How I Write

I’ve read that writers do all kinds of things to get their creative juices flowing.  From dressing in formal wear, setting up sprinkBrenda in Hatlers on their roof to mimic the sound of rain, writing in the nude, drinking and more.  Eighteen months ago, probably after reading about all these odd methods to get into the mental state to write, I decided that I would don a writing hat and special top.  I need to feel pretty and desirable to write.  Alcohol helps,too, but once I read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, I decided I didn’t need or want to rely on booze.

Lately, I have taken to wearing a cap that I wore as a twenty something.  It makes me feel young.  Scarves and pretty blouses work great, too.  Yesterday, I found a beautiful beaded bracelet.  Things that are sensuous, in the truest definition, make me feel creative.  I love the feeling of long earrings grazing my shoulders, the sound of wind and rain, and the sight of the bracelet on my wrist.  So these are my current trappings for writing.  Currently, I am writing a novel that takes place in Seattle and Hawaii, mainly Hawaii.  I wonder if I apply sunscreen, if I’ll get a better sense of location.  Better yet, bake some banana bread.  

Marketing vs Shopping

Today was supposed to be a sleep-in day.  What was supposed to be a 3-day weekend (my family has a rotating schedule that allows for additional time off in the offseason to counter the soemtimes 11-14 days straight work during the busy season) is just a standard 5 day workweek this week because of a special event.  The weather forecasters accurately prodicted a rainy day today, so I figured that was the best day for me to take off.  Plus that meant that either myself or my sister, Erica, would be working each day.  Since it was supposed to be stormy and therefore not “gardening weather”, I figured I would sleep in.  I didn’t watch my drinking or my bedtime as I was planning on my favorite way to relax: a late morning wake-up followed by reading.  Unfortunately, my sleep was disturbed (the drinking?).  I got up 4 times during the night.  I was still happy because I was planning on sleeping in, so who cares if I got up 4 times.  Then my husband got up.  I missed his warmth.  I heard the coffee-maker start.  It got lighter in the room.  Mitch kissed me goodbye.  And then he came back for something and I had to go to the bathroom.  And then I was awake.  Why bother going back to bed.  I wasn’t sleepy.  It was so abnormal.  I can sleep through anything, go to sleeep after anything.  Okay, maybe that was 5 years ago.  I’m getting old!  Whatever the reason, I decided to read the paper in bed, figuring I would just doze off after I finished.  After the paper, I read the rest of Bon Appetit, that I had started the night before.  I did get sleepy after I finished.  Then suddenly I had a wonderful thought.  It’s Wednesday in the summer which means that the farmers market is going on downtown.  And I could possibly find the squash blossoms featured in a recipe for zucchini and corn salad.  It was 9 am, it was rainy and it was farmer’s market Wednesday.  Suddenly, I had wings.

So sometimes I live in a fantasy world.  I can do anything, no constraints on time, location, or energy.  I imagine I am Julia Child, going to the Paris market daily.  I am a Swedish ancestor, on a dairy farm: chickens, milk cows and huge garden available to me.  But mainly I am a housewife, shopping daily for supper and coming home to prepare a gourmet meal for my husband.  What that says about me, I’m not sure I want to contemplate.  It shoots down a whole lot of the backstory that I have concocted for myself.  What it does mean is that today, I did exactly what I wanted to do and what I have fantasized about doing.  I went to market to shop for my dinner.

I must begin the rest of the story with the caveat: I like to grocery shop.  I love food.  I love cooking.  I love research.  Finding the freshest, tastiest food that fits into my diet ideology rocks my boat.  I enjoy it, I love it.  So to say I am going shopping for my food seems average.  After all, this is a pasttime that I enjoy.  But going to the farmer’s market rachets that up just a little.  Now I am in the Julia Child territory.  Maybe Rachel Ray.  Certainly I am joining my local hero, Matt Bennett.  I am buying my food directly from the grower at the farmer’s market.  I am going to market (marketing) not just shopping.  It feels so much better to embrace a fantasy, to do something I don’t do regularly.  It is actually funny that I was very goal-oriented and finished “shopping” in record time.  Did I pay more?  Perhaps.  I hope I made up for the fact that everything was fresher.  I had a better selection, possibly, than in the grocery store.  It doesn’t matter.  For that instant I was Julia Child (or any other European housewife), going to the outdoor market to obtain tonight’s dinner.  And I was happy!

