Gratitude Sunday: Simply Start At 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.

Quote of the Week – “We have two hands – one to receive with and the other to give with. We are not cisterns made for hoarding; we are channels made for sharing.” paraphrased from Billy Graham

Sunday Haiku
Lilac branch, naked
against the gray sky, bud tips
swell, presaging spring.

Sunday Musings
In the new year one often sets goals, which may or may not be achieved. Sometimes the goal is too large. It can help to have small steps on one’s goal list. It’s like the phrase “think globally, act locally”. Simplify and begin at home.

Consider the act of giving. This may be a hard concept if you feel yourself to be a low-income person who has little in the way of abundance. You might think you have nothing to give or share. You might not have learned how to give and share in your family, or church group, or school, or community. Think simply. It can be easier than you think. You may have more to give than you think.

We didn’t have to be philanthropists with millions of dollars to give to charities, hampered by ethics laws against contributing to individuals or individual households. Humans are hardwired to care about others and to share what we have, even though there is a concerted effort being made to educate us out of this natural inclination. You and I can give whatever we want to whomever we want whenever we want, individuals or otherwise.

Do you have a nice coat? Good. Do you have another coat you never use, one that doesn’t fit any more, or is a funky color that doesn’t suit you, or is uncomfortable? Give that coat away. Sell it if you must or if you can. Know also if you give the coat away, you have provided comfort for somebody who may not be able to afford a coat.

Go through your clothing and determine if you have things you can share. Did you find that joke pair of socks, still in the package, that you will never be caught dead in, and besides you have a drawer full of perfectly good socks you will wear? Did you find that dress you bought that was on the edge of being too small but was so cute you had to have it, and then never wore because every time you put it on it didn’t feel right? Did you find that pair of hiking boots you wore once which gave you the worst blisters in your life that took a month to heal and you’ve never gone hiking again? Those socks could keep somebody else’s feet warm, that dress might be somebody else’s go-to work dress, those boots might help some young person get out into the woods.

What about your kids’ stuff? As you go closet by closet, set an example and have your littles see if they have good usable things they can give away. Be realistic: make sure the items are in like-new or barely used condition. Nobody needs another stained rag unless you are scrubbing floors. Also use caution pushing kids to get rid of stuff before they are ready. Aim for an anxiety-free event here.

Do you have adult children who have left things behind? Check with the kid and box that stuff up. Share it with someone who has less or who has the need. Vintage clothing are often welcomed donations at local theater departments for the entertainment of others. Entertainment is a great treat.

Take a look through your linen closet. Do you have a set of sheets for a mattress you no longer own? Outta here. How about that blanket you don’t use because it slides off the bed? Gone. Or the 142 hand towels, and the 89 washcloths of which you have a dozen faves that feel good on your skin? Yeah, them too. People are different. The ones you don’t like might feel good on another person’s skin, another person might use different sheets and the blanket stays on their bed just fine, and somebody is going to enjoy finding sheets that fit their bed.

How about your medicine cabinet? That gift soap you didn’t like the smell of, all those little sample toothpastes and floss from the dentist, the lotion you didn’t try because the odor repelled you can all be donated for others to use. The fragrance that doesn’t suit you will be just right for a different body’s chemistry.

In my community we have a blessing box in front of one of the local churches. Anybody can make a contribution and anybody can take items as needed. It’s kind of a 24/7/365 street-side food bank and suggested donations are canned goods, bottled water in summer, toiletries and bathroom tissue, feminine and health care products, diapers and baby products. I’ve heard of communities that have a blessing box in every neighborhood. This is where I donate the toiletries I don’t use, or samples that come in the mail that won’t be used by my household.

I have to be very careful how I spend my food and hygiene money. A couple of our local stores offer free coupons for items as loss leaders to get you into the store. I take advantage of those free items even if my family doesn’t use them and donate them to the blessing box. Everybody is different. Somebody else is sure to like what you don’t.

That’s called sharing. There are simple ways to share your stuff. You can share by having a garage sale, or by donating the items to charities, churches, clothing swaps, resource closets, or to individuals. Be creative. Sometimes you can find community information pages on social media with similar ideas and suggestions.

Looking for some direct action sharing? Offer to take your elderly friend grocery shopping, and be willing to be patient and kind with her when it takes her five hours to do all she wants to do. Don’t accept her offer of gas money, but if she offers you home made cookies next time you see her, graciously accept and say thank you.

The untidy house on the corner? Knock on their door with gardening gloves on and shears in one hand and a rake in the other and offer to pull weeds around the house for an hour every week. Make sure you don’t look scary like Freddy Krueger with implements of destruction. Ask if there are any plants they don’t want removed, and always take care of the clean up. Never leave a bigger mess than you find. Welcome them if they are inspired or able to come work beside you, even if they just come out for a chat. Don’t be offended if they turn you down, but try offering again at a later date.

