Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Hope is the Thing with Feathers...


I'm away from home for a few days, getting some production done at our building in Junction City.

This leaves the husband manning the home front...always a scary proposition.

When he told me what he ate for dinner last night, I nearly gagged.  Fried rice, kung pao chicken and some leftover baked chicken breast, mixed together and topped with the last of the arrabiata (tomato and spicy pepper) pasta sauce I made last week.  O. M. G.

And this afternoon, he was on a mission from God, the attitude he always takes when he tackles a project when I'm away from home.  He was cleaning out the garage in preparation for accommodations for the small canine animal that will be arriving this weekend.  I can't wait to get home and see what all (of MINE) he threw away.

But about 7:30 this evening, my phone beeped the "Matt text" beep...  And I looked down to see this:

 
 
...with the message: 
 
"Burdz.  Six of them..."
 
It's a pretty bad cel phone picture of the hummingbird feeder outside our family room window, with at least four birds on it that I can see, and maybe a couple more hovering around, waiting their turn.   


Does the husband really care about hummingbirds?

No...  But he knows I do. 

I was oddly touched by this small reminder that he was thinking of me.

I don't know. 

Maybe we've turned a corner or something... 





Saturday, March 25, 2017

Giving its Due



My body is merely the shell of my soul
But the flesh must be given its due
Like a pony that carries its rider back home
Like an old friend that's tried and been true.

Eagles and Horses, John Denver 1990
 
In our society,  we are at war with our bodies.

We're never content with how they look.  They're too fat, to thin, too tall, too top-heavy; our hair is wrong, our eyebrows too thin, our noses too long or too crooked.  Our skin is the wrong color. 

On top of that, we don't trust our bodies.  We're live in constant fear that they are going to threaten us with some illness or infirmity that we cannot possibly accept as...the natural way of things.  Our bodies are out to get us; we must monitor them diligently to make sure they don't get the upper hand in the struggle.

I'm not getting any younger, and over the past five or six years, it's been disconcerting to begin to understand that my body has and will continue to undergo age-related changes for which I am not particularly prepared.  My mind does not feel old...other than the fact that my head contains a stack of memories nearly six decades high.  So when I glance down and see my mother's wrinkled hands attached to the ends of my arms, or when I have a hard time recognizing the sexagenarian face looking back at me from the mirror, I get this sense that...."Oh my god.  I really am getting old!" 

A little over a week ago, I made the decision to get serious about losing weight and getting fit, after a largely sedentary and over-indulgent winter.  But it's not because I want to look younger, or battle the aging process, or somehow keep my body from betraying me into an early grave. 

Rather, I've realized I need to be kind to my body.  I need to give it every opportunity to carry me forward as many years as we can go on together.  I need to feed it better food.  I need to keep it active... it tells me regularly that it does not like a sedentary lifestyle.  I have always had an overabundance of kinetic energy keeping me upright and moving; and sixty years in is a bad time to decide to allow the machinery to grind to a halt and get rusty.    

So I'm moving, I'm putting better feed into the trough, and I'm trying to set my course toward beautiful things (which hasn't been easy this rainy, cold, dreary winter.) 
And maybe this old pony will carry me on for a few more decades.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Shirt


Early last fall, one of my resale retail therapy excursions yielded this shirt.  



It’s a perfectly serviceable shirt.  A cotton thermal waffle-weavy affair, the sort of thing I own in various colors of the rainbow and wear all the time.  It sports an attractive print of black on gray—two of my go-to clothing colors.  And it’s long enough to fit down over my expanding hips and possibly even cover the vexing old-age camel-toe I’ve developed because most of my pants are at least a half-size too tight but I’m determined to lose ten pounds rather than go out and buy all new pants. 

The morning of November 8, 2016, dawned sunny and bright, perfect weather for wildlife photos.  I donned this shirt and a pair of old jeans, grabbed my new camera and headed over to Sauvie Island for a practice session.  The ulterior motive behind this being to take myself away from the tedious, soul-killing hype of election day media coverage.

On that day over on the island, the Universe gifted me with a unique one-on-one encounter with a perfectly obliging little barred owl, who patiently posed on a limb at the edge of a stand of trees only a few yards from the road…practically right above my head.  There she sat, turning her head one way and then the other, fixing her soft black eyes on me with a steady gaze, but showing no sign of fear or flight as I moved closer and closer.  I must have taken fifty shots or more of her.  I was enchanted. 

 

The enchantment, however, was not nearly enough to buoy me through the rest of the day’s happenings.

Later that evening, my head nearly exploded as I watched the Cheeto Jesus—beyond all reason, logic, and credibility—elected the 45th President of the United States.  


