Thursday, June 29, 2017

Another Post on People

Life is most interesting because of the people we meet, is it not?  People that are here are more compelling than the people created from my mind.  The real people are far more interesting than anything a mediocre writer can put on the page.  Now a good writer can create fascinating characters out of whole cloth, that is a different story.


I went to a “Lavender Festival” the other weekend.  It was a small and rural event and I actually knew several people there.  That is unusual because I rarely run into someone at the mall or the drugstore or the library...well, except for the one librarian that I know, but she is retiring and won’t be there much longer.

The overflow parking was in a hot and dry field behind the event.  You had to walk through scratchy grass to get to the booths.  The woman who helped with the parking wore dark baggy pants and a white man's shirt.  Two Boy Scouts in neat uniforms, who also were supposed to help, hid in the shade at the end of the drive looking intimidated.  Maybe they were afraid of her.  She was 50 or 60 years with salt and pepper hair covered by a large canvas hat she hat plopped on her head to protect from the intense June sun.  She weighed more than she should have and widened her stance to keep balance on the uneven ground.  When we pulled up beside her she thrust two programs into my face and was firm in telling us where we needed to park.  We passed her again as we walked to the event and I smiled, a little.  She was missing a tooth (or two) and had a protruding mole the size of a small pea on the end of one nostril.  Her face was covered in freckles and haggard.  She was already beginning to sweat under the hot sun even though she had hours ahead.  She pointed in the direction we needed to go.  I smiled and thanked her for her help.  She shared how nasty some folks could be when she  told them where to park.  I knew her life was hard and made sure she got the kindest and nicest look I could muster.  Hubby also chimed in with friendly comments as he is Mr. Social.  As we went on to the booths I wondered what her life was like, and what caused her to take on this task.  Was it her daughter that was running the festival?

Ahead in the small tents, there were booths of clothes and jewelry, nothing that rang my bells. Local artisans trying to push their products.  There was a booth of lavender beer and another of lavender wine.  I tried neither in the hot sun.  There were lavender soaps and creams and had I been in need I might have purchased something.  Instead I bought live herb plants because parts of my herb bed were bare.


I ran into a gardening friend, Ibu (names changed to protect  myself), who is a strong woman my age, who has traveled the world with a husband formerly from the state department.  They continue travels to esoteric places like shell conventions in France!  She is always firm in her attitude.  She speaks enough French to get by, but her history includes growing up in Poland until she was six.  She still speaks good Polish and told a story about some people she met in France who claimed they were Polish.  “Hmph!   They kept calling a food they liked “porogue”.  I know how to say pirogue!"  Then she explained that she and her husband did not buy their shells from tourist places but had collected many when  they were diving many years ago.  “Buying shells is not appropriate.”  She has a strong and attractive face with full lips, a strong jawline, and light brown hair that may have been dyed and pulled back casually by a plastic clip.  She always looks well put together without being dressed up.  Ibu went on to tell us a story about an acquaintance they knew in Asia who was always trying to collect the best shells and 'one-upping' everyone while not even knowing about shells.  She laughed as she explained that the couple had purchased a large and rare turban shell which they placed in a prominent place in their patio so they could brag about getting it only to find the green color was not natural and washed away in the rain.  This seemed to give Ibu some satisfaction.

I met my final interesting person of the day that afternoon while shopping for groceries.  He is actually someone I have seen fairly often.  He works as a checkout clerk and  has been in my grocery store for the last ten years.  He looks close to thirty in age.  I will call him Clark.  Clark is somewhat overweight, has dark, close-cropped hair, and has a small  mustache to break the plump circle of his round face.  He wears dark rimmed Clark Kent glasses.  We often have all kinds of conversations while he prices my groceries.  He is someone who talks to everyone, even if you are old enough to be his grandmother.  I have learned things about him over time, such as that he likes computers, he likes computer games, he has firm convictions about things certainly food, he seems to have come from  a loving family, and he sometimes likes to argue for entertainment with me.  This day we were talking about personal appearances.  I am not sure what took us down that path (perhaps a headline on one of the tabloids), but I had gotten on the topic that women were admired for their delicate and diminutive beauty more than their strength of character and ideas.  I pointed out several women in the world who did not fit this mold, but had changed the world for the better with their non-diminutive attitudes.  He agreed and said that he did not like delicate or frail females, but liked women who were strong, although he did say physical appearance was about 30% important as well for attraction.  He explained he had always been a big kid starting when he was eleven and pretty much was the size then that he is now.  While he took on the role of protector for his younger brothers and sisters, he did not date much because he was so much bigger than most in his school.  We somehow got on the topic of his not ever finding a gal that he really was attracted to although he was still looking.  I looked at him and do not know why I responded as I did but very quietly I said, "Maybe you like guys instead?"  He looked right back at me and said,"Actually, I am bisexual.  If I see a gal that looks good I notice.  If I see a guy, it is the same."  I smiled and wondered how we ever got this close standing across the check-out counter.

