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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Speaker for the Dead

Bloom when you can, where you are.

"Sometimes lies are more dependable than the truth."
Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card

Fall. Pumpkins. Goblins and ghouls.

Parties and costumes and not a clue.

We are straddling the time between...

Summer and Winter

Plenty and Paltry

Life and Death

Ancestral Altar
I remember.

Samhain, All Hallow's Eve, Halloween, is the time of honoring those who have passed beyond the veil. This night is the time when the veil is thinnest between the worlds. It is honored (or feared) as the dead return; hence, costumes, jack-o-lanterns, and candy.

Each year I hold my loved ones in my heart and honor the love we shared, the support they extended and the adventure that continues in their absence. The photo is of my honored space on the north wall at the eastern side of my home. Each item represents an aspect of my life past - a place, time, or experience. Perhaps, a person.

I am challenged at this writing to type the words I considered. The Speaker for the Dead tells the story of one who has passed. The Speaker shares that person's life - their hopes, dreams, challenges, and accomplishments with clarity, understanding, and compassion. My intention was to be Speaker for my mother, who passed in March 2012.

There are a number of problems with this process. I do not know her well enough to answer even the basic questions. My story of my mother is filled with angst and woe (and a bit of resentment, still). I can only guess and suppose what challenges confronted her based on the distress she handed down to me. What I can offer is how my life is, because of who she was.

My mother had an obsession with putting money away. Beyond saving, she learned a tuck and hide (from her father) that I picked up. She didn't actually talk about it. I just knew that there must always be money someplace that no one else know about. I have learned to manage, budget and save, even in the most difficult of times. That was a gift.

My mother was a great cook and had great patience for sifting and measuring. She knew the value of better ingredients if one expected to have a delightful result. When others were using lard and margarine, we still baked with butter. When imitation vanilla came on the market, we bought pure. We were poor, yet she never lowered her standards for baking. Besides encyclopedias, we had lots of cook books to read.

While I was not impressed as a child of the 60s, my mother sewed most of our clothes. They were butt ugly. People laughed at me all the time. It seriously sucked. I was in college, working at Sears, before I could buy anything fashionable. When I had children, I made their clothes. The time and energy invested made me feel wonderful. I bought a bolt of fabric and made outfits to match. From newborn to grade school, I worked days and sewed nights. (I had some prairie persona going on.)

Something happened to my mother and she spend lots of time and energy pitting my father and siblings against me. Too bad. I didn't buy in. They did. Too bad, some more. There were moments that I felt overwhelmingly sad, hurt, lost and rejected. I made countless poor (less useful) decisions hoping for my mother's acceptance and approval. Running down the road one day, I realized that it didn't matter what I did, it wasn't coming.

I love my children, no matter what. I tell them so. When they were teens, they would offer scenarios to challenge the promise. No way. They are my family and I am committed to love and cherish them. Today they are adults, making and living their own lives and decisions. Do I agree? Not always. Love isn't dependent on agreement. Love is.

Samhain is the time when I open to the deep and abiding love I have shared in a time and place that has passed. I thought I would have this piece with my mother sorted before she died. I went when they called because I have been dragging this piece around my whole life. Something had to shift. That whole deathbed declaration fantasy... just didn't happen.

This moment we are in, here and now... This is it. Step up. Reach out and love another. There's no day but today.

Om Shanti Om

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Graveyard Can Wait

A Life of Contradictions

Ah, togetherness...

I love my children and miss the moments we once shared; the way they followed me about like ducklings. I dressed us all from the same bolt of fabric for easy identification in case of separation. Those were the days.

And not.

I was 100% responsible for what happened with and to them. Children require sight on supervision until they are able to understand and discern safety, and practice good judgements. (Which means to do as I would do in the same situation.) I had been growing them up from birth to leave the nest, before I had to boot them out. My leg was cocked, in case of reluctance/resistance.

Today, they are adults, and while I hear from them occasionally, I miss the connection of tumbles and wrestling in the early mornings. Our only Christmas tradition was mimosa in bed for breakfast. Even as adults, with their partners, we all crawled in bed to drink, "Love and Happiness." That's enough.

