Sunday, May 30, 2010

Jiggly Scientists With Weak Ankles

I've had a flair up of my hypochondriasis, so I've been in bed watching tv. It's had a good outcome, however. I've come up with my retirement plan. I'm going to write a sure-fire screenplay for a Sci-Fi Channel movie

Without giving too much away, the plot centers around irradiated cotton seeds spewed from an undersea volcano that have been exposed to genetically-altered growth hormones developed by ancient astronauts from the Julioiglasias galaxy.

What no one knows, is that there's a secret council made up of the last few remaining Neanderthals, who are really far superior to us intellectually and have secretly been running the Earth for the past several decades from a secret location inside the remains of a failed Russian nuclear power plant. Alas, there are no Neanderthal ladies left so the Ns, as they call themselves, begin a breeding program with several buxom nineteen year-old blonde scientists from all around the world who are actually descendants of the ancient Julioiglasian astronauts.

But before they can breed with the jiggly scientists, the Ns have to chase them down through a foggy forest. I think I'll use some slo-mo (that's movie maker talk for slow motion) to create necessary suspense while one by one the scientists twist their dainty ankles while running in high heels. When they fall, they lose their heavy framed glasses and hairpins and the audience discovers that not only are they large busomed, but they are braless and turn out to be gorgeous. You see, we didn't really notice how pretty they were until they lost their glasses and their hair fell down and some shirt buttons popped off. (This will be an R rated movie, so we can show artificially enhanced mammary glands. It's necessary to the plot and/or advertisers.)

The scientists will of course immediately fall in love with the Ns, because. . . well, who wouldn't. Then just when it seems that things are going to work out, the first crop of the volcanized, genetically-altered, irradiated, growth-hormoned cotton matures and is woven into designer blue jeans, which all the busty nineteen year old scientists are wearing when they begin to shrink (the jeans, not the scientists), negatively affecting their reproductive organs (the scientists' not the jeans'), which they only then discover are much different than regular human reproductive organs and causes them to vote Republican.

Then, just when it seems that the Earth is doomed, the scientists discover that regular ol' human Influenza D-infected water is fatal to the killer cotton - the fabric of your death.

Seriously. Is that a winner or what?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Suthun Lessons

Living in the South takes some getting used to. I thought sneaking up on it would have helped. I grew up in the Midwest. I lived in Appalachia for a bit then Lexington Virginia, where Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson are buried and home of fine old Virginia Military Institute and Washington and Lee University. From there I moved to Durham, which although farther South than I'd ever lived, was really less South than Lexington. So I really didn't think moving to South Carolina would be that big of a change. I was wrong.

I still have trouble with tea referring to a tooth-curling sweet cold beverage. I eventually got brave enough to eat cheese grits and found them to be quite good, but it may be a while before I start adding grits to every meal. I've almost stopped cringing when people I don't know call me Shugga, or Sweetie, Baby, or Darlin'. I still can't get my mind around Black churches and White churches. And I still get willies when I see Confederate flags or hear the Civil War referred to as The War of Northern Aggression, or That Unpleasantness.

But it's nice to be called Ma'am. And when, as happens on occasion, a man stands when I come into the room, or holds a door or a chair for me, I'm quite happy that he grew up in the South. It's a very nice habit. It certainly doesn't make me feel less liberated or inferior. I find it respectful.

Of course, I'm perfectly able to open my own door, scoot my own chair, and. . . well, I'm not sure why a man would stand when a lady enters the room other than tradition. But some traditions are just nice.

I thought nothing could be steamier than a Midwestern cornfield in August, but dang if it doesn't get hotter'n a goat's butt in a pepper patch down here. Luckily, I learned ladies don't sweat, we glow. And that's a good thing, but I swan if I don't glow enough to fill a bucket some days. Back in the Midwest, we just sweat.

In the Midwest I might have told someone off once or twice, but now I've learned to get everyone's attention if I'm fixin' to pitch a fit. Of course, I can't do it as well as someone born and raised here, but I'm gettin' the hang of it.

Of course, I could live here another 30 years and I'd probably still be called a Yankee behind my back. It took me a while before I realized it wasn't a compliment. But bring me a piece of sweet potata pie after my greens and fatback, and Shugga, you can call me most anythang.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Hoarders, My Plump White Rear!

I just saw a bit of a show on television about hoarders. A woman's house was so full of junk and trash that her children had been removed by the state for their own health and safety. A psychologist who specialized in hoarding was working with the woman ever so gently as the hoarder handled each piece of trash an agonized over whether or not to throw it away. This woman evidently had no other serious illness.