For the future, what the hell does it mean that I no longer sleep in unless my husband sleeps in with me?  This just isn’t going to work for me.  I need to know (and therefore plan) if I am not going to sleep in.  I mean, I need to be mature and self-controlled if I am not going to “sleep off” the effects of the previous night.  And really…I find luxury in sleeping in.  It is selfish!  And sometimes I need to be selfish!  I need to do exactly what I want to do, and nothing that someone else wants me to do.  And there is nothing wrong with that, occassionally.   So if that means I have to grow up and act like an adult-okay I’ll do it.  Just as long as I get to be Julia Child, going to market for tonight’s dinner!

All For Love

Two weeks ago, my world turned upside down and I was totally unprepared.  That day, which will be forever embedded in my memory, was the day my husband and I adopted a pure bred, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Diva Grace!  I did not realize the depth of feeling I could have so soon for this tiny creature, nor how her big personality and puppy energy could totally disrupt my life.  I have owned a dog for the last 25 years.  Before that, my family always had a dog.  I don’t remember a time in my life without a dog in it.  I remember all the heartache and pure joy that Mitch and Divahaving a dog brings.  So many of my memories involve dogs, it seems silly.  Yes, I have memories of cats, but they are not as strong and clear nor as emotional.  So I know the work, patience, love and time that owning a pet entails.  And my wonderful husband shares the work load with me, so it isn’t even as if I am doing all the work myself.  In fact, my husband’s reaction has been part of the deep and conflicting emotions that have beset me.  There is so much to this story.  To understand the now, I have to relate the past.  But instead of starting at the beginning, let me start in the middle.

Three or so years ago, I lost the doggie love of my life.  Her name was Tumbles.  TumblesShortly into my marriage to Mitch, he and his daughter talked us into getting a dog.  Actually, I still owned a dog, named Digger.  My ex-husband and I had adopted her as a young adult dog.  She was possibly a cocker spaniel/black lab mix.  We never did a very good job of training her, but she endeared herself to me and my dad.  When I divorced my ex-husband, after another traumatic experience involving yet another dog, Digger and I moved in with my parents.  This was not the first time my parents had taken in one of their children’s dogs, but it was the first time they took in one of their adult children.  By the time I moved out to marry Mitch, my dad felt that it would be best to leave Digger in his care.  Since I adopted her, she had always lived at the family nursery.  I was moving into an apartment, which was a totally inappropriate home for an elderly dog.  So I moved out and Digger stayed behind.  After less than a year, a family friend talked to me about a house they had up for rent.  It would allow me to have Digger again, as it was in the country.  Mitch and I ended up renting it but Dad still felt that it was better to leave Digger in his care.  Plus, I think he had become pretty attached to her.

Well, not long after we moved into the house in the country, Mitch’s daughter started trying to convince us to get a dog.  Being the strange and unique (okay, damaged) person that I am, I felt we should not get another dog until Digger passed away.  She was not living with us, but I wanted to remain loyal to her.  I was so young!  Eventually, Mitch was worn down and it just happened that a co-worker’s parents dog had a litter of puppies.  My husband begged for me to take a look at them.  He had worked out a plan to adopt 2 puppies so that they would keep one another company.  Knowing myself well, I let him know that if he was serious that he could bring them out for me to look at, but if he wasn’t I didn’t want to see them at all.  For I knew that once I saw them, I would fall in love and I would adopt all of them if I could.  When they came to visit at the nursery in my parent’s home, Mitch chose one immediately.  There was another co-worker that wanted one, so after we make our first choice, we let him select his pup.  He chose the one that I would have picked next.  But since he had chosen that one, Mitch and I selected the most bedraggled, mangy looking one of the lot.  From a young age I have a sympathy for the underdog, the damaged, the imperfect.  And that sensibility kicked in.  We named the first one Tipper, because she had a distinct white tip to her black tail.  As it was a presidential election year, we considered naming the second one Laura, but decided that perhaps that was not wise.  Since the second dog was a ragtag mess, we decided Tumbler was appropriate, as she reminded me of a tumbleweed.  Somehow, for me, the name Tumbler lasted about a week.  In very short order, she was Tumbles.  It is funny, that to this day, some people still refer to her as Tumbler.

