Gratitude Sunday: Forward Motion

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

Sunday Haiku
Sun melting flowers,
no relief in sight, grass waits
for fresh autumn rain.

Sunday Musings
Forty-two years ago when I was young and adventurous I drove south to the Monterrey Jazz Festival, by myself in my new little Volvo, with a pocket full of cash and traveler’s cheques in the day before everybody had debit/credit plastic that could be used anywhere. I got to see a variety of acts, including Etta James, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Marian McPartland, Betty Carter, Dizzy Gillespie, and Sarah Vaughan. Heavenly music. All gone to golden stardust now. I’m grateful I got to see them when I did.

I spent some time in San Francisco on the way back north. I had the feeling this might be one of the few times I got to see this cool city and it turned into quite an eventful tour as I drove around taking in the sights. I was staying with a young man I’d picked up hitchhiking (adventurous, remember?). He was willing to show me some sights. We drove by the St Francis Hotel just after Sara Jane Moore attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford. I didn’t know what all the traffic mess and cordons were at the time but when we got to his place on Castro Street and turned on the TV, there it was. I had obliviously and unknowingly driven by a significant moment in history. I’m grateful she was not successful.

The next day I wanted to see Coit Tower. The road up there was quite crowded and moved slowly. I was in no hurry and since the traffic was slow I took my time looking at all I could. At the summit it became obvious for all the delays as they were filming a Roger Moore movie and everybody was gawking at the actor and the production. I was moving along with the traffic peaceful as could be, and then a police office kicked my sweet new car. Yes, without provocation, he kicked my car and yelled at me “Move along”, which is what I thought I was doing. I sort of lost it and yelled quite loudly at the officer “I’m moving!”. My passenger, a local San Franciscan with long blond hair, a scruffy chin beardie, and wearing hippie garb, shrunk as far into his seat as he could go and freaked out that I would talk to a police officer that way, sure we would certainly be arrested. I offered to let him out of the car, then explained about having a police officer father. I stood up for my rights. The officer didn’t need to kick my car, but for whatever reason this person in authority felt the need to act out and took it out on my car. Maybe he was hot and tired. If the officer wanted to arrest me for him kicking my car and me yelling at him, so be it. He didn’t, because I was doing what he said, moving along. I quickly delivered my passenger to his home, collected my few belongings I had left in his apartment, and went on my way. I’m grateful I was not arrested and the officer didn’t damage my car.

I found Lombard Street and slowly zigzagged my way down. Because I was driving I couldn’t take the time to look at the houses perched along the road. I thought maybe one day I’d walk down so I could take the time to appreciate the houses. I do a vicarious tour occasionally thanks to Google maps, YouTube, and virtual videos. I am grateful to be able to read maps, for houses, for creatively shaped streets, and virtual videos.

By accident I found that one hill. I don’t know the name of the streets; I think it was an intersection. I’ve tried to find it on virtual videos as I am not likely to return to San Francisco. This hill gave me the oddest perception. I’m driving up the hill. I don’t remember if there was a stop sign or light but I stopped at the top of the hill. With the position of the car I could not see anything but sky out the front windshield. When I looked out my side window I could see the immediate square of pavement but when I looked forward to the front fenders, I could see nothing but sky. Looking through the side mirrors and the rear view mirror I could see road and cars and buildings behind me, all normal. My little brain knew my tires were firmly on the road, and gravity was functioning as I had always known it to. Adding to the perception of sky was the open sunroof of the Volvo. I loved that sunroof and used it as often as I could. I even had a special sunroof hat so the top of my head wouldn’t get sunburned. I could see nothing in front of me but an expanse of sky, not a cloud, not a tree, not another car, not a stop light or sign. I. Could. See. Nothing.

I had to move forward. With the angle of the hill if I took my foot off the brake even with my automatic transmission I would slip backward, so I did the foot switch so my left foot was firmly on the brake and my right foot primed over the accelerator. I gently pressed the accelerator as if there were a carton of eggs under my foot, reluctant to take my foot off the brake. Moments passed in the twilight zone of panic not knowing if I was driving into oblivion or moving forward in reality. The car inched forward with me both in control as driver and not in control as passenger because all the air and blood in me was left at the top of the hill. The laws of physics held, the tires carried me over the summit, the Volvo clung to the earth, and the outer limits returned to a long hill downward. I’m grateful I was not having a psychotic break, only a moment of breathlessly different perception.

After that experience I would occasionally have dreams of that moment in time of being at the precipice of a hill and having to move forward faithful the way will be there. The surroundings in the dream were not always the same, sometimes different, sometimes not even there, as if the road was floating, the street as amorphous as the moment. The dream is as terrifying as the moment all those years ago on that hill. I’m grateful to dream. I’m grateful to remember.

I hadn’t had the dream for many years, but recently the dream played its way through my night. I was surprised to remember the dream as recent medications have disrupted my dreams and my memories of dreams, but there I was again behind the wheel of the Volvo I loved so much, in an unfamiliar place, in a strange position looking at the sky, feeling the pressure of gravity pulling me back down into the leather seat, and not knowing what to do, knowing only I had to move forward. I had to keep moving, no matter the outcome, because the outcome didn’t matter. The forward movement was the only thing that mattered, forward into the unknown or forever backward into a different unknown. In this time of my transitioning away from the formal work world, I am grateful for this subconscious reminder to move forward in faith. The outcome will be the outcome.

Though I am less adventurous these days I am reminded the journey is the adventure, not the destination. Don’t worry. I haven’t picked up a hitchhiker for years. So many different adventures to choose.

Color Watchcolorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – The soft water blue of wild bachelors buttons. A carpet of bright yellow Black Eyed Susans. The view from under the carpet of bright Susans. Bee doing his business on a pale pink mallow. Another bee pinking his fill on a wild old-fashioned pink rose. Yellow moth on purple buddleia.

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.} On season 2 of Wiseguy (1987-1990, rated TV – 14). I like how the older TV series made you aware of the violence without rubbing your face in it compared to currents series who employ vivid graphics. I prefer the subtleties rather than being hit over the head with violence. * White Palace (1990, rated R) with Susan Sarandon and a very young, slender James Spader with lots of hair. A young affluent widower falls in love with an older working class woman.

Currently ReadingSwimming Lessons (2017, fiction) by Claire Fuller. The author crafts her art with an epistolary technique. The mysteriously missing wife writes letters about their life together to her husband, a published writer, but instead of giving the letters to him, she hides them between the pages of his vast collection of books. Years after her disappearance, as he ages and his health deteriorates, he begins to find her hidden letters. * Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (2016, radical politics), by Jane Mayer. Citizen’s Tip Number 2: before you donate money, believe an ad campaign, support a candidate or a cause, or vote for a bill, check to see how the wording was skewed to lead the average person away from the actual truth. Unless you believe freedom only belongs to the wealthy.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • The magic of doing Tai Chi in the moonlight.
  • The hubster putting out bowls of water for the squirrels because of the heat.
  • Learning to enjoy my own time structure.
  • Being able to have a little lie down when hit with headaches or pain.
  • Ibuprofen and ice packs.
  • The local all-indoor aquatic center staying open on the hottest days.
  • Summer meals you don’t have to cook in the oven.
  • The hubster discovering how to steam chicken breasts and shredding them to make barbeque chicken sandwiches.
  • My favorite easy coleslaw to go on the barbeque chicken sandwiches (thinly shredded Napa cabbage and dribble small spoonful of jar coleslaw dressing on it). Num!
  • Getting some work finished that was on my to-do list.
  • Having a constantly changing to-do list.
  • Having enough fresh fruit and veg on hand to get me through the week the farmers market was closed because of exceptionally hot weather.
  • Hot and cold showers at the turn of the tap.
  • Filtered water with a lemon slice.
  • First of the fresh figs. With crumbles of goat cheese, a squeeze of lemon, and a few shreds of mint. Ooommm.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: For The Children

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

Sunday Haiku
Flowers droop in want
of refreshing summer rain,
nowhere in forecast.

Sunday Musings
Spoiler alert: prescriptive sentences that aren’t very grateful and what we “need” to do.

We are raising anxious children this generation. Maybe it’s been every generation. I know mine was anxious as well. We became hippies and protestors and protectors of rights and society hasn’t progressed much in these last 50 years. Of course I’m speaking from the perspective of the low-income spectrum. I have only the vaguest idea of what my thoughts might be like if I had been born into the comfort and responsibility of affluence or inherited money or been able to earn it for myself. This may not be true for upper income families, but with more than 45 million of Americans living under the poverty level, there is much concern to worry us. That’s right more than 45 MILLION people in America live with poverty level incomes. Not much there to help your children have a hand up when you are scrambling for the basics.

