Gratitude Sunday: Love Child

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week “The great thing about growing older is you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.” Madeleine L’Engle

Sunday Haiku
Earth warms, flowers bloom,
trees blossom, pollen drifts on
lazy air currents.

Sunday Musings
We celebrated the hubster’s Medicare birthday this weekend. He never thought he’d live past his 18th birthday, but no. He’s been subject to me for the last 43 years, and not allowed to die. Not yet.

For the last 17 years there’s been a bit of a pall on his birthday, as my father died the day after the hubster’s birthday in 2001, so I am always sad those days. I was with Dad when he passed. In our society we don’t spend much time with our dying elders. If you’ve never been with a person while they are dying, you will find it is quite the sacred moment to experience another person’s final breath.

Normally in my family, birthdays and other holidays are quiet, simple affairs. We don’t have the income or budget to go all out, or even dinner out. Despite my best efforts most of the birthdays for hubster and the son have been epic fails on my part. The meal fails, or the cake falls, or the gift does not satisfy; I don’t know why, it just is what it is. A favorite meal, and one small present, usually something needed like a fishing license that gives a year’s worth of fun, and a home-made cake with birthday wishes, has been our tradition. The hubster is fond of steak, so once a year, he gets a steak, even if I have to cash in bottles and cans. Let’s ignore that I make him chose and cook his own steak, because if I do it the meat won’t be edible. I still have not learned how to choose meat, and somehow I kill the expected eating experience when I cook meat. I can handle the cake just fine, and my butter cream frosting is to die for, not that I want anyone to die from eating my home-made cake or frosting.

This celebration was different than our usual as our family dynamics have changed. The hubster was an adopted child and 65 years ago adoption was done differently. Unwed mothers were shuffled off to neverland to have the baby in privacy, shame, and anonymity. His adoption was handled through personal acquaintances in two families and a private attorney, not through an agency. He was raised as an only child and after the hubster’s adoptive parents died we inherited all the paperwork, and while sworn to secrecy during their lifetimes, the paper trail gave us all the clues we needed to figure out who his bio-family was.

Interestingly, his parents lived in the same metro area as he did, though closer to my family’s home than the west Portland area hubster was raised in. Cross-over facts include his brothers being in the same scout troop as my brothers, his younger sisters graduating high school in the same classes as my younger brothers, my mom was their Avon lady. We’ve crossed tracks in myriad ways that will come out over the next years as we share our stories while getting to know these new-old family members. I hardly know what to call them, as their biological ties are as old as he is, but our current knowledge of each other is only a couple months old.

The hubster is luckier than some. His bio-father and mother went on to marry a couple years later and had 6 more children together. He is the oldest of 7. The best part? He was not a child of shame, or rape, or error. He is a child of love, his being is because of passion, not fear, as evidenced by the fact his parents married, had other children together, and grew old together.

While his bio-family knew about him, their auntie who made the arrangements with hubster’s adoptive parents was sworn to secrecy. They did not know what last name he was adopted under; they did not know what first name he’d been given by his adoptive parents. They did not know he was living in the same city, thinking he’d been adopted and raised in the remote rural town in which his mother had given birth to him. I’m grateful, after years of expected rejection, he is being welcomed as the long lost son, the older brother, another crotchety old uncle.

His new-old family arrived with pizza and beer, cake and candles, balloons and presents. There were no black balloons or black anything, and no “over the hill” jokes. They called it his “First Birthday”. They are right about that in so many ways: his first birthday with his forever bio-family, his first birthday as the oldest of 7 children, the first birthday he gets to celebrate with them.

In my experience, life is never easy. Life comes with twists and turns, sometimes harboring boogeymen around every corner. Life comes with dead ends, hairpin curves, and seemingly un-exitable round-abouts. Sometimes it brings people into your life who were there all along, you just didn’t know where they were, and they don’t know where you are. And when you find each other? Priceless. Like a first birthday.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – A bright yellow azalea. The mass of pink blooms outside my bedroom window. Variety of greens and magentas tucked between gray rocks. A bumble-de-bee critter in my pink rhododendron.

Current View {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} Molly’s Game (2017, rated R) about an Olympic competitor who suffers a devastating back injury during competition which throws her out of contention, then happens upon an opportunity with the ability to gain huge quantities of money, starting out simply enough as high-stakes poker games, then venturing into the realms of the illegal. As a woman, Molly is taken advantage of by men time and again, no matter how hard she tries to stay ahead of the game. I know like two things about poker, and even less about gambling, so it was a little hard to connect with the story, except for the being taken advantage of part. * Still bingeing through Blue Bloods (2010 – 2018, rated TV – 14). So many seasons and can be viewed in 45 minute segments. A story about a family with strong bonds, who can disagree without falling apart, though they have the advantages of affluence, education, and employment. Those elements would likely make any family stronger.

Currently ReadingI’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer (2018, true crime) by Michelle McNamara. Glued to the couch, trying to beat the library due date. Author takes quite an adventure following the trail of this murderer.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Lilacs.
  • Lilacs.
  • Lilacs.
  • Everywhere I went this week smelled like lilacs.
  • Opening my bedroom window to the smell of lilacs.
  • The rhododendron outside my bedroom has bloomed so when I open my curtain I see a mass of pink blossoms.
  • The distinctive fragrance and particular bright yellow of scotch broom blooming wild along the road.
  • Connecting the hubster to his bio-family and how they welcome him as part of their family.
  • A house full of family celebrating, the stories, the laughter, the smiles, the hugs.
  • Watching little hummingbirds dart around outside the aquatic center while I work-out.
  • The huge plate glass windows at the aquatic center so I can enjoy watching the birds while I work-out.
  • Still kicking while looking forward to my own Medicare birthday later this year.
  • Farmers market finds: tiny, sweet, first pick of the season carrots, spicy greens, asparagus.
  • 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: Accepting Blame

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.” John Steinbeck

Sunday Haiku
Heavy lilac spears
scent my yard; when cut, fragrance
my living spaces.

Sunday Musings
Do you own your mistakes? Do you admit when you are wrong? Do you apologize and try to make amends? Do you find yourself being blamed for stuff that isn’t your fault and then blaming yourself thinking maybe it was your fault?

I am really good at owning my mistakes. I make plenty of them. Failing is how we learn, if we bother to be attuned to the lesson. Some folks don’t learn, but that’s not me. Still, while I might not repeat the mistakes I’ve made before, I continue to make new errors. It’s like a Human Resources person at my last place of employment said to me when I congratulated him on moving his career forward with a new job. He called me a “diamond in the rough.” I was a little offended, but he’s entitled to his opinion. I see his point: I may be a bright and shining jewel on the inside, but outside I am not polished, conventional, or smooth. I am opinionated and plainspoken, or I am so politically correct you might not get my point, and while I may sometimes be tactful (to the point of missing the point), I can lack finesse. You may not like my grimaced smile, my resting bitch face, my wild fat body, my informed but radical opinions, or my mouthy attitude, but I am myself, and what you see is what you get.

There comes a point, however, when it isn’t about me owning my mistakes. As my therapist reminds me, sometimes it might not be about me at all; it might be about the weirdness of other people and has nothing whatsoever to do with me.

An example could be my being fat. It is my body, that thing that carries my brain through life. It eats and evacuates, and breathes and blinks, and cries and hugs other people for me. It is what it is. To borrow a phrase from Roxane Gay (one of my favorite contemporary authors) I have an unruly body. I have spent many years on the journey toward feeling better and better health. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink. Over the years I have lost 30 pounds and gained back 40 so many times my metabolism no longer functions optimally. I have learned I can control what I put into my mouth and how much exercise I take. I have also learned I cannot control what the cells and functions of my body do with all that nutrition and movement.

Stress is a big culprit in those functions of storing fat; when your body is constantly under attack mentally and emotionally the physical parts get confused and don’t know how to perform. Well, it does know how to perform in its own way, but the constant onslaught of adrenaline, even at low levels, and the countering equalizer of cortisol confuses normal metabolic processes. Additional physical stressors, such as silver-mercury amalgam fillings in your teeth, are just another assault the body must fight. There are many recommendations for “controlling” stress, but like controlling fat, I think these methods of “control” are only minimally successful for some, even most, people.

Doctors don’t want to admit to the dangers of some of the procedures they use. They won’t admit, for example, the ill effects of silver-mercury amalgams are the effects of the neuro-toxicity of heavy metal poisoning. Sounds scary doesn’t it? Because it sounds so scary, doctors and dentists will label you as “allergic” to mercury. Nobody is allergic to heavy metals, but foreign elements introduced into the body often create reactions. The body does not manufacture heavy metals, nor is is an essential nutrient.

I recently had an MRI with contrast dye injection. The contrast dye element was a surprise, not mentioned by the doctor who ordered the test and introduced at the last minute by the radiologists who were forceful about what procedure they wanted to do. Informed consent was vague, murky at best; I wasn’t even informed what I was consenting to and done at the last minute like that I had no time to do my own research. I informed the test givers I have bad and weird reactions to pharmaceuticals and drugs in my body. They wanted to do what they wanted. Contrast dyes are made of heavy metals; heavy metals are neuro-toxins, i.e., poison for brain cells. Heavy metals placed in the body for whatever reason is effectively poisoning via physician.

When one has a poor medical reaction, one is often dismissed with pat phrases such as “That’s not supposed to happen” or “I’ve never heard of that reaction before” or “A reaction is really rare”. Nonetheless, I am sitting here, in front of you, reporting my personal experience, and you, the professional, are discounting what you are being told or even what you see before your very eyes. That takes my experience, what I own, and turns it into yours, and you should own it.

The 8 hour migraine I endured after the dye injection and the more or less constant headache I have had since that MRI is discounted. My doctor had never had a patient report ill effects from a contrast dye injection and called it a rare reaction. I requested she do her homework, and explained I thought the reaction is more common than thought because doctors don’t want to admit they might be complicit in causing patients ill health and often the after effects come at a later time and are not automatically connected to whatever procedure caused them. It happens: doctors are not perfect, nor is medicine a perfect science.

