Flowers in California

Flowers in California

Monday, April 13, 2015

Oh, the festivities!

It's Purse Dumping Day! The contents of mine are not particularly unusual or scary this time. There's probably more unrefrigerated cheese than is necessary (hard to say) but there are no horribly aging bananas. Perhaps you'd like to dump your purse today too! (Or your backpack or that compartment in your hat where you've been stowing things for way too long) It's like receiving a Christmas stocking from Santa that he filled at the end of his route from debris in his sleigh. There might even be some used reindeer tissues in there; I don't know. Happy Purse Dumping Day and Monday to you all!


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Clarifying My Thoughts on Human Interaction - Perhaps I'm Less Awful Than I Sometimes Seem

In describing my thoughts recently, before going to a writers' workshop, I may have seemed unfriendly. Part of what I said was exaggeration. I did not sit under a chair or table at the workshop I attended on Saturday. (But I don't frown upon anyone who did; that's a personal choice.) And I didn't mean to suggest that there weren't a lot of lovely people at that workshop.  Every person who was in that room has a story, fears, hopes, accomplishments and a unique take on the world. It would be interesting to hear them all. What I mean when I am going to a workshop and want to be left alone and that, in an ideal world, I would be invisible, is that I'm tired and, while I have the energy to sit in a room and take in information, I don't have the energy required to socialize with the people there. Socializing requires effort on my part. It's worth the effort but sometimes I don't have the necessary energy to expend.

For me, there are two broad categories of social interaction. There is the interaction with people whom I don't know well, if at all, and that with people with whom I have established a connection and can really connect. Each presents its owns challenges. Both can be very life-enriching.

Talking with people I don't know requires me to dance around in unfamiliar territory as I try to uncover the person with whom I am conversing and see if I can connect with them. I guess that is how we initially interact with many people in our lives, however close to them we later become. We only interact with some people for a few moments but those times can be meaningful. I remember chance encounters with people and brief discussions that have touched me. I recall speaking with an elderly gentleman at a bus stop downtown when I I was very worried about something (although he didn't know of my concerns) and ind words at the gym when the words of another person had hurt me. I hope that there are people who have been helped by my words whether they remember them or me or the occasion or not. And while these interactions show there can always be merit in connecting with people, it doesn't change fact that sometimes I have the energy available for interaction and sometimes I don't. And because invisibility is not an option and cruelly ignoring people when afforded the opportunity to speak with them is not what I want to do, I can feel at times reluctant to be near new people at all.

The other communication setting in which I engage is with people I know reasonably well and with whom I feel comfortable. I love conversation with one or a few friends. When in a setting with people daring to offer bits of themselves, their souls, as they attempt to connect with me and with others, I feel fully alive. While I love writing and love connecting with people words in various ways, I treasure the time I have spent with people in conversation over the years. The conversations of true connection that I value most, however, also require energy for me. Wherever we are and whomever we sit across from or stand near or try to comfort on a couch, there are distractions - in our heads, in our coffee shops in our workplaces and coming from all our electronic devices. To focus on one person and their words, their feelings behind them is, in my opinion, essential to true relationship. It requires effort and we cannot be passive to engage in it properly.

So, if I say things that suggest that I hate interacting with people and perhaps even hate most other people, I am not explaining things well at all. Conversation always requires some effort on my part. Sometimes I don't feel up to the challenge of expending it. Some days I feel like shutting off and not trying to engage or connect with others. I hope that's ok and I never mean to offend anyone. I need to simply be with and pay attention to my thoughts sometimes. Perhaps we all do.


Monday, February 23, 2015

With that Cup, Does Society Break Down?

I hope not. And I'm not really a person who tends towards thoughts of society breaking down. That would be a shame.

I am dismayed though, when I see a coffee cup lying on the edge of the sidewalk. Unless someone had a spectacular fall and dropped their cup of coffee or let it go when their child attempted to run off from them, I can't see a good reason to discard a cup and leave it for someone else to pick up, whether the person thinks about that eventuality or not. In what may seem like the small act of littering, a person is showing a disregard for society beyond him/herself. It's bigger than a coffee cup. Why don't they care?