What the heck! Cleaning house isn't one of my favorite things either, but living in a messy house is one of my less favorites, and I would guess (although it's never happened) that being on television and having a team of people come in with scoops and trucks to clean my house would be horrible. When did being a lazy slob become a mental illness?

I reckon it was about the same time that all undisciplined brats became children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder, ODD. If a child doesn't do well in school he is taken to a psychologist who can explain it with some alphabet soup. Any child who doesn't like to sit still has ADHD, any child who doesn't learn as quickly as someone thinks he should has LD. Then they can get medicated and therapized, but most of all they have an excuse to not behave and not learn.

It's no better for adults. So many people who don't control their temper (possible because they were ODD as a child and never had to learn) are told they have Intermittent Explosive Disorder. And if someone has is moody, they can probably find a shrink who'll tell her she has Bipolar Disorder. She may even get disability income.

Well, grow up people. If my Papa were in charge, I think about 80% of those kids with ODD would be cured. Their little hinies might be sore, but they wouldn't have a label. And if they didn't clean their rooms, they dang sure wouldn't be pampered for it and told they were hoarders.

I'm not saying that these diagnoses don't exist. I know they do. I just think they don't apply to everyone who has the label. And what are we creating when we label someone who doesn't actually have a mental disorder? A lazy brat with no self esteem, that's what. And likely a lazy brat we'll have to support with our tax dollars.

What really burns my butt is that there are so many people with real disabilities - real mental illnesses - who can't get help because all the resources are being taken up by people who just lacked a kick in the rear at the right time.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Pantheist Summer

It's time to play "Write a story in 55 words ". When you do, be sure to let the G-Man ( know, then visit as many of these folks as you can.
Yay! I love fiddy fav!

The Moon gives diamonds to the Lake
That dance to the music of the night north woods
With fairies on the Water.

Cool and clear, where does the Sky end and Lake begin?
There is no boundary separated them
And none keep me from shining too
Sky and Lake and Night and I are one.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Cheap Hurts

Imagine you have four children. You would of course, want to give them the best of everything. But suppose you couldn't afford to give all four of them the very best of everything.

Would you shower two of them with the the very best food; the best bedrooms complete with top of the line furnishings; the latest most expensive clothes and gadgets and toys and let the other two have scraps of food, sleep in the garage, and wear rags? Well, of course you wouldn't. No sane person would.

But some people in our country don't have enough to eat. Some wait in line for basic health care at free clinics when they are lucky enough to get in. Some don't have warm coats in the winter.

So much for the Family of Man. We teach our children to share toys with their friends and then somewhere along the line we forget. Or maybe we remember to share, but we continue to elect people who only hear that we want to pay less in taxes.

Well, that will work, too. We can pay less in taxes. But if we do, we'd better step up to the plate and fill it with good food. We'd better be willing to organize fair health care and housing and education and roads and water and bridges and. . . . .

I guess we'd have to set up a committee or something to organize it all. Let everybody have a say in who is going to be on the committee, and stuff like that. We could all just put in our fair share and. . oh, wait. . . don't we already have something like that? It just sounds so much better when we don't call it tax I guess.

But we can't keep going on as if someone else will pick up the tab. We've come to behave as if tax is a bad word. I think we need to stop allowing our elected representatives to act as if all we care about is having a lower tax. Show me someone who can cut waste and take care of the community and I'll vote for her!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Groovy At 55

I was talking to my 87 year old mother yesterday. She said she couldn't believe that I'll soon be 55. Me either, I guess. It's surprising. Although I really don't know what the heck being 55 is supposed to feel like. All I know is how I feel and I'm fixin' to tell you.

There are some physical changes that happened with age. My knees sound like amplified Rice Crispies. I'm softer than I used to be. Gravity has changed my shape some, too. My neck has a funky sort of texture, sort of like stretched crepe paper. Sometimes I get a rush of heat and my face turns red and I start to sweat, even though it's not hot in the room. My hair (on my head) when not colored, is half white and half black, I have about three hairs on my legs, none on my arms and most of my once heavy black eyebrows are gone.

There are mental changes, too. I have forgotten a lot of stuff I used to know, but I've learned a lot more stuff than I've forgotten. I've also remembered some things that I didn't remember when I was in my 20s and 30s. I've remembered important details of childhood, friendship, and family that I didn't have time to remember when I was a young adult.

Relationships have certainly changed. Friends and family members have died. The makeup of family has changed with marriage, births, divorces. People have moved. Nothing stays the same except the important stuff.

Emotional changes are possibly the most noticeable to me. I am happy. It's not a happy that's the result of anything that I have or any event that has happened to me. It's a kind of happy that comes with recognizing my connection to the Universe. Another emotional change is that I no longer give a poop if that sounds weird to you. I love you anyway.

I no longer care if the clothes I wear are in style or hip because if I'm comfortable in them, I feel groovy. I no longer feel compelled to suck in my tummy, which is convenient since it's not that suck-in-able. If I don't know what someones talking about, I ask, unconcerned about appearing silly. I know I'm silly and I know I'm smart. I don't feel compelled to prove it.

I have decided that there aren't very many things that are really important to me. Relationships are important. Our relationship with the rest of the planet is important. Joy and peace are important. Things aren't important. Money comes and it goes.

I realize that I love everyone I've ever loved, though I may love them from a distance or silently or across time. And I love them regardless of how they feel about me. How other people feel about me is really none of my business unless they care to share it.

Being softer and having audible joints aren't bad things. They are just different. Sure it would be great to have the health of a young person, but I wouldn't trade my years for it. I have no wish to appear younger than I am. I'm much cooler than I used to be. I achieve things every day that I wouldn't be able to do if I were younger. So roll on, 55! I think it's going to be a very groovy year!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Very Brady Mother's Day, Mother Earth

Do you remember the Brady Bunch episode where one of them spear-headed a school project to conserve electricity? As I remember it, (and let's face it, I haven't devoted a whole lot of brain cells to the Brady Bunch and it was the 70's after all) all the Bradys started out really well, and then sort of lapsed into thinking they could splurge a little.

Marsha, of course, petty little princess that she was, had to use an electric hair dryer. I'm not sure what the others did to splurge. It probably involved playing groovy music on their stereo or something. Anyway, with just a few days left in the month, they discovered that they had used nearly all their allottment of electricity. What to do?

Well, they had to really scrimp. NO electric hair dryers. NO tv or stereo. NO air conditioning. I mean, those Bradys really had to rough it. Alice said something wise, I'm sure, and Mr. and Mrs. Brady allowed the children to learn a valuable lesson and everything was back to normal next week.

We had a pretty good start in the 70s. We started seeing solar panels on some roofs. Small, 4-cylinder cars started replacing big gas guzzlers. We recycled and stopped littering. We demanded that big factories stop just throwing garbage into the rivers and air. We had a feeling.

And then we forgot about it.

We have oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico at an alarming rate. The rate that alarms me at least as much is the $million per day spent to keep that rig going before it blew up. The hundreds of millions it cost to build it. It killed four people immediately. Who knows how many ocean dwelling animals and plants will eventually die because of this. And who knows how many hundreds of millions will be spent trying to clean up this mess. And Grimm only knows how many people will lose their incomes because of this one oil rig.

So the next time someone tells me that "alternative" energy is expensive, I think I'll dump a can of crude oil on his head. Just what the heck is the alternative to relying on a fossil fuel to the tune of billions of dollars, wars, and poisoning the oceans? How bloody expensive can "alternative" energy be?

For crying in a bucket, when I was a kid every family farm had at least one wind mill drawing water from a well. It's not rocket surgery, people!

And guess what? Everything is not going to be back to "normal" next week. It's not going to back to normal next year or next decade or next century. We need to totally give up the idea that we are going to get back to our old way of thinking and doing and living because we're Americans or special or God-fearing, or whatever it is that we think keeps us from needing to be responsible.

Time to sing our own groovy music; make our own electricity; work with the sun, the tides, the wind. It's not the 70s any more. We don't have an endless supply of oil or water or clean air or clean land or time. To us much has been given. We have taken even more. And with that comes great responsibility. We have not been good stewards of Earth. And we don't have the luxury of pretending like it doesn't matter any more.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Rearranging Bits of Universe

This is my therapy: I rearrange natural elements in my little corner of the Universe. I suppose it's innacurate to say my little corner as if it belongs to me any more than I belong to it. The truth it, these elements and my elements share proximity lately.

Rain is collected in my rain barrels and I move it to plants the squirrels or I have o moved from one place to another. I move leaves I've shredded to areas of clay that I would like to enrich. I move rocks I find to the French drain around the veggie garden. I move the leaves, roots, blossoms, fruit of plants to my body and other bits of the plants to the compost bin and later, when they have become compost, to the garden again.

It's all we ever do, actually. We rearrange things, or we participate one way or another in the rearranging of things. We eat things and they become us. We turn a door knob and bits of us stay on the knob and bits of the knob stay on us. We die and no matter to what lengths our loved ones go to preserve our bodies, we eventually become soil. Soil eventually becomes grass or a tree, which is eaten by a cow or a bird, which is eaten by. . . .

The circle of life is rearranging. We are a piece of the circle, not the center. I'm not sure how I come to the distinction of me versus my garden. And frankly, I don't think I want to.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

One Regret

I am almost fiddy fav. I think that's a perfectly lovely age to be. However, it isn't at all what I thought it would be. I thought I'd be stable, staid, secure. . . . you know, grown up. But I must have skipped that day, because it hasn't happened yet.

It turns out, I'm good at some things that I never thought I'd be good at. I'm an excellent cook, for example. I'm a pretty good photographer. I'm turning out to be an avid gardener. Who knew?

Then there are those things that I always thought I'd be great at, that it turns out. . . . eeehhhh, not so much. I always thought I'd be able to stay thin, but here I am, pulling in to the drive of fiddy fav with a rather rounded womanly shape. I always thought people would want to hear me sing, but much to my surprise, sometimes I'm asked to shut up.

And I think most of us grow up thinking we'll be excellent parents. But I just wasn't. I mean I never beat them up or anything, but I was sure a long, long, loooong way from mother of the year. If I could take a re-do on anything in my life, I would be the sort of mother my niece, Janna is. I'd be the sort of mom my sister was.

I think I was just too scattered. I couldn't get the hang of bringing home the bacon, getting everyone to mass on time, making nutritious fun meals that everyone enjoyed together, keeping a clean house, being room mother. I just couldn't get it together enough to be the kind of mother I wanted so much to be. I was often sick when they needed me, and always neurotic.

In fact, it's ironic that I'm a good cook. I have a very hard time with food. There were never nice family meals when my kids were growing up. It's ironic that professionally I often help people improve their relationships with their families and parenting skills. I knew what to do, I just couldn't pull it off the way I wanted to.

And yet, my kids are pretty cool adults. Obviously I didn't ruin them, but I know I could have made their childhood more fun, more secure, happier. There has never been any doubt that I love my children more than they'll even be able to comprehend until and unless they have children of their own. I think they know that. But there's so much more to parenting than love.

And how is this for mature? I am neurotically jealous of the "families of choice" my children have. We all have families of choice. Those special friends without whom we can't imagine our lives. But because I know I was a C+ mom while my babies were young, I have a hard time just being grateful for the special people in my children's' lives.

This is entirely my problem. It is not my children's problem now. They are both grown and sane. But damnit, I'm going to be one exceptional grandmother some day. I'm going to be focused and doting and maybe even knit things for them.

Maybe fiddy six. Maybe that's the age I'll grow up and get over my jealousy. But no matter how old I get I'll never have a bigger regret than not being a super mom.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

May Baskets For My Friends

When I was a wee one, I was surrounded by single, educated, older women. Dr. Kibbe and Dr. Jones were professors at Carthage College. Dorothy and Virginia were both grads of Carthage College and lived next door, which has always been one of my greatest blessings. I couldn't begin to tell you all they things those two taught me; all the wonderful times we had together. They were my great good friends regardless of our 50 year age difference.

One thing that we did in my neighborhood was celebrate May Day. We'd made baskets out of woven paper, paper doilies, bits of yarn and what not. Usually we'd make them a day or two early. Then on the morning of May 1st, we'd fill the little baskets with violets, crab apple blossoms, dandelions - what ever was blooming. If the basket was going to an especially good friend, we might include a piece of gum or candy in it.

The next part required great skill. I'd sneak up to a friend's door, put the basket on the ground, ring the door bell and run. Ideally I could hide behind a nearby tree and sneak a peak at the joy the basket brought to the recipient.

When I was very young, it didn't occur to me that the recipients of my best baskets were the very people who helped me make them. Dorothy and Pud (our name for Virginia) would always looked delighted and surprised to find my little baskets and they would look around and wonder who might have left them.

My college roommate moved to Northern Iowa several years ago and was very annoyed on her May Day there. She kept answering the doorbell only to find no one there. She had several baskets on the doorstep before she looked down.

I wish I would have thought to do this earlier. I think next year I'll make May baskets and deliver them to my neighbors. What they heck, they already think I'm nuts. Of course, all my neighbors have pretty much the same flowers blooming that I have. And I doubt that anyone would be delighted with a piece of gum. But it's such a sweet tradition.

And when I make my baskets, I'll talk with Dorothy and Pud, and I'm sure they'll be delighted.