Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Moment

I'd like to wish you all a Happy New Year. But all we have is this moment right here. So let me instead wish you a totally groovy new moment.
(Please re-read at will)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Torn Between the Things That I Should Do

I went to work yesterday feeling less than energetic - a little nauseated and a weird ache in my neck, but I knew it was going to be really busy. You know how it is between the holidays. Lots of people take vacation days and there is a skeleton staff left to handle things.

This morning I felt the way I did yesterday squared. I thought about the five clients I had scheduled after the morning meeting, and I thought about my co-workers who would have to handle any emergencies that came up without any help from me.

I took my temperature. One tiny little degree over normal. That's not really a fever, is it?

I really dislike it when anyone comes to my office with bugs. Bugs like me and I don't fight back very well. This is something about me that I don't really like. I very much dislike feeling puny. I imagine that people think I'm weak. sometimes I think that about me, too.

Actually, it's just my immune system and some of my muscles that are weak. I've learned that the best and fastest way for me to get over an illness is to sleep it off and I've learned that little bugs can turn into big bug-a-boos if I ignore them. Knowing that about my body is a strength.

That's right, huh? (Now's when you jump in and reassure me.)

So the internal debate continues even after I've called in. Did I do the right thing? Could I have done right by my clients and co-workers if I had gone in or would I have shared germs, worn myself down and given them far less than their money's worth?

Well, one thing is certain. All this arguing with myself has given me a headache.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Acorn Dreams

I had what my sister and I call a real dream last night. According to us Campbell girls, a real dream is one that strikes us as significant. It's not necessarily realistic in content, but it has a real feel to it. I've not done a very good job of describing it, I'm afraid. But like pornography, you'll know it when you see it.

Anyway, I dreamed I was finishing up a job. I had moved into a small room for my job and I'd brought far too much stuff. The room, my office I guess, was the bathroom in the house in which I grew up. It had a cabinet above the toidy and I had it stuff with beach towels, gloves and hats - things I really didn't need in the Southern location of my job. I was purging all the things I didn't need.

I was also fixin' to leave the job, but in the meantime, I met with the big boss. I told him my vision for creating a display (we had a small space in a museum nearby) that encouraged people to think about using corn and beans as building materials. I told him this was a good idea because we were in the middle of the corn and bean fields (so we must have been in the Midwest with Southern weather) and it was good to find additional uses for the crops.

As soon as I told him this idea, I realized that it was actually a bad idea because we really needed to use those crops as food. Then I changed my vision to include finding a way to easily harvest and convert acorns to eatable food. I told the big boss what a good source of protein acorns are and that you just have to get rid of some of the tannins to make them more palatable.

Then I was trying to tell my friend, Edie, where I was going to go to college the next fall. I told her the name of the college (I can't remember it now) and she looked it up and said it was on the dark side of Atlanta. This meant that it was on the far side of Atlanta from where we were. I didn't really want to go to the other side of those mountains, so I told her I changed my mind. Then I told her I wanted to go to Western (Illinois University) and study biology so that I could figure out how to use acorns as food and their shells as building materials.

The acorns in my dream were about 3 inches across and had hard shells. And I was hurriedly filling one large paper bag and one small paper bag with them on my way to a science building on campus. There was no doubt in my mind that I would accomplish my task. I planned to begin my education with my dissertation research, in case I ran out of time, the important part would be done.

Throughout the dream there was an interesting element of time. I was going back to college as a college-aged person, but with the wisdom I have now (well, isn't that everyone's dream) but I knew I wouldn't have enough time to get everything done I wanted to accomplish. It was as if I had to accomplish things quickly in order for them to be used well.

Sometimes writing about my dreams helps me understand the meaning of them. Sometimes not.

Will someone please do some research into turning acorns into good food on a commercial basis? Then maybe I can get back to dreaming about Eric Clapton or George Clooney.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Good Quickies

I'll bet you can think of a gazillion things to do in the coming year that could make the world a better place. Here are 17 quickies to get you started.

1) Look in the mirror and say nice things to yourself. It's tough to be nice to others if you aren't nice to yourself.

2) Use small gasoline operated machines less. Gas lawn mowers, snow-blowers, leaf-blowers, etc. are big polluters of sound and air. Electric or manual grass cutters and rakes are kinder and you can skip a trip to the gym.

3) Share food. Choose a day of the week to eat simply and use the money you save to donate food to a local pantry. If your school or place of work doesn't collect food for a local pantry, perhaps your grocery store does.

4) Recycle everything possible. It's amazing how little actually has to go to a landfill if you reuse, donate, and recycle carefully.

5) Make GoodWill, St. Vinny, or other thrift stores your first choice when shopping. Not only will you save major bucks and support a good cause, but you'll keep stuff out of the "stuff stream."

6) Compost. Your kitchen scraps and garden clippings transform magically into super soil for your flower or veggie garden and keep stuff out of landfills.

7) Grow your own. You can grow some of your own food, even if you only have a little patio and a flower pot. How fun is that! It is good for your soul as well as your body.

8) Don't panic, go organic. Ok, so I didn't make up that phrase. But every chemical you keep out of your body is one that won't make you sick.

9) Smile. It's healthy to smile. It might be catching. At the very least it will piss off people who are trying to bring you down.

10) Remain grateful for every breath you take and remember that right now, in this very second, you have everything you need.

11) Practice acts of random reckless kindness. Hold a door for someone, let someone into traffic, put a quarter in a stranger's meter, hold your tongue, give sincere compliments, feed the birds, pick up litter, forgive with abandon.

12) Use Earth-friendly cleaning supplies. Vinegar, borax, baking soda, and lemon oil are wonderful at cleaning most things you have and they are inexpensive to buy. Check out Seventh Generation if you prefer ready made stuff.

13) Check the air pressure in your tires. Proper pressure improves gas mileage.

14) Consider vegetarian Tuesdays. (Or Wednesdays or April, etc.) Healthy for you and the rest of the planet - especially the animal you don't eat.

15) As much as possible, surround yourself with peace. Don't watch violent tv or movies or read violent books or play at killing and maiming.

16) Cry when you feel like it. It's good for your sinuses as well as your heart.

17) Wash your clothes in cold water.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Seeing Things For the First Time Again

One of my earliest memories is Papa carrying me from the car to the house the day I got my first pair of glasses. He set me down inside the front door and I just stood there looking around, soaking it in. My mother says I couldn't possibly remember it because I was only two years old, but I don't think you forget the first time you see things as they really are.

The brown floors were individual pieces of wood with lighter and darker grains. The pink blobs on the wall of the bathroom were flamingos standing on only one of their spindley legs. Trees had leaves - individual leaves. There were just so many more little things making up larger things.

People would ask my parents how they got me to leave the glasses on, after all I was just a toddler. But I was a toddler who could finally see. And vision is a great motivator. I wish I would have saved every pair of glasses I've ever had. It would be fun to see how lenses and fashions changed. I'm sure if I tried on my first glasses now, I wouldn't be able to see at all, even though they clarified things so well 52 years ago.

We all look through lenses all the time. We look through the lens of our culture, our upbringing, our beliefs. And we change. The lens that made things clear in our childhood may really muddle reality now. And that's ok. We outgrow our beliefs the way I outgrew my glasses.

We never get to the point in life that we no longer need to check our prescriptions. Usually vision changes so insiduously that we don't realize we aren't seeing clearly until we get new lenses. Then it's just amazing.

Seeing things as they really are is an experience we never outgrow.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Eyes Have It

Recently I suddenly couldn't focus my eyes well enough to read. I did all the things one does at a time like that. I slapped the monitor, blinked, rubbed my eyes, cleaned my glasses, used some eye drops, asked the person in the next office if my monitor looked blurry to her, took a break, panicked.

I didn't suddenly go blind, you understand. I could still see almost everything, I just couldn't see little tiny squiggles on the screen or paper. I could still see colors and light and people, and cars on the highway. I just couldn't read.

Little squiggles on paper or a monitor. How important can that be, really? Little tiny line drawings on a contrasting background. My fingers push on plastic keys and little tiny line drawings appear on the monitor and flash across the world onto other monitors. And when you read them you can pretty much understand what I was thinking about when my fingers pushed the keys.

I don't think about what my fingers are doing when I type. It's like walking up stairs. If I think about it, I stumble. And I don't think about looking at each tiny squiggle individually and then translating arrangements of them into words which I then translate into ideas. But that's exactly what we do when we read. It's just that we do it so quickly, so automatically that we don't even realize we're doing it. I took it all for granted.

Until I couldn't do it.

Now that the squiggles are coming back into focus (right now print looks rather like a 3D movie without the glasses) it amazes me that anyone can read at all. Our brains and eyes do unfathomable acrobatics at unbelievable speed and we only even think about what's going on when it doesn't work perfectly.

Just pick any one of these arrangements of squiggly lines and think about it. We define them with other arrangements of squiggly lines. We can't even think about words without words. And if we had to sustain all our ideas with spoken words without using written words, we'd all lose our voices from overuse. People have been doing mighty things with words, but they have had to first be able to identify tiny little squiggles on the screen.

The process is breathtakingly beautiful.

So whatever this vision problem is, I think I'll be grateful to it for opening my eyes.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Statistically Sucky

Today was one of those pewter sky days with fog so thick you have to use windshield wipers. The sun never peaked out. It was just fine. Perfect in its own way.