I have a thing about clothes.  I tend to think of them as talismans…charms.  Carriers of juju.  If something really good or really bad happens when I’m wearing some particular item, it’s forever marked with the energy of that occurrence. 

So.  This shirt.

While wearing it, I experienced an amazingly beautiful and loving gift from the Universe.

On the same day, that shirt covered my body as one of the illest winds ever to blow across this continent crawled from east to west and trapped us in this hell which we now inhabit.  Maybe in terms of what it says about the state of our national character and our place among the nations of the world, this was a disaster well beyond the scale of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack.  November 8, 2016 was the event that very possibly has signaled the beginning of the end of our Republic. 

I’m afraid the encounter with Ms Owl just doesn’t contain enough positive energy to erase or even begin to counteract the negative stench that piece of clothing absorbed later that fateful day. The stink of Trump’s victory forever taints everything; everything about that day and the days that have followed.    

The shirt has sat in my drawer for four months.  I look at it, I reach for it, I just about convince myself that I’m being ridiculous, silly, insane…it’s just a shirt, and a nice shirt at that.

But I just can’t put it on.  I can’t.

Back to the Goodwill it goes.

Or maybe I should burn it…?        

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

No Surprise



I don't watch Fox News.  I don't watch The 700 Club.  I don't listen to Rush Limbaugh, or Glen Beck, or talk radio of any kind.  If I do, by accident, somehow subject myself to as much as fifteen seconds of any of this batshit right-wing hateful  hysteria,  I'm almost immediately ready to jump out a window.
The down side of this is, since I make it a point NOT to look at or listen to this stuff, I have no idea how bad it actually IS.  And this is what caused me to be so utterly blindsided by the crazy rise of candidate Trump.   And subsequently speechless in disbelief when he actually won the presidential election. 
But the following video showed up on my Facebook News feed the other day. 


Watch it.  All of it, if you think you can stand it.  I did.

Now.  Having seen this 6-minute stream of lies, inane accusations, screaming hatred and manufactured crises, you will have to ask yourself:
Why would anyone who watches this stuff day after day NOT choose Trump?  He's the pure personification of all the ugliness, violence and unmasked hatred recorded in these film clips and sound bites. 
This stuff had been going on for eight years.  Since long before running for office was even a foggy spark in Trump's twisted brain.   
Trump is not the cause of our nation's descent into bedlam. 
He's the result. 
My questions are these:  How do we save people who will watch and believe this putrid garbage?
And...do we really want to?


Monday, March 20, 2017

A State Funeral for Trump? Ugh!


Yesterday, an old reporter passed away.  His name was Jimmy Breslin, and he was a Pullitzer Prize-winning veteran of the smoke-filled sausage-fest copy rooms of the 20th century.  Breslin was known for presenting sympathetic views of the "common man." 

Upon his death, articles and tributes circulated around the internet.  Many called attention to his most famous column, a piece written two days after the funeral of  JFK.  Breslin chose to catalog the emotions surrounding the burial of the slain president through the eyes and actions of the man who dug Kennedy's grave. 

I read through that column, sitting at the breakfast table on Sunday morning.  It was a beautiful piece of writing; the like of which we are not likely to see again, in this rush-to-publish, sell-the-soap, poke-the-hornet's-nest era of journalism we are now forced to endure. 

Most poignant was Breslin's   description of Jackie Kennedy walking down the streets of Washington DC behind her husband's casket:

"She came out from under the north portico of the White House and slowly followed the body of her husband, which was in a flag-covered coffin that was strapped with two black leather belts to a black caisson that had polished brass axles.  She walked straight and her head was high.  She walked down the bluestone and blacktop driveway and through shadows thrown by the branches of seven leafless oak trees.  She walked slowly past the sailors who held up flags of the states of this country.  She walked past silent people who strained to see her and then, seeing her, dropped their heads and put their hands over their eyes.  She walked out the northwest gate into the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue.  She walked with tight steps and her head was high and she followed the body of her murdered husband through the streets of Washington."

His clear description brought back my own memories of that day.  I was only eight years old, and yet, I remember.  The television was on all day, and we watched the proceedings, live.  Every minute.  Young as I was, I absorbed the tragedy, and the solemnity, and the painstaking formality of the ceremony. 

Half a century later, sitting at the breakfast table with my coffee and my iPad and my memories on Sunday morning, a thought occurred to me that was almost unendurable.
 
Since last November, I have secretly longed for some fatal tragedy to befall our hapless joke of a president.  Honestly. And I can't be the only person in America whose thoughts have fluttered around this abhorrent and perverted hope.  Despite the cyclone of all things crass, idiotic, dangerous and anti-presidential that emanates from and swirls around him every minute of every day, he remains essentially untouched.  The sudden cessation of his existence would seem the only way we can possibly be shed of him. The very fact that he could induce me to wish death upon another human being makes me loathe him even more.