Our children have poor health care, poor quality foods, and unequal access to education. Our young adults can’t find jobs even with a college degree, and their parents kick them out onto the streets when they don’t, because they are supposed to learn independence. Even if they find jobs it’s barely enough to pay rent and provide for themselves. Participating in the American Dream of home ownership and the privilege of paying a property tax bill is a distant reality for most young adults. The taxes these young people pay from their already small paychecks don’t come back to serve them.

Many people don’t want government in their personal business, but something has to change. If you take a close look at it government is already part of our personal business; we don’t always recognize it as such. Since it already is, I’d rather it worked for me and you, than supporting the ways of all the Big industries that are trying to exploit American workers.

I don’t believe in “Welfare Queens”, though I actually met a self-admitted one years ago. As each child grew to a certain age, she would get that letter telling her she would soon stop receiving assistance. She would go out randomly sharing her body with anybody so she could get pregnant and continue to receive her benefits. I met her in the state run clinic I used during my pregnancy, and was surprised she would tell a complete stranger (me) this. She even showed me the cutoff letter. She was there for a check-up for pregnancy number 6. I felt sad that was the only way she could figure out to support herself and her brood of fatherless children. She didn’t want anything to do with the men once she was pregnant. That one, ONE, example speaks volumes about our nation.

The fact that most of us figure out a better way to support ourselves hasn’t proven to be to our advantage either. Even more maddening when one discovers there are secret machinations out there meaning to keep us in poverty. That makes no sense to me. The more of us who prosper and are able to help others be prosperous, the wealthier our whole country is. If we are kept in poverty so just a few people can be wealthy, this is not a wealthy nation.

We know how to fix this. We do. We have to look beyond the notion of “I’ve got mine, and too bad for you” of self sufficiency, because that doesn’t work for every person despite the best laid plans. We have to provide health care, quality foods, and equal opportunity to education and housing. I’m not talking about a hand-out. I’m talking about a hand up, a few stepping stones in place to the advantage of all Americans not just the wealthy or the able or the lucky.

We could start by implementing health care for all. Across the board, for every person in America, regardless of income or any other difference. Easy peasy if we cut out all the competing insurance companies who seem hell bent on commodifying the health of Americans to the benefit of their profit margins. When CEOs of insurance companies are paid in the millions (yes, plural!) of dollars each year, the math is crazy wrong. Putting that money back into actual health care would balance the equation. We also need to divorce medical research from the pharmaceutical companies who make profit from skewed test results. Anybody who has studied statistics knows it’s a matter of semantics as to which evidence is supported. And we need to put doctors back to real doctoring, not drug pushing like they are trained now.

Then we need to support local farmers, with each community having enough local farms for the immediate area. Devitalized commercial foods are killing us and costing us too much in health care to repair needless damage. Transporting commercial foods is killing our air and water with the carbon footprint. Since it now takes two or more adults in the household to financially support the household few people have time to garden and cook from scratch. That’s why my grandmothers didn’t have jobs outside the home, though their quilting and crocheting handwork done in their “spare” time covered many a bed and body. It took every minute of their days to produce the healthful foods to put on their family’s tables, and every penny of their husband’s incomes to support the household so they could do so.

We need to change the current warehousing system now known as public education. I volunteered in the son’s schools over the last 25 years. They were not taught block letters, cursive handwriting, or basic math. Courtesy and polite manners were not re-enforced, though standing in line was. Those who happened to excel were pushed forward. Those who did not were ignored, forgotten, or worse, bullied and punished for their “failures”. American national dropout rates are at 25%; 25% of all people are dyslexic, so it’s not tough math to figure out which demographic is not being served. “Special” ed is great for those who need it, but dyslexics are not in need of “special” education, merely a different type of reading education. Dyslexics are just as smart as typical learners, they read differently. I’m sad to say I witnessed too many teachers telling kids they were stupid or telling kids they’d never learn, when in fact the teachers didn’t know how to teach them. Most teachers spend their summers taking classes to improve and maintain their skills; let’s have some dyslexic-specific seminars on all levels from pre-school on up. It would be a start to improve what we have in place, since most households no longer have an adult at home to home school.

I’m a dreamer. It’s hard not being satisfied with what is. I see what can be, because I’ve seen what hasn’t worked by the evidence of what is. I believe in math; there is power in numbers. Let’s dream, all of us, of something bigger and better for all of us, and help our children experience some security in this world. There may be no guarantees, but we might even the playing field a bit. It only takes one day to start. Imagine everybody taking one day to start working toward dreams of a better society. And another day. And another.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Love the little trail of yellow pollen spilled down the petals of this magenta mallow, a member of the hollyhock/hibiscus family. Like dangling earrings, a stream of lavender colored wisteria. I don’t know what these delicate two toned pink birdies on green stalks are, but I like them anyway. I also don’t know what this prolific fuchsia colored, lilac shaped bush is, but the bees were loving it.

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.} Still plugging through the old Wiseguy (1987-1990, rated TV – 14) series. Only one set of discs available in the lending library system and disc three is compromised. Tried single episodes for free on Hulu, but they toss you out every few minutes, I’m guessing to inspire you to buy their service. Let me watch one whole episode and I might consider it. Good thing I’m not terribly invested in the plot. * Heavenly Creatures (1994, rated R) a New Zealand production directed by Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings fame. Based on a true story, two 15 year old girls have an intense fantasy life that spins out of control and ends in the ultimate sin. Actress Melanie Lynskey has the best scowling glower ever.

Currently ReadingSwimming Lessons (2017, fiction) by Claire Fuller. Interesting how some books don’t tweak you, like my last fiction read, and others you dive right in and connect. This novel has books and water, my two favorite things. A woman leaves her family in a mysterious way and the plot twists. * Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (2016, radical politics), by Jane Mayer. How the wealthy twist words that sound like they should be to the benefit of the citizenry into plots to line their own pockets with exploitation and greed. Words like freedom, free market, and free enterprise have different meanings for us and (dare I say it?) them.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Being gifted some golden delicious apples that are scenting the house.
  • Not having to go out in the heat much.
  • Being able to keep the house temperature tolerable.
  • Being able to be mostly naked around the house to keep cool.
  • Story ideas and how they seem to come from nowhere.
  • That story ideas don’t really come from nowhere.
  • Reviving one of my old stories.
  • Learning to finish or be done with a story.
  • New red and white potatoes.
  • Marionberries and black satin blackberries as an alternative to strawberries, which are not thriving much in the Oregon heat.
  • Fat sweet Rainier cherries.
  • Green beans boiled with bacon the way grandma did.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: Whirligig Of Time

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

Sunday Haiku
Sun blinks through curtain,
wakes me early, refreshes
with fresh morning air.

Sunday Musings
Time is such an elusive concept. We measure it in different increments with definite names and quantities: minutes, hours, days, months, years; and we measure it in indefinite quantities as well: “moments in time”, “that time when”, “do you remember?”, “maybe next time”, then, when, now, never, soon, later. Time passes whether we measure it or not. Sometimes it stretches out in front of us and other times it is gone too fast.

We make appointments or schedule events weeks or months away and glory in how much time we have before it happens. Then suddenly the time is upon us and the event or appointment is now merely a memory. A vacation is planned, long awaited, then the departure is nigh and the vacation over before we have time to enjoy it. We visualize futures that may never happen and we spend time thinking about that future time. We can do nothing to change the past, yet the past repeats itself in our brain cells and muscle memory. That time is with us forever, which is a very long time.

We are clever animals, us humans who invented measuring time. We can make a mess of things in a relatively short time, and take a long time to fix the mess. Personally, the few minutes spent with a stranger while she purposely and malevolently shared her disease has taken me more than 40 years to fix, but I embark on that journey with a new 12 week course of treatment. The time was finally right with the advent of new medicines, different health insurance, and finding some medical support. Something I have carried with me all that time, nearly all my adult life, might no longer be a part of me soon. Time will tell how well we can fix this long time mess.

Fear can waste time. I received a stand-alone 3.5 inch floppy disc drive for Christmas. We had recycled all our old computers and I found myself with no way to retrieve writing from 20 years ago. The drive arrived and more than 6 months time elapsed before I gathered enough courage to plug it into my laptop and retrieve the files. I didn’t want to ask for help. I figured since it didn’t come with instructions (plus I need to know how my own equipment works) it should be pretty straightforward, but it took me all that time to face my fear and move forward. In the end it was less than a 15 minute improvement of the learning curve; it wasn’t hard after all, though I did have to employ one of my favorite brain games called logic; the techno-ditz prevailed in self-learning. Silly unfounded fear.

