Monday, May 31, 2010

Thank you for our country, veterans

Today is Memorial Day, a day that long has established the 'official' beginning of summer. It's traditionally a weekend of barbecues, maybe camping, get-togethers with friends and family. Maybe a trip to a veterans cemetery for ceremonies honoring those who served in defense of our country...

We watched the National Memorial Day concert last night on PBS and found it very moving, quite varied in musical styles represented. What made it so moving were the testimonials presented by a quartet of actors that were written by soldiers themselves and the widows of soldiers who were killed in action. They or their families were there, listening to those words that so changed their lives, and were warmly greeted by the actors.

Film footage of the various wars were intertwined with music from the National Symphony; a particularly poignant section showed cemeteries all over the world with row after row of simple monuments marking the graves of those who died fighting in the area. As Tony observed, the concert focused on the effects of war and the sacrifice rather than the glory of fighting. The effects are devastating.

I've visited Arlington National Cemetery twice, also witnessing the guard changing ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns. It is a somber, silent tribute to courage and dedication to duty that spans decades and generations.

To see firsthand those endless green lawns with precisely ordered markers is to realize, at least a little, how many lives have been completely, sometimes brutally, changed forever by service to country. How many families, how many widows and widowers and children, have been forever affected by their loved one's dedication?

We recently watched The Pacific, an often brutal depiction of World War II fought on tiny islands in what we often consider a tropical paradise. It was eye-opening and sobering, and sad. Certainly not everyone was a hero, some weren't particularly nice people at all. Most were just doing a job as best they could in a horrible war and in unbelievably awful conditions.

The series gave me a new appreciation for what our armed forces service men and women went through -- are going through even now. They deserve our thanks and our support of their courage and sacrifices, no matter the circumstances that brought them to the battlefield.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mud-slingers in our midst

I've been reading the comments on our local paper's news site, especially as they pertain to the county sheriff's race.

It's made my blood boil.

First, it's the same people commenting; second, they seem to have little to do except criticize and name-call and sling mud and excrement.

They've gone off on employees, and on businesses whose owners support one candidate or another and/or which are owned by the families of the employees.

Most of the nasty commenters seem to have the corporate mentality that employees must work from 8 to5 and have their rear ends planted firmly in a desk chair -- or in this case, perhaps a patrol car -- at all times: doing 'butt time.'

Never mind that law enforcement is not an 8 to 5 job and that shifts may be for 10 or 12 hours at a stretch, depending on scheduling.

If, god forbid, an employee is seen doing anything personal -- like having lunch, or meeting in a public place, or attending events or participating in non-agency activity -- they say the employee is conducting personal business on company time.

Worse, some have suggested boycotting employee-owned family businesses and other local businesses owned by citizens who have had the audacity to endorse one candidate or another.

Sure, folks: let's send even more of our local dollars to other counties so we can see more vacant storefronts in town and get fewer tax dollars to support our local governmental agencies and programs.

I hate the mudslinging that seems to be part of every single election in this state -- and others, to be fair, and which overshadows any important statements that the candidates might actually issue. I hate that these comments show my chosen city of residence as a backwater, intolerant, narrow-minded haven for ignorant, barely literate people.

I hope the good, intelligent people who I KNOW live here will ask questions and will not allow their vote to be swayed by anything other than what the candidates themselves say and do.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Bay area weather!

I'm hearing people complain about the cool weather we've had this month -- highs barely reaching 70 on many days, and lows touching the lower 40s at night -- far more like early April than like late May.

I love it. We actually had a fire in the woodstove Saturday morning and I expect we'll have another one sometime this week Now mind you, week before last we had a fire on Monday and were running the swamp cooler by Friday, although it wasn't really hot yet -- close to 90, maybe.

I'm still alternating between sweatshirts and teeshirts most days. Tony actually mowed and it was fairly cool outside a week ago, pretty much. I've done some garden work and it has been pleasant. No, it's not in yet, but the tomatoes wouldn't like these temps anyway, so I'm not stressing over it.

I expect that we'll explode into the 100s sometime within the next month, but even forestalling that by a month is a real blessing. I know the Midwest and South are heating up but so far, we're 20 degrees below normal on most days.

