Thursday, October 30, 2014

THINGS THAT GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT

Is anyone else out there a little afraid of the dark?   I hate to admit this but several weeks ago I had a pretty horrific, adrenaline pumping sleepless night because I was awakened at 1:00 a.m. by what sounded just like the door to our side yard slamming shut in the room just below our bedroom.  I know that sound, even thought I'd felt the vibration of the slam.  I sat straight up in bed, heart pounding.  I was home alone.  Immediately I felt very vulnerable in this big 'ol house.

Also, I felt silly.  We had an alarm system installed in 1986 after a bad guy broke in to our basement while I was home with infant Son One.  He fled when he heard me calling 911 from upstairs.  Still, that was enough to keep me in "fight or flight" mode for a good long time.

Even now, I guess, I still have a high alert response to unusual noises in the night.  I'm always overly self-protective when I'm sleeping here alone.  Alarm on; all doors double locked; maybe a little light burning in the kitchen.  But once those compulsive security measures are taken I usually sleep great, enjoying the bed to myself for a day or two.

But not this time.  I lay awake and alert for a good half hour, hearing every creak and moan of the house.  Finally,  I got up and tiptoed to the window.  All dark and quiet.  No cars on the street.  The wind was calm.  Nothing moving.  I shuffled over to the phone to ensure the lines hadn't been cut.  Nope.  I heard a strong, steady dial tone, so the alarm was working.  (I never should have watched that TV movie some years ago where the bad guys came in during the unprotected daytime open door and hid inside until night when the family was asleep.  I mean, really!  Who thinks this stuff up?)

I stood at the top of the stairs and peered down, trying to determine if anything looked different from when I went to bed.  No; everything was the same.  Still…I kept thinking I heard "something" down there.  I stood motionless for probably 15 minutes.  Then I slowly descended the stairs, clutching my cell phone and my weapon of choice: the deadly sewing shears.  (Don't worry; I've been trained in their use, which generally involves fabric, but I figured I could improvise.)  I did a cautious walk-through and nothing was amiss.  Still….I couldn't relax completely.

Eventually, I got so tired of feeling frightened that I nearly decided to check into a hotel, just to make the anxiety stop.  Quickly I decided against that extreme measure.  I thought of calling Son One to see if I could crash on their couch, but the thought of his heart racing when he saw me on the caller ID at two in morning stopped me from doing that too. Why bring him into this craziness?  Besides, both of those choices would also require me to go into the garage…an area I had not checked in my walk-through.

So, I moved from room to room over and over, peering out, listening, wondering what I might have heard, telling myself how foolish this was and how once the sun came up I'd feel better and this would all seem so unnecessary.

Still, I couldn't imagine going back upstairs and expecting to sleep.  I sat erect on the sofa, checked the mass distribution emails that always come in the middle of the night; flipped over to Facebook and noted which of my friends was up and posting at 2 a.m. (a new mom, of course, and my night owl friend who works all night on producing a monthly arts magazine in South Carolina).

Finally, by 3:00 I lay down on the sofa and soon was asleep, awakening to the sunrise at 5:00 with stiff shoulders and a sore neck. I got another hour of dozing in before being up for the day.

And sure enough, it all seemed so very over-wrought in the daylight.  I am quite certain I didn't dream the sound, but I certainly can't account for it either.  But I shouldn't be surprised, really.  I have had that experience in this house on and off ever since we moved in….the phantom door slamming thing.

I thought we had evicted our resident ghost.  Maybe she's back.  Anyone want to come by for a sleepover?  We'll have tons of fun!

At least, that's the view from here… ©

Saturday, October 25, 2014

CHOOSE HOPE

This morning, watching the spectacular sunrise, I find my emotions walking the tightrope between despair and hope.  Life is so precious and so sad.  It's hard not to sound like a cliche-writing hack when one contemplates the fleeting nature of this human existence.  So, I'm not going to put many words to the swirling emotions I am feeling, shared by a community in shock and grief.

You've likely heard.  Our community was the "top story" yesterday across the nation.  Another school shooting, this one ten miles from my home, in a neighboring town where many of my friends live, where their children go to school, where some of their children go to that school.

I went to a candlelight vigil last night at our Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.  We sang songs of comfort and strength, lit candles, held each other in love as grief washed over us.

