Monday, December 30, 2013

You Make Me Better Than I Am

With all of life's struggles and challenges, there are always a few things in life one finds restorative.  A few things that give the hope and energy to take that step forward.  A few things that weave us back into the fabric of life.  I believe that not only do we have to keep an awareness of those moments when they touch us, but we have to savor and re-visit those moments.  Close your eyes and think of the last time you smiled inside and felt ever so briefly restored.

Was it when you finally got that angel to balance on the tree?
Was it when your unshaven son gave you a scratchy kiss.
Was it that gift bottle of wine that reminded you of your sunset bicycle ride so long ago?
Was it that bestfriend dog wet-kiss that surprised you after such a long day of errands?
Was it that holiday card from someone you have not seen in years and years?
Was it that sale on a sweater you have been eying for weeks?
Was it that toddler girl at the holiday party who stopped wide-eyed to look at the tree?
Was it the patience from your loved ones when you burned the first batch of cookies?
Was it finding Grandma's platter that had been stored way at the bottom of the drawer?
(Yes, these are not universal incidents...but you can certainly add your own.)

For me, many of these moments were savored reading the comments from my blog readers that I read and re-read this past week.  Talk about restorative!  You make me want to be a better writer/communicator/photographer than I am.  You remind me that the great fabric of life is both virtual and concrete.




Tuesday, December 24, 2013

My Christmas (Holiday) Card to You.


As most of my readers know, I am not a religious person.  I could write that I am an agnostic, but I am not a person who spends energies being skeptical of hope.  That term does not fit my more positive outlook on spirituality, which is seeking the energy of peace and understanding. All religions appeal to me in small ways.  Therefore, I do celebrate Christmas, which is certainly all about hoping for peace.  The ornament on the left in the photo was made decades ago by my mother-in-law.  I treasure it as I treasured her and regret that I did not show her more of that love when she was with us.  This will be my last post for a while as I am traveling up north both for Christmas and to child-sit and then to go to my son's birthday party!!  My your new year be filled with PEACE and UNDERSTANDING.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Joy

Take four minutes from your craziness today and go here.  I never get tired of these and they always bring a tear to my eye.  As many times as I have been to this museum I somehow missed this.. ;-)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

OK, So I Am Posting

I have been alone for several days while my better half is on travel to Florida where the temperature, according to him, is not much warmer.

When alone, I have time to wander, ponder, dilly and even dally if the cause strikes me, and blog, which was something I had put on hold for a short time.  I was playing Christmas music and wrapping the many gifts that I buy each year once again breaking my promise to buy less.  I had finished about 80% of the toys and clothes and decided to head to bed.  As I turned off lights last night and headed to bed, the view to my back deck glowed and I noticed the golden rain that had frosted the deck with honey.  It was just above freezing and that is why this water looks almost frozen.  I thought briefly how glad I was that I did not have to go out in this weather either to party or to work, but, it does look deceptively beautiful, when one is cozy and warm inside.

When I woke the next morning early before the sunrise, as I most often do, I looked outside and saw that the weather had sugar dusted the yard in snow.  I put on my camouflage outfit and headed out for a walk in the dark hoping to sneak up on the woodcock that lives in the ravine.  When I returned I notice that the motion lights were on and this gave me a little Christmas card scene.


I just had to share it right away, and who is more important to share such beauty with than my bloggers?

Keep warm!


Tuesday, December 03, 2013

II

Pushing the pause button this week. I am recovering from Thanksgiving, babysitting, and going forward with holiday shopping.  While I find blogging and reading blogs a compelling activity, I accept that I do have a life with some bigger demands.  I will certainly be away until the new year is underway.  If you are curious (Ha!) I will be organizing my 10,000 (actually my index says there are 43,689--but I cannot get my mind around THAT(!)) photos.  I will be cleaning out closets of old photographic prints and leftover linens.  I will be organizing that pile of books at the end of my bed table which seems to be so fecund and falling over onto the ground when I bump them in the dark on my way to the bathroom.  I hope to finally decide how to organize my overflowing pantry...and may give away some dishes and stuff and buy MORE containers.

Toodle-loo.  (Oh, in case you want to know WHAT I have been doing before this...)

Getting the rest of the wedding gifts back to my son and out of the guest bedroom.

Doing karate.

Dancing to Christmas music.

Assisting with homework.

Feeding the chickens that were guests over the weekend.

Bowling

(Actually watching bowling.)

Dealing with despair.

Checking out the dinosaurs.

Marveling at butterflies.

!!!

And, at this time of year, there always there has to be a visit to Thomas. (Yes, this is Percy, but Thomas was also there.)

See you next year!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Who Are You? Is That a Resolution?

I sometimes watch my adult children and wonder what genetic mix has created them with their energies, self-confidence, optimism, forgiveness and golden humor.  Where did they get the wisdom to see what is truly important.  I see these traits in the man I married, an only child, doted on and given opportunities galore to succeed or fail.  The only child of an aging couple in their second marriages who saw this child as their second and last chance to get it right.  And thus he sees himself as an important cog in the wheel of life.

I thought I had the above traits, but age has given me the wisdom to see I am a punctual, list adhering soul given to joy only when all has been completed and put away and failure is no longer an option.  Only when the small rest time that is given as reward for work well done, do I allow myself to be open and less attentive.  I do not like these traits in myself and this past decade as my adult children have held up this mirror, I have tried to change and mellow out just a bit.  It is hard work to change oneself and also is an embarrassment to do this.  It is hard to stop and remember to look at the view on the way up instead of waiting until you are at the very top to relish the hard work and share the joy of the view with others.

I was the oldest of five with many chores and responsibilities.  My mother was critical of much that I did and only gave praise for good grades as she knew this was the gateway for her children to a better life.  All else was expected and she did not forgive you if you became distracted by daydreaming.  Life was not a bowl of cherries but a tall cherry tree which must be climbed for any reward.  She focused most of her attention on the youngest as that was all that her remaining energies allowed and she expected me at an early age to be more of an adult.  I write this not to place blame but to see more clearly why I am the way that I am, why I am always the adult in my family, why I need down time, why going soft and making mistakes is scary for me and why I am critical of those who put fun before deadlines.

But I will keep trying and little by little I will not be so focused on clearing the path, but picking the flowers.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thank You!!

Not too many years ago, with the help of Oprah Winfrey, Americans rediscovered thankfulness.  They read books, took seminars and started "thankfulness journals."  It was a fad, but a good fad, certainly better than anything the Kardashians had given us in this decade.  I am sure that ministers and priests and monks and nuns and other spiritual souls just shook their heads in disbelief, because this is their calling and what they had been telling people to practice for years.  An overweight, rich, black lady had somehow gotten through, past the soap operas, the shopping channel, and those questionable religious programs.  Yes, most of the listeners were woman with small children or those without jobs, but their actions spread like ripples on the pond to their families and loved ones.  Goodness grows slowly but goes on forever.

I cannot list all the things I am thankful for this year (my readers are high up in the list) because this post would be way too long.  I would begin with the big things like a faithful devoted husband and beautiful children and grandchildren and finally wind my way down to things like the beauty of floating feathers and the fact that we are made from stardust which connects us to this vast and awesome universe in a magnificent way.

I hope that your Thanksgiving Day, whether with those you love, those you cannot stand, or with just yourself, has a peaceful moment where you can stop and ponder all the good things in your life that you are thankful for.