It’s hard enough on an individual basis just keeping oneself together to learn new things, to get to work, to cook and eat, and parent, and run a household, and pay bills, and have any energy left over to relax. But to organize a group to effect change, wow, there are so many of us now it’s hard to coordinate so everybody’s on the same page at the same time even with social media and calling trees. And there’s so much information who has the time to read or view it all?

Yes, time is the culprit. Either you have it or you don’t. Really we have all the time in the world. I wake up in the morning and I have all the time in the day to get my list done. If I don’t get through the list today, I get to it tomorrow, or the day after, or a fortnight from now. The list never goes away; it shrinks and grows according to the second law of thermodynamics. It doesn’t matter what time most of the stuff on my list gets done, whether it’s work I do for gainful employment or work I do for myself. Time can have such a lovely liquidly amorphous quality to it. It all gets done when it gets done.

I often surprise myself when most Thursdays roll around I haven’t yet written one word for this week’s Sunday post. How did that happen? Where did last week go? What did I do with that time? Maybe it doesn’t matter what I did or didn’t do. Maybe what matters is that I was. I was. I am. With every breath I take I still am. We’ll see about the next breath, and the next, and tomorrow’s as well. But then that will be a new day in time.

Color Watchcolorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Lacy soft blue hydrangea. Many shades of hydrangea: pinks, blues, purples. Combination of bright colors at a nearby home. A river of trailing pink petunias.

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.} Finished the first season of Ballers (2016, rated TV – MA), an HBO TV series with Dwayne Johnson as a retired football player turned financial adviser. Finally got interesting plot-wise about the last three episodes of the season. Let me clarify from last week: the excess and waste of sex, drugs, money, and not much actual football. That’s OK; I’m not that into football, but then, hwell, Dwayne Johnson. * Doctor Strange (2016, rated PG – 13) with Benedict Cumberbatch as a neurosurgeon who injures his hands and seeks healing, but finds something different in his search. The special effects were particularly innovative, and if buildings and atmospheres ever move like that for me in any of my real lives I’ll likely lose the contents of my stomach. * Denial (2017, rated PG – 13), a Holocaust denier brings a libel suit against a Holocaust scholar. Spoiler alert: based on a true story, the scholar and her legal team prevail. Well crafted movie portrayal and worth the time to watch the legal arguments and historical fact discoveries.

Currently ReadingHot Season (2016, fiction) by Susan Defreitas. I’m not connecting well with this book. The sentence fragments are colorful; the whole sentences are well-crafted. Somehow the plot disjoints me. It might not be the author, or the questionable editing; perhaps it’s just my read. Maybe the conclusion will change my mind, but right now I’m still rather confused about the story. Aaand… the conclusion was not helpful; somebody told Ms Defreitas to be specific, and she was, excellently so, except, for me, she lost the story while doing so. This novel came highly recommended so I was disappointed. And again perhaps it was just me. * Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (2016, radical politics), by Jane Mayer. Will it never end? Give me strength to endure the nefarious antics and absurd abuse of money by the outrageously wealthy in the name of increasing their own profit and buying/controlling the politics of the world.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Being approved for a new course of expensive medicine by my health insurance.
  • Being scheduled for a zero co-pay for that expensive medicine through my health insurance.
  • Receiving and beginning the new course of medicine.
  • The phone calls from the doctor’s office, the pharmacy, and the insurance company to help me with questions about the new medicine.
  • Feeling a little overwhelmed at all the attention.
  • And so grateful they think I’m worth it.
  • My local lending library and the vast amount of information and entertainment I get for the investment of a few tax dollars every year.
  • My aquatic center being mere blocks away.
  • Being allowed to exercise during pre-school swim lessons and watching the kiddos learn is such a joy.
  • The hubster not breaking any bones during a recent fall.
  • The techno-ditz prevailing again, thanks to determination and the learning curve (or perhaps stubbornness and perversity).
  • Oregon Star seedless tomatoes.
  • Firm sweet Oregon Albion strawberries.
  • A half pint of black Marionberries, sweet not tart this year.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

Posted in abundance, Aging, Education, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, Medicine, Photography, Poetry, Science, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gratitude Sunday: Invest In Our Most Valuable Natural Resource

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

Sunday Haiku
Green growth, buds swelling
to fruit, sweet ripeness, heavy
abundance breaks branch.

Sunday Musings
I don’t know about you but lately I feel as if the world or I have gone totally insane. And I don’t really think it’s me.

I’ve worked hard all my life. I supported a disabled hubster with no financial assistance from tax dollars. We raised a child ourselves with little in the way of child care because one or both of us was always home with our child. I accessed public assistance for a few of the son’s earliest years; that assistance was a stepping stone for me to a college degree and a new career, albeit with a huge debt load that I could have never paid back had it not been for the inheritance from the hubster’s aunt and three concerned human women in the Oregon Department of Human Services who decided my family needed a break, and insisted on paying the student loan for me before Medicare sucked up the bulk of auntie’s annuity. Had Medicare not stepped in wanting “reimbursement” I could have paid off my mortgage as well, and faced retirement with a modicum of security.

I’ve done all kinds of work in my life, both inside and outside my home. I’ve pumped gas, delivered newspapers (remember newspapers?), sold vacuums and magazine subscriptions, washed toilets, cleaned houses, cared for other people’s children and pets, served over retail counters, and had a couple other careers in there as well: BD (before degree) I was a licensed hairdresser for 20 years, and AD (after degree) I was in library (public service) work for almost as long. For many years I was able to keep a garden, and not only eat my own fresh organic food, I preserved what I grew. For many years BD I created lacy and be-ribboned headbands and barrettes to sell at the hair salon I worked in, and special order bridal hair clips and hair bands as well.

Because of a traumatic work incident I find myself succumbing to disability and forced into early retirement. All those years of work and planning for retirement was not enough. We didn’t have classes in school about personal economics, finances, investing, or how to use your money, and when I went to school they wouldn’t have encouraged young women to take those classes anyway. It’s not like I didn’t try. I was/am frugal. I planned. I saved. I listened to my mother who had time to read financial planning information and who had successfully done some of her own saving. I learned to plan better and choose better as I went along. And many of my choices didn’t turn out the way I planned. Don’t tell me I made the wrong choices. Consequences of choices cannot be controlled unless you have or are born into the kind of wealth where you aren’t scrabbling and scratching for any and every advantage. The money I saved was never enough to invest to let my money make money for me, the technique wealthy people use. The banks changed games along the way; the first Certificate of Deposit (CD) I invested in paid 8 percent, the last CD I bought paid .01 which is what I get in my regular savings account so why would I bother to tie up my money for an investment that pays me pennies for the few thousand dollars I have to work with? I got by paycheck to paycheck. I resemble the average working person in the United States of America, land of opportunity (if your choices go right).

Now our entire nation has been pushed off the deep end of sanity. Our new administration has proven themselves to be liars who think all us lesser thans are stupid and unworthy, as if their money gives them worth. The last 50 years of activism, feminism, and empathy on the part of caring citizens has produced hell for the average worker, not because of us, but in spite of us because we have been fighting the good fight. These administrators place value on what you earn, rather than what you are. Anybody who cannot produce an income is disposable. We know, of course, people are not disposable.

In the past I have had my few moments of standing up for what is right. I have had the luxury with this venue to have my say. I’m going to blame it on math and 2017 being a prime number year, but the transition is upon us. Many of us have become and are becoming radicalized in the name of empathy and democracy. We can no longer tolerate being used as workers and cast into the pits of poverty as punishment for being workers. If you want to mince around with words and label that socialism or nationalism or whatever ism you mince with, fine. But if we don’t make the shift to an empathetic world, caring for the least of us, we are doomed. If America is a democracy we should be able to make the government work for all citizens. We have to be willing to serve in office for what we believe, we need to carefully assess our elected representatives and monitor their service, and as citizens we must continue to have our voice.

This year I am radicalized for the average person and empathy for those with less. Why? I am appalled at all the efforts of and money spent by billionaires to effect change in social policy for the benefit of only a handful of people. Not only does that make no sense at all to me to treat people as disposable for the benefit of a few, it is deplorable and unconscionable. The billions of dollars the billionaire class have spent avoiding taxes are likely more than they would have paid had they paid their fair share of taxes on their income in the first place. That fair share of tax money would be a game changer in the lives of average people, and we’d have to choose to invest in the citizenry and not the military industrial complex.

Play in my wild imagination if you will. Imagine a world where the most precious natural resource is people, not just the people who can earn or create wealth. Every person has value regardless of their ability to be productive, or any other difference.

Imagine every person has access to appropriate health care. If you feel better you are going to be more productive.

Imagine everybody has equal access to quality locally grown organic foods. Better nutrition helps you feel better, which helps you be more productive.

