Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Get Your Head Out of My Uterus

Kansas and Ohio legislatures have pending bills banning abortion totally. How long will we let these goofballs play in our...backyards? U.S. Constitution be damned? If you want only the freedoms you believe are American, pay no attention to the men behind the curtain.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Turtle Eggs

Sharon told me that, rather than these shells representing a meal for another creature, the baby turtles dragged the shells, still semi-attached out of the hole, then scraped them off to continue on into their new life in the wilds of South Lyon. Because the shells were still soft, and there was goo still inside, the newborns probably wandered off that day. And the dragonfly? Probably died of natural causes, and the ants ate the body. Ants don't find wings a delicacy. I like these stories much better. The robin and the worm, well, that's still the food chain story.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Solstice Walking Diary

I finished reading a friend's soon-to-be released wonderful book this morning, and felt so buoyant I started on my walk smiling and light-hearted, happy for her good work and the great fortune she shared her writing. Profound thoughts about how to live, and end of life coaching focused me on enjoying each step. Just ahead a robin, carrying a worm, stopped to peck at it on the sidewalk. Huh. It was a gruesome scene. Was the worm wriggling too much? I refocused on buoyancy, walked past the pond, noted the milkweed blooming, and turned back the other direction toward town. Just before the creek bridge, on the ground near a small, deep hole were a couple dozen stones. I stopped because they were all uniformly white and round. Bending over I noticed the cracks. Not stones at all, but eggs, all broken recently, all now empty but for a little liquid. A father and two children on bicycles stopped. "What is it?" the kids asked. "I don't know," I said. "Could it be turtle eggs?" The children and dad moved along, the little girl waving "have a nice day!" behind. Finished my circuit and went back out with my camera to snap the eggs, and the milkweed. The noon heat had the milkweed nodding their flower heads. As I knelt to compose upwards, there on the sidewalk were two dragonfly wings. That's all. Something had eaten the rest and left the delicate lacy wings behind. Three messages of death. Or is it food? Nature is remarkable, brilliant and deadly in cycle. I resurrected the dragonfly body to remind me that life is precious, even when short and brutal, and we are united with all of nature now and forever. And secretly I'm glad there wasn't anything stalking me for lunch this gorgeous, hot Summer Solstice day.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Supremes Rule Too Many Women/Not Enough in Common

Vague evidence? Too little connection between so many women plaintiffs who have been underpaid and not promoted? What planet are these dudes from? Planet Ideologue. Perhaps the merits of the case weren't everything one could hope for, but the opinions expressed speak clearly to the notion that there were just too damn many women. I'm sick of our country's double standard. One set of corporate rules for men and another unwritten fistful for women. Literally and figuratively. If the lawsuit had involved 50 male plantiffs, bet which way the vote would have gone. Watched Made in Dagenham last night. The United Kingdom has had an equal pay act since 1970?! 1-9-7-0. Yes, the United Kingdom, that schleps out kajillion dollar royal weddings like it's still the 18th century. Do we have an equal pay act? Nope. Will we ever get one? Possible ditto. Until we get the men out of office who, not only view all women as their personal playground equipment, but would never consider a woman with the same education and experience their equal, we'll endure sidebar status. Blimey! Enough is too much already!

Stonefish in Newaygo, Michigan

I love this sculpture installation in Riverside Park, Newaygo, Michigan, along the banks of the Muskegon River. The fish are big - there is no sense of scale here, but they're human sized. Can't find any reference on the internet to who sculpted these dry land fishes. This photo was taken in 2005. Maybe now there's a plaque identifying the artist. I'll look when I'm lucky enough to be in Newaygo again. Every spring I put this picture up as my wallpaper. It's not quite the same as being there, but it's close. Despite what the philosophers and pundits may say, close does count. Especially in the realm of art when contextual memories go along with the reproduction.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bruce Power Withdraws Application

Senator Stabenow's office just called to report that Ontario energy company Bruce Power has withdrawn its application to ship 16 one hundred ton nuclear contaminated steam generators on the Great Lakes, through the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Atlantic Ocean to Sweden. This is a brilliant reversal on behalf of the American people, and the Great Lakes populations - flora, fauna, swimming, four-legged and two appreciate the Senator's work, and all other champions who made this unhappen. Great news for the Great Lakes! Thank you, Senator Stabenow. Thank you, Marta, and thanks be to the water deities who watch over this blessed watershed.

Friday, June 3, 2011

To Beckie: In This Life and Any Other

Thinking of Beckie as we approach the end of the first year without her beloved company on earth. Written June 5, 2009, after three weeks in hospital where she would live for over a year:

My best friend Beckie and I met on August 12, 1995 at 8:30 a.m. It was a bad day for me: first day at a new job. I was grieving about my youngest niece starting day care, after being with me for 3 years. I was close to tears all morning. It was a job I did not want, for a company I could not possibly like. My workspace was isolated, in a big room that was gray. It was hot, humid, miserable and I was wearing pantyhose.