Downtown Red Bluff had a Girlfriends Day on Saturday and I hope it was well attended. I went with a girlfriend to HeartFelt Designs and ended up spending nearly all my time there, although I did get a lovely 15 minute chair massage elsewhere that only convinced me that I need an hour-long one and probably more than that.

But I also had a Reiki session with Jessie Woods which was very encouraging for me. I like angels -- I have several figures that my mother had, perched high over the wood stove on our plant shelf there, and I have always liked the idea of guardian angels. She strongly believes in angels, both human and spirit, and told me that I have several, including one large one nearby. She gave me some suggestions to ground myself every day in order to feel balanced and centered, and I'm trying that. It was helpful and I've felt good ever since. More positive...

And she is even my neighbor, which we realized only at the end of the session. That makes it even more significant for me.

Last night we attended auditions at Riverfront Playhouse in Redding for a new murder mystery musical play by Bill and Lisa Collins. Tony doesn't have the flexibility to be able to play at this point, but he wanted to observe, and there was a juicy role that I wanted to attempt. It was fun -- lots of good people, good readings, including mine. However, one of the things a director must look for is how people match up physically -- and I knew that I was an unlikely candidate when I saw the overall age and size of the auditioners. There is a another round tonight, but I'm not holding my breath. I had a great time, was very happy with my interpretation (and so were the directors, I believe), but I don't think this one is going to happen for me, and I'm good with that. There will be others. I got to see some friends from Steel Magnolias and see another Vagina Monologues actress who'd come to audition, and those were totally worth the trip!

Not very profound today, I guess -- but our life is in the details and in how you savor each of them. I like watching the clouds blowing in in preparation for more rain tomorrow, I like having the kitties climb in my lap wanting a snuggle, I like folding clean laundry and thinking of something good and nutritious to fix for supper. I do feel very focused and centered, thank you very much, and am trying to stay in the moment today.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tending the internal garden too

Another 'hump day' although I no longer am tied to a Monday-Friday schedule with two days of frantic catching up on Saturday and Sunday.

What it does mean is that the weekend is approaching and that means time for my honey to rest and rejuvenate -- always seeming to be a day short, of course.

This weekend that likely will mean climbing on the tractor and mowing down the tall grasses on the property, at least much of it. We handmow the stuff closer to the house since we have learned from expensive experience that the tractor throws rocks and breaks windows and tears screens. While handmowing and judicious weed-eating reduce the chances of a stray missile, it doesn't guarantee it.

My garden still remains untilled and unplanted -- nearly the latest I've been, I think, in this climate. I'll get in some tomatoes and squash and chard, but there may not be much else. I've got lettuce in pots on the back patio. Frankly, it's been a bit cool for tomatoes -- we had a fire in the woodstove on Monday, all day.

I'm just not very motivated to get out there, although it nags at me. I need to take care of the internal garden first, I think, and the rest will follow.

I've been thinking a lot about words and friendships and expectations and disappointments. This week I've heard from two long-time friends: one relationship dating back to the early 1980s which has survived two long distance moves, two divorces, various health issues, and some icky stuff involving her ex-spouse and his penchant for molesting youngsters (including ours). We try to see each other face to face every three or four years for about a week, and it's always as though we were never apart. We e-mail frequently and call less frequently. But she's got my back, always, and I have hers.

The other grew out of a job relationship from the mid-'90s and has grown in spite of divorces, remarriages, long distances between us, and an age difference of some 23 years. I don't know as much about her day-to-day life as she does mine, but there is a bond between us that I believe will always be there. We've visited in person only a few times since I left the South nearly 13 years ago. But I trust her completely and I believe she trusts me as well. We have a comfortable friendship that I treasure.

I am a very loyal friend, and I go into a friendship with the idea that it will be a long-term one, although I have only a few close friends and many acquaintances. I am honest -- actually, I don't play mind games very well at all and never did, much to my detriment in corporate life -- and sometimes more blunt than I intend to be. I try to be kind and thoughtful but don't know that I always succeed -- I get distracted sometimes, and unintentionally wound, I think.