Mitch and I decided to divide and conquer.  We would each take a dog to love and train.  Mitch got Tipper and I got Tumbles.  From the beginning, Tipper was the star pupil.  She was beautiful, regal, and well-behaved.  Everyone adored her.  She had a traditional look to her that appealed to everyone.  Her docile personality further endeared her to all.  Mitch had a very strong, domineering approach which succeeded quite well with Tipper.  In contrast, Tumbles was unkempt, overly enthusiastic, always hungry, and somewhat domineering.  Her love of life exploded onto the scene everywhere she went.  And I as the human trainer, was lenient and coddling.  So from pitiful puppy, she became the outcast dog.  But I showered my love on her.  I loved her completely.  I saw her as an extension of myself.  She was imperfect, unkempt and non-traditional.  It wasn’t that she was unloved but that everyone loved Tipper more.  Tipper was somehow perfect.  And I could definitely transfer my feelings of inadaquacy onto Tumbles and the fact that everyone favored Tipper over Tumbles.  Tipper, being Mitch’s dog, received only a small portion of my attention.  I felt that as she was Mitch’s dog, Mitch should be the one to show her attention.  The problem was, Mitch’s definition of attention was about 2 minutes of petting and mine was 10 minutes of grooming and petting.  When Mitch and I bought a house in Albany, the two dogs started to go to work with me.  We put up a kennel and they arrived there in the morning.  A coworker often walked them at lunch in the beginning.  She adored dogs and it was a voluntary thing to walk them.  I walked them on occasion.  They seemed quite content with their lot.  On days off, they often rode with me in the back of my VW beetle convertible, enjoying the wind blowing through their fur.

Mitch and I were not as careful and forward thinking as we should be.  Mitch owned a Jeep and we let the dogs jump into and out of the back.  Eventually that took a toll on them, first on Tumbles (being the weaker dog) and later on Tipper.  Tumbles had joint problems at middle age.  Mitch and I decided to pay for surgery rather than putting her down.  She did really well after the surgery and regained all her youthful energy.  We enjoyed several years after the surgery.  Her hunger got the best of her, though.  Mitch and I and the family went out for dinner and drinks with a speaker set to talk at a seminar at the nursery the following day.  We left our 2 dogs, my sister’s 2 dogs, and our dad’s dog (they were away from home) in her backyard and headed to dinner.  Upon returning, we may have noticed that one of the dogs had gone through the trash.  At this point, I am a little fuzzy as to whether we noticed this or this memory is from a previous time.  All of the dogs seemed fine and we took our 2 plus my parent’s dog and went home.  I started loving on the dogs on the floor.  I noticed that Tumbles seemed a little hot and lethargic.  I went to bed.  My husband stayed up to do some work.  A couple of hours (or perhaps only an hour later) he woke me, telling me that Tumbles was having real problems.  After that it is a bit of a jumble.  I think we went to sleep anyway, thinking she would be better in the morning, only to be awakened in the wee hours of the morning to sounds of physical distress.  We knew we had to take her in.  I thought about the vet that is a sponsor of my sister-in-laws business and advertises about their round-the-clock hospital.  Then I remembered a vet that was closer, that several co-workers had been to that also offered 24 hour service.  That is where we decided to take Tumbles.

