November 24, 2015

Ranting When I Should Be Baking

Just had a friend of a friend inform me that her family is eating early on Thanksgiving Day because she needs to get to one of the Big-Box stores by 2 p.m.

Do you find it hard to swallow words sometimes, especially when your gut keeps tossing them up the old esophagus?

I wanted to scream, "NO, you.....(well, one can only imagine what I wanted to scream)."

I didn't. I just nodded my head but now I'm mad. Mad at me, mad at her, mad at the Big-Box stores and ultimately mad at the almighty dollar.

My husband is in retail, has been ever since we met. The first five years or so of our relationship, he managed a Thrifty's Drugs. Remember them? Open every frickin' day of the year! Guess who worked every single holiday for the first five years or so of our relationship?

Easter. Work.
July 4. Work.
Thanksgiving. Work.
Christmas. Work.

No three day weekends to celebrate Labor Day, Memorial Day or Veterans Day either. Three day weekends are for the big sales. What is a big sale without the manager there to coordinate, merchandise and, well, manage? 

Our home was in the country; a couple of acres, a view of Mt. Lassen out the front windows. Our daughter had a horse, we had 4 dogs and 5 cats but Thrifty's kept trying to get hubby to take on a store in the San Francisco Bay area. Last offer came with a stipulation that if he didn't take it (Vallejo? Really?) that he could kiss goodbye moving up in the company.

He kissed Thrifty's off and became the General Manager for a locally owned photo and camera shop. Retail.

In case you don't know anyone in retail, let me fill you in on Life In Retail. Maybe, more realistically, it should be Life In Between Retail!

Big Weekends are not about family drives to the coast. Dads (or moms) don't go camping with the family on spring break. Christmas Eve is not about sitting around the fire place with friends and family. From November 1st through December 31st the only days off are Thanksgiving and Christmas. There is no, absolutely NO going out-of-town for Thanksgiving to be with family because you need to be at the store way past closing on Wednesday evening to take care of those people who forgot to get batteries or chips for their cameras and you are damn well going to be at the store a- quarter-to-dawn on Black Friday. Christmas Eve is all about working late because of all the people who walk in the store five minutes before closing to do their last minute shopping.

The hours are longer than normal, so the non-retail spouse is responsible for hunting down a Christmas tree, decorating the tree, decorating the house, buying, wrapping and shipping gifts. Concerts and school plays the kids or grandkids are in are a race to get to in time and catching your breath for the first half hour. There's more....or maybe, there's less....depends on what side of the counter you're standing on.

So, if you leave your Thanksgiving table early Thursday to go out and save some dollars, you are submitting your ballot on the dollar side of family vs bottom line. The more people that go, the more stores are going to think, "hey, what a grand idea!"

That's more dads, moms, sons, daughters, grandmas and grandpas who aren't going to make it to dinner, or the homecoming game. If we can open up those big-box doors on Thanksgiving, then why not keep them open until 10 or midnight on Christmas Eve?

Missing In Action is not just a military term. Don't let friends and family go the way of  horse-drawn carriages. Staying home means someone else gets to go home.

And, then....

I bet you are all wondering about the awesome weekend at the cabin in the Cascades!

The hike down to the water's edge with crispy leaves crunching under our feet. Seeing the mountain lion tracks and the bear poop along the creek.

The bonding over wine and hot tub, as Julie, Diane and myself, share stories, memories, jokes and Pinot Grigio.

Gathered around the fire, the three of us in our pajamas, homemade soup  warming our tummies as the flames warm our limbs, talking into the wee hours of the night.

Sipping from mugs filled with hot coffee and Bailey's Irish Cream as we lean on the decking watching the sun rise from behind the mountain ridge.

The smell of bacon and forest floor enveloping us as we dance in the kitchen, windows open to the morning breeze.

Yup. I bet you are all wishing you were with us, or, at least, curious about the relaxation qualities of a weekend in the wildness of nature.

Well, so are we!

