Tuesday, March 31, 2009

360 degrees

Colleen had made a comment on one of my posts about how "the Native American only concerned themselves with the medicine wheel of about an 8 mile radius of where they lived." And that the global world we live in is hard to grasp. The Internet certainly exposes us to much more than we can possibly take in fully. That got me thinking...sort of stream of consciously.

This morning Tabor heard the cry of the loon.
Today somewhere a woman kisses her lover for the first time as a married woman.
Today somewhere a man sees a hawk dive high in the clear blue sky.
Today somewhere a farmer plants a papaya tree.
Today somewhere a baby cries for the first time.
Today somewhere a woman visits her sister in the hospital.
Today somewhere a boy learns a new language.
Today somewhere an 82-year-old gets a high school diploma.
Today somewhere a man breaks a world record.
Today somewhere a policewoman earns a medal.
Today somewhere a young man hits a land mine.
Today somewhere an uncle hits a child.
Today somewhere a woman looks through the ashes of her house for her wedding ring.
Today somewhere a young man loses his job.
Today somewhere a young woman tries on a new suit for her first job interview.
Today somewhere an old man finally retires.
Today somewhere a naked woman begs for rice.
Today somewhere a country leader lies to his people.
Today somewhere a child is molested.
Today somewhere a father is deported.
Today somewhere a daughter disappears.
Today somewhere a doctor saves a life.
Today somewhere a nurse makes a patient smile.
Today somewhere a teacher reaches a student and changes his life.
Today somewhere the sun rises with new possibilities to change the world.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


The world has become very quiet the last two days. I could barely hear the sound of muffled rain and bird song was distant and cold and careful. Sage green moss on the trees grabbed each birdsong and tucked it away before it escaped too far into the woods.

My yard has become a sponge full of water and weeps rivulets into the ravine that gently flow down past the tangle of vines on an ancient journey toward the river.

The daffodils are the only ones willing to open their sunny faces in the gray dawn. They are like little flashlights under the distant trees.

A deep smokey mist has carpeted the air and hidden the details of spring from us all. It hangs gently over the river making halos of the lights that glow on the distant docks. I breathe more carefully waiting for the dawn.

And then dawn breaks and the chatter of birds starts slowly and soon becomes a deafening orchestra. It is as if they can sing the fog away with their lilting calls and refrains. The geese add bawdy brass notes, as if, even they, are glad to see the duck weather dissipate.

I gather my energy as I know the day will reward with lime green plants and weeds racing up in their joy to finally see the sun again.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

It's a Spring Thing

While I realize it is bad Karma and so anti-Zen and certainly not Feng Shui and definitely expensive to put up this deer fence, my greatest love in retirement it to plant stuff and watch it grow. Therefore the front yard is now completely enclosed from deer. (Don't get me started on how raccoons, fox, possums, and squirrels can climb this netting and now rabbits can dig under. My first battle is with the deer.)

The fence is done and the gates are up and the young man who assisted told us this little space beneath the gate that appeared due to the drop of the side yard was too large and deer would crawl under and get in. So now we have
to come up with an attractive looking guard to cover this area. I guess I have seen deer duck beneath deadfall in the woods.

I removed one of the plastic owls from the dock and brought it back to the deck to see if that would discourage Don Quixote from taping at the bottom of this door which leads to our bedroom. Jury is still out on that. Hubby did catch him tapping at the very top of the window the other morning avoiding the bottom of the door.

The yellows are abundant including these hardy dandelions in the far yard by the woodpile. I learned by watching in Yellowstone National Park that brown bears love to eat these flowers in the spring. (Please click on the above photo for a real sunshine experience.)

And finally I must mention the true sign of spring for which I have no photo, thank goodness. When I opened the front door to call my husband to dinner I caught him standing in the vegetable garden in muddy clothes with shovel in hand and a stupid smile on his face staring off in to the woods on the other side of the fence. He broke his reverie to tell me I had to come outside and see what he saw. What, I asked, unwilling to put on shoes to cross the yard for something that would amaze his mind.

