Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Playing along with Words for Wednesday.

I got my "Words for Wednesday" prompt from Messymimi who got them from the link provided on River at Drifting Through Life.  This Wednesday's words are:

1. passport 2. movies 3. puffed 4. complete 5.transport and 6. bleach. 

 The "and/or" second set is  1. avenue 2. helicopter 3. fair 4. clearly 5. foolishness and 6. ability

My effort at something creative using  the words is below...if you feel like joining in check at Messymimi above:

"The rising sun hit the window bleaching the sky across the desert: this piercing sun and the jerky transport of the train shook me awake. I immediately placed my hand reassuringly on my passport as I began to clear my head. It was winter, but the calm weather should have dissuaded my foolish thoughts about the helicopter not being there at journey’s end. I fingered the folder paper and re-read the directions which clearly stated I was to catch a cab at Avenue E by 10:00 A.M..  I had experienced this kind of foolishness only in the movies, and while life is not fair I had somehow thrown myself into the unfairness of something odd and frightening just to see if I had the ability to prove my love and complete my possible destiny. As we slowed pulling into the station I saw the steam from the brakes feather the air against my window, puffed clouds naturally reminding me I needed a cigarette."

Monday, February 25, 2019

Paperwork and Brain Fog

Aging is supposed to be something we accept with grace as the trade-off for living a longer life, and other than a few "dammit"s  now and again, I think I am dealing with it as best I can. 

As mentioned in a post a while back, we are planning a lengthy trip to China. We used to live in Asia and traveled to a number of Asian countries.  While I had not been to China over my life, I avoided such a trip wanting instead to place resources, time and money, to learn more about Europe.  Recently, my sister and sister-in-law encouraged us to join them on a China adventure and wanting to spend time with my relatives who live so far away, I decided to spend the money. The trip requires completion of a 4-page visa including attaching a few other documents and copies of documents. The trip organizer also included a rather lengthy set of instructions for all the paperwork. I put it off over the holidays. In January my sister sent me an email wondering if we had made our plane reservations since we needed to do that before filling out the Visa.   For some reason, I thought this was also a reminder to hurry and get Visa stuff done.  Another example of aging since I panic and do not think things through and do not ask for clarification as I plod forward.  We made our plane reservations a few weeks ago.

It took me three days to complete the Visa application (which is valid for ten years - China really loves us!).  I would spend three hours each morning and then put it aside for my sanity's sake.  I kept making mistakes because I realized that I was just filling out the PDF and not reading the directions on how and what to fill out!  As I age, I think I know more than I know and I hate the tediousness of directions anyway.  I used to be more careful about directions, but now I like plug and play stuff far more or resort to bribery to get someone else to do it.  Finally, I started to re-complete the application by reading whole sections of the directions.  That improved my accuracy slightly when I reviewed both of our sets of papers.   Finally, on the third day of this nightmare and after a few emails from my two sisters, I went through the application step by step, line by line. (For some reason in our inclusion of all the hotels and dates, they do not want to see you are going to Tibet - Political? - so we followed those directions and I omitted information on that stop.) Thank goodness this is all done electronically or I would have wasted reams of paper and expensive toner ink.  I scanned our driver's licenses, attached a check, completed the return address form and tucked in our passports.

I was sooooo proud of myself that I poured a glass of wine.  That afternoon I drove to the drugstore and bought a FANCY stiff envelope for mailing of the paperwork including our passports to a service that will do all the running around at the Chinese Embassy as well as send whatever is necessary to our travel company.  They said it could take up to 6 weeks for processing, so I should be sure we did not need our Passports before that time.   No problem!

Today I got an email from one of my sisters explaining that we should not send the stuff off more than 6 months ahead of the trip!  This would be seven months ahead of time when I counted my mailing.  I am hoping they will give me a pass...please.  If they send it back in a week or so, I will just have to return it, because it will then be in the correct time frame. (I actually expected them to send them back for some minuscule error anyway.)