Imagine a world where women are honored members of society, not treated as possessions or chattel. Imagine a world where children are the glory and joy of the community. Imagine assisting all women in successfully raising their children in secures homes with enough food and health care for all challenges. Healthy well-fed children are more able to learn and create.

Imagine a world where science and education are important and supported. Where children really learn basics (good old-fashioned reading, writing, and arithmetic) and discovery (science and critical thinking), and aren’t just warehoused and conformity-conditioned. Where re-training is readily available for people when their bodies or abilities change. Proper education makes you more productive.

Imagine you didn’t have to fight and scrape to make ends meet, that you had a secure home base you won’t be evicted from, and the assistance (physical, financial, emotional, whatever) to take care of whatever home you have. Knowing your home is secure helps you be more productive.

Imagine, you have a secure home, you are as healthy as you’ve ever been, you have good food on your table, and you are feeling well physically, emotionally, socially. You have so much to contribute to society now because you have fewer worries in your life. Because you have fewer worries you are even more able to be productive so you begin helping others be productive as well, like your children and your neighbors. And your neighbors are doing the same because, hwell, they are felling pretty darn good themselves.

Then imagine all that security provides you access to a world where there is enough gainful employment for all who want and are able to work to do so. Where there is less stress because if something happens to change your circumstances you still have your home, and quality food, and easy access to health care, and educational opportunities to address any changes you may experience. Imagine those jobs don’t necessarily provide fantastic wealth but enough security to be enough to save a bit for retirement, because those jobs are all about the advancement of society, in such industries as green energy, organic local farming, universal community health, maybe even subsidized motherhood and universal basic income.

Radicalization is about thinking differently, let’s say outside the box but inside the community, and it isn’t about destruction or terrorism. It makes no sense to me whatsoever to glorify money when so many do without. The thing is the billionaires spend so much just trying to avoid their fair share, that amount spent on the avoidance would have paid the tax several times over. I pay my fair share as a low-income person. I’d be willing to pay more to make sure we (myself included) had a modicum of security in this world. Why the billionaire class think they are above paying their fair share is beyond me. It used to be a point of pride for wealthy people to give back to their community. When did that thought die? The average worker seems willing enough to pay their share.

I know the value of our most precious natural resource and I realize to maintain a natural resource it takes money since that is the current exchange system we are using. So here I sit, thinking and imagining, and to my mind I think we should invest in our most precious natural resource, but I don’t have any money to convince you to think what I think is right. I’m radicalized for empathy and feeling totally insane.

Color Watchcolorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Bright yellow moth mullein, look at the details in the center. Lavender so heavy it can’t hold itself up. Combination gardens: vermillion crocosmia and exotic purple hollyhocks. Hot pink fuchsia floating like birds amid purple starbursts. Red-orange crocosmia dragon-riding curvy green stalks.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} In the middle of the first season of Wiseguy (1987-1990, rated TV – 14) I realized I did watch this series before 30 years ago. The characters were all familiar but 30 years later I don’t remember the plot. The big hair on the women and the cars are fun. * Started Ballers (2016, rated TV – MA), an HBO TV series with Dwayne Johnson as a retired football player turned financial adviser. Sex, drugs, money, and football. * Zulu (1964, not rated), Michael Caine’s first major movie, about the Battle of Rorke’s Drift in South Africa in January of 1879 when 150 British soldiers, many of whom were ill and injured in the field hospital there, held off an attack by 4000 native Zulu. It’s a period movie, and of course, Hollywood, so who knows how historically accurate. Still, a fascinating bit of history. * Harry Brown (2009, rated R), with Michael Caine. A pensioner who has lost his young daughter, and recently his old wife, turns vigilante when his old friend is murdered by the gang of local tough kids. Disturbing but recommended.

Currently Reading Hot Season (2016, fiction) by Susan Defreitas. Slow starter. Half way through and I think it’s about environmental activism. * Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (2016, radical politics), by Jane Mayer. This is a long tough read, so much information about a world of money that people use to change other people’s world views to match theirs. I am so far away from that world of wealth, I could live on Venus. But I am learning what those sneaky billionaires are up to and how they go about it. Their deviousness does not impress me; it disgusts me, especially when they hurt citizens and the workings of a democratic government in the name of profit.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Fine clear summer days.
  • Listening to a friend vent. Just listening.
  • Continuing to attack some paper challenges and getting a couple piles sorted out with most of it going into the recycle.
  • Getting a couple outside spaces tidied up a little bit at a time.
  • Starting to clean out the space for my new bookcase.
  • Mastering a couple new water exercises.
  • A couple of young lifeguards at my aquatic center who are going off to their first year of college next month. They will be missed, but I hope they have great adventures and come back next summer for summer jobs and to tell me their stories.
  • Figuring out how to use the new local BottleDrop facility to cash in my cans and bottles.
  • The neighbor who keeps a year-round bird friendly yard and I get to enjoy their birdsong whenever I walk by.
  • Getting some paperwork completed, copied, and mailed before the deadline.
  • The plum tree loaded with fruit this year.
  • Fat Rainier cherries.
  • Red leaf, red oak leaf, and green leaf lettuce.
  • 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, Housing, Nature, Nutrition, Photography, Poetry, Politics, Science | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gratitude Sunday: The Value Of Friends

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

Sunday Haiku
Long days, warmer nights,
cool evening breeze, soft and sweet,
glorious summer.

Sunday Musings
Where would we be without friends?

I consider myself a fairly independent person (not to be confused with self-sufficient). I’ve had to be. I have limited social skills; I’m not Miss Popularity or Miss Congeniality. The hubster has physical challenges and for most his adult life has not been able to work, so I’m the one who has been out in the world, alienating people. The alienation is my own fault; I’m opinionated and share freely. My opinions are often not mainstream. So, there’s that.

My dad always complained he didn’t have friends. My mom always said you have to be a friend to make a friend. It interests me how my efforts to be a friend has rarely made a friend. When you make efforts and invite and call, and they don’t invite back or call, after a while you know when you’ve been snubbed or deemed not worthy of their friendship. It’s not true of course; I am worthy; they just don’t realize my worth. I’ve learned over the years these are not true friends, so I’ve ended up like my dad. I’d rather have few friends than frenemies; I’ve learned trust issues from “friends”. I prefer honest relationships to people who kiss your face while stabbing you in the back.

I am lucky to have a handful of people I can call friends. I don’t get to see them often so time spent with them is precious. When we are able to get together it’s like we’ve never been apart, though it may be weeks or years between visits. How sad is that to visit so rarely. Phone calls and texts, even skyping just aren’t as satisfying. We may have our differences of opinion but we can tell each other those differences and still accept each other as worthy. The value there? Priceless.

Sissy’s pretty beach toes

This last month I have had the joy of spending time with both my sisters. The sister from my mother, the person who is more like me in DNA than any other person on this planet, took me to the beach for a weekend. We spent the night together like an old ladies sleep-over and had so much fun, talking, eating, sitting on the beach, watching a parade (2017 Tillamook June Dairy Parade), cavorting with pirates (Rockaway Beach Pirate Festival), leisurely watching the colony of ground squirrels play in the rocks at Rockaway Beach, and celebrating our differences and our likenesses (she is still physically able, me much less so; we both hate emptying the dishwasher and don’t mind filling it). There was nobody, no kids, or hubsters to interrupt our conversation or demand our attention. We lucked out and got a couple nice warm days, rare for the Oregon coast. I’ll take the beach any way I can get it, stormy or clear. As children we used to be like puppies, all over each other; now it’s one white-haired old lady helping the other. Love ages.

Beach sunset

My sister from another mother came out for a day visit. I was lucky to meet her when I was 12 and her family moved in up the street, going to the same junior high school (7th grade for our district); we were Camp Fire Girls together with my mom as the leader. She and Mom were fast friends as well, in our adult lives, a welcomed life-long relationship; I always admired her mom as well though we weren’t as close. We drove by the local university where a film crew was set up to film an episode of The Librarians seeing what we could see. Then the two of us with our canes invaded a local antique mall to look at good junk we didn’t need, but which sparked memories and history discussions. They had some lovely chairs to sit in when our legs got tired of walking on the concrete where we sat and yakked. Then we went out to a local lake, found a shady picnic table in a quiet spot, laid out our home-made picnic (no store-bought picnics for us!), and proceeded to talk the afternoon away.