People are fascinating to me.



Monday, June 26, 2017

Gifting


I am thinking that there are several types of people when it comes to gifting for birthdays.

1. Those who do not want anyone to make a fuss and who only want time (at any time during the year) with those they love. (This is me.)
2. Those for who have everything and pretty much accept they will not get anything they need but remain gracious anyway.
3. Those who are clear about what they would like for their birthday. (Some are kind enough to give a range of items to cover financial boundaries.)
4. Those who want the same thing every year. (My hubby wants either an outdoors hike or a fishing trip.)
5. Those who would just like you to "fuhgeddaboutit."
6. Those who make an evaluation on what you gave them either in cost, time spent, or accurate targeting and therefore you have to give the gifting some thought.

My son-in-law is number 6, not in a cruel or mean and judgemental way. But if you hit the target he is effusive and if you do not he is mildly polite. He is also a blend with number 2 in that he can afford almost ANYTHING he wants and usually goes out and buys it the minute he tells you he wants it. In other words, he is hard to gift.

He and I have the love of theater and cinema in common, and this year the Smithsonian had a lecture (2 weeks before his birthday) with Ann Hornaday, the cinema critic for the Washington Post.  He was happy and loved the fact that I did not tell him what it was, and he loved the puzzle of spending an hour on his phone trying to find "happenings" in D.C. on that night while he was waiting for us to join him for dinner downtown.  (The night before he and my daughter attended the Bono concert in Virginia, so you can see the standards I was up against.)


He did not find the "event" via phone search because the Smithsonian lectures are not really geared to the Millenial demographic, so I told him what we were going to do at dinner.

The lecture was fun and she name-dropped everywhere, let us in on behind the scenes gossip and promoted her book which my son-in-law bought.

The additional cool part was that venue was in the Navy Memorial building.  I did not know it existed, had never been there, and now would like to return and explore the area another time.



This lecture ended while the night was still young, 


so we went out for $12.00 a plate desserts!




As you can see, the plates are MUCH larger than the desserts.  Not sure what the reasoning behind that was, but this town has people who make lots of money!

Hit a homerun this year.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Post Father's Day

Hubby, on the right a month after his knee surgery.
My husband's father's day was filled with activities and love and fun even though we did not leave the neighborhood and the heat was unbearable. We all get along these days, although our politics brought some tension in the past.  Thanks to Trump we are all on the same side.

I was not close to my father although I loved him very much.  I am sure that makes you raise one eyebrow.  My Dad was a quiet and reclusive man and when he lost his hearing in later years, that meant he was frustrated and talked to me even less.  So there is a small shadow hanging over Father's Day when I think of my Dad and my guilt.

My son has wanted for almost two years to become a father and it does not look like that is happening after spending money and going to the doctor.  They do not talk about it and there was some easing in that yesterday when they actually dropped a phrase or two about probably not having kids.  The day was packed with folks, so I did not poke and pry at that tender bit of news. I imagine this was a tough day for them, even though they work at spending time with my daughter's children.

My husband has a friend who was working hard at getting his life back together and starting a new tourist venture in the South Pacific.  He had nine children.  He was 44 and passed away last week from a sudden and totally unexpected heart attack.  That family is working hard at getting through Father's Day, I am confident.

I am sure that there are families that have perfect relationships and that had a love-filled holiday where everyone had lots of homemade food and were thankful when they sat down to eat, or shared a hole in one with their dad, or hiked a cool mountain trail with their dad, or even just shared a beer.  But there are lots of folks for whom this day is a bit of a trial and I raise a glass of wine to them.







