Gratitude Sunday: The Consequences Of Free Speech

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 descends upon
the valley, coastal feeling
of a humid day.

Sunday Musings
Last week I opened with a short paragraph about the tragedy in Portland, Oregon. I got a few details wrong. It happened on Friday, not Thursday, and I realized after posting that since the November election there have been so many hourly disruptions in the political world and in my world, my head is spinning and I can’t keep track from day to day what new news is happening. From the hate speech coming straight from the mouth of the person in the highest office in the United States, to individual crimes in nearly every city, not just in America, but in the world, it’s just too much.

In Portland three men were injured; two died for the sake of the safety of two women. It doesn’t matter what religion or color or gender the women were, there was no excuse for a stranger to bully them. The three men who stepped in to protect them did the right thing, morally and ethically; sadly, two of them gave their lives and another will carry the scars for the rest of his. They demonstrated honor, respect, and integrity.

The perpetrator (I won’t give him a name because I don’t want to glorify his actions; if you must you can look it up for yourself) is a murderer, plain and simple, contorting the definition of “free speech” as his defense. I believe in free speech and you can hate all you want, but the hate part you have to keep to yourself, and here’s the really important thing: you must not act on evil, ugly, or hateful thoughts, as those actions are NEVER to your advantage. Every one of us has a dark side in us; most of us keep ourselves in check and don’t act on the ugly thoughts we have.

Free speech has a bedside manner element to it, not just for doctors, but for everyone who talks, which means all of us. Yes, you can say whatever you want, but your words have meaning, and words matter. It’s not always easy, but one can pick and choose words for the sake of civil discourse. We are also allowed to have differences of opinions, and we should avoid assuming our opinion is the only right way to think. This is true of any interaction, even with people you love. Free speech does not mean it is wise to spew every word or phrase that occurs in your mind out of your mouth. I am living proof, and I didn’t kill anyone, I merely misspoke and one tiny spoken word-phrase wreaked havoc in my life.

I’ve never been too sure about the notion of God having a plan, or things happening for a reason because God works in mysterious ways. I’ve always functioned by the God helps those who help themselves notion, believing in hard work, bootstraps, and often recycled resources. Because of my “free speech”, I paid a price for choosing to say a couple words (choosing may be a little strong here, it was more of a brain puke). I helped myself into a whole different life way earlier than planned. My plans rarely have gone according to my plan. I was having health issues and just hanging on every day, trying to do the best work I could until a planned retirement date. Perhaps the body had just had enough, and bypassed the brain barrier, sending the damning words straight to my mouth. Probably self-sabotage (I was in a bullying situation – the whole story is long, boring, annoying, and still traumatic to recount, and we’ll grant my employer over-reacted, or as my brother says from their reaction, they were looking for an excuse to get rid of me), I’m still paying the price with daily anxiety and depression. C’est la vie. Life is tough. Then we learn new things.

These days it seems we run into bullies everywhere: road rage, line rage, hurry rage, poverty rage, difference rage. I recently dealt with a bully at the local grocery store when he started yelling at the clerk who was checking my items out to hurry up. Again, another long story, but suffice it to say I told him what for, supported the shy clerk, told the manager what a good job the clerk was doing and no thank you I didn’t need help telling the bully his words were out of line. I was proud: not one expletive escaped my mouth, and the local police are now in possession of this man’s name, because in this small town if there are any repercussions or retaliation from him he is on record. If this man had pulled out a gun and shot me in the middle of the store, so be it.

That’s what this horrible incident feels like. One man speaking his personal hate and acting on his hateful thoughts instead of keeping them to himself. Three men willing to risk their lives (I’m sure the thought never crossed their minds, that this bully might be so full of hate he would attack them with a knife in broad daylight on public transit) for the protection and safety of two women. They could have been any women, they could have been elders, they could have been tattooed and pierced youth, they could have been other skin colors, they could have been people of many other differences, these men stepped up to help them.

Here’s the difference as I see it. The perpetrator judged the women because they were women and how they were dressed and the color of their skin. They were complete and total strangers. He really had no knowledge at all of who those women were, how they lived their lives, or how they believed. He may be entirely wrong with his assumptions from their appearance, but he spoke and acted on his hate, not on any real knowledge of the real lives of these women. He may have perpetrated hate upon any target of his choosing.