How refreshing and heart strengthening these visits are! Being with people you trust who love and respect you is so validating, a reinforcement of your worthiness to exist which can be a hard notion to hang onto once you have left the paycheck world. We know it shouldn’t be like that, of course; retired people are still a wealth of knowledge and history, and good sounding boards for new ideas, but our culture doesn’t necessarily place those values on us elders. Any time I get to talk with an older person I ask them their stories and I learn the most amazing things. I recently talked to an elder who is 87 and she remembers the day Franklin D Roosevelt died. She was 14 years old, so he’d been president when she was born, because he died in office in 1945. She told of people crying in the streets everywhere she went after she got out of school. The stories of others are living history.

My sisters and I agree our stories and our stuff have little meaning to the next generations. The stuff we have that has been handed down the youngers don’t care about (it’s old, they say, with up-turned noses), and the stories mean even less. How did we teach these generations this is a throwaway world instead of how to use and keep our old things? I don’t buy the “fashion” excuse, and do not try to convince me of the value of consumerism. There may come a day when they are digging these old things out of the trash just to have something if the apocalypse is upon us. I can’t bear disposing of an old well-made piece of furniture, even if gaudy, for the scheduled obsolescence of many new products, technology being one of the few exceptions. I’m guessing they have never experienced sacrifice or doing without, or at least not to the same degree. While I didn’t feel deprived in my childhood, I knew we had financial limitations, and I inherited the Great Depression gene from family members who lived with so little and had to re-use and recycle every item that came into the house.

We will share our stories and our stuff as friends. We will force our stories on our friends and families in an effort to teach what has gone before so our youth will know how we got here and where to go from here. We can help to keep the bigger picture in mind because we’ve already been fighting the good fight for 50 years.

We will share new experiences and old memories. And if we are lucky, we get to share with a handful of trusted and faithful friends along the way. The value of friends? Priceless.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – If one wants to witness magic before one’s very eyes, one has only to go outside and experience nature. The reddening of a tomato from the green to become a sweet ripe globe to nourish us.

Green Tomatoes photo by Michelle Simkins

The work of bees and the transformation of flower nectar and pollen into honey, or flower to fruit. Standing in front of the evening blooming primrose and watching and smelling the scented blossoming happen within minutes right in front of your face.

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.} Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016, rated PG), sort of part of the Harry Potter series. I’d read the book and found it to be an encyclopedic and fun revisit of mythical and fantastical creatures. They gave the movie a plot; Rowling’s name was in the credits. Even with all the computer generated beasts, meh. * Ashanti (1979, rated R) with Michael Caine, about modern day slave trafficking in South Africa. Interesting plot, if a little vapid, but it’s an older movie, and well, Michael Caine. * Season 6 of Call the Midwife (2016, rated TV – MA), as always, engaging stories with some cultural and political references, and a baby born every episode. No spoilers! * Started the Stephen Hawking series, Genius (2016, rated TV – G), in which Hawking encourages average people to follow the path of discovery in scientific thinking. It’s interesting, but what amazes me is how they can take 20 minutes of information and d-r-a-g it out into an hour’s production. * Started the Wiseguy (1987-1990, rated TV – 14) series. Very intense and I know why I missed it when it was on TV, as it is very much a man’s story, story of men, about men, and their manipulations for power, which I don’t connect with much. It would be nice to understand men more, but I’m not counting on ever understanding other people, especially men.

Currently Reading Hot Season (2016, fiction) by Susan Defreitas. Just started. * Back to Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (2016, radical politics), by Jane Mayer. I had set this aside to read Elizabeth Warren’s book. Rather frightening what money can buy. * Finished Warren’s This Fight is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America’s Middle Class (2017, social and fiscal policy) and I have to admit I was disappointed, having read all her other books. I like her writing style: it’s homey, reads like listening to her speak, and she states things simply and clearly for the average reader and non-political person to understand. However, in Fight she didn’t go far enough. She gives us good history and why politics are happening now as they are. She explains briefly why citizens have to fight to take back our government from the billionaire class. But she didn’t say how to do so. The average citizen in the United States is so ill-versed in politics and political action most people don’t know where to start. We need to know where to start and what to do, Elizabeth. Cheering us on is great, but just what do we need to do to change the tide of politics in this [what appears to be] crumbling democracy?

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Time spent with a long-time friend and a lovely day outside in a local park with our own hand-made picnic.
  • Hearing the son had a safe and successful vacation journey into the heart of Oregon to attend a Rainbow Family event, which can sometimes be fraught with tension.
  • Trash bins and learning how to throw unusable stuff out.
  • Finding my marriage certificate within seconds when I decided I wanted to look at it.
  • Being brave and washing the new hand-made quilt my niece made for me last Christmas. She said she’d already run it through her washer and dryer so I trusted her. It washed up beautifully. Sigh of relief I didn’t ruin it.
  • Not killing my clothes washer and dryer when I decided to wash my feather pillows. The local cleaners wanted 17 dollars per pillow. Um, no.
  • Having emery boards stashed all over the house so I can immediately take care of a fingernail snag, otherwise I started nibbling at the nail to make it smooth.
  • The little 2 year old in one of the swim classes at the pool who has taken a fancy to this old lady. She started as a “cryer”, one of those who is afraid of the water. I kept smiling at her from across the pool. Now the sweet child insists she needs to have me hold her for a couple minutes each class. We talk, and she is finding her comfort zone in the water and having a successful class session. Her swim instructor uses me as a bribe (if you do the lesson, you can visit Miss Sassy for two minutes at the end of class, which I reinforce by saying things like “Isn’t Miss Teacher fun!?!”). I’ll take it. Gives teacher a few minutes break, and I get a baby fix.
  • Being a “fixture” at the pool so swim instructors and parents trust me.
  • Not living in SoCal or Arizona in the heat.
  • Managing the bit of heat we have in Oregon with “natural” air conditioning and being able to be somewhat naked most of the day in the privacy of my own home.
  • People who are patient with my questions. Especially service people and friends.
  • Carrots, lemon cucumbers, Oregon Star tomatoes, and black cherries from the farmers market.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch
Green Tomatoes photo by Michelle Simkins
Read Michelle at


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

Gratitude Sunday: How Do You Define Freedom?

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

Sunday Haiku
Earthworm hides in cool
soil, dirt-protected from sun,
waiting for fall rain.

Sunday Musings
What does freedom mean? What does freedom mean to you? I’ve asked a few people this question lately and I am getting a wide variety of answers, but one common answer seems to be “to do what I want as long as it doesn’t hurt others.”

The average people I talked to want the freedom to work enough hours to support themselves and their families, with enough time to spend with their families, or refreshing themselves; to own homes, maintain them, and improve them; to travel world-wide when and as they wished; to purchase food and items necessary to their personal comfort.

These same people agreed that with those freedoms come responsibility, such as paying your bills, taking care of yourself and your property, not hurting other people, and standing up for your rights and the rights of others.

All of which is doable, but it takes work and it means making community connections so we realize and reaffirm how we are all connected despite our differences.

However, we, the average people who answered my questions, are up against a monstrous value difference. Freedom means something entirely different to the billionaire class. Freedom for them means freedom to spend their money to influence policies and procedural outcomes to benefit their profit margins. Freedom to pay the least amount possible to workers while they fill their pockets. Freedom to poison the earth because the cost of paying lawyers and violation fees is cheaper than clean manufacturing and production while still producing profit for their bottom lines. Freedom to find tax loopholes so they don’t pay their fair share of taxes, though even if they paid more than their share they would still own vastly more than most Americans. Of course, billionaires don’t worry about housing or health care or food on their table. Billionaires care about their second and third house, their chauffeured limousines, their private jets, and their yachts, while you and I just want to pay the mortgage and property tax for the little bungalow and put food on our tables. Freedom in the guise of greed is reprehensible.

Freedom can be bought. It sometimes is bought with our tax dollars, as evidenced by the bank bailout in 2008. The difference in the definition of freedom makes the question of whose freedom you want to buy even more important. Do we want the freedom for billionaires to buy whatever they want, to control federal policy, and wages, and housing prices, and affordable health care, and banking procedures in the name of their own profit? Or do we want freedom for the citizens of the United States for the right to work and earn a living wage and own homes and take care of our families?

As we go through this 4th of July think of what freedom means to you. With freedom comes responsibility. We have the freedom to enjoy local rivers and lakes and beaches. Take the time to put life jackets on everybody, especially the littles even if they can swim. Your community aches with grief when families drown while playing.

We have the freedom to share common roads to get to our 4th of July destination. Take the time to plan your route and have plenty of time for your trip. Reckless behavior and speed kills people and kills time for others who share our roads. Travel safely. Save the drinking for after your arrival.

We have the freedom to enjoy a little wildness and set off explosives even within city limits. *Please note: many city, county, state, and national parks never allow fireworks.* Take the time to prepare your chosen launching spot and make sure you aren’t aiming at a neighbor’s roof or dry garden and that you aren’t lighting fireworks near dry grasses. Always have a big bucket of water to soak used fireworks in as they can smolder and reignite. Our communities grieve when homes are lost or people are hurt when a little care could prevent it.

