Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Don't let them tell you they are busy!

Old man, waiting for his wife to finish her shopping.
She is busy, purchasing something she doesn't need.
He's busy, worrying about his lunch, the bite on the budget this excursion will take.

Old people are mostly bored, in pain, or lonely.  What this man needs is to play with his grandchildren, but they are not around.
What his wife needs is to be in charge of  something important.

O.k. I'm simplifying, but the crux of the matter is still here: old people are not utilized well. They end up flitting here and there in search of something that gives meaning and purpose to their days.  Even if they can't move, they want to move, they want to feel that their days are full of activities that change lives, save the world.

We tend to relegate them to a semi-dead state, a waiting in limbo state, until maladies take over and their lives have reached the point of no return.

Grandparents used to live around their children and grandchildren, were consulted on all major decisions, supported the family by babysitting, educating, cooking and maintaining the household.  They were an integral part of an extended family.

Boredom and loneliness did not contribute to their demise.

How is it in your family?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Waiting for that big one!

Christmas is my  tsunami. O.k. an exaggeration! But, right after Thanksgiving, a wave of panic kicks in my psyche, one a day, sometimes more.  I tell myself these feelings occur every Christmas season, and there is no reason for me not to have this problem licked. I should really skip the season all together, fly to Barbados and pretend it's summer.

From November 26-to Christmas Day, I'm in the depths of depression. Not what you think, not the seasonal cold and dark weather induced malady. It all has to do with frenzy of this buying season: the expectations, the anticipation, the frustrations in choosing the right thing for the right person, the exhaustion, the going broke, the everything.

Usually, I adopt one of two  tactics, either delay purchasing anything until the last possible moment, or get a list and stick to it from day one.  Neither works.  The first one causes panic; the second one causes disappointments.  After all, the ideal present is never on a list; the ideal present suddenly pops up as one walks down a busy street, thinking of something else. 

The worst ever situation is when people tell you what they want. Now, you feel obligated to purchase those items, as well as some fabulous surprise.

There is way too much energy spent at Christmas. It's just dandy for those who enjoy the excitement. These are the same people who go to Disneyland, I guess, and can pretend to be children from the minute they enter those sacred doors. All that pretending wears me out. 

Hubby used to drag us (me, dragged!) to Disneyland on Father's Day. He just loved the joy on the children's faces. My point is that creating a pretend-real place is over the top pretend. The whole merchandising makes me gag, too.  My attitude was considered totally un-American. My children dismissed my arguments and insisted going to Disneyland was another cultural norm real Americans adopt willingly.

I haven't even started to talk about money. You'd think being old and on a fixed income would free me from all this nonsense.

I know! I can start a campaign of no-purchases as a Green Party platform. After all, we are in a recession, people. It's the right thing to do. It will disappoint so many people, Hubby especially. But it is the right thing to do!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Kazuo Ishiguro,Thankfulness and other Thoughts.

Snow on the coast: a sight to behold. A thankful thought that we live in such beautiful surroundings, where temperatures are mild all year long. Humans should be thriving here.  Humans, however, are rare in these parts. They fear the harsh winds, as well as  the monotonous winter days of dark clouds and incessant rain. Humans tend to detach themselves from pain and discomfort as long as they can.

What if our sole purpose was to become instruments of comfort and eternal life for others?

That is the premise in Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go, an innocent, elegiac novel of coming of age.

It is a story about human clones who are nurtured to be fully humans.  Their lives have all the requirements for success and usefulness in a proper society. Their needs for love and companionship, for history and past connections are every one's needs.  The story begins in a boarding school and ends as the protagonist goes off to tend to another sick person about to donate his/her organs, and live out their purpose in life. What she finds reassuring in all this pain-filled world she ended up in, are the memories she has of her childhood with friends, when life was innocent and full of small surprises and constant friendships. She never questions her purpose in life; she is grateful she has such wonderful memories.

This is a very sad story.  
But what if this really happened?
To what extremes will we go to prolong life, to cut back our pains and discomforts?
If you have not read Never Let Me Go, you have missed another gem from the author of Remains of the Day.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


I'm still here, on the lake, working in this garden, my back yard, a slip between the house and the lake, often too wet to be cultivated, too sandy to be productive. On those benches I do my best thinking, looking at miracles after miracles as far as my eyes can see.

I've changed my profile picture though. For no reason.
I've collected some followers. For reasons I do not understand.
I've wondered why I've been writing here, when I could write somewhere else.  Writing comes easily here, in this little box where you and I post, a box no bigger than the 3x5 cards we used to take notes in college. Those cards served only one purpose: to record verbatim, the words of others, the words that would become our research.