The three men who stepped in were complete and total strangers from each other as well, and strangers from the women, and strangers from the perpetrator. They did not act out of hate, but out of love. That is true free speech. They voiced their opinion through their actions, supporting women, people of color, choice of religion, though none of these differences were what their decision was about. These three men would have done it for any person. Any person. Regardless of difference.

Other people have also behaved deplorably around this incident. While one of the men was dying, another man stole his wedding ring and backpack. Can you be so desperate you steal from a dying bleeding man? What is wrong with people? The thief was caught on film and has since been captured.

Other people have made a difference since this incident: the people who helped the men who died, who held them while they left this world; the helpers who got assistance to capture the perpetrator and aid the injured; the mother of the younger man who died who comforted others who grieved for her son.

What do I take away from this? I think whatever I want, but I am more careful than ever what I say and what I do when I am with others or out in public, and I avoid going out in public whenever I can. You never know when another person is willing to hurt you without knowing you because they make a judgment on your appearance, and sometimes words don’t help. Be proud of me: I don’t give the one finger salute anymore when driving, even when people drive weird; I drive more cautiously. Instead I give them the peace sign hoping to encourage them to be more patient and slow down. While hate may be irrational in most circumstances, you never know when somebody will act on their hate. These days you can’t be too careful out there.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Lilies popped out this week. Yellow. Orange. Striped. Lantern.

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.} Hidden Figures (2016, rated PG) based on the true story about the contributions of African-American women to the space program at NASA. I’m taking this film at face value and it looks to me we would not have put a man in space without these women, yet it took us more than 50 years to give them any kind of credit or recognition. I hang my head in shame for the inconsistencies and disparities of honoring the contributions of any person to American society because they aren’t white and male. I cried when Kevin Costner ripped down the “Colored Women’s Bathroom” sign and he said “Here at NASA we all pee the same color.” I love this movie so hard. Recommended. Should be required viewing from 5th grade on up (small amounts of racial violence would keep me from recommending viewing for littles, but after watching Captain Fantastic, I question why we sugar coat any information for youngers, don’t they deserve to know the truth no matter how hard it is?). * Netflix posted the third and last season of Bloodline (2017, rated TV – MA). I enjoyed the first two seasons immensely; the characters and the plot were compelling. This last season not so much. It felt like the writers just gave up when they were told it would be the last season. A couple of episodes you can’t tell if they are the result of plot devices like drugs or dreams or bad writing, but they are so confusing as to not make any sense whatsoever. AND there is a major flaw in the plot, no spoilers in case you are watching, but pay close attention to the courtroom scenes and to who is lying. Hint: everybody lies. * Another sleeper hit: Captain Fantastic (2017, rated R) with Viggo Mortensen, as the father who raises his family off grid, and the judgments he suffers when his mentally ill wide commits suicide. Quite a comment on modern education, food, and consumerism, and a celebration of intellect, knowledge, and discovery. Plus there’s a few seconds scene of Portland. Watched it twice. Recommended.

Currently Reading – On to summer reading! I like lighter fare in the summer, stories I don’t have to concentrate too much on, that I can pick up and put down when other events are more imminent. Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series fits right into that category. Do start with One for the Money, as they build upon each other. I’m on Tricky Twenty-Two (2015, fiction). Stephanie does code enforcement (bail bonds or bounty hunter) for her low-life cousin, because she has trouble keeping jobs and cars. There’s always a little mystery or two and enough humor to be laughing every page or so at the antics she and her side-kick Lula get up to. And she has two love interests. Lots of fun. And welcome relief from the depths of finances and politics of Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (2016, radical politics), by Jane Mayer. So much history, so little time, but the light on the dirty politics of American finances becomes clearer with every page. Money rules. It even buys science. The power the wealthy have is frightening.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Going to a medical appointment on the far east side on the metro area, when I am on the far west side. Planned an early departure, drive didn’t take as long as planned, traffic moved well though slow in spots, arrived early, and they were able to take me early. Home much earlier than I thought the journey would take. Had to drive by the place where the above mentioned incident took place last week. No incidents.
  • Being the passenger on the above journey and getting to enjoy people watching and looking at the buildings. Lovely architecture in Portland.
  • To live where I do and as I do after viewing how many others live in the metro area.
  • Trees and green spaces.
  • The little bit of money savings I have and learning how to keep it.
  • Hubster replacing his broken library card, and he got two key cards along with the main card. He was so excited he insisted I replace mine with the 40th anniversary edition, with key cards to make it easier for the hubster to pick up my library items. There were two versions, one pictured a fish (hubster’s) and I picked the one with the bunny rabbit. The kind clerk even let me pick my own number out of the rack of cards he had available to make it easier to memorize my new number because I’ve had my old number for 20 years. See what happens when you ask nice? It was a quiet day; he had the time to accommodate the old lady.
  • Old TV shows: I’ve been enjoying the Cybill Shepherd show, Cybill (1995 – 1998, not rated) and The Ellen Show (2001 – 2002, not rated) with Ellen DeGeneres.
  • Getting to celebrate with a friend who had her 80th birthday and her family and friends.
  • Knowing how to cook and being able to walk into the kitchen and prepare a meal when the guys declare there is nothing to eat. Wonder woman.
  • Fresh Willamette Valley asparagus.
  • Oregon Hood strawberries are starting. They always cost more at the beginning of the season, but worth every bite.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: Sharing Stories For Memorial Day