We have the freedom to enjoy speaking as we wish. Engage your brain and be creative; remain civil; avoid expletives and name calling, or if you must, creatively employ classic Shakespearean epithetic aspersions. No need to hurt feelings with everyday potty mouths when you can be improving vocabulary with well thought out invectives. Why hurt feelings at all when we can act out of kindness and inclusion instead? Hate and division are not a way forward. We have the freedom to move forward in the world, and the responsibility to include even the least of us. We have the freedom to help each other and ourselves, but not if it harms others or the earth we live on.

This 4th of July we have freedoms, responsibilities, and much on our minds. We are Americans. We may not completely agree, but we have a responsibility to defend the freedom of every citizen, to keep democracy in the hands of the people. No matter who you are, whatever your skin color, or religion, or orientation, or ability, you still have a voice, and there are many ways to be heard in this United States. Stand up against the use of Big Money to influence our government to their profit. Insist corporations be as responsible as us average citizens. We are free, we are responsible, we care. We have to. Let our freedoms ring!

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – It’s red, white, and blue week. This 1919 historic home is just up the street from my home. Love the red door and the blue hydrangea against the classic white architecture. And red roses. And white daisies. And blue nightshade.

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.} Victory (1981, rated PG) with Michael Caine, a soccer game leads to prisoners escaping from a German labor camp. * Guardians of the Galaxy (2014, rated PG – 13). I’d watched this when it first came out and thought it funny, no potty humor, just funny silliness. I’m weird about fantasy movies; I always think the battle and fighting scenes go on too long. Still a recommended movie. * Mona Lisa (1986, rated R) with Bob Hoskins and Michael Caine. A curious movie about a man who is a driver for a prostitute.

Currently Reading The Chalk Pit (2017, fiction) by Elly Griffiths. Aaahhh, the so satisfying twist at the end setting us up for the next novel. No spoilers! * This Fight is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America’s Middle Class (2017, social and fiscal policy) by Elizabeth Warren. I only get this for another week so I won’t be starting another book until I’m done because I’ll have to go back into the queue again.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Spending time with my sister. Being able to be so frank with her and her being the same with me.
  • Having lunch with sis at a small brew pub where my nephew (her son) had manufactured and installed the brewing equipment.
  • Cavorting with pirates.
  • Watching the 2017 Tillamook June Dairy Parade. It’s been 20 years since my last.
  • Cows. They are nice people.
  • Ice cream.
  • Being gifted a nice bookcase to help organize my book stalagmites.
  • Electronic entertainment viewing on command. Remote controls.
  • Having a pile of movies from the local lending library to choose from when I want to sit down to a movie.
  • A fresh manicure. I broke down and bought a nail polish. All my 30 year old (no exaggeration) bottles were streaks of colorful cement in the bottoms. Still trying to prevent the painful nail splitting from three nights a week in the pool and all the house cleaning I’m doing.
  • How good it felt to throw away all those old unusable bottles of nail polish. I couldn’t even think of some wild craft idea as an excuse to keep them. Gone!
  • Learning a couple new exercises for the pool trying to re-build enough strength to do the same exercises on land.
  • Learning to accept ten minute physical work bursts. If I put enough of them together during the day I can get a whole hour out of myself.
  • Learning how not to think of that as pathetic but just a fact of how aging is happening for me.
  • The salty coastal air blowing many miles over the coast range and into my open summer doors.
  • How joyful the kids sounded when the neighbors had a pool party one lovely June afternoon this week.
  • How quiet it was when the party was over.
  • Looking forward to a day with a long time friend.
  • Yellow and red new potatoes, green scallions, bags full of green and red leaf lettuce. Num num.
  • Brief season for Oregon Hood strawberries this year and glad I ate my share.
  • Everbearing strawberries so I can feed my strawberry dependence until first frost.
  • 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, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gratitude Sunday: Thinking In New Ways

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

Sunday Haiku
Heat descends upon
the valley floor, embraces
coast range to hot beach.

Sunday Musings
Spoiler alert: political content.

I don’t know about you, but I find the policy proposals and the abnormal procedures of the current federal administration to be completely discombobulating. It seems so clearly defined by “us” and “them”, by haves and have nots, and by so many misunderstandings of how our current government functions. Because there is so much lacking in the common knowledge of how government normally performs, abnormal doesn’t always seem abnormal.

I’m not going to explain government to you. You get to do your own homework there. But I am a fan of “what should be” (progressive thinking) as a way to define what we want. You have to ask questions. It starts like this:

That’s not right.

How should it be?

Like this, not like that.

How do we change it?

Like this, not like that.

Of course we have to fill in the this-es and the that-s with what we want. We have to ask many more questions too until the definition is obtained. This administration has inspired ugly new waves of violence in our country. The whole mess makes me think even more radically about social policy. Politics has never been my forte, but it is unconscionable to have more than half the population of America living under the poverty line, letting elders and children become homeless or go hungry or freeze to death because they can’t afford heat, to deny health care for any reason.

All helping programs take money and I don’t mind paying taxes. Really. I don’t. But I’d like to make sure my tax dollar does something for me and for you, beyond the roads I hardly use (kind of scary out there), and the schools I don’t have children in (but please let me help your children go to school, because I went to public school and the son did as well – we didn’t have great experiences, but some people just don’t), the hospitals I avoid like plague (I am not good at being sick or injured) but so many others need. I spend less time inside my local lending library, but where would we be without libraries? Everybody needs libraries; now I use mine electronically, but for a kids’ summer reading program you need a facility. I don’t have much reason to use public parks anymore, but I used to love taking the son, he did as well, now it’s used by other people. I don’t feel much need to create barriers to citizenship, like walls and travel bans, and I feel even less need to sell other countries arms and ammunition made in the United States to use against our own soldiers when we make up weird insurgencies.

I’d like to know my tax dollars do something for me. Yes, selfishly for me. To make sure, after 40 or 50 years in the workforce, I can retire and die in my own home with just enough to cover my meager bills, with health care covering all contingencies, with enough to save annual property taxes or a bit for maintenance, like replacing that 30 year old roof, or the 22 year old car that finally costs too much to fix, or the plumbing that breaks and is just beyond my knowledge. Enough to buy laundry detergent and toothpaste and toilet paper when I need them. Just enough. I don’t need vacations (what does that word mean?), though enough for a trip to the beach an hour away once a year would be lovely. I don’t need to eat out every week, I prefer simple home cooked foods, but once or twice a year would be a real treat. Shopping at used clothing stores has worked well in my budget. I don’t need many new items and I have a disregard for fashion; classic lines suit me fine.

Remember I said selfishly for me. I’m selfish enough to want these things for you too. For every American. Not just for those whose households already have enough. It seems like once you have enough you keep wanting more and you forget what it was like not to be where you are, if you are one of those self-made types, and you seem to forget about others as well. The global “you”, of course. I know I’m generalizing, but so many Americans have the world view of “I’ve got mine. Too bad for you.”

For 50 years after FDR’s New Deal America prospered. There was a safety net created and put into place. It was just enough. Public protections such as clean air and water regulations, work safety rules, and banking laws protecting the consumer that helped economic growth. Those public protections did not hinder capitalism, but it angered the conservative billionaire class who interpreted “freedom” as the right to exploit the people and abuse the natural resources of this planet, because they have the right to maximum profit. Big Money began to influence education, science, and technology, and sometimes effectively impeded American progress in the name of obsolete and unsustainable income streams.

If we have to use a governmental model, we need and should have government that works for all the people of every income status. This might mean looking with different eyes and overcoming the “I’ve got mine, too bad for you” attitude. I propose we could care for all of us, create an entirely new economic model, and still make a profit for those who need one. Capitalism and social care are not mutually exclusive, except in the eyes of Big Money (the billionaire class) who have worked very hard to make us believe Government is the enemy. We pay plenty of taxes; we must be open to new ways of distribution of that public contribution. Isn’t that what tax money is, my contribution to the public, the public being you and me, the parts we have to share in this society? I don’t have much to contribute but they are happy to take it and use it. I want to influence how they use it. You should want that too instead of letting our legislators decide how they mishandle our contributions.

I’ve rattled on a bit and do have some solutions in mind. They’re radical. They’re maybe wild. They might even be grandly innovative. They’re ideas. They involve using your public contributions in different ways. I’ll have my ideas organized soon, and I hope you are curious enough to read future posts.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Summer seems official when I see the bright orange and yellow of nasturtium. I like these little fuzzy beige weeds. A neighbor put together a barrel of colorful annuals.
The texture of this spirea (?) as it goes from bud to bloom, and through shades of pink. How comfortable this sunny yellow potentilla looks up against its tree. The variety of colors and textures in this garden snapshot.