(My jury duty was cancelled postponed until next week, so even though it is a civic duty, I am thankful for that small reprieve.)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Crazy Sunday

It was a crazy Sunday in the supermarket the weekend before Thanksgiving.  I have been notified that I may very well be on jury duty on the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving...so I have had to reevaluate my free time and meal planning for the coming week.

As I entered the market and grabbed a small shopping basket for a few last minute items to make a little birthday cake for DIL, I could feel the tension and energy sucking the oxygen from my space around me.  When I scooted past the produce section, I saw there were people everywhere.  Mostly couples, perhaps on their way home from church...although not in fancy dress, comparing lists and pointing here and there with their heads close in conversation.

"Where is the condensed milk?" asks one lady with a small child to a woman putting price tags on something.
"Where are the sanitary wipes?"  one husband looks up from the list and asks his wife who is perusing the cereal aisle.
"Can you tell me where I can find ginger snaps?" asks one man of the store clerk who is stuffing even more boxes of cream cheese onto the refrigerator shelf.

I sighed and try to get through my list as fast as possible skipping most of the aisles and heading for checkout.  EVERY SINGLE CASH REGISTER is BUSY and has at least two groups of customers with full carts waiting in line.  EGAD!  Now the tension and energy have peaked and my ears are starting to ring.  Then I notice that one of the aisles without a light has only one large cart waiting to unload its bounty and I scoot quickly behind.  Soon someone is behind me!

"It is OK, Rod, but I am not a big fan of green beans."  says the male voice behind me.
"Well, I never made it but it has .....like...fried onions on top...I think you use cream of mushroom soup.."
"Well, I guess I could try it if it wasn't too soupy."
"It is sort of a traditional dish, I think."

Curiouser and curiouser as I want to know what two men look like who talk in detail about a green bean casserole.  I put on my best grandma smile and turn to look at them as I unload my last item and put the basket under the counter. 

They were in their late 30's or early 40's and dressed in sweater vests like they had just returned from church.  They smiled back and appeared to be embarrased that I had overheard their conversation.

The talk continued although they seemed a little awkward with each other.

Finally as I was sliding my credit card, one of the men stopped at the end of the aisle and grabbed a CD from a Christmas display.  "Wow...Barbara Streisand...nice."

The other guy laughed..."Barbara Steisand?"

"Well, I like her music!"

"Really?"

"Well...yeah...I guess I wouldn't listen to her everyday."  The other man laughed.

I may be wrong...but I think that it is this couple's first Thanksgiving together.  What do you think?

Friday, November 22, 2013

With Lots of Cream and Sugar

Yes, that is the way I take it.  I like my coffee strong but I also buffer that with lots of cream and a good teaspoon of sugar.  What you drink in the morning pretty much tells me who you are.  You like it hot and black, then you face life as it comes and you handle it!  You like your coffee warm and weak, then you face life with hesitation and regret and wish the morning had not come so fast.  You don't drink coffee at all but would rather have an ice cold Pepsi in the morning?  Then you are a rule breaker and do not have much patience for those who make the rules. You need the hair of the dog in the morning, then life has you by the tail and until you let go you are in for a bumpy ride.  Me, I can take life as it comes, but want it frosted and creamy and hot.  (Pop psychology?  Better than Stossel's report...see below.)

There are those of us who see poor people working through life as best they can under the crazy circumstances.  There are others of us who think poor people make their own problems and deserve the circumstances they are in from not dealing with those problems as they should have.  This in a nutshell is how I see the battle over health care.  Some people think that only the social network of help can make sure someone gets the healthcare they need whether they created the problem though drug use or drinking or over eating or over working or not being able to deal with fighting in an ugly war.  Other people think that life is a crap shoot and if you don't keep your eyes open and your hand firmly on "the tiller, the wheel, the gun"...whatever and your shoulder to the grindstone you are not going to make it through the week much less the rest of your life.  They rely on a few good friends and that is that, or they rely on the  church being able to sort all this out.

Of course, as you know, I think it is far more complicated than that and the truth is all over the place.  There are the users and abusers who we have to keep from sucking us dry and we have to avoid being an enabler.  There are the unlucky whom we must help, because they can survive and make contributions of their own.  But since they do not all wear signs, we will make mistakes.  And much of this is perception.  Do we perceive that the majority that are in need are lazy and purposely greedy or do we see them as unlucky, not too smart, and fearful?  John Stossel (one of those talking heads on faux news who tries to present the image of a journalist, but never bothers to ask the ask who, what, where, when and why questions) demonstrated that anyone can panhandle (as he did again in a bearded disguise), and thus claimed that those who give to the homeless are dupes.  The demo only proved to me that most people are good-hearted and most conservative journalists find it too much work to research their subject matter in depth.

Hubby talked to our investment adviser yesterday since the market is going crazy and hubby is reaching that age where he is required by law to withdraw a certain percentage of his investments annually.  (A rule that allows the taxman to get his share sooner rather than later.)  They talked about the market (as unpredictable as ever) and our adviser said something that brought me up short.  He was speaking from the millionaires point of U. S. view as I am sure he makes and has a lot of money.  He said that the financial folks see the demographics as a disappearing middle class, with the separation  forming that will break out to the top 15% and then everyone else.  It would be nice to blame this on conservative or liberal politics, but it started back in the 1980's. I blame it on the rich being able to make the rules.

This will not impact me much, because I am not 20 or 30 or 40 or 10!  It will impact those I love who come after me.  There will be the vast wilderness surrounding gated communities.  Will it be a world like The Hunger Games...but without the games or will it be more chaotic than that?  Will cream and sugar be able to null the bitter taste in one's mouth as they look out their window in the morning?

(On the other hand it appears that health care costs are going down!)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Memories Are Made of Feathers and Follies



If you have done any reading in the news lately you may have seen an article where scientists have taken those memory geniuses...the ones who remember the exact color of your tie when you fought with them on March 16, 1989, the ones that remember exactly what they ordered a year ago at their favorite restaurant, the ones that remember the headline on the newspaper they were reading on the morning of...whatever morning you may ask about, and tested them more closely.  These people are far more amazing than your ex-wife who manages to remember every (wrong) thing you ever did onward from your wedding day.  These folks remember details, lots of miniscule details that we all have forgotten and could care less about.

If you have ever heard or seen the French/American musical called Gigi which played in movie theaters in 1961, you may remember the love song between two elderly lovers who have different versions of how they met and what had happened that important night.  (I loved that movie and wish there were more like it.  It was a perfect romantic movie and Maurice and Hermione were fantastic!)  I also love this song.

But, perhaps, I should return to the direction of my wandering thought if I can remember accurately the direction that I wished to go.  Recent studies of these genius souls whose brains (which contain more fat tissue than yours or mine) remember everything has revealed that they do get some details wrong.  There are incorrect colors, times of day and places.  They just remember so much stuff accurately, that we think they are perfect.  They remember 100 details, but may get 10 of them wrong.  We remember 3 details...and maybe they are mostly inaccurate.

An article that I red online in The Daily Beast recently discussed new research which revealed how our memory changes and evolves as we age.  We leave out bad things that do not fit our version of who we are or we forget those things that we cannot bear to attach to our lives.

"When people get older, they seem to have less tolerance for that," says McAdams. "They’ll kind of reconstruct the past and forget or downplay the bad stuff a little bit.”  “It’s kind of like history. Your life story, at least with respect to the past, is not fixed,” says McAdams. “It’s always going through a revision. In the same way that historians revise how they see the past -- they see World War I one way now and maybe in 30 years they’ll see it a different way -- you see your childhood now one way and later a different way in part because of what you’re going through at that time.”  