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
Sun warms bones, heats soul,
burns skin, boils brain, sweats armpits,
bleaches hair, cooks me.

Sunday Musings
*** As I write this, Portland, Oregon is suffering the aftermath of a tragic fatal incident, which took place on Thursday, on a public bus in which two men defending Muslim women were murdered in cold blood by a hate mongering person who was bullying the women. I grieve for the families of these two men who sacrificed their very lives defending what is right and good and just in this world. My heart aches for the family of the murderer for the trials they may have already endured and for the new trials they will face. I feel sorrow for the murderer as well, that he could believe he was, in any way, justified in his hate-filled actions. Remember honor and love and justice this Memorial Day weekend for all persons, not just the few in your own private circle. Nor are any actions performed in a vacuum; what you do affects the world. ***

It’s Memorial Day weekend. Seems to me like many people have forgotten the reason for the day and have turned it into the summer kick-off party, even though it’s still 3 weeks until the days start getting shorter again. I understand family gatherings; but I question the “celebrations”; to me this day is not for celebrating but for honoring and remembering our ancestors, the ones who have gone before us, for contemplation and reminiscing on the values of their contributions to our world.

If we use strict definitions, Memorial Day is for honoring our dead who served in the military, which is all fine and good; these people did an especially hard job not all of us are ready or able to step up and do. They served our country, as did every other American not in the service. I maintain we should use the day to honor all our ancestors, as there is not one person who has passed through this world who did not have their own battles to fight. They may have fought racism, misogyny, classism, ableism, poverty, wealth (which carries its own burdens), illness, injury, prejudice, ignorance, and all manner of battles that exist in this wild and crazy life.

What do I miss the most about the folks who are gone? Their stories. What a library of treasures we have in older people’s stories. My dad served in the Philippines in the late 1940s and came home with a foot disease he called “jungle rot” that plagued him the rest of his life. He wouldn’t talk much about his time in the service, though I remember him telling about the giant crabs that would walk over the soldiers in his group while they slept at night. Try as I might I only remember one other story from his childhood about his horrible allergic reaction to a bee sting. Have I lost him forever if I don’t remember his stories, only the ones we created together?

My mom served the country as a mother of 4 children, a hard working employee, a Campfire Girl leader, a Cub Scout leader, an artist, and an entrepreneur. I’ve seen the shack she came to when her dad moved the family from Oklahoma to Idaho when she was 3, a “rich” man with 200 dollars in his pocket and skills as an orchard manager. I remember a story she told me of her mother (my grandmother) being responsible for raising her mentally challenged brother (my great-uncle) as he needed individual attention, because her own mother (my great-grandmother) was so busy raising the other children and running the farm, and how that echoed in my mother’s life. How grateful Mom was when her youngest brother arrived (when she was 14), and she was put in charge of him, that he was a normal active boy.

I keep trying to remember the stories of the family and friends who have gone before me. How important is it that we remember their stories, especially now I’m losing the memory of my own stories? At the very least, it is interesting to share memories of times past, of hardships survived, of hard earned triumphs. And isn’t it a little bit comforting that somebody you may have loved and trusted has been there before you? That awful things happened to them and they dealt with it; they handled whatever crap life threw at them and came out the other end with a story for posterity. Sometimes the stories have a sad ending about something that is not fun, but the story has value just the same. Sometimes other people’s stories save us from similar pitfalls or unwise choices. Sometimes stories can help teach us good old fashioned common sense.

