Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Person of Integrity I am

So the person of integrity that I am, (with my inbred and inborn ethics of honesty and morality), could procrastinate no longer. So, I finally took out the purchases I made for Christmas and spread them on the bed. No, the grand-kids are not likely to cost and calculate and count their gifts, but still the person of integrity I am, knows that the value of the gifts they each receive must seem fair and equal.

My gifts versus my brother’s gifts didn’t always do so when I was a kid. And the person of integrity I am, remains to this very day hurt and offended by it. I remember like it was yesterday – him, my brother that is, with his gleaming toy saxophone, tooting around the house. And me, on the other hand, silently trying to cope with feelings of painful disparity when I discovered my gift was a pair of long and heavy fleece bloomers. (Not that I didn’t seriously need them.)

So with that remembrance in mind, and of course, being the person of integrity I am, I arranged and rearranged books and toys for my own kith and kin until all seemed equalized and in one accord.

Now when shopping becomes a frustrated business, when my limbs tire, and bones ache from the cold, I do what I have always done. I give up in a way, and then just fill the blank spaces on my list with my favorite things – those chocolates that I love, those caramels that make me drool, or decadent butter cookies that go so nicely with a cup of tea.

And so now, while I’m wrapping gifts, there in front of me in the center of the table are the caramels I so very much adore, that I had bought to fill one last small space on my list. And while I’m wrapping other stuff, I’m wondering if the receiver of those will value and appreciate them the way I do. And while I’m wrapping other stuff, I’m wondering why that box of caramels has no clear wrap on it, but maybe it never did to start with. And then the person of integrity that I am takes a closer look and sees the box is actually open. The closure, nothing more than a circular spot of glue, has separated.

Well, I suppose that’s good. I will be able to take a peek to see how many are in there. Sometimes things like that are a bloody shame when you open a large box and come face to face with ten or less, chintzy little morsels. Then the person of integrity that I am decides I should taste one – you know, to see if they are fresh, soft, and chewy as they should be.

They are perfect but now it looks like there are not really as many in that box as I would have liked there to be. And how can I re-close that box so that it will not look tampered with? The person of integrity I am knows full well, very well, that one cannot give a gift that is incomplete, open, or anything less than new, fresh, and sterling.

So the person of integrity fights with conscience and propriety in the matter until it seems nothing else will lighten my concerns and give me that little boost of endorphins I need to rise above the confusion except one more caramel. So while I search for a glue stick to re-close the box, I eat another.

That’s okay because the person of integrity I am knows I did not eat it because I fell into temptation. I am too much a person of integrity for that to ever happen. The whole business is nothing more than facing a practical matter in a practical way.

Now the person of integrity that I am reviews the checks and balances of my equalization list and realizes that it is falling into disarray. I review value (i.e. costs) of each child’s gifts. I review collective numbers of each child’s gifts. I review joy or amusement equivalencies of each child’s gifts. And because those two caramels I ate were so exceptionally good, giving them to one, and not all, will cause disparity similar to the disparity between a golden saxophone and a pair of bloomers. And so the person of integrity that I am, chokes them down. It is the only way to avoid inequality and disparity.

Now I’m looking at those boxes of chocolates. I wonder if they are fresh? Are any discolored? They could be – it happens sometimes. I wonder if the person of integrity that I am would be doing the right thing to give someone chocolates that might be discolored?

Somehow, I don’t think so.
___________

And now, being the person of integrity that I am, I want to wish you all a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS! With equal warmth, equal sincerity, equal emphasis, and equal amusement and joy.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Possessed or Dispossessed?

Are the elderly possessed or dispossessed? Beats me. I have no idea. But Hub was one, (or perhaps the other), about a month ago when he put skids under an old decrepit wooden granary, and hauled it from the neighbor’s field into our yard.

And once it was there, the debate was endless about what it was going to be used for. But that didn’t delay Hub from immediately rain-proofing the thing with metal roofing.

And that didn’t stall the building of interior walls and a ceiling. Nor the installation of two lovely windows in the walls and one long narrow window in the door. But still, we had no idea what we would use it for.

And perhaps that is why he chose to do all he could do without cost. So rather than buy paint, he pulled all the partially full cans of old paint from the basement and mixed them up and painted the thing. Outside walls white, inside walls, what Youngest Daughter claims is very much ‘in’ at the moment—‘trendy green’.

And still, through all this, the debate continued about what the ‘new shed’ was for. Meanwhile Hub installed electrical wiring and completely insulated the walls and ceiling.

It was beginning to take on the appearance of a colonial cabin, but still no one was clear what the purpose was.

Now I have never been one to support useless work. And often, in my mind, that is what this whole effort seemed to be. But I did support it, though it had no mandate or goal that I could understand. I had to support it because while the puppies lounged in happy contentment in the new ‘shed’, Hub worked away amongst them whistling and singing like a happy lark. Day after day he puttered away.

Occasionally the kids would come for a look and have a peek in the chicken house, bunkhouse, cabin, tea house, soup kitchen, whatever…? But when eldest daughter took a peek, she said she had just the thing for Hub’s project. A few days later she delivered a load of heavy rusty chunks of twisted iron and filthy porcelain on the back of a truck.

It was the remnants of a wood-burning stove but she was the first to admit that it would be more reasonable to haul it to the scrap yard than try and fix it. There were pieces missing from the firebox and every speck of iron was layered with rust. Some resourceful soul had pulled the copper liner out of the reservoir most likely to sell for cash. The rest of it was completely encased in debris of every description – cow manure, mud, soot, damp straw – you name it, it was there.

But Hub unloaded that crap in his granary and now he was busier than ever. From early morning to late at night he was out in his granary working away, working away. Most days he didn’t even come in for coffee or lunch. Most days I heard heavy pounding in the garage and saw the flash of his welder more often than I have ever seen it any time in the past.

But soon that ceased and I saw Hub take the old futon from the basement out to his granary and then a couple of nights ago, he insisted I must come for the evening. That the fire was lit, and the place quite comfortable.

I took some coffee, sliced homemade bread, and butter and away we went to the granary. Hub had a radio out there with Christmas Carols playing. The futon was folded up into a comfortable chesterfield (that’s where the puppies were dozing), and under the big window, he had a table and a few chairs. Furnishings were incomplete but it still looked cozy.

And what did we do out there?

We listened to Christmas carols on an old radio. And we sought the exact place for the teakettle on the stove where it would hum along. And we made toast right on the top of the stove, (which I love, have always loved – quick-singed toast that is hot but so soft in the middle), and found some kind of weird joy in the ambiance of it all.

There is still work to be done in the ‘tea house’, but the stove is finished and gives a coziness that is downright joyful.

The kids are truly anxious to come for tea and biscuits fresh from the oven of the old wood-burning stove. All my children are uniquely different, but even the really uptown of the three is anxious for that treat – although she insists I must make cheese biscuits, not just ordinary ones.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Winter Solstice Seduction

















Winter comes in his cunning way
With a gentle tread of
Consummating silence.

I dress for his arrival
Woolly vest, warm toque,
Layered chastity jeans.

I say, “No, No, No,!”—
but he will not listen

He wraps himself around me
Exhales his chilly breath,
Kisses me with icy tenderness,
Nuzzles me with frosted brow—
And it is too lovely.

“Oh solstice of Christmas Joy!
Come —
Entangle me in sweet coolness
And kiss me again.”

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Do Me a Favor

Yes, I have always been opinionated. And throughout my lifetime some have disagreed with me because they truly felt I was wrong. Others disagreed because they felt they needed to in response to the irritation of my opinionated stubbornness.

The former is more preferred than the latter but either is okay as long as the quarrel is dignified.

But now I’ve noticed, these conversations seldom occur. Less and less I am running to dig out reference materials to prove a point. Discussions with family and friends that were once so animated, so important, have lost their edge.

No one seems to care any more how many digits are on a bumblebee’s foot or what the gestation period of a porcupine is. I thought the disinterest had simply gone the way of other less dignified subjects such as high-cholesterol diets, game hunting, and smoking.

But I was wrong. That is not the case. Arguments are muted because I am older. I am being given generous space to be as opinionated as I could ever want to. I think in seclusion they all whisper, ‘Let her think what she will. She’s too old to change her thinking now.’ Or maybe, ‘Don’t argue with her. You’ll drive up her blood pressure.’

What a bunch of crap?

False compliance irritates me something fierce. If I am going to cave to apoplexy, that will do it. I want the truth. I don’t care if it leads to an animated quarrel. I want you to prove your point, or, the opportunity (if I’m right), to prove mine. I don’t care if it’s something as ridiculous as how to cook whole grain porridge in a thermos overnight or how to tenderize horse-flesh.

Let’s discuss it. Bring it on.

There is nothing better to cure the sluggishness of this non-humanoid space I am trapped in. Nothing delivers me quicker and easier from the dull discouragement of aging than animated debate.

It’s a wonderful activity that has more power than Superman had in a closed fist in his best years. It causes my blood to warm and circulate at high speed. It pleasures body plasma and serums and pressures hemoglobin to all my extremities – removing that irritating numbness from my hands and feet. It accelerates my breathing and my intake of oxygen. Pinks up my cheeks. Plumps papery skin.

My eyes sharpen to every detail. My ears alert to every sound. My heart pumps with more strength. Neurological function improves. I’m even able to ignore bathroom breaks.

And my dull mind suddenly becomes active and pulsing—delighting like a joyful child in the analysis of your stupidity. And amongst all the too and fro’, I am adamantly determined not to tumble off the edge of the earth until I have proved my point.