Organize a community resource center matching people in need with people who can do the work. Little or no cash need be exchanged, but trash removal projects, or elder home painting parties, or yard clean-up days have all the warmth and flavor of the old fashioned barn raising because you are helping your neighbors and improving your neighborhood.

If you have a bit of fluid cash and would like to share, there are simple things you can do for the fun of sharing. Many people think they don’t need assistance or need to have treats in their life, but we all need pampering and others looking after us occasionally. Be kind and thoughtful in your sharing and caring, avoid forcing yourself on people, or getting into the “for your own good” sort of giving.

Have some extra money on hand when you go out to lunch or coffee? Buy a gift card and hand it to a friend who is struggling, or when you take your neighbor out, buy two gift cards, and hand one to the friend.

Keep extra gift cards in your wallet and hand restaurant or grocery store cards to homeless people warming up at the local lending library. If you are brave enough, hand them the card saying simply, “My treat”. If you are shy, make a sneak gift drop when they aren’t looking.

When you use a restaurant or coffee shop, pay double for what you had, and tell the cashier it’s for the next person they serve. If you see a family counting change to pay for their meal, pay their tab for them before they do.

A box of chocolates is a winner treat any time of year. They can be delivered by hand or ordered to be sent by mail.

Did you know for more than half of American households an unexpected expense of $400.00 can keep a family from being able to pay that month’s mortgage or utility bill? Yes, more than half of American households have an income of less than $30,000.00 a year even when employed. Most people living on a Social Security income have less than $15,000.00 a year. Long gone are the days of the 1940s – I’m remembering Mr Blandings Builds His Dream House – when a $15,000.00 a year income was not only considered upper middle class, it was enough income to build a nice new house.

If you wish to help somebody who has less than you but you don’t necessarily want them to know it is you helping, Covert Ops Assistance is a little trickier, but it can be done. Most utilities and banks are happy to take money from anybody toward anybody’s account. I asked. Both my commercial bank and my credit union said anybody can make a deposit into my account at any time for any reason in any amount. Taking it out of my account is a whole other story requiring ID, because even though you may have had the same financial institution for 15 years they have enough employee turn-over the staff might not know you from Adam. Utility companies don’t care who pays what for whom as long as they are paid. You can pay library fines for individuals. You don’t even need account numbers. You can also help random strangers, doesn’t have to be just friends or acquaintances.

If donating to an individual’s bank account or helping them pay utilities is not comfortable you can always hand them cash. You can simply tell the person the cash is a thank you for something they’ve done that you appreciated. Some of us are introverted enough even that is uncomfortable. What about a snail mail cash bomb? Wrap the cash inside another piece of paper so it is not identifiable from the outside, not in a greeting card and absolutely not a blank greeting card (how creepy!), and don’t use a return address. Imagine their surprise! Snail mail occasionally fails, however, so if you want an acknowledgment the cash was received you have to admit to sending it in some manner. It won’t hurt, I promise.

Of course you can always own up to the donation. There’s is nothing wrong with contributing to the well-being of another individual; we are all connected. You can be subtle, or encouraging, as well with remarks such as, “I’m glad the coat fits you so well” or “I had fun at coffee with you today, and I think you did too. Everybody deserves a treat now and then. Please use this card to enjoy another day with another person who would enjoy sharing with you” or “Thank you”. See? That’s not hard. Start where you are. Start at home. Simple.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Ivy, lichens, and moss, oh my. Fluted white lichens growing out of fat green moss cushions. Weather-grayed fence, green stalks, white lichens like tiny parasols. How I love rocks, a pile of whitish 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.} Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000, rated PG – 13), a warrior steals a prized sword from a renowned swordsman, and adventure ensues in its recovery. All the warriors in this movie have mad defense and fighting skills; some of them even fly. (I have mad defense skills in my dreams, and I fly like them too). I chose to listen to the original Mandarin and used the English subtitles. * Finished the original Roots (1977, rated PG – 14). Realized I have embarked on a study of African-American films, having requested several of them from the local lending library. I’ll just watch them on through February, Black History Month. You can never learn enough about other cultures and other people. The more you learn, the more similarities you see.