And there was Beckie. She had bronze hair, and purple eyes. She was serene and glowing. She would laugh to read this. She emanated. I walked right up to her and introduced myself, a thing I'd never done. We meet people occasionally and wonder if we've met somewhere before.

Beckie and I didn't think about that in those early friendship months. We enjoyed as much time in each other's company as we could. We ate lunch together, we finagled our workspaces to be together, and had breakfast on Sundays at Clairpointe. We shopped for shoes. We laughed. We talked. Beckie has a functionally thoughtful, deeply grooved brain. If we have met before; if reincarnation is true, Beckie brought the previous brain with her each time she showed up on Earth again. Supernumerary brain. Her life view is ancient; her responses, fresh. Being in her company is like taking a sunlight shower, a moon bath. She is wise, reasoned, and soft-spoken. She is a humanist, and an excellent human.

We are both women of strong opinion, and commonality of opinion makes our relationship satisfying, but we are unconditionally devoted to defending each other, whether we agree or not. People who choose to confront Beckie have both of us to face, and vice versa. Beckie has the better diplomatic skills and has physically stood between me and the object of my ire more than once. Where I am volatile, she is steady; my weakness is countered by her strength.

She has a scientific mind, analytical and crystalline. And a warm, accessible soul. She can multitask with each of her otherworldly brains separately, and in combination with her soul. With two young sons growing fast in her home, she could still focus on designing and laying out a college textbook on ancient Greek papyrii. In Greek.

Beckie is quietly accepting of my wandering in metaphysics and general Piscean goofballiness. Yet it was Beckie who wrote a note suggesting that perhaps we had met in another life, and more than once, and maybe I might want to write about that? For two years after I was diagnosed with cancer, Beckie carried my consciousness for me; a sacred and profound oath of friendship, to be there in the world for me while I was not capable. I love her unconditionally. Fiercely. Eternally. Beckie is our Mother Earth; majestic, mysterious, magical. She is the rock that will take on the hard place if someone she loves is in between. I wonder if the ancients may have assigned to their deity of choice the qualities Beckie embodies in her human form. She causes me to want to be the best possible person I can be.

As she has taught me, I will focus on being stronger, accepting, and radiating hope; abandoning anxiety, false control and rage. If I've stuck one hesitant toe in the waters of heavenly energy before, now I will immerse all and summon the light to be with her always with love.

How Do We Learn?

I was interested in how I don't learn, why I am having difficulty absorbing new information, and am forgetting knowledge I had. Or used to know I had. And I have radiating pain. I am learning what this may mean, but I do not understand it yet. Is the pain in my brain? Blockage, dis-ease, stress. So I'm awake, confused and in pain. How do I understand what to do? What's my plan? Go back to bed is a choice. Read is a choice. Find out what I can take control of is a plan. Take a walk is a plan, but it's raining. I chose the Great Gadgety Google. "How do we learn." And I took a test (I love tests) and found that I am scattered in how I learn. Metacognition (learning to learn) showed up. Make a plan. Step 1 - how did I used to learn? Copy/paste. I memorized everything. Except music. Whatever worked then still works today as it tested as my likeliest method to gain knowledge. Close to it is Linguistic, and Body/Kinesthetic. I'll ask my teaching/learning friends what these mean. Does Linguistic mean I learn by talking, or learn by listening? Or both? How do I train my aging brain? Step 4 is to abandon paths that do not lead to success. I will never be a brain expert; don't want to, so I can move along! Feel free to pursue this knowledge further. I'm going to take a walk in the rain. Maybe I'll learn something new. Originally posted May 10, 2011.

Our Words: See Hear Think Say

Our brains fire up in different segments depending on how we're interacting with words. Reading words involves vision. Hearing involves Wernicke's Area where language is comprehended. Thinking about words and saying words involve Broca's area for language production, and our motor cortex. Thanks to the Alzheimer's Association Brain Tour, I can understand how elements of our life of words can be interrupted, damaged or just plain missing. Dementia can impact sections separately or together, depending on the progression of the disease. I'm going to remember that my brother must know he is loved in all ways he handles language. I will tell him, write the words for him, hug him and find new ways to grow the love. Originally posted January 30, 2010.

Laughing and Adaptive Competence

Laughter probably isn't in the catalog of medication research Big Pharma is churning out, but it would be a bonanza if a company could bottle it. We know in the back of our frizzled brains that stress causes damage to the body. Depression burns out cells. High blood pressure fries wiring. Overload an electrical outlet and watch what happens. Poof, sizzle, done. An article today by Dr. Mark Lachs, author of Treat Me, Not My Age, refers to research that showed people who believed things were getting worse as they age died sooner than their contemporaries who thought otherwise. Longevity is genetic, but adaptive competence helps. How bouncy is your brain? Another article about memory loss describes cognitive reserve. This extra oomph is also genetically determined, but can be supplemented by education, both formal and stimulating life experience, friends and exercise. Laughter lowers blood pressure, tickles dopamine and serotonin output in a good way, and makes all the life stuff seem lighter. Attend fully the next time you get really mad. Feel the cellular weight, the heightened heart action, lung volume, constricted brain blood flow? Attend the next time you laugh. Feel the difference? We need more laughter to pump up the volume in our cognitive reserve tank, preserve neural pathways and enjoy the journey, even when the path is rock strewn, uphill and slippery. Laughter is your new best friend in the bodymind backpack. Take it out for a stroll more often. Originally posted April 11, 2011.