I've carried a lot of cups of coffee around. From an environmental standpoint, it's shameful. I should work on it. But I have never dropped my cup at the side of the road when I'm done, or left it on a store shelf. I've put empty cups in my purse before to carry them until I could find a garbage can. (Awful things go on in my purse anyways; it's not like a few drops of coffee will make things a lot worse.) It's not difficult. They fit in pockets too.

I think it's sad when someone cares so little for the world outside their narrow field of vision. A coffee cup may be small but I think, in some ways, it's huge. It would be so much nicer if even more people cared.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

The World Needs These Books

I have come up with some book titles that merit consideration, for any number of reasons. If there are any in which you are particularly interested, please let me know and I'll fire up my quill. Happy reading!

1.  Ducks - Some of the Information You Need to Know

2.  All About Lemons: 460 Pages of Important (and Fun!) Information About this Yellow Fruit
(Note: this is not a book about lemonade)

3.  Indoor Bird Watching for Those Who Don't Have Windows

4.  Important Dates in Tea Towel History (A Non-Pictorial Chronology)

5.  Chairs and Seating, A Look at Comfort (Special Feature: The Beanbag!)

6.  Communicating with your Goldfish (First in a Ten Volume Series)

7.  When to Use Cutlery - A Helpful Guide (Learning to Feel Confident When Facing a Bowl of Soup!)

8.  Back to the Wild: Staying Safe When Animals Break Free at the Zoo

9.  New Shapes in Umbrellas:  A Look at the Triangle

10. Sure we have the egg but... - Memoirs of the Oval, A Sometimes Forgotten Shape

11. Mold at the Back of the Fridge: Recalling Your Intentions When That Food Was So Shiny and News

12. Crafting with Earwax - Creating Beautiful Items with Nature's Generous Bounty

13. Ventriloquism - Why? Just, Why?

14. The Case Against Mozzarella

15. Whom to Call When Your Rabbit Makes Mad (Assuming You Still Have an Unchewed Charger Cord or Landline Wire and Are Able to Make Calls)

16. Look at Me; I'm Baking Soda! How One Household Substance Developed Such a Large and Troubling Ego

17. Beyond Your Coffee Addiction: Finding Other Uses for the Hand that Held the Cup

18. When Good Boots Fail:  A Slippery Account of Bitter Disappointment (and Injured Knees)

19. Hibernation Pros and Cons for the Undecided Goose: Essays and Exercises for the Individual and Flock

20. And, from our self-help series, "You're Passive, You're Aggressive: Is It Time to Focus on Just One?"


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Writing in the Dark

It is 1:57 in the morning and I am writing in the dark. I am being kind to my husband who is asleep. Pens are quiet. Turning the page might not be. We'll see.

I cannot see anything that I write. It's possible that I am writing over words already there.

Always, though, it seems we are doing these things.

We write or type words but when they leave our fingers, we don't know where they go. Who reads them? Do they fade into nothingness? Do they disappear in the air?

And aren't we always writing over words, preconceptions, beliefs?

I am writing in the dark but, really, this is not my first experience at it.

We all write into obscurity and hope to find a place among words already there.


Impressions from This Morning

People get on the bus - their eyes - what will they see today? what do they want to see? what do they fear?

A man walks his dog back home. The dog no longer needs a leash; it follows behind the man. The dog has done this many times and moves more slowly now.

Children jog by outside a school. It's gym class or a running class. They'll feel refreshed later; they don't look happy now.

A woman boards the bus and, instantly, all the fallacies of the beauty industry crumble. her face, softened by the years is beautiful. What stories does she have? Does anyone ask her to tell them? Does anyone listen when she speaks?

The bus moves on, traffic moves in different directions. The city is alive, each of its people precious.


Monday, February 9, 2015

Listening Within

I have a habit of collecting inspiration quotes. I collect funny quotes too but I don't think the funny quotes are a problem. And while the inspirational quotes may offer good guidance and ideas, I think t here's a limit to how much outside guidance we need to ask for in our lives.

We each  have wisdom. If we take a break from paying attention to the cacophony of voices, ideas and hysteria around us, maybe our own inner voices would feel more free to speak. And when we did speak, write, somehow share our thoughts, the world would be better for hearing, reading, knowing them. I am going to take a break from seeking inspiration from quotes. I will listen to myself more. Maybe I will uncover some inspiring words of my own. (Right now I am thinking that I should put my left sock on my foot. That's not really inspiring but it is a good idea to wear two socks. So I'll consider it a good start.)