Apologies for not saving the link, but since I am not a journalist, I am sure you will forgive me.  If you are a researcher or librarian you will surely find the article above if you try.

I guess if I wrote a small biography, it would be a little like Swiss cheese with chocolate sauce, having a small amount that was true and accurate and a goodly portion that made me a much better person than I am.  I would really like to go back in time and see it all as it really was!  It kind of bothers me that I do not see my life as it really was.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Harvest Time

Someone, sweet blogger, asked where I was.  Such a sweet gesture which also makes me feel guilty for not writing in a while.  I haven't really had anything interesting or thoughtful to write.  My mind was blank like our gray skies these days.

This morning I got up before the sunrise as I most often do on these shorter days.  The air was thick with fog but a nice temperature.  I put on warmer clothes and took my camera walking.

 First I went to the end of the driveway and peaked through the deer gate.  Then I walked down to the dock where our winter loons have arrived and appeared just as black dots on the water's surface.

Soon I saw the sun trying to get my attention through the mist.

The weather here has been teasing.  Mornings can be cold or wet or even foggy or even warm and dry, mid-days with or without sun have still been comfortable, but the minute the sun hits the low horizon of gray clouds in the late afternoon, the temperature falls dramatically.  This crazy weather juggles my list of getting it done...whatever "it" is for that week, day, moment.

We harvested the last of the persimmons.  They sit like golden eggs hard as rocks in my iron basket in the kitchen.  Two nights were below freezing, so we have brought them inside and maybe in a week they will ripen to their custardy sweetness...or give us an alum mouth and we will throw them out.



The fig tree gave us hundreds of tiny figs this year...so few ripened that we ate them in hand while studying the carpet of green figs that had fallen to the ground.  A judicious pruning is in order for next year if we want fig sauce and fig bread.

The oysters have been cleaned of summer algae with enough harvested that hubby made a Korean oyster stew (that is what he called it) which tasted more like a Thai seafood soup with an abundance of rice noodles.  I continue to use my Hungarian smoked paprika which accompanies many dishes these days. The weather was cold enough for us to safely eat a raw half dozen before the soup.



The kaffir lime tree which now sits inside in the kitchen corner gave us many limes this year. I would lie in bed at night and hear the thunk of a lime as it fell to the floor and then spent the better part of the next morning trying to find where it had rolled.  I made a delicious lime cheesecake which was full of butter-fat and sugar and that unique flavor of kaffir lime.  Only 400 calories for a small piece!  The fresh flavor of citrus is such a rare treat when you do not live in the tropic or temperate climates.  Their gnarly skin shown in the photo below belies their floral fragrance.


I took up the huge bouquet of dried garlic from the basement and began to peal and process for the freezer by tossing the cleaned buds in olive oil and putting a large handful into small freezer bags.  I know that they lose texture and flavor when frozen, but I have found the garlic buds are quite delicious when gently roasted before adding to any cooked meal.  I also put a few up in olive oil in the refrigerator in a jar for winter meals and saved three fresh cloves.  The white garlic parchment skins have flaked everywhere throughout the kitchen and it looks like snow.  I spend forever sweeping each morning finding a new white skin.  Of course, I have to spend an hour or less getting a photo before I begin my work!



During one cold afternoon I also broke down and made chocolate chip cookies.  We limit ourselves to two a day!

Today, with the temperature kissing 70F for a few hours, we cleaned out the garage, cleaned and oiled our garden tools, and threw out dated chemicals.  I took the amaryllus bulbs that have been going dormant in their pots in the garage for over a month, cut off their roots and knocked all the soil away from those fat bulbs and put them in a black garbage bag for the basement resting.  I will wake them up in 8 weeks for winter color.  I then washed all my clay pots and stacked them on a shelf in the garage.

I sorted various seeds from pods and heads that I had collected and placed on the garden shelf.  Now I am going to fix a drink and read my book, The Luminairies by Eleanor Catton...thus far a good read, even if I am not sure where this going.  I slogged through the "Bosnian Chronicles,"  until half way and then found it did not capture me in spite of a being awarded National Book Award.  It was well written, the characters well drawn..it just moved way too slowly and focused mostly on how depressed the characters were living away from their homeland.  Thus, all the reasons that I have not been blogging.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Addictions and Fancies

I sincerely believe that anyone who has a passion for living also has an addiction or two or three.  Some compelling desire that follows he/she around, sits on their shoulder, makes them rearrange their day to accommodate space for the addiction, forces them to be distracted, and in general, can sometimes annoy others around them who do not understand this inner call.  Responsible life interferes with most of us making these undernourished addictions into fancies rather than compulsions.  Others, less responsible, go on to become famous by following their addictions...or destitute and alone.

When I was a small child I was addicted to make believe friends and stories.  Each day when I could get away from chores and family I could return to my little world of Flash Gordon where we traveled through space and solved problems as I explored the mountains near my home.  I was also addicted to the outdoors and spent most of my free time playing in the Rocky Mountains.  My other addiction was collecting things such as rocks and minerals, little dolls, comic books, and maybe some other items that I have now forgotten.

When I was in middle school it was collecting and listening to LP and SP albums of my favorite musical groups and singers.  These coming of age years were stressful as they are for most people, so I also spent much of my time reading as an escape to other worlds.  Getting books at the library was an essential orgasmic experience.  I played with monthly calls to draw and paint, although I was not very talented.

In high school I became addicted to friendships.  Being with my BFFs was important in figuring out who I was.  I continued my love of reading and added writing as as a compulsion.  I also began my love of photography with the gift of a camera, but with little money for film and developing it was not allowed to blossom into a true addiction.   I continued my addiction to hiking in the great outdoors, although I had moved to the flatlands by this time, and that involved walking or biking around farmland.

In college I took an introduction to writing class and that fueled the tender love that I had with writing in my youth into an addiction of sorts.  I had infrequently had periods writing poems when in middle school, but now that I had the rules and exercises I wrote something at least once a week and actually enjoyed the writing assignments in all of my classes.  I also took an elementary drawing class and got an A which left me feeling I might actually be able to draw!  I did not nurture this fancy in those years, as perhaps I should have.   I was also addicted to dancing and went every weekend if I had the money or the boyfriend with money.

While newly married, and living in the South Pacific on a tiny island, I discovered the symmetrical beauty and texture of sea shells and became addicted to collecting them on weekend boat excursions to various reefs.  I most often collected shells that had died, but I must admit that I also collected many live shells and destroyed their lives just so that I could admire their skeletons on my shelves. I also drew them to fuel my drawing addiction.  I collected and cataloged hundreds.  My reading addiction continued and I added underwater photography to my fancies.  (I won't talk about the newly-weds addiction to each other, because that has more to do with survival of the species and we all have that.)

When I had my two children, they became a very compelling addiction.  Even on exhausted days when I needed a break from their little antics, I was so addicted I could not keep them out of my mind or heart for a second. The withdrawal from being in their lives on a daily basis was a bitch.  (I now find that I go through withdrawal during the weeks I am away from my grandchildren while recovering from the exhaustion of those times.)

During my career years my little free time was filled with reading, some travel when it was affordable, and outdoor camping and hiking satisfied my continuing addiction for the outdoors.  I still toyed with writing, but as an addiction it left me unsatisfied when I would review what I wrote in spurts of time.  (I personally think it is much harder for women than men to indulge in those addictions begun in their youth if they have a house and family to manage.  Many men, not all, continue spending hours working out, at sports, hanging with their buddies or whatever, and do not respond to pressure or guilt to spend more time with family and household as they hone these addictions.)