Thursday, June 15, 2017

Three Questions


When I peruse the Internet, it is to me very much like taking a tour around the world and getting to meet some of the smartest people on the planet, and it makes me count my blessings. As much as the Internet is criticized for being invasive, a time waster, a tool that keeps us from being face to face with others, like any new tool/toy/distraction/technology there are both good sides and bad sides to its existence and we are the deciders for how we use it.

As a child growing up I remember reading how television reduced families from talking to each other and introduced outside influences that interfered with parental ideals. Television was going to dissolve family life as we knew it--- the same television that let us see John Glenn on the moon, and saved me in grad school with Laugh In, and these days bringing many exotic and brave and energetic people into my home as my world grows smaller with age.   There were conservative and religious families in my small town that carefully limited their family viewing time and devoted the rest of their evenings to reading the Bible, singing songs, or playing board games. My parents were not religious and I guess they did not fear we would be changed by the outside world anymore through television than we would through growing up and facing those life changing questions on our own.  The TV was on perhaps more than off in the evenings (all of us worked hard in the summer at jobs to save for college), but my two brothers and my two sisters  (one who passed from cancer many years ago) and I grew up to be contributing members of society, with stable marriages honed by acceptance and compromise, and while sometimes divided by politics, still keeping a good sense of humor most of the time.  The mistakes we made in life were from the culture of our communities as much as the culture of television.

I feel the same about the Internet in that you can dwell on the angry, vitriolic, scary, amazing news or you can go to the slow and in-depth studies on the issues and the sharing of ideas and memories of amazing writers/journalists and begin to understand why you may feel the way you do and ways you can change or adapt to those ideas.


I have been reading articles from a site named "The World Economic Forum" and recently read an article written by Paolo Gallo, Chief Human Resources Officer, Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum, Geneva.  He wrote an article about his father teaching him about growing up and suggested three questions to ask yourself at the end of the day to help you live a purposeful life.  This works while you are young and also if you think have just a few short years in the future.  It works for me.  These questions are:

1.  Have you learned something new?
2.  Are you helping others?
3.  Do you love what you are doing?

The full article is here.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

On My Shoulder




I have been away.  Actually, I have been here but mentally away.  I just realized a day ago that I have been using two outdated software packages, while having purchased the upgrades, which for some weird reason were never installed.  I only recognized this when things got a little buggy.  So since I could not find the original downloads, I am spending a few days getting passwords to the commercial site changed, finding order numbers, serial numbers and completing downloads, and having no idea if I answered PC version number questions correctly.  Today I will spend time seeing if files I have saved will indeed recognize this new download and let me work.  The good side to this is that I have noticed new quick shortcuts to the software that I was not using!!

I just love computers, don't you?

Oh if you are wondering about the Blue Birds, they are still visiting and leaving calling cards at both the front and back of the house!!

Monday, June 05, 2017

Inside Today

Busy this past weekend with helping the community learn about growing food and organic gardening and teaching children to plant seeds.  Sometimes you see the magic sparkle in a child's eyes and you realize you have sparked another future gardener!  Working in the earth for many of us is better than therapy or legal medication.




I learned this week that I cannot walk and sneeze at the same time!  I injured my little toe and now am trying to sit and ice it and pretend I am a slug.  (It takes very little pretending.)  I have posted on my other blog another reason I am inside today...in case you are interested.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Thinking About Stuff

There seem to be two philosophies of how we approach the lives of others in this world and how that applies to our resources.  

There is a group of people that do not see wealth they have made or inherited or found as something that is due to them wholly because of their efforts or the result of having good genes.  God may have provided this wealth as an opportunity to lead change for the better.  It is a power that they can use to help those who need help because others lives did not go so well.  If they do not believe in a God then they look at this wealth as a responsibility and opportunity to do something good in the world in addition to creating more wealth.  These people see themselves as part of a huge tapestry of humanity.  They may see themselves as a leader, but also as a part of the whole of mankind.  Humanity that is good, bad, or indifferent.  They want to help weave this tapestry into a better pattern and see their wealth and power as a tool in that direction.  They look for problems to solve outside their daily professions or sometimes within their professions.  Wealth is, of course, a hugely indefinable thing.  Someone who earns $30,000 in his first job may think that driving for Meals on Wheels and paying for the gas and car maintenance out of his tight budget the least of a contribution he can make to those who do not have an income or cannot get out to get food.  A man like Tom Steyer who is a hedge fund manager worth 1.6 billion sees his opportunity in funding (hugely) environmental programs to keep people on the planet healthy while fighting the corporate energy companies that do not care about climate change, even though the CEO's believe it is happening. 