I think sitting around all winter and passively watching birds, passively taking photos, passively eating carbs, and passively binge-watching TV in the evenings has overcome the blood-gorged pathways that send nutrition to my synapses when I ran the elliptical and lifted my weights two or three times a week.  You can't win.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Giant Night and the Devil Moon

Sleep is a big deal in our society. Lack of sleep is also a big deal and has generated 1,000s of articles discussing causes, cures, temporary or permanent relief and so on. My husband sleeps like a full-bellied infant. I sleep like a watchful night guard. I can drift off to sleep usually fairly easily, but if I get a tickle in my throat or on my foot or hear my husband snort a few times I am awake and must start the relaxing process all over again.

My bedroom is well-designed for the end of a busy day. The only distractions are small and medium stacks of books in regimental rows, along with two e-readers and the landline and a clock radio on the end tables. I work at keeping the bedroom as zen as possible, to the point that I took down a bunch of pictures a few years ago and have not got around to replacing them with something more sleep-inducing. I still need to add some small photos or art to the wall at the foot of the bed.

I work at this because I have periods of insomnia. I avoid alcohol, caffeine, and sugar in the evening. I read my Kindle on the non-blue light mode; I do not read the news or social media or text friends and family.  I keep to a routine as much as possible and being retired this is 90% possible.  I keep plants in the bedroom in the winter to purify air and create a non-wintery mood.  In the photo above the plants are on a stand in the window behind me as I take this photo.  About the only thing I do not have is a noise machine.

Good sleep for an individual can range from 6 hours to 9 hours a night depending on the individual and his/her metabolism.  My fitbit does tell me I average 7.5 most nights.  Please note the first two items on the list below are Friday...I guess I really caught up with a nap, although I know for a fact I did NOT nap that long, my naps rarely lasting more than 30 to 45 minutes.  Maybe I was just reading and lying VERY STILL?

Some doctor's say that insomnia is a psychiatric disorder.  I am not that willing to submit to that.  I think it is chemical, but then chemistry impacts our psychiatric response to things, so who knows.

I have noticed that full moons are usually a trigger for my sleeplessness.  I close my non-blackout curtains but still seem to find myself wide awake around 2:00 A.M.  I lie restless for 20 minutes while my mind goes through a roller coaster of 100's of subjects, issues, problems, etc.  Eventually, I throw back the blankets and get up to find some way to fall back asleep again.

Two nights ago I was mocked by the full moon.  It seems to want to "parhteee" in the black and piercing, cold, winter air while all is still and oh so quiet.

I have no desire to dance. I feel like a zombie and am just thankful I do not have anything on my schedule for the next day!

I put on my slippers and take my camera outside.  I forget to check the settings and in the dark attempt a few photos with no tripod but also no shakey caffeine drug.

While it is indeed freezing the water is not and dances with the moon to the quietest of waltzes.  At least the moon has some company.  It is light enough that I could go for a walk without a flashlight.

Eventually, the cold seeps into my hands and shoulders and I cannot control the shake of the camera and get the watery photo above.  I look to the inviting warmth of the light through my kitchen window.

It is time to go inside.  Maybe I can wrap myself again in blankets and warm slowly to a coziness and finally get the sleep I deserve!

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Social on Unsocial Media

There are days, especially those short and gray and cold winter days, when I spend too much time on Facebook, reading and laughing at know what those are, right? I also get a peek at the lives of the very few people I have met only peripherally but who I friended because I knew them through Blogger for years.  (I do not friend friends-of-friends unless I know them.)  I am able to throw rotten apples at those elected officials that are really rotten at the core (pun intended), and I throw more incisive comments at my elected officials that are walking too moderate a line and I hit the like or love button for those elected officials (mostly not mine) who are carrying a torch for Democracy, freedom of speech and transparency.

I follow friends I have made that live hundred and thousands of miles from me.  I  watch their children grow and have children of  their own.  If it was not for FB I  would not be  able to follow their lives as closely.

I also post photos that are manipulated slightly or greatly because it is an addiction that I have to share.  I love the play of light and color and shape and shadow.  I post these photos whether they are worthy or not, because I am moving through my 70th decade and do not give a ####.

