Thus Far My August Has Not Been The Best

Here we go…

GOBSMACKED.  My car, parked legally on our street, was in an accident.  I found out about this when a neighbor, then a police officer, came to our front door to tell me that someone had rear-ended my vehicle.  Was it another car? A truck? A van or SUV? A person on a motorcycle?

No it was not.

It was a man on a bicycle who was going so fast that when he lost control he propelled himself through my back windshield, shattering it to bits.  And hurting himself so much that he had to be airlifted to a hospital across town.

[I have no further information on his condition at this time and my car is in the process of being repaired.]

DISAPPOINTED.  When Google Reader shut down a few years ago, I started using Feedly as my RSS reader.  I was thrilled with their straightforward, fresh and easy-to-use format.

In fact, as one of the early community members I told everyone I knew about this service because there was no fuss when reorganizing your feeds, no distractions when reading your chosen content.

Earlier this spring, I graciously consented to take a few in-house Feedly surveys, each of which had about a gazillion questions.  In my responses I praised what the company was doing, telling them that I appreciated how they were staying true to the idea that simplicity is best.

Well, Feedly didn’t listen to me.  And last week they changed their simple box-oriented organizational format to a cluttered mess of feeds, shown in lists overburdened with distracting data.  When I asked Feedly what the heck was going on, they told that the community wanted this.

Really? Hmmm. Not everyone.

[Therein I will leave this story, wiser to the truth in the old saying: if you aren’t paying for it, you’re the product.]

EXHAUSTED.  Our 3 to 4 week remodeling project, that started on June 5th, is now into week 10.  We’re still waiting for the rest of the decorative tile to arrive– and now we’re waiting for the second custom frame for the shower doors to arrive.

Why?  The first custom frame, measured correctly, was then created in the factory incorrectly.  This first frame, when installed in our bathroom, was too short for the doors.

So until a new frame arrives, sometime before Christmas one hopes, we have shower doors leaning against the wall in the bedroom, rather than serving, what I would believe to be, their intended purpose in the bathroom.

[This project has had more unanticipated screw-ups than even I could envision– and I’m pretty damned creative & fretful when planning anything.]

SADDENED.  It is with sorrow that I share with you, my gentle readers, that Fuzzy the Squirrel has passed away.  I’d been seeing less of him around the deck this summer, and when I did see him he was moving slowly, not even bothering to swipe a few tomatoes from my pot.

Last week while watering flower beds out back of the house, I found his almost lifeless body, under a bush near our lower level patio.  He glanced at me, then rolled his eyes upward, as he twitched his right front paw in the air.

Shortly thereafter he was gone from this world.  However, Fuzzy will be remembered forever in the pages of this blog.  May he RIP.

[All stories about Fuzzy the Squirrel are here.]

Holiday Conversations With An Orange Elephant In The Room

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I don’t know what to say.

And even though it’s awkward to say something, remaining quiet, somehow, seems wrong considering how not normal all of this is.

For me, an introvert, this holiday season is quickly morphing into, if not the worst one ever, high up there on the list.

I admit that it’s not like I adore this time of year to begin with, but I am, at least, trying to be social. Talking sense + spirit. Attempting to meet people halfway.

Not ranting about politics.

But after this presidential election, there’s an orange elephant named Donald in the room, and people are getting completely whacked, saying goofy things that do not put them in a good light.

ARE YOU FINDING THIS, TOO?

~ ~ • ~ ~

So far I’ve heard…

  1. Well, we couldn’t have a girl running the country, now could we? I had to vote for Trump.
  2. I finally got a gun so with Trump in office I’ll be prepared to shoot anyone [Nazis?] at the door.
  3. If you’ll only empathize with the Trumpsters and talk with them about the true meaning of democracy, I’m sure they’ll come around to a more moderate point of view.
  4. I’m glad Obama is out of office. He made me buy health insurance, that I was going to do anyhow, but I don’t want him [a black man?] telling me to do it.
  5. I hate, hate, hate to the nth degree anyone who voted for Trump. I can’t talk with them anymore. I just cannot.

~ ~ • ~ ~

EACH ONE OF THESE PEOPLE IS NUTS IN A DIFFERENT WAY.

But the thing is that I’m not their therapist, so I can state an opinion.  I’m not their confessor, so I’m not required to forgive them.  And in many cases, I’m merely an acquaintance, so you’d think they’d keep their attitude to themselves.