Ten of us girls who grew up in a place very much like Mayberry hidden in the middle of the cornfields in Western Illinois, got in contact with each other again in recent years. We didn't reconnect at our five year reunion or even our ten year reunion, but sometime after the reunions didn't really have years attached to them anymore. We connected years after there was any motivation to prove anything to each other.

Today I learned that one of the ten of us has a particularly nasty form of cancer.

Two of our group are currently fighting cancer. Two have MS. Two have fibromyalgia. Two have lived through the death of a child. Almost everyone has lost at least one parent. Two of us have been married more than once. One has never succumbed to marriage. Three have grand children. To my knowledge no one is gay. I don't really know how "average" our statistics are, but lots of them suck.

Thirty-six years ago not one of us could have guessed who'd be where today. I certainly didn't think I'd be the only one of us living outside Illinois. Who knew so many would move back to our sleepy little hometown? I seem to remember that we were all itching to get out of there.

I don't think we spent a second of worry on who might have this disease or that disease later in life and that's certainly the way it should be. Actually, now that I think about it, I remember warning my friends who could tan that they would someday have wrinkles and may get skin cancer, but I only said that because I was jealous.

I guess if we would have thought about it - which certainly would have been a waste of our young time - we would have realized that we would all be faced with some rotten stuff in our lives. I'm glad we didn't think about it then. Ignorance truly is bliss sometimes. We were so busy enjoying the sun and the bright blue skies that we had no idea in the world that a pewter sky day with fog and mist is also beautiful in its time.

Even though the stuffed-shirts don't read my blog, I really do love my girls.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Health Care?

I hear people say that they don't want nationalized health care for a couple of reasons. The first is that they're afraid it will make everyone's health care more expensive and the second is that it will cause us to wait for medical procedures. I also have heard people say that any American who really needs health care will get it now anyway. To those deluded people who believe that, I say WAKE UP.

I really think the biggest reason people are so busy fighting against nationalize health care is the big letter S.

This country currently spends more money on health care than any other country. Do we have healthier, longer lives? No, we do not. Does everyone get the health care they need to stay healthy productive members of society? No, they do not. Do we currently end up paying for unhealthy Americans? Yes, we do.

Every day I work with people who do not have adequate health care coverage. Ask them about waiting for a procedure. They wait because they can't get in to see a doctor. They can go to emergency departments if they have wait long enough for their problem to become an emergency. But emergency departments are not emergency-and-ongoing-care departments. Do you expect that the care provided to uninsured people in the ER is paid for by the money faeries? That cost is spread out across all our health care costs and we end up paying the most expensive rates possible. And any plumber knows that it costs less to prevent a problem than it does to fix it. That goes for doctors, too.

God forbid that someone with a mental illness doesn't have insurance or money. That person is likely to end up on the street or in jail. It's expensive to keep people in jail, not to mention inhumane when we're talking about someone who's there because of an illness. Surely support and medication are less expensive than incarcerating or having ill Americans end up on the street. Yet what have we done? We've eliminated psychiatric hospitals, wings, and hospital beds. We've cut budgets for outpatient clinics. All of us share in the cost of homelessness in this country, too, but I think that's another column completely.

We have said, in effect, we don't care about you if you don't have health care benefits and we are too selfish to let you have it. We are too afraid of the big letter S, as in socialized medicine, to look at you.

The word Socialism bothers some people. The words Selfishness and Shame bother me more.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

I Love My Sister

My sister is just about perfect. She's beautiful and always has been. She's very intelligent. She's kind and very dedicated. She's funny. She is truly one of my most favorite people ever. She really gets into holidays, Christmas included, and decorates and sends cards and entertains, etc.

She pointed out that my Bah, Humbug Christmas posts made her feel sad. I think they make her sad because I said something about Christmas having always been an occasion for disappointment to me. She's also sad because I seemed to be blasting people who "over-decorate."

So I stepped back and thought about this. She's usually right about things and it's very worth consideration if she points something out.

It's true that I never would want to take away any one's joy. Not even the people with the 12 lighted holiday characters lined up in their yard. I don't think it's very green to send out holiday cards, but I must admit that I enjoy the very few I receive and I have to assume that people carefully weigh the use of paper and resources against the joy the cards might bring.

And while Christmas has historically disappointed me, it's not because I wasn't given an embarrassingly large amount of gifts. I just always felt that what I gave wasn't enough or something. And I felt disappointed whenever people continued to behave badly even though they were in the midst of this "Season of Peace and Joy." And I can't help thinking that our resources could be better spent.

Having explained that I wouldn't want to take away any one's joy, I still do fantasize about rearranging people's lighted characters or demanding all mall Santas take a breathalyzer. My sister says - and I'm sure it's true - that some people need Christmas and all the trimmings to get "in the spirit" and be generous and peaceful. And perhaps Christmas makes people happy in and of itself and in that way it is a good use of resources. I don't understand that, though I think people should be happy.

I think I walk a wire here deciding whether I should just shut up because I might interrupt some one's happiness or trying to shine a light on what I know to be better uses of resources, a more realistic and loving way of finding happiness.

So the bottom line is this: I know this is only my opinion and that there is the ever-so-infinitesimal chance that it is wrong. But hey, it's my blog. I don't like Christmas clutter. I'm overwhelmed by the business, busy-ness, and waste of the whole thing. But it's your thang - do what you need to.

And I love my sister.

Monday, December 7, 2009

New Year's Resolutions for My Girls

To My Girls *

Let's all sit down and have a glass of Chianti and discuss how we ain't gonna change a ding dang thing in the coming year because we are so ding dang perfect now it would be a crime against nature! We are perfect just as we are and could use some improvement.

Let's vow to always see each other as we really are - beautiful, sexy, brilliant, exceptional women with great taste in friends.

Let's promise to never pass up an adventure, even if the odds are about 89 to 11 for getting hurt. Hell, we've been hurt before and memories are the very best things to collect. Besides, if we get knocked down, we've got our girls to laugh and help us up.

Let's promise to laugh so hard we may just wet our pants.

Let's resolve to flirt with experience, skill and not a lick of shame. Flirting is good for the flirter and the flirtee.

Let's change our hair color and style, wear as much or as little make up, and shave our legs and underarms or not according to our whims. Let's pay attention to those whims. Whims are our friends. Whimlessness is next to boringness.

Let's all learn to say no to things we do only because we think we're supposed to do them. We aren't getting any extra innings in this life, so if we can't enjoy the things we're supposed to do, then we'd better just not do them.

And let's all enjoy doing those things we know we will make the Universe a better place.

Let's dedicate 2010 as the year we are not afraid to fail. Heck, haven't we failed enough to learn not to be afraid of it by now? If you haven't, get out there and fail at some things. My bridge master told me that if I wasn't going set at least a third of the time, I wasn't playing with enough guts. Let's agree to ask ourselves these questions: What's the worst that can happen if I fail at this? What's the worst thing that can happen if I don 't attempt it?

Let's all finally realize that we needn't be afraid of death, only of not having lived. Surely nothing is worse than dieing of boredom.

Let's all resolve to be so present in the here and now that we forget to worry about the future or fret about the past.

And let's all forgive ourselves for all the stupid things we've ever done and LET THEM GO! There isn't room for them here, now.

Let's all let go of the greatness we used to have or nearly had or might have had. There is not room for that here, now, either.

And let's realize that there is only here and now and it is more than sufficient.

Let's forget to get back at people and threaten to flood each day with random acts of kindness. It might just catch on.

Let's get our minds around the fact that we are all One.

Let's take naps when we need to and call our friends regardless of the hour.

Let's please remind each other to be grateful for every moment - even the ones that seem yucky. Even in those moments, your life is the greatest miracle of all.

Let's allow ourselves to cry when we need to. It's good for our sinuses.

Let's always realize that sometimes you've just gotta. And that's the only reason you need.

Let's all solemnly vow to overflow our lives with joy and peace and love. You know where that comes from right?

*And yes I know that calling us girls is not politically correct. I'm 54 and I don't give a shot. I can be a girl if I want to and to hell with political correctness! My Girls - you know who you are!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Ho, Ho, Humbug

My seasonal fantasy consists of hunkering down in a cabin in the woods, with a large enough supply of split firewood, food, wine, books and a hot tub. No phones, no television, no cars driving by. Just me and my dog in a cozy cabin surrounded by quiet snow.

It may be due to a vestige of the urge to hibernate. But it's probably due to the modern urge to escape the chaos of the holidays. The lights and decorations, the din of the repetition of Christmas music, the endless chatter about buying and shopping and baking and entertaining is all just too much for me. It's not that I hate gifts, baking, entertaining, etc. It's just that I'd rather spread it out throughout the year. The giant flashing Santa on my neighbor's roof - that I could live without.

I don't participate any more in that stuff, but without escaping to my fantasy cabin, I have about as much chance of totally ignoring the hype as a fish has of ignoring water. It's everywhere!

One neighbor has 12 lighted figures in her front yard. A couple of Santas, baby Jesus, Frosty, a giant candy cane, some reindeer, etc. Twelve! And they're all just lined up there as if they are waiting at the post office or something.