Mitch and I had consumed a few drinks the night before.  Also, this happened at 3 or 4 in the morning, so we were sleep deprived.  To this day, I believe that if we had either been stone-cold sober or it had happened in the middle of the day, that we would have given better feedback and been able to problem-solve on our own and contribute to the diagnosis of our dog’s ailment.  But as it transpired, we answered several questions incorrectly and then made decisions that were not well thought out.  We brought Tumbles home and really should have taken her the next morning, when she was even worse, to our regular vet.  But our regular vet is not open 24/7 and only has a small (probably 1 person) caretaker staff over the weekend.  Mitch, without telling me this, felt it would be best to take her back to the original vet on Saturday morning, when she had worsened.  But the “official” vet wasn’t there until Monday morning.  And although we were able to visit Tumbles and get updates and know she was well cared for, she really wasn’t attended to or diagnosed by an experienced vet until Monday morning.  At that point she was in dire straits.  The vet mentioned cutting into her to see what was up or taking her to OSU.  In the translation/phone conversation, I thought I saw inaction.  So I made the decision to transfer her to our regular vet.  But coming in late, our vet didn’t recognize the seriousness of the problem.  I was not able to communicate that seriousness to him.  I think I was distraught and tired.  He waited 24 hours, but that was too late.  Tumbles passed away the next morning.

When I look back on all of it, I blame myself for not being sober, alert and calm.  I feel like we made so many bad decisions.  I have spent all of the time from then until about 6 months ago, agonizing over her death.  Questioning, mourning, blaming, taking responsibility.  It weighed upon me like an anchor.  And I missed her so much!  Tumbles was the spokesdog of the two of them.  She was gregarious but the first to sound the alert if threatened.  She would bark a few, meager barks, but Tipper was called to action and raised a ruckus.  Tumbles was gregarious, always going right up to people.  Tipper hung back.  Tumbles loved to be brushed.  Tipper hated it.  Tumbles ate first and more.  She was first out the door.  She nuzzled me for attention, was very demanding and was very vocal.  When she passed away, my world changed.  It became very quite and sedate.  Granted, Tipper was probably in mourning, too.  Tipper didn’t talk.  It was almost as if Tumbles took Tipper’s voice.  Everything was so quiet.  Looking back, Tipper was probably in mourning.  We should have introduced a new puppy into the household then, but I wasn’t ready.  When I finally was ready, everyone convinced us that it wasn’t fair to Tipper.  Tipper took advantage of being the only dog by throwing all her affection and interest at me.  In a few short years, I made up for all the attention I didn’t give Tipper.  She enjoyed being the only dog and slowly she started talking again.  She never did completely come out of her mourning.  In the last 2 years of her life, she took to sleeping in the closet, usually with her bottom tucked in under my clothes.

Diva entered our lives while Tipper was still alive.  From the beginning, Tipper squawked her protest at having to share physical space and attention with a playful, exuberant puppy.  She did not want Diva to come near her.  Perhaps Tipper was in pain or just didn’t want to put out the effort.  We hoped that Diva might rejuvenate her, but it was too late.  However, eventually Diva wormedTipper and Diva-1 her way in and we very rarely found them close to one another.
Whereas Tumbles left life early, Tipper dragged on until Mitch and I decided for her.  I hoped, prayed and tried to communicate to her that she make the choice and not force me into doing so.  In the end, it was a matter of convenience and choosing to not prolong physical suffering.  I certainly could have waited longer.  It was amazing the sense of relief I felt, though.  That has it’s own guilt but I was not distraught.  Life moved went on, I felt peace, and Diva captured my heart completely.


I’m How Old?

Let’s cut to the chase.  I am a 52 year old, overweight, overworked, lazy woman.  I am slow and methodical.  The older I get, the slower I get.  I’d like to think I’m keeping up with the times and current technology, embracing the new trends.  But really, how hip can a 52 year old be?  I own my own business, I write, I cook from scratch and I love to read.  Recently, my husband and I adopted (rescued, purchased,etc) a puppy.  Diva is now 5 months old.  She is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and she is full of energy, except when she’s sleeping!  She has 2 speeds: overdrive and sleeping.