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.} Complete Unknown (2016, rated R). A woman repeatedly reinvents herself in careers she knows nothing about nor is qualified for. After 15 years she tries to re-connect with a man from her past without him figuring out who she is, though he does realize he knew her, and he wants to know why she disappeared for so long. It was so riveting I fell asleep and wasn’t even curious enough to re-watch the last 25 minutes to find out why. Meh. * Finishing season 5 of Game of Thrones (2016, rated TV – MA). I’m always a season or two behind, at least in the TV and movie culture, because I refuse to pay for premium TV cable packages, as much as I would love to have the History Channel. I get to wait in queue at the local lending library, so grateful for local lending libraries. I indulge in Netflix and still remain culturally behind the curve. I can’t spend that much time in front of a screen; I indulge in books and my own writing as well. And looking at trees and the sky and clouds.

Currently ReadingThe Chalk Pit (2017, fiction) by Elly Griffiths. Ms Griffiths has not failed to entertain. Nothing less than expected. I like how she has been introducing social issues into her recent mystery novels; this novel deals with homelessness. * Taking a break from the deeply distressing Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (2016, politics), by Jane Mayer. I only have 3 weeks with Elizabeth Warren’s This Fight is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America’s Middle Class (2017, social and fiscal policy). I am a fan of Warren’s, but this book is distressing in its own way. She gives us some history, which is the easy part. Almost everybody I know is living the reduced life of the failed experiment called trickle-down economics. The younger generation spares no feelings when they tell me “we” have ruined the world for them. I get that. I’ve worked for 50 years thinking we’d all be in a better place at this time in this century, and yet here we are. It’s not the middle and lower classes who have “ruined” the world; we’ve been working our butts off just to keep our homes and feed our kids. Big Money has effectively made a mess of the American middle class. I’m hoping the last few chapters will give me what I want from Warren’s book: answers toward fixing the mess. Please.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Not losing my cool after several poor customer service events.
  • Patience rewarding me with a better customer service outcome.
  • Remembering it could be worse as I jump through hoops, over hurdles, and around barriers trying to get medical treatment.
  • Having a beautiful last day of spring and a repeat-beautiful first day of summer.
  • Joyful voices of the neighbor’s kids playing outside until the last bit of summer light.
  • Encouraging the hubster to clean the outdoor grill by bringing home a package of chicken wings. He didn’t quite get the grill clean, and the wings, potatoes, and asparagus went into the oven instead. Just the right amount of everything, and for the first time in ages there were no leftovers.
  • Gentle summer breeze blowing through the screen door.
  • The son getting a new job after months of searching.
  • A kind older couple who stopped me at the local farmers market and told me they missed me at my previous place of employment. My low self-esteem challenges had a lovely little heart surge. Grateful for kind people.
  • Mild summer weather this week.
  • Having the freedom to think for myself. That freedom feeling like luxury to think creatively.
  • Mid-season Oregon Hood strawberries, when the price comes down a bit, and the berries are sweeter and juicier.
  • Garden fresh asparagus still available at the local farmers market.
  • New potatoes and Hood River cherries at the farmers market as well.
  • The vital flavor of fresh food and eating simply.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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

Gratitude Sunday: Go Ask Dad

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

Sunday Haiku
Solstice approaches
Hot summer days near as light
shortens; spring is cool.

Sunday Musings
Happy Father’s Day! I like to tell people what to do (not that anybody listens), so go buy your dad something. Buy him a tie he doesn’t need, or some fishing tackle though he doesn’t fish, or a new grill because you think he should cook outside. Spend money. Be a good little consumer like all those commercials on TV want to make you think you should be.

Or not. Like Mother’s Day we do not have to support the consumer mentality. We can do better. We can pay attention. We can visit Dad. We can talk with him, or help him around the house or the yard. We can take him out for a meal or bring him his favorite meal after all the meals he provided for us. We can ask him to share his stories with us about when he was growing up, or went to college, or to war, or when he held us in his hands for the first time. And we can listen to the same stories again for the umpteenth time, because we will want to hear those stories again when he is gone.

I have a great abundance of stuff in my house, some of which was handed down from my dad. I live with my ancestors in my home: my grandmother’s buffet; my other grandmother’s hand embroidered peacock that my mother framed; my mother-in-law’s writing desk; my uncle’s Chinese table; my father’s leather sewing machine he used for creating leather goods like holsters and wallets as a side income. Everywhere I look in my home is a reminder of my forebears.

Their stuff reminds me of their faces and their bodies, how they walked, and smiled, and hugged, but I long for their voices. Not just their voices, but their stories. I want to hear my grandfather tell about bringing his family out from Oklahoma in 1933 to Idaho, about what they left and what they came to, and about the journey between the two places in the Model T Ford truck they drove. He never told me. Mom told me a little. I never asked him. He was gone before I was curious enough.

I want my dad to tell me again about being a rear tail gunner in the Philippines, what that felt like to ride in a tiny seat in the back of a small airplane, and what it was like to be a soldier thousands of miles from home, and how he dealt with the memories military service leaves in a man. I want him to tell me what it was like to be the first in his family to go to college. By the time I was curious enough, he’d had a stroke and couldn’t talk about it any more, though I’m sure he still had all those memories within him.

Men aren’t particularly good at telling their stories, especially the tough stories, the ones involving hard decisions that may go against social norms. I’m not talking about authors; sometimes you can get a male author who tells a truly authentic story, but that’s not the same as passing stories down through generations. Oral history used to be all we had. Now it seems we’ve becomes so distanced by history books, revisionists, and social media our family stories are disappearing. How can we improve our world if we don’t know what has come before?

This Father’s Day I challenge you to ask your dad, or step-dad, grandfather, or even your father-in-law, if you sill have them, to share a story. Then ask for another, and another, until he’s tired of telling. Record the stories if you can, maybe even write the story down, so when they are gone you have a written record of their words. You might be grateful for doing so in the future when you are missing them.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – I love my hardy succulent sedums, and they give me creamy white blossoms as well. How bright the orange and yellow fire colors of these coreopsis. Lucky to catch a bee going about his business in the midst of fire. A neighbor grows interesting plants; I don’t know the name of this peachy spike. Hot fuchsia pink of Sweet William, as fragrant as it is colorful.

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.} On to season 5 of Game of Thrones (2016, rated TV – MA). I wanted to watch the series again before I view the newest season, which I’m still in queue for. * Season 5 of Orange is the New Black (2017, rated TV – MA), the 72 hours after the prisoners take over the facility. No spoilers. Prison is a discouraging subject for most of us, and we avoid actions that might put us there, but things can go wrong in any life and there but for the grace of God. Prisons in America are being privatized and however distressing the setting is, the reality is people are being abused in the name of profit. Much is being written about this subject recently. I don’t mind capitalism, making a profit, good for you, but not at the expense of other people even if they have committed crimes. Imagine what good helping them might do rather than using them like so much chattel. It would cost less in the short and long run.

Currently ReadingThe Chalk Pit (2017, fiction) by Elly Griffiths. Ms Griffiths is one of those authors I can’t wait to read whatever they publish. She writes good old-fashioned British mysteries with an archeological twist, and the usual inter-weavings of a small community of people interacting over everyday life and the affects of the current mystery. In her Ruth Galloway series the characters develop with each new book, and it’s fun to see how they grow. I find her work relaxing even as I try to solve the mystery before the novel is over. * Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (2016, radical politics) by Jane Mayer. Still plowing through this, revelations on the power of Big Money to control so many things, like education, science, and technology, and how that control can be used to impede progress. Frightening information, considering there isn’t much that can be done to change it, unless you have money.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Memories of my father and grandfathers.
  • Having many hours at my disposal.
  • Finding many things to fill my time.
  • Finding many new corners to clean.
  • Not bothering to clean all the corners until I feel like it.
  • Having so much abundance when I throw something away or give it away, I don’t even see the difference. I’m trying to find items to sell so I can feel a financial difference.
  • Looking forward to spending some time with my sister.
  • Remembering to buy my pool membership at this year’s fee before the next year’s increase happens next week.
  • Getting an x-ray within 24 hours of asking on an unresolved pain that has continued far too long. Diagnosis coming soon.
  • Dealing with some new doctors and a medical diagnosis and possible treatment that might result in an improvement of my health. Looks like a long process and time will tell, then there’s aging, sometimes hard to win on the health factors. I just want to kick a few more years.
  • A friend who needed freezer containers for her strawberry freezer jam just as I was cleaning a cupboard of containers and I was able to give her a big paper bag full of containers with matching lids. She’s feeding a houseful of kids, so I see lots of PB&J’s in her past and future. I was glad they went to a good home and will be well used.
  • Surviving one of those computer scams where they block your computer and make you think there is something wrong, but discovering what they were before I did any damage. Spent some agonizing hours sure I’d been hacked, but at least I had the wit and help from the hubster to do a complete virus scan and no virus found (yay!). Changed a bunch of passwords. Still waiting to see if something will go awry. Anxiety is good.
  • Oregon Hood strawberries. So satisfying to my taste buds.
  • Lovely bags full of sweet fresh greens, and how funny I am to crave the sweet-sour salad dressing my mom used to make that I never liked when I was a kid. Now to find the recipe.
  • 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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gratitude Sunday: Damn The Fear; Yes To Go

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

Sunday Haiku
Sun on, sun off, cloud
cover, cloud not, dark, light, rain,
sun, undecided.