I am more than an hour’s drive from the resting places of my ancestors, so I rarely visit. I usually take some time to look at old family pictures, and jot down what memories of their stories the images inspire. It’s slow going and so many stories are gone. My family’s parties are so far apart we barely have time just to catch up on current stuff, let alone share the old stories of our pasts.

This Memorial Day if you have the time and are so inclined visit the resting place of your folks who are gone. Spend a little time thinking about their stories, stories you shared, stories they shared from before they knew you, however they knew you. If you get to have a family gathering skip the drinking and indulge in talking. Share the stories of your grandparents with your children before everybody forgets them. Ask the elders at your gatherings to tell you a story from their childhood; to get them started ask what they remember about the home they grew up in, or their first school. Ask if they remember stories from their parents or grandparents. Repeat the stories to your kids and their kids. Ask your kids about their stories as well. That’s how we build a community of friends and family. That’s how we learn we are more similar than different. That’s how we make a memorial. We share stories.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – It’s rose week! All over the Willamette Valley roses are gloriously blooming. Perfect timing for the Portland Rose Festival which started the Friday before Memorial Day weekend this year. We have a children’s parade, and a starlight parade, and a huge Rose Parade with floats decorated only with plant material, and marching bands, and dance teams, and Boy Scouts presenting the colors at the beginning of the parade. We have a Rose Festival Court of girls from our local area high schools who are ambassadors for the city, and we have a huge city fun fest with amusement rides and performances and art and food all taking place downtown along the riverbank. We have dragon boat races in the river and car races at the Portland International Raceway as well. It’s all so lovely and started by our own dear Mrs. Georgiana Pittock and her love for roses. Roses come in so many fragrances and colors, and they never fail to entice the eye. Enjoy this week’s range of color.

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.} A Little Bit of Heaven (2012, rated PG – 13) with Kate Hudson, who plays a young woman dying of colon cancer. I’ve never been a Kate Hudson fan. I checked out this movie because it had Kathy Bates, Whoopi Goldberg, and Peter Dinklage, three of my favorite actors. After this movie I’m still not a Kate Hudson fan. * 20th Century Women (2017, rated R) with Annette Benning. Billed as a comedy, I didn’t find this movie funny and I did not connect with Benning’s character, a 53 year old single woman in 1979 Santa Barbara raising a son she’d had late in life. Just Meh for me, but I can see why some people might like this movie. * Stonehearst Asylum (2014, rate PG – 13) with Kate Beckinsale and Michael Caine, a quirky mystery set in a fin de siècle mental asylum, with both new and old “medical” treatments for non-conforming or truly ill people with possibly no real mental health problems; thank goodness treatment has changed as we have learned more thanks to science. The movie was familiar, but I could not remember the plot and well, Michael Caine, so I watched it through again. Checked my viewing history and indeed I had watched it two years ago this month. So that’s how good my memory is. * Discovered Black Mirror (2011, rated TV – MA), a British science fiction series. These individual episodes remind me of the 1950s and 60s Twilight Zone and Outer Limits, except racier. I’ve only watched a couple, but think far out, very far out, think way different, think way past intriguing or quirky, think bizarre. * Mr Destiny (1990, rated PG – 13) with James Belushi and Michael Caine (yes, it’s Michael Caine week here), one of those reliable feel good movies in the It’s a Wonderful Life mode where changing one pivotal moment in your life shows you how you don’t know what you have til it’s gone. * War Machine (2017, not rated) a Netflix production with Brad Pitt. I’m not sure how to take this movie. It has moments of humor and I do not consider war to be humorous by any stretch of my imagination, though people involved in war do employ humor merely to keep the horror of it from overtaking their souls. It also highlights one of the absurdities I have always considered to be true: one cannot win loyalty or respect from another country by invading it and imposing your own standards upon it; people just don’t work that way.