I am still in love with my life, and even in the face of challenges to my choices, I continue. I save wherever I can, knowing that there is something greater that I desire. Freedom.

I believe in aging gracefully and naturally (with the help of Miss Clairol, L'Oreal, Feria, and John Freida). I take care of my skin by drinking lots of water, getting plenty of rest, and applying natural edible oils. Every now and then, I apply commercial cosmetic products - for fun.

I am concerned about my intake. I eat healthy, cooking much of what I ingest and share from "scratch." However, potato chips have been perfected by a number of companies and I am going to buy them. Here is my attempt at making microwave crisps. It was an interesting experiment that need not be repeated.

I believe in moderation. That's personal. I hear that one drink is equivalent to one beer, one five-ounce glass of wine, or one shot of liquor. Says who? When I am sharing, those are fine standards. If you brought your own, we will adjust. I believe in the freedom to choose. And whether that is chocolate, potato chips or booze, I want my judgement intact. (Generally, one bag, bottle, or bar equals one serving - mine.)

I believe in listening to my body; however, I live by a schedule. My body likes to stay awake into the wee hours of the morning. My schedule requires that I wake by 0700. My body loves coffee, but can't rest if it has caffeine after 1000. My body loves to hunker, lounge, stretch, and slug. It requires movement to function effectively. So, I walk to work to ensure exercise. Use a Pilates machine to strengthen and stretch. Practice yoga, sometimes (though mostly in my mind these days).

I believe in giving myself a break. Ease and effort. That's what life is about. Finding the balance so that we can reach for and push the edge, then step back and recoup. The life of a Scorpio can at times feel like a race to jump over the next cliff, or a free fall and crashing into the valley.

I pay attention. That fall and subsequent injury meant slow down. Walking through the the pain means look where you are going. Society celebrates those who are running the rat race and scorns them when they fall from the pedestal. Grow up. Get and education. Work hard. Make money. Be "successful." Then die. There will be great stories told about our life to inspire others (to do the same).

For me, the graveyard can wait.

Be awesome. Do what you love. Find friends to share the adventure. Sing. Play. Dance. Write. Go outside and look up. Keep looking up. Breathe deeply. Live.

Thank you to all my readers!

I think to you often.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Pumpkin Festival

Huge Pumpkins, Fields and Yards of Pumpkins, Bounce house, Fairy Dresses

What a day. I have just been way too busy to stop and post long ass opinions. I still have them and occasionally take the time to write. Just not post. Since I spend Friday, Saturday and Sunday with my grand-daughters, we are busy, busy, busy.

Today we went to the Pumpkin Festival. It seemed as if the entire town plowed and planted pumpkins. There were homes with pumpkins lining the yards, porches, and walkways. You could buy them from wagons, piles, stacks, or fields - where you pick them yourself. They were wooden, ceramic, glass, or gourds painted to look like pumpkins.

There were plenty of activities for the children and I am thankful to have found a very well organized bounce house. I offered DA the chance to ride a horse, but she passed until it was time to go. By then it was raining. I had hoped to post beautiful fall foliage; however, between the overcast skies and the dust kicked up from vehicles, the photos pale with reality. Still, there were moments...

Now that I am typing, I realize, I didn't see or smell any pumpkin pie, cookies or bread. The entire town smelled like a carnival - blooming onions, potato tornadoes, funnel cakes, cotton candy and more deep fried stuff.

Not that any of that was attractive, but we had granola bars and water. DA, like a hummingbird, was  attracted to sweet colorful drinks. We learned "see with our eyes, not with our hands." There were all kinds of pretties and bobbles to buy. They had more tulle dresses than I have ever seen. Beautiful! And very expensive - $25 each.

On the way home we stopped and bought five yards of tulle for $5.36 and two head bands at $1.99 each. I took a crochet hook and looped strips of tulle through the holes. At the dollar store we got new wings, blue hair, and a wand. Now DA is Tinkerbell, or a princess, or a ballerina, or a mermaid. We keep a collection of interchangeable items for each persona.

You never know who you might be until the moment comes.