So at my age, do me a favor. Piss me off. It’s good for my health!
___
And if you insist on compliance from me, I promise not to say, “I told you so!”

Monday, November 24, 2008

Soya Sauce in Your Coffee?

No big trauma in today’s events, but still enough going on to inspire a lengthy rant. Now to start with, I poured myself a cup of coffee this morning and reached into the fridge for a dab of cream. And in the act of doing so, there was a slight time delay before sight synapsed with brain, and when it did, I realized I added soy sauce, rather than cream, to my coffee.

But then I think, ‘This is probably how the more creative recipes are made. Furthermore, the bargain coffee I bought needs help and this might just be the help it needs’.
So then I add a dab of cream as well, and take a sip.

Nah. Not for me. Obviously that is not the help this coffee needs.

So I pour a fresh cup, add cream this time, (no soy sauce), and pull out my laptop. And away we go with an inspiring rant. It was about baking and Christmas presents. How I oft give home-baked presents with hesitation, only to find, to my surprise, that receivers of such gifts are truly delighted. And in the writing of that rant, I am inspired to want to give a gift of sweet ‘dainties’ to blogging friends.

So I think about the easiest (and most delightful) thing I have ever made. And then I recall, by some miracle, a recipe I jotted down in a notebook that I have had for more than 30 years. The book isn’t even shelved with other recipe books. It is in a small plastic bag against the back wall of the canister cupboard. There is no sticky stuff on it, no gritty flour, no curled pages. Because, except for the few times I wrote in it, I never use it.

And in that forgotten little book, I find the recipe I want. I still remember the few times I made those crunchy little snacks so many years ago. I remember how delicious they were. Like honey sesame-seed bars, but even better. Made so simply with nothing more than graham wafers, butter, brown sugar, and sliced almonds.

Could I hope to find a more perfect ‘daintie’ for my blogger friends? With only 4 ingredients, 5 minutes to arrange, and 8 minutes to cook. That’s as good as if I made it, packaged it, and sent it ready-made to each one of you. So now I am excited. This little recipe will be my special gift to you.

(Men, stay with me. This blog is not only about cooking.)
___

Now because the recipe is so old, and because I have not made these ‘dainties’ for eons, I decide to buy some graham wafers and make a test batch so I can be sure that if you try them, you will not be disappointed.

Now I haven’t bought graham wafers for 10 or 15 years either, but while in the grocery store, I grab a box. Turn it over, and oh horror, guess what I see? There on the box, big as life, is the very recipe I wrote this morning in my special blog for all of you. The nerve!

Then—while still in town, Hub and I go to the Hardware to buy some stove pipe for a wood burner. In the outside yard, with other hardware, we see some stove pipe. So we go to that part of the yard. We find the elbows in a large box and the pipe telescoped together nearby. We pick out what we need and go to the cashier.

The clerk cannot find the price code and neither can her Supervisor. So Hub takes the Supervisor back to the box where we made our selection. He laughs. Tells us that no one could ever criticize us for not independently looking (without assistance) for what we need. Turns out that the pipe and elbows in our cart are materials that are not for sale. They belong to a work-crew repairing the store heating system! There is stovepipe in another section of the store but only the not-for-sale-pipe was the size we needed.

I tell you this and the coffee story, to affirm that I am a separate-thinking individual. But despite the expanse of this separation, going back to the incident of the old recipe I wanted to post, here is a prime example of a definite plexus of my mind, with other minds, like-thinking as it were, despite the uniqueness of my thinking in the coffee story and the stovepipe story.
___

Now you’re going to be sorry you read this because then I start to think.

How do unique minds (as unique as illustrated above) collide the way they do? I am a unique individual. No one was nurtured in the self-same environment, handed the same lessons, or coaxed along the same path, except my siblings. And even they don’t think like I do in many respects.

But yet this colliding of my mind with others, with different backgrounds, differing values and environments – happens way too often to be brushed off as coincidence. I cannot even guess how many times I have written a blog on an out-of-the-ordinary theme only to find on that self-same day there were three more blogs written by other bloggers on the exact same theme.

But that’s not all. I think things, develop and explore them in my mind, then off to bed, grab a book, and there you go. Now I find myself reading about the very thing that I was thinking. It happened again. Last night, as a matter of fact.

I love old books, the older the better. But still in 18th century books, of old England, old Rome, old Italy, and early America and the Wild West, I find expressions of thoughts colliding with my own.

I went to bed thinking about dreaded trips to town for Christmas shopping. And thinking about the guilt I feel because of my love of seclusion. And thinking how ‘not normal’ others make me feel about it. And so, to ease an anxious mind that wants to be left alone, and given solitary space, I randomly pick a book the way I picked soya sauce from the fridge, and this is what I read –

“How calm and quiet a delight
Is it, alone
To read and meditate and write,
By none offended, and offending none
[noon]!
To walk, ride, sit, or sleep at one’s own ease;
And, pleasing a man’s self, none other to displease.”

(and farther down the page…)

…Lord! Would men let me alone,
What an over-happy one
Should I think myself to be, –
Might I in this desert place,
(Which most men in discourse disgrace,)
Live but undisturbed and free!..”


“Retirement” by Charles Cotton (Apr 1630-Feb 1687)

I assume, in reading this, that the bracketed comment referrences a prominent social belief as far back as the 1600’s that those who love solitude are not normal. So here we go, again. How does this happen? How do these thoughts from another time, another world, another space, (i.e. the 1600’s) manage to collide and duplicate social conventions of the 21st century and at the same time, convictions of my own?
___

So now I have a new theory.

I have always based my God-belief on the unequivocal determination that all the wonders of nature show the hand of a superior being. But maybe, that is not what was intended to give or offer validation of a creator-god existence.

Maybe the spiritualism of mankind stems from all the like-minded thinking that goes on that would never have become apparent without the connectivity of very old books and more recently, The Web.

Archaeologists made us a wee bit suspicious when they first determined that all tribes believed in an afterlife – even the earliest humans that they have been able to investigate. Proof being in the manner in which the dead were buried with cooking pots and hunting tools or other paraphernalia that served crucial purposes in their daily lives.

And so we assumed, that like us, it was nature’s displays of life and death and rebirth that convinced early man of sun-gods, moon-gods, and an after life. But maybe, that is not what it was. Maybe it was colliding thoughts. The thoughts of uniquely different individuals, colliding over geographical distance, ethnic distance, astrological distance, from the Cambrian period right down, or conversely, through the ages to present time?

And then I think about the Bermuda Triangle. It’s not that I necessarily believe all that has been reported about it, but it is the only thing I can think of that resembles the theory I am discussing here. The only reference I can use to spare you from another 30 – 40 pages.

How inexplicable the history of planes and ships that have disappeared there. How remarkable the theories put forth about warps of time, space, speed, and magnetic fields. And the assumptions that in this triangular area one inadvertently slips into another dimension of life – another plane of reality. And a place of disorientation of thought that could easily lead one to add soy sauce to their coffee. And then I wonder if perhaps this skewed environment might be part of the same skewed current that magnetizes thoughts so that they collide across vast distances of time and space.

It is unfortunate that pride in our intelligence makes it necessary for us to rationalize every conviction through our five senses, and anything outside of that ‘box’ is dismissed as fanciful or imaginary. I say that, because maybe thought collisions are a space > (greater than) or = (equal to) the Bermuda triangle.

Maybe it is not patterns of nature, but thought collisions existing somewhere in another plane that causes, each and all of us, to endlessly question, since the beginning of time, why we are here and what life is about. And maybe the answers are forever elusive because we refuse—adamantly refuse—to explore any space that we are convinced is pure fancy, and therefore, for the sake of ‘intelligence’, must be avoided.

Ultimately, maybe all mysteries are resolved somewhere in the current of the garbled global and timeless transmissions of the subconscious that make thoughts collide. We will never know if we don’t investigate such a notion.

So now, that’s it for today. Soya sauce in your coffee, anyone?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Ethics Authorities & Choices

I guess I watch too much news….
When I start thinking…

Isn’t it time for a Hetero-Dignity celebration, parade, and civic holiday? When the streets are blocked from traffic and hetero couples (and their offspring) march in masses through city streets fully and modestly dressed, only in blue and pink (blue for boys, pink for girls). And signs that say ‘Down with social laws intrinsically linked to the philosophy of demand, without compunction, based solely on physical ‘wants’. Life and love and family partnerships are not steered by those things!”

And then after that, I start wondering why more protest is given to the above themes of personal and physical want than is given to lost and abused children, or young men dying in a needless war.

And then I start thinking, maybe our failed economics could recover if we did an about-face. My strategy being that we need another set of auditors.

Who are we kidding when we so arrogantly say to ourselves. “All is good. All is well. They’ll not get away with that theft and corruption,” we say. The auditors will catch that underhanded business.” But so often they don’t.

And the reason they don’t is because so many Auditors check only the math. And they don’t worry, as long as all the sums fall in line. So for years, pilfering goes down without the slightest suspicions.

So then I start thinking, if businesses are going to operate with absolute integrity and stay above the water line, what is needed besides a Calculus auditor is an Ethical auditor.

And then I start thinking….Ethics is good…reads nice, sounds nice, parses nice. But at the same time, it is way too weirdly defined. It is a rather slimy thing, dependent on the various authorities that are allowed to pattern it.

Authority number one is Divine authority (i.e. spiritual, religious). This authority demands obedience to divine/religious codes of conduct.

Number two, is Nature authority, and within this value system, human nature and the desires of the flesh sculpt the demands.