Currently Reading – Ahhhh. Wintertime and a winter classic. What better on cold days when you don’t have to work, than snuggling into the couch with a blankie, a cup of hot tea, and a classic novel? Doesn’t matter if the housecleaning goes undone, it will still be waiting for you when the book is done. I am in an old manor house in the countryside of France, south of Paris and Le Mans in the late 1950s and a case of meeting a doppelgänger leads to exchanged identities in Daphne du Maurier’s The Scapegoat (1957, fiction). What would you do if you were thrown into a strange residence and family and family business and town and church and they all acted as if they had known you forever? * Learning To Be Old: Gender, Culture, and Aging (2003, aging and psychology) by Margaret Cruickshank. Introduction indicates many factors affect aging: the model is the dominant culture, i.e., the white middle-class male, yet more women of diverse backgrounds are surviving and doing the aging than men. We are going to investigate why older women become invisible.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • The little birds singing after the rainstorm. I wonder if there is something scientific that makes them sound so happy, or is it me anthropomorphizing them.
  • Waking up in the morning.
  • Getting any sleep at all.
  • Balmy 40 degree weather.
  • Not fretting about completing my to-do list, as it is ever expanding.
  • My car is repaired! Even better, it didn’t cost me a bundle.
  • The people who helped give me rides while the car was down for so long.
  • My broken toe finally feeling better and getting back to my regular exercise routines.
  • Sliding through senior moments.
  • Figuring out how to heat a microwave package of frozen rice on the stove top when the circuit to the microwave died.
  • Leftover jasmine rice with cream and mandarin oranges.
  • Disregarding the carbon footprint and enjoying some boxes of California strawberries. The tongue likes what the tongue likes.
  • Having kept the old espresso machine when it died the last time, digging it out of the archives, and finding it has a few more servings left in it when the “new” machine disintegrated.
  • Researching a new espresso machine so I can add it into the budget.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: 2018: Year Of The Warrior

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

Quote of the Week – “A warrior takes responsibility for his acts, for the most trivial of acts. An average man acts out his thoughts and never takes responsibility for what he does.” Carlos Castaneda

Sunday Haiku
Fierce cold finally
kills hardy rosebuds despite
their desire to bloom.

Sunday Musings
We are at the last day of 2017. At times the year has seemed to drag, yet now it’s done it feels like it’s whipped by faster than a hurricane. It’s been an interesting and challenging year. Another interesting and challenging year. Of many interesting and challenging years. In looking forward to one more journey around the sun, I am appropriating a word for the upcoming year. A word to apply to myself because I know there will always be a battle lurking down the road somewhere.

Right now I am doing battle with a dead car and car repairs (and the frustrated hubster who was not born with the car-fixing gene, yet he thinks it’s all his responsibility to fix the car), an inexpensive espresso machine currently hissing death throes (no coffee ?!?), a clothes washer that is sounding much louder than it usually does, medicine waiting at the pharmacy that I can’t pick up, and monthly income less than my mortgage payment. And even though I can’t get there because of the broken car, the New Year’s tradition of Chinese food (the one time we eat restaurant food during the year) won’t be happening because the restaurant is in the process of moving to a new location. So much stuff I don’t get to control, the plight of the poor.

I don’t like the term victim, but if you do not get to be in control you are often victimized whether you admit it or not, whether you like the word or not. That is: you can be or are taken advantage of, oppressed, used, un- or under-valued, over-charged, and many times the object of violence to those ends. Nobody wants to admit they are a victim in this society that honors the myth of self-sufficiency. We want to appear strong, capable, independent, defendable, defensible.

I have been victimized by friends and strangers. People who called themselves friends have stolen clothing, cash, jewelry, and my trust. All of these people thought they had less than I did, considered themselves to be “have-nots”. Many of them did not realize had they asked for help I likely would have given freely of what I could spare. Many did not realize they had so much more than I. What is it about stuff anyway, that we like each others’ things and want to possess them whether we earned/paid for them or not? I like my stuff and I like other people’s stuff, but I live with plenty of mine, and have no need of the stuff other people live with that make them happy. It’s just material possessions. Taking other people’s stuff destroys trust, and trust is one of the most important things in society, indeed, more important than stuff. Don’t say “trust me”, however, because those words indicate your untrustworthiness; live your trustworthiness in your actions, don’t bother trying to gaslight me with your words and then turn around and behave poorly.

I have been victimized by the “haves” as well. People who had more than I did who felt they had the right to judge me as not working hard enough (loved those lectures while the employer was watching me wash their toilets), not managing my money well (what there is or isn’t of it), or felt justified in charging me more because I was poor (how does that even make sense?). People who have made up the rules to fit their concept of life and affluence, who cannot believe the true poverty stories we tell of mishap and mayhem, or who have no concept of what it is like to have less, or what it is like to constantly be asking for help, or treat you as if you have made all the “wrong choices” in your life though your available “choices” were completely different from theirs.

I am not any more fond of the appellation “survivor”. It indicates getting through, getting by, taking what comes and succumbing to circumstances, or letting situations affect your life. Yes, I’m still alive, carrying the scars, physical and mental, of what I have survived. The word survivor feels like something that just happened to you, not something you did for yourself.

It wasn’t like I survived by a fluke (though maybe I don’t recognize the fluke). I have had to fight for every “advantage” and opportunity, for every tiny success. I’ve had to argue for and debate my value with people who thought they were superior because of their affluence or education or position, which sometimes was provided through my labor.