The second group of people are those that see their wealth as their right.  It is due to them because they were born into a family of amazing hard-working and smart people.  OR they got their wealth because they knew how to work the system to their benefit.  They were SMART.  They do not think there is such a moral measure as a "fair" deal.  You win or you lose and that is your opportunity or your failure. They are part of the good gene pool and they think those in the poor gene pool cannot really be helped.  It is a Darwinian view that most are poor because they are stupid, lazy or weak.  The losers are drug addicts, criminals, or not able to adapt to our changing world fast enough.  This second group put their money into more growth or put it away in offshore banks where the socialist governments cannot "tax them to death."  They can be the man who makes $30,000 in his new job and spends a portion of that hard-earned money on a few guns to keep him safe from the "others" that do not fit into his gene pool such as that loser neighbor next door who is some weird religion and untrustworthy by his odd behavior.  They can also be the billionaire who runs for office and is not interested in being part of any group...Republican or European allied network or ANYTHING.  The billionaire who owes his power only to himself and never sees himself other than a leader of others.  He is smart enough to decide who wins and who loses and it sure as hell is not going to be him on the losing side.

Then, of course, there are a bunch of folks in between walking the tight rope trying to balance being good with being safe and with being financially secure and with keeping someone from killing them for disagreeing with them.  At least that is my take on it right now.  Maybe I am oversimplifying.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

United We/They Stand


Last weekend among a few Mother's Day things that I did, I visited several embassies with my son and daughter-in-law. It was the European Union Embassies Open House.

This year they celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Marshall Plan, which was crucial to rebuilding Europe after WWII. They are clearly "grateful to the United States for our unwavering support of European peace, unity and prosperity". And they are celebrating the 60th birthday of the EU, which all began with the Treaty of Rome!  Twenty-seven embassies participated, including Britain, which was a bit of a surprise.  The event was from 10:00 AM until 4:00 PM, so we were able to hit only a few of the countries.


There were food bites, cultural singing and dancing, and fun costumes.  Many of the embassies had experts more than happy to talk about their areas of expertise. 





I learned from one handsome man in Uniform at the Italian Embassy all about the Carabinieri in Italy and its extensive global mission.



The Italian Embassy was quite modern indoors.

Those Embassies that were actually open did have security, which went smoothly and with a smile.



I was able to see where the large wet umbrella goes in a $440,000 Roll-Royce at the British Embassy.  I asked the tall handsome man if he came with the car and he smiled and said "That could be arranged."



The Brits put out a Downton Abbey style table and some tall beauties.





I saw wonderful costumes of historic figures such as Pola Negri at the Polish Embassy and soldiers at the Latvian Embassy.



At the Latvian Embassy they were handing out all sorts of informational materials and when I asked if they had a list of their authors who had been translated into English the woman disappeared back into the Embassy and brought me a book of short stories, a book of poetry and the Ambassador to discuss literature!  Unfortunately, I was too polite to ask for a photo.



A day well spent, I would say despite the cold and damp weather.  A very important union and only those who know their history can understand its importance.  Now I want to visit Latvia!!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Sharing Information

For those who are having trouble keeping up and who read through my questions I  now  provide you some answers:
(make  sure you click  on ALL the tabs  at  the top  of  the web page in the  link below.)

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Questions, I have questions..


Why are the " data markers" that companies use to follow your trail on the Internet called cookies and not cookie crumbs?

Why is profanity called "adult" language when it is clearly used when there are more adult words available to those with adult vocabularies?

Is it only in America that we have the "avocado hand epidemic"? and if so, why?