I will have to admit, sheepishly, that  I am growing tired.  I simply want to come home at 5, cook a yummy dinner, snuggle with Diva, read and go to bed.  Bedtime for me is still 10 or later but I am lacking the motivation to work late, party, and blow away the world.  Perhaps I need a vacation.  Time away this year has been entirely around family.  I love them all, but sometimes I just need alone time.  I have to think that perhaps I am stretching my normal routine and this has impacted me.  After all, I have attended 2 puppy play dates with Diva, actually trying to make conversation with other human beings that I don’t know real well.  I’m putting myself out there by writing a business blog and an article for a bi-monthly magazine.  I’m working hard to publicize/advertise my business and continually improve.  My television watching and Facebook time have decreased by half or more in the last year.  I don’t have season tickets to OSU football, although I have attended 3 games this season.  My garden is a mess, my house not much better (and I have a housekeeper come every other week).  I’m not having an affair and I don’t have a new hobby.  What the hell am I doing with my time?  Is it the dog?  Is it my involvement on a board of directors?  I honestly don’t know.  I swear I am getting up earlier every day.  I am working longer hours, it feels like.  I am doing more cooking from scratch.  But seriously, where does my time go?  And why am I so tired?

Things are not necessarily getting harder.  It is just that I don’t have any interest in them.  I’m tired of trying to market myself, not that I ever really did.  I’m that kind of woman that constantly gets overlooked because I am: short, nerdy, soft-spoken and plain.  I attended a board meeting for a foundation last week.  A man sitting at my table said he didn’t think he had met me.  I proceeded to tell him that we are on a committee together which had met the week before but that he probably wouldn’t remember me because I am quiet.  Seriously?!  I chaired the committee meeting prior to the committee that we are both on.  I seconded a motion in our committee meeting.  I sat 2 chairs from him.  Really? Am I that invisible.  Sometimes I wish I was my sister-in-law Linda, constantly in everyone’s face.  You cannot live in Corvallis and not notice Linda.  She is thin, blonde and outspoken.  Do I want to be her?  No.  Do I want to publicize myself that much?  NO!  But sometimes, maybe just once in a while, I wish someone would notice me.  Look at me.  Think I’m interesting, worthy, attractive.  Do I want to succeed?  Yes. How much am I willing to do to succeed?  How much am I willing to sell myself?  I should at least spend the time to make my dreams a reality.  Instead, I wile my time away, walking the dogs, doing good and cooking from scratch.  How much more unhealthy would I be if I cooked Lean Cuisines but finished my novel?  How much?

Oh How I Miss Him

My husband is away on business and I miss him!  In that simple sentence is concealed a vast array of emotions, truths and untruths.  So many that is it is hard to comprehend.  Fact, my husband is away.  He is in Orlando Florida.  Fact, he is there on business.  At least I believed him when he told me it is business.  I trust him, so I didn’t call his work to verify it.  Do I need to check up on him?  I trust him, after all.  He is honest.  At least I think he is honest.  Truthfully, I do really trust him.  That doesn’t mean I don’t ask questions and I do occassionally interogate him about something or other.  But I don’t worry when he travels.  He worries that I will cheat when I travel.  I really don’t understand that fear.  If you saw a photo of us, you’d understand why it is a mystery to me.  He is handsome, sexy, intelligent and fun.  I am overweight, uptight and can’t imagine anyone being attracted to me.  He says that’s why he worries because if someone did actually come on to me, I might be so swept off my feet that I would cheat.  I think I give off so many “I’m taken, leave me alone” vibes that there’s absolutely zero chance that it could happen.