I’m not fond of the word fighter as it implies violence. I don’t consider myself a violent person, and physically have employed it rarely to protect myself, though I have done. Whatever the reason, it does not feel good to hit somebody; it hardly feels good to think ugly thoughts about abusers, deserved or not, though the thoughts are harder to tamp down than the fist. One of the challenges of poverty is after years of living on the edge, your brain and body chemistry can change because you are always hyper-vigilant, never able to relax, making one more susceptible to physical and mental health issues. The poor die younger, with or without access to health care.

I want to be around a few more years despite my lack of wealth. To do so I must be alert, assertive, inquisitive, fierce. I have to be a warrior. I stand up for myself because no one does it for me. I stand up for others because they are important too; they might not know how, or have the strength or the words to stand for themselves.

I hereby declare 2018 as the year of Warrior. A warrior can be anybody; there is no gender, no age, no belief system, no appearance or ability that stops you from being a warrior. I need to gather my courage and build my strength. I need to hone my intelligence into wisdom. I need to remain steadfast in my conviction that good will prevail over evil. I am a warrior against oppression and poverty, against unwarranted attitudes, against judgments because of difference. I am a warrior, as I always have been, for my family, for my home, for our safety, and for the same for others. I am a warrior for and will defend the few possessions I have, the property I’m paying for and will continue to lease tax-wise for the rest of my life in this society. I am a warrior for knowledge, and education, and philanthropy, and the arts. I am a warrior for a more perfect union and egalitarianism. It’s mine, it’s part of me. I am fierce. I am tenacious. I am a Warrior. We are all warriors together.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Naked brown branches look fierce against the cold gray winter sky. Creamy white cattail fluff floats in the wind. Green hyacinth crowns promise spring to come soon. Blackberry vines are sometimes evergreen.

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 Bigger Splash (2015, rated R), with Tilda Swinton, whose acting I like. This film is about a rock star recovering from throat surgery in the Mediterranean with her significant other when an ex shows up with a new-found teenage daughter. Chaos ensues with a surprise ending. I know it sounds rather bizarre for an old fat poor woman to be critical of clothes, but Swinton had the ugliest, most shapeless dresses ever. I can only think the clothing was intentional and pertinent to the writer/art director/director/producers, but bleh. (Laughing at myself!) * Season 3 of Gotham (2016, rated TV – MA), nothing like a little fantasy with your Batman story. * Roots (1977, rated TV – 14), the original. I remember how hard it was to sit down all the nights in a row for this ground-breaking miniseries, in the days before VHS and DVD. Compared to the 2016 A & E remake I recently watched, this version had much less graphic violence while still telling the story. I have no problem at all imagining how violent the times really were. I know how cruel people are when they think they are right or think they have the right. If you want the story without being overwhelmed by the blood men seem to think is the way to control other people and producers now think is what sells a story, watch this version. Or read the book by Alex Haley.

Currently ReadingMy Absolute Darling (2017, fiction) by Gabriel Tallent. I am glad to be done with this novel, in fact, I could not finish the ending fast enough. Spoiler alert: though the 14 year old protagonist kills her abuser father, it’s not satisfying in any way. It’s ugly getting there. The set-up of the story was ugly. The resolution wasn’t pretty either. Life is tough, but not tough enough to have to read this book. If this is a love story, it’s ugly love. If you are living a life like the abuse in this novel, God have mercy on you. I should have had a clue: it was highly praised by Stephen King, but it came highly recommended by some literary friends. Read this novel only if you like horror disguised as love. I prefer my love stories not filled with violence, anger and control issues, and twisted emotions. I am no psychologist, and I will forever blame the professor who taught me the course on psycho-biography, but it seems to me if a writer is raised by two mothers and writes a story about an abused girl child who kills her father, there might be some issues there for the author (I have little room to judge as I’m working through my own issues), even if the subject matter is widely pertinent to the quirks of this weird society we call America. I don’t mind a good horror story, but I don’t like being hit upside the head with it, and my nose smashed in it like a dog who has soiled where he is not supposed to. * Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth and Power (2017, sociology) by Noam Chomsky. Still looking for a way out of the political debacle we are in, waiting to see if Chomsky offers ideas for resolutions at the end of the book. Aaaand no resolutions suggested, just a brief how we got here and an overview of what is happening. The search continues.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • No complaints from my guys about the extremely small Christmas we had.
  • The difference ten degrees can make.
  • Young people helping with car repairs even though they couldn’t solve the problem. They tried what they knew. I don’t go out much, but I miss the independence of being able to go when I want.
  • Getting a few Christmas cards in the mail. Still exciting to get personal mail and not bills or advertisements.
  • Spending some time with the littles in my family, and expecting 2 more in 2018!
  • Enjoying the adults my nieces and nephews have become.
  • The book fairy who gifted me a hardbound copy of all the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tales I did not already own. Because I love fairy tales. Perfect.
  • The book fairy who gifted me my own copy of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up(2015, home economics) by Marie Kondo, which I’ve already read twice, trying to get inspired to de-clutter. The thing I’ve learned so far from this book is I love lots of my stuff. And I know the stuff will go when I’m ready to let it go.
  • A lovely gift box from another fairy friend, bringing the outdoors in with some infused cedar oil, a woodsy tree-based potpourri, fragrant pine cones, and a few other woodly items to scent my home.
  • My pipes didn’t freeze during a recent cold spell.
  • The crisp cold winter sun teasing us with light and no heat.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: DeLight and Wonder