Why are Americans worried about North Korea attacking our Northwest coast when Hanford, Washington is dealing with 56 million gallons of radioactive waste in underground, leaking tanks and collapsing tunnels?

What does it tell us about our culture that Amazon sells $10 handbags and $10,000 handbags?


Do you ever get to a time in your life when you think that you actually 'get it"?

Do you think the marriage of that couple that wed on Mt. Everest will last?

and finally:

How annoying is it that I am asking all these questions and do you think this is what is causing my insomnia?

Monday, May 08, 2017

More About Being "In or On" Time


I may have mentioned that on my good days I read a few pages of Marcus Aurelius book titled "Meditations" before I take a nap - not to disparage this classic but saying it puts me to sleep.   It is a challenging read since the language has the cadence and vocabulary of a Roman Emperor in the mid- 100's A.D.   That was certainly a time that was filled with intrigue and powerful people.  Time that moved very differently than time today.  

I went to Wikipedia and this is what they wrote about his book:  "Aurelius' Meditations, written in Greek while on campaign between 170 and 180, is still revered as a literary monument to a philosophy of service and duty, describing how to find and preserve equanimity, a state of psychological stability and composure, in the midst of conflict by following nature as a source of guidance and inspiration."

Certainly fits these times, does it not?  So what did this philosopher/ruler have to say about time?  "Every instant of time is a pinprick of eternity"

I think that I like that it reminds me how I have so little significance on this planet that my worries would not even fill the tummy of a mosquito.    Some cultures move in monochromatic time and others in polychromatic time. Is that why we do not always get along with each other?  You arrive too early for dinner and I arrive too late and no one arrives on time!  We cannot agree on the correct time.

Have I moved us closer to an understanding?  Now does that make you feel better?


Friday, May 05, 2017

Time is a Moving Thing


Time has been a very relative thing for me these days. Spring is always a rush. Flowers bud, bloom and petals fall in just hours as the sun chases night across the sky.  Within a month we have days of spring, summer and fall crammed together like a mixed race family, each with their own pleasures and pitfalls.


I watch a bluebird househunt in the morning, build a nest in the afternoon and lay her eggs while I am sleeping that evening.



The purple iris blossoms race each other down the strong stems while spewing out grape scent across the yard and finally giving way in the strong rains bowing down to the lawn.  My roses cover the arbor and then in what seems just a day or two drop all of their lovely pink petals like best wishes at the wedding march.



My days have been full of tasks and errands and trips and schedules and spring continues on her way not waiting for me or anyone.  My obligations are only on my time.  Her time is hidden somewhere in a space continuum over which I have no control and little awareness.  Did you know that a long time ago towns had their own schedules and set their clocks without coordination of any nearby village?  Their time/space continuum did not depend on anything other than their view of how fast the sun was moving.

Time is relative.  Someone, somewhere, has a spring that lasts at least a month.  They sip tea and watch the morning sun kiss the buds of roses and then watch as Dianthus burst forth with their cinnamon scents and pink lace-edged blossoms.  They watch the bird building the softest of homes with bits of grass and tufts of seed pods along several days.



Mother Earth has her own time clock.  It goes so much slower than ours that we miss the melting of icebergs, the increased flooding of coastal planes which climbs each year, the death of tiny microscopic beings that hold hands with larger microscopic beings until entire coral reefs centuries old are gone...and so on, and so on.

The data gatherers notice these things because their clock moves much slower than mine.  They can gaze over decades past as they thumb through their well-worn penciled notebooks of graphs and numbers and they count the changes in meaningful ways.  Soon this earth time will catch up with us all.



Sunday, April 30, 2017

Walking is Good For Your Health

It seems official that I have become a weekly marcher. The benefits are tremendous: I get to hang out with like-minded strangers that smile at me and nod;  I have conversations with people who actually are knowledgeable about chemistry, history, poetry, immigration and how government works (and it DOES work); I am getting some well-needed exercise; and I get to walk by some of the most beautiful architecture in the world. 




While I think this new museum has too large a footprint it is amazing in style.
I worked on the inside of the Federal government for decades and while there were "pencil pushers," braggarts, lazy folks and political appointees who were there because they were related to some Congressperson, 90-95% of the workers were people with training and expertise in their field, a vision to make things better, and no interest in making a fortune off the backs of others.  A little naive, maybe, but honest, certainly.