Fact, I miss him.  This is a loaded statement!  The truth is I do miss him.  I miss his company.  I feel like half of me is gone.  I miss all that he does for me and around the house.  I have to do all that he normally does plus what I normally do.  Granted, because it’s just me and our dog, Tipper, there isn’t quite as much to do.  Tipper adjusts to my schedule and I manage to get her out to fulfill nature’s call without too much stress or any accidents.  I’m no longer preparing a “meal” and the dishes are much fewer.  I only make myself tea about half of the time.  There isn’t any laundry yet.  Truth, I do miss our activities together, our routines.  I am lonely at times.  Untruth, I don’t miss him every minute.  Sometimes it feels like freedom to be able to do my own thing, have my own timing, worry about only myself.  I get up when I want.  I go to bed when I want.  I eat what I want.  I drink what I want.  Oh, he’s never told me I have to do anything.  He is not controlling, demanding.  But he does get his way when it is important to him and I know that he disapproves of my choices at times.  When he is gone, I feel that I have the freedom to read until 11:30 at night.  I don’t worry that I have eaten wheat and sugar for all my meals with only a token vegetable or two.  Granted, if I went more than two days like that, I would feel sick and be craving vegetables.  But when I am “good” I crave bread, sugar and fat.

Truth-I don’t want to lose him, I don’t want to be without him.  I enjoy his company.  I enjoy our life together.  But the other truth that goes along with all of this is that I know if something did happen to us, I would survive.  I don’t want anything to happen.  I will do everything in my power to not let it happen.  But if something did happen, I would survive.  Actually, there is power in that.  And most of all, that power should awaken my true self that in turn will love him even more and make our life together even better.

I love the character of Bridget Jones because…just like her I can say at least there’s someone worse than me.  At the same time I relate to her foibles, I acknowledge my own weaknesses and I rejoice in her triumphs.  Bridget Jones is every woman.  Although I may not burn every meal, I can certainly relate to her being late to the kids school run-and I don’t even have kids.  How pathetic is that?  I’m often late and the only one I’m responsible for is me.

We are forever comparing ourselves to someone else.  We never measure up.  Maybe it’s just me.  I believe we each have a different ideal against which we compare ourselves.  For some it is Mother Teresa, for others Hilary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Serena Williams and even Kate Moss.  We do not have the same ideal-unless you think about God.  But then again there’s not even universal agreement on that.

So the fact that there is not one universal ideal means that not one of us is inferior.  That’s logical right?  We each say to ourselves, “Oh I wish I could be like___________”  And then I add in (maybe you do too) “but I can’t do this and I really suck at that…”  Hell, I may be smart but I’m no Albert Einstein.  None of us are ever enough.  No matter how well I do, I never feel  like I succeed.  I am never good enough.

And Bridget Jones-what would she say to all of this?  After 2 days of obsessing about not being able to compare to Albert Einstein, she’d say “At least I have my kids.  And we’ve just got to keep buggering on.”  And really, isn’t that what life is about?  We just keep moving ahead.

I’m not sure why my husband loves me.  There’s a lot of women out there who are prettier, skinnier, more outgoing and a whole lot more concerned about housework than me.  I may be able to cook a really good meal but I’m still a slovenly mess maker who finds it harder to verbally communicate my thoughts than make a decision-and it takes me months to make a decision.  But my husband loves me!  And it’s because I let him be him.  That’s the ultimate compliment to a slacker.  Just by doing nothing I got a man to love me!

So I say “Stop the madness”. Embrace your inner Bridget Jones.  None of us are perfect.  Hell, most of us are doing well to get out of bed in the morning!  Be thankful for what you’ve got.  If it degrades you and subjects you to abuse, find a way to leave the situation.  Otherwise, hold your head up high and keep on keeping on.

What is bravery?

I have a weakness. It’s a phobia really, although I hate to admit it. I’m afraid of heights. I have had this fear since I was a child. I believe it stems from falling down a rough staircase at age 2, a scar left behind to prove it happened. In addition, one of my eardrums ruptured from infection at a young age and my ear hasn’t functioned properly since. Except for a brief period of time after an ear doctor inserted an artificial bone. There was a brief period of a year or so when I was able to overcome my fear of heights. I thought I had conquered my fear!