**Here’s your new word for the day: iatrogenic, which means physician induced. I did not do this to myself.**

Even worse, she tried to blame my body’s reaction to a heavy metal neuro-toxin on my fat. I can’t tell you how many owies and illnesses have been blamed on my fat, as if it were something I could control. Doctors have said my migraines, ingrown toenails, skin tags, sinus infections, kidney stones, vertigo, and clumsiness and uncoordination were all caused by my fat. How is it slender people get migraines and ingrown toenails and vertigo if fat causes them?

I own my body. It is fat. I own my brain. It has moments of intelligence. I also get to own my reactions to medicine and medical procedures, because it is what happens to my body and brain. Doctors aren’t all-knowing god-like; medicine is not an undisputed science, it is ever expanding following new discoveries, which means doctors have to continually educate themselves. They make their best educated guess depending on the physical evidence reported to them. They aren’t always right, though they are taught to think they are. The medical community should own its responsibility in the health of its patients, not necessarily to the point of litigation but at least to the point of fully informed consent and support for the patient, and not to the point of blaming the patient, especially the fat patient, for their reactions to the guesses of the medical community, just as I own my own mistakes.

Color Watch
– colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – The brilliant orange of Oriental poppies. Pink dogwood sprayed out against a blue sky. Fat purple spears on a lilac bush. Bunches of purple blossoms make scented lilac spears.

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.} Jules et Jim (1962, not rated), a black and white art movie directed by François Truffaut, this French language movie is about a love triangle. Thank goodness for English subtitles as my French isn’t that good. And boy, how colors pop on the TV after two hours of black and white. * All The Money In the World (2017, rated R) about the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III, which was a big deal in my history. Paul was only a few years younger than me, and this happened not long after I graduated from high school. It was one of the first times I realized money meant nothing if you couldn’t take care of other people when his grandfather delayed paying ransom, and though young Paul was rescued, he came back irrevocably damaged. And reality check for me, though I know the teaching of history is lacking these days and has been for many years, when the son asked what movie I was watching, and I explained about the main players, he was clueless, had never even heard the name J Paul Getty, a name that used to be a household word for “wealthy”. I’m at the lowest end of the income spectrum, but I absolutely know the responsibility of vast amounts of money brings its own challenges.

Currently Reading13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl (2016, fiction short stories) by Mona Awad. This was a fast read and I loved how the stories read together like a novel, but was definitely a series of vignettes. Ms Awad totally pegs the fat woman’s experience with clothing. I enjoyed this author’s writing style and would recommend for summer reading. * I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer (2018, true crime) by Michelle McNamara. I have loved true crime writers since I was a teenager. They are often the reason a crime gets solved. Ms McNamara spent most of the end of her life working on this book, and I feel fortunate to get it from my local lending library at a time when the authorities think they have found this criminal. I hope I can get it read before it is due back as there is a long queue for it, and I expect the line to get even longer now. True crime often renders me glued to the couch trying to solve the mystery.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • The tenacity of true crime writers.
  • Patiently enduring iatrogenic headaches.
  • Being able to lie down as needed, instead of having to work through or with a headache.
  • Watching a neighbor cut down a tree in our adjoining back yards in a manner I thought for sure would have a bad result, (hubster and me watching Gladys Kravitz style through the back bedroom window, with phone in hand to call 911 if needed, and for a brief second the tree was falling straight toward my house then fell inches short of the fence dividing our properties) that turned out OK in the end. No damage to neighbor, fence, my house, or his house, and no 911 call.
  • Listening to the crow scream at the neighbor for cutting down his tree.
  • Wild swaths of bright California poppies with their particular shade of orange blooming next to the roads and highways.
  • The lilacs are here!
  • The hubster bringing me the first vase full of cut lilacs of the season to scent my work desk.
  • How a handful of lilacs can scent the whole house.
  • Next week marks the beginning of farmers market season in my little burg. Looking forward to a bag of fresh greens.
  • 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, Medicine, Nature, Nutrition, Photography, Poetry, Science | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gratitude Sunday: Down The Garden Path

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”
Margaret Atwood in Bluebeard’s Egg

Sunday Haiku
What lovely surprise!
Hope eternal as flowers
spring sprouting from dirt.

Sunday Musings
How I miss having a garden! I used to be able to do it all, you know. I worked at a job outside my home. I kept my home clean (ish), cooked meals, did laundry, and tended gardens that became progressively smaller until I had only a few pots of vegetables on my porch. I loved walking barefoot on the earth surrounded by vegetables I could nibble as I pulled weeds.

In the style of my mother’s mother, I freely mixed marigolds and nasturtiums between the rows and plots. Chives and basil and borage gave their lives to season my food. Occasional success with strawberry plants optimistically led to more plants in the hopes of a yearly satiation which never quite happened.

I dug up yards in rental properties without the owner’s permission. I hauled pots of dirt from house to house looking forward to next year’s growth plans. My fingers were stained as brown as the bottoms of my feet, as no matter what grade of glove I bought they always tore through at the tips. I miss the smell of dirt.

My garden was always a fight. The hubster thought I should do it his way, but he never got out there and did anything except mow everything down with his lawn mower. He’d freak out if there were weeds, but he wouldn’t weed. He didn’t eat many of the veggies no matter how I prepared them, which was OK, more for me, but he used that to justify not helping. He is so not helpful, one hot summer he killed my rhubarb plant because he refused to water it while I was at work though he was home (yes, he can be bratty). You have to be really negligent to kill rhubarb, one of the hardiest plants the pioneers brought with them from back east over the Oregon Trail.

When the son arrived, I had even less time on my hands to tend a garden. Even though the son was allowed to play outside in the dirt, he resisted eating any vegetable that didn’t come from the store. He didn’t like to wipe off or rinse off the dirt, and he was creeped out by the thought of insects, slugs, and other critters crawling on his veggies, as if the store veggies didn’t have their own versions of these interlopers, sometimes on a more massive scale than in my little gardens.

Neither of my guys is particularly fond of veggies or fruit. I am a lonely eater. I would choose a salad or plate of greens any day. A baked potato piled with chives and chopped ripe red tomato or a piece of toast with thick slices of today’s hand-picked tomato and a sprinkle of sea salt is my idea of food heaven. Sliced bell peppers in shades of red and orange and yellow, crooked little carrots, chunks of broccoli with a tasty vinaigrette or ranch dressing and I am one full and happy fat girl.

My mother gardened at every place she lived as well. I have a picture of her, shovel in hand, digging up the yard of a duplex we lived in while I was in my toddler walker watching her. She gardened until the day she died. She had strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, rhubarb, garlic, onions, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, beets, bell peppers, and whatever else interested her for the year. She faithfully staked out the strawberry runners for next year’s plants. As she aged and her emphysema progressed she got so she could only do a few minutes at a time, but she would go outside several times a day, depending on her strength level that day.

My father was also an enthusiastic gardener. Mom and Dad shared the work in our little victory garden which took up about a third of the lot they owned. Dad prepared and amended the soil, hauling manure to dig in every fall, roto-tilling every spring. He planted and weeded. Mom weeded and harvested and cooked and preserved what we didn’t immediately eat. Dad only allowed one child at a time to “help” when he was working in the garden; he didn’t have the patience to supervise more than one of us at a time and I can’t blame him, we were a bunch of wild ones. After Mom and Dad divorced, Dad dug up a bit of yard in the apartment complex he lived in so he could grow the jalapenos he loved.

April is the month I most strongly miss my garden. Dad was an old school gardener and he said when the lilacs bloom it’s time to plant. The lilacs are getting ready to bloom, so you know my mind is there. I have a lovely garden in my mind. It unfortunately requires the purchase of lumber, structures like trellises, a gate, some good quality dirt, and fencing to keep the neighborhood critters out. I have all kinds: possums, raccoons, squirrels, and feral cats, not to mention dogs who are allowed to roam freely without a person or leash. My garden structure would be at least mid-thigh high, be accessible from all sides, and have some nice wide, gravel-free, hard dirt paths around it. Because of the expense it is merely an amorphous dream; I have not bothered to sketch it or stake out the ground. I have not bothered to share this dream with the hubster because I want it done my way. If I tell him he will either have reasons it shouldn’t be done or want to do it his way. The disagreement is hardly worth it.

I need a raised garden so the hubster would not attack it with his lawn mower and it would be easier for me to keep the weeds plucked. I’d have to be careful choosing the size of plants so when mature they are not too tall for me to harvest. I’d eat what I could and share the rest. I have this fantasy of how I might even conquer a little pain because I take care of my own garden and eat what I grow, and ground myself by walking barefoot on the earth, and gain healthful movement while tending my own food. This may be as fanciful as the dream garden but it entertains me nonetheless.

Our society may soon need to go back to the Victory Gardens promoted in the 1940s with the way our political climate is. Who knows what is going to be destroyed by the person in the White House who knows absolutely nothing about what he is doing and is equally unwilling to take any time to learn? As luck would have it, most of us can stick a shovel in the ground, put a plant in the hole the shovel made, give it a little water, and have it result in something edible.

While my garden resides in my dreams, I have the second best thing for six months of the year. My little burg has a weekly farmers market close by my house with local gardeners and farmers who welcome us to come see their gardens and farms any time. The beautiful home grown food they bring to market are like visiting Mom and getting to pick through her garden for all my faves, without the work of tending to the planting, and weeding, and watering, and harvesting which are more difficult for me to do these days.

And so while I dream, how does your garden grow?

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Many yards full of dime-sized white daisies. A weather-grayed bamboo pole, pink and white fluffy tulip, and soft fuzzy sage green lamb’s ears. A creamy white pieris Japonica (thank you, Michelle!). Another yard full of yellow and purple shooting stars. Glad to have gotten this picture when I did last year of the deep pink crab apple blossom, as the tree has since been terminated.

