2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 15,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


It’s Magic

Ups and downs, rounds and rounds. That’s a nice, pleasant way of talking about what’s been going on around here. E has been out of school this last week for Thanksgiving and that has been interesting. Mostly he’s slept and played on the computer. I tried to get him to help us out in the yard one day, thinking that might be something we could all do together, but he promptely stepped in dog poop and was pretty much out of the game after that.

G and I have had some really serious, sometimes almost too intense discussions. We broached the subject of separating, not because we lack or have lost feeling for each other, but because we just don’t know how to bridge the gulf between how we think this kid should be parented, and how we perceive a lot of his behavior, and how to reconcile those wildly differing philosophies. The thing that’s always in my mind when we have these back and forth, round and round, gut wrenching discussions is that  he’s happily somewhere else (as he should be) not giving us the smallest thought in his FaceBook involved little head except where his next meal is coming from. I’m not saying that to be mean to him, but I know that teenagers are astoundingly self-absorbed (as they should be, to a certain extent) and they just don’t see why anything in the world should put them the least bit out of their comfort zone.

Friday night, after a particularly rough day, and a really rough week financially for me (computer crash last weekend, new hard drive installed, an entire day wasted trying to get my work VPN to connect. Basicially, I lost my whole work week last week. Fortunately, I WAS going to take 2 days off for the surgery that G postponed, so they let me take that time to help make up for it. Then my local comupter genius got me up and going in ten minutes after ten hours of failure with the company IT person…no offense to her, she tried everything. Tommy is just a genius.) But I digress.

Went to bed on Friday to find G surrounded by various books, one of which was this. We started talking. She was looking for some kind of inspirational book or relationship book or something of that nature that perhaps we could work on together every day, either reading to each other, discussing whatever it was, keeping our own journals about it, etc. That resonated with me on so many levels. I thought it was brilliant. I knew she had hit on exactly the right idea to help us get back to ourselves. Plus it would be taking E out of the equation of his behavior making us happy or unhappy, which was never going to work in the first place.

The book in the link is called “The Magic” and it’s kind of a more specific take on that book that was so popular a while back, “The Secret.” In many ways, it goes along with all the Abraham stuff, only this book helps you work specifically on gratitude. I’m really happy we started it now, right before Christmas, so that we can do the 28 days of exercises through this month of rampant and rabid consumerism, which we are doing our best not to get sucked into. (Easy for me–no money, no consuming–but G has a tough time denying E anything despite being royally aggravated by him most of the time.)

I started yesterday. I found an old sketch book mostly unused and decided to use that as my gratitude journal. First and foremost work is to write down ten things you are grateful for each morning before you do anything else.  It’s pretty easy, because there are a lot of things to be grateful for, if you just look around you. But you have to focus. And you don’t always have to be grateful for “good” stuff because don’t we often learn the most from things that are less than pleasant? But aren’t we grateful afterwards when we become tougher and wiser? I know I am.

I was actually happy to get back to work yesterday after two weeks, so I decided to carry it further. On my little pieces of scrap paper that I keep beside the keyboard to jot things on, every so often a thought would occur to me about something I was grateful for and I noted it down. At the end of my shift last night, I typed them up. They came up to actually more than one grateful thought per hour that I worked:

  • I am grateful for good dictators.
  • I am grateful for OP notes.
  • I am grateful for finding the document zoom function.
  • I am grateful for a hug from my baby.
  • I am grateful for toasted biscuits.
  • I am grateful FB is not such a temptation anymore.
  • I am grateful for good hearing.
  • I am grateful for leftovers today.
  • I am grateful for an extra hour of work offered today.
  • I am grateful for keeping my cool.
  • I am grateful for my grandson and his sense of humor.
  • I am grateful for long reports.
  • I am VERY grateful for my health.
  • I am grateful for my line count of over 3600 today, a first for me.

I overslept this morning because I forgot to set my alarm clock, but thanks to my own internal alarm, I wasn’t late, just later than I usually wake up. However, I was grateful for six hours of good sleep. I moved into higher gear sooner than usual, but got everything done and logged in on time, only to have an email that work was low and to log off. I could have been bummed, but I’m grateful that it’s now at the beginning of a pay period with time to catch up, grateful for some time to blog, and when I finish this, I can go have coffee with G and maybe work on tomorrow’s lesson.

The things to be grateful about in your life are endless, if you will just focus on them and not what seems to be “bad.” I’m so glad that G had her brilliant idea. I can already feel it working on a lot of levels. I urge you all to try this. Oh, don’t run out and buy the book, especially if you’re pinching pennies right now, but just try being grateful every day. Ten things, that’s all. Even if you can’t find anything about your personal life to be thankful for, just look out into the world. A beautiful sunrise or sunset. Birds in the back yard. Clear skies or snow, depending on your preference. Raking leaves or not having to rake them. A quiet cup of coffee when you start the day. These simple things are plenty to get you started on your gratitude journey. I know that for me, this is one habit I want to cultivate and encourage starting right now. I can’t think of a better way to kick off December and this season of giving. Can you?