He looked up and called back,"Want to come see a pair of rabbits mating?"

Having a daughter who had raised lops as a child I had seen enough of rabbit mating to last a lifetime, but he explained that what had caught his eye was their play behavior. They were cavorting and turning somersaults and chasing each other around the ravine, and acting really crazy --- not consummating.

Yep, spring seems to turn all minds to mush.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Life Story Addendum to #26

I was doing some spring cleaning, dusting shelves, and pulled one of the ancient photo albums aside and decided to look for this photo. A picture being worth more words than my rudimentary descriptions can convey, this is the front of the apartment building in the prior life story post and this is the little dog a year or two earlier, when we got him as a pup. The other dog in the photo has adopted us, as many of them did while we lived there.

As I look at the face of this young woman, I must admit that I am surprised by the set of her jaw and the squint in her eyes. I did not see myself as a strong person, but this photo conveys something different I think. We never quite see ourselves as we really are, do we?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Through a Photographer's Eyes

There are many breathtaking visits that happen with blogging. Experiences and thoughts and ideas and photos that would or could not exist without such an easily accessible format. Just a few years ago, all this would have been impossible. The world indeed has become a much smaller place and I think that is good for us. I think it helps us see we are part of something much bigger, and even thus, we are much more powerful than we think.

I am fascinated by the art and science of photography and photographers have tremendous responsibility when they capture a photo to tell a story. Here is a terrific example.

Kinglake: One Month After Black Saturday

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Life Story #26---Dealing with Madmen

Art requires angst doesn't it?. How many artists are also crazy and need that craziness to feed their art? This table missing the glass top and carved from the base of a hollow tree was carved by a Micronesian wood carver named Baris and is a beautiful example of the island art of woodcarving. Baris was a crazy man. He was about 45 years of age and was large and muscular with a shaved head, unusual for Micronesians, and this gave him a striking appearance. He also spent a lot of time in and out of "prison" on Palau. He was known at the town rapist. This term was used by the locals as if saying he was the town undertaker or the town drunk. It was something he did and he sometimes ended up in jail for it. The jail was a joke in itself in that it was a concrete block building with a three foot high barbed wire fence around the outside. If he needed to run an errand while under arrest they would let him out into the small village for the day.

His sister lived in a tin-roofed grass house across the dirt street from our apartment building and so we would see him there on occasion and that is how we came to buy the table from him one afternoon.

Imagine being the young age of 28, married only a few years, and living oceans away from home and those I knew on an island in the Pacific Ocean. Our weekends were spent sailing on a lime green Hobie Cat or SCUBA diving or shell collecting on the fringing beaches or just lying around naked and watching the crabs look for shell houses on the sand of a remote beach. Exotic, no? And all true, at least for one side of the story.

The other side as I have written before involved lack of running water and/or electricity for days at a time in a crowded apartment in the jungle. Learning to cook strange seafood and regularly scavenging for any type of fruit or vegetable other than bananas and taro root at the market were other activities.

But when you are young such hurdles do not diminish your enthusiasm for living, and so we decided to bring another life into this exotic lifestyle we were leading. I flew to the United States to give birth, because along with its lack of sanitation, the island hospital's interior design included bolt cutters hanging high on the wall across from the entry which I was told were used for removing spears from the bodies of natives. I do not think they were joking if you will remember my life story #3.

After my beautiful daughter was born I returned via Guam to Palau when she was about 6 weeks old. I was nursing her and so didn't have to deal with all the sanitation issues and expense of formula feeding. By the time she was two months old she was sleeping through the night, so I was surprised to be awakened by her cries late one evening. I was alone in the apartment as my husband was off-island somewhere at the time. I hurried to her room and as I calmed her by feeding her I then heard our local dog which slept outside on the cement porch begin to bark in panic. Had he been barking all along and I didn't hear him because of her cries? This barking was also unusual, so holding my daughter close to my breast I peeked between the lanai blinds of the kitchen window.