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 Women (2008, rated PG – 13) with Meg Ryan and Annette Benning, a start studded movie about a troubled marriage and the group of women who support the betrayed wife. This movie was a remake of the 1939 version, also star filled with Joan Crawford and Rosalind Russell which was adapted from a play written by Clare Boothe Luce. I realize many readers no longer recognize these older classic actors and authors. Now is as good a time as any to learn about them. The funny thing is I had this movie mixed up in my mind with a 1930s novel I read many years ago called The Group by Mary McCarthy about eight friends who graduate from Vassar College in 1933 and how their lives turn out. Interesting where the brain goes but this movie is not related to this novel. * Thor: Ragnarok (2018, rated PG – 13), another in the Marvel Comics series. These movies are so over the top in plot, stunts, special effects, and acting, it’s part of what makes them amusing. The repartee is tongue-in-cheek sarcasm and such silly fun, I find myself laughing out loud at super-heroes and super-villains. * I, Tonya (2017, rated R) about the infamous ice skater Tonya Harding. This “fictionalized” (which means it takes some theatrical license where the producers want to) biopic, filmed in a time jumping semi-documentary style, tries to stay true to her story as recorded by newspapers and film at the time. Forgive my soapbox here, but her story resonates with me, and the movie reinforced what I have thought for many years. Most people, including my hubster, jump to conclusions about her and denigrate her out of hand. What is it we say in the MeToo movement? Believe what the woman tells you. Here are my reasons for empathy and sympathy for Miss Tonya. Of course, even though I have read and seen much about her and her life, I don’t know all the parts of the story; I did not get to live her life nor am I a personal friend, but in my life I have not been believed or my words have been twisted to fit what the listener wanted to think when I told my story, so I know some of the ways she might feel. 1. She is a home-girl, born and raised in my home-town, and she went to my high school, even though she was years younger and not a classmate. 2. In the area we grew up there were clear delineations of the haves and have-nots who struggled with just living. Tonya was a have-not at the time. 3. She said she was beaten and abused by her first husband. I believe her. 4. She had an amazing skill/talent and was taken advantage of by several people in her life. 5. Her success with her skill she earned on her own with the help of coaches who might not have had her interests 100 percent at heart. 6. Whether she knew about or was involved in the “incident” involving Nancy Kerrigan in advance or not, moronic men in her life, likely jealous of her success, proceeded with an idiotic plan and seems like they would have done so with or without any objections on her part. Those men did not pay for their choice with their careers, but their stupid plan killed hers. Had those men not proceeded for their own selfish purposes she likely would have become an Olympic champion. 7. Not only did the stupid plan of men kill her career, and even though the men were convicted and served a minimum amount of time for the crime, she was the one who was blamed and she has been the brunt of jokes and blame every since, grossly out of proportion to her involvement or non-involvement. The men who perpetrated the mayhem did not suffer in the same way and if their names are mentioned, people say “Who?” So thanks for listening. It just seems like one more case of jealous men making a mess of everything by thinking they can control stuff beyond their control because they wanted to be important in her life. Then there is always this fact: She is the first American woman to land a triple axle in competition. Nobody can ever take that away from her.

Currently ReadingThe Lonely Hearts Hotel (2017, fiction) by Heather O’Neill. The title refers to the place the 25 year old male protagonist dies a junkie’s death. I felt the author did not achieve the tone or flavor of the time period she was writing about. Yes, I read the whole thing. Meh. * 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl (2016, fiction short stories) by Mona Awad, a series of connected stories about being a fat girl and losing weight, but never losing the feeling of being a fat girl. * Wanderlust: A History of Walking (2000, history) by Rebecca Solnit. We are walking down the garden path, through the countryside, beyond the open gate.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Lawn mowers chirping all over the neighborhood.
  • The old oak tree that fell in my neighborhood wasn’t close enough to damage any of my stuff.
  • Weather warming just enough to go without a jacket.
  • Turning off the room heaters, even for a day.
  • My abundance of worthless stuff valued only by me.
  • Still having my home and the privacy of my own bathroom.
  • Being able to lie down when the daily headaches I’ve had since my last MRI plague me.
  • The fat robin who watched me from the fence while I was in the pool as I was watching him.
  • My local lending library, that can order me just about everything I want, old and new, for viewing and reading pleasure.
  • My own personal library where I have many treasures.
  • Barbara Bush, who promoted reading and literacy.
  • The lilacs are coming!
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

Posted in abundance, Aging, Entertainment, Exercise, Food, Gardening, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, History, Nature, Nutrition, Parenting, Photography, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gratitude Sunday: Money Is The Great Equalizer

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “A penny saved is a penny earned.” Benjamin Franklin

Sunday Haiku
Yellow blossom pops,
pink flower blooms, purple blings,
spring sings pure color.

Sunday Musings
After my rant last week and other posts in the past you may think I spend much of my time thinking and complaining about money. That’s the way of poverty in America, isn’t it? If you’ve always had enough money, you have no concept of what it is like to live without it so you might not understand why people who don’t have it are always concerned about it. If you’ve never had enough, you are constantly imagining what it might be like to have enough.

I remember when I was making about 10 dollars an hour. I was mostly self-employed. My rent on a three bedroom house averaged 300 dollars a month. Gasoline was less than a dollar a gallon, and a ride on the bus was less than a dollar as well. You could get 4 cans of chili for a dollar, four 4-packs (16 rolls) of bathroom tissue for a dollar, 4 loaves of bread for a dollar, a gallon of milk for under a dollar, and a whole chicken could sometimes be had for 10 cents a pound on a good sale.

That was about 40 years ago, and while wages haven’t gone up everything else has. Now in the area I live a 3 bedroom home rents for about two thousand dollars a month. One can of chili is $1.79, and one raw whole chicken is more than 10 dollars, in which case, it is less costly to buy a rotisserie Costco chicken at 5 dollars and save the time and expense of cooking; gas is once again more than 3 dollars a gallon. And even with a better paying job, average wages are still around 10 dollars an hour. The son is an entry-level worker now and earns a bit over 11 dollars an hour. He barely makes enough to feed himself and get back and forth to work, and rarely makes enough for rent or utilities. He’d like to save for a car, but public transport sucks him dry at 5 dollars a day. When I was growing up an adult could work a 40 hour week, with an at-home spouse to manage the care it takes to have a clean home and home-cooked meals, while buying a home to raise a family in, and still count on a comfortable retirement by the age of 65. Cars didn’t cost 40 thousand dollars; you could buy two modest comfortable homes for that amount back then. That was gone by the time I raised my child.

The myth of wealth building in America is dead. Oh, it works for a few people who are lucky enough to have all the details fall into place for them. For the rest of us, we can work until our dying day with no relief in sight. From many months of study, this state of affairs appears to have been orchestrated by the people who already own most of the wealth in America at the expense of the workers. This equates in my mind to enforced servitude, when most wages are sucked back up into taxes, the cost of providing a home and food have grown exponentially and not enough left over to live on or save, and is the equivalent of violence against the American worker. The change has taken place in the course of a couple of generations. The solution presented is debt, which then makes one a slave to interest payments.

Money, then, is the great equalizer. It is dangled in front of us like a big green carrot. Yet, we are not taught how to manage money when we are in school. We are taught math, but the biggest complaint I hear repeatedly is about the practical application of math. If you are not going to calculate how to build things, or amounts for chemical combinations or medicine titrations, or how to measure distance, what is math for? I’m thinking the best math application we can teach is about money. How to make it, how to save it, how to make it grow, understanding loans and interest calculations and percentages. How to balance a checkbook, how to get the best prices at the store, how to shop for the best deal, how to financially run a household budget. How to fill in a tax form, how to open a bank account, how to decide if a loan is the best use of your money. How to budget for immediate needs, how to plan for contingencies, how to save for retirement. Nobody likes the word budget, as it seems limiting at best, but it is the best word for how to be in control of your money.

None of the above is taught in school, though since our American society is based on capitalistic consumerism, which is all about money, it seems like the best application of math that could be taught. Boy Scouts have a required Merit Badge called Personal Management that teaches a bit about how to manage money and not many of the scouts I worked with internalized and benefited from this information. Part of the instruction includes delayed gratification. This information was not supported by the math taught in schools. Families often do not discuss money with their children because they don’t want children to worry. Like language use, if we talk about money math everyday, won’t we understand it better?

The difference between wealthy people and not-wealthy people, besides inheriting their money, is the understanding of money math. Wealthy people have a cushion, that is, if they fail they still have more to draw from. Not-wealthy people have no cushion; if they lose, they lose everything. Wealthy people understand how to use, create, and profit from money. Not-wealthy people have no clue how to make money work for them through delayed gratification, that is, planning and goal setting, rather than spending whatever money they have as quickly as possible.

Do you know how to manage what little money you have? Are you saving on your own for retirement as a hedge against the bureaucracy stealing your Social Security tax investments? Do you have a contingency fund, no matter how small, for when the car breaks, or a medical emergency, or a job loss? Do you really need that 5 dollar latte twice a day? (5 [the cost of one coffee drink] times 2 [twice a day] equals 10 dollars a day times 365 days of the year equals 3,650 dollars on lattes in one year. That’s nearly enough for a down payment on a house. Can you make coffee with less cost at home? Or be satisfied with fewer lattes in the name of having more cash in your pocket? Just one example.)

In poverty thinking, people often spend everything they have because they think they won’t have more, so they want what they want right now. In some cases this includes buying items that seem to give relief from the stress of poverty such as “feel goods” like lattes, clothing, drugs, alcohol, gambling, and others. They have not learned how to save money for a later date. This is learned behavior and often generational. If people were taught how to use and manage money I’m thinking much addictive behavior might be circumvented because people would be enabled to be more comfortable with their lives and how their money supports their lives, even if the income is small. This is all hard to imagine if you are living with your kids in your car, without access to a shower so you can be presentable for work. If you are lucky enough to have a car to live in.

Anybody, at any income level, can learn money math and how to budget and use their money. It takes very little digging at the library to find books that help. Start with Elizabeth Warren’s All Your Worth, which describes a 50/20/30 budget plan that works at any income level. This plan requires you to be honest with yourself to start. And starting out you may need to make some sacrifices like skipping that twice daily latte. It’s hard to imagine when you are 25 how fast 40 years goes by and what you will need to retire at 65. But when the car breaks and you have contingency savings tucked away and don’t have to go into debt with interest payments to fix or replace your car, you will understand how this plan can work. And when you are 65 and no longer able to work, having a few extra dollars over and above any Social Security income will give a feeling of comfort as sweet as a soft warm bed.