But sadly they don’t.

I mean, on the one hand I don’t care how delusional people are as long as they’re no danger to me or society;  but I can’t help wondering if I don’t figure out a way to speak up consistently against politically based crazy, am I not contributing to the problem?

An orange problem named Donald Trump, that is.

How To Turn A Bully Into A Fool [Part 1 of 2]

Watching The Donald make an ass of himself while attempting to intimidate Hillary reminded me of this story from my childhood.

My father, a genius, did not suffer fools easily.

He had zero patience for stupidity combined with malice.  It’s from him that I learned how to shut down anyone who gets out of hand by flaunting his or her willful ignorance &/or bad manners in my face.

Be forewarned.

However, as a kid I was not naturally inclined to defend myself.  You see, I was a shy, bookish child with poor coordination, no siblings, and thick eyeglasses.

Bullies used me for target practice, because I was physically weak and because I was a girl and because of my legal first name.

In the first few weeks of kindergarten one bully, Karl, an oversized-oaf with pale blond hair and a need to be noticed [sound like anyone in particular?], started bugging me on the playground and in the classroom.

I was upset and didn’t know what to do.

When I told my mother, an introvert, about what was going on she gave me her general advice about people: “just ignore ’em.”  This, as you can imagine, was of no help to me in this situation.

Kindergarten is not the time for taking the high road.

So I turned to my father.

He listened to my problem then told me exactly what to do.  I didn’t understand what he wanted me to do, but I knew, even at a young age, that this guy had a way of dealing with people, so I did exactly what he said.

[Tune in tomorrow for Part 2.]

Mourning The Loss Of A Dream, As One Does

Dream big, they say.

Never give up, they tell us.

Winners do whatever it takes, they assure you.

But sometimes, just sometimes, common sense dictates that you have to give up because…

IT AIN’T GOING TO HAPPEN.

Unless there’s an extra $5,000.00 floating around in your life.

Or you’re emotionally unbalanced and prefer to live with something broken instead of fixed, I guess.

But for Zen-Den, a man with a dream, cursed with common sense, grounded in reality, it’s over.

Kaput.

Yes, Zen-Den’s dream of watching his vehicle’s odometer turn over 300,000 miles is not to be.

You see, after 16 years and 254,000 miles, Bullwinkle, Zen-Den’s trusted steed Lexus SUV, is on the critical list…

MOVING, BUT ON BORROWED TIME.

Not expected to make it through the winter due to exhaust system problems.

Living out his final days, hobbling to and from work, as Zen-Den is forced to start looking for his replacement.

Still a beloved part of the family, but not for long.

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Reviewing The News, Reaching For The Wine

“I am satisfied.  Give me a bowl of wine:

I have not that alacrity of spirit,

Nor cheer of mind, that I was wont to have–

So, set it down.– Is ink and paper ready?”

~ William Shakespeare, King Richard III

• • •

USUALLY I’M GOOD AT knowing what I’m thinking and feeling about things.  Clarity of thought.  Sense of purpose.  Focus on what matters now.

Me.  Most of the time.

But the news of these last few weeks has worn me down.  Made me wonder about humanity.  Made me want to stay in my jammies all day, hiding in the back of the closet, playing Candy Crush.

• • •

First we talked about:

Ebola, and the CDCTexas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas‘s half-assed handling of said at a time when everyone in the USA needed them to do things properly.

Then we were inundated with: 

Mitch McConnell [or Old Turkey Neck as he’s known in this house], and his daily TV political attack ads against his opponent, a woman with a gun who seems to scare the bejesus out of him.

Followed by:

Gamergate, and the blatant misogynistic attacks on woman associated with it under the guise of fair journalistic practices.

Then all of this took center stage:

Renee Zellweger, and the incessant opining about the reasons why she did what she did + about the results of what she did.

Culminating in:

The Parliament of Canada, and the unforeseen attack on it leading to the world’s newest isn’t-he-amazing hero who saved lives by calmly doing what needed to be done.

• • •

SO MY POINT HERE?  After hearing and reading about all the above, I’m tired, emotionally.  I’m tired, physically.

I’m just plain tired.

I have to wonder if keeping up with the news is what I need to be doing with my time.  While the well-educated rational side of me says “stay informed,” the sensitive empathetic side of me says “ignore.”  The cognitive dissonance is beginning to get to me.