Baby Steps, Again

I didn’t think this post would be so difficult to write. It’s very easy to get out of the habit of writing. You just don’t do it. You let the grandson play on the computer when you should take some time for yourself or you play mah jongg instead of writing or futz around on Twitter, or any one of a million other things. You let it slide. Just like you let your life slide, it seems. That’s what’s so hard. I admit it. I’m letting my life slide and I have no idea where. It’s really, REALLY difficult to write that. But that’s how I feel at the moment. I don’t know why. Nothing particularly momentous happened and all of a sudden I was oh, this is all just to much to bear. Yes, I know some of you will say taking on the grandson was a big deal. You’re right. It was huge. However, this feeling was manifesting inside me long before that happened.  Maybe this latest thing was the proverbial last straw, but it definitely isn’t/wasn’t the root cause. I’m still trying to figure that one out.

But I’m working on it. I’m taking baby steps, again. This post, for instance. I have a couple of non-fiction ideas I want to explore for submission a couple of places. I considered NANOWRIMO for a nanosecond, and realized I wasn’t ready, but I can do small things. I’ve begun using the timer on my phone. Now that sitting apparently is worse than smoking (and WHO decided on that for God’s sake in a society that sits about 85% of the time now–there has to be SOMETHING to make us fearful, right? I am so over that), I’ve begun to set myself 45-minute intervals and then get up, even in the middle of a report, and use my resistance bands, do wall squats, bounce on my rebounder for 5 minutes, stretch, do a few yoga moves, whatever it takes to get me out of the chair. It’s helping, especially on the last half of my shift.

I started walking again, now that the weather is more conducive. Again, the timer. I set it for 15 minutes and walk till it goes off. Then I set the stop watch and walk back the way I came to see if I keep up the same pace. I do. I figured if I can’t give myself 30 minutes a day to get out of my head, what is the point. I don’t need fancy equipment, etc. There’s a perfectly good street right outside. I just need to use it.

I knew it was getting critical when I quit wanting to cook. True. Don’t care. I’m suddenly tired of trying to get nutrition into people who can’t seem to open a fridge and see anything that’s not convenient. E wants chips or Cliff bars, I can’t even get him to microwave stuff. G either forgets to eat until she’s nearly passing out, or she’s nauseated from the reflux so nothing is appealing. Again, baby steps. G found a fabulous recipe for homemade “cliff” bars that is SO much better than anything I’ve found in a box. Don’t have it in front of me, but I’ll post it, because really, you have to make these. They are great. And flexible, so you can customize them to your taste.

I’m trying not to complain. I have nothing to complain about. All my needs are met, and the vast majority of my wants, so I can’t figure out why this utter blah-ness for lack of a better term. Maybe I need a vacation? I don’t know. I just know I don’t like this feeling and I’m not sure how to make it better. Except with those baby steps, one word, one meal, one foot at a time.

Haiku Monday – Reflection

This week has been amazingly busy, and the Serendipitous One was last week’s Haiku Monday winner and has given us a wonderful theme for the week–reflection.  There are many definitions to that word, the most obvious being an image we might see in a mirror or other shiny surface such as a body of water, an opaque window, etc.  Are the images we see reflected back to us real?  Or are they showing a different reality all together? If you push hard enough, could you sink into a reflection, like Alice falling into her looking glass, and discover entirely new realms?  That’s a big weighty subject for me at the moment, so I chose a lighter view.  One day I was out at the Pueblo City Park snapping photos, and I realized there were a few patches of standing water.  What a different world!

Tiny rain puddle
Reflects larger world above
Wheels roll unnoticed


Reflection can also mean thought, quiet musing on subjects that may disturb us or be dear.  In this case, it was definitely the latter:

The peace of her hands.
I reflect on her tough past.
So much gratitude.


When All Else Fails…

Take pictures!

babysquash (640x480)

Taken a couple of days ago. These squash are probably bigger than the plant now.  G wanted to plant scarlet runner beans this year:

glorybeans (480x640)The morning glories liked the idea, too.  Basil from seed:

basilicious (640x480)

And visions of pesto danced in their heads.  Also, the echinacea are really lovely this year.

echin (640x480)And so are the mandevillia (in pots on the porch):

mandev (480x640)

And finally, ending up on a lovely evening with a new moon glimmering through.  I s’pose I need a tripod (have one, too lazy to go get it), but I kinda like the effect.

moonshadow (640x628)

Seven Years

I first posted this story on my other blog, which I have not updated in nearly a year.  It was/is mainly about my trip to Spain in 2007.
My mom passed away Tuesday, July 11, 2006, in Atlanta, GA, where she had lived since 1967. G. and I arrived at her house from Colorado on Sunday evening, went to see her in hosp. on Monday morning, where she had been in and out of ICU for a bit over a month. She initially went in to have treatment for a diabetic foot ucler, then progressed to breathing problems because of CHF, and the night they released her out of ICU and into a regular room, she had what we later found out was a cardiac arrest, coded, and they revived her. Well, after they “revived” her, basically she was on a vent and pretty non-responsive. It was something she was adamant she never wanted.