All the expatriates in the apartment complex left their porch lights on to ward off 'whatever' or perhaps for an artificial sense of security. I looked into the harsh light and saw Baris stomping up and down the length of the porch past the four apartment doors. He was obviously drunk and acting very delirious. Fortunately our dog was not his focus of attention. The combined anger of Boris and the anxiety of the dog brought me instant panic. I held my daughter close to my breast and felt very very vulnerable. I went back to her room in the dark and closed the door.

I sat in the rocker in her room and nursed her in the dark feeling she must be getting a sour curdled repast as my heart continued to rise into my throat. I felt helpless in terms of a defense if Baris decided to break down my door. The chaos went on for what seemed like fifteen minutes and then I heard another man's voice talking with loud bursts in Palauan. There was a choppy exchange of words with the dog still providing a chorus of angry barks now joined by another local dog. Then instantly there was silence. I sat and rocked for ages in the deafening quiet imagining a dead body on my doorstep and did not put my daughter back down in her crib until I could see the dawn breaking through the curtains.

I made some tea and waited for the daylight. Just one more day in paradise.

(There was no body and no blood at my doorstep...just a little sleeping dog.)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Luck of the Irish

Yes, I should have posted this little story yesterday, but being retired I didn't. My husband is part Irish (also some Scot and English) and he definitely has the luck of the Irish. He is the one who stands in the fastest moving line at the store, wins the door prize at the charity events, and has the closest parking place open up just before he gets there.

I, on the other hand, have to work hard at my luck. This past Saturday was different.

I had headed out to the drugstore to buy more milk for my thirsty grandchildren and to pick up a few other things. I also had to stop by the drugstore and see if there was a toy or two that I could bring home to the little ones, being the spoiler that I am. When I reached the drugstore I saw that the lot was full of cars and I had to squeeze carefully between two large vans to get one of the few remaining places.

The weather was cold and gloomy and I darted between the raindrops toward the front door following another grandmother with her little granddaughter. Once inside, I found a 'Cars' model that Xman did not have and I found a cute little plastic Dora for Sha. The lines were long at the register, but I waited patiently.

When I finally got back outside I noticed that most of the parking lot had cleared and my car was one of only two or three left in the lot. I hurried to the drivers side and just as I opened the car door, I noticed a five dollar bill lying at my feet on the pavement. It was well worn, but just sitting there grinning up at me. I picked it up and looked around to see if anyone was near and also to see if this was some 'candid camera' incident. I never find lost money! (Well, there was that one time, but that is another story.)

I stuffed the bill in my bag and got into the car and backed out. As I pulled forward passing all the empty parking spaces I noticed more 'paper' fluttering gently across the pavement at the far end of the lot before the exit. I stopped my car at a crazy angle and got out to collect quite a few bills scattered across the pavement.

I collected the money, looked up and around and saw no one outside, and got back in the car and pulled into an empty parking space and counted my find. $106.00! Yes, I was happy to find this money, but I am a Puritan deep inside and I knew this much money might mean much more to the someone who lost it. The money was lost at a distant end of the parking lot, quite a ways from any store. I sat in the car for 5 minutes waiting to see if someone came out of the drugstore or returned their car to the lot and appeared to be looking for something. But no one appeared, and after the last car left the lot, so did I.

I headed home and now must think of something 'good' to do with this windfall.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Roller Coaster Ride

As I have reached elderhood I find the time to absorb and think about the things that happen in my life can be a bit exhausting and less energizing. When I was younger it was easier to throw off stuff that happened that was emotional without pondering and move on to the many activities of my day ahead and only look back on the event after weeks when the wounds of the event had healed.

Yesterday after spending the weekend with the grandchildren we got ready to leave for home and Xman hugged his grandfather goodbye and then refused to hug me and with an evil grin ran into the next room to play. We had had a wonderful weekend together, so his obstinacy was not understood. I tried to be an adult and not let my feelings be hurt by this and gathered my coat and bag. I kissed my little grandaughter good bye and she was full of wet sloppy kisses and sweet smiles.