When I think that a friend is unhappy with me, I want to know why: I want to clear the air, or at worst, at least put some closure to it if there are no amends that can be made. I always, ALWAYS, blame myself: that is the unfortunate people-pleasing part of my personality, a part of which I am aware and work on. It is hard to please people when you also usually say what you think, although I don't think I am unkind, or not intentionally so at least. And I've learned to hold my tongue much better over the years. Not everything requires my unfettered opinion!!

Lately I've picked up vibes from some friends that all is not well, and rack my brain as I may, I cannot think why. No one is saying anything, but I'm not often included in activities, and there seems to be a coolness towards me.

It could be just me -- I have certainly been a little down lately -- but I don't think so. I'm fairly perceptive usually, and it has felt for some time like something ain't quite right. It nags at me, though, I'll confess...

And then there is a big part of me -- the one that is slowly, finally, coming into full acceptance of who I am, warts and all -- that is done with that kind of behavior. Life is just too short to spend time worrying about whether or not you've done something to offend a 'friend' (especially when you're pretty sure you haven't), and it is too short to tiptoe around and feel stressed when you're supposed to be enjoying the relationship. It takes two to make a friendship, and if one of them isn't interested, it's not a friendship any more.

I am 62 years old. It's time for my long people-pleasing behaviors to be over. I mostly like who I am, and the parts I don't like I'm working on and tossing them out or changing them. That is going to have to be enough -- and if it isn't, then I'll continue to cherish the friends I do have, near and far.

A week ago or so on Faceboook, many people were re-posting the following: A true friend doesn't care if you're broke, if your house is a mess, about your past, or if your family is filled with crazies...they love you for who you are. A true friend can go long periods of time without speaking and never question the friendship. REPOST if you are blessed enough to have at least one true friend. They will know who they are.

Thank you, my dear friends. I am blessed to have you.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day

I've decided that I don't much like Mother's Day. I don't like the slightly envious, slightly guilty feeling Mother's Day leaves me with every year.

Honoring mothers is fine -- but that's something that should be done more frequently than once a year. No, it's all the hype that surrounds it.

What about mothers whose children are in prison? Mothers who have lost a child? Mothers who beat and abuse and neglect their kids?

Or, sadly, mothers who have lost a child to an accident and for whom Mother's Day is a terrible reminder of a loved child who is no longer there.

Or women who wanted desperately to be mothers but aren't. Won't be. Can't.

Advertising would have us believe that every family has a Norman Rockwellian or Hallmark card mother -- someone who bakes cookies after school, who is always there to soothe the fevered brow, who is at every sports event, who helps with homework, is perfectly slim and toned and tan and coiffed and manicured. One who rarely gets moody or angry or doesn't do the dishes after supper and always has a clean, neat home, enough money for groceries and mortgages and a decent wardrobe, whose children always have enough money to play sports and have cute haircuts and the latest fad in clothing.'ve seen the ads too.

I don't know any mothers quite like that and actually never did. But it's a standard that somehow I feel slightly guilty for not achieving.

I miss my own mother on Mother's Day. And of all the lovely Mother's Days we celebrated together throughout her life and mine, I always remember the one Mother's Day that I and my brother (and father) forgot when I was maybe 11 or so. Mother didn't say anything until evening when it was quite evident than we hadn't gotten her even a card, and then she pretty much exploded into anger and tears and hurt, and nothing we could say made up for the hurt feelings our forgetfulness had caused. I don't know that it ever did, although we all tiptoed around her for the next week, bringing her little goodies and doing special things, and eventually it blew over. But I never forgot. I bet she didn't either.

She kept a little cup and saucer on her dresser for years that I bought the day after Mother's Day and gave to her late, and it always reminded me to be careful to remember birthdays and Mother's Day and Valentine's Day and the like. I didn't much like seeing it there because it reminded me of my own thoughtlessness.

I never forgot it again.

And try as I might, rationalize as I may, I am always a little apprehensive as the day approaches, not wanting my children to forget and yet trying not to expect that they will say or do anything. And trying not to have slightly hurt feelings if they do forget or call at the eleventh hour with a sheepish "Happy Mother's Day."