We met up with the Union of Concerned Pissed-off Scientists to get some signs before heading out.


No, they are not all that young.

The Park Police were in all their glory waiting the impending storm.  They are terrific workers in that almost every Saturday these days there is some protest march going on!

Last week I was involved in the March for Science.  I got to see Bill Nye the Science guy; Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, Pediatrician, Michigan State University who was the Doctor that discovered her young patients had high lead levels in Flint, Michigan; Mari Copeny, aka Little Miss Flint, who at 10 while overwhelmed by the crowd read her speech with great aplomb; Leland Melvin, astronaut and S.T.E.A.M. Explorer, and a bunch of other beautiful geniuses and leaders.   We also were entertained by the Jon Baptiste House band while waiting in the cold and pouring rain for free!  What a dedicated bunch of nerds!

We were a little far from the stage but certainly close to one of the Jumbotrons.




This weekend it was the March for Climate Change, which included a larger and more diverse group of people and a larger march.  We got together for breakfast with my Sister-in-Law from Colorado and her family and friends here in D.C. and made some signs at their hotel.  Some were affiliated with the Fair trade USA Group  and so we went to the Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream sponsored float since he had donated money to their cause.  He was there being interviewed by network television, but we missed that.




We then left our posse as they took the kids out of the heat and we marched with the indigenous peoples group that had some very cool dancing and the best drums (even in the 90 degree heat - climate diversity anyone?) as well as several ceremonial "smudge pot breaks" in the middle of the street.




Gotta love free speech!  There was only handful of of anti-science protesters and absolutely no violence or arguing.  We had received our "marching order" to focus on our mission and avoid dissension and that worked just fine.  It was like a 1960's  meet-up without the pot because that is illegal in D.C.  So what did you do last Saturday?


Thursday, April 27, 2017

My Mistake


I just spent an hour writing my post on the second part of trip and out meet-up with Mage in San Diego and posted it on my "other" blog. I am not going to try and cut and past that baby back to here as I have spent too much time at the computer.  So...you are going to have to go read it THERE.  Please.


Monday, April 24, 2017

Pennies Found

Like a bad penny or a fond memory, I am back. I have had a very full two weeks. I have not even had time to read a single blog post from all of you until a few days ago. Today I have a short reprieve and can post. My student had to work and cancelled her class. I should be weeding the garden on this cool and misty day. I have a house that really needs cleaning and at least two laundry loads to do. 

But instead, I will blog about my trip.  California was beautiful.  We stayed at a resort near the Crystal Cove State Park and did get to glimpse the spring flowers and the ocean on the first few days.




The grandchildren loved the beach but the Pacific is usually wet suit temperatures, so they did not swim. It was also a bit "surfy" and they scared the you-know-what out of me while their Dad explained that raising children meant you let them take risks.  Fortunately we only spent a short time here as there were many other activities on the agenda.







Even the heated pool at the resort required some baring it all in the cooler winds to enjoy.  The mist in the mornings off of the Pacific was lovely, but cooler than expected.  Yes, it was a "fancy" place.



Hubby had visited Knotts Berry Farm when he was about seven years old, decades ago, and wanted to revisit with his grands.  It had that old fashioned charm of an amusement park without all the dazzle, except for a wild ride or two, and while my grandchildren are really spoiled with fancy vacations, they were not so jaded that they could not enjoy the place.




Two of the grands panned for gold as hubby had done so many years ago and came away with a small jar of gold flecks (salted by the miner, of course.)
 



The youngest got into the spirit of the place at the gift shop.  The next day we toured Los Angeles Staple Center with all its bronze statues, saw the original Capitol Records building, Jimmy Kimmel's studio in Hollywood (door), walked on the "stars" on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, tested the hand prints that many stars placed at the Chinese Theater, and did a drive by of the homes in Beverly Hills.  I will not bore you with the hundred or so photos.  I had never done this type of tour, but my son-in-law was over the top with excitement, and my daughter was thrilled to see her favorite comedian's, Lucille Ball, former home.

We also spent an afternoon touring La Jolla beach and ate at a nice restaurant overlooking the beach.  I may share the lovely late afternoon photos later.

