Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

It seems like holidays in America are taking tougher and tougher beatings.  Everybody from Native Americans to unapologetic capitalists was out to kick the crap out of Thanksgiving this year.  One way or another, you were made to feel like some kind of freak if you just wanted to celebrate a "traditional" holiday at home with family scarfing down a huge meal and then dozing in front of the television for the rest of the evening.  

I suppose when you stop to think about it, our traditional Thanksgiving celebrations don't much resemble those of the past--say, a hundred years ago.  I imagine there are past generations who would despair of the Macy's parade and football games having become long~standing traditions of the day.  Why are we not spending at least some part of the day in prayerful contemplation of our blessings? We long ago replaced the giving thanks part of "Thanksgiving" with testimonies to the things of 20th century importance--consumerism and sports worship.   

It makes sense  to  consider the march of "progress" when you think to criticize the observance of very old holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving.  And you must take into account the tenor of the times, which just happens to be argumentative, disrespectful and as self-centered as possible at present.  How can any day, any celebration carried out in the atmosphere of 21st-century America not be tainted by the swirling negativity that colors every aspect of our lives?

How, indeed, can a day that was meant to provide an opportunity to pause and reflect on the providence that has placed us where we are, on the pure grace bestowed upon us, be celebrated and appreciated in this "I got mine all by myself and screw you if you think I'm gonna help YOU" culture we inhabit?

Would it be too much to ask for  the culture of gratitude to permeate more than Facebook posts?  What if you could turn on the television or radio or walk down the street and be not merely  aware of a spirit of thankfulness, but actually surrounded by it?  

Not gonna happen, I know.  

But wouldn't it be nice?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Little Victories Are The Fountain of Youth

I know I am old, and I know that I am so far behind when it comes to technology that, if I look at my hands really hard, they take on the appearance of dinosaur claws.

So when I sally forth into the world of electronics beyond my four-year-old laptops and my crappy Century-link internet connection, and I actually slay that dragon, I feel pretty damn good.  I feel a little bit less like the relic I am.

A couple of days ago, I ventured into the world of the iPad.  The only other Apple product I have ever owned is my itty-bitty iPod Shuffle.  And I distinctly remember going through the tortures of the damned trying to get that thing to actually accept music and then play it back to me.  I got the hang of it eventually, but the experience served to make me more than a little reluctant  to climb out the Bill Gates window and try my hand at anything too far outside of it.

And yet, here I am...clicking out a blog entry on my iPad with its bluetooth keyboard.  This successful foray into "new" technology so emboldened me that, this afternoon, I tried my hand at installing a wireless router.  

Oh, yes...the thing comes with a dvd that supposedly gives step-by-step instructions that any idiot can follow.  However, I--not being your run-of-the-mill idiot--could not make sense of the instructions past about step 3.  In the end, what worked for me was to stare at and study the three pieces of equipment I had before me--router, modem and computer tower--and the two wires that were somehow supposed to magically make them speak to each other, and proceed to connect them together in every WRONG combination possible.  Why something didn't flame out, freeze up or reach out and slap me upside the head, I have no idea.

Finally, I arrived at the last possible combination--the last thing I could conceivably try (short of putting the whole assembly in a brown bag, swinging it over my head and screaming like a chicken...) before the dreaded call to the guy who cheerfully says, "Hello, my name is Bob," but you know you're really talking to Rajeed and American English is not his first language...  I have SO been to that hell, and would do just about anything not to go there again.

Wonder of wonders, that last combination proved to be the magic assembly that made the components speak to each other in a language the gods of the ether could understand.  And, presto chango! I have wi-fi internet at my sister's house in Eugene.

Once again...

Victory is mine!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Is This Cheating?

My month of writing is beginning to face some challenges.  Yes, that's right.  On November 1, I challenged myself to commit to writing something every day for the next thirty days.   And, by golly, I have done so. The writing may not be good, it Might not even be decent, but it exists.  And that is really the only goal I was pursuing.

Husband and I were listening to NPR Sunday morning, and they did a piece about a weekly online song writing challenge.  The members have to write a song a week.  It doesn't have to be great, it just needs to be a song.

Jason Mraz--successful musician/recording artist who has been addicted to the game since2006--makes the point that "anything you want to be great at, you have to practice."  And the little cartoon lightbulb went on above my head:  That is exactly what I am doing with my "write something every day" 30-day challenge. 