So if you come caroling at my house, don't be surprised if all the lights in my house suddenly go out and no one comes to the door. I invite you to come back in May, when we can all enjoy it.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Ah, Christmas peace

A note to those who are dreading Christmas.

I hope you can come to the place where you can leave the expectations of Christmas where they belong - in a hot air balloon piloted by a fat fairy tale. I fought with it for years. As long as I can remember Christmas (until recently) it has been a huge opportunity for disappointment. I'm fortunate to be able to "just say no" to the whole thing. This year I'll cook something outrageously yummy for the staff food fest because I enjoy that.
I'll try to ignore the extravagance and waste. I'll overlook the clutter and the crowds and enjoy the first two days music without thinking too much about the lyrics.
I'll say "Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukha, Have a rocking Kwanza, a peaceful Solstice, please, thank you, and pardon me."
I hope we can all celebrate a nice day or ignore it, whatever pleases us, and let the expectations of marketers and stale traditions roll off us like rain off a happy duck.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


George was a twin and his mother ewe only wanted to feed the other one. So from the first day of his life, George thought of me as MaaaaaMaaaaa. It was early spring in Virginia when he was born and he was just a bit more than a handful in a couple of ways. He lived in a box in the laundry room at first and I mixed formula and heated bottles every four hours. He was always hungry and he grew fast.

It wasn't long before he came tumbling down the two stairs from the laundry into the kitchen having escaped his box. He was a little wobbly on his spindly legs, but that didn't slow him down much. If he heard me in the kitchen or the living room he soon was there. By then he was the same size as Alice, our mostly white cat. The dogs and cats must have known that George was going to keep growing and they accepted him into the pack.

I spent a lot of time, trying to get George to eat grass, but once he caught on he made up for lost time. He wanted nothing to do with the sheep and they didn't much care for him, either. He started sleeping on the deck in a dog bed when it warmed because he wasn't much good at house training. During the day, though, the door to the deck was usually open for the dogs, cats, and George to come in and out at will. When the door was closed, George would "paw" at it until he was let in.

Every day when my mate came home from work we'd take a walk down the road and back through the pasture. The dogs, George and Alice the cat knew the route and the schedule. One spring we had too many roosters and we gave one to our neighbors. When the group of us walked to their house, me carrying a rooster under my arm, I suddenly realized what an odd picture we must have been.

When the weather was nice, we'd return from our walk and have happy hour on the deck. George was especially fond of pretzels, carrots, and peanuts and he enjoyed a beer as well. My mate was from Down Under and recognized beer as a good way for George to put on weight. Every happy hour, George sat on my lap on the deck.

It wasn't long before my mate had to lift George onto my lap. Sheep grow quickly and George went from a kitten-like pound of woolly sweetness to 100+ pounds of stinky ram that only a mother could love. No matter how big he got, he still wanted to sit on my lap. And he still called me MaaaaaaaMaaaaaa. He just said it louder. And he never forgot my voice.

By autumn he still preferred the living room to the lawn and it was long past time that he started learning how to be a sheep. Daily my mate would remind me that George had excellent genes and he had to learn how to pass them on. It was painful for me to take him to the pasture, and nearly unbearable for me to watch the way those nasty sheep treated him at first.

But George grew confident. In fact, he grew downright cocky. I reckon he wooed the young ewes with fantastic stories of salty pretzels and foamy beer. He became quite the lady's man. Well, actually the ewe's ram.

During my time on the farm, I bottle fed lots of lambs. I remember trying to hold bottles for triplets who would climb all over me as I sat in soft green grass under perfect blue skies. It's a wondrous experience to pacify a tiny lamb with your finger while you get the bottles arranged.

But even among the sweetest lambs George was special. You just can't keep a full grown ram as a house pet. It's not good for the ram or the house. So George was part of my family for a season. But what a season! I miss that sheep and I can truly say that the brevity of the time I was his Maaaaaa doesn't diminish the sweetness of the experience.

Perfect Moments

Do you ever catch yourself in a moment that you know you'll remember all your life?
Whenever I think about singular moments and what makes them special, I remember one in particular. I must have been about six years old, and I was allowed to walk to the post office with a neighbor girl, Barbara. She was older, probably nine. We walked the two blocks to the post office and then sat on the steps in front, soaking up the sun and feeling absolutely wonderful.

I said, "I'm going to always remember this moment," and so far I have.

We didn't go the remaining block to the "Square." We didn't have any money to buy anything anyway. We weren't showing off new shoes, we very probably didn't have shoes on. It was summer after all. It wasn't anyone's birthday or anything. We just walked to the post office and posted a letter for her mother.

It was a perfect time.

Monday, November 23, 2009

It could be hormones, but I cried with joy when I watched these. Thanks Charlie for showing them to me!

Don't think, just do it.

I dreamed I was building a structure with a group of people. There was urgency to get it done on time. The structure was transparent framework going up and up. At the base was a sort of trampoline-like floor only when a person bounced on it the reaction was in slow motion. We tested it out often.

My job was to teach people how to jump. All you had to do to go all the way up was believe you could. Little children had no trouble. We would bounce and each go up through very, very fragile layers. The layers were like the incredibly thin ice that first forms on a pond. When I would break through one I'd barely feel it, but it would shatter and fall to the ground. Evidently it grew back for the next person, the next time.

To go all the way up was to escape something, and there was a feeling that we all needed to do it soon. I would jump and tell myself, "Don't think about it, just do it!"

I hadn't tried to go all the way up yet, because I was trying to teach other people, and I was fighting with the doubt that I knew could keep me down.

I had this dreams some years ago and have remembered it often. It has meant different things at different times, but the theme remains.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

What Did You Say?

I love words. I love the way they rearrange and group together to change things. I love to arrange and rearrange them myself and I am a word-watcher. I notice and appreciate the way word-skilled people carve with them.

Words build and destroy; encourage and devastate; control and free. You can do a lot with words. I hope I am never without them. Words are my friends and like all exciting friends, they've bailed me out many times and they've landed me in trouble more times than I can count.

I'm intrigued with the way people who supposedly speak the same language can have a conversation and be totally in the dark, too.

When I first moved to Northern Wisconsin from Central Illinois, I had to learn a new dialect. "Come by me once, eh," meant "Please come here." Who knew?

When I moved to Appalachia I learned again. "I kindly just cut iverthang off," meant "I conserve electricity."

Friends from Australia were amazed when we asked them if they "shagged." Ooops. We meant danced.

And Brits! Well, one hardly knows where to begin. They don't know a torch from a flashlight, a chip from a fry, or fancy from like. And while the Aussies are often crude, the Brits think it's rude to come out and say what they mean. It's amazing that we aren't at war with them.

Where I grew up the word you could mean one person or several people. Up North multiple people were addressed as yous. In Appalachia it's you'ns. In the South it's ya'll. And using the wrong word can cause you to sound snooty, stupid, alien or any combination of those.

All this mumbo-jumbo, gobbledeegook, and falldarall just to make a point. Words are important. We must choose them with care. When we don't make sure that a word or phrase means the same thing to you as it does to someone else, we risk a great deal. We could ask someone to dance and end up in a most embarrassing situation.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


(I just remembered this. It comes with a smouldering blues tune)


A puff of smoke
A gentle breeze,
Can't hold them in my hand

Sparking stars
On summer seas
The writing in the sand

If I could make this world anew
I would include them all
And I'd include our brief affair
The ride was worth the fall.

Blanche Update

My sister just informed me that Blanch is spelled Blanche. With an E. I told Blanche. She thinks it's fine. She says that Nancy really should be spelled Nancee.

Blanch(e) met me at the door when I came home tonight for the first time this week. She was eager to go for a little walk with me though she'd just had walkies with her daddy. She ate greedily after I stirred up her food and made a big deal of it. She drank water throughout the day. So while she looks a bit thin and was ready to go to bed earlier than usual, she did work with her daddy in his office all day and go for a couple of significant walkies. Her eyes are bright again and she's interested in what's going on.

In other words, she's back.

And I'm relieved and joyful. You know, you just have to take the bad with the good and hope that the karmic butcher has his thumb on the scales in your favor.

Life is grand, is it not?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Meeee, me, me me meeeee

Part of my Pantheist belief is that we are all the Universe and the Universe is all there is. The boundaries between me and the bed, the keyboard, the oak trees, sky, you, that rock over there, are only my perceptions. We are all energy, vibrations. The cells of the average human completely change out seven times in that human's life. I am what I eat. To dust I shall return. So bits of me probably used to be bits of a tree, a rock, a star, other people, sea kelp, etc.

So that means the differences between you and me aren't very great. At least they can't be all that important, can they? Isn't it more likely that this thing we have in common - being a part of the same Universe - is more important?

How can I decide I am more or less significant than you? Why would I do anything but encourage you? Why would I ever want to hurt you?

I think I might be starting to sound like a Culture Club song, and I'm not sure I'm being clear.

Of course there is that ego thing. That part of me (perhaps retained in the calluses of my feet, perhaps in the neurons of my brain, perhaps only in my feeble perceptions) that pushes and pushes and screams to be heard above the truth that I am not separate from the sand and the stars. It clouds the issues. It keeps me from hearing you and the rest of the Universe.