This morning one girl is dead; the boy (who was by all accounts a popular well-liked athlete and leader) who used a gun on his classmates, and then himself, is also dead.  One boy is in serious condition, one boy and two girls in critical condition in area hospitals.  For all of them I feel such sorrow; for their families I feel such anguish; for all of us I feel such pain, numbed by disbelief.

And numbed by the almost commonplace nature of the event.  Our local first responders were remarkable -- but then they had trained for this.  The school teachers and students themselves were remarkable -- but then they had trained for this.  We now train ourselves for how to react to school shootings, so common have they become.

I won't go on my rant, my deeply-held belief that our national fascination with readily available firearms is partly to blame.  I know it's complicated -- not long ago another small local community endured the stabbing death of a student at school.  I know it's complicated -- funding for mental health services is so often on the chopping block when it's time to balance the budget.  I know it's complicated -- we model violence as conflict resolution for our kids with entertainments like video games, TV dramas, and outrageously gratuitously violent movies; we model it in our real-life wars and even with the specter of angry discourse in our political debates where anger and fear and intractable positioning seem to be the order of the day.

Still….what I see mostly around me everywhere are people of good intentions, who love their families, work hard, laugh together and want to find peace, happiness, and meaning in their lives.  This we share and this we must elevate to a cause for celebration of our shared humanity, even in the face of tragedy.

I won't fall into despair.  I choose hope.

At least, that's the view from here… ©

UPDATE:  One of the girls in critical condition died October 26, 2014.  Her parents chose to give the gift of life to others through organ donation.  And the grief goes on….

UPDATE:  On October 31, 2014, the other girl in critical condition died.

UPDATE:  On November 6, 2014, the shooting victim who was wounded, but recovering, went home from the hospital.

UPDATE:  On November 7, 2014, the last victim who had remained in critical condition died.

Friday, October 17, 2014

GIVE IT THE AXE!

So, one thing about having an adult male "child" live with you is knowing when he leaves for work by the scent of his Axe cologne spray permeating every square inch of breathable air space in our home for about 15 minutes post exit.  Who makes this stuff?  And why?  Ohmygod!  It's not unpleasant, really, but it is insistent.

The description:  "A unique all over body spray with a premium fragrance to keep you smelling great all day or all night."  The directions:  "Just hold the can six inches from your body and spray it on your chest and neck."

I've seen him spray it -- usually more than six inches away from his body, with far less than full coverage of chest and neck.  I mean, for as little as he uses, the residual odor would seem to indicate he'd just filled the tub with the stuff.  I have to wonder if it's the aerosol that distributes it so widely.  Can't they make it in a nice little liquid that he could dab behind his ears?

Hub doesn't use cologne; never has that I recall.  And I don't use perfumes or colognes either.  They sort of choke me and give me a headache.  I'm not sure when this started to be the case.

I remember rather fondly the smell of my dad's Old Spice After Shave.   As a little girl I would sit on the edge of the tub and watch him at the sink, lathering up his shaving cream and dabbing it all over his beard with a fluffy brush.  Then he'd take his Gillette and in smooth, sure strokes remove all those prickly whiskers until he was clean-shaven.  He finished by shaking his Old Spice from that smooth cream-color container with the exotic sailing ship (exotic for us in landlocked Illinois corn country), and rub it between his hands, then all over his face.  It was a ritual I never tired of observing.

I also remember when Brute and English Leather colognes were all the rage for adolescent boys.  In 8th grade I was mad for a boy nicknamed Bo.  He was a bit of a bad boy -- in fact, the first in a long line of bad boys I seemed to be attracted to for some time.  (I did end up with a decidedly stalwart "good boy" for which I am most grateful and which likely explains our 42 year and counting marriage.)  Bo and I ended up at a party together in some kid's basement and then gravitated to a big cushy chair in the corner where we commenced to "making out".    (Thinking about this now I am appalled at how young I was for such activity, although at the time I felt oh so mature.)    The whole little session really amounted to only a lot of kissing, and the happy transfer of his English Leather cologne onto the collar and shoulders of my groovy new Madras plaid blouse.  When I got home I could still smell it.  That shirt hung on the back of the chair in my room for a week's worth of olfactory reminiscence.  Then my mom decided to wash it.

During my hippie period Patchouli, of course, was the ubiquitous scent, mixed with a healthy wafting dose of Nag Champa incense.   So whenever I (rarely) get a whiff of Patchouli these days, I'm right back there lazing about in some black-lit room doing the things we did then…. 'nuff said.