Currently ReadingThe Dressmaker (2000, fiction) by Rosalie Ham. Nothing like the novel to flesh out the story. It’s not technically summer yet, but I’m going to count this as the first of my summer reading. Fun story, richer in a different way from the movie, quirky and dark in some spots, wickedly funny in others, and somehow, the “revenge” feels so good. * Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (2016, radical politics), by Jane Mayer. Frighteningly frank information about how the almighty dollar controls the current political administration and the 70 year path of how we got here.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • The son washing all the ceiling fans in the house before we decided to use them on a warm day.
  • Getting some of my art supplies into one spot so I can organize them. I don’t like buying something and finding I already had it.
  • The hubster getting our new “hillbilly sun shade” in place over the east facing picture window. I buy those reflective heavy duty emergency camping blankets for about 15 dollars and hang it over the window. Cuts the temperature inside by as much as 20 degrees. We bring it in over winter when we want the heat from the window, and one blanket lasts 5 years or more. Cheap, a little tacky looking, but fits my budget and my needs. Available technology.
  • Remembering the janitor’s trick I learned of swiffing cobwebs with one hand while using a flashlight with the other. Corners always seem dark even in the light of day. I’m often amazed at how much better I can see the dusty cobbies with a light shined on them.
  • “Natural” air conditioning. It’s a matter of timing, opening and closing doors and windows and curtains, and having the proper east/west orientation in the floor plan.
  • Getting my grocery shopping done before I got too warm, and before the stores were crowded with the Memorial Day crush, and spending a few minutes chatting with a couple friends I ran into and hadn’t talked with for a while. Especially hearing they and their families are well.
  • My local farmers market matching 10 dollars of Food Stamp purchase with another 10 dollars. 40 dollars extra a month to spend on fresh locally garden grown fruits and veg fits right into my budget.
  • The gardeners who wash the lettuce they got up earlier that morning to pick to bring to the farmers market.
  • The first pick of Oregon Albion strawberries, a hardier everbearing berry, which we will have until first frost in October/November. Hoods will be coming soon. They are a more fragile berry and short seasoned.
  • Sharing stories. Your turn.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: There’s No Place Like Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} Manchester by the Sea (2016, rated R), drama, tragedy, drama, tragedy, drama, beautiful pictures of the town. I can see the significance of the film dealing with tragedy and depression, but for me: Meh. * Season 3 of Game of Thrones (2015, rated TV-MA), the power struggle persists.

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

This week I have been grateful for:

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

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This week I have been grateful for:

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

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: Thank You, Jackie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then the quantum time leap of 1963 occurs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This week I have been grateful for:

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

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: Farmers Markets Coming To A Community Near You

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} More of season 5 of Call the Midwife (2016, TV-PG), no spoilers, but you know, life. * Re-watching Game of Thrones (2013, TV-MA), in season 2. The interesting politics and passions of fantasy fiction when leaders actually fought and were killed, not just their minions, and kingdoms and power changed hands and dynasties. Hmmm, fantasy, remember.

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

This week I have been grateful for:

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

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: Wealthy Or Poor?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let me ask you.

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

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

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

Are you OK with misogyny and racism?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Color Watchcolorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Pink candy striped hyacinth. Not my favorite color, but you have to give vermillion azaleas points for audacity. Love the depth of pink throat on this pink rhododendron. A bright yellow tulip. Deep purple lilacs just coming on. A whole huge tree full of sunset pink dogwood. I find columbine to be a particularly fine flower, here’s one in tones of pink.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} Ghostbusters: Answer the Call (2016, rated PG – 13), the new one with Melissa McCarthy and Kate McKinnon, of Saturday Night Live fame, who is wickedly funny. No comparisons; take the old one for what it was and still is (funny and fun; an all time classic) and this one for what it is (funny and fun; just a matter of time before it is an all time classic). * Season 2 of Game of Thrones (2012, TV-MA) ruthless power struggles.

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

This week I have been grateful for:

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

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: New Spring, New Easter

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

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

Sunday Musings
Happy Easter however you celebrate it!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This week I have been grateful for:

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

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: Makers And Doers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} Burglar (1987, rated R) with Whoopi Goldberg, one of her comedies about a bookstore owner who moonlights as a cat burglar. A Murphy’s law comedy, yes whatever can go wrong does, and Whoopi’s character gets to kick some serious ass. Totally a fun movie. * Finished season 2 of Schitt$ Creek (2015, not rated TV series), it will be fun when season 3 comes out.

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

This week I have been grateful for:

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

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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A Brief Treatise On Pockets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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