Sometimes I feel like a very meddlesome mother, asking way too many questions and judging too much in my reactions to the answers I get. Sometimes I feel that I interfere too much in their lives, and yet I struggle to balance how much to say and do with the situations that have an impact on my life and finances and emotions -- for various reasons. Our relationships are complicated and not without issues on both sides: perhaps everyone's are as well.

I'm happy for those whose children have always showered them with gifts and cards and flowers, and whose families join to make Mother's Day a big celebration.

I'm happy for the mothers who have wonderful adult-friend relationships with their children. I'm also envious of them.

I love my daughters and I know they love me. But life choices and circumstances can paint different scenarios than that rosy-Rockwell-Hallmark card ideal of motherhood. Not all relationships must conform to that picture in order to be valid and sufficient. Our relationships are works in progress, and some years they feel better than they do other years.

But they will never, ever, be the Hallmark card kind of relationships. And I guess I wish they were, at least a little, and feel sad that they aren't and won't be, at least a little.

Friday, May 07, 2010

A night in the ER

...not another accident for me, but R was deep in hallucinations and a bad reaction to Wellbutrin, yet another drug to help ease her depression and mental issues. She'd been taking it a couple of weeks but was increasingly agitated and seeing or hearing things daily. Of course the goal with all the psych meds she's taking is to reduce those effects.

So off we went after seeking advice from Mental Health, and she effectively breathed into the hospital equivalent of a brown paper bag for a while and the breathing eased somewhat. She's off the drug, of course, but it takes awhile to get out of the system.

If it's not one thing with her, it's another. We go to regular doc today about migraines, then back to ER to treat two MRSA infections that have popped up. Seems like once you get one, you get them more frequently -- and she wipes everything at least weekly with bleach and antibacterial soap, so go figure.

So I left the little supper gathering we'd had here of several fellow photographers and went off to deal with medical issues. The group is understanding and supportive, and that helps a lot.

And then I wonder why I'm stressed and having my own issues, eh.

It's a new day, though, and will begin a weekend of friends and fellowship and some good food, and lots of time with my honey. That works for me.

Thursday, May 06, 2010


I can't believe it's been nearly a month since I wrote anything. I've composed posts in my head but they haven't made it to my fingers. Generally this is not like me...

and that's kind of where I am: not like me.

I'm full of oughta-dos, have a list of wanna-dos, and I keep busy, but I don't seem to "do" much of anything. The office is verrrrryyyyy slllooooowwwlllly taking shape, but I've been working on that for months and months. Despite all the reasons why I know I should and the fact that the treadmill is right near the computer, I don't get on it every day or sometimes even in a week. The garden has been stripped out but not tilled, the prayer flags from last year are bleached white and droop, and nothing has yet been planted -- although I will plant eventually. (Honestly, the weather has been almost too cool and windy to do things like tomatoes, although I know people have them out..)

I'm flat: not passionate about anything. Not depressed exactly either. But unmotivated, fairly uninterested (and probably uninteresting). Not struggling, but not moving ahead either.

We're doing a few medical tests to make sure it's not anything systemic and then we'll see.

Last night I lay awake until much too late with monkey mind, full of ideas of what to do, how to get this or that underway -- and that is not especially new. But in the morning, after I'm on the computer, it just sort of fades away and before I know it, it's afternoon and I haven't done a thing, or not much. Certainly nothing that feeds the creative, passionate part of me.

Lots of potential reasons, I think. Free-floating anxiety, ongoing situations that have no foreseeable resolutions, still some recovery from the mental blow and wrist fracture, although the physical part of that is pretty well healed and doing nicely.

One step at a time, I guess, and one thing daily that moves something along. That'll do for now.

And I'm going to be more conscientious about writing here, even if it's to list what I had for breakfast!

...which, this morning, was a breakfast sandwich on those lovely thin 100-calorie whole wheat buns, with egg, part-skim cheese, a bit of bacon. A little fruit. (Strawberries are coming into season: love fresh, right from the field berries.)...

I'll be back.

"Every silver lining's got a touch of grey...I will get by, I will get by, I will get by, I will survive."~~Touch of Grey by The Grateful Dead