But when I thought about the pomp and solemnity and honor...the tragic beauty of the state funeral for John Kennedy, our last President to die in office; and pondered all that being put on for Cheeto Jesus...I nearly lost my breakfast.

Unimaginable.  Unconscionable.  Sacrilegious.  To even conceive of that sort of tribute and respect and national mourning applied to the loathsome toad who currently sits behind the desk of the Oval Office.
Never. 
Thanks to Jimmy Breslin, that old-school, cigar-chomping journalist of the last century, I no longer wish death on the SCROTUS. 
Not unless we could simply throw him back into the sewer he crawled out of and let the rats and maggots take care of him.       

 

Counting down...


Two more weeks!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Seeking Peace Through Stepping Away


For those of us who tend toward the depressive, personality-wise, the past four months have been a constant battle to keep from sliding into that pit from which it is so difficult to escape.  In fact, there's not much motivation to climb out, because what's above doesn't look any more inviting than that into which we are steadily sliding.  Between the weather and the political miasma this winter, we hang  in a space between active panic and silent despair.

A friend commented on another friend's Facebook post that she didn't know what we were supposed to do with any of this Trump mess.  To which I replied,

"Makes us all sick to have that controversy swirling around us 24/7.  But if you try to distance yourself from it, you feel guilty because the situation is so dire you feel you have to be doing SOMEthing about it.  It's a disaster on every level."


And so it is.  But behind it all lingers the resolute belief that there are positive measures I can take to relieve some of the emotional burden of the circumstances in which we find ourselves.  And puzzling out and employing those measures is of primary importance... lest I end up in a straight jacket, or worse. 

One logical approach is to limit the time one spends swimming around in the cesspool.  And, of course, Facebook provides the most convenient slide right into the middle of the muck.  So there's part of the answer:  Limit Facebook time.  But for someone like me, where social media is pretty much my only community, to cut ties with it is to condemn myself to the equivalent of solitary confinement.  In spring and summer, when I have other things to occupy me, that isn't necessarily a bad thing.  But this time of year, with this gray, sodden winter that will not give us a break and will not go away, taking away social media would be very difficult.

It is possible, of course, to be on Facebook without wallowing in the pig trough.   There are at least a couple of pages I belong to that are connected to my other interests, notably photography.  So another avenue of control would be to pledge to only spend time on non-political interaction on social media  Maybe even start a non-political page of my own. 

I think maybe a more attractive approach would be to dedicate one or two days a week to taking a break from politics.  Mental health days, as it were.  In fact, it would probably be smarter to do politics only on one or two days a week, and get away from it the rest of the time...but I honestly think it has become a sick addiction from which I shall have to wean myself in a measured way.  Cold turkey is not an option.

So.  How to make this happen...  I think will try a couple of things:

1.)  Declare weekends "wallow-free" times.  If  I do go on the internet, it will have to be with intent other than to survey the political landscape through my liberal social media bubble--where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth 24/7.  Avoiding that unceasing howl for two days a week is essential.   Avoiding the computer all together would be optimal, but since I know I won't be able to do that, why set myself up to fail?  Let's just say we'll stay away from politics, and see what happens.

2.) Declare 1 day a week, possibly Wednesdays, as Purely Positive Post Day.  Anything I post or share on social media or on the blog will have to be upbeat, informative, encouraging, funny (but not snarky or cynical)...just a rainbow in the storm-ravaged firmament of the internet.  Even if no one else reads or cares (and given my high-profile social media presence, that's a given...) I can at least create a small pocket of positive space for myself.

Whatever happens, however I may have to change or recalculate these steps, I feel it's good to be taking steps; rather than just letting all the shrieking and wailing wash over me in uncontrolled wave after wave.  Stepping away for some time every week will be a good thing. 

Each morning, I entreat Heron to guide me toward balance for the day.  Here is some positive direction toward achieving that balance.    
 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Beyond Repair


This is why the Republican Congress couldn't do anything the last 6 years of Obama's term, and is not going to be any more successful now.

House:

Republicans: 237
"Freedom Causcus" members: 29
Democrats: 193. 


Effectively giving "mainstream" Republicans  208 seats--a minority.

Senate:

Republicans: 51
Tea Party Caucus: 4
Democrats: 46
Independent: 2


Effectively giving "mainstream" Republicans 47 seats--again, a minority. 

The GOP has a majority that is not a majority, all because of 33 members of Congress who have called the shots on everything since 2010. For seven years, the Tea Party has opposed everything not of its own creation and shown no inclination to compromise on anything--even with less radical members of their own party.  They effectively shut down our federal government years ago.  And I don't see them weakening any time in the near future.