As an elder I find the freedom to pursue addictions both wonderful and intimidating.  Just because you love something, does not mean you can do it or that you will be rewarded because you are good at it.  My outdoor activities continue but with a cold and serious eye to my aging body and what it will let me do.  I can no longer sleep on the cold hard ground, and my youthful fearless biking gives way to an honest review of how long it takes to fix something that gets broken from a fall.  My old eyesight is forcing me to be so much more careful as a photographer and age also means you no longer have a super steady hand.  Thank goodness for IES lenses.  Reading is still a love, but I cannot sit for hours with a book in hand as I used to and the freedom to read more than one book at a time also tests my weaker memory skills.  AND writing has gone from actually writing something...to blogging!  Although I keep toying with the idea of actually creating a collection of writing of some sort.  My gardening addiction (which I guess I always had but never knew) continues, but I no longer feel guilty if I have to hire someone to do the heavy stuff.  It is still my garden.

So what addictions and fancies do/did you have and have you had to make compromises?




Saturday, November 09, 2013

Not All Grown Up

We have lived in this community less than five years and while hubby collects friends like my socks collect seed burrs, I do not.  Oh, I AM friendly, just things do not evolve into luncheons with someone or dual shopping trips, or wood walks or weekly phone calls.  Hubby has a fishing partner--actually two, a project building partner, a "business" partner, etc.  He is easily liked by everyone.  I like to think I am easily likable but it does not transition into any BF or BFF profiles.

I am long-term friends with women I went to junior high school, high school, college, and with roommates I had in my early career moves.  We are great friends, but live thousands of miles away from each other and our paths may cross only every eight years or so.

While some of the women I have met here are compatible, it never evolves into anything.  I told the wife of one of my husband's fishing buddies that the week hubbies are gone to islands far away, we should get together for at least lunch.  She agreed, but I am doubting this will  happen because she has a high school son and a college son at home AND works full time at a hospital.  I will screw my courage to the sticking place and see if I can get something organized when the week transpires...my new mantra.

Another volunteer I work with and that I like suggested we should get together for dinner with our hubbies. I agreed and waited to see if she wanted to initiate the dinner.  She didn't make any move, so as much as I hate inviting strangers for dinner I decided to be more pro-active in this social networking dance and invited them to dinner.  I prepared a careful (too fancy?) meal of curry squash soup, arugula-goat cheese-fig salad, roasted turkey breast with roasted fall root vegetables and tested my new kaffir lime cheesecake recipe since I got about 14 limes from our tree this year!  They brought cheese and crackers and wine.

The dinner seemed to be a big success, the conversation went on until almost 11:00 which is really late for old folks such as us.  We have a lot in common including former working agencies, education and outdoor interests.  I will keep you posted if this goes anywhere!  (Let me know if you will be in town and I can practice on you!)

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Testing, 123

I grew up (after my early childhood) on a farm and while I learned how to milk cows, wean a calf, collect eggs, can garden vegetables and fruits, sew, iron and do laundry and even a little cooking I did not learn much about repair work on machinery or such.  When I got my first car, my dad took me out and made me change the tire on it ... which at the time, I found extremely annoying, but in retrospect I find extremely loving.

I am married to a man who in earlier years of our partnership was reticent but resigned to repairing things.  His dad was a car salesman and then a real estate salesman and knew nothing about repairing things.  His dad was just good at ordering repairmen around.  Well, my dear husband soon decided that working on things was not for him.  Repeated trips to the hardware store, followed by lost parts, followed by parts breaking, honed his philosophy into working a longer work week to pay a repairman.  Since I grew up with men who could fix anything and stretch a part for decades of use, I was a little displeased...OK I was disdainfully critical.  But years of marriage and I grew out of that and realized that not all men are "handy."   I also learned they can be "handy" at so many other things.

I was going to make a joke about wiring for a nefarious device...but one cannot do that these days, can one?
Today we marshaled our resolve to replace the motor arm for our broken gate in the driveway.  This is a gate to keep out deer...not people, although it keeps out door-to-door salesmen nicely!  Note that I said we were replacing it, because hubby's hours at attempting to repair it while talking on the phone to the tech assistant last month resulted in a break down of spirit and buying a new gate.

The new motor arm arrived all nice and shiny black...and it only weighed 20 pounds.  We were prepared for several hours of connecting colored wires and flipping switches and talking to the computer tech.  I took a photo of the wiring before we disconnected the old arm.  I reminded hubby to bring everything possible that he might need so that we didn't spend our time walking back and forth on the long driveway to the garage.  Hubby rolled over an old log to help hold the arm while we checked the battery box and began carefully placing screws and washers here and there.

AND THEN we connected the new motor arm.  Hubby called the tech and had him on the line before we tested it and GUESS WHAT?  It worked!  Like new, it worked on the very first test!   Yes, those of you who fix things can smugly role your eyes, but we are dancing a jig.  I am thinking this is going to be a good week all around.

Monday, November 04, 2013

The 3%

Every year I get something in the mail regarding changes to my health insurance policy...usually the rate goes up as it has creeped up almost every year in small increments since I first purchased insurance.  If you are still paying the same on your policy as you did ten years ago you may want to contact CNN as you are a rare consumer of healthcare.

This increase in cost and dropping of coverage happens with all insurance policies.  They get re-done, re-named, certain services dropped and changed and/or the original policy no longer applies---like cancelled.  I have a personal choice of numerous policies (under my single payer plan) and thus can shop around each fall, and TRY to save money.  The only difference is that this year others are blaming these changes on the implementation of Obamacare.  I have tried to track most of the stories of people in the single insurance market who have lost insurance or had their insurance premium tripled and go on TV (thus far 3 separate TV reports covering 5 people)...and those that were viewed in detail by other journalists did not pan out.  Either the people never even looked into Obamacare or they had a policy like that in Florida where they paid $50.00 a month and the insurance agency agreed to pay $50.00 on each bill.  In other words, if the doctor's visit was $50.00 the insurance paid it, if it was $100 they paid $50 and if it was a $5,000 visit, the insurance paid $50!!  Break an arm or leg, get a preexisting condition...you were pretty much on your own and it is sad that these Floridians were so ignorant of the insurance market.  Of course, their policy is written in such a convoluted way, that one shouldn't blame them if they could not understand this.  These rip-off policies are now having to shut down because they do not comply with the ACA basic rules. 

If we want to finger point we can blame this President for avoiding explaining the reality in this and preparing the 3% of Americans that are being affected and explaining in some instances they WILL have to pay more (not lots more) because you get what you pay for.  Why so much anger over the ACA...you can see how the insurance companies are getting their profits cut being required to actually provide insurance and thus they pay politicians to push the lies.  Pharma is next because a recent study pointed out that a prescription for an identical drug can vary from $10 to $400 in what is listed on the bill.  Stay tuned for those fights.

I am all for government regulatory oversight on health...but if we do not get big money out of buying politicians neither party is exempt from corruption in the years ahead.  (I have no comment on the website debacle...until it is made into a TV movie next year  with a Justin Bieber look-alike as the programmer and Sebelius' role played by Ashley Judd or Robin Wright;-))

Here is a good article about the 3%  of people who are actually going to be impacted from stricter compliance. 

Saturday, November 02, 2013

What Was That?