"Four hundred" sounds like a lot. But, in just one year as a retiree, I have cooked more than four hundred meals, written hundreds of short stories, some of which ended up in my memoir, some ended up as fire starters.

Blogging has become a habit with me. The second thing I do after I wake. The last thing I do before I sleep.
I've made lots of friends; lost many; irritated a few. The world is available to my eyes and my soul with just one click of the mouse. 

Thank you for following this blog. Thank you for sharing your life and your world with me.
May we live to post four hundred more times!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

How are You?

We look at a plant and we know how It is, what weeds or parassites are affecting it. But, do we know that about people? How are You? we ask with little or no interest in the answer, day after day.

I left such an inquiry for Erin

Read her answer.
I'm in awe.

the tiny leaf

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Thanksgiving on my mind.

Next week is Thanksgiving here in the States, my favorite holiday:

1. Nothing to decorate, unless you count what you already have around.
2. Everyone will expect the same food, year after year.
3. Everyone will be happy to eat the same food, and will act surprised at how good everything is, and how come we don't eat turkey more often, they'll say.
4. Nothing to buy or present, except food.
5. We will have enough leftovers to not cook the rest of our lives!

And the most important reason of all: We get the family together, those of us who can, and will remember all the other Thanksgivings in our lives. A Marathon of Memories, Sports, Memories, Sports, Pies with or without ice cream, More Turkey, more Sports....

We'll be somnolent and lazy, thankful for what Providence has  generously bestowed upon us.

Happy Thanksgiving wherever you are.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Weather Watching.

From November on, we watch the weather. Actually, we watch the dunes that separate our lake from the Ocean, right here on the last picture.  On this date, a few days ago, the waves breached the dunes, tumbling furiously down into the lake.

Over a decade ago, on this very berm that is now being reshaped by the waves, the town's sewer system was destroyed.  The lake water became brakish, salty. Fish died and the lake's ability to provide  residential water supply was compromised.  That event changed the narrative around here.

We now have a new outfall for the lake.  We have a new sewer system. We even have a new plan for city growth.  Weather wise, we seem to be prepared against another breach of the same magnitude, a breach folks were told happened every century or so.

As I photographed these waves pouring into the lake, I couldn't help panic a bit.  With one heavy stroke, Nature could change the face of this town, the face of our lake, our home.  With one stroke, we could be homeless.

With one stroke, we could all be washed out to sea.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Catching the soul

Here we are on a glorious summer day. Hubby is busy with something. Jasmine, our grandchild, and I are smiling at the camera in her friend's hand.

I want to remember this time we had with her, the world in front of her, though looking at the two of us, Hubby and I  need to keep working on our weight!
 I want to remember how happy Jasmine was that day on this patio.  I see her eyes have the same glint as her dad's, my son. Her sweet smile has  the same soft tone as her mom's. 

Photographs do catch  our inner strengths and personalities. They do project all the things we are.  We look at them and all we see are the things we don't like about ourselves. We begin to critique how our hair looked, how are clothes didn't fit right, how busy we were to look up or participate.

One can write a life's arc with one photograph. 

I have a link with my past and with my future in this photo. Jasmine will remember these days of her youth and entire sensations will return to fill any gap in her memory. 
How marvelous to have these tools at our disposal.

I remember that after this picture was taken, we made pizza, and I began a food blog to pass down a few recipes and a few guidelines.  Pictures, stories, instructions: humans are aware of their finite destinies and keep inventing tools to help them remember.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Politicum sans decorum

No. This is not on my property. I do not own a riding stable. I do not own horses. I don't ride them either. But I do like to look at them. And everytime I do, I remember how much my dad loved horses.

He had horses all his life, for practical purposes. He even served in the Cavalry.
Horses and I, however have little else in common. Except, they remind me of the good old days, when people dressed properly, were polite, played by the rules of civilized behavior, and were never caught telling lies or showing their dirty linens in public.

And that brings me to today's topic. How politics has lost decorum, class!

 Political views aside, politics is the art of getting things done with people with disparate views.  We like politicians who can list a series of accomplishments that support our point of view, our local community's elan.

Lately, however, we are flaunting something else, the art of knocking things down, destroying what has been accomplished, villyfying any achievement that we disagree with. This is not politics.

This is arena fighting.
Christians versus Lions.
No holds barred.
Fight to the death.

It's a mid-term election that instead of correcting a course, it's bent on staying on the course, right or wrong. Ouch!
We all better put our gloves on!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Do you wonder?

Why anyone would get this sign made?
Why we write to no one in particular?
Why we vote and nothing really changes?
What will we remember of today?
What if nothing happens?
What if something happens and I don't know about it?

What is the answer that is blowing in the wind?