It should be interesting to watch Republicans try to pass a health care law under these circumstances. Or anything, for that matter.

I know we all loathe Trump, but our government was broken long before he took over...

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Expecting

We're hoping this li'l biskit will fill the dog-shaped hole in our lives...

 
We'll see...in four weeks. 
 
 


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Ten Things About Being Away



Last day of the month, and I'm under the gun.  Need that tenth post for the month of February.

One reason for this end-of-the-month sprint has been that I've been away from home for a week.  Before our tax refunds were processed, we barely had two dimes to rub together in the business coffers.  Which doesn't play very well when you have a building to maintain to the tune of about $600 a month. So off we went to Newport, braving all manner of crappy winter weather, to this direly expensive February event on the coast... hoping to at the very least create some badly needed cash flow.  Which turned out to be pretty much all we did.  The event was poorly attended, and kind of a bust.   . 

But I'm home now, sitting in my chair, laptop at the ready, staring at the blinking cursor... Utterly burnt out as I am on the subject of the drama playing out in our nation's capital, I think I'll revive another of my old stand-bys:  The "ten things" list.  And since, as I said, I've just returned from a week away, I'll make that the subject of my ten things.

Ten Things About Being Away From Home For A Week, In No Particular Order

1.)  After dismantling the hyper-illumination of Christmas, I go to great lengths to concoct pleasing lighting schemes throughout the house, to battle the constant gloom that envelops the Pacific Northwest from November through the end of March or beyond.  We also have a pellet stove in the family room, which provides a cheerful flame and a dry warmth to combat the ceaseless dampness.  When I get up in the morning, I go around the house and turn on the lights, if only to stave off the SAD that strikes after the holidays.  And I light the fire, for warmth and cheer.   Husband, on the other hand, uses lighting only when needed for a task.  When I'm not home, he never turns on a light unless he needs it to see.  And god forbid he should light the stove.  He sits on the couch, in the dark, wearing a hoody  with the hood up over his head, hands jammed in his pockets, while he watches his four hours of tv between dinner and bed time.

2.)  Speaking of husband's evening repast...his week's dinners consisted of one fat Costco rotisserie chicken and the last bags of stale chips left in the pantry from last year's market/festival season.     

3.) Though it irritates me that vacuuming, dish-washing and other essential tasks aren't performed in my absence, it's almost worse when they ARE done.  Dishes get put away where I can never find them again; if he does take out the vacuum, he crams it back in the closet so that it falls out every time I open the door; MY clothes disappear into some mysterious void when he does laundry.  Hard to pay lip service to appreciating the effort when you're opening drawers, crawling through cabinets and struggling with closet doors, looking for your lost stuff...

4.) The birds don't expire from lack of food while I'm gone.  It takes them about fifteen minutes to realize I'm back and the gravy train is back on track.  I don't know why I worry they'll abandon me.

5.)  The cats, on the other hand, don't seem to give a rat's ass whether I'm home or not.  I walked in the door on Monday afternoon, and they barely lifted their heads to acknowledge me.  It's like, "Oh.  It's you.  Yay."  I need a dog.

6.)  It's funny how fast you can get used to not having cat hair all over everything you wear, eat, drink, sit on or sleep in...  Maybe I should point this out to certain feline animals who share my living space, when they are inclined to show so little enthusiasm about my return.

7.)  One of my primary realizations on returning to this house after time away is that it is too big, too much, and too hard.  I spend a lot of time making a home and maintaining a space that is primarily enjoyed by...me.  And if that is going to be the case, that space needs to be much smaller and more user friendly. 

8.)  Why is it that when you're driving pulling a full trailer, you get so much more tired than when you're just driving an empty truck?  Why does it feel like you personally are dragging that extra weight up hill and down dale strapped to your own back?

9.)  I NEED a vacation at the beach, before the start of Market season turns trips to the coast into work rather than play.  I'm going to address that issue as soon as I'm done with this post. 

10.)  As much as the husband doesn't seem engage with our home at all when I'm away, he does seem to miss me when I'm gone.  Maybe we're only sitting together in the (bright, warm) family room watching tv in the evenings.  But apparently, he enjoys it so much more when I'm there, too.  After what we have been through, relationship-wise, I guess that is something to be thankful for.  So I am. 

So, there.  Ten random thoughts about my week-long absence.  And now, I think I need to crawl into that side of the bed that he never disturbs while I'm gone (he crawls in and out of his very own side of the bed , leaves all the pillows and blankets on my side in place...never even wrinkles them) and rest my weary head.