Thursday, September 23, 2010

Letting go -- again

Today's Daily Om is about control...just as in riding a roller coaster, you can either sit gripping tightly to the crossbar, teeth clenched in apprehension, or you can throw your hands in the air, let your body move to the curves, and enjoy the ride.

I'm really good at holding on. REALLY good. For far too long.

I admit that I do like to control things. I hate, even more than being lied to, being blindsided. And those things that blindside you are seldom pleasant ones, alas.

So I try to steer wherever I can, try to keep things on a level that I can manage, and pretty much try to see where they're going, and deter them if at all possible, without throwing myself directly in front of the bus that's about to hit them.

Nothing has gone off the rails lately, knock wood, but the Daily Om certainly did conjure some memories of not-so-pleasant experiences that I'm not anxious to repeat.

That said, because I DO like to manage things, I create a lot of stress for myself, a lot of pressure, and more than a little angst. Not healthy. Not even productive. Completely unnecessary and actually pretty stupid behavior. I'm supposed to be wiser than that at my age.

So I'm still (again) working on letting go: agreeing that I am powerless over people, places and things, and that I do NOT know better than anyone how to run things, especially the lives of other people.

Friends and family (and formerly co-workers) do have the right to their own choices and to make decisions for themselves that are -- from my lofty viewpoint -- fairly nigh on to stupid, if not downright destructive.

God knows -- oh, She does -- that my choices have not always been the best possible ones. Why, then, do I take on the burden of worry and action (when possible) that are not mine to manage? Maybe I think that I can do better with someone else's life than I have with mine?

(Actually, mine is a very good life, and I am grateful every day, multiple times every day. And that is despite some not very good choices in the past. I count my blessings, I ask for help for myself and also for those I love, and I try to be kind and to let people know that I care about them. I am very lucky to have what I do.)

So the only thing I really need to do is to let go: throw my hands up in the air and enjoy the ride on this coaster. See the views from the top of my own ride, and stop worrying about whether or not anyone else will be able to see the same views as I do. Their ride may be completely different, with even better views. I'd like to think so.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Supporting the arts in Tehama County

For the first time in six years, the third (or, in the beginning, the second) Tuesday of the month is here and I am not attending an arts council meeting. I don't have to feel guilty about NOT going either. I'm no longer on the board, having termed out (two elected three-year terms is the limit).

It feels a little weird, to be honest.

I'm still working with a three-person committee to finalize the group's new website which should be up and live maybe sometime this week, and I'll probably still be involved in updating copy or doing some blog posting. I wrote the copy for the new one, with input from the other committee members.

But I'm merely a member of the group now, not on the board. I'm a passionate arts supporter, but then I was that long before I joined this board, and that won't stop. I'll still attend Artwalk and other sponsored events, I'll still talk to anyone who will listen about the importance of the arts in schools and for our children, I'll happily attend and support most other artsy events in our county and beyond. I create art.

For six years, though, I've had a hand in helping the local arts community to grow, to be recognized and publicized, to offer financial and in-kind support for events and artists. I've had the good fortune to meet so many of the simply outstanding local artists here and to get to know some of them better. I've gotten to write some of their stories for others to read and to help them get the publicity that they need to have but that so many of them are so shy about doing for themselves. It's been a joy, mostly.

The last six years have been difficult ones personally, too. I lost my mother in 2005, just a year after I came on the board and only a month into my first term as chairman of the group. It was a hard, hard year. The group faced some growing pains too, with people rotating off the board or not being able (for a variety of reasons) to participate the way they'd hoped to when they were elected. It left the board -- capped through bylaws at just 15 -- short of people to help vision and then follow through with the work. We had some personality conflicts that caused some hurt feelings and misunderstandings, and it was part of my job to try to help resolution. We lost people to relocation and jobs that ended.

But we also set some guidelines for our ongoing projects that have made those much easier to do. We managed to financially support a number of wonderful programs for the children in our county who are so underserved by arts opportunities, and to help out some artists who needed a boost.

And the new 2010-2011 board is simply stellar. A full 15 members, for the first time since 2004. And members who have business acumen, who are passionate about the arts, who are knowledgeable about the community, and a good mix of artist and supporter.