Painted Turtle Healing

Loved ones were troubled and in pain this morning. A good friend had a disturbing experience that kept her awake through the night, my beloved sister is doctoring without answers or relief, and my little brother had an accident at bowling and had to come home, embarrassed and dismayed. I walked to the post office, head down, heart aching, trying not to cry. I was worried about my sister, and wanted to send comfort. My mom has passed on, but I said aloud, "go to her, Mom," and as I said the words, on the sidewalk was a forsythia bloom. I stopped, turned around and round. There is no forsythia bush on that route. I picked it up, kissed it, put it on the grass and thanked nature for mom's message. Coming back from the post office, I was weeping. I still felt despondent and helpless. As I walked up the small rise to cross the railroad tracks, I saw a painted turtle crossing the sidewalk. We both stopped, surprised, the turtle swiftly pulled in legs and head. I waited, amazed. The turtle relaxed, lingered just a while, and then continued on its way to the grass and its next adventure. I am drawing painted turtle for a poet, and providence gave me a thoughtful patron, and a beautiful creature to appreciate. Changing despair to joy, painted turtle brought a healing lesson, blessedly accepted. Originally posted April 26, 2011.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Three Story Life: The Mask

Dad has a mask to sleep with. It's supposed to help with sleep apnea. He snores through it. He fools with it. He gets up with stripes on his face from adjusting, noodling, messing with it during the night, maybe because there are other issues to sleeplessness. It's broken again. He had it on his lap for the day, turning it this way and that, displaying it in case I wondered what was going on and asked. (See: The Sideways Ask.) He finally mentioned that the plastic pins that hold the bottom straps in place were snapped off. All four of them. I got out my jewelry wire and toolbox, and rigged a clasp to keep it in place. It was an elegant fix - I thought he needed to flip the clasp, like an old door hook, to get the mask on and off, so that's how I designed it. He didn't use it. He pulled the whole thing off over his head in the morning, and then on again last night, breaking the fix. I was asleep. I didn't hear Dad calling, and he woke Scott to fetch me. Scott has no contact inhibitions, so he came into my room, leaned over my back, got right up on my ear, cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled "Are you asleep?" I hit the ceiling like a cartoon cat. Ran upstairs thinking Dad was having an episode. Nope. Sitting on the bed, he explained how he thought I could fix it. I said, I was asleep, and Scott scared the hell out of me. "What was I supposed to do?" I thought of The Haunting, and Julie Harris and duct tape. I got my tools shakily, fixed it clumsily, and while both of the guys were now resting comfortably, spent the next bundle of hours awake wondering what mask I might design for me. The serial yapper dog just signaled the UPS guy is here. He brought the new mask. Dad wondered if I was having a bad day. I told him I underslept a little.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Leave Lance Armstrong Be

60 Minutes dredged up the old and extremely tired Lance Armstrong doping scandal again. Did 60 Minutes ask Lance about it? Nope. Armstrong's lawyers are demanding an on-air apology. What is it that's so damned fascinating about this subject? Is this last month's French weirdness leaking into June? Baseball players who look like linebackers aren't scrutinized every month about what junk they're throwing down their necks or into their veins, but like 60s flashbacks, Lance gets trotted out whenever anybody feels like tossing the word "suspicious" around. Leave Lance the hell alone. We cancer survivors haven't got enough heroes as it is, without mediabozos trying to take away one special hero we love.

Trash Trinkets Treasures

Wandering. Focus is a dream. Don't remember how I began going through old costume jewelry. I also don't know why I saved the pieces from Mom's collection that I did, although I have worn many through the years. There are nice vintage items from Marvella and Lisner and Miriam Haskell, and a few W. Germany stamped. A rhinestone necklace I know is my grandmother's is Lisner. These ladies had narrow necks, or wore necklaces that literally were chokers. What to do with these? I have a short length of costume trim from Blaze Fury that is rhinestones woven on metallic thread. Could be from the 20s, so maybe it was her mother's, Frances Parks. Some of the costume jewelry has coated base metal that is still shiny; much is dull and the finish is gone. The earrings are all clip-ons. Wandering the internet jewelry sites, I remembered to look up a Ratigan show segment about solar energy, and found Good Magazine again. From there I got to a Brooklyn interactive designer named Justin Blinder whose Dumpster Drive program can publicly trash your Mac OS X unused files, and dive other people's electronic castoffs. I'd like to find a decent swap/trade/dumpsterdiving site to mosey around in next. I'll think about what I can do with these treasures instead of storing in the dark. Then I'll muse on what to do with the business clothes I kept that I'll never wear again, behaviors that don't work for me now, and how to get my hi-res mojo back.