Monday, January 19, 2015

Random Observations on a January Day

1. I bought a new scale. In addition to weight, it shows various statistics about one's body (perhaps even hat size - I can check). I'm interested in this but puzzled as to how the numbers can be accurate. If I stand on the scale with a large (or small) watermelon in my hands, how will the scale now that I'm doing that. It doesn't happen often but it could. And if it does know that you're holding fruit, how does it know what type? At least if it asked (Ma'am - is that a honeydew or a watermelon you're holding onto there?) you'd know it was trying. If it doesn't ask, and acts all snooty like it just knows your body fat and percentage of water regardless of what you're holding, it's not as great a device as it makes itself out to be.

2.  For someone who is trying to eat a lot less gluten, I bought way too much cereal for myself over the weekend. And we already had excess cereal in the house. I thought of throwing a cereal party where guests bring their own bowls, we supply spoons and everyone digs in. The invitations would have to be very specific though: I wouldn't want people to show up at the door bringing their own cereal or offering it as hostess gifts. I fear my disdain at the introduction of even more cereal to the house would show. I'd have to warn people against bringing oranges too. We have way too many oranges. Perhaps they could be dessert at the cereal party - I'm never sure what food best pairs with a main course of Cheerios. (And I think that one of the unopened packages of cereal will go to the food bank. Some mistakes end up being beneficial.)

3.  When the dishwasher is full of clean dishes, I feel that emptying it will take days of my time, I will not be able to breathe or function in any normal ways while emptying it and that afterwards, I'll have to spend at least another six or seven weeks reloading it and will probably never have a life again beyond the area of the kitchen near the dishwasher. When the dishwasher is empty, however, I am not troubled by the thought of reloading it at all. Even when a sizable crowd of mugs, plates, glasses and cutlery has gathered on the counter (and is starting to get a bit unruly) I am pleased to put them in the dishwasher and feel no sense of impending doom. And I like that. It's never particularly enjoyable to have a sense of impending doom.

4.  I know now to include gloves as part of my outfit when attending a social function with dry, irritated hands. Recently, I attended a family dinner without gloves. By the end of the evening, someone had recommended I try her favourite brand of hand cream and had me sample it. By the end of that week, people had purchased two containers of it for me as well as foot cream made by the same manufacturer. My foot care needs hadn't even been discussed and my feet were never visible at the dinner table (that night). I appreciate people's care and concern but I had hand cream at home that I like and once I stopped using a certain soap, my hands were fine. It'll be easier (and more mysterious and that's cool) to wear gloves. Perhaps I should start a business selling "indoor gloves for people whose extended family members insist on taking on their dry skin issues even when the issues are really not all that bad." I will relish both the privacy that the gloves provide me and others like me and the profits my entrepreneurial adventure brings.

5.  I had considered a drug store a good place to purchase small Christmas gifts. They have such a variety of items. When I started looking, however, I encountered items such as Gaviscon and Cepacol. I don't know that I'm entirely comfortable giving those items as gifts. There's a chance that someone will be experiencing heartburn on Christmas morning and will consider Gaviscon to be a perfect gift choice. But one can't predict something like that, especially when you live at a distance and can't cook for them in a way that encourages digestive discomfort. Likewise, throat lozenges can provide soothing relief but conditions have to be right for you to appreciate that. Ideally, you have to have a sore throat. And while people may appreciate notebooks and pens and I hope people like soap (I give soap A LOT. I really encourage a clean and fragrant world), massaging gel insoles, bandaids and all manner of products to contain all manner of, um, liquids probably won't light up faces on Christmas morning. So shopping at a drug store for Christmas gifts has limitations. But if you received or gave Gaviscon as a gift, that's great and I hope that there was just the right amount of  digestive struggle to make it right for everyone.