It is that ego thing that makes me think I am so different. It makes me think that my tribe/country/religion/color/gender/species is right and the rest of you are hopelessly doomed. It's like the pot calling the kettle stainless steel. It's like cutting off my nose to spite my face. To use a psychological term, it just ain't right.

It's back again to that Golden Rule. Because when we do unto others, we are doing unto ourselves. So let's be gentle, ok? Let's be loving.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Blanch Update/ people who don't get pets

Blanch is resting comfortably in her bed beside my bed. She only had one episode of illness (I'm trying to be tactful) today and she's still taking medication for nausea, vomitting, and antibiotics. She is drinking a little water though and started that last night. Her daddy said she even ate a bite or two today. But she's not a ball of fire, that's for sure. She's content to just lay about with her blankie (an old towel) and constant attention.

Seriously, is this the same man who didn't want a dog at all? This thirteen pounds of fluff has done a trick with him!

I feel so badly for (and envy a bit) those people who don't get it when it comes to pets. My college roommate and one of my favorite people, Vally, doesn't get it. She was good to the cat we had in college, Mishka Nikita Minoge, Esq., but she never loved a pet. And I've got to say as pets go, Mishka was a difficult one to love. Totally nuts, that cat.

I feel badly that she doesn't feel the joy and unconditional love that seems to only happen with animals and one's own babies. I envy her because she'll never have the heartbreak that is unique to animal lovers.

I listen to true horror stories about people's lives for a living and I'm pretty tough. I'm compassionate, but I hold it together. That is unless someone has a sad pet story. Then all bets are off and I'm a mess. I don't understand it, that's just the way it is.

I know there's a bit more going on in the world than the tenuous health of one little ball of fur and love, but the past couple of days has been really painful for our little family. I thank you all for your words of concern.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sick Puppy

Blanch, our recently adopted 8 year old dog didn't want breakfast this morning. That was odd. She spent the morning sleeping, the afternoon having diarrhea and vomiting. By the time I got home from work she was pretty droopy and drooly and my husband, who works from home and wasn't crazy about getting a dog in the first place, wasn't really happy. I found an emergency vet hospital online, made a phone call and off we went.

There are a few significant things to note here. My husband, Blanch's daddy, was very concerned about Blanch. He wasn't just upset that she had disrupted his day and made messes everywhere, which he dutifully cleaned up. He held her in his lap on the way to the ER, petting her all the way. Blanch sat on the cold, stainless steel table and held on tight to him with her gaze. I may have brought her home from the shelter, but she is his girl.

The vet and staff were very nice. They got that we'd only had her a couple of weeks and knew precious little about her. They got that we were nervous parents. I found out a few bits of information that I wouldn't have otherwise known. Blanch isn't an all American mutt. She is a Shitsu. So that's why she doesn't shed, eh?

And she isn't spayed. The vet showed us that her nipple was leaking some milk and my husband and I began leaking perspiration.

Some blood tests, a shot and some pills later, we found out Blanch has some gastroenteritis (who knows how) and a false pregnancy! A false pregnancy?!! Give me a break. Well it does explain some of her recent behavior involving Mr. Pinky, a toy of hers. So much for the shelter that stated all their dogs a neutered or spayed, blah, blah.

Not that it would have mattered. It was all over the first time I held her. But dang, I'm glad we aren't getting puppies. Well, they would be sweet. And definitely cute. And Blanch would be a good mommy, I'm sure. But, whew! What a relief. I guess for Christmas she'll be getting a hysterectomy.

What a relief that we aren't going to have a litter of granddogs. What a relief that Blanch isn't deathly ill. What a relief that there's a vet ER nearby. But most of all, what a relief that Blanch's daddy is such a good daddy.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Religious Rules and Other Crap

Lots of religions have their version of the Golden Rule and I like it
-Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
-Do not do what you hate.
-Ascribe not to any soul that which you would not have ascribed to thee and say not that which thou doest not.
-A state that is not pleasing or delightful to me, how could I inflict it on another?
-Regard your neighbor's gain as your own gain and your neighbor's loss as your own loss.
-Love your neighbor as yourself.
-Love your enemies.
It's all the same rule.

You don't even have to be religious to figure out that if everyone lived according to that idea, life would be grand indeed. It's common sense.
That rule is Golden, because you really don't need any others. The Rule doesn't need any tweeking. It's the only religious rule I've found that is helpful in the least.

But we get it all twisted around and think the golden rule means "Stick it to them before they stick it to you."

We often live according to rules such as:
-Get all you can because everyone is out for themselves.
-If you're too nice to people, they'll treat you like dirt.
-Give them an inch and they'll take a mile.
These are certainly not golden rules. They are more like cracked formica than gold.

We have come up will all sorts of additional rules. Some of them are just amazing. Don't eat meat on Fridays. Cover your head. Face this direction when you pray. Kneal in front of this piece of wood. Get this piece of paper signed on this line before you live together. Cut off your infant son's foreskin. Don't say this word. Cut open this animal and burn it on a fire to please God. Go to church on Sundays. You may not marry if you're going to be a priest. Women can't be priests. Don't cut your hair, do cut your hair, grow a beard, don't grow a beard. It can get ding dang confusing and usually these are rules that are relatively easy to recognize as what they are - silliness.

There are other rules that are more ingrained, sort of poetical rules that are harder to recognize, but equally trash because they leave so much wiggle room for favorable interpretation.

"God helps those who helps themselves," can be interpreted as "I'm going to help myself to this law suit. After all, ____________ has deep pockets. Besides it's ____'s insurance company that will have to pay. Everybody does it. If you don't work the system, the system will work you. A lot of these rules are just excuses to behave badly, as if most of us need an excuse.

One of my most hated rules is "There but for the grace of God go I." What does that mean? That street person over there, with an obvious mental illness, freezing in the cold has less of my god's grace than I do. That is just so icky it makes me want to spit. It means that my god likes me more than he likes people whom I perceive as less fortunate than I am. What crap.

That rule is related to the rule that says god punishes people who tick him off. That tsumami wiped out those pagans. HIV is god's way of punishing people who break rules. Those people lost their crops/baby/lives/Waterford Crystal because they sinned.

It's really a variation of the "I am perfect, you are doomed," rule. It goes like sort of like this: My god is bigger and better than your god and he wants me to kill you because you might kill people that god likes. In fact, if I don't kill you, he's likely to smite me. He's only doing this for your own good. You'll see when you're burning in everlasting fire.

Anyone can apply this to nearly any religion and justify killing (or smiting) nearly anyone. It's very successful. Been used for millenia. But it flies right in the face of the Golden Rule. If we are supposed to love everyone and treat them the way we want to be treated (which means live cooperatively rather than competitively) we can't go around smiting people.

I think we need to be on our toes for these rules. Following rules that don't make sense doesn't make us good, obedient people. It makes us easily manipulated dolts who've abdicated our responsibility to think.

That Goldlen Rule? That very simple one that just about every religion agrees on, is the one that makes sense. If you want to do the silly things, wear a green hat on Tuesdays or flap your arms while you sing a certain song, hey go for it. But don't make it a rule that everyone is supposed to follow. Because we only need one. It's Golden.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Un electric

I just got electricity back after 15 hours. It was 15 hours of my day off, too. I did the reasonable thing and slept much of it. But when I was awake, I didn't learn.

Evidently 14 is not enough hours to learn that I don't have electricity. It doesn't matter that I've been complaining about having no electricity for hours, when I enter a new room I flip the switch and then DUH. I'm no more aware than Pavlov's pups.

"How long is this going to last?" I wonder and go to the tv to see if they have an update. DUH.

Not one to give up easily, I go to my computer. DUH.

"That's ok, I'll do some cleaning," I say to myself and get out the vacuum. DUH, again. So I'll cook. DUH. I hold a glass under the ice and water dispenser on the front of my frig. DUH. Laundry? D D D Duh!

Am I really that helpless? I'll sit and read. In front the the window, holding the book just so, but it's still cloudy and dark outside and my eyes aren't that great. Oh, DUH!

I could take a shower, but it would be cold. There may be enough hot water just to wash my hair, but then how would I dry it? It's getting just a tad cool in here.

What the heck, the neighbors across the street have lights!!!! How can that be right? I'll bet they are just sitting there watching television in a warm house, eating hot food while folding fresh laundry. They probably don't even appreciate it.

Fourteen and a half hours. Boy, is it quiet here. Listen to that. All you can hear is the wind blowing the last of the stubborn oak leaves from the trees. Ida, that hurricane that didn't quite happen, happened enough to drop six or so inches of rain on us and blow enough to somehow disrupt our power. I have slippers and sweaters. My dog is warm. I have candles. I have peace. I have a cell phone and the opportunity to call people and tell them of this adventure. And I do.

Once, in a previous life, the dogs, hens, sheep, cats and I were alone during a snow and ice storm. We didn't have electricity for a long while. The sheep and hens didn't mind. We did have candles, lots of wood already cut, a wood stove that kept it warm in the house and water hot for tea. The dogs and I curled up and watched the snow come down outside. I wouldn't remember that particular night if the electricity had been on.