You see, the people who had rented the lodge last week couldn't leave on Sunday, as planned. Apparently, there was a mix-up in their flights back to Minnesota!  They stayed a couple of extra days.

The owners were comping the lodge to me for some photography we had done for them earlier in the year, so, income beats comp, hands down!

But hey, the dream was nice, the anticipation was yummy and the plans are still feasible.  Who knows, maybe there will be snow when we finally get up there. In the meantime, we are planning a day trip to the mountains and that, my friends, is a good thing.

Have you ever looked forward to a 'special weekend' or event and at the very last minute it, Kapow?

November 23, 2015

Board Games

When I was a kid (Jurassic Period) our family would play lots of board games. Then I married a man who loved, loved board games.

Our family still loves to gather around the table and beat the crap out of each other! Nothing like winning at Life, Scrabble or Scattergories, except maybe when you are playing team games. Us against Them! Trivial Pursuit, Cranium, Pictionary.

Thanksgiving is within reach. I can hear the board games in the cabinet humming in anticipation!

I love the gravy and dressing. Hard to resist seconds on the pumpkin pie, especially my mom's. But, lets be honest.

Clear the table, mix the margaritas and let the games begin!

What is your favorite board game?

Warning: This one can be very dangerous. Almost stroked out playing with my granddaughters last year!

November 20, 2015

Mountain Bound

Our book club is headed to the mountains this weekend.

We've got a beautiful lodge in the Cascades overlooking Lake Shasta reserved for wine, girl-talk and walking through the woods. Color is perfect. Leaves are a hundred shades of golds and oranges.

Hot tub is bubbling. Wood stacked for the fireplace.

Julie, Diane and I are the only ones going yet the lodge sleeps twelve! Maybe, if the wine inspires, we'll play a little hide'n'seek!  Peg, you'll be missed.

Julie, don't forget your milk foaming machine and I'll bring the Baileys!

I might even have to buy a new pair of jammies to lounge I have time to wash and dry them 42 times to soften them enough for the trip?

Yeah, life is good even in my old worn out p.j.'s.

I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to just be with you two!

November 18, 2015

"Give me your tired..."

After listening to so many GOP demagogues, in Office and/or running for Office, it is my opinion that we need to remove Emma Lazarus' sonnet from the base of the Statue of Liberty and return the Lady of Liberty to the French. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” has become an unrecognizable value in the great land of Liberty.

"New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

One Of THOSE Days

Yup! Second one in a row. Can't stop crying.

Can't think of anything nice to say!

The following paragraph is posted in invisible print because I need to vent:

And I mean it! Sorry if it was too toxic or mean. But it had to be said.

Do I feel better? No.

Do you feel better?

November 14, 2015

Reiki Request

Many of us have a mutual blog friend. She has some substantial thyroid issues. Can all of you who practice Reiki, Distance Healing, and prayer, please send healing energy to Greek Witch at Dreaming of Rosemary. Thank you.

Look For The Helpers

"Only one thing is more powerful than a brotherhood based on hate, and that is a brotherhood based on love." Marianne Williamson, Huffington Post.

November 13, 2015

Stuff Worthy of Dusting

Do you collect shit stuff?

I am a collector. Not a capital 'C' Collector with millions of dollars of original great masters' art on my walls or a super garage with sexy muscle-cars or restored Model T's.

There is, however, lots of lower-case collectibles in my home. As I wander through the rooms, I wonder if some of those items are worthy of the time it takes to dust them (or the guilt and shame of not dusting them).

Largest collection: Books. There are books galore. Over-stuffed shelves of  big books and thick books, small books and skinny books in every room of the house. Okay, not the kitchen but there are a heap of books in the pantry which makes up for not hanging out in the kitchen! Some books are on their sides, resting on tables or chests. There are books in boxes and in cases. There are many gorgeous coffee table books with glorious photos, yet, we have no coffee tables to display them on.