The photo in the prior post is part of a bronze sculpture called Ship of Fools by Jurgen Weber done in 1984-87 and which I saw in Nuremberg, Germany this past fall.  The entire sculpture is based on an Albrecht Durer woodcut illustrating the 1497 edition of Das Narrenschiff ...a metaphor for the threatened world titled Ship of Fools.  The whole sculpture is a boat (a nutshell with a fools mask at front and rear) with the passengers Adam and Eve being expelled from Paradise, Cain, a child with a knife in his hand and behind them the tree of wisdom dying which forms the mast. Three other figures going along for the ride are a man representing violence, a handyman representing a realist in present time and a mocker who represents resignation.  There are several works of art based on this satire.  (I was in Nuremberg less than a day and missed 99% of this intriguing city, but did get a photo of this garish sculpture which symbolizes far more than All Hallow's Eve.) 

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Recipe




Butternut Squash Soup

I do not often post recipes because the Internet is full of them and this blog is not a food blog, but this soup has been such a nice success that I wanted to share it. I made this the other day for the second time (and I have tweaked the recipe for my tastes) and found this so luscious in the cool fall.  It has a little fat, but is really healthy.

Ingredients

1 medium butternut squash cut in half and roasted cut side down  in a pan with just a little water until very tender at 350 degrees...20-30 minutes.  (Be careful in cutting the hard squash!)
1 tablespoon butter
2 or 3 tablespoons coconut milk
1 & 1/2 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 tsp ground anise seed (If you do not like anise,  nutmeg or cinnamon can be used)
2 to 3 tsps. ground curry (less pungent type is best)
1 granny smith (or any other) apple peeled and chunked.
1 small piece of ginger peeled (size of thumbnail)
(You can also add a small bit of sugar if you want a bit sweeter taste...I like it both ways.)

When squash is tender remove it and let cool before carefully scooping out the seeds to toss and then spoon out soft meat from the squash and put in food processor.  Process squash, apple and ginger in a food processor until smooth.  Warm butter, coconut milk, and broth in the microwave or saucepan and add slowly to the pureed ingredients.  Add spices.  Add salt if you think it needs more and puree briefly.  Pour all into a sauce pan and heat until it is the desired consistency, some like a soup and others like it more thick like a bisque.  Serve with a dollop of thinned sour cream or low fat yogurt and a shake of smoked paprika (from Hungary if you have it ;-))  You can also add a shake of hot red pepper if you like that.

Yeah photo is blurred...but I was hungry!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Courtship

(With apologies to this state park volunteer.)
I was walking through the hardware store today (I had sold some stock and was going to buy some birdseed for the feeders '-) ) and I noticed that lines were beginning to get long as it was a Saturday.  A woman, close to my age, maybe a little younger, with a man's haircut was watching me closely.  I suddenly felt guilty pushing the cart with the 40 pound bag of bird seed toward the register thinking to myself that she might be having trouble meeting her food bills and here I was feeding woodpeckers!

An elderly man with a small electric drill got in line behind me.  She looked from across the other register line at him and smiled and called, "Hey, Joe, how are you doing?"

Joe smiled, left my line and got behind her, since she was already approaching a register clerk, and they chatted warmly while both paid for their purchases.

I saw them again in the parking lot as I was lifting the heavy bird meal into the trunk of my car.

They were joking about some project he was working on with that drill and she was laughing that she would just "paint a circle over it."

Then as I returned the cart to the store door and passed the elderly couple, the man turned to the woman and asked, "Say, where did you get those fancy pants?"

I looked up and for the first time noticed that the woman was dressed in a baggy gray sweat shirt and a pair of pink and purple flowered pants that only a colorblind or very confident person would wear out shopping.  I missed what she said in response, but could not help but smile...old people flirting and men still use silly lines!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pass the Milk, Please.

Sometimes I feel like a waste.  I feel as though I am wasting my precious remaining time.  This usually happens after I go on Facebook and find:

One of my friends, a mother of three, is working her way through an innervation class memorizing tons of muscle names and what they do and getting an A in the class.

My SIL just rode 17.1 bike miles with her friends at lunch...I don't even have friends to go to lunch with, really!

A distant friend that I barely know has just finished a photography exhibit and sold a photograph.

Another friend who is fighting a serious disease has time to promote fund raising for her daughter's illness.

So....I logged off FB and made some Heath bar cookies and then promptly ate two big ones while they were warm and chewy.




Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Acid Base, Drinking the Kool-aid.

My mood is more creative these days.  I have less angst and fear of others.  If one met me, they would see a well-balanced, neat, clean, intelligent woman on the outside.  One would never see the turmoil, second guessing, sometimes sadness on the inside, but then, I was a drama minor in college and got all "A"s..

I do think the terrible things that the Tea Party representatives say about everyone from Girl Scouts to this President have created an acid base in my personality and has affected my mood.  I do not worship this President or think he is better than sliced bread or even one of our most outstanding leaders in history.  I do think he is so far better than the crazies the GOP has put forth who cannot relate to the poor, or those different in gender interests, heritage, religion and other areas of their life.  I keep trying to see why we are so different, because I do think the average American is willing to compromise and does not think every millionaire is a crook and every poor person is a lazy slug.  I lean liberal because I know who has more power to sway this world...the rich crook...they are more dangerous to our Democracy.  The lazy will not revolt if they don't get a free ride...they just want food and health care.  If we have a revolt it will happen when there is no longer a middle class.

I have been following the ACA Law and the criticisms of it as the weeks pass.  While certain conservative press releases indicated that Obama's presidency has raised the price of health insurance dramatically...the facts are that the last real study on this done by a non-partisan group was in 2008.  During that study and adding figures up to now it seems that under the Bush administration health care costs went up over 10% each year (closer to 13%) and under this recent President a little over 5% each year.  The other argument against ACA is that over 100 health care classifications have been adopted and forced on insurers and doctors by this President.  But research shows these classifications were created by the United Nations years ago, adopted under the Bush administration with a delayed implementation until this year! 

The issue of the terrible roll-out of this process rests totally on the shoulders of this administration.  I do not know why their IT work has been so very terrible, but I think it is because the people who got the contract were unqualified friends of the administration and they ended up subcontracting the work to some other contractor. (Shades of FEMA under Bush.)  We will see what the head of Health and Human Services says to get out of this.  There is no excuse!  The government does this all the time...under both parties...I have worked as a Fed and remember a Senator's nephew who got a job in our building for no reason other than that he was a Senator's nephew!

Whether this ACA will work effectively or not, only time will tell.  I do believe that everyone in the richest country in the world should have access to health care, everyone, including young working adults, should carry the burden of this health care, and I would much rather pay for someone's health insurance subsidy with my taxes rather than their visit to the emergency room in the hospital!

If you question how closely this subsidy will be regulated...that is up to each of us to question.  We don't do it with Defense contractors but maybe we will with health companies.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Growing Up

So Mom is reading grandson (9 years old) one of the last books in the series on Harry Potter tonight, and it is the book where everyone is starting to have crushes on everyone else...and there is lots of mistletoe and kissing.
Grandson stopped her reading and asked a question about the mistletoe and then another question about who was kissing whom.

Mom began to explain and then said, " ...but you probably don't like to hear about all this kissing,"

Grandson says, "actually, I don't really mind it"...."I am not one of those people that gets all uncomfortable when there is kissing."

Friday, October 18, 2013

Answers

In my prior post I had met a woman who had a serious medical issue but indicated that she had a family income that would not mean she could get all the expensive care she needed, although I know she must have an excellent insurance policy.  The Affordable Health Care Act is now a law and being implemented over the next few years (in spite of the fact that they hired terrible web page programmers and were really stupid about how popular this was going to be) over the next months.  The article below is one of the simplest I have read  in explaining what it is and what it does and what it costs.  If you, like the woman above, have excellent some semblance of a fair health insurance policy, this article below will not be important for you.

 http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/03/29/obamacare-in-plain-english-what-it-means-for-you/

(As I have written before I have a federal health insurance policy just like the members of Congress.   It might be important to note that Federal employees currently working have had pay freezes the last three years and their health insurance premiums went up 7.3% in 2011, 3.8% in 2012, and 3.4% in 2013..2014 premiums are being sent out at a 3.7% increase.  Those bureaucrats sure have it easy.)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Need a Mantra Fast!