Sunday Musings
Last week I talked about avoiding going out in public. When my mom was my age, her policy was to say yes to everything she was invited to. My mom was a smart woman; I don’t get invited to much so when I do, I say yes and do my best to overcome my fears. I wasn’t always like this; it’s been a long traumatic process, but that is a different essay.

I limit my forays into the public. I have a routine. Three or four times a month I make the grocery shopping tour. I find I save money that way, only one trip, fewer impulse buys, better menu planning, fewer trips to the store saves gas. I travel with a cooler and ice so the items I buy at the furthest point out survive the whole trip. The route includes the pet store for the special food for the corn-allergic cat, stops to check the racks for swimsuits in my size and style, and my local lending library. It’s a half day tour.

I love our local farmers market. I used to be able to walk there and back, alas, no more. I drive the few blocks to get me closer. Parking is complicated; the market has grown so much even getting there early does not guarantee a close parking spot, which is a great thing for the market. I haven’t given in yet and applied for a handicap driver tag, so I take what I can get. By the time I have completed the route from car, through market, and back to car, I’m feeling good about walking that half mile.

Then I swim three days a week. The pool is less than a mile’s drive, but all the benefits gained from the swim would be for naught from the pain generated by the walk home after a fantastic water workout. I also see a counselor every other week (Yes. No shame; mental health is important.), and her office is a little further than the pool, but still in town. I like keeping my money in my community.

Once in a while I get an invite out into the world. Here’s where my mom and I differ: I’m not a great traveler, and I’m a nervous guest. Maybe Mom was too but I couldn’t tell. She certainly enjoyed her new experiences after she was done raising us children.

So I say yes and this week I got to help celebrate an 80th birthday. My friend and I swim together at the public pool and have for nearly ten years. It was nice to be invited; her children hosted and they included the hubster, who offered to drive. He loves to drive but forgets that an hour in the car and he’s a hurting puppy. And poor guy, the day before he’d spent hours wrangling the weed eater, the leaf blower, and one of those tiny little tillers that out-weighs him by probably 10 pounds. Of course he ignored my suggestion he take some ibuprofen before we left the house.

The venture destination was an hour away toward the Oregon coast. We had a lovely day for it. Blue sky, puffy little clouds, not too hot, not too cold, not too windy. The hills were dotted with bright swathes of yellow scotch broom. Ditches at the side of the road sprouted dinner-plate-sized Queen Anne’s lace. Lacy green ferns shared the undergrowth with salmonberry and vine maples, while tall straight pines and alders provided the upper canopy. The sun strobed through the tall tree trunks as we fifty-fived down the highway.

I got to meet a few of my friend’s family I hadn’t met. I’m sure they were curious who her mermaid pal was; everybody needs an old hippie friend in their life. The venue was large with high ceilings, which made it hard for me to hear. The hubster’s hearing is the opposite, so sensitive the sound bouncing around hurt his ears.

I was seated next to our other mermaid friend so we were able to have a lovely chat. We had a mediocre meal food-wise, yummy birthday cake, a speech from the birthday girl, and jingling fairy ribbon wands with chocolates to go. Poor hubster hurt so badly we were the first to leave. I suspect our birthday girl was relieved when somebody began the recession, as she has been in some amount of pain lately and it had already been a long day for her.

I went out in public! Outside my regular routine! Yay. I have social issues. I know about them and hard as I try they creep up; I have to constantly self-monitor, so I’m never relaxed in social situations. I am always afraid I’m going to do the wrong thing or read people wrong; I sometimes speak too loudly, or out of place, or I interrupt; I get so nervous I talk too much, or not enough. I have a hard time reading social cues. You’d think at 63 I’d have all that learning out of the way, but no, not me. I’m thinking it just never comes easy for some of us. And many of the interactions I see and have had to participate in seem to be about controlling and manipulating people (which is not my style), rather than understanding and exchanging ideas (which is more my style).

I was grateful to spend the time with my friend albeit across the table. We’ll get together soon and chat, and I do much better in one-on-one interactions. I was grateful to meet her family and friends, her support system. I am grateful to be one of her support system. And even with my social issues, I hope I am lucky enough to have a similar support system when I reach 80.

Color Watch colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Purple chive globes. Pink lacy I-don’t-know-what against the neighbor’s white picket fence. Creamy white blackberry blossoms, so wild rose-like. Bright yellow ranunculus. Pink swirly rose.

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.} Why Him? (2017, rated R) with James Franco and Bryan Cranston. Are you old enough to remember drive-in movies? Why Him? is of that genre of B movies. I used to pack the hubster into the car with a cooler and a few beers and soda pops and a picnic supper and a bag of popcorn, me being the designated driver, and we’d snuggle down for a double feature. Lots of profane language in this movie, and potty/bathroom scenes twice as long as necessary to be funny, a silly plot, and the fun of one of the characters being outrageously wealthy. Satisfying in a totally juvenile way, but silly fun nonetheless. * Binged through season 4 of Game of Thrones (2014, rated TV – MA), ruthless power plays. * Catching up on season 4 of Orange is the New Black (2016, rated TV – MA), even though this series is set in a women’s prison with all its horrors, it is oddly amusing to me (crazy weird humor). I’ve never understood or been a participant in power plays and manipulation (though I have been an unwitting pawn, which I didn’t realize until after the fact, such is my naivete), so this story is instructive. Girl games are ugly and I just don’t think that fast. * Barry (2016, rated PG – 13) a Netflix movie about the early life of Barack Obama. I didn’t get the point of this movie, and the actor who played Barack was obviously a non-smoker, though the character smoked. Taking place in 1981 when Obama was at Columbia Law school, the story showed his struggle with race in the classroom and on the streets. The actor sort of got Obama’s unique voice inflections almost right. But the point of the movie? Undefined. Meh.

Currently ReadingTricky Twenty-Two (2015, fiction) by Janet Evanovich. Wild, bounty hunter antics. Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (2016, radical politics), by Jane Mayer. Long tough read, having to increase my learning curve about money and how the wealthy use it in entirely different ways than the average people I know; it’s rather distressing.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • A new land-line phone with built-in answer machine. I haven’t had voice mail or answer machine since the last machine died a few years back.
  • Installing the phone myself.
  • Learning something new about my phone every day.
  • Not being a Luddite, honoring being a slow-process learner, and enjoying taking my time learning.
  • My techno-ditz self prevailing over machines.
  • A safe journey to and from the birthday celebration this week for all of us who participated.
  • Adapting to semi-retirement, not being in a constant financial panic. Intermittent panic/anxiety I can handle.
  • Warmer days. Open doors. Fresh air.
  • A couple rainy-ish days to refresh the air.
  • Mister Kitty aka George Murphy loving the open doors and taking the sphinx guard position on the threshold.
  • Watching the annual Portland Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade on TV and seeing a long-time pal dancing in the parade. I suspect she’s been doing it for many years. Now I will have to find out. The marching bands are my favorite entries.
  • Talking to one of my aunties on her birthday. She didn’t mind when I asked her to tell me stories she remembered about other family members who have gone before us.
  • Connecting with my cousin’s daughter (she is my first cousin once removed), trying to connect with family I haven’t talked to or heard about since before Mom died.
  • Knowing how to “count cousins”. First cousins, second cousins, third cousins, and removeds. Fun to know.
  • A small batch of sub-standard Oregon strawberries. I ate them anyway for the nutrition not the taste, but I won’t buy that kind of berry again.
  • A “Kiss” melon so ripe it scented the back rooms of the house.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

Posted in abundance, Aging, Entertainment, Family, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, Nature, Photography, Poetry, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Gratitude Sunday: The Consequences Of Free Speech

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This week I have been grateful for:

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

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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