We headed for the door upstairs and as we all gathered for one last adieu the little gal threw herself on the floor and began wailing. When daddy picked her up with her eyes filled with tears as she opened her arms begging me to stay.

It was hard to determine which grandchild created the greater pain in my heart or made me want to cry more!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Review of Retirement

"Do not let yourself be bothered with the inconsequential. One only has so much time in this world, so devote it to the work and the people most important to you, to those you love and things that matter. One can waste half a lifetime with people one doesn't really like or doing things when one would be better off somewhere else." — Louis L'amour, Ride the River

And the above is why I retired.

But I still know how to waste time as well!

Haven't done this in years. I am still the anal retentive type and begin by sorting into containers by color and/or straight edges. 1,000 pieces...only 980 to go, but who's counting?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Changing Seas

I do not feel like blogging today, but I suggest that you go here for some enlightenment about our world. (Photo was taken in California back in 2002.)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The JOY!

Sorry, but this is not about what someone reading the title might be thinking. It is about changes in the American diet. (Well, guess that lost 99% of the readers, you idiot.)

When I was first married and knowing that I would be moving to a remote island in the Pacific Ocean, one of the first things I purchased as my own wedding gift was the cookbook "Joy of Cooking." I was going to be on my own for most of the cooking and needed some good tools. Most Americans know that this is one of the bibles of cooking and a good basic guide when learning to cook. Its first edition appeared in 1936 and I have been made aware that there is at least a 2006 edition; obviously a very popular cookbook written by a mother, who has since died, and her daughter. My well-worn edition of 849 pages covers entertaining, hors d-oeuvre, cereals, brunch/lunch, sauces and gravies, stuffings, meats and seafoods, desserts, preserving, freezing, canning and everything in between.

What made me think of this classic a reader might ask...the one reader who is still reading. I also subscribe to Consumer Reports On Health newsletter and was made aware of the following information by the editor:

A February study "compared the calories in recipes from the 1936 edtion of Joy of Cooking with those for the same dishes ranging from chicken a la king to beef stroganoff and brownies, researchers found an average calories increase of 63 percent per serving. "We attribute about a third of the increase to changes in serving size," Brian Wansink, Ph.D., lead researcher of the study, said in a telephone interview. For example, while a pasta recipe called for a half-cup serving in 1936, the serving size was two-thirds of a cup in 2006."

The editor's note goes on to say that use of high calories ingredients, such as the addition of nuts and raisins to the brownie recipe added the rest of the calories.

This lead researcher has recently written a book titled "Mindless heating: Why we Eat More Than We Think."

I will never lose these last 10 pounds as everything is stacked against me it appears. Repeat after me: I will be more mindful of everything I eat.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Dischordant Harmony

Sweetmango wrote a post about how we must learn to live with nature and not try to transform or fight its natural flow. This is true and good advice, except for those of us who are gardeners. Our entire mission is to transform the soil, the light, the day length, and the habits of the natural enemies of each and every plant we place in the ground. We try to do this as organically as possible, but it is still an unnatural effort on our part to manipulate nature to meet our goals.

We were teased with a brief respite from the cold weather over the weekend and into early this week. Temperatures were 70F (21C) which is very inviting. We moved dirt to beds, added compost to beds, finished retaining walls, weeded (yes they are already peaking above the soil in the flower beds and strawberry beds), finished a wire fence around the vegetable garden (my hands are cut and bruised from twisting wire ties), finished tacking the rest of the wire to the ground and out about 8 inches to discourage diggers, finished the gate to the garden, planted pak choi, swiss chard, broccoli, arugula etc. into the raised beds, made two temporary greenhouse covers, hauled many wheelbarrows of landscape brick and sand to border the new flower bed, transplanted a few indoor plants, moved the citrus trees to the deck (temporarily) and welcomed a hot shower or bath to ease weary muscles at the end of each exhausting day.