While you are learning money math, discuss what you learn with your children. Help them learn to save and delay their desires for the sake of financial security. Teach them the dangers of over-consumption and debt, which offers a means of instant gratification but really means you pay interest on your purchases often long after the purchased item is discarded. Teach them conservative consumerism. We don’t need the newest phone, or the latest model shoes, or this year’s fashion. The stuff we need needs to function for us, not against us.

The fiancée I had when I was 19, the one who passed away before we married (he was all of 24 years old) used to say “Never burn your last match, or spend your last dollar.” It’s another way of saying make sure you save something toward the future. Don’t use the last of what you have before you have more or you may find yourself without anything. It isn’t easy, but teach yourself and your children how to keep more of what you earn by paying yourself first and then paying it forward.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – The lovely yellow green of new leaves. Wildflowers are pretty too; brilliantly flurried yellow dandelions. Flame colored tulips. Pink candy-striped hyacinths. The eye of the yellow tulip.

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.} Bingeing through Blue Bloods (2010 – (seven seasons and still running), rated TV – 14) with Tom Selleck as the patriarch of a family of police officers. Formulaic series, but the characters are being developed, and my favorite part is the signature scene when 4 generations sit down to Sunday dinner together every week and have actual conversations in which they don’t always agree. My family did that when I was small; I miss being close enough (in proximity) to do that every week. * Morning Glory (1933, not rated) with Katharine Hepburn about a rising starlet who is mentored by established producers and gains success. One of Hepburn’s earliest movies and an excellent example of her affected style of acting.

Currently Reading
The Lonely Hearts Hotel (2017, fiction) by Heather O’Neill. I haven’t figured out how the title relates to the story yet, though there is plenty of sex and drugs in the story. Maybe I’m too distracted. By the use of fragments. * Wanderlust: A History of Walking (2000, history) by Rebecca Solnit. On to moving meditation and the paths of labyrinths. Who knew there was so much to contemplate about walking? Well, Ms Solnit, of course.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • The music of Joni Mitchell.
  • Getting an invitation to my niece’s baby shower.
  • Being in love with the soft yellow green of new baby leaves and dangly catkins.
  • Trees.
  • The residual smell of chlorine on my skin, proof I at least went to the pool if nothing else in my day’s activities.
  • Pain, the ultimate indicator of still being alive.
  • Waking up another day.
  • The gray cells which continue to function with the ability to learn and think critically.
  • Being curious about how tall a certain young scout I had known was now and seeing him at the pool working on the Swimming Merit Badge. Curiosity satisfied.
  • Knowing the families of my siblings’ in-laws.
  • How sometimes the rain is comforting to my mood.
  • Looking forward to the first local farmers market of the season in a couple weeks.
  • Asparagus. Asparagus.
  • 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, Housing, Nature, Photography, Poetry, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Gratitude Sunday: Swimming Upstream

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “If you don’t become the ocean, you’ll be seasick everyday.” Leonard Cohen

Sunday Haiku
Storm whips tree branches
to frenzy, rain flies sideways.
Relentless weather.

Sunday Musings
More than eleven years ago I began my adventures in the swimming pool as an attempt to avoid surgery on my spine. I had bone spurs pressing on a nerve and causing numbness in my arm. The water therapy worked, the numbness dissipated, the exercise released the pressure on the nerve, and I told the doctor they could give their surgery to somebody else. I loved swimming when I was a kid.

A few years back I upped my swim time to three nights a week when sciatic pain overwhelmed me. My doctor doesn’t want to order expensive tests to find out if there is anything that can be done, as it likely will include a surgical option. I admit it. I am afraid of the knife. I’m not afraid of water, though I have a healthy respect for the problems it can cause when you forget to pay attention to it.

In the water I can move; on land I struggle against gravity. It’s like my life. For every step forward I seem to take two backward. I have spent my life swimming upstream, fighting the current, because I have never fit into standards of any kind. For all the years working and saving toward retirement, it hasn’t been enough, and now I am reduced to asking for help again, moving against the tide of self-sufficiency. There are many studies available now showing how living a life of distress is harmful to your health. A hard life can make you sick.

When you ask for help, it is usually because you need it and you have finally worked up the courage to withstand the humiliation of admitting you can’t take care of yourself without help, not because you are trying to cheat the system. If there was any way I could do without the help, I wouldn’t ask. Statistically, the number of cheaters or system abusers are very small. Yet when you ask for help that is exactly the way you are treated, as if you are trying to cheat other people. It’s not as if you get a lot when of help at an average assistance of $1.88 per meal. One has to be pretty clever to feed people on that amount of money, and groceries aren’t getting cheaper.

Our American capitalistic consumer society has made us a community of competition and comparison rather than a community of cooperation and caring. Let’s consider the fact I worked more than 40 years supporting a disabled husband (with no Social Security Disability income for him) and raised a child to taxpaying working status on my pathetically small salary. Let’s consider my tax investment helped other people along the way. Let’s consider my tax investment helped support the outrageous benefits bestowed to elected officials. Let’s consider elected officials who “earn” more than 4 times the national median annual income (paid by our tax investment dollars), premium health insurance (paid by our tax investment dollars), premium retirement plans (paid by our tax investment dollars), memberships to state-of-the-art gyms (built with, and maintenance and staff paid for by our tax investment dollars), up to 3 offices and 14 employees per office (paid by our tax investment dollars), subsidized transportation (paid by our tax investment dollars), and yet they don’t think we should have any of what they have on our dime, though we work as hard as they do, perhaps harder. Elected officials would not have any of the entitlements they have if it weren’t for the tax investment of the workers.

You can look up the net worth of any elected official. They all have assets in the millions. None of them are required to disclose their financial affairs, tax forms, or assets to serve in a public position. Statistically, we are seeing greater numbers of these elected officials today being revealed as corrupt and abusive of their privilege to serve by taking extreme advantage of their access to our tax investments while they find the loopholes to avoid paying their share.

Yet if you ask for food, or help paying medical bills, or help with heating bills, which in my case isn’t a lot of help, you are asked to list every dollar in every bank account, every asset you own, and whether you might be able to get help elsewhere, like borrowing money. The forms and formulas don’t care if you spend all your savings into a larger hole of poverty. If you don’t have an income, banks won’t loan you money, especially for food or health insurance. In most cases if you can’t earn an income, family and friends won’t give you money either. Somehow you are expected to have no cushion at all if you ask for public assistance. I can understand if you have hundreds of thousands of dollars stashed away, and decide you want access to public funds; that’s not who help is intended for. But for a family trying desperately to stay in their own home while paying a mortgage and property tax, both adults over 60, both disabled, a little cushion of savings of a few thousand dollars is needed in case of emergency home repairs; the state is not going to step in and help repair my roof if it should fail, but I might be able to take care of this myself if I can find help buying food and not have to spend down my small savings into extreme poverty.

Having to report income and assets every 6 months seems like a waste of our tax investment dollars, constantly bothering folks like me to report non-existent changes. I couldn’t work then; nothing has changed now; there is no medical intervention or solution at this point in my life that will enable me to work again like when I was younger. I also don’t see anybody handing out jobs just because you need one; you must still apply and interview and be rejected or accepted, all distressful in itself as one of those roll of the dice moments, especially when we don’t have equal advantages. For every report and form they want from me I want to require a similar report from our elected officials of how they spend our tax investments, like how many golf trips and vacations they take at our expense.

Water has saved me. It helps keep my over-thinking brain from being so distressed at all the disparities in our society, like the myth that if you work hard enough you can gain wealth, which isn’t true in America anymore unless you inherit or happen to be one of the few for whom it works. I wouldn’t even have the luxury of water if it weren’t for the kindness of one woman who shares her small cushion and treats me to a pool membership every year.

So, I’m off to fill out another form. Then I’ll do my taxes as well. I promise not to get seasick while I’m swimming upstream. At least I’m still in the water.

Color Watch colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Dime-sized light purple violas that grow in the cracks of my driveway. Yellow ball flowers of Oregon grape. Pale pink fairy skirts. Purple shooting stars in a yard close by. Tulips have begun; yellow is my favorite tulip color. Pink tulips are my next favorite, here beautiful with grape hyacinth.

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 Breakfast Club (1985, rated R), a classic worth re-watching. A disparate group of teenagers have detention together and find common ground in the troubles of their relationships with their families. Parents and adults try our best to share our values and in most cases, despite our efforts otherwise, we unintentionally hurt our children; the cycle repeats. * Solace (2015, rated R) with Anthony Hopkins. Four murders that look like mercy killings. A psychic is called in to help. What do you do when you can see the past and all possible future outcomes? A thriller full of quirks and twists worthy of Halloween viewing, with the parts of humans that are so much scarier than vampires, werewolves, and zombies. * Binged through seasons 2 and 3 of Getting On (2013-2015, rated TV – MA) with Laurie Metcalf. Filmed in a pseudo-mockumentary style, it is interesting to me how the drama of individuals and the miscommunication of a dysfunctional workplace is so amusing. * Call Me By Your Name (2017, rated R). Filmed in Italy, and some of the dialogue is Italian (thankful for subtitles), luxurious photography, slow-paced, a teenage boy’s family hosts an American student a few years older than the boy; this is the story of the love that develops between the two. The heart loves who the heart loves. The parents intuit what is happening and what the father says to his son at the end of the movie makes the whole viewing worth the time.