We had decided to throw away some money on a fancy seafood lunch on the porch/deck of the local tourist restaurant as a last fall fling.  The market was going to drop.  Our savings, which had finally climbed past their original high before the prior administration crashed the market with its deregulation of banks and investment firms, was going to thin once again.  One of the economists, those who rarely cry fire, said we should be prepared for as much as a 45% loss.  This time the crash would be because of love of power and the addiction to the sound of one's voice and the fear that one might be excluded from the club.  Even the rich puppeteers pulling the strings in the background were gasping at this monster they had created and backed off on their agenda because it meant they, too, were going to lose.  We were not confident they could stop the landslide at this late date.  Therefore, like sailors on the sinking ship we decided to drown ourselves in the last of the rum before all we had to drink was salty water.

I was a little mad pissed off and determined to order the most expensive item on the menu in self-destruction.  But since I live in 'good-ole-boy' land, that item was a HUGE platter of assorted fried seafood while the next was a steak and seafood heart-attack on a plate.  I kept seeing in my mind the type of person that would order this and with greasy fingers pummel it to breaded crumbs in no time.  Thus I ordered the crab-stuffed shrimp, not the most expensive, but hardly cheap for a lunch.  I ordered a glass of Chardonnay and fully expected to drink two glasses in celebration, but found one sufficient.  Hubby ordered the largest order of fried shrimp they had.  Then we also added an expensive tuna sashimi appetizer just for the hell of it.  As we selected excellent slices of raw tuna to dip into a soy and ginger and wasabi mixture I looked up and saw a woman working her way between the close tables from behind us and heading to the private corner of the deck overlooking the water in front of us.  She seemed a little unsteady on her feet as she grabbed a table with one step and then a chair with the next and I was wondering if she had decided to get drunk in mid-day.  She smiled at us as she passed and then proceeded to blue-tooth her way into some conversation as she faced the sparkling water.

She was pretty, pushing 40, and built like a stocky sex kitten.  She wore a soft blonde bob and dressed with casual chic.  There was some energy about her that caught my eye when she made eye contact.  When she finished her call she worked her way back past our table to the table behind us which was filled with other adults and children.  She winced as she leaned against an empty chair at our table.

She smiled and look at us and then said, "You two look like you have figured out this retirement thing."

I said, "I hope so." and then I asked if she was OK.  She looked in pain.

"Oh, 'Ma'am, I am just fine.  I am a warrior and working through this."

Since she clearly was open to talking and we were waiting for our entree, I asked if she had been in an accident.

"Oh, no ma'am, this is the result of a long story...an experiment on my body.  I was part of a drug trial at Walter Reed."

Because of her polite and frequent use of "ma'am" that clued me that she was either ex or current military or a southern raised lady.

She proceeded to tell us in a somewhat disjointed and lawyerly fashion that she was planning on an anonymous lawsuit so that others who had been in the same drug trial that debilitated her would get money when she won it.  She said that the drug had been 'black-boxed' now due to her campaign and while it was still advertised on TV, she said it could destroy lives.  She had taken it 10 years ago right before/after FDA approved it.  She was now being treated in one of the best, small, unknown and black hospitals in the city and she would not tell us its name...but "we could figure it out because we are smart people."

She also indicated she was married to a doctor who had lost his privileges at his hospital because he was outspoken and a warrior like her.  He now worked as an emergency doctor rotating through three hospitals in the area.  "We can afford this lawsuit and others cannot, so I feel it is right to pursue it."

We talked a little more about the illness although she continued to be cryptic because of her upcoming lawsuit and a little about how she had captured her husband when they first met knowing this was the love of her life and then she hobbled back to her family as they began to leave the restaurant.

Why people feel like sharing with us I do not know.  Hubby and I realized we must be looking our age, as she automatically assumed we were retired.  It was Memorial Day...so we could have both been off work...if we looked like we had the stamina to still work...which I guess we did not!  But we did look like the kind of people that one could share plans with for an anonymous lawsuit.

Anyway, I know a little about the FDA and have a friend who had worked there.  I know how budget constraints over decades and political interference and the pressure from the pharmaceutical industry had compromised its mission so much, and I guess I now saw what might or might not have been the result of a rush to market drug in real life.

But then we really don't need a gov'ment interfering in our lives, do we?  Pharmaceutical panels are just as concerned for our health and safety as insurance panels...right?  (I have got to stop this anger or I am going to need drugs...Om mani padme hum....OMG!)


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Life is in the Details

Do you remember the good 'ole days of blogging when people posted photos of their view from there desks, or their bedroom window or even the view of the inside of their refrigerator?  No?  Well, I do.  It was somewhat exciting getting to look inside some stranger's home and you didn't even have to get out of your PJs!  That ability to reach across the Internet and peek into someone's life was kind of odd and exotic, at least I thought so.  Then we became familiar with their cat photos, dog photos, garden shots...they were still nice, but not nearly so exotic anymore because we had started to know the writers like we knew our neighbors.  Familiarity may not breed contempt, but it does breed boredom at times.  Some bloggers still post photos of their meals and their shoes and their pets.  Some, like me, post photos of garden harvests and food processing.  Boy, that is an exciting venue for readers. (!)

Well, our weather here has been wet, wet like being in a 24 hour shower, wet like sitting in a leaky boat, wet like camping during the rainy season in South America.  When weather is moldy like this I try to avoid eating vast quantities of chips and salsa, drinking too much wine, or raiding the chocolate candy jar and screaming at Congresspersons on TV.  I instead pass the time re-organizing my life.

I once had a blog about the building of this house.  I printed out all of the posts and then promptly deleted the blog as I felt it could be a security issue if someone nefarious stumbled across it.  Anyway, if you once followed that blog, you will remember that I wanted a walk-in closet.  Yes, I was no longer working and would no longer need a career wardrobe.  Yes, I could sleep in and not be bumping butts with hubby as I did in our former "walk-in" closet, but I still wanted a REAL walk-in.  I wanted a closet that did not smell musty, was not dark and had enough room to be organized. 

Well, I got it.  Wait for it.....I built a 12 foot by 10.5 foot walk-in closet.  Of course, it stores bedding, gifts, boxed photos, and other junk as well as clothes.  One would think with a closet this big it would be much easier to be organized...one would think.  It takes about 6 to 8 months before the closet shelves become messy, too full, and things starting getting lost.

Here are some photos of the busy messy closet.



I re-boxed, dusted, vacuumed and gave away a bunch of clothes for the church.  Then I organized what was left and ta-da!


You are awful quiet out there in blogger land...!  It IS neater and you will just have to take my word for it!  Doesn't it give you just a little thrill to be admitted into my closet?  Oh, the hole in the wall is where I dump our dirty clothes, there is a basket in the laundry room on the other side.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

That Touch to the Heart from Bloggerland



I opened my laptop and clicked into that world of writers, weavers, warriors and world thinkers this morning. They post their photographs with stunning clarity, their arguments with stunning passion, their poetry with sweet love, and their emotions with bold and naked honesty.  They visit my screen with irregular regularity and come for so many reasons, both hidden and open.

