Friday, October 27, 2017

TGIF


Greetings from Colorado, where we had minor snow flurries yesterday, and snow is forecast for Halloween. It’s such a relief to be away from the heat at home. Much of California is wilting under 90 plus temps! Not. Right. October is supposed to be the time for heavy sweaters, knit hats and wool socks under sturdy boots. Isn’t there an actual law citing this?

I’m up early this morning because the family is, well, working and in school. Baby Dylan has already been taken to day care before the sun came up! Eden is off to school shortly, and we did get some cuddle time watching cartons while he devoured his breakfast PB&J. I’ve got a load of laundry going, and I feel positively productive. Not my usual morning routine. At all. I am so many years removed from child rearing, my daughters own young life seems a distant dream.  I do remember the unrelenting tasks and responsibilities, tempered by the joy of having a mostly delightful child.

All these years later, I get to be a doting grandmother of 2 children who show the promise of making it successfully through the maze of childhood. Only time will tell, but they are off to a gtreat start.  We should all be so lucky to have loving and thoughtful parents, ample material resources, and freedom to just be children.

My daughter teaches at a high school where many of her students have not been so fortunate. We were food shopping yesterday and she picked up supply of chocolate and peanut butter protein bars for her students. They get so hungry in the afternoon and who can concentrate while in the pit of your stomach you are sick for nourishment?

I remember coming home from high school with my sisters and making PBJ sandwiches. Sometimes we’d go through most of a loaf of bread, we were so ravenous. Dinner was 2 or 3 hour’s away and we ate that, too, no problem.  I hear that teenage boys can be like a swarm of locusts in a household.  My nephews are all well over 6 feet tall, and I know they used to eat a lot of food and forget to alert their parents that the cupboards were in need of replenishment. Oops. Back out to the store went the weary parents, or, resigned, called for take-out.

But most of us made it through, didn’t we? There was the cousin who died of cancer in his early thirties, and the cousin who was killed in a single car accident on a country road just prior to joining  the local fire department at 21 years of age. Oh, and the cousin who...no wait, it’s too gruesome and I’m not going spoil everyone’s Friday with that.

Let’s just say there’s a lot for me to feel greatful for, and boy howdy, do I.

Get yer Friday on, Readers, and make it a good one.

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Ancestors

Back by popular demand,  I posted these accounts almost 5 years ago.  Time for a repeat.

The Ancestors- Part 1

My grandmother's first cousin gave my father a book of recollections written  by her mother, about their early life in western Nebraska.  I'm reading through them and find them quite fascinating: a first hand look into the early 1900s on the Great Plains, with my ancestors the central cast of characters.  I'll share them on Mondays for as long as they last (22 chapters in all), and I hope you find them as interesting as I do.  I have old photos of the family in the same time period, though identifying people is not always possible.

A Hard Road to Ogallala
The year of 1913 was one of many decisions and surprises for Clyde and me.  We had lived on and managed a big cattle and hog ranch in northeastern Kansas close to Clyde’s parents home for five years.  Clyde’s father had always planned to have his two boys associated with him in his business of farming a stock raising, but didn’t have enough land to support three families when we were married.  Now he had bought more land and wanted us to move into the old home with them that spring and when the crops were all in, they would build a house for us.
I wasn’t too happy about the arrangements, for their old house was small and we had two children, Ruth age 4 and baby Richard, four months old.  I felt it would be too hard on Grandma.  They loved the children and we managed.  Clyde’s brother Oscar (my great grandfather) had married the year after we were married and they moved into a house that was on the new land.
Grandpa was the most generous, loving man I ever knew, but he managed with a velvet glove.  Clyde was happy to be home working with his father and brother.  They truly enjoyed each other.
They raised corn and alfalfa and clover hay for winter feed for about fifty head of cattle and sixty to seventy hogs.  Their land was rich bottom soil and all fenced well.
Along in July Oscar and Ada decided to go to Montana for a visit with her parents.  The corn had been cultivated for the last time and hay wasn’t ready to cut yet.  Clyde and his father took them up to Beatrice, Nebraska, to take the train.  It was a hot day to start with, but on the way home they encountered a hot wind.  When they got home the corn was burned dry; just rattled as they drove along. The hay wasn’t so badly hurt but the growth was stopped of course.  We really knew that night that there would be no new house for us.
On a trip to the elevator to begin buying grain, Clyde ran into a friend who was going up to Broken Bow, Neb., to put his name in a land drawing for some land the government was opening up for homesteading in western Nebraska.  He asked Clyde to go with him, and Clyde, always ready to take a chance, went along.
In about two weeks a friend of Granma’s called out to tell her the winning list was in the Kansas City paper and that Clyde’s name was in it. He had drawn a fairly good number and it was exciting even if it never amounted to anything.  We knew that it was sand hill country, also that the land had been rented to big cattle ranches, so there was the possibility it would be worth looking in to.  A senator (illegible) had pushed a bill through Congress to get this land opened up for homesteading.
Clyde’s number wasn’t one of the first and he really didn’t take too much interest in his luck until he began to get offers to buy his relinquishment.  Then he decided to get on the train and go see what the land looked like.  On the train he ran into two other winners who were going on the same errand.  They had made arrangements with a man who knew the area and who would take them over the best sections.  He had a covered wagon and saddle horses and was glad to have a third customer, so they all left the train at the little town of Keystone and spent the next ten days traveling over the hill and valleys, picking out the sections they would like to choose when their number was drawn.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Monday Musings