I don't know why we writers seem to think that the talent is just there, and all we ever have to do is sit down and turn it on, like a faucet.  When I go back and look at my best essays, I find they are usually produced during my most fertile periods, when I write daily, or at least several times a week.  Around about the end of summer this year, I took a look at the few posts I had made between June and September, and realized they were crap.  Got really discouraged for a time...and then decided to get off my ass and write.  Can't say I'm entirely displeased with the results...

This weekend is going to prove a challenge, though, since I'm down in Eugene for the holiday, in a home without wi-if.  I'm determined to keep the faith, though....  It's just going to take some creative thinking.

Anyway, for anyone who might have been wondering about my sudden flurry of activity here and at "Women On," my secret's out.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Technology Test

So...we're going to put the iPad Blogger app through its paces and see if we can post an entry with it. This should be interesting, since, when I first downloaded the app a couple of hours ago, it couldn't find "Coming to Terms..." With both hands.  I was just starting to fuss out about that, going on Facebook and asking if anyone else had had this problem and all...  And then I pulled up the app again  and voila! there was CtT...  Whatever...

Now that I'Ve finished with the "test entry", we'll have to figure out how to publish it.  Here goes... 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Blue Bird of Gratitude

The weather has continued to be insanely lovely.  Today was our fifth day in a row of not-rain, and not-rain is forecast through Tuesday of this week.   Which is not usual for this time of year around these parts.  It has gotten pretty cold at night—down into the 20’s—and in the morning after the sun climbs high enough in the sky to thaw some spots in the yard, we are alive with birds.  Woodpecker, flicker, towhee and I’ve had another visit from the brown creeper; my little kinglet flitting around the branches of the apple tree.  A fat robin scarfing down berries from the pyrachantha.    The posse of chickadees, three kinds of sparrows (song, golden crown and white crown); starlings and bushtits on the suet, “stupid pigeons” (turtledoves) pecking at corn on the ground, purple finches, lesser goldfinches, the ever-present crowd of juncos and the continuing aeronautics of the hummingbirds.  And I’ve witnessed one visit by the Cooper’s hawk, though I’m sure he’s been around more.

Today we went out for brunch and stopped at the “nuclear park” on the way home.  I brought my camera, which is usually the kiss of death as far as photo opportunities go.  If I tote the camera along, I almost never see or get close enough to anything to get a decent picture.

So we got out of the car and scared up a couple of egrets that would not fly close enough for a good shot.  Then we walked down to the path around the pond, spotted a few geese and ducks…nothing we haven’t seen before.  We came upon another egret who also declined to stick around for a photo shoot.  (Egrets have been very much in evidence in my life the past few months…more on that later.)

The wind was up and we were getting chilled, so we turned around and headed back toward the car instead of doing the whole route around the pond as we usually do.  All the time scanning the branches of the tall, naked trees for SOMEone to immortalize digitally.  The trees were gorgeous against the slightly misty blue sky, but…empty.  Skunked again, I thought, and started to climb the embankment up to the road where we parked the car, capping my lens and commencing to stuff the camera back into its neoprene sleeve.


“What the…”

 “Kronkkk!  KRONKKK!!”   from almost right above our heads.

“That’s a heron.  Where is it?”

KRONKKK!!”   (Right up here, idiot!)

It still took me awhile to find him, in spite of the fact that he continued his intermittent croaking.  I finally triangulated the sound to a branch in a tree not far from us.  He was so well camouflaged I would never have seen him had he not called out to me.

He did not want me to leave without having a little face-time.  It was as if he was saying, “I’ve been sent with a greeting from the Universe.  And I was NOT going to let you go away without sharing it.”


All I have to say is,

“Thank you!”

Friday, November 22, 2013

And The Answer Is....

Looks like, “Not.”

Interviewer didn’t bother to call back and inform me of the thumbs up or thumbs down in the time frame promised.  Though I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to happen.  It is indeed a fact that I have no talent for predicting the outcome of an interview.  But let’s just say I didn’t feel a lot of love when I left that building Wednesday morning.  And when you have sat talking with three women for a half hour and you feel no emotional connection at the end of the conversation, you get that you haven’t been accepted into the tribe. 

There is an upside to this, however.

After the interview, I decided that I would be rewarded either way.  If the job didn’t want me, Klamath Falls did.