Isn't it funny how our noses are often better historians than our brains?  They say the sense of smell is the most powerful of all our senses and governs way more than we realize in how we decide, love, attract and repel experiences.

It could very well be that years from now, I'll catch a whiff of Axe while walking down the street and suddenly I'll be stopped in my tracks with a longing for Son-Two to fill the house once again with the odorous overtones of his morning body spray ritual.

But probably not.

At least, that's the view from here…. ©

Monday, October 13, 2014

POCKET RANT

What ever happened to pockets?  I just came from a little shopping expedition and I saw a cute cardigan that would have been super comfy and cuddly and warm for winter.  But I wanted it to have pockets. It didn't, so I passed it up.  Just like I pass up skirts, pants, and dresses of a certain casual style because they are pocketless.  Come on!  A little seam pocket (my fave) is easy and cheap to make!  I love pockets!  I love to stick my hands in pockets, to store my phone in pockets, to stash a tissue or a mint in pockets…what's the deal with NO pockets????

DO NOT make me take up sewing again!  You know it didn't always go so smoothly last time.  Sure, my mother was a professional seamstress and could make draperies, a woman's suit, a prom dress, and any sort of skirt, dress, slacks, top, and coat -- all with pockets! -- and upholster a set of furniture seemingly in all in a day's work.  I did not inherit that talent, nor the patience to pursue it.  And she's not here anymore to bail my project out of the dumpster. So WHY CAN'T STORE-BOUGHT CLOTHING INCLUDE POCKETS???

It should.

At least, that's the view from here… ©


Saturday, October 11, 2014

EASE ON DOWN THE ROAD

The word "exercise" is synonymous with high school PE to me.  I sucked at PE.  I was not athletic and didn't care to be.  I was not strong or coordinated and had no natural inclination for sports or games. I had no endurance.  It was torture.  And embarrassing.  I still feel that way.

Maybe that's why I was drawn to Hub.  I have a "jock" husband -- star pitcher (ask him about his no-hitter), game winning quarterback (ask about the quarterback sneak against cross-town rivals).  He still absolutely owns the double-diamond runs on his snowboard, at 64 years old.   He's a natural at most sports stuff.  For years he wanted me to like physical activity too.  He was patient and encouraging and unfailingly persistent. We tried hiking, kayaking, snowshoeing, jogging, walking, biking...I would start out with good intentions, then at his urging to go "just a little further" there would inevitably be that point where I was frustrated, ashamed, and in tears, vowing, "never again".

He has learned over the decades together that I will no more leap at the chance to do a challenging hike or take to the snow-covered mountains with him, than he will ever want to sit with a cup of coffee and write a poem or read for hours on end with a purring cat on his lap.  We've made our peace with this divide.  I will go for the occasional hike or walk or bike ride or kayak paddle -- at a slower, more leisurely pace than he would if he were alone.  But we are companionable about it now and I don't cry.  He will also often go off on his adventures alone while I read and write and sip my coffee (alas, no more kitties).

Yet, I know a bit more physical activity that gets the heart pumping would be a good thing for me.  How can I motivate myself?  This is a question I've been asking for most of my sedentary-leaning life.  The other day I decided to boil it down to what I like:  Pleasure, Ease, and Beauty.  So, how can those be part of my movement practice?

Pleasure:  Music -- I could listen to I-Tunes while walking.  Movies and TV -- I could watch while on my treadmill.  Coffee Shops, Art Galleries, Book Stores, Libraries -- I could make these destinations for my walks.  Peacefulness -- I could take a flow Yoga class that is a bit more aerobic.

Ease & Comfort:  I could walk/ride on flat terrain, eschewing the hills.  I could use hiking poles on (gently sloping) trails.  I could do outdoor activities only in pleasant weather.

Beauty:  I could do my walking/riding in arboretums, through pretty neighborhoods, along waterfronts and in forests.

I could dance -- a winning combination of heart-pumping movement, pleasure, ease, comfort and beauty.  I've gotten away from my Ecstatic Dance practice since I stopped facilitating this for other people.  But tonight is Ecstatic Dance night and the gal who took over for me will be leading folks in an hour of joyful, meditative movement to a playlist that will both rock and sooth the soul.