I finally caught on to the meaning of the "me, too" postings on Facebook.  Any woman who has been sexually harassed or assaulted is posting it.  And, yes, I posted it as well.  I don't think I know a woman, any woman, who has not been threatened or sexually assaulted.  It may sound like an outrageous claim, but believe me, as a 60 year old, this is the truth of womens lives.  The incidents range from being sexually pestered at work, to horrific gang rape, and everything in between.

Rape is still a weapon of war the world over.  Case in point, Myanmar.  Is this in men's DNA?

A man recently told me he thinks men in this country (USA) are brought up to be sexually aggressive towards women, in order to demonstrate their power and display their virility.  I'm not sure this is an explicit message, but if you look at the male female dynamic in many popular films, you'll see it.  If boys grow up witnessing this behavior from the men around them, then they are being taught.

The disclosures about the movie mogul Weinstein's crimes against women are bringing forward a lot of stories and comments from women in the entertainment business, and from everyday women like myself and my friends.  One very striking quote, "And the kicker is, these perpetrators are often our friends, our coworkers, our family."  I'm paraphrasing.  We not only have to be hyper aware of danger from strangers, but from the very men we spend our daily lives with, and trust.

An uncle, a grandfather, a cousin, a brother, a father, a teacher, a priest, the boy next door.

Once again, it is women who are talking about the problem.  Where are our male comrades in arms, now?  Men are, by and large, overwhelmingly, the perpetrators but it is the women who must call out the problem.

I'd like to see a Facebook post campaign of "I did.  I have." or some such admission by  men who have knowingly harassed a woman for sexual purposes, or have sexually assaulted a woman.  I mean, if every woman I know has been a victim, there are corresponding male perpetrators out there, right?  I'm tired of women carrying the weight on this.

I want men to step up and own their own behavior.  I'm not sure they are up to the task.

I want men to acknowledge that they are the problem.  That they need to change.  I'm fairly pessimistic this will happen.  But I'm putting it out there anyway.

The ball is in your court, guys.

Friday, October 13, 2017

TGIF

Hard to believe it was a year ago when we traveled to Victoria, BC, to visit our friend Ted Grant.  We spent an afternoon at Butchart Gardens.  A rainy day necessitating umbrellas and camera protection.  Ted, being a fellow of a certain age, had a hard time with all the walking.  He now lives in a swank retirement home with some fine people.  I'm glad we were able to visit while he still lived independently.  Like Ted, his house was modest and practical.

And now, here in Northern California, we have raging wild fires taking out wineries and towns over the mountain range from us.  We have a few friends living in 'stand by' mode, awaiting evacuation orders.  Today the winds are blowing the smoke south and away from us.  But we've had some pretty terrible air quality here this week.  These high north winds are not at all good for the various fire zones.

It's sad, and depressing.  So much damage, and many lives lost.

I managed to send a package to a friend in San Juan, PR, this week, though.  She requested some small battery operated fans which I was able to scout out at an ACE Hardware store in the next town over.  Still no power, still dire circumstances in San Juan, and even worse in the countryside.  They are all extremely exhausted, and many are contracting water borne diseases, as anyone with half a brain could have figured out since there is no reliable water source since the storm three weeks ago.

Jesus, Joseph and Mary.


Monday, October 9, 2017

Monday Musings

Christopher Columbus is still fucking with us.  Case in point:  U.S. Post Offices are closed today!

I took a drive over to the picturesque town of Winters this morning to pick up a couple of battery operated fans that were unavailable anywhere else in the tri-county area.  I got the last two in stock.  It was a beautiful drive through the countryside, so as of yet, Columbus hadn't pissed me off.  In fact, I didn't even remember today was "his."  I took the fans over to the podunk post office and - screw me - even though the sign said they opened at 10:00 a.m. and it was 10 minutes after, they were locked up tight.  Another would-be customer arrived and bitterly complained that this place was wholly unreliable.  "A little too small town, if you ask me." he says.  So I headed over to Steady Eddy's to grab a good cup of coffee.  The joint was packed - real watering hole in small town America.  Coffee in hand, I settled back into the car and headed back to Davis to go to the main post office.