We have my metaphysical books, highlighted paragraphs, observations and comments written in the margins. We have my husband's collection of books about weather, wind, clouds, barometric pressure and extreme weather phenomenon. He is also an amateur astronomer, so there are books about skies, stars, comets, galaxies, the universe. Hmm, he is really a man about the sky in all it's forms. He is also a hang glider pilot, so guess what other books we have more than we need? Being a professional photographer, he is also the one responsible for the large assortment of coffee table books and all books photographic in nature.

Frank also has every Catholic book ever printed including seven or eight bibles. Please, if we ever meet in person, don't ask him about his leather bound, lignin-free, titanium dioxide enhanced, Douay Rheims Bible! (Side note: Beware bringing up the 'justified by works vs faith subject! The man knows his stuff!)

I have nursing school medical books from 1977; could probably toss those out. The baby just pulled out a third grade math book, that had a sheet of homework with my little sister's name on it, folded inside. She hasn't been in school for at least three decades! Hell, if I keep it a couple of more years, maybe it will be worth something!

I have a huge collection of crystals and stones, even a petrified dinosaur bone! One of my amethyst's weighs upwards to 30 pounds. Can you imagine all the points that need to be individually dusted?

Hat pins! Yes, I have a nice little collection of hat pins, all very old. Though I never gave hat pins a single thought in my whole life (not worth remembering), I inherited the hat pins and can't imagine letting them go. Well, that's not completely true. If I could pay off my mortgage with the sale of those little pretties they would be gone in a flash of cash!

I do collect original art, but no one famous.

I have three sets of china. One for everyday, one for when there is more of us than 'everyday', and the one that is brought out for Christmas, Thanksgiving and that my grandchildren will fight over when I die. It will go a little like:

"Who wants Nana's Spanish Lace china?"

"Not me!"

"Not me!"

"You should take it! She would have wanted you to have it!"

"No! NO! You can't make me!"

Glad I'm choosing cremation; I would hate to roll over in my grave because of a china debate!

So! What goes? What stays?

Do you collect? Do you collect intentionally or do you discover you've collected stuff unconsciously or unwittingly?  What is your favorite stuff?

If you could collect anything in the world and money was no object, what would be on your shelves, garage, walls or safety deposit box?

Ironing Out The Kinks

I'm still working out the details of Act III of my life. Reading Mary Oliver's poem about peonies and their "eagerness to be wild and perfect for a moment before they are nothing forever" got me to thinking.

I am not actually looking for perfection in Act III; way too many kinks to iron out and I am not going to spend the last 3rd of my life ironing! I am, however, eager to be wild in my old age. Not the wild of my 20's, which, when I look back, was not wild at all. Just a bit of a controlled rebellion of life-long rules and regulations, as well as, our society's strict guidelines to stay within the cultural-norms box.

My 'wildness' was strictly within the guidelines of all the other rebellious twenty-somethings, and, to be honest, that doesn't smell or taste of wildness to me.  It has the distinct scent of following-the-crowd, albeit a different crowd and that has a certain stink to it.

I truly want my 60's, 70's and, hopefully, 80's to be filled with laughing that challenges my bladder, sights and music and moments that make the hair on my neck and arms dance.

I want my life to be filled with sensuousness. Not in the sexual way (though I have no objections to that either) but meaning that all my senses are fully alive and aware of the moment. I want to smell and taste color. I want to hear the sky, I want to feel the visible and invisible. I want to see, really see, what surrounds me and what surrounds what surrounds me.

Act III is beginning to weave itself into reality. My bucket list is not written in stone. The things of today may not interest me tomorrow. No script to follow; plans, yes, but with the attitude of flexibility for changes in the wind, the spirit or calls of the soul.

In Act III, I will be a peony, for forever is a long, long time.

What is your favorite color and what does it taste like?

Do you have a bucket list? What are your top three desires (at this moment)?