And finally, at the bottom of the list is the Authority of Reason. This authority propagates patterns of behavior that fall within the context of rational common sense.

It’s a choice, so what am I so dis-enchanted about? Everyone gets to pick their own ethics and their own authority. And everyone gets to slice it how they want it. This is a democracy, is it not?

______

Perhaps what all countries need to do is vote for a preferred Ethics Authority, rather than twittering around with specific plebiscite proposals (i.e. same sex unions) being added to voting ballots. Because once the authority is chosen and understood, governments will no longer have to spend all that time, energy, and money on circular debates, that approve one proposal this year, and dish it the next.

With a duly elected Ethics Authority in place, full dedication could be given to a complete spectrum of social issues without parades, protests, and uprisings.

It’s none of my business but still I can’t help asking…
Which Authority would you vote for?
Which Authority do you think would win?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Musing Regrets

Because I’m a bit of a recluse, people who know me often don’t converse with me face-to-face for months on end. And so when they do, they see changes in my looks, relative to the senior years of life, that are quite melodramatic. Particularly because for the last forty years, I did NOT look like I was getting older. I looked like I was getting ‘better’.

But now ‘better’ is out the window. I’m just getting ‘older’.

I can no longer hide the ripeness of maturity. I suppose, I could if I made more of an effort, but when I do the math, I need to budget time wisely.

Daily bathing, cooking, vacuuming, laundering, and bed-making take double the time that these tasks used to take. And then there is the time I need for writing, knitting, and reading, and self-reflection. Add to that extra time for cleaning my teeth and more frequent bathroom visits and I have no time left to color my hair, moisturize my skin, and apply cover-up to darkening age-spots. So with beautifying routines virtually eliminated, with each passing day, I sport a few more gray hairs, a few more crows-feet, a few more age spots, and a few more coarse hairs on my chin (though I watch cautiously for the latter and pluck them out promptly). Pluck. Pluck.

But the age of maturity, with its crows-feet, wayward chin hairs, etc… are the signatures of sage wisdom, fullness of experience, and expanded comprehension of every stage of life prior to my present one. Though outwardly only superficial transitions, nevertheless they prove, that I am no longer a raw recruit of anything – physical distresses, emotional anguish, or even philosophical questioning.

There’s no denying it. Life is wisdom. And so, assuming this is true, that would be me. Big wisdom that cannot be denied. With my chin hairs, crows-feet, graying hair, and age spots – I am there.

Yes, There I am. At the place of knowing. Big faux academia – you betcha’! [Accreditation - Roberta Smith, ELD, SR]

I know this is true because this week I was asked the same question, by not one, but two individuals. The question being as their eyes focused on my gray hair, crows-feet, age-spots, and ultimately on the 4” coarse looping hair on my chin –

“As you look back on all the years of your life, what do you most regret?”
___

The question startles me. But why, when the truth is, since retirement I’ve pondered the question of regrets more than I ever wished to? But still, in all that pondering, I made deductions without words. And now I am compelled to give voice to these deductions.

My response comes from someplace external. Some place outside my own mind. I know that because it is so surprising, even to me.

Unwittingly, it must have come from the muse that sits on my shoulder and prompts me to tell so many of the imaginary and fantastic tales I oft tell you on this blog. The same muse that often playfully tugs at my keyboard fingers when I am writing and leaves me bloody downright surprised at the thoughts that spill onto the page.

And so, my muse gives me a friendly little shoulder nudge and I hear myself saying, ‘I regret most those situations where I did not do the best I could.’
_____
I love my muse. And believe me, I am not trying to be self-righteous here, but that bit of muse-wisdom smartly trims my list of regrets down to next to nothing.

Wonder how old muse is?

Monday, November 3, 2008

What Do You Want, and How Do You Want It?

Yes, I’ve been watching the U.S. election, but I’ve been keeping my mouth shut. I’m Canadian so it seems like it is none of my concern. So we’ll not discuss who should win.

But I do want to tell you, that what I find most irritating is the long, never abating, attention given to ‘spreading the wealth’ around. All I can think with impatience, is ‘What do you want, and how do you want it?’

Political science is not my forté, but this is how I see it.

When I was a child and asked why we got great huge boxes of free canned lunchmeat, I was told it was a gift from the Government. When I asked why cod-liver oil pills were distributed to each child every morning in school, this was spawned by the Government to make sure none of us got Rickets or other diseases from lack of sunshine. When I asked why I got a Child Allowance, I was told it was a gift from the Government.

When I asked who was tracking the movements of my dearest friend in Grade 1 when her parents separated and moved away and I knew not where, I was told that Government was tracking her. Through the intervention of Health Unit nurses, the Old School in consultation with her New School, and to ensure that her Allowance was paid to her parents, specifically for her needs – her physical location would be ‘absolutely’ verified, by the Government.

Man, that Government. It was looking after everyone everywhere. Good. Very Good.
No children hungry, no children with Rickets, no children missing.

So now, this is how I see spreading the wealth around. The Government can let us keep more of our tax dollars by slashing the special programs that track and support the needy. But when that happens, they force us to sate our own guilt with the inconvenience of canvassing and volunteerism.

Or, for the heartless, which are not part of this discussion, we can choke on our guilt and simply ignore the need of physically challenged individuals, or the poor or those in want while we count our extra shekels. But with no umbrella of Government support, then what happens?

Without government programs for those in need, our door bells and phones ring endlessly soliciting support for these people. Volunteerism becomes mandatory if you want a good work resume. And we live with the searing pain of our guilt if we don’t give and give and give some more. We are compelled to do door-to-door soliciting and canvassing even though we hate it. Still it is the only antidote for the guilt overwhelming us as we partake of our turkey dinner while thinking of those that have none. And always in the back of our minds, we cynically wonder how much of the gifts we give go to those private (non-profit – oh yeh??) organization’s top dogs and how much of it to those in need? And we further wonder how many ‘have’s’ are exploiting our generosity by going to food banks and suppers that are intended for those in need.

So me, I’m in favor of taking it off the top. Take it out of my income. Add it to my tax dollars. Just leave me alone to sleep sound at night without guilt and without having to go around knocking on doors, begging for money to recycle in ways that give me no assurance that the intent has become fixed reality. Let me find comfort in the fact that the Government has in place programs that will track the needs of individuals and ensure their needs are met. Someone has to do it and I would rather it were them.

Because they can more adequately locate those in need, more adequately track those that are missing, more adequately distribute lunch meat and Vitamin D to those that have none. I know they can do all this, cause they did it when I was a child. And I know they still have that ability if, in Australia, they can locate and fine those who do not vote!

So you see, the need is there. The need to spread the wealth around. The only question remaining is “What do you want and how do you want it?”
____

[I now want to say, but I won’t say it out loud – ‘this Palin moment’ of philosophical expression brought to you by Roberta.]

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Country Living Protocol

I live in a quiet country setting. There are not a lot of comings and goings. But nevertheless, when I am in the garden, neighbors going by come into my driveway for a chat, or if I am shoveling the walk, they stop in and we head for the house for a quick cup of coffee. And when Hub and I walk the dogs on the gravel road, neighbors pull up alongside of us, roll down the window and inquire how we are doing.

And though I seldom talk to other of my neighbors, we still have spoken on occasion in the garden, in the yard, or on the gravel road. So I know their names and where they live and what they look like and where most of them work.

Now you must be wondering what this is all about. Believe me, it is about important stuff. Important because these are necessary conventions for country living.
____

Now if you will just set the foregoing ramble aside for just a moment, I will tell you what happened last Wednesday.

The power went off and about thirty minutes later, a neighbor came to the door. When I let him in, he frantically explained that down the road were two grass fires raging in the ditch where a tree had fallen and broken a power line.

My youngest daughter was visiting at the time. So while she phoned the fire department, Hub and son-in-law and neighbor rushed back to the fire with nothing more than the two pails of water they managed to get (with no power) and two old blankets I quickly gathered from my basement.

The fire was already threatening a house and outbuildings and with the gale-force winds there was extreme danger that the whole place would go up in flames. Hub and his small crew battled the edge of the fire that was threatening yard buildings with the bit of water and the gunny-sack substitutes I had given them.

The house was the home of the ‘Unknowns’ who have never stopped in, waved, or strolled in my yard. They were not home. Still after we contacted the fire department, daughter and I wanted to contact the people that lived there. But how?

They came from the city. That much we do know. And they have lived here for more than four years, but nobody knows their names. We still refer to their residence by the names of the previous owners.

Nobody knows where they work. Nobody knows anything about them. We only know the vehicle that drives by. We have discussed that they don’t understand country-dwelling protocol but none of us has ever felt adept enough to go to their door and try and explain it. How do you explain it?

So now there is a fire and we are in a real pickle. Nobody knows who to phone, how, or where. Then someone commented that they had heard that a relative of the wife-of-the-man-down-the-road, where the fire was, worked at a particular business place in town. I called there. Even to myself, I sounded like a total idiot, while I tried to explain that I didn’t know who I was looking for but there is a fire burning near a place down the road that is the home of someone related to someone that works there.

The individual who answered the phone was confused, and who could blame him, but recognizing the urgency, he re-conveyed in loud shouts and short phrases, all that I said to a shop full of workers. I was close to panic myself and my words were foolishly construed to begin with, but when repeated, they sounded even worse.

And so, within the mentality of country-dwelling protocol, I could only give approximate directions that were more dependent on fence-posts, trees, fields, and a list of names of dwellers of adjacent homes – than any kind of sound and specific intelligence.