Maybe it's time I started to look at exercise differently; maybe it can be pleasurable, easy, and beautiful. Hmmmm….we'll see….

At least, that's the view from here…. ©

Thursday, October 9, 2014

RANDOM GRATITUDE



Today the sun is shining in its perfect October way, giving us a bright and beautiful landscape after days of fog, hinting at the rains and clouds to come soon to this part of the country.  Maybe that's why my heart is full of gratitude and happiness.

Here are some random things that make me happy today:

Son-One and his wife, our beautiful DIL, are expecting a BABY GIRL!!!  Yep, little 5-year old Angel will be a big sister.  (There will be other posts about this, of course (!), but we just found out the sex of the baby, so we are floating like this pink balloon!)

YAY!  SEE YOU IN MARCH, SWEET GIRL!


Our Seahawks quarterback, Russell Wilson, who absolutely everyone loves because he is such an amazing athlete with an almost unshakable positivity about everything in life and is an articulate and caring person as well, has started a Foundation to combat Domestic Violence, which I think is pretty great.  Watch him here and Pass the Peace:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPqGbALs_Y0


My all-time very favorite singer/songwriter, Jackson Browne, is 66 today and how the hell does that happen anyway, when I am still 26 and I thought he was 28.  Oh well, here he is singing the anthem of my mid-20's.  He has more poignant socially relevant music, but this one rocks the world I inhabited in 1977:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdHg4QEmBvk


Also on the VIP music hit parade today is this iconic song by the great John Lennon, who would have been 74 today.  (Just imagine that while you are imagining!)  This is another song that puts me right back in a certain time of my life, but the message is timeless:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRhq-yO1KN8

I love this picture I got from somewhere on Facebook (not sure who to attribute it to, but it's not mine) to commemorate Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  So funny.  It reminds me that back in December, after my most recent mammogram, I was so scared when I had to go back for another look due to an "abnormality" in the initial image.  I wrote about that in this blog (12/11/13).  I am grateful it turned out fine for me; I send love to my sisters everywhere who are battling this disease (which is not funny at all).


Also, the upside (I guess) of my recent car accident is that the loss of my beloved Prius meant the gain of a new car, a Suburu Outback.  I am told I now belong to the "Subie Nation" -- some sort of cult, apparently headquartered in Boulder, Colorado judging by the massive number of Outbacks I saw during a visit there last weekend.  Mine is a beauty.  Her Venetian Red Pearl color has led to me calling her just "Pearl".  I think we will make a nice couple.

I deserve none of this joy, of course; it is all grace.  It feels good to find open-hearted appreciation for so much light after a little stretch of darkness.  Hallelujah!

At least, that's the view from here…. ©

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

TUTORIAL ABOUT COMMENTS


I've had people ask me, "Hey, how do I leave a comment on your blog?"  Hmmm…you want me to figure that out for you, huh?  Well, I'll try.  (Let me know if this is unhelpful and I'll try again.)

Here's what I think you do:  At the end of each post there's a gray box that looks like this:


See where it says No comments: ?  It says that because no one has posted a comment.  (If someone does post a comment, it will say how many comments.)  To post a comment just click on the words No comment (or 2 comments or whatever) and it will  open a box for you to write your comment, hit "post" and then your comment will be sent to me for review (so I can weed out the ones I don't like hahahahaha) and I will post it (promise) and there ya have it! 

The caveat is that if you don't have a "google account" or something, it will ask you to create one.  I avoided this for a long time when looking at other blogs, but then finally I just did it and my world has not shifted off its axis and I do not get unwanted googling.  I think you'll be fine.  I think doing this also allows you to be a "Follower" which sounds sort of cult-like; it's not, but it makes the blogger feel popular. :)

If you don't want to actually write anything (or have to joint Google), but have some reaction to the post, you can just click those Reaction boxes and there will appear a tally of how many people reacted in a certain way to the post.  It lets me know you are out there and have made some connection with what I wrote.

Also, the Labels notation you see are the keywords in each post so that if you want to see all my posts that have something to do with that same topic, click on the "label" word and boom!  all my posts about, or mentioning, that topic are at your disposal.  Fun, huh?  

Thanks to you who send comments via email too.  I often remove identifying info about you and post those comments here myself to entice more discussion among readers.   That rarely happens, but I feel sort of good about at least a couple of comments showing up on my post. 

I hope this helps.  Give it a try!