My son is no longer on FB because he has serious and difficult issues in his life and FB  can be a dangerous sink-hole when you are trying to get your life together.  Most people are just trying to get through the day when they post a photo of their breakfast or their good-looking barista.  Others are posting the best of their life and making it all look so easy.  A few are honest and post both the lows and highs.

My daughter is  on FB and posts just a few photos of her many travels with family or the girl's weekend stuff that women her age post.  All of them are in perfect shape and dressed fashionably whether on the thin or chunky side with perfect glossy hair and a glass of  wine or a plate of dessert in the foreground.  It is hard to be a 40 something I am thinking!  She is not shallow as she posts rarely,but ... she sometimes posts the family skiing, or cheering, or concerting, or attending a sports get the idea.

My sister and brothers will rarely comment on anything and never post.  I comment more on their kid's posts.  I am young at heart.

My daughter comments every so often on my posts.  But I  cannot tell you how it makes my heart sing when she asks about a photo, a bird photo, and asked its ID!  She did this today and my heart just bloomed.  She does not care about birds as I do and the very fact that she noticed certainly made me feel like I had just been sucked  into her planetary orbit ever so briefly as she rushes off on her hundreds of errands and meet-ups in other space dimensions.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Some Days...

Some days there are flowers and some days they are forgotten. Today is a flower day.

Happy Valentine's Day. Love someone today. Throw a kiss to the bird on the tree or pat your neighbor's dog or kiss someone...anyone.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Old Ladies Just Want to Have Fun

When I was young and with toddlers I lived in Indonesia. I am sure I have mentioned this a few times before on this blog. I had a maid/washerwoman, a cook, and a yard/nightwatchman. I did not have any appliances so everything in the house was manual labor.  Also, culturally we were supposed to hire servants because our wealth in the community was too obvious and the U.S. wanted a better profile for its civil servants.  It all balanced out because I truly needed them.  Shopping for food took a half day three days a week!

It took me a short time to adjust to having strangers in my house, perhaps an unusually short time because I am not uncomfortable around people I employ if I trust them and like them. I am an introvert, but when you employ someone you can see them as often or "unoften" as you like.  My cook was Muslim and my maid was Catholic and the night watchman, Jaga Malam, was a young good looking man in his late teens who seemed so sweet I could eat him. I must have been a good employer as they all stayed with me for the two years and we became friends. (Other Americans had trouble hanging on to their staff and I think one of the husbands had a "hand" problem and one of the wives was a perfectionist bitch.  Another family were Christian missionaries and refused to have anyone not Christian in their home, which narrowed the servant pool greatly.)  God knows I need all the various religions I can get and I thought about them all.

Anyway...where was I going with this?  Oh, yes.  There was/is a lot of poverty in Indonesia.  It was not unusual to have beggars come to our door offering odd things to sell for money.  It was not unusual for me to see a woman in rags and in one case stark naked, offering an empty rice bowl for food.  I was young and very busy trying to teach at the mission school and raise a family and adjust to living outside my homeland, therefore I was able to hand some money over and shelve the images to the back of my mind before they touched my heart and soul.  I grew up with a family that lived pay check to pay check, so perhaps I was hardened to the hardness of life.

Somewhere when I had passed middle age, my children were out on their own and we began to live an upper-middle-class lifestyle (or maybe it is just middle class), I started to see such things as poverty with more insight.  When I travel now, I truly enjoy the food, the music, the art, the history, but I hate seeing poverty.  It grabs me like a clawed hand and throws me back against the wall.  It grabs my gut and shakes it roughly.  I become angry at the injustice of life across the globe.  I am a liberal in the purest sense that I believe most people want an honest and fair living and the prevention of that goal is usually due to large, wealthy, powerful corporations that lie.  As an example here is an incident that happened in Santarem, Brazil where Cargill has left a polluted imprint and poverty is tremendous and Cargill has not come through on its promises to raise the standard of living.

I have burned into my brain the sorrowful face of a Brazilian man in his 40s or 50s who offered to take us around his town on his bicycle cart.  The rain was drenching as we left an elaborate cultural school dance show and we just wanted to get back to our boat and get dry and sit in a stuffed chair on the foredeck and catch our breath and clear our heads from the sugary rum drinks they had passed out before the show.  