It seemed to take forever to communicate any key intelligence to those on the other end of the phone. But finally, the very person who answered the phone, screamed, “That is my daughter’s home. They are away. I’ll be right there!”

With that contact resolved, I began phoning other neighbors. Meanwhile, Daughter jumped in her car to see if there was any way she could assist in the fight. She arrived at the scene just when the father-of-the-wife-of-the-man drove up. He came quickly. Well ahead of the fire trucks. By then Hub and his small crew had managed to quell the flames that were less than two minutes away from the house and outbuildings. But downwind the fire raged on.

Soon the fire trucks arrived, as well as two large water tankers, and two smaller ones, and a throng of neighbors. Some with water backpacks, some with shovels, and some with chainsaws. And another neighbor with a backhoe, that he used to push trees and underbrush out of the path of the fire.

There was little daughter could do so she soon returned to the house and what I noticed was wetness in her eyes.

“What happened?” I asked with extreme fear.

“It’s okay, mom,” she said, “they are able to contain the fire as long as the wind doesn’t change.”

“But why are you so disturbed?” I asked. “Was anyone hurt?”

“No,” she said. “But I spoke to the father-of-the-wife-of-the-man-down-the-road and I have never spoken to anyone so heartbroken. (Here her own eyes spilled a bit.) His voice was so choked he could barely speak. His body was quivering and tears were streaming down his face. I have never spoken to anyone that sad and emotional and I didn’t know how to react.”

Much later when Hub returned, and gave an update of the fire, now well under control, suddenly he said something that caught my attention.

“I spoke to the father-of-the-wife-of-the-man-down-the-road,” he said. “He is a crushed man.”

Now Hub is a practical man that takes little notice of emotional conditions, and for him to say this spoke volumes. This man must be distressed beyond comprehension.

Now somewhere in all the ensuing discussion, it was revealed that the father-of-the-wife-of-the-man-down-the-road had just buried his own father a few days earlier. But as I pondered that and what daughter and Hub had said, it seemed that since he was in his late fifties, his dad was probably in his seventies, maybe even older. So of course the loss would cause sadness, but it should have been eased somewhat with his own maturity and the acceptance that this is the normal rotation of life.
___

The next day Hub and I drove up the road so I could see how much of the landscape was scarred and burned. The fire had covered a much broader area than I expected.

As we turned around to come home, I said to Hub. “I can’t forget what you and daughter said about the father-of-the-wife-of-the-man-down-the-road being so incredibly sad. He is a grandfather himself. Surely a man of his age could not find it that hard to accept the death of his father. And even a fire, and the risk of the damage fire can do, could not be the sole cause of such severe sadness.”

“I agree,” said Hub. “I think what overwhelmed him was a total and unexpected never-felt-before feeling of gratefulness. The shock of seeing how many cared and the shock of seeing that his daughter is part of a community where every single soul within a thirty-mile radius stopped what they were doing and rallied to assist without hesitation.”

I am awed by Hub’s comment but I have to admit, this perspective explains best the extreme emotional state the fellow was in.

While still pondering the man’s condition and what Hub has said, I begin to wonder if ‘gratefulness’ and ‘loss’ pluck at the same heart strings, but with a different beat and sequence.

Making the identity of tears of sadness and tears of gladness much confused.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Kill or Cure


First a minor update. The good news is my teeth are fixed and I now have a beautiful smile. Strong, and – ‘secure teeth’ as well, now that I have the talent for keeping them in place. The other good news – I won’t need to see a Dentist again as long as I live.

Now, here we need to digress, cause there is more to this story.
____

I have long been aware that for some puzzling questions, there is no one to ask so you just have to figure it out for yourself. The puzzler for me, is why doctors offer medications for minor conditions that have side-effects that are as lethal as a ‘gas chamber’. Now, I have finally figured it out but must go to a bit of my own history for you to understand how I rationalized my conclusion.

As a child, medical practice in our household stalled at homemade chicken soup, a stay in bed, a warm sponge bath, and a cool cloth on the forehead. And for extreme situations, a goose-grease chest-rub, a drink of honey-lemon tea, or the utility of a warm mustard plaster. Aside from that, no pills, no bottled elixirs, no infusions by needle or any other way.

In the first 16 years of my life, I was in hospital for a few days when I was 4 or 5 years old with double pneumonia. And then when I was 16 I was hospitalized for tonsillitis because it was extreme enough the Doctor expected he might have do a tracheotomy so that I could continue to breath. And yes, for each of these hospital stays I was given antibiotics by pill or injection. But that was the extent of what I was given for medications in my youth.

Since then I have taken no more medications than I can count on two hands, and no more aspirins than I can count on ten digits as well. This is not to tell you that I am in big wondrous rollicking health. It’s just that I prefer to wait stuff out rather than run for immediate medical attention.

Now not all of us aspire to be what our parents were. But many of us do. We have shared DNA, lifestyle, and environment pushing us to follow the same paths – unless the paths of our forebears show evidence of being one big horrendous mistake from start to finish.

So in my analogy here, according to the rules of my birthright, I usually self medicate my maladies with prunes, a salt-water gargle, or chicken broth, rather than pharmaceuticals. And, within the context of that thinking, I assume that many doctors (though I have no way of being certain how many), coming from homes of medical dependency, entirely shun such medieval measures in favor of pills.

I say this because some of them no doubt were raised in a household with a parent, neighbor, or uncle who was a doctor. I know two of my doctors are the offspring of doctors. Most farmers in my area are the offspring of farmers. And many teachers are the offspring of teachers. And so it is no great stretch to assume that many Doctors become Doctors for the same reason. And with that history, I think it is safe to say that in their youth, medications were dispensed more frequently than in other households.

I furthermore expect, that Doctors, like the Pharmacist I once worked for, self-medicate themselves at the first sniffle, cough, sneeze, or stomach cramp. The result of this kind of frequency of medication, according to experts in the study of pharmaceuticals, is that one soon builds an immunity to drugs that calls for an ever increasing strength of medication to arrest infections.

So now, to return to my original story. After my teeth were extracted, my mouth became infected. And because of this I was given an antibiotic.

With that antibiotic came that blood-curdling fact sheet that is dispensed with drugs nowadays. Now I’m not certain a mouth infection is life threatening, although I realize it could lead to blood poisoning that is. But still, according to the fact sheet I was given, this medication –

“…should only be used for serious infections because it can cause a severe (rarely fatal)
[thank god, for that while wiping beads of sweat from my brow]
intestinal condition…This condition may occur during treatment or even weeks after treatment has stopped.” [!??]

And furthermore, side effects include
“nausea, vomiting, mild diarrhea, sore/painful throat, joint pain/swelling, yellowing eyes or skin…oral thrush, vaginal yeast…rash, itching, swelling, severe dizziness, trouble breathing.”

Holy shirt! What is going on here? I have no immunity to anything medical. There is no reason to call out the entire brigade. One aspirin for me can easily arrest pain equal to the pain of child-birth. Guaranteed, I don’t need such an extreme antidote. Honest to god, I’m certain this bacteria in my mouth could be arrested with a salt water or lemon juice gargle, or a bit of moldy bread or cheese, perhaps even with nothing more than three sandwiches over three days layered with goose grease and raw garlic.

And so I ponder, “Why have I been slammed into this kind of extreme treatment? Surely there are pharmaceutical drugs that cure bacterial infections without radical desperation that verges on the point of 60% possibility of a kill and 40% possibility of a cure?”

That leads me to the conclusion that Doctors are impacted by two life experiences that I don’t have. One is intense medical study and knowledge. The other is their own immunity to drugs arising from living in a medical climate where drugs are dispensed like candy in order for health problems not to interfere with their education, study, travel, family life, or ultimate medical practice.

So now, as I sit on an examination table and have a small bit of infection examined, the Doctor reacts to my condition as if I came from the same environment that he came from. Seemingly with the assumption that I have swallowed as many medications, as he has, and so nothing will work for me except the most extreme measures. Which isn’t true of course. I know that, but how can he know that?

Sure I could tell him…but will he believe me? When within his own education and life experiences, he is so convinced otherwise?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Articles of Faith - Part 2 (conclusion)


2. The Fools of 'Dingley-Dell'

So this is my catechism and at times it is suffocating. Despite the oppression of it, in my youth, I posted pictures on every inch of the bare boards of my attic-bedroom walls. Pictures of spiral staircases, lovely brick houses surrounded by paradise gardens, furniture and home accents of color and unsurpassed beauty, and divinely tall and fair looking ladies in long flowing gowns of lace. All of which were representative of me, my hopes, and my dreams.

Of course, the conflict in all this is that the love of money, thought of money, aspiration for money, all form still another context of sin.

As I’ve already said I must mimic my mother’s simplicity for my own redemption and to be as certain as she was of her paradise, money must have no context in my life. Mother never carried money (except that small bit on a Sunday that my Dad gave her for the collection plate). She spent no money, or asked for no money. All because she was so solidly convinced that it was a sinful act to participate in the dispensation or gathering of money. When money was offered to her, she turned her back and curtly stated, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and onto God the things that are God’s.”

And so, my dad made the money and spent the money. He bought the groceries and household needs without input or communication with her as to cost or deferred payments. And it was only when my father walked past the clothesline on his way to the biffy, and saw a ratty display of mother’s underclothes, that he would finally purchase a few new under-things for her to wear, or a swatch of cloth to make a new dress.