Currently ReadingThe Lonely Hearts Hotel (2017, fiction) by Heather O’Neill. Two talented orphans grow to love each other and then are separated because of the dynamics of the Great Depression. I am in the sex and drugs chapters. The author is guilty of excessive use of fragments that have no effect on the story. The editor is guilty of not recognizing them and correcting the flow of sentences. I’ll get over it. Maybe. Except some of her facts are wrong too, as she mentions a beauty product used during the Depression but it didn’t get invented until later in the 1940s. It’s fiction, not fantasy. I’ll have to get over it. * Wanderlust: A History of Walking (2000, history) by Rebecca Solnit. A thorough discussion of the physicality and spirituality of pilgrimages, including marches of protest and seeking change, such as the March of Dimes and the AIDS marches.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Not knowing why I love watching bird activity so much, and pausing to watch a little group perched on an orange berried cotoneaster chowing on the bugs and the berries.
  • My dependencies: pool time and microwave heat packs.
  • Still having freedom of speech. Individually. Nationally.
  • Easter dinner with “new” family without once looking at my phone.
  • Getting to meet the hubster’s biological younger brother after 65 years of not knowing his biological family.
  • Getting through a 1 hour medical procedure and surviving the 8 hour migraine it caused, which I hadn’t been warned was a possibility. Thought they had killed me, but I’m still here to tell about it.
  • Enjoying the air magic of trees moving in the wind. How flexible tree branches are.
  • Looking forward to the possibility of reconnecting with a college pal later this month.
  • For all my complaining being able to get up every day and make do with what I have.
  • Being aware that if I’m having a tough time, there are a whole bunch of people out there having a tough time.
  • Always being able to make a meal out of the cupboard and fridge when my guys complain there is nothing to eat. I’m willing to eat vegetables.
  • Simple meals of toast and eggs.
  • 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, Nature, Photography, Poetry, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gratitude Sunday: Who Are You And Why I Need To Know

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “It’s chaos. Be kind.” Michelle McNamara

Sunday Haiku
Sun teasing, almost
warm, hiding behind fleeing
clouds, heat comes later.

Sunday Musings
I’m fine in my little house. My appliances work. The electricity and mortgage are paid. I have all the stuff I need. I could live for days on the contents of my cupboard and freezer, the unread books on my bookshelf, the movies on the rack I haven’t watched for years that seem like new movies because it’s been so long since I watched them. If I didn’t occasionally need a few additional groceries or medicines, some variety of first-run and vintage movies and best-sellers from the library, command appearances at the doctor, or a regular dip in the pool I’d be happy to stay home all the time.

When I go out I feel like my life is on the line. People drive crazy. What’s the hurry? I mean really, if you are late for work, better late than dead; this isn’t a video game. People swear at you for nothing. Honestly, what in the world did I do? I’m sure I didn’t do anything. Don’t cuss me out because you parked wrong and I raise my eyebrow. A raised eyebrow doesn’t hurt you; I can’t even find the words to tell you out loud what I think about your parking job, and probably good that I can’t. People scream at their kids. Really? You expect better behavior from them when yours is worse than theirs?

Take your bad day and attitude somewhere else, like maybe hide it at home, along with your guns and other weapons of destruction. I’m not always the nicest person either. Maybe that’s why I like being home. My house can contain my attitude, and here I have sense enough not to wreak havoc because I don’t want the hassle or expense of fixing whatever I wrecked.

So, who are you and why are you so cranky? Is life moving too fast for you? Are you always stressed about money, or in between houses, or just plain hungry because you didn’t have lunch today? Are your kids up to nonsense so you are at your wit’s end? Are you stressing about doing justified battle somewhere to stand up for your rights or the rights of others?

Life is so distressful these days going out in public has its challenges. Working, parenting, care-giving of elderly parents, coaching, paying the never-ending bills, making decisions about health insurance or mortgages, begging for public assistance because your full time job is not enough income to support your family, running kids around and doing errands, getting dinner on the table, filling out paperwork and paperwork and paperwork, life is hard these days, and we don’t have any back-up or safety nets. Most of us don’t have somebody we can turn the whole thing over to when we have reached our limit and need a break. And many of us don’t have vacations in our limited budgets.

I need just one thing from all of you out there. I need to know I’m safe. I need to know you are going to behave yourself, not run over me with your car or your shopping cart. I need to know you are not going to let your toddler chew on my leg or laugh when your teenager lets the door slam in my face or let your unleashed dog chase me down the street. I need to know you have your polite and caring self in place when you step outside your door. I need to know you are not going to go ballistic because you didn’t get your way, or you feel bullied, or your kids are more out of control than you. I need to know you are going to own your own problems and challenges and not lose it and take your anger out on me or anybody else. Nobody ever gets their way all the time. Everybody has been bullied at one point or another. Kids are people too, not programmable little robot clones who always behave well; even the best parents struggle with parenting at one time or another.

I need to know that, like me, when you step outside your door you have put your best self on like a new Easter bonnet, even if you are hiding under it. I need to know your best behavior is firmly in place and you won’t lose it because somebody else found the most Easter eggs at the public Easter egg hunt. I need to know you won’t hurt other people because you have cracked like a painted Easter egg before being eaten, or have been forgotten and left to rot like the one egg that wasn’t found until the 4th of July when it finally started to stink.

Are you in a hurry? Cool your jets. Upset today? Chill out. Kids bouncing off the walls? Take a deep breath as you rein them in. Can’t find your Easter bonnet? Pretend you have a crown. Too angry to be in public? Put off the errand until tomorrow. Do you need help? It’s OK to ask.

Put on your bonnet or your crown along with your best smile and behavior when you go out that door. Leave your gun locked up and your bad attitude at home, and if you can’t do that keep your self at home as well. If you have family and friends in your home, best keep that smile in place, because we need all the support we can get. Life doesn’t happen in a vacuum; we don’t do it by ourselves. It’s a basket full of colorful eggs and, in public at least, I want to see your best colors, whether mottled, pastel, or vibrant.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – The odd shade of red of flowering quince. Shades of scented purple hyacinth. Love the hot pink strings of blossoms of this unknown flowering bush. Rain drops on a fat purple azalea blossom.

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.} Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017, rated R) with one of my favorite actresses, Frances McDormand. Heartache, heartbreak, and no answers bring violence and no resolution. It’s easy to say what one would or would not have done in a similar situation, but faced with real situations I don’t advocate the use of that much violence. * Meet the Fokkens (2011, not rated), a documentary about 69 year old twins who are prostitutes in Amsterdam. Seeing other people’s lives can make one more grateful for having only the struggles one has. * Getting On (2013-2015, rated TV – MA), an HBO series with Laurie Metcalf adapted from a BBC series. I’ve been looking for movies and TV shows about olders, elders, and aging, and this one about a rehab facility popped up on one of my lists. It’s comforting to see a workplace more dysfunctional than my last place of employment, though I hope if I ever have to have this kind of residential rehab, I don’t want it to be like this.

Currently ReadingThe Lonely Hearts Hotel (2017, fiction) by Heather O’Neill. We are starting out in an orphanage during WW1 in Montreal. * Wanderlust: A History of Walking (2000, history) by Rebecca Solnit. The physics of walking, and pilgrimages.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • The hubster shushing behind me while I took several minutes to enjoy watching two fat robins and two little brown and gray starlings joyfully bathing in my favorite mud puddle. The dunk, the wing dip, the splash, the shimmy and shake. So much joy from a little water.
  • Finding the techno-ditz fix of the DVD player was temporary, and learning how to use one of the son’s game player machines to view DVDs. Still prevailing.
  • An invitation to Easter dinner from the hubster’s newly found original family.
  • Getting all the papers in order to begin filling out tax forms.
  • Still having my own home to keep my attitude in.
  • The soothing scent of sandalwood.
  • The end of a much needed two week break from lessons at the pool. Looking forward to all the new and returning tadpoles for the next lesson session. The dunk, the dip, the splash. So much joy learning to swim.
  • A friend who gifted me a soft pretty top in my shade of cherry red.
  • The hubster running an errand for me when my back was not cooperating.
  • Stand-up comedy videos.
  • Throwing together a braised cabbage, carrot, and kielbasa dish the hubster actually ate and didn’t complain about until the next day.
  • The sun teasing with its brightness, though not warm yet.
  • 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 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gratitude Sunday: My Old School

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week
– “If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday.” Pearl S. Buck

Sunday Haiku
Soft rain, hard rain, hail,
snow, sun peeking between clouds
so brief, forgotten.

Sunday Musings
I grew up in a suburb just south of Portland, Oregon. The town I lived in had a small town feel, but we were large enough for a 1,600 person student body at the high school and two more high schools were added within a 10 mile radius because the area was growing quickly. The high school was built in 1925, and recently city residents voted to approve a bond for a new school. The little city I grew up in is tearing down the school, so Milwaukie High School hosted an open house for all us folks who might want to walk the halls of the old school one more time. My sister and I decided to go back.

The old building has undergone five remodels, with the addition of several new buildings to accommodate the growth of the suburb. Several of the zipcodes that used to indicate Milwaukie are now designated as Portland, so the little town is being absorbed into the Metro area, almost as if it never existed. It still exists as a separate entity, but close enough to the big city for many to catch a daily metro bus to work downtown.

Back in the day, we thought it fun to tell our parents we were going to the library, then drive the family car downtown Portland to cruise Broadway, which attracted kids from all corners of the metro area from Beaverton to Gresham, from Oregon City to St Johns. As immortal teenagers we gave little thought, if any, to the dangers of not being where we said we would be, or the possibility of car accidents between here and there. In fact, I could wheel the old family station wagon from downtown Broadway to the home driveway in Milwaukie in 12 minutes flat using back streets to beat the cops and the midnight curfew. I think Dad knew what I was doing as he was obsessive about recording mileage so he could calculate how many miles per gallon of gas he was getting. Fortunately, no accidents, no tickets, no trouble, all of which would not have boded well for the daughter of a county deputy sheriff.

Traffic today would not permit such haste on city streets even at night. Too many people, too many cars, too many stoplights, so much need for careful driving skills these days as people pay less attention to their surroundings or feel the need to text or be on the phone while driving. Back in the day, the landline was the only choice and we weren’t connected at the hip to our phones unless we were safely ensconced at home.

Walking through those old school hallways, everybody had a phone, but few people were spending time on them. Some were taking phone numbers from friends who hadn’t been seen for years. Some were reporting to those at home what was happening right now. Some were taking pictures of the old school. Most people were talking to each other (gasp!) and reminiscing about how the school used to be, about beloved teachers and hated classes, about events we remembered.

My sister did me the kindness of coming to get me and taking me to the open house. We talked about our memories and our nightmares. Her’s is running down the hall to get to her locker so she could get to class on time. Mine is about being naked in class, in the halls, in the cafeteria, in the gymnasium, in the auditorium. I know now that dreams of being naked in a public place represent feelings of being exposed, vulnerable, unable to protect oneself. How very much I felt that way in high school.