When we visited her, she was back in ICU, and unable to speak, but she recognized my voice, and she looked at me when I asked her to, blinked when I asked her to, and so I know that she knew I was there.  My sister had told me that practically her last words had been about my daughter, her oldset grandchild, who, as usual, had been going through a lot of rough times.   I was able to pass on to my mom that things were looking up with her, that she was working, and that her 2 great-grandsons were doing well.

We only stayed for a short while, kissed her goodbye, and said we would come again in the morning.   We also wanted to talk to her doctor about DNR, etc.  She had been very clear our entire lives that she did not want anything “long and drawn out” if a good recovery wasn’t possible.  That was Monday.
In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, my brother called me, stating the hospital had just called, and mother’s breathing was becoming very labored.  We had requested a do not reintubate that day, and the nurses had kindly put it in the chart.  Paul said that the nurses told him that they were making her comfortable.  I woke up Glena and told her what was going on.  By the time I even got laid back down, Paul called again, and said the hospital had just called, and mother had passed.  It was about 2:30 a.m.
Paul lives about 60 miles away from my mother’s house, where the rest of us were, so he said he would head over.  I woke up everyone else and let them know.  My sister was exhausted, and was having cancer surgery the next day, so she went back to bed.  My other brother and I waited up for Paul, and when he got there, we just sat quietly in the family room, crying a little, laughing a little, and thinking how strange it was knowing that Mother wasn’t ever going to be in that house again.

Around 5:30, we all started to fade.  The boys said they were going to try to go back to sleep, and I said I wanted to go out on the back deck for a while.  Mother had built that deck on the back of the house after my dad died in 1990.  She loved it, and always said HE would have loved it, too, but he would never have let her build it!  Like everything else around the hosue, it had kind of fallen a bit into disrepair since my mom’s health began failing, but it was still very sturdy and safe.  I pulled a lawn chair out and sat in the middle of the deck looking out into the dark back yard.  It was very quiet.

My mother’s house is only 4 miles from the Atlanta airport, one of the worlds busiest, but where her house sits is surrounded by a few acres of undeveloped woods, and her house is at the end of a dead-end street, so there is almost no traffic.  It was that magic time of just barely beginning to get light.  I could see the silhouettes of the trees, but only as darker images against a nearly black background.  From time to time, I thought I saw something move quickly around my head, but didn’t give it much thought.
A few minutes passed, and increment by increment, the yard began to get lighter.  I continued to see/sense SOMEthing moving, just out of the corner of my eye, gone even before I could begin to focus on it. Then, I suddenly, I realized what that perceived movement was–it was bats.  HUNDREDS of BATS.  They suddenly appeared swooping and flying all around me as I sat mesmerized in the chair.  I lived in that house from 1967 to 1992, on and off, and visited many times after that, and usually spent all the early mornings on the deck.  I had NEVER seen anything like those bats.   As I sat, amazed, I had an incredibly strong feeling that these bats were souls, and that this was my mother, come to say good by to me, to us, to her house, to her life.  It was at once comforting and awe inspiring.  I felt the wings around me, the breeze they lifted across my face, and in the coolness the morning air, I felt the tears I didn’t know I had shed drying on my cheeks.
I think about that morning a lot.  I can’t believe it’s been seven years since she’s been gone.  I want so much to be able to call her on the phone and commiserate about this current situation.  I want to hear her make some wise-cracky comment and have us both laugh even though we want to cry.  I suddenly realized that maybe one reason these last few weeks have been really hard for me is that, in addition to everything else, both my parents died in July, though 13 years apart.  I’m trying to be gentle, with myself, with G, with GS1, even with BOC, but no one is making it any easier.  Maybe I’ll sit out on the porch tonight and watch the sun set.  Maybe a bat will fly by and I’ll whisper a soft hello on the breeze.  Maybe I’ll feel better soon.  I hope.

I Hope It Will Get Better

Towards A New Horizon 

I am
Sea of uncertainty
Sahara of glass
Unmarked by
What has gone before 

Clouded sky
No map or compass:
I weave my own
With bloody heartstrings
Torn beating out‑‑

Goddess weeps,
Fates spin and snip
The fabric knots and ravels
When will it be
Wrinkle free,
Womancheek smooth again?

Was it ever?

I sail on, adrift
But pulled, lost
Yet carried where I
Must be in this Now,
Given the gift of
Strength and tears