And now the foregoing contemplations remind me of another curious ritual. I don’t know whose benefit it was for. Maybe it was just because of my mother’s strong disdain for money. But when my Dad opened his wallet he turned his back and moved into a corner of the room. I have never seen hell, I have never seen heaven, and the other thing, as I child, I never saw, was the inside of my father’s wallet.

And so I have grown up with an underlying current deep within my psyche that money matters are disgusting. That money is a necessary evil, but an evil nonetheless. Couple that with the curse of my forbears, and I guess I’m as forever lost as someone who was stupid enough, foolish enough to wash sand from a stone three times.

If ‘evil thought’ equals ‘evil deed’, I am up there with the most extreme villains of all time. Particularly when I watch CNN and the never-ending-story over money matters. I’m left wondering if it is just me. Maybe I’m the dumb one. Maybe articles of faith are supposed to include money matters. Maybe life is not about purity of thought and deed. Maybe it is about playing the game of Monopoly and playing it well.

And then I watch the closing bell at the stock exchange and see that silly-looking group of the rich and famous from ‘Dingley-Dell’ decked out in their finest, standing behind a railing on a raised dais. Someone rings a stupid bell and then I observe them clapping their hands like ‘a bunch of brain-dead stupid fools’ – whether the market is up or down or stable.

I gaze in dismay, thinking impure thoughts of disgust and wondering what their catechism or articles of faith are, or if they have any.

[Acknowledgement: ‘Dingley-Dell’ is a name borrowed from Charles Dickenson’s novel “The Pickwick Papers”.]

Monday, October 13, 2008

Articles of Faith - Part I


1. Sins of Thought

When I was a child, no one ever asked, but if they had, this was my catechism. And these were the articles of my faith.

“I believe in God. And I believe in heaven and the certainty that it is the reward for the pure of mind, and hell – a deep pit of everlasting brimstone that is as certainly the reward of sinners.”

But the catch for me was that sin goes beyond evil deeds. It is also the mental act of impure thoughts. That blows my mind cause I can stay my hand when tempted to steal, or hold my tongue when tempted to lie, but it is impossible for me to avoid the equally vile sins of thought.

As a child, from little more than tiny seeds of resentment of expectations placed upon me, a forest grew of anger and annoyance and thoughts of bitter revenge. And likewise tiny spores of dissatisfaction with the poverty and want of my circumstance, grew like a flourishing field in light soil enriched with pig manure.

And so, it was hard for me to accept responsibility for the thoughts I entertained in my head of envy or distasteful judgment of other human beings. I knew it placed me in danger of burning brimstone, but though I could stay my hand from committing sins of the body, I could not stay my mind from mental digressions. Scenes and scripts in my mind fell so solidly outside of my control, that I was compelled to think my mind was oft under the control of a spirit other than my own.

So the pit of brimstone couldn’t be ignored with evil pictures unfolding in my mind for which I had little means of prevention. I feared the nasties that played endlessly like the music of a looping MP3-Player. Enough to wonder if perhaps I carried a curse that had descended from one evil individual within the root system of my family tree that would make my mind forever and always think impure thoughts of evil, envy, and disdain.

My father once told me that the most damnable act one could ever do was to wash a stone three times in a stream and each time repeat, “I wish to be as free of God as this stone is from sand.” And after the third time, there would be no turning back. That life would remain lonely, solitary, and godless.

I had never done it, never contemplated it. But had someone somewhere in my genealogical history done it. Is that why my father knew that and told me that?

So maybe this was the original curse, and maybe that curse is what prompts evil thoughts of hateful disdain for those who belittle things about me. Things over which I have no control – the eats in my lunch pail, my clothes, my shoes, my home, my family, my mother’s plain and unfashionable dress, or the culture of religious beliefs that rule my home.

But I digress when I want to get back to my articles of faith. To continue…

“I believe also that I can only save my soul from eternal damnation by mimicking my mother’s attitude of sparseness, humility, and self-denial.”

Like her, I need to deny the charm of riches, vanity, and worldly pleasures. Like her, I need to form alliances with lonely social misfits (without consideration how such alliances will damage my own status), and though I have a scarcity of luxuries, the few I have, I must willingly share with those who have less.

I do what I must but there is no denying it. I still miss the beloved doll I gave, at my family’s suggestion, to the little girl who had none. I gave Dolly away but, in truth, I still feel more remorse than beatitude for that so-called generous act. And extreme guilt not only about the misplaced loyalty Dolly had in my love and care but also, sadness for my other doll, Lulabell, and her separation from a dearly beloved sister.

NEXT POST: Conclusion - The Fools of Dingley-Dell

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Writing What Matters

If I was serious about writing, then why didn’t I write my book during that stage of life when everything about me was of such prominent interest?

You know what stage I mean. That stage when it mattered to everyone around me how I styled my hair, how I walked, how I talked, what music I preferred, what star-celebs I idolized, and how well my jeans fit. That’s when I should have been writing cause that is when things mattered a whole lot more to everyone around me.

Don’t you remember how it was? Don’t you remember how those who adored me, celebrated my successes with dance and frolic? And don’t you remember how those who held me in disdain celebrated my failures in like manner? And for sure you remember how, either way, every day, I was cause for a zealous celebration of inauguration or dethronement?

With all the celebrations day after day, I soon no longer took notice, and so I don’t know for sure when all the dancing and frolicking stopped. All I know is one day I had a good look around and saw that I was nothing but a wallflower at a celebration for others I had never even met.

If I’m going to write, what I think or say needs to matter to the world around me. What needs to happen is I must somehow recapture others’ interest and when I’ve done so, I’ll not become blasé and take it all fore-granted next time. Seems to me that while I’ve been dallying away at a postponed plan to write, my chums have aged as I have and now they have their own woes. Too much so, to care about the events of my life – whether distressing or uplifting.

I thought it would be easy to circle back to how things once were. I started by doing a few stunning things. Nobody noticed. Then I did a few clever things. Nobody noticed. Then I did some really stupid things! – and still nobody noticed.

I guess because I am at that other stage of life where people are expected to become forgetful, weird, odd, and bizarre there is nothing I can do to re-capture audience-interest in my world. In my current state of oldness and weirdness, there is no immoral act that I could commit that would give rise to a dance-and-frolic celebration among my foes. And in truth, there is likewise no righteous act I could do that would give rise to dance and frolic celebration among my ‘pros’.

The lowest common denominator of all this is – ‘Like, who cares?’ (I included ‘like’ in that phrase cause it is the only tool I have left to draw small notice to the things I wish to express.)

Obviously, I’ve waited too long and now it is too late for occasions in my world to speak to common interests of any generation. It is too late for my self-expression to blossom outside of myself into a new, funny and endearing nickname from one associate side, or a taunting mean-spirited nickname by the other. And, way too late for my perspectives to afford lingering disgust, or even delight.

Nothing I say or do now is the stuff of legends as it was in my youth. I can no longer magically chain what I say or do to a fixed space in time so solidly that the memory remains for me and all who knew me. I can no longer create memories that are so sturdy and long-standing that they bring tears of laughter to old acquaintances forty years later at a school reunion.

Case in point – is there anyone laughing, crying, (or even reading) yesterday’s rant? Of course not. You see how the relevance has been forever lost. Obviously, as a would-be writer, I procrastinated much to long and now what I write spills out with a deadening thud.

So why didn’t I do my writing in my youth?
---– When it had as much precedence, meaning, clout, character, and relevance as my hair-do, the fit of my jeans, the celebs I adored, the movies I watched, the songs that I sang, and the symmetry of the rolled cuffs on my socks?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Stand on Your Head or Get Off to Bed

Hub and I have both heard the hushed whispers behind cupped hands among family members. Muffled speech that sounds like “..mumble, mumble… get off to bed.” Hub disagrees. He says he overheard something totally foolish like, “Why don’t he stand on his head?” or “His face is so red!”

Still, either way, how can we ask? When people speak behind cupped hands just out of reach of your hearing, with eyes shifting furtively from the confidant’s ear to the one sidelined from the discussion, we know of whom they speak. And so how can we, meaning Hub and I, graciously suggest that the secret be shared with us, knowing that it is a secret about us?

But as it happens, an incident outside of all this revealed to both Hub and I the secret so often said behind cupped hands, that we puzzled over. The understanding came as a result of three small mice living on our back deck.

Now D.O.G. Dog ( first name pronounced Dee-oo-gee; second name pronounced ‘dog’) always insists on eating his meal outside on the deck late evening. And when he’s done and comes back inside, the tiny mice that live on the deck come to collect scraps in, and around, the bowl. Then, if we turn on the deck light they scamper into the shadows of a chair leg, a rail, or even the dog dish. But luckily for us, with a tiny solar light on the opposite end of the deck they are still visible.

Or what often happens, as they freeze in a shadow, they forget to tuck their tails in and those wee tails make their location easy to spot. It is too cute how they hide and then take quick peeks over, above, or to the side to see if the humans are gone, and all is clear.

The mice are very small, although they do have fur, but Hub and I have come to the conclusion they are orphans. We never see adult mice only the three wee ones. They work hard. They briskly gather up every wee scrap in and around D.O.G. dog’s dish and rush it away to their cache for the long winter ahead.

Now with a move from outside to inside only inches away, Hub thought the wise thing to do was put the live-mouse-trap out on the deck. He caught one mouse a couple of days ago but when he opened the tin box, he was so overwhelmed with guilt at splitting up motherless babes, that he immediately let it go.