6.  At some point, I saw wrapping paper at Costco with penguins on it and it seemed like a good idea to buy it. It seems like a good idea to buy lots of things at Costco. Often that turns out to be true. With the wrapping paper, though, the paper was large. It was very large. It still is. I managed to lug it from the basement to my wrapping table. I wanted to use it. It was hard to use it though as the whole role was just so big. I don't want to have to clear out a sizable area around me when I'm going to move the roll, I don't want to fear that someone could get seriously injured if this paper ever rolled off the table and hit them. And I don't want to wrap people's presents so that all they see of a penguin is an arm/wing/flipper/upper right appendage. I was not giving large presents to most people (although thankfully there was a penguin-loving yoga mat recipient in the crowd - that worked out pretty well); the penguins were getting chopped up pretty badly. I learned from this that the scale of things at Costco can be different to the scale of things in my life and home. Costco is ideal for big organizations, big families. Big penguins (probably Emperors and Kings) may like shopping at Costco. For small families and people wrapping small presents, the scale can be off unless you're wrapping a big penguin. Or something like a moose. Then this paper would be good.

Well, it's now a January evening or night and in some places a January morning. Whatever time it is, enjoy it, and I hope you're not suffering any digestive distress. It makes me feel bad that I didn't buy Gavison for anyone after all.


At Christmastime and Beyond

I started writing this entry before Christmas. I hope it still has something to say. We'll see.

In the Christmas season, as throughout the rest of the year, people have worries, sadness, sometimes tragedies. In looking at a small family today, I noticed that the father didn't look happy. Sitting with his wife, a small child and a baby, one might in passing, consider his life to be charmed. When we see babies, children, we might think things are all good. But there can be worries, there can be real concerns. Even at Christmas. It's not all trips to see Santa and smiles and toys for young families. It's not all happy visits and good food and fun gifts for adults. There can be sadness too; there can be pain, there can be missing people and there can be emotional trips in one's mind back over the years.

We cannot, much as we would wish, stop the "slings and arrows," to quote Shakespeare, of life from flying around and hitting people sometimes. Christmas can't and doesn't stop it, nor does being good or working hard or getting a good sleep. We're humans and we're vulnerable and it seems, at least, that all this kind of stinks.

What we can do to soften the blows from the injuries people incur in life? I hope that, because of Christmas and the love shown by Jesus whose birth we celebrate that day, we can learn to offer our love to those who need it, and really we all do. I hope as well that Christmas does not, with its memories, its expectations, hurt people already be feeling pain. Rather, I hope that in quiet moments by Christmas trees, and in acts of kindness and of love, people can find healing, peace and hope.

Christmas is over for this year now. I hope it has brought goodness to you in whatever form you need it.

Take care, my friends. All the best for peace and healing and hope and joy after the holiday season as well.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Puddles and Plants and Stuff

As I sit here, I am looking at a puddle of water that has formed outside the plant I watered moments ago. As well, I can see a tray. If the plant were sitting on the tray, the water would not have leaked. Oh, what a simple solution. Oh, what a puddle to clean up.

OK, I solved that problem.

While I did solve that problem, I wonder what I can learn from yet another small domestic blunder. Am I to be reminded of how simple preventive measures can make life so much easier? Am I to question if, indeed, some people really aren't capable of handling the responsibilities of a house and need to employ domestic help, whatever the expense? Or am I just to realize that there is too much going on in this house, too much lying around, too many things that take up space and require attention but which don't advance the cause of anyone in this house or in society? Do I even want plants? Maybe. But do I enjoy them or merely toss some water at them once in a while out of a sense of duty and hope the water lands within the pots?

I'm about to read a book about an apparently great system of tidying up, once and for all. I hope this approach works. I feel that there is stuff around me in this house that is not serving my purposes anymore. Why do we try to hang on? I think I should let at least some of this stuff go.

And the next time I am in IKEA, near the end of the store, parched from thirst and bewildered by thoughts of what I may still want or not want to buy, I will try to stop myself from buying yet another plant. Buying one won't make me an indoor plant person. Nor improve my life in countless (nor even countable) ways. There are artificial plants in that section too. Maybe one of them is a better option. Or, I could take a few steps back and buy a picture frame. It may end up in a pile with the other picture frames whose sizes don't match any pictures you've ever taken or seen or bought but it won't require watering and it's not dangerous like a candle. Yes, perhaps I should stick to picture frames. I've amassed quite a nice collection.

And soon, I will go and stare at my plants. Perhaps I will realize that they are more wonderful than I had realized. Perhaps I will notice that there are more puddles and, since I can't hire a staff, I should probably buy some absorbent cloths. Or picture frames. Or something. Just not more indoor plants.