Thanks largely to one very devoted board member, the group has grant money to help them plan and strategize long range, to create a sustainable, growing organization. And this last year the group was able to offer some $6000 to more than 20 groups and artists to fund projects and events.

And there's a new website about to go live, one that not only looks professional and inviting, but will offer ALL organizations and artists free calendar listings that will spread the word about events and exhibits and classes not only in our own county, but beyond. And FREE artist registry listings that will offer a new way for our marvelous local artists to advertise their talents and services not only locally, but throughout all of northern California.

We think it'll grow into a wonderful artistic resource for Tehama County, one that will help put art and artists right up their with other local products like prunes, walnuts, olives, cattle, and horses.

It'll be live soon. Please keep checking back if you don't see a gallery of art on a background of green.

And no matter where you are, I hope you support the arts in your community.

"Life beats down and crushes the soul, and art reminds you that you have one."- Stella Adler

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A quiet weekend

Tony's captured the essence of the road warrior in his new Cat-E-Whompus post, Roadrunnin'. Be sure to take a look.


I'm feeling very thrifty this morning: I've managed to turn a $4.99 rotisserie chicken from the grocery store into a number of meals, the latest of which is bubbling away in my crockpot.

We had it sliced accompanied by fresh corn on the cob and steamed broccoli the first night.

A couple nights later I mixed more of the chicken with my garden zucchini, a sauce and some homemade sourdough stuffing to create a yummy casserole -- I did it in the crockpot but prefer it baked in the oven, actually. There's enough left to give us another meal at least and possibly a serving to go in the freezer.

And then yesterday I threw bones, skin, water and seasoning in the crockpot and let it simmer all day, resulting in a lovely rich broth. I skimmed off the bones and skin (then chopped up some of the bits and gave it to the outside kitties, who scarfed it right down), then put a pound of great northern beans in the broth along with a few spices and let them cook all night. I've added the rest of the chicken, onion, celery, hot peppers, and more spices to it this morning and we'll enjoy it as white chicken chili either tonight or tomorrow. And there will be plenty leftover to freeze or eat as lunches this week.

Weather is in transition today: mostly cloudy and warm-ish, but not really enough for air conditioning and too humid for swamp cooler. We're expecting rain tonight and tomorrow, and temps very mild through the coming week. I'm hoping we're done with the 90s, but also am not stupid -- we've had 100-degree days into October in past years. Alas, with the weather changes also come achey-breakys, and my joints are creaky this morning.

Based on kitty behaviors, I'm predicting another early, cold winter this year. The outside kitties have porked up considerably from their summer slim-down, and their fur has thickened and is very plush. Even Minnie, our tiny old little girl, has a tummy and her mottled black long hair is fluffing out. Not a lot of acorns, however, although there are enough that the deer have mostly lost their starved look. Leaves are already falling too, although there are plenty on the trees.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Friday Five

The Friday Five:

What kinds of nagging injuries do you have?

My wrist is the most immediate one, of course: I realized that it's hard for me to get on all fours to do any yoga moves because it just doesn't quite bend all the way, and it's still weak. Maybe a few yoga moves and using it that way will actually strengthen it. And then there are my 'collapsed' feet -- have NO idea how that happened -- that require good arch support in any shoes, often with my custom orthotics, darn it. And my achey shoulder, and then there's this left hip that occasionally catches when I sit for too long in one position. Getting older is such an interesting journey.

What long-procrastinated task is nagging at you lately?

Oh come on. It's the stupid office, of course, and finishing the cleaning that I started way, WAY too long ago. I'm so close to being done though. Which means that then I'll have no excuses left to procrastinate starting that novel, or making jewelry...

In what way have you been a nag to someone else?

Ask my daughters what a wonderful nag I am about attending to something I think should be done -- like making dentist appointments. Or my beloved husband, especially this week when I think he should be going to bed earlier than he has because he has been so jet-lagged. I ask way too many questions, I know. But I want to KNOW stuff. I want DETAILS. I know it comes across as nagging, but it's just because I'm really nosy.

Who in your life is a world-class nag?

I don't really have anyone nagging me except myself. I'm really good at it too, especially when it comes to getting on the treadmill or -- surprise -- cleaning the office. Or getting off the computer and doing something that is actually for the good of the order instead of wasting time on Facebook or that stupid, awful, addictive game, Bejeweled Blitz.