But despite that, we solidly agree, the tiny and timorous plan is to ultimately move inside, and to prevent that, drastic action must be taken. So after that first catch and release, Hub left the trap on the deck while he debated for a few more days how to resolve the problem, in the kindliest way.

Tonight he caught another wee mouse. He peeked into the trap while the mouse peeked out. Again remorse overcame him, but not enough to let the little rodent go. Instead he cut a nice piece of cheese to tuck in the trap until morning. The plan now was to release the mouse in the woods, come morning.

Later that evening as we relaxed in the livingroom, I said to Hub, “Poor little fellow. He’s probably so scared, so lonely, so choked, that he can’t even eat his cheese. Maybe I should get some lint from the basket beside the dryer in the basement, so that he will at least have a soft warm nest to relax in, in that cold tin box until morning.”

Hub said, “Don’t talk to me about that. Don’t go there.”

He watched TV in silence for a few minutes then said, “Roberta, you should have seen him, looking out of the narrow openings in the trap box and begging me to let him go. He had his little paws on the bars and his little nose pressed out through a slot.”

Hub left the room and shortly after I heard the back door open and close and in a few minutes he came back to watch TV. “What were you doing, just now?” I asked.

“Oh,” he said, “I just took that little mouse out in the woods and turned him loose.”

‘Yeh, sure he did, and probably made a wee path of cheese crumbs so he could find his way back to the deck and his other siblings!’

So now Hub and I have suddenly realized that when you’re hiding food (so the birds won’t steal it) in a pit every afternoon for a fox, and you’re keeping the bird feeder topped up because of the painful guilt you suffer if you don’t. And if you’re cooking gourmet and variety meals for the puppies, and tracking the comings and goings of three orphaned mice, and keeping dryer lint and shop shavings in separate containers so they can be dispersed in the woods for those in need – review these actions and it quickly becomes clear what secret is being shared behind cupped hands.

Not ‘stand on your head’ or ‘get off to bed’ or ‘his face is red’ – what they’re really saying is….

“They’ve gone soft in the head!”

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Of Liars and Loves

Liars, all of them. All of those strong-minded women who always proclaim they did the right thing. They married the right man and chose the right career. And that they chose every path in life through wise choice.

They smugly consider themselves as the pinnacle of wise choices and wise intelligence. They pretend even failures happened by choice. And although that much might be believable, they go way too far when they adamantly insist that they are never haunted, in their minds, by any ‘what ifs?’ over ex-loves.

They are dismayed that I would even ask them if they have regrets about any events in their lives. What a stupid question when every choice was made with such intelligence and forethought?

Well, they can deny it as adamantly as they like. But I don’t believe it, not for a minute.

I tell a different story. Yes, I have never regretted the life I’ve led, the husband I wed, but I have to tell you, if we’re going to be totally honest, I have engaged in ‘what ifs’. And those what-ifs have led to more than forty years of a haunting of my reality, my night-dreams, and my day-dreams. And what’s more, the haunting is the conjured up image of an ex-love and I hesitate to admit it, but it is true – an ongoing love.

He might have been my first love. I’m not certain now. It was so long ago. But, I tell you true, I have never before or since had such a crush. This man took up permanent residence in my soul the very first time I saw him and nothing could chase away his image from my dreams, mind, or imagination. Hub is a maniac driver, but so was he. Still no matter how fast he drove, he could not drive himself out of my mind or affection.

When Michael J. went from black to white, I could not help but ponder for a time if Hub could have a face-transplant to make him look like my lover-haunt.

I want to describe my dearest love but words fail me. All I can say is that each time I saw an image of him, I felt so warmed by the presence I perceived. The first explosion of affection was sparked by incredibly soft, oh so sensual lips.

Where are the words? I can’t find the words. Maybe there just aren’t any for this circumstance. It sounds so dumb and inadequate to say that his lips radiated a pull like a powerful magnet. No matter whether his lips were compressed with rage, hurt, or fear, it was impossible for those lips to successfully hide their strength and beauty and softness and warmth.

Eyes, blue eyes, with the same attributes as his lips. The same magnetism, and intensity. Tiny pools set within that handsome face, small and crystal blue, but so overwhelming to me that I was swept away in them as if by a monster flood. It was as if, between the sensuous lips and the blue eyes – as soft, meaningful, caring, and loving as those lips – that the sight of him set off a pressurized tension that tugged at every fiber of my flesh, bone, and soul, and every cell and follicle of my being.

And although that swagger when he walked, was a wee tiny bit less endearing than those eyes or lips, still it could not be ignored.

And although I love Hub dearly, although I’m appreciative, although he’s special, I still must confess that my reality, and my daydreams and nightdreams, are haunted by ‘Hud’, more often than Hub. And that, dear friends, was not a spelling error.

Those women I spoke of earlier in this rant, who so quickly say they have never made a regrettable choice would probably call these admissions immoral, uncharitable, sinful, deceitful, and a host of other malicious names. They would call my honesty vain pettiness and my admission of such pettiness, crude and sinful betrayal within the context of a monogamous relationship.

But what they need to understand, if they have the withal to understand it, is that Hub and I do not have what is termed an ‘open-relationship’ in today’s modern-speak lexicon. We have an ‘open relationship’ in the context of what those words originally meant. In our archaic configuration, an ‘open relationship’ means brutal honesty about all things.

So with that philosophy in place, Hub does not need to say, “I know in your past you have loved others, but do you still love someone more than me?”

He’s always known without asking. He knew when we were courting, he knew the day we got married, and he knew last week, last year, last month. He has always and forever known that I have loved someone more.

But for your edification, if he were to ask, I would be compelled to say with brutal honesty –

“Yes”. You know that. You know that I always have, and always will, love Paul more than you!”

______

Paul Newman passed away on Friday. I cannot help but weep. I am sad, but so is Hub. Hub is sad for me because he knows how much I’ll feel the loss for today and for all time…

Friday, September 19, 2008

Shopping Lists & Minor Agitations

This morning started out with minor agitations. First off, I poured Hub a lukewarm cup of coffee, because when I made it, I forgot to switch the pot-warmer on. And then I clumsily broke the yoke on both of his breakfast eggs and scorched the toast.

And then, when Hub mentioned he needed to go into town, I started in. Hub never makes a list of what he needs. But lately, all too often, Hub goes to town for three items and comes home with two, one, and sometimes even none. Then he mutters and grumps for the rest of the day because he forgot to get much-needed items.

I understand his irritation with himself because he hates going to town as fully, utterly, and completely as I do. So, with this in mind, and although I pride myself on not being a nag, I just had to say as I went to get paper and pencil. “If you need more than two items, here’s a paper, here’s a pencil – make a list.”

And then he said, “I don’t need a list” and I said, “Yes, you need a list” and he said, “I can remember what I need” and I said, “better safe than sorry – just make a list”. And then he shoved the note paper toward me and I shoved it back to him, and it went forth and back (cause it couldn’t go back without going forth first) until he eventually gave in.

So he quickly scribbled a list and as I watched him scribble line after line, I was thinking. “Silly fool, if he needed that many items, he certainly would never remember them without that list.” Quite proud I was, of myself, that I had been so insistent.

So now as I busied myself tidying up the kitchen, Hub got his shoes and hat and left for town. As I turned to wipe the table, guess what? There was his list. I skimmed through it and this is what was written in clear evenly spaced script (Hub has excellent handwriting).

2” nails
staples
water-softener salt
motorcycle
jet boat
new electric car
aircraft (jet)
new girlfriend


I wonder if I should call him on his cell just to make sure he doesn’t forget anything on his list.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Spinning Jenny Stimulus - Conclusion 3.


Crafting in Quietness

How silly old women with bleary minds. Jesters of nostalgic reflection. Always wanting to turn the clock back to a recall their youth and how things once were.

And the most extreme is some silly old fool wanting us to stop what we are doing and re-install the Sabbath? And all the yap and yawing about some pre-historic thing like a spinning jenny that is older than dirt? Expecting us to read all that blither?

I know, I know. Perhaps I have led you to think I don’t understand the impossibilities of some of the things I rant about. But to a large extent I do. I realize that technology is well past the stage where it can be halted, slowed, or stopped.

I also fully understand why the Sabbath cannot be re-instated. It’s not because it is so hard to celebrate a day with peace and calm and quietness if that is what one chooses to do. But still it won’t happen, because this generation’s expectations won’t allow it.

Because every non-school or non-working day is expected to hold a wealth of leisure-pleasure. These are days for fast food treats, material procurements, new wonders, new sights, new sounds, new colors. And so, with that, how can anyone in today’s spinning- jenny-world envision delight or value in a day of hushed, household quietness? It goes without saying, the leisure pleasure the Sabbath originally provided is no longer understood or even wanted.

And that is the problem. How do you define a day of quietness to a generation so embedded in technology?

What do you say when they ask for the fiftieth time, “But what are we supposed to do with this absurd day? Cooped up without cell phones and with electronics locked up in the closet?”

And the day becomes more meaningless and unreasonable when you say, “This day is to provide you with time for self-reflection.”

What meaning in that statement for a generation that has never ventured inside their own mind since birth – and they’re supposed to understand what the term ‘self-reflection’ is?

And so, when we try to explain the peace and comfort found in quiet time, many will say ‘What about sleepless nights? We all have them. So why re-install the Sabbath? Why not use sleepless nights for self-reflection?’

Well, we could. But we don’t.