It's good that electricity goes off once in a while. It gives us memories. Life is grand.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Box of Dates

I'm no good at dates. That is, I'm not good at remembering significant dates. I really like the fruit, dates. I could eat those all day long, but specific dates I eat seldom ask me to remember them. My sister has given me calendars and address books with everyone's important dates written in them. I lose them. I don't do it on purpose, mind you. It's just that there is only so much organization given to each family and my sister got my share.

I don't remember birthdays very often. If you weren't born of me or in the month of July, there is little chance I'll remember your birthday. It's not that I don't think of you, I've had the perfect birthday card for a good friend for over two years! And when I do remember, I seldom do anything about it other than send nice vibes to the person celebrating.

I don't like holidays much either. It's not just bah humbug, though I suppose there's a good measure of that in me. To me, the expectation of a gift or celebration diminishes it's value. I just sort of like to do things regardless of the calendar. So this year I decided that I'm just not going to worry about giving people gifts or sending cards on any certain date. I regularly tell people I care about that I care about them I tell cool people that they are cool. I think it's a good thing to remind people of their wonderful traits. There isn't much danger that someone is going to hear something good about herself too much. And I'll give gifts when I find something that I want to give to someone else.

It is a benefit of age that I no longer give a poo about appearing foolish. I have soooooo much experience with appearing foolish that I do it very well. So if someone thinks I'm mushy or forgetful or Scrooge, it's ok with me. As long as they don't think I'm a Republican, I can live with it.

I don't care if you don't agree with this, either. Maybe you like the calendar. You can celebrate Christmas or or Memorial Day or National Citrus Week any old time you want. You can celebrate the day you were born or the day you turned 47 days old or the day you lost your first tooth any old day you choose. I just don't care. It's not that I don't care that you were born or that you turned 47 days old or that you lost your first tooth, it's just that the specific day on which it happened doesn't really matter to me.

I don't think we need special occasions to celebrate, either. Every occasion is worth celebrating. I'm here right now and it's grand. It doesn't matter if the glass is half full or half empty, let's fill it again and toast to the color magenta. Why wait? Life is short, but it's wide if you celebrate every moment.

In fact, I think we should all have our funerals when we can enjoy them. Come on, you know you've thought about what you'd like your funeral to be. Well if there are specifics you'd like to see, you'd better do it now. If you're concerned about being socially acceptable, call it a birthday party.

So don't be looking for that holiday card from me - at least not on a holiday. I am going to mail that birthday card to my friend now. Her birthday was in August, I think. Maybe I should send her a box of dates.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Baking Bread, Magic

I know we're supposed to "watch our carbs," or some such rubbish, but there is something magical and mystical and spiritual about baking bread. The whole experience is wondrous.

Two cups of flour, one cup water, a couple of teaspoons of yeast, a tablespoon of sugar, a teaspoon of salt and magic will produce bread. No joke. The magic part is that you use warm water, and sprinkle in the yeast. Feed the yeast with the sugar. Say the magic words and the yeast will bloom. Ok, so so the magic words are optional, but if you want to you can add your own at this point.

Now add in the flour a bit at a time and stir it up. Put the salt in there now, too. The salt keeps the yeast from growing out of control and it makes the bread taste good. You should always remember to toss a pinch of salt over a shoulder because you might have spilled some. When the dough gets too sticky to stir, dump it out on a flour dusted board and with flour dusted hands get right in there. Keep adding your flour while you knead it. I can't tell you how to knead your dough. The dough will tell you. Push it around, turn it over, punch it down, fold it in half, schmoosh it. Love it.

By now you are smelling a wonderful thing. You should knead that dough until it snaps according to my grandmother, Munny. However, Munny isn't in your kitchen, so you just knead it until it feels right to you. Is it smooth and springy? That's good. By now it's not sticking to your fingers or the board any more. Roll it into a ball. Rub a little oil around in a bowl and then roll the ball in the bowl. Put the bowl of dough in a warm place and cover it with a clean towel. If it's dry in your kitchen, dampen the towel just a bit.

More magic! The dough grows to twice its original size in 45 minutes or an hour or an hour and a half or so. Your kitchen smells delightful and it looks like you really know what you're doing because you have that board (maybe it's your countertop) with flour dusted on it. You have flour on your apron or shirt and probably the floor. Celebrate!

Stick your fist right into that big dough and it poofs right down. Plop it out on that floured surface again and let it rest for ten minutes or so. Turn on your oven to 400 degrees. When the dough is rested (you'd need a rest, too if you just grew twice your size) sort of flatten it out into a rectangle-ish shape with your hands. Does this not feel wonderful? It's alive, you know. It's springy and silky and smooth and it smells great. Roll the rectangle and tuck the ends under so it looks sort of like a loaf. Do you have a bread pan? If you don't it's ok. You can use a cake pan. Nobody said what shape your loaf has to be. Cover it again and put it back in a warm place and let the magic happen again. This time it will be faster.

When it's nearly twice it's size again, you bake it. If you want you can brush some milk on the crust after it's baked a while. I really don't know how long it will take, but you just look at it now and then. When the crust is golden and it sounds hollow when you thump it with your knuckles, it's done. Take it out of the oven, dump in on a rack to cool. Of course you're not going to let it cool before you cut into it. That would be wrong. Cut a steamy piece of bread and let some butter melt on it.

While you're eating that bread that you just made, notice that your whole house smells amazing. This has been a totally sensuous experience. The feel of the dough, the smell of the baking bread that fills your house, the taste of that first steamy slice, the crunch of the crust, the wonderous bubbles that make the bread tender beneath the golden crust. It just doesn't get much better than this.

Give thanks to the people who grew the wheat, dug the well, laid the pipes, mined the salt. That's part of the magic. Baking bread makes you thankful. It keeps you humble. You couldn't make that yeast turn the flour and water into dough. It just does it. It's magic. Be thankful.

Next time, experiment with different kinds of flour, maybe add some seeds. Use honey instead of sugar, or put in herbs. Use milk or buttermilk for some or all of the water. Use some eggs, some oil, some applejuice. You can be as creative as you want with bread. The basics stay the same. The yeast wants warmth and food and if you give it that it will reward you. Trust the dough to feel right. Don't worry too much about measurements. Use common sense.

Most of all be thankful and notice every good thing about baking bread. Carbs, smarbs. I refuse to believe that anything this wonderful is bad for me.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


I think this was first published Tueday, August 19, 1997 in the Clinton Daily Journal, but that may have been the second printing. I’m not sure. The editor titled it.


What a treat. I bought a new c.d. today.
Actually I have the album, but I haven’t played albums for so long, I’m not sure my equipment works. I bought Carole King’s Tapestry. It’s playing as I type this. (I sort of feel like a traitor since I always have Eric on when I write.)

One million years ago, when I was in high school, I sometimes went home for lunch so that I could lie on the floor in front of the speakers (which were about as big as I was) and listen to Carole King. Actually it was more like absorbing Carole King. That woman wrote so many songs about me that it was almost embarrassing. I was sure that any moment she was going to come through the door and adopt me or at least take me on the road with her. (I though it would be a great way to meet James Taylor!) I can’t explain how much I loved her music. And let’s face it, she is one of the best musical poets the world has ever known.

But I hadn’t listened to Carole King for a long time. A very, very long time. I was in a music store looking for more Eric Clapton when I saw Tapestry.

Someone had put it back in the wrong place or maybe it was kismet. So I brought it home and put it in and by golly, I sang along with every single song! I didn’t know I still knew those songs. They are part of me, I guess.

But something even stranger than remembering the words to classic songs happened. Those songs that Carole King sang about me when I was sixteen are still about me. They made me happy and sad. They made me remember wonderful times and they made me homesick, too. I mean, sometimes I wonder if I’m ever gonna make it home again, it’s so far and out of sight.

I’m not sure why the song, Tapestry made sense to me when I was sixteen. How many bits of blue and gold did I actually have then? I’m sure I hadn’t yet glimpsed the drifter passing by at that age though I can describe him in detail now.

And I’m absolutely sure that I really didn’t know anyone who made me feel like a natural woman when I was sixteen. Oh, sure, I felt the sky tumbling down and my heart tremble a few times, but I can’t really say I’d ever felt like a natural woman.

But I knew some people who truly did have a friend, myself included. I had really good friends then.

We’d drive around the lake and sing along with the radio. When we heard Tonight with words unspoken you say that I’m the only one. . . will you still love me tomorrow? We’d yell back, “No!” We knew better than to trust our boyfriends farther than we could throw them. They’ll hurt you and desert you. . . .etc ..” We were wise. Life was simple then. We knew the rules.

What happened to my friends from that world? We were so close. Doesn’t anybody stay in one place anymore? It would be so fine to see their faces at my door.

Nick would break up with What’s-his-name and we’d shake our heads knowingly singing, Something inside has died and I can’t hide and I just can’t fake it.

We actually were high on life.

We really did get up every morning with smiles on our faces and we really did show the world all the love in our hearts. Somewhere we always had shelter from hunger and cold. We knew the shelter. We didn’t know the cold. It was a garden of wisdom in some long ago dream.

Could it be that I don’t remember it all clearly? If that’s true please don’t tell me. It’s taken me more than a couple of years to perfect these memories and I don’t want anybody messing with them. Let me just absorb the music. It makes me feel so good inside. You know, Carole, you make me feel so alive.

This was the best $13 I’ve spent in a long, long time. I guess my equipment is working after all.