When I arrived, the usually packed parking lot was decidedly empty but for two cars.  Didn't think twice, except I did remark, "This must be my lucky day!"  My ignorance astounds even me.  I triumphantly entered the edifice only to discover the lobby locked up and dark.  Another customer shared my dismay.  Then, a guy picking up from his box informs us that it's Columbus Day.  Wh.....at?

Unacceptable!  All I want to do is mail these fans to a friend in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Battery operated, don't you know?  And, by the way, there are signs up in our P.O. saying "Post Offices in US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are open and functioning!"  Tell that to my friend in San Juan.  No mail delivery in two weeks.  More government bull poopy.

So, Chris, FUCK YOU.  Especially for the genocide.  But also for the post office closures. 




Friday, October 6, 2017

TGIF

Christ on a bike, I forgot to post a Wordless Wednesday this week.  The easiest post of all.  Well, that's how the week has been.  When putting one foot in front of the other sometimes seems like too much.  It's that old black dog, my friends, hanging around again.

The news of the world is a contributor, for sure.  But the thing with depression is, it doesn't really care what's going on in your world when it shows up.  It comes, unbidden.  And doing something proactive at a time like this (like getting a referral from the doc for a therapist) just seems un-doable.  Of course it's doable.  And I will.  Baby steps.

First step was to come clean with my husband about how I am feeling/thinking.  That was hard.  I don't want to admit how shitty I'm feeling.  It makes it real, you know.  Then I have to actually do something about it, like working some old familiar steps learned time and time again.  Exercises on how to turn the bad thoughts around -- how to challenge the negatives against the reality.  I dug up an old workbook and found treasures inside.  Like this one:  "one foot in the past, one foot in the future, you are pooping on the present."  Ha!  If you could only see the stick figure I drew to illustrate that!


My current big gig is that when I'm falling asleep at night, I mentally run through every perceived fuck up I've every committed in my life.  In my sixty years of life.  This makes falling asleep a real challenge.  I console myself with, "you were a teenager -- what did  you know?"  and "we all do things we're ashamed of -- it's called being human."  Yada Yada Yada.  Several glasses of an adult beverage will finally put that mind to sleep, but it's not doing me any good over the long haul.  In fact, it's only making the  problem worse.  This was incredibly difficult to talk to my husband about.  But I did, so there's hope.  And he's no dummy -- he sees the rapidly disappearing bottles of wine and assorted liquors.

There is also hope in the stories of my friends on Facebook, of all places.  Though FB is filled with political landmines that I more often than not skim by these days, it is also a place filled with wonderful vacation stories and photographs, moments of delight with grandchildren or beloved pets, and kitten and puppy videosI think it would be great if all FB users could, for one flippin' day, commit to only posting personal posts of love, triumph, progress, and the strength of the human spirit, it would be an actual uplifting experience to log on.  Get that started for me, will  ya?

I know when my daughter posts photos of her children, my heart is joyful.  When others post photos of their children and grand children, my thoughts turn to how beautiful and magical the human experience is.  This is the mindset I want to live in.

Yeah, call me Pollyanna.  I don't care.

Last night I slept, for the first time in a long while, without the assistance of alcohol.  Just the act of telling the secret helped lift the burden of it all.  The insidiousness of depression is that it makes you afraid to talk about it.  Which only makes one go deeper into that whole.  I'm so thankful I have a supportive partner who can listen to me with an open mind.

I write about this crap because it helps.  And it may help someone else.  And those are good enough reasons.

More than good enough.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Monday Musings

We've got some wicked wind in these parts.  Been going on for 24 hours now.  There's also a pungent smell of wood smoke, though the skies are clear.  It has penetrated our home, despite windows being shut time.  I imagine it's coming through the chimney.  It's pretty foul.

And yet.  Children are playing on the school grounds behind the house, their laughter and screams make it past the double pane windows.  It's a happy sound, a good reminder of the joys in life.

There is so much to grieve these days.  So, so much.  A tiny example: hurricanes, floods, mass shootings (again), bombs falling on innocents overseas, war-induced starvation, genocide, white denial in Amerika.  I won't go on because it is more than I can carry on my sagging shoulders.

So, taking a page out of the book of Roger and Robin, we took a trip to the bird sanctuary yesterday for some peace.  For some soul food.  Our friends (collectively called "RoRo") get out into nature a lot more than we do.  And they get solace there.  We were looking for the Sand Hill Cranes yesterday, since it's been reported they have begun their annual migration.  We didn't see any cranes, and only a few herons, and a whole lotta coots.


But it was grand to be out there (despite the wind) nevertheless.  So, thanks RoRo for the inspiration and the little nudge we needed.




May you find a bit of peace this week.

Surly Bonds

My dad slipped the surly bonds of earth on January 13.  He'd had a massive stroke on the ninth and doctors were clear he was not going t...