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

Quote of the Week – “Life is a fairy tale. Live it with wonder and amazement.” Welwyn Wilton Katz

Sunday Haiku
Long nights, dark days, sun
promises its return one
cold day at a time.

Sunday Musings
‘Tis the season for magic and wonder. For joy and amazement. For gratitude and connection.

It feels like magic during solstice and the darkest days of the year, if we open our eyes to the wonders around us; it can help keep our hearts open as well. Especially when dark days include tough times, those connections between family and friends can help raise us above our daily trials.

Nothing stops the solstice. The earth turns on its axis. The sun stands secure in its sentinel position. The return of the light is still promised. Year after year, we can step outside our door and breathe. We have lungs that work, fresh air to fill them, and muscles to stretch as we raise our arms in supplication to the sky.

Grass grows from the soil, the dirt below our feet. Earthworms go about the aeration business regardless. Slugs munch along biding their time hiding until the really yummy fruits and and flowers and veggies are ripe in summer. Fungus, and lichens, and moss show themselves in unique shapes and colors, tiny jeweled delights.

Trees spread their beauty, budding, and leafing, and shading, and metamorphosing color, and mulching themselves when their leaves have lived their short seasonal life. Trees shade us from the heat of summer; lovely flowers tickle the nose and amuse the eyes; sweet fruits tease our taste buds and fill our hungry bellies. Their naked brown branches reaching toward the sky promise a return in summer and show off empty birds’ nests waiting for the next inhabitants.

Evergreen branches shield us from snow and relieve our eyes with something green against the gray and white of winter. If we ask the cedars and the pines and the firs to share and bring them into our homes they reward us with refreshing fragrances and cleaner air.

Hardy ivy vines grow wherever they can. Ever the opportunists, they will grip hold of any support: tree trunks, fences, utility poles. They grow despite the worst conditions, whether dry or wet, they adapt by clinging to their hosts. The green and red heart shape of their leaves seem to redeem them from the advantage they take of their support systems.

Holly surprises with red berries amongst the shiny pointy leaves. Ancient holly bushes have woody branches heavy enough to use for magic wands or art projects. If you ask the plant to share and cut some sprigs to bring indoors, you are gifted with fresh woodsy fragrances in your home.

Plants share their summer’s labor with us, giving up their fat sweet juicy fruit, leafy greens, and a yummy myriad of vegetables to please any palate. Some animals share their bodies that we humans might have quality proteins to take into our bodies. Beloved pets who give of themselves freely, sharing a purr or a furry snuggle in commiseration or support to soothe us in our distress.

None of which can happen without water. Precious water.

Water. The treasure that provides us life. Water makes our bodies. It rains down upon us, a gift from the sky, hydrating our skin, washing us clean. It flows in rivers and creeks beside us soothing our tired bodies with quiet ripples. It ebbs and flows in oceans beside our continents and around our islands. Many of us are fortunate to have clean pure water in our lives every day. For some of us water may have saved our very lives.

Water is mysterious, the definition of a shape shifter, it vaporizes, or freezes, or liquefies. It can be beauty in ice, or uniquely individual like snowflakes. When joined with light water gives us rainbows, reminders of the beauty all around us.

Each drop of water is the same as each other but as different as individual people. No two the same. Even identical twins have minute differences. Every cell different but similar whether related by blood or not. Even some people who are different day to day, like people who sometimes write upbeat posts and sometimes not so much. There is beauty in each one of us and for each one the struggle is different, but similar in that the struggle is real. Just because one person doesn’t experience it doesn’t make the struggle any less real for the person struggling. Some of us suffer more than others.

The other wonders of people: the ability to connect, to care, to share, to love, to empathize. How we are able to communicate at all. The ability to listen and hear the concerns of others. The ability to say I might not understand but I will stand beside you. The ability to tune into the quiet space inside, the internal source of strength. The ability to say I don’t know you but I see you and I love you because you are you and for no other reason.