This was a cool pumpkin...
Pumpkin chimineas - There is a fire burning inside

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Ranting and Raving

I am so busy.
I am doing it all.
I work three jobs. One I love. I get to think, create, investigate, research, look for openings and options and reach for the greatest possibilities.
The other is the call center situation. It teaches me to let go, to remember that "it's not personal," and every now and then to connect with incredibly interesting people, both on the phone and in the next cubical.
Then there's the third. It is a direct care position providing support of people with diagnoses on the developmental disability scale. This is work I appreciate and do well. It can be challenging and rewarding. The staff and administration, well that's something else. I have a long list but we are going to stick with the present (or recent past).

After a full day I raced across town in 5 pm traffic to make a 5:30 meeting. When I park there is a man at the door waving me to go faster. I am already exhausted. I forgot about eating and only had a granola bar with water since the morning. I was hoping they were providing dinner. I get to the door and he says, "I just wanted you to hurry. They are ready to start."

Out comes the director and says we can not attend. We are late. There are three of us standing there. I explain that I was delayed due to traffic and that there was no notice or indication that we would be denied access on the post for the meeting. She explained that people had shown up 15 - 20 minutes late (for the previous meetings) and if she made one exception she would have to make another. I pulled out my phone and after all our carrying on it was 5:32 pm.

"I'm sorry. Those are the rules."

When I am hungry and tired, and feeling put out, "Bitch" will not quite cover my reaction. I know I said, "Fine!" because that's my trade for "Fuck!" Lots of stomping and carrying on to my car, I pull out to drive away. I stopped and talked to another staff who had been turned away and she said she arrived at 5:29 and was told to leave. The third person was walking back home. After this week, I understand why they have so few staff and low commitment.

On the other hand, Tuesday evening is my only night at home. And where am I? At home!!! I ran to get yogurt and half and half (and more stuff, remember, I was shopping tired, hungry and angry). I stopped by the library and picked up two books on hold. And I decided my nom de plume for my novel. And look...I posted.

These books get great raves and I can't wait to read them. I have a few tasks to complete then a long soak with a cup of tea and a good book. Even when we don't know it, things are working out as needed and we are blessed.
Have a wonderful week!

Write on!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Too Much of a Good Thing

Food Should Taste Good
Check out that label. Generally, that's thought of as the good stuff. We don't all care about every symbol, but these folks have hooked up and turned on the neon "Go ahead, eat it all" sign.

In my home, there are lots of foods that meet that criteria. I cook and I love to eat. It works for me to only keep healthy snacks at home because I hear special whispers from brand name jalapeno potato chips. And I respond! Even if it means I have to travel to make the purchase.

But just because it looks good and taste good doesn't mean you can eat to your heart's or stomach's delight. Beyond moderation, some things you can only have one of.

Take black bean brownies, made with prunes (and black beans, of course).
That's a lot of fiber. Yummy chocolatey, smooth and creamy fiber. Fiber is good for you. Thirty-five grams a day will keep a body regulated. But enjoy too much and that smooth move will become a ragged run.

Then there's over sleeping. Some days I am still exhausted after seven hours. Without some commitment, I am likely to roll over and pass out for an additional two hours. When I oversleep, I actually start over. By the time I wake again I am groggy rather than refreshed and when I crawl out of bed I remember why I had planed to wake early. For those of us with joint pain, extra time immobile increased waking discomfort.

Too much water can mean urgent and immediate searches for toilets. Water is great for hydrating our bodies, but sometimes we have to plan for elimination, especially in conjunction with fiber. On the other hand, I hear that if you drink plenty of water before bedtime you are sure to wake. Stave off that fear of dying in your sleep.

Too much moments can be funny or distressing. We usually don't know we've had too much until it's too late. Tummy aches, aching bodies, embarrassing videos or annoying nicknames remind us of poor choices. On the other end of the spectrum, just enough seems also to come in retrospect.

We think back and realize that, yes, there was enough. We made time for what was important. It was tight, but we squeezed in where we fit. We were exhausted, but everything got done. Sure, we thought we needed more money, but we made do. When the priority is love, being connected is what matters most. In love, there is enough.

Life is busy. I write, but posting may be delayed by dreaming...

May your days be filled with love and laughter and countable moments of knowing enough.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Monday Melodies

Here's my welcome to the week. I work overnight, so will be asleep the day.

Here's to a wonderful week.

Be someone!