We spent five days here and then had to leave the resort as they could not accommodate us for the full week, but we got to go to the "real" San Diego and meet up with Mage and her husband for an outdoor lunch!  That in the next post.

Monday, April 03, 2017

The Odds Are


One could wonder why I would ever want to leave this place and its beauty. but I have a lovey family and they demand time!  I will be gone in the coming weeks to take a trip with the grand-children and their parents.  San Diego for fun in the sun and then back though Denver to visit my relatives.  I hope to meet up with Mage on one of the days.

  
When I return I may bore you with photos or maybe not.  We will see.  I may have time to read blogs, so that is good.





Thursday, March 30, 2017

My Telenovela Season

There is a reason that one's instinct should be honed.  It is a tool that we often ignore in this chaotic world of multiple stimuli.   When something lingers in the back of your mind, you should invite it on in and offer it some coffee and pick its mind.  Then you can make a pro and con list before you do something or decide something.

But what if you have conflicting instincts?

I do have two conflicting instincts.  One tells me to hibernate  at home with my forest and my birds and my garden and stay safe.  These activities rarely disappoint.  They often reward.  The other instinct tells me that hibernation means the mind and spirit will become sterile and stale and may just eventually die.  Therefore, I am routinely battling with these two noises in my brain.

I fought the instinct to just veg because I do that a LOT of time in my retirement days.  I read, I cook experimentally, I play with photography, I garden, I watch TV, I download courses on my laptop, I blog, all of which allows me to remain in my cave and face challenges at a snail's pace.

Master Gardening activities do force me to go to meetings, participate in events and work on projects with others.  My family is just near enough that I am called upon to babysit or share an activity with grandchildren who will, all too  soon, be young adults themselves.  I force myself to offer dinner to friends a few times a year.  It  is work and I  get nervous (odd at my age), but it always ends up being time well spent.

My instinct told me that volunteering with the Adult Basic Education office would be both a challenge and a reward.  The reward has been in inspiring people to bring their best to the table.  Another reward has been re-learning all that I forgot!  The challenge has been  in taking the time to prepare lessons and work through the clunky library computer software to schedule a study room and then to find this was all for naught as my students, who have their own challenging adult lives, cancel on the day of the lesson.

I am  currently working with a woman from Peru who has passed her high school equivalency but still  finds everyday English an effort.  She wants to go to community college, but her lack of command of English would hold her back.   She also is still saving money for this from her  full-time job.  One recent afternoon we met for a lesson after she had cancelled the prior week.  She  had said that her husband had  a "cholesterol emergency."  She had to  take him to the hospital.

Once we had settled in and spread out our work, I asked her how her husband  was.  Her face fell and she said he was just fine and back home.  She  looked very tired and claimed she was fighting a cold. I opened the vocabulary book and looked at our lesson and asked her the first question.  She fumbled a bit and when I looked up her face had collapsed into pure  misery as she tried to hide her weeping.  Suddenly the lesson was forgotten as I reached out to hug her and asked what was wrong.

I never expected the "Telanovela" episodes she was going to bring forth.  It seems that along with PTSD her husband has a cholesterol problem, yes, but more significantly he has a serious drinking problem and that is what brought him to the hospital.  He  tells his therapist that he is going to quit drinking and like many with addictions goes home and starts drinking, and as many know, the turn away from alcoholism has to really begin with  the alcoholic.  When in the Navy he was very physically fit,  but now a knee injury and an arm injury have left him far less able to be as active as he would like.  He is retired but did some work with a construction company and had a falling out with the boss.  I am sure he sees his life as useless.  He  has lots of excuses.

Well, this is only one of  the issues as her concern for his drinking has made him violent and threatening  to her.  She grew up in an abusive home watching her father abuse her mother, and perhaps without knowing it, she has returned to something familiar here, and she is frightened. 

Then there is the Telanovela episode of her not being able to stay in  the  country if she divorces him.  She is about nine months and $1000.00 away from getting permanent residency and the immigration officials are already suspicious that her marriage was one of convenience and not love, and perhaps it was.  
When one is living in a country filled with crime and poverty and daily dangers an inroad to that golden America is hard to pass up.