So, I kind of gave the Universe a couple of options.  If I was supposed to go back to work, I would land the position.  If the Almighty preferred I continue on the tack I’m on now, I would plan another week in Klamath in January of 2014. 

Looks like the Universe chose the wildlife.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

To Job or Not To Job

So.  Here it is, thirty months since we closed the restaurant.  And I’ve visited the “I need a job” question once or twice in that time.

About a year ago, as I recall, I was really wrestling with it.  Wanted—needed—something to do, but didn’t really feel that The Universe was on board with me striking out in that direction quite so soon.

But, you know, I sent resumes out there.  And I continue to do so, from time to time.  It’s not like I’m conducting a serious job search.  I mean, I don’t need a job that bad.  In fact, I don’t think I could allow myself to need a job that bad.  Financially, we are doing fine on what the husband brings home right now.  It’s not like I wouldn’t like to have a little extra income—mostly to throw at the lingering debt from the restaurant that’s hanging around our necks.  But if there’s anything I might hate worse than having wasted most of five years owning my own restaurant, it would be that I spent an almost equal block of time previous to that looking for a job.  There are few things I loathe more than job searching.  Hard to say whether that attitude existed before that period of time, or was a product of it. 

In reference to those few resumes I have floated out into the ether since closing the restaurant:  It’s funny, but I’ve had a pretty good track record on them.  I think I’ve sent out three resumes in two and a half years, and I’ve gotten calls back on all three of them.  Which sort of gives the lie to the idea that I have in my head that my resume is crap that is hardly fit to line the bottom of a bird cage.

Of course, none of these has actually led to a job offer.  The first one--a cook position at an Assisted Living facility--generated a call back left on my voicemail;  when I called back to speak to the person who had left the message, he/she was not available.  So, I reasoned, I guess they don’t really want me that bad, so I didn't follow up...and neither did they.  Evidently I was not ready to seriously entertain the idea of going back to work.  So any excuse that got me off the  hook was good enough.

The second was the Wild Bird Shops job, for which I spent fifteen minutes on a tedious “telephone interview”—which took place months after I had answered the ad—and then I never heard from them again.  Not even to say, “Sorry, we hired someone else.”  Classy.  Who needs that kind of crap?  So I didn’t send out another resume for almost a year.

Last month, I came across an ad that struck my fancy.  But once again, I heard nothing from the employer within a reasonable span of time, so I forgot about it.  Until I get this email yesterday, saying something to the effect of, “Remember you answered our ad over a month ago?  Are you still interested?”

So, I thought, what the heck?  I’ll tell them I am. 

Which resulted in, today, my first face-to-face, bona fide, real live job interview since 2002. 

I had no idea what I was doing, had no plan of what to say, just figured I’d show up and see what happened. 

How did it go?  I've never been able to read these things accurately...when I think I've aced an interview, I never hear from the employer again.  When I think I sucked, they pant after me as if I were some prize nugget.  I am NOT going to do the whole, "Call them back, send a thank-you note, get your post-interview oar in there one more time."  It's a part-time job baking cookies, for god's sake.  I either have the chops for it, or I don't. 

The owner told me I would hear one way or the other by Friday.  It will be interesting to see if this actually transpires…

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

New Tuesday Series: Life is Good....

I was riffling through the pages of a catalog I received in the mail (I get a million catalogs, since I am a frequent flier at Amazon…)  and I came upon these cute t-shirts and sweatshirts emblazoned with the sentiment:  “Life is good.”

I thought about that for a minute.  Hmmm.  Life is good?  “Good” would not be the first adjective that would spring to mind if someone requested me to fill in that blank.  Life is ________.

What would be my knee-jerk response?

Life is:  a pain in the ass, sometimes.

Life is:  an uphill battle.

Life is:  what it is. 

Life is…good?

It occurred to me that perhaps I might take that concept and develop it a bit.

I’ll bet I could come up with one “Life is good because________________ every week.

So here’s this week’s.

Wait a minute.  Let me think about this for a bit.  Maybe I could cough one up by…next Tuesday.

No.  Here.  I have one.

Life is good…because I could sit on my deck with a glass of wine in my hand, a peach and gold sunset painting the sky, and watch a little downy woodpecker rat-a-tatting his way up the trunk of one of my poplar trees, just before it got too dark for bird watching.

You know what?

Life IS good!