My fingernails still have dirt under them after a long soak.

All this energy spent but in one accident of nature (a wayward deer or groundhog, a strong wind, a flooding rain, a very hard freeze), most of these cool weather plants can easily 'bite the dust' if you pardon the pun.

The deer fence goes in tomorrow and it will be interesting to see if this expense does reduce the tick population and the grazing decimation by deer. Today we saw five of them in the ravine eating the new growth on the wild roses which are considered an invasive species. So they do have a good purpose in the spring when they graze.

Is there a point to this ramble, you may ask?

In the photo above is a stray arugula plant that found a home just outside the garage door in the black gravel of the driveway last fall. We walked on this volunteer frequently and most likely drove over some of it at times. Yet, it lasted until the first freeze. My point is that nature is very mercurial and while we think we can control it the joke is on us.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

A Dear Old Coot

I think one of the biggest surprises I have discovered in blogging is how one can grow to love and admire another blogger. Some become like a brother or sister. When I first started blogging I went to Gene's blog and after reading his funny and somewhat shocking post (as were all of his posts) I started to leave my first comment. When I found that I was going to be number 36 or 38 or whatever, I almost didn't post anything. I figured he was so popular...who would read down that far?

I am glad I posted anyway, because he told me he was glad I had commented and that I should never feel bad about being the last to post. Throughout the years there was a little contest among his readers about who would be the first to comment on a post. I continued to read his blog after that. He was sometimes a little shocking for me, but always with a great sense of humor. He was like that relative you love who always has to tell a dirty joke at Thanksgiving dinner just to see the reaction. Yet, he would return and comment on my blog at various times with a joke or encouragement.

I reviewed his blog on my blog roll comments posts when I used to do that before my blogs-I-follow list got so long.

He passed away yesterday and I will miss him as if he was my good friend. Oddly, I had just visited his blog yesterday in hopes that he would be back in good blog form. I stole the photo from "Vicki" who was a much closer friend than I, but I do not think she will mind.

Rest in peace you dear old coot.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Style Maven or Prima Donna?

Is there ever, ever, ever a day when they dress you and it is not so, so, absolutely wrong?

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Gran Torino

I do not like doing movie reviews. There are enough critics out there and I disagree with most of them, and besides, everyone has different tastes in movies. BUT...!

After hubby and I dropped off the grandchildren to their respective day care facilities we headed to the big shopping mall, the one we had not visited since before the winter holidays. We bought some expensive tea, some books and CDs on sale and I bought a blouse that I am now thinking of returning.

OK enough about shopping...we were just killing time anyway in very expensive way waiting for our matinee movie to start.

We wanted to see what all the hoopla was about Slumdog Millionaire and bought two tickets. I got a discount as it seems I am now a senior citizen for this theatre! A week-day matinee with senior discount is probably the cheapest I will ever see a movie. We went straight to the theater and I left my coat on the seat next to my husband and told him I had to visit the ladies room and made a quick dash before the show started.

When I returned he was watching the previews. These should have given us a clue as they were all pretty serious movies. Once they were done, we realized we were in the wrong theater as we saw that this theater was showing Gran Torino. Hubby quickly left and checked the other theaters and returned telling me we should have been in the theater next door. By the time he got back I was not in the mood for leaving.

I am so glad that I did not leave. I really enjoyed this movie. It is tight, extremely well directed, Clint Eastwood develops a great over the top character with fatal flaws, and they do not stereotype the Catholic priest, which is unusual. Most of the characters like those in Slumdog Millionaire are foreign and not ones
you would recognize. They are given dimension in being good guys and bad guys. This and the authentic look of the setting in Michigan is what makes the movie so real and so interesting.

Maybe I liked it because I could identify with the challenges of aging, but I don't think it is that simple.

I was crying by the end...but sad movies always make me cry.