Living Simply - Acorns

I'm sure you've heard the phrase Live simply so that others can simply live. Much to be said for that, I think. You might take a second and figure out what that phrase means to you. Living simply can mean taking advantage of the bounty of food that the Universe has put in your front yard.

Maybe your mother told you that acorns were poisonous, but that's because she didn't know that early American settlers and Native Americans often got half their protein from acorns. We just forgot that they were a bountiful, free, easy food. I don't know why.

I am blessed to be living with ten oak trees on this property. Next door is a bit under two acres of mostly oaks. This fall I've been collecting acorns and experimenting with how they are best prepared to eat. People at work think I'm a bit off but have been bringing me bags of acorns from their oaks as well.

One thing I've learned is that you have to start with good acorns. There is nothing I can do to those little acorns from Red Oaks with the beautiful, pumpkin-colored meats, to make them eatable. They are just gonna be nasty. The later, larger acorns from White Oaks have pale yellow or white meats and are much better when it comes to eating.

Acorns are full of tannins, which need to be removed before they are going to be tasty. There are a couple of ways to do this. The way I've found most effective is the boiling water technique.

Have two pots with enough water to cover the nut meats (oh, yeah, you have to shell them and discard any meats the worms have beat you to.) When the first pot of water is at a full boil, drop in the acorn meats and turn off the heat. Let it cool to the point that you can put your hands in there without burning them.

You'll notice that the water turns brown. The harder shelled acorns yield a light brown water and the softer shelled acorns yield a very dark brown water. Pour off some of this first broth into a little jar that you'll keep in the frig. When you get a scratch or an insect bite, put some of this natural astringent on it and it will fix you right up. I understand that you can also use it to tan your animal hides, but I don't want to think about that.

Ok, back to the acorn meat. Get the second pot of water boiling before you strain the first pot. They'll still be hot when you plop them into the second pot. Taste one of the meats. If the bitterness is sufficiently gone, you don't even have to give them a second boil. Each type and every tree of each type produces a different level of bitterness. Also, what you consider terribly bitter, I might rather like. It seems we all have different taste buds. Go figure. Anyway, you just keep doing this until the meats are un-bitter enough for you.

Now you've got a bunch of chunks of un-bitter acorn meats. Let them drain onto a towel a while then put them on a cookie sheet in a 200 degree oven until they are crunchy. The time differs of course, and will usually take 1 to 2 hours.

Now you can put the chunks in the frig to use as nuts in cooking or you can grind them into flour to use in baking. I cook them in my oatmeal at lunch. They give the oatmeal a nutty tea flavor. And they give me a protein boost mid day. I also use the acorn flour in bread, substituting it for a quarter to a third of the wheat flour.

Ok, so why would I do all this when I could just go to MacDonalds? Acorns are healthy, they are plentiful, they are free and I enjoy hunting, collecting, shelling and processing them. I really enjoy finding new ways to use them. So my question is why don't more people do this?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Ooops. Population Growth

I just read a very interesting article in The Economist about population growth. Half the world is at replacement rate now and sometime between 2020 and 2050 the world will drop below replacement rate. True, this may be too little too late, but I prefer to see it as steps in the right direction. But I'm not sure it's all on purpose.

Our unbridled population growth has brought about some things that will kill us. Not only poverty and hunger, but toxins that result from our industrial "progress," hatred brought on by our politics, and the changes in our weather, might contribute to our population size.

People with money and education tend to have smaller families and therefore continue their wealth. People without money and education tend to have larger families and therefore continue their poverty. Perhaps people are catching on that fewer children = more wealth. But that's not the only thing going on, I'm afraid. (I'm going to try not to talk about China, which takes the decision away from individuals when it comes to having smaller families.)

Remember Silent Spring? Dioxins mess with the fertility of animals and we are animals. Dioxins don't go away. They are a byproduct of our "civilization." They are human-made powerful bits (chemicals) that cause cancer, birth defects, and infertility. Maybe we're just killing ourselves off.

Then there are some new viruses to be afraid of. H1N1 (Hiney or Swine) flu and in fact, all viruses tend to be more fatal in children who haven't had time to build up immunities, and people who are frail. The bird flu promises to be a pandemic in the waiting. Add in some misguided souls who think god wants them to manufacture new strains of small pox or anthrax and cut it loose and we have to admit that there's a reasonable chance that a good old-fashioned plague will prune the population right down.

Global warming will do it's bit as well. Increases in weird weather such as hurricane, tsunami, mega storms, will whittle away at population, either directly or indirectly as it affects our ability to feed ourselves.

This doesn't mean we should forget about slowing population growth. We still need to educate the world about how to have fewer children and why to have fewer children. We still need to counteract the idea that having lots of children is somehow god's will. If you want a huge family, there are children waiting to be adopted - go ahead have a huge family. But do it responsibly.

What I'm saying is that the decisions we make today will change the way population is controlled tomorrow. Maybe we should have realized this a few generations back, but shoulds don't get us anywhere, so we need to do it now. We control the birthrate, or the consequences will control population rate for us.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Beverly has changed her name to Blanch. It happens.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Dining alone

Last evening I went to a pub where I was supposed to meet people from my office for a "night out, team building" thing. My office probably has 30 plus people working there and they were all invited. I was the only one who showed. So much for team building.

However, I had a grand time. I've travelled alone and lived alone enough to learn to eat dinner out by myself and enjoy it.I'd never been to this pub before, but I'll be back.

Should I admit what I ate? Oh, why the heck not. This place, McGee's, had an "oyster shuck" last night. I ordered an appetiser of oysters, thinking this would be 4 to 6. It was 12. And they were wonderful. A bit of hot sauce, some horseradish and cocktail sauce. . . . yummy. But I really wanted fish and chips and thought that just because I had more oysters than I'd planned didn't mean I should deprive myself. Another yum. And the Guiness was fine, of course, but I also tried a beer I'd never had before. Three yums. And what the heck. I was there nearly three hours, so having dessert wasn't out of line, was it? I can sum up dessert in one word: warmpecanpieandvanillaicecream!

If my new dog wouldn't have been home by herself, I would have stayed a bit longer and had my tarot cards read. The tarot reader was just about to start when I left. But responsibility called me home.

The servers liked their jobs. It was easy to tell. They were really hosts and concerned with making sure that I didn't feel uncomfortable. They needn't have worried, but it made me think.

Why is it that people are uncomfortable being in public "alone?" We really aren't alone if we're in public, are we? And we probably wouldn't be uncomfortable to be home alone. But there is some sort of stigma attached to going out alone - to be seen to be alone. Oh, the poor dear has been stood up. Oh the poor dear has no friends, no mate. If we are one of two or more at a table, we're much less likely to wonder what strangers are thinking of us or if they are looking at us.

First of all, why should I care? What other people think of me is really none of my damned business. If they are spending their time wondering why I'm eating alone, they really need to get a life. Secondly, if I am dining with someone, I want to concentrate on the other person as well as the restaurant experience. When I'm dining alone, I find myself able to totally concentrate of the food, the music, the ambiance.

If you haven't acquired the skill of dining (going to a movie, concert, museum, etc.) alone, I think you may want to considering developing it. I mean, if you don't want to spend time with you, who else would?

Go, Team!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Beverly. My heart smiles.

Ok, so I went to Pet Smart to meet a Chihuahua from a shelter. However, this black, 8-ish year old dog was in a cage looking oh, so sad. Her 75-year old human had been killed in an auto accident and her human sister lives in an apartment and couldn't take her.

I held her once and it was all over.

She is calm, smart, house trained, loving, and she has a tiny bit of an underbite that just makes her all that more endearing. She likes her fenced in backyard and the house and doesn't go too far from me. She is a great communicator, though I've not heard her bark.

While picking up a few essentials in PetSmart, a woman came up to me sobbing and hugged me. She told me that she was this dog's human's daughter and was so greatful that I was going to give her a good home. She was afraid that because of her age no one would want her.

Here we go with that age thing again. This fine lady has a lot of puppy love left in her. She makes my heart smile. While typing this she jumped down from the bed and came back with a chewy in her mouth and asked to be lifted back to the bed. I'm pretty well trained already.

Beverly has been through a lot and has come out with wisdom, love, and grace. I have a lot to learn from her. I am so lucky that she came home with me!

My husband is away on business, but I've told him about her and emailed a picture. He is understanding and once he meets her in person, he'll be hooked. How could anyone not be?

In the family way

Today I'm considering adopting a new member of my family. I'm going to visit some rescued dogs. I would like to share my home with an adult dog who is calm and cuddly and who understands that outdoors is the potty place.

I have always loved animals. I don't think I've ever met a dog I didn't like, and I have loved very many in my life. When people ask if I'm a dog or a cat person, I have to answer yes. However, husband is one of those rare, unfathomable people who would rather not have a dog or cat in the family. I'm afraid it's some sort of disability. He says it's for practical reasons - you have to arrange care for them when you travel, they require healthcare, you have to let them outside, etc. Well, yes. Those things are true. And we have a fenced in back yard, he normally works from home during the day, and veteranarians and animal hotels are not the least bit scarce around here. Sounds like we have the perfect opportunity, doesn't it?