Instead we lie awake in bed and contemplate what sleeping pill to try next. And we couple that with a truckload of mental commiseration about needing rest so that we can be on the ball for all the technological tasks that will rule the morrow? There is too much fret about ‘sleep’ to ‘reflect’ on anything. And then, if a state of sleeplessness persists, the inhabitants of this spinning-jenny-world, crawl out of bed in the middle of night and focus their bleary eyes on more flashers and beepers while they play mindless computer-video games.

That’s what we do, and why shouldn’t we? Works for us and since God is dead anyway, there is no need for self-reflection in this generation. All those endless evenings and Sabbath hours that past generations used to formulate plans to be a better person for salvation sake are no longer applicable. With God dead, with no fear of heaven or hell, what need for self-reflective plans for packing, into one lifetime, a mountain of charity and good deeds? If we aren’t going anywhere, we don’t need the luggage.

But wait. I think, despite all that, we still need time for self-reflection. We still need to understand what self-reflection is and how to get there. And our children need to understand it too.

And this is why. You can explain to a child how behavior affects their lives and relationships with others. How ill behavior can limit friendships. Or invite teasing, or bullying, or shunning.

But that isn’t good enough. All that talk isn’t very effective. It is no more effective than trying to cure an addict who doesn’t recognize that he or she has a problem. First rule of any addiction counseling is that the individual wanting help must first recognize they have a problem.

And that, dear readers, is what self-reflection does if we make time for it. Not in the first five or ten minutes, but later, many hours later, self-reflection starts to lead down a path of realization of what is at the root and core of life’s successes vs failures. Later much later, it starts to reveal understanding of all that is possible with concerted effort and cooperative strategies.

Self-reflection ends up leading one into the more difficult questions that side-step the instantaneous and skewed emotions that first come to mind in circumstances of difficulty (or success). First quick-thinks often go like this:

‘They don’t like me cause their jealous.’ ‘He does so care about me, he bought me chocolates.’ And, ‘I can afford to buy that new car, I just need to borrow some shekels from me old dad.’ And of course, in a pre-teen or teen, the thinking is likely to be. ‘I’ll show them, they can’t treat me like this.’ Too often the quick-think of a life-situation bypasses all else and snaps into retaliation mode. Or moody despair. And there it stalls in a disciplinary 10 or 20 minute time-out.

The better considerations take extended time. Maybe a whole day. Maybe a whole day (once a week). Quiet time. Hushed household time.

Time enough to fully understand self-reflection.

And now the bad news. Yeh, a bit of a slump happens when the fullness of self-reflection eventually takes place. Because when it does, that is when one begins to empathize with others, who at first glance seemed so foolish, square, or just bloody nags. And when the fullness of self-reflection kicks in, one begins to pick battles with care. And when the fullness of self-reflection kicks in, this is when the slump happens and one begins to ask themselves the ultimate humiliating question.
‘What can I do to make things better?’ …rather than concentrating on long laundry lists of changes others need to make. (Psst…Laundry lists may work, but man, they are a pain.)

In our modern world, self-reflection no longer is, as it was. It moved from a biological inheritance to a new art-form. It is now a craft that one must learn through sincere endeavor. In a spinning-jenny world, it doesn’t happen at sunrise or sunset. It only happens to those who set aside sufficient quiet time for it.

___

That’s my reflective spin for now. Hopefully somewhere in the fabric of it all you may find something that stirs you into a quiet bit of self-reflection.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Spinning Jenny Stimulus - Part II


TOO MUCH STIMULI

Now even if we ignore my previous dramatization of restricted literature and spinning-jenny hyperbole, and consider my childhood in a more general way, the lack of stimulus that I’ve been muttering about becomes fairly evident.

Think about it. How much stimuli does a child get from direct instruction by “one” teacher? In a wee school that houses grades 1-9 for a grand total of 23 students? How much stimuli with no visual media players, very few books, no musical instruments, and no playground equipment outside of a bat, a ball, and a swing?

And, how much stimuli with only eight colors in the crayon box? And no field trips, library, music-room, gym, cafeteria, or study hall?

Sparse, compared to today’s children who are bombarded on all sides by stimuli in every possible format. Endless books and stories. Endless paraphernalia, including talking books, boxes of 156 colors, games, puzzles, computer-assisted learning, field trips, gyms with great honkin’ boxes under the gymnasium stage of sports equipment of every description. And a large outdoor playground with ball diamonds, football fields, hockey arenas, etc. and indoor space for volleyball, basketball and gymnastics.

But that’s not all. My grandson is six months old and his world is already alive with stimuli. He is already entrenched in a world swirling like a spinning jenny with visuals, sound, and motion.

His toys are a rainbow of things that move, and sing, and bleep, and pop. The floor jumper he sits in has artificial palm leaves overhead. And spirals, beepers, and spinners that leave him virtually unseen and unheard when he is in there. So much motion and sound that he can’t think or even concentrate on his own sweet esoteric language. Or enough quietness for him to practice parsing a gentle “coo”.

His play pen has another equally intricate conglomerate for him to kick with his feet. And his highchair has interchangeable place mats wildly colored with letters and cartoon animals. His soft toys play surf and bird-sounds. His other toys beep and spin and blink lights. His potty-chair talks and sings. His quilts and sheets are a dizzying array of more colors with textured critters designed to look three-dimensional.

And I can see already that with each passing year it will get worse as he reaches the age of e-pods and video games and interactive television. God, where and when will it stop?

Grandson is little but as little as he is, already his mom notices a special calmness when he is here. He plays in an old ancient walker (I know they’re illegal because of safety concerns but with the wheels missing, this one ain’t going anywhere).

The walker has a plain, dull beige, tray. He strokes it with his little hands affectionately. And when I put him in there, he is absolutely content with his sucky and a small plastic bowl from my kitchen cupboard to rattle against it. It takes time but he is clever enough to eventually get the soother tucked in the bowl. And already he knows that if you can’t dig it out, you tip the bowl and it falls out.

He loves that game. He holds up the little bowl to proudly show me how he has melded the two into one conglomerate. And then again to show me how skillfully he has separated them.

And he settles down for naps on a plain bed with a plain blanket without blinkers and tooters. And he lies on a thick folded quilt on the floor near the window and giggles with glee at the shadows cast by swaying leaves against the curtains and the glass. And he chuckles out loud at the puppy strolling past his locale.

So then, in my bleary mind I start thinking about the ever-escalating rise in child-behavioral problems. Children are more anxious and more and more unable to focus for the slightest extension of time on one thing. So I have to ask, “Why do we worry so much about the psychological damage of corporal discipline while ignoring this toxic soup of stimuli that might be equally, or even more damaging?”

We’ve simplified our ideologies to what suits us. Sterilize everything, stop spanking, and stimulate children with flash-cards, Bach or Mozart, travel, visuals, and gizmos, and they can’t help but grow up healthy, independent, and stable-minded.

Yet childhood behavioral problems continue to rapidly escalate. And among the host of possible causes, no one considers that maybe our modern-day spinning-jenny stimulus is just too much. Maybe the enigma of all that research and no fixed conclusion is because at the root of it all is something that was never considered. And truthfully, don’t researchers in childhood behavior have a hand in propagating more noise, color, and motion?

In this bleary mind of mine, with the solace and peace and repair that I get from quiet times—alone and undisturbed—I wonder if maybe the real cause of child behavioral diseases is simply too much stimulation.

As a child, in our home, Sunday was set aside as a special day. Don’t laugh. Just because God is dead doesn’t mean we can’t discuss other aspects of the Sabbath.

Sunday was today’s equivalent of ‘time-out’. There were no spinning jennies on the Sabbath. No sports. No work. No active frolic. Just resting, reading, and relaxing, and time for self-reflection. Sunday was a day that demanded hushed household quietness.

So maybe, just maybe, in the midst of all the paraphernalia of today’s world, we would be well to return to that kind of time-out. (But can we do that without our children interpreting it as a disciplinary move? As something to feel pained about? Even dejected and hurt?)

NEXT POST: Conclusion

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Spinning Jenny Stimulus















LOOKING FOR A STORY - Part I


I was sitting at the kitchen table in that bland, mindless state, that I so hate, and so often lately find myself in. Unable to focus, hearing sounds, seeing sights, but still absorbing no more than a vacuum that is being pushed about the room with no filter bag or power source.

In this bleary state, I found myself recalling how starved I was for stimulation when I was a child. There were never enough books, never enough stories, never enough poems, or sonnets, or songs, or colors, or words, or new ideas to ease my hunger for the stimulus of something new. This was back there in that long-ago-time when children were responsible for their own good time minus gizmos.

And so, if you can imagine a child’s longing for a bike, or a youth’s longing for a truck, or a transient’s longing for a home, then you can understand the ache I had for books with words arranged with the soundness of reverence, emotion, and seduction that words deserve.

One year, with nothing in the house I hadn’t read, I remember spending a big chunk of my summer break reading a book I found in the attic about ‘the spinning jenny’. It was a very old water-stained hard-cover book about the inventor of the spinning jenny, the purpose of the spinning jenny, and how it worked. Looking at the pic of that jenny now, I am amazed that someone could write a book on nothing more than the history of the spinning jenny.

One must indeed admire the dedication of such a writer. That kind of author, could, without a doubt, write with equal ease 125 pages about a paper lunch bag.

The year that I read the spinning jenny book, I was still too young to question why I was doing what I was doing, but I remember distinctly thinking to myself, ‘what could it be that is driving me to read this stupid, stupid book?’ And despite careful reading, did I retain any of what I read? Not an iota.

