • Mister Kitty aka George Murphy enjoying his favorite plaything: a big paper bag.
    • Food vendors who make smaller items like bread, donuts, sweet treats, containers of fresh soup or stew. I often crave these comfort foods, but I want a small amount and don’t want to waste or freeze the rest.
    • The squirrel who boogied across 6 lanes of traffic right in front of me and made it safely to the other side.
    • Another new fig: Oregon Prolific. A bit bland, but go fig.
    • A sweet mixed basket of red cherry tomatoes, yellow cherry, and tiny red pear tomatoes. Likely the last of the season. I love the farmers who give out those tips as you shop so you can buy a bit extra.
    • Water.

    Hoping you have a lovely week.

    Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

    Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

    Posted in abundance, Aging, Education, Entertainment, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, History, Nature, Photography, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments