Jan 30, 2016

Did Your Charmed Childhood Include a Trip to the Dump?

Where did we shop before Goodwill and yard sales and Craigs List? I don't believe I know anyone that doesn't have a story about how they acquired that wonderful old chair or table on the sunporch. Without those second hand places we would be lost. How did we ever manage to survive?

I was talking with our daughter a while back and she said in parting that one of her favorite childhood memories was time she spent with her grandfather and father cleaning out the garage. My parents lived in a very small community in eastern Oregon so everything that was disposed of out of the garage went to the dump.

She and her brothers were allowed to make the trip to the dump to dispose of the collection out of the garage if they helped clean.

The Carwash
The dump was treasure hunt waiting to happen. She described how people would bring old chairs and broken tables to the sight outside of town and sit them lovingly along the hillside. As soon as she and her brother piled out of the pickup they would rush to inspect everything left behind. When the pickup was emptied, Grandpa and Dad would join them to look everything over too.

I am sure that something went back home with them every time. My father was very handy and could fix anything.  I suppose the choices were based on what they might need and not on what could actually be repaired. He was not greedy at all. My children never missed a trip to the dump if they were allowed to come along. My daughter remembers it as part of her charmed childhood.

Cleaning Up
Picking Peaches
Some children remember the vacation or even a trip to the big circus. But, as it turns out, it is the simple things that children love. I took my granddaughters to the carwash a couple of years ago. Our carwash is like a treasure hunt too...free popcorn, windows onto the washing brushes and a place to sit in the sunshine. They loved it. The grandchildren back on Oregon love a walk and an old box of crayons and color books left over from the older cousins now in their twenties.

I learned very long ago that a charmed childhood is all about whims and surprises and just a little work with it's rewards. I am truly hoping that the next generation has their very own dump stories to tell. The thought of it makes me smile.

b+

Jan 28, 2016

What can you control in your small world?

My own little world revolves around
family and friends. I try to make it
a good place to be.
My friend and I were talking yesterday about how hard it is to be civilized. Really, really hard. As civilization has evolved, man has learned that it is not okay to act like a caveman anymore. Living with other people peacefully has left us with tasks and restraints that our baser being does not want to obey. And, surprisingly, is it not the big things that get us.

It is our behavior with those around us, what we think as we look out our front window, feeling superior to those less fortunate and our tendency to act on our anger that creep up on us. Being a good person is very, very hard.

In fact those humans that wrote the bible talked about those instincts back when civilization was emerging  tells us how slow we are to civilize ourselves. They are not listed as such in the bible but do appear in Proverbs. From what I can find they may have been collected by scribes of King Hezekiah, who reigned from 715 to 686 B.C. I suppose they could be the root of all evil. They are:
Envy: the desire to have an item or experience that someone else possesses.
Gluttony: excessive ongoing consumption of food or drink.
Greed or Avarice = an excessive pursuit of material possessions.
Lust: an uncontrollable passion or longing, especially for sexual desires.
Pride: excessive view of one's self without regard to others.
Sloth: excessive laziness or the failure to act and utilize one’s talents.
Wrath: uncontrollable feelings of anger and hate towards another person.
These are not the big things that we think about in today's world. Notice there is no mention of terrorism or war or theft or shunning. The fact that we want what another has is not something we necessarily think of as a big thing. It is when we act on these impulses that we get ourselves in trouble.

But as my friend and I continued to talk, it occurred to me that making things better in our world is all about what we as individuals can control. It all happens in our very small personal theatrical stage.

Controlling our weight, keeping our space and ourselves clean, being less confrontational and angry, spending less money and giving up greed, being happy not envious of other's successes, remembering to never make another feel unworthy because we are prideful and last but not least, being virtuous in our personal lives are all situations that are very close to home. And no one else save our self can control those urges.

It really is all about our own little world. Could it be that if we actually did what we ALL could to be better as individuals, the rest would follow?

What do you think.

It is a thought!  

b+

Note: I just want to tell you that I am not a church goer and do not belong to any particular religion. But, when it comes to ethics and virtue, one cannot do better than study the world's religions. I just happen to be more familiar with the Bible than any other book on religion.

Jan 26, 2016

700,000 Views...but whose counting?

Just because pictures make
the post more interesting. Local hangout
in Tucson AZ. Saguaro Junction Bar and Grill
I do check my stats. I went over 700,000 last week. But I don't believe that 700,000 have stopped to read this blog. It is just simply not possible is it?

On Facebook I saw a post that said that we should not brag about our views. I can't remember why but the person that said it seemed to know what she was talking about. That is why I would never mention it anywhere else than right here. I can do that here because I own this space.

The question would be "WHO is counting?" There are search engines that do something if the material here is interesting. People look for something and by magic a word I use or even a subject falls into that category and a blip about the blog appears. The blog post How to Be a Snow Bird...answers and questions is one that draws a crowd so a lot of my traffic is related to that one post. How those stat counters work is a total mystery to me.

It really is beside the point...the number is big and I will take it. Not that I'm counting.

Do you track your numbers and popular posts?

b+

Jan 23, 2016

Facebook Says I Need Updating!

Facebook says I need to update my image. I was a little surprised because I thought I looked pretty good. Did they think that I had shrunk or what? Honestly, a girl could get insulted!

I have been a Facebook user for a long time. During that time I suppose I have changed my image twice. Really, once I get a semi-good photo, I don't mess with it. Good is as good as it gets these days.

But then I noticed that people change theirs a lot. Each change reflects some landmark in their life. Grandchildren are added or a picture of skydiving might be something worth bragging about. But my life is pretty routine except when we travel to Dubai or stay a week in Florence, Italy. When we do those things you will seldom see me in the picture. I require some editing and stuff before I want to feature my picture.

So I took a picture of myself with my Photo Booth app this morning and I suppose I will add it to Facebook just to prove that things have not changed a whole lot.

My new Facebook Image
The whole idea of updating caught my attention though. I told my husband when we retired he could not wear a geezer hat (a baseball hat with a fish on the crown tilted over to the left in the car to keep the sun out of his eyes) and he really had to buy new clothes because I was going to do that. We were not going to go into the sunset wearing polyester knit and short shorts. We needed to stay up to date. See what I mean.

I often wonder if the way aging people are treated does not have something to do with their appearance. My friends and I are very careful most of the time. Our husbands are the same. But if I go out shopping for example, in sloppy clothes I do notice that I am treated as if I am very old. People actually offer to help me, tell me to be careful not to trip and wait patiently as I mess up at the grocery store credit card machine. If I were 30 years younger, who would care or wait? No one I am thinking.

My self confidence is related to my appearance too. I think I even function better after a new haircut. Somehow I am smarter with shorter hair....you know what I mean?

Anyway, Facebook will get a new image. What is a person going to do?

Have a wonderful day!

b+


Jan 20, 2016

Aging with Pogo: We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Us


Back in the day when I was a young woman I would chuckle at the things my Mother-In-Law would say. She was living in a nursing home near us. My husband and I would go for a social visit on Sunday evenings and she would tell us about her week.

The stories were often about table mates or being excluded or the "crazy lady across the hall." Once she told about going to a birthday party in the big dining room where everywhere she look she saw gray hair, gray hair, gray hair.

That seems so long ago and I often puzzle about my attitude toward her life.

Today my husband told me we are seeing the enemy [aging] and he is us. NOW I get what my mother-in-law was talking about. Living in a community that resembles a college dorm more that anything is strange. We experience the same angst about friends and fitting in that we did back then. There are cliques. And finding a group to fit with takes time.

It is hard to make friends and it is very easy to lose them. They are more precious than ever these days. And to say that I treasure them is a great understatement.

Our life is progressing, changing, and coming full circle I suppose.

There is a tightrope we walk between keeping our little world happy and protecting ourselves. I am cranky sometimes so that is not good. It takes a lot of forgiveness and being deaf helps a lot too. I'm just saying!

I love my life here. These people are like my family...we may not always agree and we can talk about each other but we don't want anyone else to say anything bad about our community. After all, it is our "family"!

I have two thoughts for you to take away from this:
  • You just have to laugh...it is a lot less painful than crying.
  • Remember to watch for the enemy...it might be you!
Have a wonderful day.

b+

Jan 16, 2016

Books: What is Your Cup of Tea?

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Have you ever read a book and endorsed it based on your own personal preference? Did you do that because you thought the subject matter was bad or the writing horrible or because "it just wasn't your cup of tea"? Book reviewers endorse or nix books on a daily basis but it seems to me that they must have some criteria beyond "personal preference". Surely that type of person must have a broad range of interests. I hope so because I depend on those people in a lot of cases.

Last night I had dinner with two women that love reading as much as I do. The subject of how we pick books and what will turn us away from something we thought might be good came up in the conversation. Two books that I had read were on the considered but dumped list. A personal friend had in both cases told the reader that the books were not worth the time it took to read them. You will be amazed at what the two books were.

The first was the Pulitzer Prize winning  The Goldfinch and the second was the runaway bestseller Gone Girl: the novel. I was truly surprised. Both of these books had gone through a great deal of scrutiny by people that judge books on the quality of the writing. And they were best sellers to the general public. They are two very different books and two very good books. It has to be all about taste.

The Goldfinch was a pulitzer prize winner recently so I chose to read it for that reason. It was not a simple read nor was it uplifting. But it was one of the most interesting reading journeys I have taken in a while. I struggled with the wordiness sometimes but it is my choice to skip over too much detail if I want.

I can honestly say that I would recommend it to a reader that likes unusual writing style and subject matter. But then I loved Wally Lamb's books.  Like The Goldfinch, I Know This Much is True and She's Come Undone were not easy to read. I always thought Lamb's books spoke to the strength of the human spirit. I suppose The Goldfinch falls into that category.

But I know that I have an unusual reading list. My daughter always tells me to quit recommending those "strength of the human spirit" books. She doesn't like them.

As for Gone Girl, I love a good suspense novel and that one certainly got my interest to the point I almost forgot to get dressed for a couple of days. My daughter would have loved this one.

I have not read the Fifty Shades of Gray series, not because they are not wonderful books but they are not my cup of tea at all. I can't read anything Steven King...they scare me and I can't get those images out of my head after they are in there. I don't read romance novels because they don't keep my interest and Zane Grey was not my favorite. See what I mean about "personal likes and dislikes"? We each have our own style of reading.

Is there a point here? Well I suppose the dinner conversation taught me that my taste is not the same as others. My tolerance for some subject matter is different too. But most of all I am reminded that, while critics have their place, we need to make our own judgements.

So, what is on your list of good reads these days? I am very interested in what is new or even old out in the world.

b+

Jan 15, 2016

For the Love of Pete (Apple) and Trolls

Apple IMac(de)
Apple IMac(de) (Photo credit: Wikipedia) We owned on of these back in the day...unfortunately
I did not name it. 
I am sitting in front of my new iMac computer, a modernized version of my old computer, needing to write but not filled with focused inspiration. Not that a lot of stuff isn't flying around in my head. What to write about is the dilemma.

Thought #1: Trolls
A string of bloggers in a midlife age group I belong to began talking yesterday about trolls on the Internet. You know, those are those humans that take pleasure from telling us how they REALLY feel...the Donald Trumps of the blogging world in a way. Of course everyone is appalled when they are attacked personally. One woman was called a very bad mother which does honestly go the heart of who and what a woman is.

Then an author of published books said she made lemonade. Isn't that wonderful? She said that when she received one of those reviews she made notes and used the information in her next book. It was one of the ways she created evil fictional characters.

Thought #2: Apple Computer
But back to my new computer - I have decided to name him Pete (Apple) hence the title For the Love of Pete. We tend to feel that inanimate object have a life in our family. My son has a barbecue named Gary after the wonderful Gary Player of golfing fame. We have named cars, mixers and cats; lots of cats.

Cats aren't inanimate but I just thought I would mention them.

Of all the names floating around out there, I think Pete (Apple) fits my brand of computer the best. I don't think Pete is a perfect name nor is a perfect computer even possible. I did buy the extended warranty. Even though he is an iMac and I am convinced the Apple still puts out the easiest computer to operate, I am not unaware that even a perfect Pete can give me problems.

Pete is slim and so wonderfully new looking. I can't smell the newness but that is okay. Just looking at him makes me happy.

2016: Will it be all about the election? Maybe
So, now that Pete (Apple) is bought and paid for, I may begin to write more fiction. I see things online that make me want to create characters that I can dispose of with the delete button on the keyboard. After all, it is an election year.

A new computer and new ideas...this is shaping up to be a very interesting 2016. I like that.

Have a wonderful day.

b+

Jan 13, 2016

Bullying...Monitoring Your Own Backyard

Facebook logo
Facebook logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Pam Lutrell has written an article that is featured on Huffington Post. It is titled Another Life Lost When Will We Pay Attention. Pam wrote about the loss of a student she knew when she worked for a private school in Texas. The young person took their life because of an onslaught of social media bullying. The article was so well written and heartfelt.

As with all things that happen related to the community of students and those that are harmed by students bullying other students, my immediate reaction was that the school should have prevented this tragedy from happening. Then I began to wonder. Are we looking for or expecting something from our schools/government that we could actually in part take care of ourselves.

Taking care of my own backyard!
Social media is such a ethereal thing that even the most sophisticated user can forget that what we say is actually read and processed by a real human being somewhere and that that human may take what is said personally.

Every child has a computer in their hands and they feel such a disconnect from what they say online and the human that suffers from that action. The path from their action is leading to an epidemic of young people harming themselves. It is a very sad and seemingly unsolvable probably. But is it really? And are teens the only ones that are doing it?

I recently unfriended an outstanding writer that was on my Facebook list because that person went off on her sister-in-law. The post of hateful words included name calling. It made me feel a little sick. Social media was not the place to do that. I could only hope that the sister-in-law had a very thick skin.

I think there is a lot more of that sort of thing going on among adults than we would like to admit. The fact that a grown person is doing it and the recipient of the attack is adult seems to make it perfectly OK. The question we might ask is Would that person have the gall to say those things to their face? Somehow I think not.

The first thing that comes to mind here is that children follow their parents/teachers/families example. We all "friend" each other on social media so it is probably a given that what adults post children see.

Do you suppose there really is something even a grandmother like myself can do? Maybe so. Here is a list of possible actions to consider.
  1. Take great care with the tenor of all personal social media posts. Remember, your children/grandchildren/family/friends are watching.
  2. Never use that place as a location for personal attacks
  3. UNFRIEND/BLOCK anyone that crosses the line. Let them know why you are taking that action.
  4. Check social media often. Watch what is happening in your grandchild/child's social media world.
  5. Take immediate action on any personal attack on any children that are on your social media page.
  6. Let their parents know if you see something that is suspicious. It does take a village you know. (I have done this very thing and was grateful that I did.)
  7. Don't expect the school to take care of all your problems. Contact parents of the person that attacked your child personally even before you notify the school. If the situation is so dangerous that your child is afraid to have you do that, think about making a change at school. No child should be afraid.
  8. Always let your child know that you are their first and best advocate/protector.
  9. Say it often and loudly...family comes first. No matter who or what gets to us on the outside, family is most important. It needs to be a mantra so that as children go out the door each day, they know that you are a wall around their world. 
  10. Do not as an adult ever let someone bully you on social media. Block anyone that does that. It is the seed that grows and spreads its roots out into the lives of those around us.
If we are going to stop this type of behavior, we are going to have to monitor our own backyard. The school or the law or the Internet police cannot replace the good we can do when we take care of our own world.

Think about it. And if you can add to the list of possible actions we can take, let me know. I am all ears.

b+

Jan 12, 2016

Eyes in the Back of My Head

"How did you know that Mom?" they would ask when I would predict the arrival of a friend at the front door.
"I have eyes in the back of my head!" was always my answer. 
I explained that, when you have eyes in the back of your head, you just know things. As the years passed my children came to believe that I had great powers. The truth is I never told them any differently.

I suppose all mothers have that intuitive ability to know the next thing that will happen before it actually does. We see the harm in hammer thrown into the air and what will happen if you run at the swimming pool or don't learn to use the brakes on that new bicycle. It just comes with the job.

This morning I woke thinking about the New Year and those eyes that could see the future by looking backwards. My second set of eye were being called into action one more time. Could I look back and maybe know what was coming next?

Michaela watches and Ethan (the groom) visits will
my two youngest grandchildren Brycen and Shayliana
See, we have just married a grandson off...2 married and 10 to go...and the future is beginning to imitate the past. The grandson is a Marine and he and his beautiful bride are now stationed near San Diego where they will set up their first house. They are living what I hoped to live when my husband and I were married 55 years ago. Let the adventure begin.

Earlier this year my son-in-law was talking about a discussion they had at his Weight Watcher's group. The question on that particular morning was "How do you see yourself 10 years from now?"  He looked at me expectantly thinking I would make some claim to living forever and how I could be running a marathon 10 years in the future. Imagine his surprise when I told him I am the future...and I am living it now!

The eyes in the back of my head that watch see a panoramic view of sunrises and sunsets, children coming and going, falls and success. I see aging parents and grandparents. I see a family that stuck together even when they did particularly like each other sometimes. The future they tell me about is one of wisdom and learning and letting children and grandchildren find their own way. And I see what may be in store for my husband and I. I find glimpses of the future by looking into the past. And it is all good.

In fact, I told my daughter yesterday that I loved watching her and her brothers grow and leave home. Vicariously, my life became bigger and better. Now, as Ethan and Michaela set out to make a life that suits them, another layer of life is added to mine.

As for what I will be like in 10 years, I don't really have an image for that. Even though I think I know what my parents and grandparents experienced the truth is I really was not privy to the details. So I am allowed to envision my own life and not theirs. It has been said that we care very much about the future as we age even though we know it may not be perfect or even exist. My family, friends and even our planet are very much on my mind.

I will be living the future now and hopefully that second pair of eyes will continue to see clearly and far for many years to come.

Happy New Year

My beautiful granddaughters aged 12 and 8.

All of the men in our family (less the groom) at the wedding.

Part of our extended family at a post wedding breakfast. Boy friend, birth sister to son-in-law, my daughter, granddaughter, son, daughter-in-law, son-in-law and his sister and her son. And, of course, my husband in the background.

Jan 1, 2016

2016...Our Family Is Growing

We flew home from Arizona yesterday. Our flight was to leave Ticson at 8:30 and we were to catch a connecting flight in Phoenix at 11. As with all the best laid plans this one went awry. The plane had mechanical difficulties. We missed our connecting flight. We had a layover of five hours in Phoenix.
View of Mt. Good and Mt. Adams

But you know what...it was so much fun. The layover in Phoenix allowed us to drink a glass of wine, learn about the Oregon environmental agency from the lady sitting next to us in the bar and to practice taking a little nap sitting up. Life is good. 
In the picture above Ethan (our grandson) is the hunter and Mikaela is the beautiful girl with the antlers. They are to be wed tomorrow afternoon at 2:30. 

And we are enjoying all of the joy filled excitement that goes with an occasion like that.

Happy New Year's to everyone and I'll be talking to you later.

b+