But I so loved words back then. And poems, and stories. I could never get enough of them. It was as if I was on a quest for a kindred spirit – someone, anyone, who loved them as much as I did. And if I couldn’t find that someone in the school yard, perhaps I could find that sweet spirit between the pages of a book -- if only I could find the right book. It would need to be a book thick enough to allow me time to revel in the author's appreciation for words and all that they can portray.

I expected good luck in the school library. But all I found in the book shelves were books of trite fiction or boring facts. For some reason, each time I took a book from there it was far removed from what I sought.

And so, in another act of desperation in my quest for literary stimulation, I read my English text from cover to cover, every page and every word. Twice.

Surely here I would find what I was looking for. Obviously the original creator of an English text book had to be someone as passionate about language as I. And then, of course, with this common interest sustaining us, and this common force compelling us, and this common passion within us, certainly we, the writer and I, could form a comforting, albeit dream-state-relationship based on our mutual appreciation for language.

It seemed totally sensible to assume that the writer was as ardently dedicated to the function and beauty of words, as that other writer was to the qualities and marvels of the spinning jenny.


But to my dismay, that was not what happened. After not just one, but two careful readings, I came to the harsh realization that, to the voice-and-speaker of that English Text, language was just another spinning jenny. And the rules laid out for language too serious to promote a warm relationship.

The two books could have been written by blood relatives because the text in one so heavily paralleled the content of the other. Both identified and illustrated, with equal detail, the respective parts of language and the spinning jenny. And so like unto the spinning jenny book, the language text elaborated all the rules for the rigid and restricted operation of verbs, and nouns, and adjectives to make them fit the manufacture of phrases as cold and passionless as the workings and production of a spinning jenny.

Neither was a book that I would every recommend. But this story doesn't end here. There is more to the saga of "The Spinning Jenny".

_______

NEXT POST: “Too Much Stimuli”, goes beyond my own experiences to question in a general way how much stimulus children need.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The God and Garden of Intellect

So there we were. In a place as magical as the Garden of Eden. Living in sweet and peaceful harmony. And yes, God walked with us and talked with us.

And on our own, we found wonder in each new day and each new minute. We consulted with fairies dancing in fairy rings. We viewed with pleasured sweetness the videos of our afterlife in golden cities painted on dark blue skies at sunset. We were calm, happy, and so completely at peace. Restlessness and anxiety, foreign to us.

We questioned life in a pleasant way, drawing solace and eternal security from the rebirth of all of nature. And, in particular, the death and internment of ‘dead’ worms in silk winding sheets tucked away in coffin-chrysalises. In sarcophaguses made of bleached gray limestone-colored ash and moth-eaten burial linens. And when we poked them with a stick they were dead, dead, dead.

Buried and forgotten under the old granary roof. But, as children, we watched them closely and came a day, when they were divinely and magically resurrected. Rising from that brutal and lonely place into sunny skies on delicate wings of unsurpassed beauty.

And there in our youth, and in our Eden, we felt the warmth of heart-felt appreciation when a plump deer of the forest came by when for so long, so very long, our stomachs were aching and hungry and gnawing at night. We were hungry, and so our father shot that deer and skinned it out.

And with that, hope and happiness were instantaneously renewed. A divine blessing and generous gift it was, when at long last, once again our dinner table was loaded with heaping plates of tender meat and golden gravy.

In Eden, we went to bed without fear. Confidently cradled by the same loving divinity that brought us food. And in our daily lives, we ignored those sorrows imposed by thoughtless or contemptible people knowing that a justice reigned that they could not escape. A justice that would humble them to full and complete penitence. Whether they ever showed a countenance of remorse or not. Connections to prestige, money, and wealth would in no way lighten the divine discipline meted out for their thoughtlessness.

And we reveled always in the miracle of what was seemingly so impossible. New babies with cooing smiles, and new puppies and kittens with stubby little wags that expressed such joy in life.

We smelled them. The babies’ hair – how sweet and lovely it was! And new puppies, kittens, lambs, and baby goats held their own fragrant scent. We breathed in deeply. And found that a lung-full made our own breath come easier and made us laugh with joy (rather than simply good humor or passing fancy).

We reveled in the uniqueness of our minds, our hopes and passions. All of life was wonderful new discoveries that fit into the pattern of a Garden of Eden. The joy of life, love, rebirth, breezes, rain, and sunshine all blended into a divine magic, within the sweet and secure cradling of nature.

And then, oh woe is me. Along came the Intellect.

A devil, as it were, that forced us to discard fancy, and miracles, and God, and the meaning of nature that fit so comfortably with our own understanding. The Intellect took away our most stunning miracles and put them in labs and test tubes. The Intellect taught us to ignore visions of golden cities at sunset. The Intellect seduced us and the dialect of life with nature was hushed. And like the serpent in the original Garden of Eden he offered us great and wonderful things. And so we believed and became a chaotic mass of competitive followers striving to be the greater, and the greatest of the Intellects.

Now we shiver and quail by day and night, with nothing more to comfort or clothe us than the Intellect’s cold, chilling facts. All the wondrous magic that once surrounded us like a warm, downy blanket, destroyed through explanation.

And with the new found knowledge of the Intellect, and the newfound aspirations of the Intellect, we now have schemes and methods to kill creatures in mass rather than just for dinner. We have ways to alter nature to our own economic advantage and at the same time we continue to unwittingly destroy the balance and the rhythm. We make babies in petri dishes, without fragrant hair, and new forms of life, without real souls.

We have used more of our intellect for evil than good. We have used it to kill God, kill oceans, kill forests, kill morality, and kill conscience. And with God and conscience dead, we continue to use our ever-evolving intellect to split atoms in order to kill even more.

And so the Divine Comptroller of earth and nature, shadow and light; that divine one that walked with us in the cool of the day when I was a child, was compelled to cast us out. We were forced to pack up our facts and leave the Garden of Eden to tread the refuse, toxic, and gunk-strewn paths of our new god – the God of Intellect.

All I can say now is that, ‘As an intellect, I’m not loving it!’

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Obscenities of Truth & Clarity

I was raised in a home without vulgarity. The most extreme language verging on obscenity was ‘Holy Cow’ or ‘Drat It Anyway!’ Similar to the old book I am now reading that repeatedly says, “Go obscenity thyself”.

But our neighbors, when I was a kid. That was a different story. Theirs was a democratic household where they spoke obscenities openly and eloquently without guilty hesitation or a catch in the throat. Oaths and obscenities rang through the house from morning to night like a never-ending catchy little tune.

And yes, the expressions they used were shocking. Their words made my heart pound in my chest. But at the same time, I couldn’t help but admire their freedom of expression that surpassed all rules and regulations. It was to be admired. The daring bravery of it all.

When one of the kids wandered into the kitchen in a pair of baggy jeans, the other sneered. “You’re not going to wear those, are you? Go look at your backside in the mirror, you look like you sh_ _ yourself.”

The obscenity of the remark was shocking as always, but even more shocking, was the fact that the expression was one of absolute unadulterated truth. From the back, without a doubt, that is exactly what those baggy jeans looked like. Like they were masking a very firm finely formed fecal log (or two).

And that only added to my amazement of their vocabulary. That such sinful expressions could carry a level of absolute accuracy and, at the same time, concerned goodness. In this instance, good advice and concern that would prevent a sibling from walking around town looking like they messed themselves.

Goodness in obscenity. Quite remarkable. But I silently observed and listened and found an endearing feeling in this exchange. Concern of one sibling for how the other might look.
_____

Now many of the expressions so prevalent in everyday conversation in that household were never defined for me. And of course I refused to ask. I would appear far too ignorant, far too non-worldly, and if I were to question the meanings, such an exchange might force me to have to say the word. And furthermore, I pretty much believed that if I did ask, the neighbor’s kids (parents included) would roll on the floor and laugh until they literally fecalled themselves.

And so, I knew I must circumvent their style of speak by giving it a wide berth. By skirting it entirely. And truly, since these were words I was not allowed to use, what matter the meaning? What use to me? When applied?

In our house – never. Not unless I was hell-bent on nursing hurt feelings and a blistered backside.

And so, because of all this, I cast my own connotations and definitions on the expressions I heard.

But one of the more frequently used words, I found rather confusing. I wasn’t sure if a donkey was a reference to testes, the penis, the vagina, or the anus. Was it all or one? What was it anyway?

And so here I am, some fifty years later, and still not certain. And still, resolved in mind to never ask.

But now I don’t need to. The meaning has suddenly become crystal clear. In the past, without certainty of what a donkey was, I likewise never knew if a donkey hole was a penis, an anus, a vagina or a combination of all three. But now I know.

I’ve seen enough cops on TV using guns and tasers irresponsibly to know what a donkey hole is and it is not any of those things that for more than fifty years, I thought it was.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

All is Well

Sorry, sorry, sorry.

But I have my excuses. Summer is supposed to be a time of fun. As much fun as can possibly be squeezed into such a short season. I don’t have to make the fun, but I am expected to support the fun and sometimes it is a full-time job.

Summer visitors, picnics, meals, support for Hub’s fishing expeditions and barbecue efforts, and don’t we have a new (used) camper out back that Hub wants to get on the road. An engineering miracle with four sides that folds up like a Rubik’s cube into the size of a tent trailer. Pics later.

And then there are beans and peas and zucchini till hell wouldn’t have them, screaming to be picked. Cukes as well.

It leaves little time for writing – so that is where I’ve been. Playing in the sand and kneeling in the dirt. Don’t tell anyone but sometimes I curse summer and scream for winter. Just so I can write more and read more.

But all is well --- and hear ye, hear ye. Hub’s rhubarb wine is better than ever this year.