The five remodels had rendered my high school not my high school. The cafeteria, where we queued up for a turn at one of the first electronic table Pong games, had become administrative offices. The auditorium with the beautiful stage where we had put on our plays and musical productions was converted into the library the year after I graduated, and the original library on the third floor converted into classrooms. Condon’s, the little hamburger joint across the street that was always packed with students for lunch, study halls, and between classes, was bought out and torn down to make way for a new auditorium when the old one was converted. The new auditorium still could not contain the entire student body for one pep rally, which had to take place in the gymnasium, and that expense of tax dollars never made sense to me (why not make it big enough?). Entire walls of lockers were removed to bump out classrooms to make more space for students, making the halls narrower. All those changes made the high school I walked through this month not the high school I walked through nearly 50 years ago.

We didn’t find the little outside courtyard where kids went to smoke, a small space between building ells shielded from the eyes of administrators, teachers, and the public. Teachers and administrators smoked freely in the teacher’s lounge. Back in the day there was little repercussion if you were an under-age smoker. Everybody smoked, or tried it, as a rite of passage. The campus now is a no-smoking campus, as it should be, now we know the dangers of tobacco.

I located the staircase where I fell down and sprained my ankle my sophomore year. Back then the choir room was behind the stage of the auditorium and was sometimes used during plays as a place to prepare, rehearse, and change costumes especially for the musicals when we had large choruses and many bodies for costume changes. The staircase went from the choir room/backstage area as a short-cut down to the cafeteria. I was hurrying one day and swoosh, down I went, falling into a pile of flesh and bone at the bottom of the stair. I was alone. I managed to limp myself to the nurse’s office; she wrapped my foot, and sent me home, which meant I had to call my mother to come get me. The remodels oddly made the staircase go from a remodeled classroom hallway down to the remodeled cafeteria/administrative office area, like some surrealistically distorted dream version of reality, but it was the same staircase.

When Mom got me home she called our doctor’s office and the nurse advised her what we now know as the RICE treatment; rest, ice, compression, elevation. I was allowed to stay home for a week, and kept off my foot, mostly confined to bed, which meant I wasn’t allowed to take the few steps to the phone in the living room. I had my first boyfriend, and whined about not being able to take his phone calls. My folks didn’t approve of him; I was 15, he was 20, Asian-American, and a musician, which in those days meant trouble, even though his mother was a stay-at-home mom, his sister was my classmate, and his father was a professor at the University in the town I now live in. This boy sent me a get-well bouquet of miniature yellow roses. I’m such a saver I probably have the card that came with the bouquet, or maybe a pressed flower or two, though I could not walk right to those mementos now.

My sister found the hallway of her nightmares. Her locker was on the bottom floor, and running from the locker to a classroom on the third floor at the other end of the building was the problem. There was just not enough minutes between classes to comfortably get to class on time, and many of us dealt with similar logistics. I hope after seeing the hallway, her bad dreams change to something else.

I had wanted to tell Sis a story from my senior year, and as we were walking down the hallway it happened in, we came across a couple men (so tempting to say boys, because that’s what we were back then, still boys and girls, and that’s how I remember us) from my class and spent several minutes catching up and sharing stories with them. We were running out of time as the event had a finite run, so I decided to share my story with the guys as well as my sister.

I was late for class. The bell had rung; the halls were empty; everyone was in their classrooms except for me, alone, in the hall. I was going to my favorite class, Creative Writing, taught by a teacher who was famously psychic, and everybody knew it. She was highly regarded by students and other teachers, but lenient, and sometimes punishment for being late was to be sent across the street to the little hamburger joint with a handful of money to buy her hot French fries with a side of tartar sauce. The French fries had to be hot when you arrived back with them, and you weren’t allowed to nibble on them while in transit; she would smell your breath to make sure you didn’t cheat unless she’d given you enough to buy your own serving.

So here I am in the silent empty hallway, when suddenly a hand comes down on my shoulder. I thought for sure I was busted by the Vice Principal who was able to sneak up on kids who were late; how he walked so quietly I’ll never know. But when I turned, there was nobody in the hall. Nobody. Not only no physical body, but no quiver in the atmosphere, no rift in the timeline, not one squiggle of air movement or waver of dust motes to indicate the presence of a presence. The hand on my shoulder had been as solid as any other I’d ever felt. I hightailed it to class, arriving breathless and wide-eyed. My teacher, who rarely left her desk, stood, took my hands, and said, “Oh, another one.” She spent several minutes comforting me, making sure I was grounded in the real world, and told me she thought I had experienced a newly departed student/spirit who had returned to the school. In 1970 we were still in the midst of the Vietnam war, and she said many of our war-killed boys visited the school on their way to whatever their next spiritual adventure was. She thought it was likely I’d felt one of those boys. We never determined a name, but she comforted me, explaining when one is open to the world, one can experience amazing things.

My sister openly enjoyed the story in the hallway in which it occurred. The men we were with jokingly said, “well, right then, nice seeing you,” and pretended to have the willies. The thing is, they had both had this teacher, and knew not only her reputation as a psychic, but her integrity as well. We all shared a little shiver and went on about wandering the old hallways. Who knows how many long gone students roam those halls now, and will be displaced when the old building is razed and a new glass and steel facility stands in its place?

It was fun to see the variety of past students who showed for the event; I heard a rumor of more than 1,500 people in attendance that day. Elders in their 80s who had graduated back in the 1950s, and younger people who graduated a few years ago for whom the school was still the school they had known, and all those in between. I ran into a handful of classmates and we agreed if we were around for our 50th coming up soon, whatever we felt about high school or any of the past reunions, we should make an effort to get together just to acknowledge that we had made it this far. And we were probably grown up enough now to be adult with each other without power or bully games.

My school wasn’t the same school. It was not the school I see in my dreams. It felt like the river, you know, the one that is never the same river. Soon that lovely old building, as problematic as it was in thousands of student’s lives and dreams, will no longer exist in this physical reality, and there will be a new steel and glass construction in its place. The old building will exist only in our dreams proving once again, you can never go back. Forward is the only way you can go from my old school.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Love the first tiny sprigs of green chives popping up. Dime sized white violas that come back every year in my yard. It’s pink week in my little burg. The pink rhododendrons around my aquatic center are full on this week. I don’t know the name of these stings of tiny hot pink and white blossoms, though the flowers remind my of the little blooms on grape hyacinth. Streets lined with tangles of pink flowering cherry.

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 Snake Pit (1948, not rated) with Olivia de Havilland, about a women who becomes ill and ends up in a mental asylum. Seemed more like a documentary about the horrors of Electro-Convulsive Shock Therapy, and the benefits of talking psychotherapy. Fascinating how they decided to portray this back then. * Something the Lord Made (2004, not rated) based on a true story, with Alan Rickman as the Southern doctor, Alfred Blalock, who develops the blue baby heart surgery technique with his lab assistant. Rickman is clever about turning his British accent into an American Southern one. I did not realize this was a movie about race issues, until the lab assistant, Vivien Thomas, is revealed as the one who really developed the technique without benefit of a medical doctor’s degree while Blalock took the credit, and Thomas didn’t get the recognition he deserved until many years later as Blalock’s death neared. * Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold (2017, not rated) a Netflix documentary about Joan’s life, marriage, and her writing, produced and directed by her nephew. She leaves us a legacy of her experiences of profoundly American events, recorded during the times they were happening.

Currently ReadingA Secret History of Witches (2017, fiction) by Louisa Morgan. Fluffy summer reading, written simplistically and fancifully, i.e, don’t look for factual information about witchcraft here. And word of warning: don’t try these frivolous fictional “spells” at home. All energy expenditure has a cost, witchery or otherwise. * Wanderlust: A History of Walking (2000, history) by Rebecca Solnit. A foray into philosophy and walking. Ms Solnit writes way above my intellectual level, even so, I always learn something.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Interns, who work for my state and federal Representatives and Senators, who listen patiently to my concerns about the current federal administration.
  • Spending a few minutes pausing to enjoy a waxing crescent moon smiling at me when I left the pool.
  • Fixing my DVD player when it stopped mid-movie and failed to play any other disc I put in. The techno-ditz prevails again.
  • Enjoying spring day number three listening to the breeze rustling the tree branches while watching plum blossoms fall like snow.
  • March coldly stomping through, not giving up the lion. Spring will be here soon.
  • Opportunities like walking through my old school and glad somebody organized it.
  • A quiet couple of weeks at the pool for spring break.
  • Mister Kitty aka George Murphy finally being trained to bother me every hour because he wants food. Good to stretch.
  • My sister being the forgiving person she is when I talk rudely to her and then feel bad about it. Grateful we are able to talk about it.
  • Asparagus. And being the only person in the family who loves it. More for me.
  • A bag of really sweet mandarins.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: Hard Choices, Tough Decisions

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “You write your life story by the choices you make. You never know if they have been a mistake. Those moments of decision are so difficult.”
Helen Mirren

Sunday Haiku
Black cloud, gray cloud, white,
March lions on, pours rain down,
greening thirsty earth.

Sunday Musings

Trigger alert: women’s bodily processes, abortion, and adoption

Sometimes when I finish reading a book that touches me deep inside, one that makes me cry, or laugh, or wonder, I have to sit a while and think. I have to let the words flow through me, envelope me, wash me clean. I have to let new thoughts in relation to the novel come freely without restraint. I have to let the tears complete their exit or they bubble inside until they come another day. May as well honor the author and the art by letting the tears and emotions free.

A recent novel, The Light Between Oceans, set me back into my seat for some weepy sorrowing, because as fortune would have it I am dealing with something vaguely similar in my own life. In the late 1920s in the aftermath of WW1 and the horrors men and women faced, a lighthouse keeper and his wife are the only residents of the lighthouse island. After the wife’s three unattended miscarriages, providence sends a small boat to the island with a dead man and a crying infant in it. Rather than report the incident, the couple chooses to keep the child. Of course, it’s all more complicated, as the biological mother of the child lives on the mainland not far from the island, and mourns the lost child and husband. I read the last half of this novel in one sitting, firmly planted on the couch, and sat through the waterworks as well. Recommended reading, by the way.

In my own life I only got to have the one son. I was fairly regular with my cycle, and if I had any miscarriages they came early after a conception in the form of a delayed and heavy flow. For the record I dislike the term “period” for the bleeding part of a woman’s monthly cycle. The blood flow time is not a period, not a full stop of any sort. If it were, women would be honored for their troubles and would not be expected to proceed with their days as if nothing was happening with their bodies. It’s more like a week-long, uncomfortable, sometimes painful, hiccup.

The son came late in my middle age, a miracle defying modern birth control efforts, after the conscious decision not to have children because of financial poverty. I supported a disabled hubster who did not qualify for the safety net called Social Security Disability, and being an uneducated poor white woman, I had few tools in my kit to earn me any kind of wealth; it was always a struggle just to pay rent and the other basics. I am grateful to have the son and to know the joys and heartache of parenting a child. I was grateful to share with the hubster a child of his own blood, as the hubster was an adopted child and did not know his biological family. At least with his own son, without any question, he had somebody of his own blood who would be in this world with him. We were lucky to have a successful pregnancy, a fraught but successful delivery via a last minute C-section, and a child who has suffered little in the way of illness or other physical or mental health challenges.

I’ve never had to make the choice between abortion, adoption, and having and raising a child of my own. When I was young and babies were still romantic, and not a physical reality, I wanted a baby of every color. When I told the hubster, he wanted to know how I would function that. I meant adoption, as there are plenty of unwanted children out there, but he thought I meant I wanted to make those babies myself and he wasn’t at all comfortable with sharing me with other men. I can’t blame him for that piece, but it also helped me realize I needed to be realistic about babies I might bring into this world. Our financial situation would have never qualified us as adoptive parents. For me the choice of keeping my baby was simple but not easy, as I could never give back the one miracle human being I had conceived, though my doctors and medical care-givers advised abortion because of my “advanced” age. I was 37.

I’ve known many women who have had to make hard choices. Women whom I have accompanied to the clinic because they needed a driver after the procedure. Women who have given their babies to other families. Women who mourned as their bodies rejected fetus after fetus until they could no longer conceive. Women whose arms and hearts ached for babies they would never conceive. Women who carried to term only to have the child stillborn. Women who kept babies conceived by rape or violence, because the child was not at fault. Women who had to make hard decisions for the sake of their future in this wild crazy world where we exist as second class citizens and even considered as property.

We put together the pieces of the hubster’s adoption and his biological parents after his adoptive parents died, Mom in 2000 and Dad in 2003, when we inherited all the paperwork about the adoption. We researched his biological family and knew who they were and what they looked like; the hubster made a couple attempts at getting in touch. He could have chosen to be more aggressive in his efforts, but he did not.

After more than a decade of knowledge of their existence, the hubster’s biological family have come back into his life. His biological parents had to make that hard choice. They were very young; he was 17 and she was 19. They weren’t married yet. They had to be realistic about the imminent changes in their lives. When the hubster was born in 1953, attitudes and the way things were done were different from now. Times do change things, and perception is half the battle. In those days an unwed mother was shamed, and if the father was known he usually suffered few, if any, consequences. Adoptions were private, sealed, and closed. Information to reconnect biological families was difficult at best, and impossible much of the time. Perceptions, however, do not stop the heartache of a tough decision or the blood bond of family. His family had no way to find him; they didn’t know the adoptive names or the names of the lawyers involved. Only upon the death of his adoptive parents did the informational pieces come into our lives. In 1953, all parties involved in this story were sworn to secrecy.

Now young women keep their babies even if they are not married, and there is less stigma involved. Adoptions are open with the birth parents remaining active in the lives of their adopted children. The decision to choose abortion is not any easier to make, and still not easy to obtain, though many people think it is their right to make that choice for other women.

Choices are hard. Decisions are tough. Sometimes there aren’t any good choices and life hands you the rough end of the stick, but you make your choice, and you stand by your decision, and you get on with your life, regrets and rewards and all of it. I’m not completely convinced things happen for a reason; it often seems to me life is random and chaotic out there, like my internal life, in here. The chaos is randomized by choices – like a throw of the dice, you never know what you might get. As hard as choices are, I am grateful the hubster’s biological parents chose to share him with a childless couple. As hard as his life has been, that they chose for him to live and experience this weird world. I am grateful they never forgot him, even if they couldn’t be with him.

We were in a public place when I recognized the hubster’s biological father. It was a prime number day for changes, March 3rd. I chose to be brave and walked up to introduce myself. After he got over the shock of an unsettling introduction, he shared that the family had been looking for their first-born. It’s been a wild ride the last couple weeks and a long wait, as the hubster will soon be 65.

I am grateful now to have his biological family back in his life as he deals with the aging process. I am grateful to have made the choice to be instrumental in facilitating their reunion, rather than walking away as if his biological family didn’t exist. They did not know how to find him because of the sealed and closed adoption, and it was only because I made the choice to introduce myself and provide them with information they did not have and could not find that they have found each other. I could have chosen to walk on by and let the past lie in the past. I did not have to be brave, but I chose another adventure instead. Their reunion was because of my choices.

Families, of course, are mixed blessings. You may love them, but there is no guarantee you will get along, or agree with each other, or like one another. People are people with all our quirks and foibles. In this case they are family, but they are strangers as well. We’ll know one another soon enough. I have a tendency to think it’s nice to have more people in our lives as we age, regardless of challenges, if only to tell our stories.

Now, with one introduction, one choice, my families have more stories to share.

Color Watchcolorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – The variety of sunny yellow daffodil faces.

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.} When Harry Met Sally (1989, rated R) with Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal. I’m watching some of these old classics because I didn’t get to see them when they came out. Going out to movies wasn’t in the budget, nor was renting them from a movie store, and I never could afford cable; I still don’t pay for these things. When a $5.00 matinee at the movie theater can buy a week’s worth of bathroom tissue for my three person household, you can bet I’m going to buy the clean. Ever so grateful for my local lending library where, because of my property tax investment, I can borrow movies and watch them at my leisure. Harry and Sally have a 10 year history after their first meeting in which their love blooms. * Binging through season 4 of Grace and Frankie (2017, rated TV – MA) with Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, and grateful to see the lives of affluent families have a bit of chaos as well as the rest of us, they just have a better financial cushion. * The Man From London (2007, not rated) with Tilda Swinton, whom I usually enjoy, and generally I enjoy foreign films. I fell asleep two nights in a row watching this Hungarian film done in the film noir style. By the third night, I just wanted it to be over. The slow pace was likely part of the art of the film, but it was so irritating I watched most of the last half on fast forward, which was still agonizingly slow. Much of the language was French, and I know just enough French to know many of the subtitles were only close to what was said. Could not figure out the plot, until the film was over and I read the blurb on the DVD case. Meh.

Currently ReadingA Secret History of Witches (2017, fiction) by Louisa Morgan. Early 1800s and a Romani family must flee France after an attack by a Catholic priest. The family history and traditions are carried on through generations. * Wanderlust: A History of Walking (2000, history) by Rebecca Solnit, one of my favorite contemporary authors. Ms Solnit’s lyrical and thoughtful writing makes all her subjects fascinating.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • The soft sweet scent of sun warmed plum blossoms.
  • The songs of little birds after the rain stops.
  • Those same little birds who tweet and twitter me awake in the morning.
  • The yellowing, pinking, purple-ing, and greening of spring.
  • Looking forward to the Vernal Equinox this Tuesday.
  • Getting to meet the hubster’s biological father, two sisters, and a brother. More to meet later.
  • Old women helping older women.
  • Running through a downpour and enjoying the feeling of soft rain on my skin.
  • Looking forward to a couple quiet weeks at the pool. I love my work-out when the little tadpoles are having lessons, but it gets loud sometimes. Breaks are nice.
  • Napping when I need to or want to.
  • A safe hunting-gathering journey while the Check Engine light blinked on and off.
  • So many books and the luxury of time to read them.
  • Choosing to be brave.
  • 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, Parenting, Photography, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Gratitude Sunday: Daylight Saving Time Dilemma

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “I don’t really care how time is reckoned, so long as there is some agreement about it, but I object to being told I am saving daylight when my reason tells me I am doing nothing of the kind. I even object to the implication that I am wasting something valuable if I stay in bed after the sun has risen. As an admirer of moonlight I resent the bossy insistence of those who want to reduce my time for enjoying it. At the back of the daylight saving scheme, I detect the bony, blue-fingered hand of Puritanism, eager to push people into bed earlier, and get them up earlier, to make them healthy, wealthy, and wise in spite of themselves.” Robertson Davies, Canadian author and journalist

Sunday Haiku
Awesome wind, so loud,
so forceful, so destructive,
mellows out to breeze.

Sunday Musings
Time again for my twice yearly rant about the silliness of Daylight Saving Time. Clock games are a huge waste of time, detrimental to our health and productivity, and totally unnecessary. I’ve recently read a couple surveys that say the majority of the American population is not “bothered” by DST. Of course, surveys only record the opinions of people who bother to respond, so I usually discount their veracity. Perhaps the physical/chemical damage of years of DST has already been done and people (probably youngers who grew up knowing nothing else) don’t know how they might feel different. As many people I listen to complain about it, I’m not sure I believe the surveys. I’m not sure I can ever adjust, but then I’m old enough to know the difference.

I don’t care which one we choose, though if I had my druthers I prefer we stay on the Daylight Saving Time hours rather than Standard Time, as long as we stop the clock game. It would make me happy if we stopped the clock game either way.

Originally the excuse was farmers’s productivity, but farmers denied to be blamed even when the notion of DST was first proposed. Animals and plants don’t give a whit about the clock; they respond to the amount of light hours and the amount of dark hours. If children had year round school, DST might have a small applicable point, but most harvest takes place in the summer when children-helpers are not in school. Teens and youth helping with harvest has decreased in the last few years, as this honest labor is claimed to be exploitation, which I don’t understand at all. Nothing wrong with having young people know how farming happens whether or not they are paid minimum wage. I’m not talking about volunteerism (that’s another essay), I’m talking about farming as a basic life industry so our youth knows where their food comes from. Don’t blame DST on the farmers and the harvest. This lies entirely with legislators and legislation.

On Wednesday this week I spent time on the phone talking to my state legislators and my federal representatives. If you don’t tell them your opinions, they don’t know what our concerns are. They are good listeners. The way legislation is set up, however, simple things like stopping a clock game are slow and tedious. It shouldn’t have to be so hard.

DST waffled in the first place. Some states went for it, some didn’t. Some states flipped back and forth, having DST for a while and then not, until the federal government stepped in and made it nation-wide. Arizona and Hawai’i are the only states who don’t participate. I suspect they are the states who retain a modicum of sanity compared to those of us who have our body chemistry disrupted twice a year since the 1960s.

Florida is fed up with DST. Florida state House and state Senate voted to end DST, though I am stating this poorly as they want to stay on DST, and not go back to Standard Time. They want to stop the clock game by choosing the time frame that works best for them. The legislative process requires the bill to be signed by Florida’s governor and then it must still go through an act of Congress to end the clock game in their state. To my mind this is an enormous waste of legislative time and tax investment dollars to deal with this issue, when it could be as simple as a proclamation, and done with it. Any citizen or politician who argue for keeping DST is as wacko as the silly clock game. We certainly have more pressing issues that require the intense attention of our legislators, both state-side, and federally.

Oregon has two DST bills that have languished in the state House for several years. What’s the delay? Certainly there are more pressing concerns to deal with, but this would be an easy one to resolve if they set themselves to it with some determination to finish it up. That’s where the citizen constituency comes into play. If we don’t tell our representatives what our concerns and opinions are, how can they fully represent us? Even for introverts, people can learn how to take a few minutes out of their lives to call, mail, or e-mail our representatives and tell them. They listen.

I forgot to post my tips for an easier change to DST last week. The tips won’t do any good for anybody now, mid-day on Sunday. If we are still on DST in the fall, I’ll try to be better about posting those coping tips ahead of time. In the meantime, now it’s on us to tell our state and federal representatives what we want. I’ve learned to be comfortable calling; as a natural introvert it’s not been easy; it is truly learned behavior. I write a little script or make a couple notes about what I want to say. The interns are paid to listen and they reassure me they give a daily report to the representatives. It takes mere minutes to call. I have one federal House rep, two federal State Senators, one state House rep, and one state Senator. In less than ten minutes I can cover them all. If we all called our reps just once a week, how long might it take to put an end to DST? It’s up to us and I’m counting on us. We can do this.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Tiny jewel-toned purple violets. How yellow daffodils and blue grape hyacinths complement each other. Pink blossoming cherry blooming out all over town. Love the interesting shape of these pale yellow blossoms. I think they come from bulbs but I still don’t know their names.

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.} Paris, Texas (1984, rated R) with Harry Dean Stanton and Dean Stockwell. This strange “love” story dragged slowly on for more than two hours. I’m think this has to be one of those “significant” movies, but I didn’t get it. Meh. * What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? (1994, rated PG – 13) with Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio, about a young man who is responsible for his family which includes an obese mother and a developmentally challenged brother. A love story of a different kind, but I connected much more with this story. All families have their foibles, trials, and tribulations.

Currently ReadingThe Light Between Oceans (2012, fiction) by M.L. Stedman. The life of a lighthouse keeper is hard, and becomes harder when deceit takes place. No spoilers on this well-written book you need to put on your must read list. * Learning To Be Old: Gender, Culture, and Aging (2003, aging and psychology) by Margaret Cruickshank. Older people suffer from a deficit of information about growing older. It’s like we are in denial that it will happen to us, so we fail to study it. What studies are out there come under the medical model; we don’t know what honest aging really is.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • An overwhelming amount of new information about the hubster’s biological family. He was an adopted baby.
  • A friend who was able to lend her ear when I needed to share some new information about my family.
  • Changes in my family. More later on that.
  • Getting a few corners cleaned so I would feel more comfortable having some company come to my home.
  • A cleaned table and fresh tablecloth upon which to serve a meal to guests.
  • My guests, who were visiting my home for the first time, who seemed to be comfortable.
  • Having the time to prepare for the guests and the meal ahead of time so I wasn’t completely exhausted when they arrived.
  • Getting to admire my sister’s house refresh: new hardwood floors, paint, and furniture. Letting go of the comparison between her magazine perfect “House Beautiful” home and my cluttered granny-style.
  • Looking through pictures of my family from my dad and his mother, putting together faces with names, and attempting to get the lineage straight.
  • Lovely old photographs.
  • The people who took and saved those lovely old photographs.
  • Novels that engage you in the story and can take you away from your immediate concerns. Especially when you are kind of overwhelmed by real life.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: March Is On

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “The future begins today. It is a gift to which we wake every morning. Make use of it, don’t throw it away.” Daphne du Maurier in The Scapegoat.

Sunday Haiku
Yellow, yellow, bright
faces bring relief from gray
days, lighten spirits.

Sunday Musings
March already! And spring is marching in, a bit early, but welcome all the same. The return of the light, the warming of the soil and air, the last snowy efforts of winter. So many changes in March I sometimes think this should be when we mark the new year instead of a week after Christmas, but then when would we celebrate Easter?

Changes for me this year? New babies in my family: one arrived in January, one is arriving in June and another in July. I’m so excited for (and a little jealous of) these young families who work so hard for what they have, knowing the work, joy, and love they have set in front of them.

Today marks two years survival since a traumatic event causing me to lose a long-term employment which created a decreased ability to work: unplanned, untimely, and disheartening. That event has created for me not only a financial hardship, but also a time of slowing down, contemplation, reflection, permission to myself to have a less productive but more wisdom-sharing life.

Moving the hubster and myself into Medicare this year for our Medicare birthdays. I haven’t figured out how we are going to do this yet, as despite what we are led to believe all our working lives, Medicare is not “free”; even though we have paid for it in every paycheck there is a monthly ding. Since my income at this point does not cover my mortgage or other expenses, I have lots of math to do and questions to ask. What I’ve found so far for extremely low income people is it sounds like Medicaid picks up the tab for Medicare, and then they take whatever “estate” you may have upon your death. That’s comforting (not) to know I’ve worked all my life to buy my home to turn over to the federal government when I die. Not like I wanted to have a legacy or inheritance for the son (how dare I have the same aspirations of the wealthy elite who don’t even pay taxes when they give their assets to their children).

The fifth anniversary of this blog was a couple weeks ago. I don’t have a lot of readers, but that’s OK; I realize my voice is unique. I’m not upbeat, or funny, or even all that entertaining. I’m the voice of poverty, dissent, and forgotten old women. I peruse other blogs by aging women. Most of them are about make-up (covering wrinkles), health tips (how to get or stay slender or “anti-aging” tips), fashion (what not to wear if you are over 50 or how to choose “flattering” outfits), travel and vacation suggestions (what are those words?), and how to make your money grow (because they are assuming you have it like they do).

What’s the difference between them and me? I don’t care about fashion or make-up or not aging or what your body looks like. They are the voices of affluent white privilege, voices who have not struggled with poverty or working for a living or plans gone awry or being the only income in the family. They know what a vacation is. They know financial security, don’t have to worry about paying the mortgage, or property tax, or food, or health care, or bills; they pay them, they just don’t worry about where the money comes from. They know the comfort of being able to call the mechanic when the car fails, and have a back-up car in the garage for the meantime, or the cushion-funds to replace a vehicle when needed.

Mine is the voice of the poor, of plans disrupted and failed. You won’t find another voice like mine. Many who live in poverty don’t have the words or the means to share them. Nor do they subject themselves to honest self-evaluations. Poor old women rarely have the time to share their thoughts; they are still too busy scrambling to stay free from homelessness or total dependency.

And yet. Even though every day is a scramble, I don’t live in abject, grinding poverty. I still have my home. I’m getting by, but there’s a cost. My car is of legal age plus one now (19 years old). My house needs more health care than I do, no broken bones yet, but cosmetic surgery and yard maintenance is definitely in order. I have an abundance of worthless stuff inherited from family that pleases me to look at and live with. My health, while challenged and challenging, is as good as it can be for me. Same for my guys. My vacation and travel aspirations are modest, but they do require a reliable vehicle and enough money to get there and back and still pay my bills. Odd how the bills don’t go away when you go on vacation.

I am the voice of the poor who prevail. The ones who keep on despite tons of failed plans and set-backs. In the past we had families for safety nets. People honored multi-generational households and took care of elders and youngers. The myth of self-sufficiency has destroyed this. Despite all the lip service, you cannot make it on your own in this America. I’ve survived because of help from family, whether resented or not, and begging for public assistance.

In my household we know there is no going backward. You can only move forward with each new day, with every passing minute. Yesterday is gone, done, can’t be changed. We can work as hard as we can work, and sometimes it is only because of the ridges on the skin of our fingers that we are holding on to what we’ve worked so hard for.

So for now, we’ll keep Marching on and I’m going to keep on writing. It’s what I have left. Words, and a little time.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Yellow daffodils popping out all over. Piles of crocuses. Pretty periwinkles.

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.} Dreams Rewired (2015, not rated) narrated by Tilda Swinton, a creative documentary about the beginning and development of media technology, telephones, radio, and television. * Wonder Woman (2017, rated PG – 13) with Gal Gadot and Chris Pine. Can anything be better than Greek mythology? Amazons have got it going on. If girls and young women received combat training, there might be less war in the world. I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but what we are doing right now isn’t working for me, peace-wise. I’m depending on women to save our world, but we need the help of men.

Currently ReadingThe Light Between Oceans (2012, fiction) by M.L. Stedman. Just started and I’m in Australia just after the end of WW1. * Learning To Be Old: Gender, Culture, and Aging (2003, aging and psychology) by Margaret Cruickshank. So much disinformation about aging, so much pressure to be productive or “busy”, so little honoring of the aging mind and body.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • March coming in like a lion. As expected.
  • New calendar pages. Fun little ritual changing them every month, like having new art on the wall every month.
  • Saving cans and bottles to purchase my own copy of Walking to Forest Grove (2014, local history) by Ken and Kris Bilderback.
  • The hubster getting the kitchen sink to drain more easily without having to crawl underneath and undo the pipes.
  • The boogalou in my hip responding to hot packs, ibuprofen, and water work-outs in the pool.
  • The joy I experience watching the littles at the pool.
  • The opportunity to walk the halls of my old high school before they tear the building down.
  • Getting to spend some time with my sister.
  • Winter Olympics being over for another season.
  • Soft, warm socks.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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