The man was small and dressed all in dark grays as he held in front of his chest a sign in English offering tours.  My husband speaks enough Spanish to explain to him that we could not go because of the rain.  He was still standing near the wall with the sign as we stood in line and pulled out IDs to get back on the cruise boat.  I asked my husband to go offer him some money...enough for a ride, enough to feed his children, enough to make me wash guilt from my mind that evening.  I hated doing that because he wanted to work, he did not want charity.  I knew that.  He accepted, but I could not watch his face and turned away and do not know if he was relieved, embarrassed, or reflected numbness.

Would he tell his wife that he got one customer in spite of the rain?  What work did he do when the Cruise ship was not in town?  Why did life rob him of his dignity in this way?

That evening we ordered a lobster dinner to celebrate the nearing of the end of our trip.  The lobster tasted great.  My guilt did not overcome my enjoyment of the meal.  Lobster is still an expensive ritual in my life.

BUT, I just want to go on a trip to exotic areas of the world and have fun.  I do not want to bring home so much reality.  His face stays with me to this day.  This fall I am going to China!

Saturday, February 09, 2019

How Many Face Lifts Can You Have?

There is an actress who used to be on a U.S soap opera.  Her name is Susan Lucci. I used to watch soap operas when I was stuck at home with babies in diapers, and although I did not  watch her show, she was very famous. These shows were a compulsive distraction for many housewives stuck at home and I am guessing  they still are. The people were all beautiful and protected from aging, except for the token octogenarian with money and power who was either well loved or extremely feared. The women wore  the height of fashion whether it was a tennis outfit or  ball gown.  The sets were usually rooms in luxurious mansions.  The lives of the characters were always exciting and dramatic and unusually melodramatic in their multiple love affairs.  Anyway Ms. Lucci was the evil seductress for decades. Her character was the one you loved to hate.  She never aged and was always glamorous for her 31 years on the show becoming the highest paid soap opera star and finally winning an Emmy in 1999.

This week she was in a fashion show to promote heart health. She is 72 (her birthday only a few days from mine) and has had serious heart issues. Her close call has motivated her to be an advocate for living a lifestyle for heart health. She was layered in some off the shoulder red dress which hugged her 110 pound body frame with flowing layers of cloth turning her into a brunette Barbie. She still wears high heels and somehow her feet went out from under her and she hit the runway with her bottom. The photos of the incident are truly delightful as she looks as if someone had surprised her with a fun ride. She does not break her stride or sense of grace and got a standing ovation. She is 72 and looks 40 if you don't zoom in too closely and notice all the lifting.  She seems like a truly nice and normal person even being married to her first husband for decades.

I just strikes me oddly how we  are the same age,  took  totally different  paths in our lives  and she looks  like she could be a daughter that  I had early in my life.  Better living  through chemistry?

Friday, February 01, 2019

Back in July

Cleaning and organizing photos is a great way to stumble upon fun memories. Back in July hubby and I went to Washington, D.C. to the Building Museum. It is not a public venue but private and supported by a professional association and you must pay a fee to go inside. They have some very interesting displays and I wish I went more often. The rest of the museum, like most museums, has various rooms addressing issues with habitat, history, and relation to buildings. Maybe someday I will post about that aspect because it is certainly just as interesting if not more so.  For more on the museum go here.   The temporary exhibit held in the grand hall on the day I was there was certainly compelling.

Above is a description of the primary areas...mostly for children. Below is the living room every child would like to have!

In some of the areas, there were challenges like this one above with black marbles and a plastic tube maze. The whole exhibit was mostly in black and white!

There was an area for even more fun and the toddlers took advantage.  I did blur faces a little as a courtesy to those who were in front of the lens.

Note, the mom/guardian is taking her own photo here.

Lots of room for fun.  This area above looked like a destroyed building.

The building is a classic and when this room is cleared it is used for grand events.  My daughter's company holds some formal parties here.  She has seen it in its true glory.  I will go again.