Every day this earth continues its journey around the sun. The moon glows at night reflecting day’s sun light in orbs and crescent smiles. Between the two, gravity keeps us grounded, where grass grows under our feet, and the water of life falls freely from our heavens.

We get to have cranky days now and then, maybe even cranky weeks sometimes. With eyes open, and heart open we see and feel the truth of the wonders of the real world are all around us. Then the challenge becomes how to restrain yourself from kissing and hugging the world and everybody, because, you know, personal space. But today? Today, I love you all. Happy holidays to you and yours!

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Winter red berries seem to promise the return of the light. A wreath from Christmas past. Some holly bushes have smooth leaves to carry the scarlet berries. Green and red ivy entwine our heart with heart shaped leaves.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} The American Side (2016, not rated), a mystery involving Tesla designs (I love all things Tesla), hard to follow as all the women look alike. * Binged through season 3 of Broadchurch (2017, rated TV – MA), another mystery in the town of Broadchurch, this one with a rape and many possible suspects, particularly pertinent with the current wave of sexual harassment allegations, and interwoven with bits from the last two seasons. Easy to binge on because David Tennant is so intense. Impressive panoramic photography of the sea and surrounding areas, and cute quaint villages are a bonus for the eyes. * Death on The Nile (1978, rated PG), the original from the novel by Agatha Christie. Classic actors: Peter Ustinov as Hercules Poirot, Bette Davis, David Niven, Angela Lansbury, Mia Farrow, Maggie Smith. Delightfully over-acted in the old Hollywood style and the dry tongue-in-cheek humor of Christie’s writing that is so subtle. Plus we get Egypt and some wonderful photography. * Die Hard (1988, rated R), with Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman. I love Alan Rickman, and he plays such a great bad guy. This is the first time I’ve watched this older movie all the way through. Took me two nights because though it’s a thriller/action movie, I fell asleep, and I must have fallen asleep in the calm before the storm as the second night was so much more exciting. The movie is billed as a Christmas movie, but just because it takes place at Christmas and they play a few Christmas songs, and (spoiler alert) the good guys prevail, doesn’t make it a Christmas movie. Though when the two cops hugged at the end, I was bawling. Maybe I’m wrong about it being a Christmas movie. I’ve been wrong before.

Currently ReadingMy Absolute Darling (2017, fiction) by Gabriel Tallent. I have mixed feelings about this novel. On the one hand if I never read about guns; knives; chain saws; axes; destructive arson fires; grotesque poverty; sexual, physical, and emotional abuse it could make me very happy. On the other hand words of beauty put together with words of beauty are still beautiful and they still create beautiful sentences and imaged pictures. I am half way through, and am having second thoughts about finishing, wishing I had the resolve of Nancy Pearl to put a book down after 40 pages if not entirely enthralled. I keep thinking the author must have some major issues if this is the story he carried inside him, but I am ever hopeful for redeeming qualities in the novel beyond beautiful sentences. * Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth and Power (2017, sociology) by Noam Chomsky. So much vital information out there average Americans don’t read, and education is being controlled by the wealth class so we don’t learn it in schools. We must seek it out and educate ourselves. The truth is out there and the truth will out or Rome might fall for the second time.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Writing.
  • Auto-didactism.
  • Electricity.
  • The ease of computers, spell and grammar checkers, cut and paste.
  • My precious counselor who goes out of her way to be my support system.
  • Another dear friend who is going out of her way to help me get to the pool during this time of no car.
  • My niece and her family who went out of their way to come get me for the family holiday gathering.
  • The publisher I work with who came for a visit and brought stocking stuffers for our stockings.
  • My sister who found an antique snow globe tree ornament, so beautiful, and in great condition, and I had not found one for the son’s 24 year traditional collection of snow globes.
  • My brother-in-law’s homemade soup.
  • My other niece who made rolls from Mom’s famous recipe, the one that says two tablespoons, but she meant the big spoons in the silverware drawer, not measuring spoons, so getting the proportions are not quite the same unless you have Mom’s spoons. Niece arrives early in the day so the rolls are done by the time everyone else arrives. And they go so well with homemade soup.
  • Leftover homemade desserts and munchies piled into bags and boxes so everybody has some to take home.
  • Surprising the neighbor lady at my brother’s house with a plate of rolls, and all of us, ages 2 to 64, singing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” at the top of our voices because we know she is nearly completely deaf. Sweet old dear didn’t recognize us, though when Mom was alive it was tradition to take this neighbor a plate of rolls with a little tub of homemade jam. She may not have known us but we got a kick out of ourselves for intruding on her quiet lonely day and sharing some Christmas cheer.
  • The youngest of us at our gathering, the 2 year old, who fell asleep on his grandpa’s lap. Eye treat of love.
  • Being able to spend time with family I rarely get to see, though the time is so brief it feels like we don’t hardly catch up.
  • Little grand-nieces, aged almost 6 and almost 10, cousins and fast friends forever, giving spontaneous performances with riddles and jokes to the joy of all us adults.
  • That Christmas can happen in unusual ways, but somehow we always make it happen, and letting go and going with the flow sometimes works out just fine.
  • Hearts swollen with love and life and light.
  • 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, Photography, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gratitude Sunday: Keeping Spirits Bright

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

Quote of the Week – “…making spirits bright, what fun it is…” James S. Pierpont 1857

Sunday Haiku
Green moss insulates
gray branch against cold weather,
ivy ribboned trunks.