November 10, 2015

Reject Apathy

Edited by the "Committee of Five" Thomas Jefferson's quote made it through the rough draft to the final Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable right; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

While I believe the "pursuit of happiness" is nice, I wonder that our unalienable rights didn't include the "pursuit of justice".

There is such an incredible lack of justice in the United States (not to mention the world). 

"The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it." Einstein was onto something big with that statement. Does apathy run rampant in the world or are there too many of us who are just not willing to risk our precious necks, as well as, our life, liberty and happiness to make a stand?

William Osler stated, "By far the most dangerous foe we have to fight is apathy - indifferent from whatever cause, not from a lack of knowledge, but from carelessness, from absorption in other pursuits, from a contempt bred of self satisfaction."

"Carelessness and absorption in other pursuits" runs rampant today.  April 14 & 15, 2014 young students were kidnapped in Nigeria, their school burned to the ground. As of today there are 219 teenage and young girls still missing. Instead of running the Boko Haram atrocity, Yahoo website headlines listed:
"Justin Beiber and Selena Gomez officially back on?"
"Lindsay Lohan parties it up..."
"Robert Downey, Jr. Now On Twitter."

Eventually, down the page, the kidnapping was mentioned. After lividly chewing my lips for 20 minutes, I wrote a scathing letter to the news editor at yahoo, complaining (of course, I guess it's the toxic part of me).

The editor's response to me was that they post what people want. More visitors to their pages click on celebrity news than the real stuff of life.

This weekend, I discovered a magazine about culture and intentional living. It's covers typically display singers or bands with a Christian bent to their music. The newest issue had a photograph of one of the young victims of Boko Haram.  The editor wrote a very honest letter to the readers about the expectations of sales of that particular issue. The article was called DO STUFF BECAUSE IT MATTERS.

The author, Cameron Strang, states that the magazine occasionally surveys it online subscribers and readers. The readers continuously confirm that they want articles that relate the "issues of life and human dignity." YET, normal articles regarding relationships or pop culture type subjects will be read 150,000 times and shared 5000+ times. When a social justice article is presented in the exact style, (headline style, font, layout) it will only be read about 1200 times and shared "a few dozen times".

In spite of the knowledge that this issue will be read less, purchased less, the magazine stands behind it's mission: "...engage in the world around them and live a life that matters."

Are you a person who engages in the world? Do you step up? Do you suffer from Bystander Affect?
Do you care more who Justin Beiber is dating or how Lynday Lohan dresses for her most recent court date or do you really want to know what is going on in the world and how you can help?

November 04, 2015

Is you is or Is you ain't?

In 2007 someone from the MetaCreative Magazine staff contacted me through my Myspace page. I had posted a couple of mandalas that I created on the pages and they wanted to post a couple of them in their magazine.

I almost fell to the floor. the request was completely unexpected but very, very welcome. It's strange being an artist. You paint, draw, create but somehow feel a bit shaky and unsure when actually verbalizing, "I am an artist!"  Thoughts fly through your mind like, "what if they discover I'm not an artist, I just like to sculpt and paint?"

I was approached today by someone who saw the link  to MetaCreative (pages 17 & 18) on my Google+ profile and asked me to create a mandala for their daughter for her birthday. Thank goodness the request came in email because my hesitation would have embarrassed us both.

What if I can't make another one? What if she doesn't like it?

Is this crazy?

I visited my Mandalas blog, which I haven't posted on in years, yes, shamefully, years. As I read the comments and saw the mandalas, I realized how much I missed creating them and meditating with them. With my studio being otherwise occupied by grandson and his family, I haven't sculpted in close to a year. The most creative I get lately is making excuses why I can't go for a walk on the River Trail.

My to-do list for the day. Head to Michael's, purchase high quality watercolor paper and  a stash of Pigma Micron pens. When I get home I search out my watercolor pencils and pastels and do some coloring.

What the hell! It was always my favorite subject at school and coloring is good for the soul!

p.s. What happens to our old Myspace pages when you can't get back in to them and how to get back in touch with the wonderful friends I made?