I remember that feeling of victory and this gets me in trouble. I think I will no longer let my fear rule me, so I complacently try something like driving with my husband, step-daughter, her husband and our granddaughter to the top of Pike’s Peak. I only made it a mile from the entry fee kiosk before I was in sheer panic mode. They had to turn around and drop me off.  I spent time at an amusement park while the rest of the group made it to the top.  Somehow it didn’t make me feel better when they said even they were scared when the got to the top.  This scenario plays out repeatedly.  Some of the highlights are The Road to the Sun, Haleakala Crater, Diamond Head, numerous lighthouses and hwy 1 in Northern California. Each attempt ends in the inability to move another step and tears! Or screaming,  depending on the severity and whether I have been smart enough to take my anti-anxiety medication. Imagine pressing yourself against a rock wall halfway up Diamond Head and all these people pass you by.  They either look at me like I have a problem or they stop and ask if I’m alright.  These hikers are very young and very old.  Some even wear flipflops.  Why are they able to make it to the top and I’m not?  It’s not like I’m rappelling off the Matterhorn!

I have come to the conclusion that I need to accept this and arrange my life around this. I think a lot of people just pass on the option to hike Diamond Head.  They know their limits or they’re just not interested.  But it still seems like a defeat. I should be able to master my body, my psyche.  I feel imperfect, inadequate, a wimp.  I feel undisciplined, a slob.  And yet, wouldn’t it just be simpler to not make the attempt when the outcome is defeat.  So my question to you is: Which is braver-to keep trying when change seems impossible or to accept my limitations and move on?

You know you’re a little odd when your husband is excited to show you the flashlights he bought at the store.  The reason the flashlights are so important is that you and he hunt snails in the garden at night.  The previous flashlights have died.  So you need new ones and the ones he found are dandies.  They focus the beam of light, brighten and pulse.  Pretty cool!  You even go outside to check out how well they work in the garden.

I will admit that it was pretty cool to take a brief walk through our late fall garden at night with super awesome flashlights.  We didn’t find any snails, just a few baby slugs.  However, we did get to see the Pineapple Salvia in full bloom.  Why does it take this plant so long to bloom?  Why is it finally glorious in November, in spite of the definite frost we had a few weeks ago?  We live in a very temperate microclimate and our garden is so heavily planted that we have an amazing amount of “non-hardy” plants that survive the winter and thrive.

My husband and I have our little routines and rituals.  Also, we tend to grasp on to things that give us pleasure and we believe we will make them a ritual, so we buy all the necessary items to complete the ritual only to find that a year later we are not using those items at all.  You who are my age should remember The Cosby Show’s episode with the cupboard of abandoned electronic appliances.  That happens all the time with us.  Appliances and all sorts of other things included.  The appliance graveyard includes a bread machine and a pasta maker.  Probably 1-2 juicers, too, although I think we have thrown 1 out already.

The item that we don’t use that makes me the most sad is our Chinese tea pot and cups.  Each time we go to the Chinese garden in Portland, we have tea.  It is so lovely to sit and look out over the garden and enjoy tea.  Tea has been my caffeinated drink of choice since childhood.  That Mitch wanted to deepen our bond through the sharing of tea is super romantic.  He makes me tea every morning.  He has researched the perfect way to make tea and he makes sure the temperature is perfect and the tea steeps for the optimal length of time.  We buy loose leaf tea from a local, family-owned business.  It is all quite lovely.  But after enjoying the Chinese Garden, we purchased an iron tea pot, a clay steeping cup and two Chinese tea cups.  The idea was that we would sit in the garden and enjoy a relaxing tea time.  This actually happened two or three times.  Since then the tea service has sat idle, despite the fact that we again visited the garden in September of this year.  Oh well, it’s the thought that counts, right?

So back to the flashlight purchase.  Don’t get me wrong, like any woman ever born, I appreciate the well timed delivery of flowers, any type of jewelry, a dinner out and definitely any form of chocolate!  Just knowing that my husband was thinking about me (and not feeling guilty) gives me great joy.  But I will have to say, that I got pretty excited about the new flashlights!  Call me odd, I’m okay with that.

It’s a night for random musings.  Indulge me!

It’s a good thing kids and dogs are so cute.  If not, we would have annihilated ourselves long ago!