He finally has grudgingly agreed to just be unhappy about it if I bring an addition to the family home rather than kick us both out. The poor dear doesn't understand how much joy and love a pet can bring to its human, and that's to be pitied. My hope is that if we are blessed with an addition to the family, he learns.

My husband is going away on business for a few days, so today I'm going to the orphanage. I have talked with three shelters, emailed my applications, and am meeting a few prospects today. I have a tentative appointment to meet with a second tomorrow. What do you think are the odds that I fall in love with the first dog I meet? What do you think would happen if I brought home more than one?

I'm nervous. I have to go to work tomorrow. What if the baby has an accident while I'm gone? Well, an accident I can clean up, but what if the baby chews a chair or a rug? There would be precious little chance that my husband would overcome his disability any time soon if there was any evidence like that when he got home. And how will the baby do on it's first day at home alone?

Days before my first child was born I told my doctor that I was terrified. I had absolutely no idea how to be a mother. I didn't even know how to fold diapers. (I guess that statement dates me, eh?) What if the baby gets sick? What if he/she wouldn't eat? What would I do?

That baby has lived fairly healthily and happily to the age of 30. Her baby brother is 28. They survived my learn-as-you-go mothering quite well, possibly in part because they grew up with pets. Dogs, cats, fish, a bird, even a mud puppy. I'm proud to say I have two granddogs now, though I seldom get to visit them. My 86 year old mother has adopted a four-legged youngin', who is definitely part of the family and my brothers both have dogs and cats.

Wish me luck in this venture. My only hesitance is that bringing a bundle of joy into the house may cause my husband angst. On the other hand, we've been married two and a half years and I've wanted a pet the whole time. Surely compromise would say that it's time to have one now. (Oh, how I can justify). Surely he would come to love a little darling - I mean, who could resist?

That unconditional love that only a four-legged family member can bestow, the devotion, the peace that comes with just stroking him, the lessons learned from him about play and joy and acceptance - you just can't get that anywhere else. It's blood pressure medicine for the soul.

I'll let you know how it turns out.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

You CAN Fly

A friend of mine, a wonderful musician and lyricist, wrote a song called You Can't Fly. (You can get a copy of the CD, This Train at Vollie McKinzie's website or by contacting me) The song describes a dream he had about sneaking onto an airport and taking off in a plane, though he had no idea how to fly. It's a fairly common dream, but Vollie pulled amazing insight from that dream.

He says that every plane wants to fly, that it was made to fly. And that you need to have your own flight plan and not accept anyone else's. He encourages the listener to go for it. The man is wise, I tell you. You've got to hear the song.

His song This Train is not the This Train is Bound for Glory song you might be thinking of. McKinzie's This Train states "This train ain't got not beam. This train ain't got no steam. And staying on's insane. I'm up and off this train."

I've played both songs for clients to encourage them, but mostly I play them for myself to encourage me.

How often do we stay on the train for no other reason then it's where we find ourselves. If it ain't getting us where we want to go, then staying on's insane. Sure, hopping off might be scary. Flying might be scary. In fact, it's sure to be scary. But staying on the train to nowhere or staying on the ground is insane. Besides, it's boring. And the very worst way to die must be being bored to death.

I remember details of flying in my dreams. Sometimes I don't even use a plane. I remember the way it feels when my hair is blown away from my face. I can see the different personalities of trees when you see them from above. I remember that all I have to do is step up into the air and let go of gravity and there I am.

Even in my dreams it takes a good deal of trust and courage to step off the surface of the planet. But oh, it's so very worth it just to feel like the shimmer of a full moon reflecting off a still, clear lake. It's worth the risk of falling just to feel what it's like to be inside a breeze. To be weightless as smoke and strong as steel at the same time. Totally free.

Don't let anyone tell you that you can't fly. It's a nasty rumor spread by fridged, heartless people with no imagination. And get the CD.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

spirals. gotta love 'em.


They are breasts. You may call them pink-nosed puppies, hooters, melons, ta-tas, boobs, titties, honkers, headlights, racks, bazooms, or naughty pillows; but they are actually breasts. They are a parts of a body, just as arms or feet. With very few exceptions, everybody's gone a couple.

Women's breasts are cooler then men's though, because they can feed babies - an amazing, wondrous thing. Just think about that for a little minute. A woman has a baby and her breasts manufacture the exact food her baby needs. Perfect. I could go on and on about women in this country who believe they can't breast feed because their milk "isn't rich enough" or they "don't have enough milk," but that will be a different post a different time. Suffice it to say that for thousands of years no one had that trouble and it's not a problem in most of the world now. My sister's OB-Gyn actually told her that if she "Didn't want them to look used, don't use them." Obviously a man. Obviously misguided. But I digress.

Over 355,000 American women had breast implants last year. I've got to say, this is about the silliest thing I can think of right now. We aren't allowed to show them off in public without being considered lewd, but we will spend lots of money, time and pain to get something artificial put into our bodies involving general anesthesia and cutting to make them look good. Excuse me? Now I'm not talking about people who get breast reductions to save their backs or who want reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy. I'm talking about vanity that causes women to undergo the knife to have bigger or perkier breasts. I can't quite get my mind around it.

It's not only surgery but bras that bother me. Invented by crazy men! They are uncomfortable at best, and I can't figure out why they are necessary. If breasts are all that important visually, why do we have to cover them up at all?

Now and then I see an article about a woman feeding her baby in public and getting flack for it and I consider becoming a violent person. What the heck? You can go to any beach and see more breasts "covered" by bikini tops than you can when a woman is feeding a baby. And who cares anyway? It makes much more sense to be offended by a woman feeding a baby expensive, inferior baby formula from a bottle.

We are just now getting to the place where we can talk openly about breast cancer, getting mammograms, doing self breast exams, etc. What is wrong with our culture that we can't deal with breasts. They are just breasts, for crying in a bucket! They aren't going to jump out and bite you. They aren't going to damn you to everlasting hellfire. They are beautiful, functional, and sensitive, but they don't perform magic.

Apparently for many people, breasts are funny if they are "too big" or "too small." I'm not sure why. Forbidden fruit, maybe? What if next Tuesday all American women decided not to wear bras? Would it bring about the end of the world? Would preachers preach? What if next July 1, all beach and swimming pool attending American women failed to put on the tops of their bathing suits. Would prosecutors prosecute?

I imagine that everyone would get over it very quickly. Well, except plastic surgeons and bra sellers. If we stopped treating them like ta-tas, perhaps they'd become simply breasts. I think this is worthy of a try.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Year may be left blank

You don't have to tell people how old you are if your profile. You can leave the year blank if you'd like. I suppose you could lie, too. My daughter accused me of being 25 for 25 years, and I have to admit that I used to tell people I was a few (uh-hem) years younger than I was.

When we were kids we wanted to be older. When we were 15, we couldn't wait to be 16. Then 18, then 21, and then, sometime around age 25 we started wanting to be 22 again. What a bloomin' waste of time.

I have 54 years! There are lots of good, adventurous years included in those. In fact, they are all keepers. Some of them were more fun than others. In fact, at least a few of them were really painful. But since they brought me to this lovely rainy autumn day I wouldn't want to change them - not that I'm likely to be given the chance to change the past any time soon.

Why is it that young people think it's better to be young? I understand that there is a biological urge to have sex with healthy-looking prospective parents of our future children, but somewhere along the line, we come to the conclusion that age ain't so bad. When people tell me that I don't look as old as I am, my mind stutters as I try to take it as a compliment. If we really appreciate age, what is wrong with looking our age? Older, even? As a matter of fact, what does it mean to look your age? It doesn't make any more sense than acting your age.

This is what 54 looks like and this is what 54 acts like. Perfect just as I am and in need of a little improvement. I'm hot, let's face it.

Take heart, Children. Have hope. There is a good chance you will get to be 54, too. And there's every reason to believe I'm going to one day be a bright, charming, sexy 84 year old. Maybe I'll take up painting. Maybe I'll become humble.

I remember my grandmother saying, "Oh, you young people think you invented sex!" I can remember as a youngin' figuring out how old I'd be at the turn of the century and deciding that I'd be far too old to celebrate. I was 45. I was not too old (blushing.) I am still not too old. It's a well kept Boomer secret (and I hope I don't get kicked out for revealing it) that things don't even start getting juicy until about 45, when you no longer have to even consider that biological urge to reproduce and can concentrate on the fun stuff. In fact, I hope to be just hitting my prime every moment for the rest of my life.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Please give your attention to your inner flight attendant to review emergency relationship procedures. In the unlikely event of a water landing, be aware that good communication is your only floatation device.

You have chosen many of your relationships and many you were just born or happened into. However you got to them, there you are. If you are older than six, you probably have some relationships behind you that ended miserably. Perhaps they haven't ended, but they remain miserable. You can't get hurt or hurt anyone with whom you don't have a relationship. Your relationships define your life in many respects.

Sometimes you get into a relationship with someone who is just so ding dang perfect you can't believe your luck at finding this absolutely flawless friend/lover/co-worker/therapist/plumber/bartender/whatever. You're both Leos, you both have three older siblings, your mother and his mother are both mothers, you went to different schools together. You know. . . .you were made for each other.

And then, something happens and you realize that your perfect partner/buddy/teammate/roommate/whatever is becoming less and less perfect as time goes by. What do you do? Do you jump and pull the ripcord? Do you open the door and push? Do you sit in silence and reach for your airsick bag? Where is that floatation device?