Sunday Musings
I am so grateful I have no littles in my home for Christmas this year. I love littles, and I only got to have the one son, who’s grown now. Before he arrived in my life I could ignore Christmas and pretend it wasn’t happening. Which if you ignore it, you can make it not happen. Easy peasey. With littles it’s worth it to make more of an effort. I feel like this is the feeblest Christmas I’ve had in a couple decades, but when times are tough we keep our spirits up with what we have.

I remember the son’s first Christmas. We didn’t have a tree, couldn’t afford to buy one, and I figured at three months old he wouldn’t remember much anyway. We had an assortment of tree ornaments gifted from my mother-in-law. They were of various sizes, some as large as two fists put together, huge shiny bright globes in gold and silver, red and green. We hung them from the ceiling to make sure the dogs didn’t find them. My baby spent many hours looking at those shiny balls on the ceiling and began reaching with his little baby muscles and baby hands toward the sparklies.

Because of the son I was able to go back to college, and for most of his growing up years, I asked for assistance at Christmas. Many groups of people have provided gifts and meals for my home. I always made a point of saying the hubster and I didn’t need anything, thinking the groups who helped would be able to help more people if they didn’t provide a gift for us as well. Yet they always made sure there was something of beauty or facility in the packages for us as well.

One year when we lived in Tillamook the group (the Elks, maybe? Memory fades. Son was two or three.) brought us a large box of used toys as well as some new. New didn’t matter. Once everything was washed it was new to us, and he enjoyed every minute of digging through the box. The box was large enough for him to climb into and hide, and we spent days playing “where’s the baby” after the toys were assimilated into the household. He was in a child’s world of abundance. I recently tried to get him to give away a small stuffed bear from that used toy gift box, but he told me where it came from and why I couldn’t. The “saver” gene is generationally strong in him.

Keeping the spirit is oxymoronic this year. My needs are few, yet my needs are massive. My yearly date book I purchased earlier in the season when there was a nice discount, the only item I justify for myself to keep track of birthdays, anniversaries, death dates, and appointments. The new bed, new car, new roof and gutters and house paint, some tree clean-up and removal in the yard, financial security going into retirement, a change from this crazy despotic federal administration to a compassionate empathetic government for the people, and peace on earth are the needs that won’t be happening this Christmas.

With the son grown and the hubster not feeling good and the lack of cash flow, the tree will not go up this year. The strawberry tablecloth still on the table from summer will have to suffice; strawberries are red and their leaves are green, close enough. The Charlie Brown string of colored lights in the window, which is up all year, is my single note of cheer. The car is broken so I cannot shop. Good thing my guys are “adult”, as they will have to make do with dorky handmade promise cards for when I can finally go get the small things I want to gift them.

No paperwhites or amaryllis grace my table. No tiny fake tree sits on my desktop to cheer us. Not one single box of decorations will be dragged from the shed into the house only to be dragged out again. I shall be creative with what I can find in the house and make a festive ribbon string to hang bits of colored paper coupons from.

And the stockings. The stockings live in a drawer in the living room, always accessible, our names in glitter on the cuff. Stockings are packed full of little treasures, candies and other treats, toothbrushes and toothpaste, little finger playthings, odds and ends needed and used everyday, these days like screen wipes and tiny cans of air to clean computers. The stockings are almost more fun than gifts because they seem like never ending TARDISes and every time you put your hand in you come up with more. I don’t know how to fill stockings this year, maybe more paper coupons. If the car gets fixed, maybe we can celebrate on another day, but I’m not counting on that.

A few years back I read the Little House on the Prairie series which I hadn’t read as a child. Now I think this series should be required reading beginning in first grade. I remember the Christmas scenes and how they had so little, and yet every member of the family made one precious gift for each other member of the family (and a few treasured friends) out of scraps of lace or cloth or yarn or wood. I’m not that crafty. But what I loved about the story was the feeling of love, of real caring, of thought for the other person and their needs and preferences when thinking about what gift was right to make for that person, their excitement about sharing a meal or a little time together. I can’t hardly watch TV during this season as the commercialism and consumerism of commercials pushing unneeded stuff dampens my spirit, what there is of it. We’ve come many miles away from the prairie.