Why is it that we can experience such highs and lows?  I am either even keeled or very moody.  But today was too much turmoil, even for me.  I was tired and depressed.  Yet, I also found a new passion: film-making.  Driving in my convertible was exhilerating.  Yet, I brought down the mood at dinner by sharing my complicated feelings over a bank fiasco.  Today everything seemed to be my fault and yet not.  I really cannot take blame anymore.  And dealing with employees is seriously a contest for who has the most dramatic life or who wants to talk most about themselves.  I will honestly say that I do not love people.  I can sympathize with them, I can accept them for who they are, I can pity them, I can be angry with them, I can communicate with them, but I will never like or love them.  Although we all need human interaction to survive, and I would certainly go stir crazy if left to myself, I could definitely leave most of my interaction with people behind.  What a whiny, complaining, bitter race we are.  And I can totally identify with that because I am one of them.  But don’t let me near those people that are positive, upbeat and love their fellow human beings.  That’s crap!  They are not positive all of teh time, upbeat/downbeat-is there really a difference, and if love involves grace-forget it.  And you have the gall to make me feel like I am less than perfect because I’m down occassionally?  Seriously?

Why can the bank make me feel the whole depth of emotions?  Really?  It’s a bank.  Why am I defending my aging father, feeling like I need to be doing something differently, and getting pissed off.  That’s not why I pay them interest to use my money.

My husband is a saint.  Okay, he’s not a saint but he’s pretty good.  I am thankful he loves me and he loves to work with me.  And we have found a potential mutual interest.  Film-making/video production.  Okay-You Tube, social media production.  But it involves a camera, a recording and some creativity.  Why do we want to do it?  I’m not sure.  But just as I like to paint a picture with words, it is so much more amazing to literally paint a picture on film.  Let’s set a business plan and make a living because I could totally love this job!

I am now the invisible sister.  The shy, seductive but never shown sister.  I can totally see a video life for me!

It’s amazing that talking and writing about something totally takes the sting out of the event.  I could talk for 45 minutes about the bank making me feel like a dishonest loser that doesn’t pay enough attention to the inadequacies of my senile parents and still be angry.  But let me write about it for 5 minutes and the anger is gone.  Sometimes just airing it out lets the tension melt away.  At least the 45 minutes cemented the reason that I was angry.  It took away the causticness of the emotion and helped me consolidate my feelings into a form I could communicate.  That’s a lot better than a myriad of alternatives that are splashed across the morning paper.

Do I exhibit grace in my life?  I should as I have been the recipient of a tremendous amount of grace.  Read the above writing about not really liking people and you could put me on the list for needed improvement.  Truly, I do strive daily to exhibit grace.  Why is it that exhibiting grace does not mix with running a successful business and establishing firm boundaries.  Perhaps we need to accept that a monetarily driven business cannot survive when grace is present.  Profit drives out grace and therefore acceptance.  To be kind is to be unprofitable.  I think the Democrats and Republicans have that down pat.  Money or kindness but not both.

I can do my best but still feel inadequate.  I can try my hardest but not feel successful.  I can work myself to death and still feel like I have not done enough.  Why am I never satisfied?  It is not a want of wealth or possessions.  Perhaps that would be more understandable by today’s standards.  But no, it is a certain sense of failure, of inadequacy that does not allow me to appreciate and accept that which I accomplish.  I just want to feel like I have done enough, that I cannot try any harder, do any more.  I want to be able to lay my head on the pillow, knowing that there was no stone left unturned, no more I could do.  But what is the measure of performance-of success? For someone, even a smile at the end of the day is success.  A growing garden is success.  Being alive is success.  For me, a partially failing business, borderline mental illness, exhaustion, and ….are not success.  It must be perfection or it is not success.  Oh how tired I am.


Ode to the Sun

sunshineOde to the Sun

Your bright, lemony rays fall to the earth

Brightening even the recesses of the late winter landscape.

My eyes, lulled to sleep by the never-ending gray, blink in surprise

finally opening wide to drink in your radiance.

And then my soul rejoices that perhaps spring may yet appear.

by Brenda Powell