Sometimes I have to follow them for a while before I really 'get' them. Unlike Renee Zellweger in Jerry Maguire, I am not always captured at "Hello.'  I may have to read between the lines or pick through archival posts to fill in the picture as I am a detail type of gal.

Blogger lost one of these members today.  He wrote poetry, the type I have to re-read to fully grasp the journey of words that he took me on.  He had met death many years ago when he was a young boy and that struggle haunted many of his poems.  His comments on my poetry and prose were so wonderfully gentle and dishonest, but I loved him for it.

Once again I say good-bye to someone who had reached through the screen and touched my heart with startling reality.  I am so hoping, Dave, that you have found a lovely little pub where all the poets who came before you can sit and talk about your poetry and toast to your successful writing.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Storytelling for the Strong of Spirit

The evening was quite late for this group of four old-timers, the oldest having crossed the 8th decade of his life just a few months ago.  They had reminisced about times together decades ago, stories about their children and grandchildren, health issues, and as the candles flickered lower the conversation turned to the issues of the here and now.

The Octogenarian, whom I will call Jack, twisted his empty wine glass and paused before saying, "Most people today do not understand how it really was years ago and why the atmosphere is so toxic in politics today.  They live in a bubble thinking it is just an angry joke and that it has to do with differences of opinion on how to do something."

The others sat back in their chairs knowing that the eldest of the group was going to begin story telling as he usually did when the energy of the conversation came to a pause.  He looked at each of them with his clear blue eyes and went back to his boyhood years growing up in Florida.

"Years ago when I was about eight my mother had sent me to town for some pickling supplies.  I hopped on my bicycle and headed to the local store.  This store was next door to our local bar, a wooden building that was two stories high.  The ground floor was a 'whites-only' bar and the top was 'blacks-only.'  I was in a hurry and had not put on my shoes when I left the house, and when I skidded to a stop at the bottom of the stairs on the side of the bar and jumped off the bike my foot came down on the sharp edge of the lid of a discarded sardine can.  I was in pain and starting to bleed and focused on what I should do...this day is crystal clear in my memory.   A shiny black top-less jeep with the Sheriff's star on the side pull up to the building near my discarded bike.  The Sheriff got out and reached into the back seat and retrieved a rifle of some sort.  He looked at me and told me to head on home and then walked to the balcony side of the upstairs bar where I had a clear view of three black men that were leaning over the railing and talking.  He raised the rifle and fired, and blew the head off of the black man closest to us.  He then walked back to his jeep and drove off.  I couldn't move for a minute, but soon hopped on my bike and raced home.  When I got home and told my mother what had happened she looked at me and shook her head and said, "Son, you are going to have to realize that things like this happen.'"

To give this story some context, Jack's father was the local physician and his mother was a community leader and a member of the suffragette movement.  What he was saying was that his mother knew what battles to choose to fight and what battles would be dangerous to enter.

Jack took a sip from his water glass and continued with a second story, "When I was a teenager I was riding a bus to visit my Aunt in another city.  We came to small town and a black man and a white woman got on the bus.  They found two seats in the middle of the bus and sat down.  People on the bus murmured and looked around since blacks were supposed to sit in the back of the bus.  We waited for the time for the bus to leave.  In a short time two men boarded the bus, grabbed the black man, who sat across from me, dragged him off the bus and threw him to the ground outside my window and proceeded to kick and beat him mercilessly.  Then the bus driver released the brake and we drove to the next town.  I learned later in the paper that the black man had died the next day, the white woman was his wife, and they were visiting from the Bahamas."  He said all this without emotion in his voice.

Then he turned to his wife and smiled.  "Remember, Meg, that winter when we were walking on the black beach and collecting sea urchin specimens for research?"  Meg nodded with resignation.

"It was a cold and windy day and the beach was bare of people.  Meg and I had been married only a short time.  We were filling a bag when the local park ranger walked up, gun in hand, and asked us what in the hell we were doing and did we not know this was a blacks-only beach?  We explained, as he raised the gun, that we were collecting specimens for science and that no one was beaching due to the cold weather.  He told us to get the hell off the beach and that if we were found on this beach again we would be banned from all beach parks in the State for life!"  Jack smiled wryly.  "Of course, this was an idle threat with no means of enforcement but the gun pointed in our direction made us scurry away apologetically."

Tabor, who had grown up in the mid-west and not seen much discrimination, perhaps because there were few to discriminate against, was having trouble breathing as these vignettes unfolded.

Yet, there was still another story to tell.  "A few years later Meg and I had made friends with this musician from a black college and he had invited us to a concert the college was giving to hear him play.  Meg loves music and so we agreed to go.  When we arrived at the concert hall we were directed to four seats a few rows back and in the center in the auditorium.  The President of this black college greeted us with his wife and sat with us!  We enjoyed the concert tremendously.  A week later we received a letter from OUR university Dean that said we would lose all privileges at our university if we attended any more events at the black college while we were employed at the University.  I still have the letter."

As you read this, you might be thinking...well, times change.  That may be true, but people do not.  One more story to tell.  When Jack and Meg were at a church reception following the funeral of a dear friend a few years ago, one of the grand old dames of the community was holding court from her chair.  When complaints started about this new President Obama and how awful it was that he got elected she raised her cup of punch for emphasis and this church going lady said clearly "Someone should just kill the damn ni**er."

Jack leads a life full of dramatic and interesting events and has no need to make up or enhance stories.  These are all true with the names changed to protect the innocent and may the guilty be forever damned.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Taking Action

Yes, I have started taking a Vitamin D supplement as advised.  For the first few days I doubled the dose by taking a pill morning and evening to see if I could jump start how I feel.  I also renewed my calcium supplements.  Both of these were recommended by my physician a few years ago, but I did not follow through for very long as I should have.  (Thus, I am not taking these just because many of my blog readers recommended it.  We all should follow the guidance of our doctor when paired with blogger advice.  I do love you all for being so helpful and kind!)

I will wait on the therapy unless my next meet-up with Doc says it would be a good idea.  (I AM feeling better mood wise and MAYBE energy wise.)  I hate that mental therapy in culture is so stigmatized!

There was a delay in re-starting my exercise program because I have company coming this week.  These are old friends of hubby that we have not seen as often as we would like since they live in Florida.  They are the "millionaires next door" because they have received several mil from the DOD for their land.  They are allowed to live in their charming little house on this land until they die.  You would NEVER know they had this much money because they live a normal retiree life-style except for more travel to exotic locations than the average retired couple.

I did finally open one of the two Yoga DVDs that I bought so many months ago.  This summer has been too crazy for Yoga and I have been too lazy.  I will try to follow one of these when I am through writing this post.  I have found that only the beginners Yoga levels can be done with any safety by me!

I do think one of the stimulus for this downer period in my mood was a "co-leader" that I work with on one of my volunteer projects.  In the beginning she was very critical at the lack of communication from my end but this mid-summer anything from her role as the museum contact was deadly silent.  I would show up at our meetings to find that I was faced with some deadline or misunderstanding because the DD at the museum had met with her but I never got emailed or contacted on any of the decisions and/or resulting deadlines that she agreed to.  When I returned after my cruise and asked what had transpired while I was gone (so I could write the monthly report) her total response was "We accomplished a lot!  Just look around!"  It seems my resignation as co-leader did not release me from angst as much as I had hoped and feeling that I failed in some way...but I am moving forward on that.