Nag is such an ugly word. What would be a nicer way to describe someone who exhibits nagging tendencies?

Hmm. Encourage is a nice word instead of nag. Or cajole, or coax. Perhaps entreat. I don't nag, I encourage. I'm entreating you to come to bed, honey, because you're so tired and you need your sleep. I like it.

I got these questions here although I'm sure there are a bunch of similar sites out there. Play along if you'd like -- maybe post a comment linking to your answers?

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Well, I did better with a meme, didn't I, as far as posting regularly goes!

Tony has gone on and come home from his first trip to China, thanks to his company's being purchased by Alibaba, and shot lots of video and stills which he still needs to edit. He's still jetlagged a bit but that takes time and sleep to get over. The purchase will certainly create change for him and others. While he's told me lots of stories already, his main takeaway is that China is not what he'd thought it would be and is far more capitalistic than he'd ever imagined.

I'm sure he'll eventually write about some of his experiences on his blog, Cat-E-Whompus, and I'll link to it when he does.

In the meantime, if you're interested, you can read about the trip here, and soon there will be post-trip entries from him and others. Check back often -- new entries will be added.

I'm glad to have him home. China is a 14-hour trip at best, and a 15 hour time difference. I was always aware of what time it was there and looked forward to the 15 minute phone calls I'd make every afternoon around 4-5 pm; early morning there.

I did spend time getting things organized in the home office and finally moved my jewelry bench into position and put away all the tools I bought nearly a year ago. Just a few more piles to deal with and it'll look and be easy to come in here. I have lots of old jewelry to recycle into something 'new' and some new beads and baubles to play with too.

This stemmed from a class I took last fall given by Troy Hawkins, artiste extraordinaire, who has some truly unusual pieces that he's made from recycled bits and pieces. This weekend he's teaching a two-day class on jewelry-making -- last year's was a four-week, one day a week, class and included a field trip to some of his favorite thrift stores.

Like so many people, I have lots of costume jewelry that I never wear anymore. Partly that's because of the far more casual life we lead in California; partly it's because the styles change. The jewelry I own is from my life in Indiana and Alabama, both of which also involved jobs which required a level of professional dress. What's stylish also varies hugely from region to region: Alabama, for instance, was the home of the big earring, at least in the early-mid 1990s. I have some danglies and big pieces that I'll never wear like that again, unless it's dressup at Halloween.

So I'm looking forward to creating and mixing things. The project I began in class is to create a necklace incorporating all of the charms from my high school charm bracelets plus a few other meaningful pieces -- an honor brooch from an organization I belonged to, a very old charm from my mother, an enameled pin from my junior high days, my high school ring.

Don't know if all of that will make it into the necklace -- it might evolve into a zipper pull or a pin too. It'll be fun to play, though.

Of course in cleaning out, throwing away and filing tons of papers -- I am such a paper hoarder -- I've also realized that every drawer and cabinet and closet in the house needs cleaning out. We've been here for nearly eight years -- the longest I've lived in any house as an adult -- and it's either move (because everything gets sorted out as you pack) or clean. So my next ongoing project is to move through the house, taking a closet or drawer every few days and reorganizing, recycling, or donating what's there. I know there are expired meds; I know there are sheets that no longer fit my beds that someone else can use. It's time.

And then there are the ginormous cucumbers I've been blessed with in the garden: I'm giving them away, but I'd also like to make a vat of pickles -- refrigerator or freezer pickles -- which I've never done. Tomatoes are in a bit of a lull; the zucchini are coming just enough to be enjoyable; peppers also. Our days are currently warmish -- in the low 90s to high 80s, but nights are cooling into the low 60s and even 50s, which is wonderful. We're to get rain this weekend and much cooler temperatures: still unusual for this time of year in the Sacramento valley. I'll take it though.

I love this transition from hot summer into fall, with hints of winter rains now and then. While we just don't get the fall color that rainier areas do -- we are brown and crunchy -- we do have the falling leaves, deer munching on acorns, and the cool evenings that speak of change. I'm hoping for another wet and cold winter: last year's replenished ponds and lakes and water tables so well, and we need another like it. I'd even be up for a few flurries.