I’m grateful my guys are adults and will go with the flow with little complaining. It’s not like they are going to jump up and make any kind of Christmas happen. Though there’s a thought I could go off on: having the wealthy cash flow abundance to have a fabulous home and a staff to do all the work while I direct the staging and scenery and the cleaning. Ahh, that was fun. The quick relief of a brief fantasy. Back to reality.

I’ll get to see the littles, my great-nephews and great-nieces, over Christmas weekend. I still have to get creative with some little wrapped something for them, I have a few days left. I have a reputation to uphold as the “book auntie”, so no pressure to provide major gifts. I’m hoping the books last longer in their lives, and maybe they will remember this weird old lady who had wildly verbose opinions who they only got to see once a year.

Every Christmas a few decorations fail to make it back into their boxes and out to the shed. I’m sure I’ve got a few shiny Christmas tree ornaments hanging around inside this house somewhere. When I find them I’m going to hang them from the ceiling and just lie back on the sofa and stare at the multiply fractured shiny reflections of my little home and remember the prairie in my heart.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Gray lichen and green moss – my yard’s version of the holly and the ivy. Microcosmic ecology system, galactic gray lichen trees and green moss hills. One last near-red leaf abed the gray gravel.

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.} Roots (2016, rated TV – MA), the A & E remake. The story of Kunta Kinte and his descendents, brutal, real story of the violence of the horrifying slave trade. America might never rise above this legacy. Not for the faint-hearted, but valuable truth, nonetheless. * The Trust (2016, rated R) with Nicholas Cage and Elijah Wood, a heist movie with the cops as the perpetrators. Movie was a little hard for me to follow the details of who’s doing what and why. Not worth watching again to figure it out.

Currently ReadingThe Castle Cross the Magnet Carter (2017, fiction) by Kia Corthron. This novel is epic. Masterfully profound. A story of the two brothers in a white family in Alabama and two brothers in a black family in Maryland and how their lives become intertwined without them knowing each other. This fiction is so many families’s truth. Such a magical interweaving of history, and families, and racism, classism, ableism, and genderism in America, this novel should be required reading in 6th grade as a way to introduce students to the continuing violent history of America. This is such a powerful read I’ve spent much of it crying, as I have always found it devastating that people can spend so much time hurting others, regardless of difference. To my mind there is no difference, or power-making circumstance, that requires hurting other people. Ms Corthron handles the graphic material in a straightforward brutally honest manner. She writes much of the story dialectically and does it in such a way I was hearing echoes of my own Oklahoman forebears. On my “to read again” list. * Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth and Power (2017, sociology) by Noam Chomsky. Chomsky states plainly and clearly why we are in the political mess we are in, at the hands of the wealthy.

Winter Classic
Time to choose the Winter Classic. I want a novel that takes me to a different time and place, a slower language, a world far away from mine, to read myself into a different place during the long dark winter nights. I like to start my Classic on Winter Solstice so I have one ordered for Thursday. Remember the rules? They go like this:
1. The title chosen must universally be considered a classic and is likely to be on a list somewhere, like a Pulitzer prize winner, or a Mann Booker winner, or Newberry, or, well, there are so many to chose from.
2. I prefer diverse authors.
3. I haven’t read it before.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • No snow yet. The older I get the happier I am when there is little snow.
  • A couple friends who took pity on me and gave me rides.
  • My son’s work who gave him a coupon for a holiday ham or turkey and the son gave it to me so we can have meat for a holiday meal.
  • Finding a few new unused Christmas cards in a box and having the time, inclination, and a few stamps on hand to send out some cheer this year.
  • The abundance of stuff in my home.
  • Helping my brother find a less expensive health insurance policy.
  • Finding the patience to deal with a Microsoft technician while he’s freaking me out working on my computer remotely, conveying my distress only with heavy sighs and not expletives.
  • Having my fully functional software back up to speed.
  • The antics of the backyard squirrels.
  • Venturing into the swimming pool after two weeks hiatus with broken toe. Missed the water terribly but afraid to cause more damage. Went pretty well with a reduced set of exercises that didn’t put any pressure on my toe.
  • The dime the lifeguard picked up off the floor at the pool and handed to me. I told him thank you and said it was good to be a dime richer. He and the supervisor laughed, delighted with “the joke”. Little do they know how I count my pennies.
  • Lights and electricity during the daytime at the flick of a switch.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This week I have been grateful for:

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

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: Adventures In Fantasy Land

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This week I have been grateful for:

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

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: Because We Blessed Are

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This week I have been grateful for:

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

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: Thankful For A Warm Heart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This week I have been grateful for:

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

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: Time, Space, And Light

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This week I have been grateful for:

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

    Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

    Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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    Gratitude Sunday: America’s Human Experiment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    This week I have been grateful for:

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

    Hoping you have a lovely week.

    Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

    Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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