The final punch to my gut has been the TP group that with hubris, glee, confusion and ignorance has adversely affected the lives of many young and highly professional people I know.  (When you cannot win the game by playing by the rules, kick that ball into the woods and then blame it on the other team.) The hidden frustration of my bureaucrat hard-working and furloughed friends on FB has worried me.  In a second fell swoop these past years the TP gang has reduced much enthusiasm for entering public service.  Big money has flooded the rural areas with radio and TV dishonesty and fed the frustration and anger most of us had with this world by advocating a slash and burn agenda.  And many have been boondoggled into thinking this is a good approach.  If this continues there is a good chance that my Social Security check will stop or at the very least pause.  I have saved several months of cash...but I know many, many, many folks do not have this luxury.  No wonder I am depressed, and not listening to the TV news doesn't remove what I see happening all around me where I live.  I have been waited on by an administrative assistant who lost her job at the nearby military base due to sequestration, I know scientists that have lost their research due to a lengthy gap in funding their work, and others whose federal budgets have been FLAT for a decade.  This President has lost my strong support by allowing the TP to put us in this corner with his lack of hard negotiating skills.  He gave away much with budget cuts with the sequestration months ago and now we are STILL in a corner and I do not have the stomach to go through this again in mid-November if we do move on.  He and his team have also failed to really explain the pros and cons of the ACA implementation...where it costs us more and where it saves us more.  (Although I will admit I am amazed at how stupid many Americans are about this. Sanjay guupta says 2/3s of Americans admit they do not know much about the ACA.   If you have not seen Jimmy Kimmel's street segment you probably do not know what I am talking about.)

On an uplifting note the pottery below was our recognition gift from the County for being one of their "beautiful" people.  The dozen people we were nominated with were so much more "beautiful" than hubby or I and I was impressed with how carefully they made this ceremony more than a token feel-good event.  Each County Commissioner was responsible for reading the information on two or three of the people being honored.  (It did surprise me how many of these Commissioners could NOT read!)  The press from a half dozen news offices snapped away making me feel like a celebrity and they provided a nice lunch.  I met that one County Commissioner (yep, a TP dude) with his genuinely warm smile and handshake and the fact that he remembered my protest letter...showing what a good politician he is...even though his response to me had been somewhat condescending in the original email reply last year, he was super warm and friendly at this event.


The wine cork trivets in the back were made by my lovely DIL as gifts from her wedding.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Thursday Thirteen #34--Random Conflicts



Is it sort of like answering the door in your pajamas when a new reader visits your blog for the first time and the post they read is a 'Debbie downer' rant on how bad you feel?

There are women who have regular hair appointments and then there is me...who realizes it is time to get a haircut when my side combed bangs cover my eyes and I trip on a fallen branch.

For almost a decade I have hated the low or even 'regular cut' jeans because only a 20-year-old has a flat
abdomen.   Please note, the term muffin-top began at the same time fashion move the waistband on jeans. By the way, wiki says it originated in Australia and was the word of the year in 2006.

The minutes from Congress this week, "I know you are, but what am I?"

Why is it that neighbors always say, "He seemed so normal," after someone runs amok?  (No I am not writing about Ted Cruz.)

So we are now 95% sure that mankind is causing global warming...when will scientists be 100% sure.  I know,  it will only grow to 99.9%  at the most but most of us will be treading water and not notice.

October 2 was National Kale day and also the day Putin was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize...I think these are linked in some way...it is a conspiracy of some sort.

While there were poor people on the streets of Budapest when I was there I was surprised that the legislature recently passed a law to ban sleeping on the streets or must tear down the shelters they have built in the woods.  Homeless will be assigned to community service or a  fine when caught.  A fine?  Has the world gone mad?

Something I never thought I would read in a headline "revenge porn."  ?

In case you or your children do not know this...the natural color of water is NOT green or even 'greenish'.

The shortest war in history lasted only 38 minutes...the Anglo-Zanzibar War of 1896.

There is a restaurant in Pittsburgh called The Conflict Kitchen and it only serves food from nations the U.S. is at odds with.

Only 11% of jewelry stores in the U.S. have a conflict-free diamond policy.  Where do you buy your diamonds, sweetie?

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Depressing News?

Feeling wet, sticky and tangled these days.



I love fall, and am not sure why my mood is not lighter and brighter.  It is not S.A.D. because I do not feel that way until winter days have lingered with their cold gray shadows for some time.  I am having trouble sleeping.  I fall asleep easily but after four hours I am wide awake and wishing I could do something around the house without waking hubby.

I find that certain people with their self-centered or non-compromising approach to life annoy me more than ever.  I find I have feelings of paranoia, where my super confidence used to reside.  I worry that my children may be tolerating me more than I know.  Thank goodness my husband has enough self-confidence for a small army and takes my arm as we plunge forward.



I hiked about 15 miles over the three days we were in the mountains with no real exhaustion, so I am determined that this is not a health issue. I move lots in the gardens.  I hike.  I walk.  I move household goods.  My diet is reasonably good since fall is harvest season, so I get lots of fresh veggies.  I have not increased consumption of sugar or alcohol...although I think I am drinking more coffee these days. 


At my age if one lets one's mind wander, it can drift down dangerous and depressing avenues.  Could this could be a mild health issue camouflaging more serious issues?  I watch the news too much and wonder if, indeed, our world and our society are coming to a sad end?  Is that the source of my angst?  As I age I realize various neurons do not fire as they should...am I slowly loosing my mind?  Why am I forgetting things that I don't really care about?  Why don't I care about stuff?

My only plan for right now is to try to stop thinking about this.  And, yes, formal exercise should begin to filter its way into my web of days...maybe starting tomorrow?

I just hate that at this time in my life I am not more stable and more 'normal'.  I thought life would be far less of an emotional roller coaster.  I sometimes feel like I am in junior high once again second guessing every decision and every conversation and wondering who I really am and what the h**l have I actually done with my life thus far?

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Trying to Find Time to Watch a Season Pass

I have been waiting for down time to write in depth on at least one or two of the many thoughts that flit through my head just before I drift off to sleep.  I think of some 'great concept' or some 'interesting idea' that I could elaborate upon in my 'unread' blog, but by morning the idea has melted away like the mist in the valleys of West Virginia this time of year.  My mind is freshly empty as usual, or the idea looks like stale popcorn in the cold light of day.
 

We both felt a call of the mountains this week, and while there was much to do here to get ready for winter, we took off on a last minute trip to one of the state parks.  We lucked out on getting the last room because they were renovating (which we had not known) and everything was being torn up.  Noise and sawdust and hearty laughs of construction workers mingled with autumn colors, morning mist, evening shadows, fearless deer and wet mossy trails to hike.

It is illegal to feed the deer, this tourist is just rattling some paper!
The pool was empty of summer visitors.

The tour bus and the convention started the following day, thus we had the old fashioned bar to ourselves.  It was slated for paint and new furniture that week!

Even the sign above did not discourage us in our pursuit of peace.

This trail was marked as "more difficult."

Finding a few last cranberries.

These prior weeks before and after the cruise were busy:  we had been briefly honored by the County Commissioners (yes including the one I wrote that nasty email to a year ago about the trees) for our volunteer work, visited by my daughter's family with her three children and her two friends and their twins to feed and entertain, worked at the art museum for their Art Fest and filled other weekends by working/packing/painting at my son's house which has now SOLD!!

Today we head up to son to help him move furniture into the new house.  I have made green chile.  But the craziness is not quite read to end.  This coming week it looks like we may have visitors from Florida for a few days!

Then maybe a break in busy activities?  Really!!  We needed that mountain respite.  I might have missed fall altogether.