Leading me to contemplate how I can do both when the agenda-setting function of the media gives me bad news everywhere that I turn.  Except in my closet, of course.  Where you may just find me, with my bowl of wine.

Waiting for my alacrity of spirit to return.

A Funeral On Friday In Florida

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A view of Sarasota Bay & the beautiful clouds above taken from my hotel room balcony.

~ • ~

Last Thursday I boarded a flight to Sarasota, FL, so that I could attend my aunt’s funeral on Friday.  Although my aunt’s health had declined during the last few years, it was still a strange feeling to travel for this reason.

I knew that it was likely that she would proceed me in death, but when the phone call came a few days after Christmas that she had passed, I was sort of stunned.  Granted at age 88 she was the last relative of the WWII generation in my family, but I think that we all thought that she’d go on forever. 

~ • ~

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The waterfall by the pool at my hotel. It’s all about water in Sarasota.

~ • ~

Family members from all over the country attended her funeral, which was about as happy as a funeral can be.  She had lived a full & unique life– and after years of chronic illness she was ready to go.

Talking with everyone at a casual dinner the night before the funeral, all were in agreement that our aunt– or mother, or grandmother– was: generous, funny, kind, educated, creative, determined & a church lady, in the best sense of that phrase.

~ • ~

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Prettiness while looking across Sarasota Bay at a pink building situated underneath the blue winter FL sky.

~ • ~

The service on Friday was in a lovely Episcopalian church on Siesta Key.  It was late in the afternoon and the light from the setting sun shone through the multicolored abstract stained glass windows that rimmed the top of the sanctuary.

‘Twas beautiful & inspiring in a way that perfectly summarized the goodness that was my late aunt.  And I do believe, set the stage for a wonderful, loud, cheerful family dinner afterwards at a local restaurant where everyone lifted their glass of her favorite wine, pinot grigio [or whatever they were drinking], to toast her one last time.

~ • ~ 

So long, Aunt Mary Jane.  You were the best.

2 Movies, 2 Books & 1 Delightful Truth

As part of my attempt to live a more balanced life in 2013, I have given myself the assignment to watch 2 movies and to read 2 books each month.  Here is my April report.

2 Movies

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel  – Predictable + colorful.  A group of British retirees decide to move to India, embrace a new lifestyle and live in what claims to be a newly restored Indian hotel.  When they arrive, the hotel restoration is not finished, but the optimistic young man who manages the hotel tries his best to please them.  Some of the retirees adapt to India, some don’t.  The ensemble cast is delightful, the cinematography + costumes are wonderful, but there is a certain old geezer-ness to this movie that is a little monotonous.  Recommended if you like veteran actors and the idea that life is what you make of it.

The Grass Is Greener – Intriguing, albeit dated.  Because of financial problems, a British Earl and his wife [played by Cary Grant & Deborah Kerr, respectively] allow public tours of their mansion.  An American tourist [played by Robert Mitchum] falls for the wife & they have an affair.  Meanwhile, her friend [played by Jean Simmons] playfully tries to seduce the Earl.  On the surface this movie sounds trite, but the ensemble cast + witty writing make this movie entertaining.  Recommended if you enjoy 1960s style, some absurdity and learning about social mores.

2 Books

The Serpent’s Daughter [a Jade Del Cameron mystery] – Charming + clever.  Set in Tangier, Morocco, in 1920, Jade and her mother plan to go on vacation together.  However, Jade’s mother is kidnapped and Jade must find her… in time.  This mystery, by Suzanne Arruda, is campy, travelogue-y and totally fun.  Recommended if you like spunky heroines, fascinating settings and lighthearted mysteries.

A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison – Amazing, but macabre.  In the 1750s during the French and Indian War in what is now western New York state, the Shawnee Indians capture a white girl and her family.  The Shawnee murder her family, but the girl goes on to live with the Seneca Indians.  She marries, has children and adopts the ways of the Indians.  When she is in her 80s she tells her story to a local white man who writes it down– in the flowery vernacular of the time.  Originally published in 1824.  Recommended if you have an interest in Colonial American History and biographies. [Free on Kindle]

1 Delightful Truth

I was surfing the web looking at design blogs, when I came upon this delightful truth by Amanda Hill.  She said: Beautiful things don’t just happen.  If you want something marvelous, you’ve got to make something marvelous.  [Punctuation added.]  

And I thought to myself: that is so true.  What good advice.  I need to take that advice to heart, henceforth.

So I have.