If you do not think this story could get any more complicated, she is living  with him and his ex-wife!  According to my student the ex-wife is very kind  to her and helpful...to the point of buying her a car for her to get to work.  The ex-wife still works full time at a good paying job for Navy intelligence but has severe arthritis problems and is looking forward to her own retirement.  The ex-wife is still on the husband's retirement pension.  I know,  it is all very strange.

I am  certain that a psychotherapist could complete a research paper on all three of these people.  I, on the other had, could only recommend  she walk on eggs for now, call an abuse hotline and make an appointment with a legal aid lawyer.   (I  did offer to pay a legal aid fee, if there was one.)  I was terrified for her but knew I was in no position to really give advice and knew all these problems were taking their toll on her.  For me it was a dangerous and tragic story, and I was not naive enough to think I had the whole story.  For her it was her daily life.  She works in retail and  it reminded me to be  ever so nice to  those workers as we have no idea what their daily life may be like.

Well, if that does not inspire your week and encourage you to listen to your instincts, I do not know what will.

Monday, March 27, 2017

This is Political, So You Can Move On


I have been paralyzed by politics. I have been a "snowflake" being held over a candle. The fact that the far right held their ground and stopped millions (more) from losing health care has given me hope.  I have tried really hard to understand those who voted for a man whose speeches sound like an angry grade school bully.  He has claimed he graduated at the top of his class, but this is certainly not reflected in any of his rhetoric or his endless golf.  He has no favorite books, interesting American history quotes, or rich pals that are intellectual businessmen.  He has no detailed vision of how to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.   He has no plan of how to spend the increase in budget for the Defense Department which even the Generals agree they do not want now.


He claims he is a good businessman, but my broker (whom I just called to adjust my investments to make them less risky as this market adjusts) just told me that according to their experts (this is one of the largest brokerage firms in the country) he did worse than possible based on his investment and all his bailouts from his dad over the last two/three decades.  If he had taken that money and just invested it, he would be worth far more than even he could imagine.  But he did not beat the market in 3 decades with the money he was given!

But just being wealthy would not give him the endless visibility he demands.  Watch almost any popular New York TV show and he was walk-on over the years.  He finally had to create his own shows.  He demands attention.  

He is not a Republican or a Democrat and I keep thinking this is some wry God's humor as he will use this President to bring both parties together on at least a few functional bits of legislation.  Far stranger things have happened this year.

Imagine a Congress that actually meets, compromises, and SLOWLY get stuff done!!
 

OK.  No more political rants.  Next post is about my Peruvian English student...not necessarily much happier though.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Keeping My Fingers Crossed

My daughter is an amazing woman. I wish I would have been more like her when I was a young working mother. She has a very demanding job with a consulting industry, works with some good people, is active with a women's legal organization, and also has to deal with some male chauvinist pigs in the company. Yet she has managed to hold her own while raising three children and running the household activities. This past week she came down with the flu on Monday after nursing her oldest who had contracted the flu the prior week.

She rarely calls us for help but she had to as she had scheduled a last minute fly-out to Chicago for just the day (an important luncheon with a group where one of the leaders, a cyber security expert, wanted her there for various reasons)  She also felt the meeting was important for her career.  Due to snow delays the week before, a repairman and a furniture deliveryman were scheduled for the day she was to fly out. We were happy to head up and house-sit since we had planned on driving up that weekend anyway for a Smithsonian lecture.


She made us an amazing Thai shrimp dinner the night before she caught her plane.



As luck would have it, the youngest son came down with the flu the afternoon before she left, so we did nurse duty, took him to the doctor's, and completed our house-sit duty for the next two days.  He seemed to weather the illness as children sometimes do.  Periods of rest...



 followed by creating a magic show for his granddad.


Hubby had been nursing a mild sore throat the day before we went up, so he was a bit compromised already.   Here we are four and a half days later, and back at home, and neither of us has gotten sick! We did get our flu shots this fall, but were told that they are only 50% effective this year.  Maybe we dodged the bullet?  I am still keeping my fingers crossed.

Daughter did not cancel the dog-walker which was good as I had not brought snow boots and the sidewalks were pretty slushy.  (Yes, some people call this a dog...).


I do not know how young parents juggled all that comes their way and I try not to think about it.