If you go into a relationship - any relationship - in which the participants have different expectations of how long the flight will last and where it will land, there is going to be turbulence and possibly a crash. Possibly a firey, terrifying, deadly destructive crash. If you are both/all going to be friends when you get there, you'd better share a common flight plan.

The bottom line is we all have assumptions about how life is and we don't always share those assumptions with the people who are travelling this life with us. The only way to share them is to figure out what your assumptions are and communicate them to those with whom you have relationships. You know what happens when we assume, right? (we make and ass out of u and me. )

For example, when two lovers talk about their shared dreams, it's imperative to discover what each means by dream. If one defines dream as a plan for his life and the other defines dream as something that's nice to think about, but not grounded in reality; someone is going to get hurt. Probably two people will be hurt. Yet each assumes that the other's definition matches his own.

You can't win a relay race when one of the runners is heading in a direction different from the others or if one of the runners suddenly stops because she can't decide if she really wants that blue ribbon. That's why organizations need to review and restate their mission statements, goals, and projections. I've seen organizations get all excited about an addition, event, or expansion with so much energy that I thought there was no way it could fail. Yet the new idea failed because it didn't relate to the mission. It was a tangent.

Don't get me wrong, not all tangents are bad. They are the basis of adventure. They are the Road Less Travelled. Wondrous, beautiful, vibrant. But when you take a trek down the road less travelled, know that way leads on to way and you are likely not going to get back to your original route. It's ok if you are aware of what you are doing, but you can't always expect your fellow travellers to feel the same way about that particular road.

We all carry our assumptions like skin cells. We feel comfortable in them. They usually change so slowly that we don't even notice it, though sometimes we have an accident and a bunch of them get painfully torn off at once. We can't avoid all communication accidents, but we can steer clear of a great many of them just by sharing our assumptions. It's always better to check them out than risk a crash.

Some people tend to fly high with no flight plan, working instruments, or even a seatbelt. They tend to die young (in terms of relationships.) Alternately, some people choose never to fly and remain safe, boring, and going no where. And while I'm usually not one for moderation, there is a happy medium. Relationships can be strengthened and sometimes even mended with communication about assumptions.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What is your race?

Will someone explain to me why the state requires us to collect information about race when it is illegal to do anything differently according to race. We say African American, Black, White, Caucasian, Asian, Hispanic, Latino, Native American, American Indian, as if that actually means something. Young (younger than I) friends in Durham, NC, carry around copies of their application for a marriage license on which the options from which they had to choose included Puerto Rican and Colored. Huh?
I'll ask people about their ethnicity when I have to, and very often end up checking other. No one has ever been offended when I ask, in fact usually they are very happy to explain. A person with dark brown skin might say "Well, my grandfather on my mom's side was half Cherokee and my grandmother came from Ireland. My father is Black, so I guess that makes me. . . " And I'll suggest, "American?"
Or someone with medium brown skin will say, "My dad is Mexican and my mother's mother came from England."
A person with light tan skin might answer, "My great-grandparents came from Germany and my other great, great grandparents came from Scotland."
Or they might take my question from a different angle and state, "I was raised in the inner city;"
or "I'm an orthodox Jew;" or "I grew up in a series of foster homes."
These last examples might actually tell me something useful about them, but there isn't a box for me to check for those.
One of the coolest things about America is our blended ethnicity. We can get any kind of food and wear any kind of dress and listen to any kind of music we like because we are in America and it's all handy.
But how is race determined? How many races of humans are there? How can I tell if you are Black or White? Sure, I can look at your skin and eye color, the color and texture of your hair, the shape of your nose and I could make a guess about what continent your ancestors came here from. Is that race? That could be some quirk of genes. Perhaps your father has red hair, green eyes and freckles. Are you still Black? What about a dark brown skinned person who was born in Haiti? Is that person African American? Is Oback Barama Black? Is Tiger Woods Black? Does it matter? If I call Tiger Woods Asian is he going to play golf differently?
I think Hitler decided that if someone had one great grandparent who was Jewish, that person counted as a Jew. But if it was only one great-great grandparent, then you weren't Jewish. How they determined Jewishness is not clear. I've read that most of the Jews from Germany who were killed and/or tortured during Hitler's rule considered themselves German.
How long must my ancestors live in a certain part of the world before I'm considered the race associated with that area? If we go way, way, way back, I reckon we all evolved from people around the same one (or possibly) two parts of the planet. Doesn't that mean we're all the same race?
We are mutts. And that's a good thing. Pure breeds tend to have genetic weaknesses. Mutts tend to get the strengths from all donors.
When I am asked to check a box declaring race for myself, I tend to be creative. If they want me to describe the way I look (never happened) I guess I'd have to call my skin pale to see-through. I've never had a tan, but I can burn really well.
When my son (also very pale to see-through) was a toddler, a priest from Tanzania was visiting our house. The priest was intrigued with Patrick's toys and they'd been crawling around the floor playing with trucks and blocks for quite a while when Patrick rubbed the man's arm and said, "Fodder, you're green." My daughter, much more worldly at 22 months older, explained that Patrick was just learning his colors and told him that Father wasn't green, he was really dark brown. Then she went on to say that she and her daddy were light brown and Patrick and Mommy were light tan.
The priest said, "Well, I've been called lots of things but never green."
I'm not trying to get a sing along of Ebony and Ivory going here. I just can't figure why we need to keep categorizing people according to race. Especially when no one has yet given me a good, working definition. There are so many better ways to categorize people.
Maybe we should have people check if they are grouchy, silly, loving, happy, angry, hungry or tired. Those things might be important.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Circles within circles within circles.
It's turtles all the way down.

Coming out as a Pantheist.

I am a Pantheist by philosophy. I'd say by religion, but I'm not big on that word, as I believe that a large percentage of the world's ills are caused by people who use religion as an excuse to be wicked.
By Pantheist I mean that I believe the Universe is all there is and that it's more than enough. We are all parts of the Universe. Everything is divine - that includes you, me, this rock, the trees, and the stars. In fact, our bits are not separated by anything other than our narrow perceptions from the rest of the Universe.
That being perfectly clear, I'd like to say some things about god. I think it's silly to say "God loves you from his throne in a place where streets are paved with gold and he's keeping a big book recording everything you say and do so that when you die he can decide whether to move you in to heaven or burn you for ever." It's more than silly, it's irresponsible, contradictory, and insane to believe in a god like that.
It's irresponsible because people who believe in that god don't really have to take responsibility for the way they treat others or the Earth. They can blame the devil, god's arch enemy, for bad things and they can wait for god to make things right. Well, wake up brothers and sisters, we're it. It's up to us to stop killing in the name of an all-loving god. It's up to us to stop destroying the world. It is irresponsible to think you can do any ol' thing you want because god will come along and take you to a better place soon anyway. Besides, if god created this beautiful planet, wouldn't he like you to take better care of it?
It is immature to let someone else do your thinking for you. When you accept something on faith or because your religion told you to, you are abdicating your responsibility. You're saying you are just too lazy to decide for yourself and that you are so without a moral compass that you must rely on someone else to tell you what is right and wrong. And let's face it, the big three religions don't have all that good a track record when it comes to right and wrong.
Speaking of contradictions, pick an Abrahamic religion that isn't full of them. God loves you. God will burn you in the everlasting pit of fire if you get out of line. Turn the other cheek and kill the enemy. Not by good works will ye be saved. Love without works is dead. .I don't have to go on, do I? Come on. Sure it takes some getting over to grow out of the religion of our youth that managed to shape our thinking (or lack of it). And sure, we were scared and blackmailed into "believing" all sorts of things. But you can't really buy the stories, can you? And if you can, how do you decide which bits are true and which are just "mysteries?"
When someone hears or sees a big guy in the sky who tells him what to do, we call that insane. Sanity may be consensus, but most of us would agree that cutting ourselves, hitting ourselves, starving ourselves isn't emotionally healthy. Unless of course, it's for religious purposes and that religion matches our own. Then it's spiritual, right? Same for killing other people. If I kill a bunch of people because Bosco, a big purple head that follows me around told me to, I'd be put away and medicated in this world and burned in the next. But if I bomb a building because god wants me to, I get a bunch of virgins or a gold paved driveway or something. And if I eat human flesh I'm a monster, but if I eat the body and drink the blood of god, it's just ducky.
I don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The Jesus who is peaceful and wise and loving is a good person to emulate. Churches that feed the hungry, house the homeless, provide healthcare, etc. are admirable. They are doing something worthwhile.
But good things are done by Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddists, Pagans, and even people who talk to big purple heads. Bad things are done by them, too. And some of the best music, painting, sculpture, literature I know is spiritual or religious in nature. The greatest percentage of my friends claim religion, though I don't think many of them are true believers of the whole schmere.
But I'm not an atheist. It is my understanding that atheists don't believe in the divine. I think everything is divine. And that is why it is so important to take care of each other and our world. It is,and we are holy.
It's not without some hesitation I have written this and put it out there. Basically I'm afraid. But I'm not as afraid as I used to be. And I'm sad that people (I know you're out there) have to be afraid in a country with freedom of religion to be thought to be without it.